Continuing Tales

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A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 11 of 37

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Week Five

What was he doing here?

Again and again, Adrien mentally chanted the answer to himself.

You’re here for ice cream, that’s all. There’s no pressure—you don’t need to join them. You weren’t invited.

Even so, he couldn’t help but overhear them, zeroing in on their conversation, for they were easily the loudest table in the place.

“I’m getting worried,” Nino was sighing as Adrien busied himself with scanning the menu, wondering what he could convincingly be in the mood for, though his stomach was in knots. “Her grandmother hasn’t heard from her, either.”

“Who?” Marinette asked. Adrien sternly kept his gaze forward, away from her.

“Are you talking about your neighbor?” Alya asked as the person behind Adrien gave a little cough; he was holding up the line. Adrien stepped out of the way, allowing the man to cut him with the excuse that he didn’t yet know what he wanted, but really, he just wanted to remain close enough to eavesdrop.

“Yeah.” Nino sighed again, and Adrien felt himself automatically frown in response. He worked to straighten out his expression, hearing his former best friend continue. “There’s this kid that lives next door to me, ‘Nette: a ten year old girl named Kira. She’s had a rough life—her dad’s a bastard of a drunk, and he used to beat her and her mom when she was younger.”

“Oh my god,” Marinette whimpered, and Adrien had to restrain himself from marching himself over there to comfort her; her voice sounded far too worried to be allowed.

“Didn’t they put the bastard in jail?” Alya wanted to confirm, her voice aggressive.

“Yeah, but Kira’s mom died from the injuries. Now Kira lives with her grandma, and they’re real sweet to me. But apparently Kira’s dad got out of jail just last week, and he’s been coming around asking about her. Yuri keeps threatening to call the police, but really, she’s afraid to do anything that’ll make him mad—she doesn’t want him suing her for custody of Kira.”

“He can’t do that, can he? He’s an unfit parent!”

The rage in Marinette’s voice was all holy justice, and Adrien felt it echo within him. She was right—a man like that wasn’t fit to raise his daughter.

“I know that, but since Kira never testified against him, the courts believe the abuse just happened to her mom.”

“That’s bullshit! Was the judge blind?! I’m sure she must’ve had bruises still! And he still killed her mom!” Alya snapped.

“Apparently he’s reformed.” Nino’s tone spoke volumes about how he doubted such a claim. “He got out early on good behavior, supposedly. And Yuri’s afraid that the courts will give him the benefit of the doubt if he chooses to sue for custody. And now Kira’s gone missing.”

“Shouldn’t we do something?” Marinette asked, eager to help, as always. “Call the school, see if they know anything?”

“Yuri tried that. The most they could tell her was that Kira went home on her own.”

“Let’s go look for her,” Marinette insisted anyway, and Adrien heard a chair scrape back. “We’ll help, Nino. Just tell us what she looks like, and we’ll comb the city for her.”

“Damn straight,” Alya agreed, and there was the second sound of a chair scraping across linoleum. “You’ve got a selfie with her, right, Nino?”

“Yeah, hang on a second—”

“Excuse me? Sir?”

Adrien was jolted back to his immediate surroundings, blinking stupidly at the woman behind the counter, giving him an odd look.

“Uh…wh-what’ll you have?” She asked, abruptly becoming shy the moment he made eye contact with her. Adrien realized that he still had nothing to order, and his mouth hung open for a moment as he tried to think fast.


His answer was deemed irrelevant a moment later—a sudden yell outside had the entire gelato shop jumping in surprise, heads swiveling towards the door. A couple was racing past outside, terror in their eyes as they glanced back at whatever was chasing them. One of the men stumbled, falling to the ground. He shouted for his companion to keep going, their arms outstretched towards each other, when curious purple and yellow sparkles suddenly appeared, blown in the fallen man’s direction. There was a sudden ‘zap!’ when the glitter made contact, and a flash of light blinded the area. The man was nowhere in sight when the light faded—in his place was what appeared to be a tiny phone charm in the shape of a shooting star, a string attached to the end of it. The other man let out a strangled yell and kept running just as a small figure touched down on the sidewalk, retrieving the charm.

The girl was dressed like a fairy princess crossed with a knick-knack shop: her dress was dark purple and frilly, the yellow pattern at the bottom making it appear like a flower blooming around her legs, which were covered in candy-striped tights, swirls of purple and yellow all the way down to candy red shoes. The waist of her dress was covered in cute little ornaments, with a small stuffed bear, a tiny pink cupcake, a large but fake diamond, a black clover pendant, a plush cat’s face, and countless others, giving her the appearance of a portable curio stand. A pink ribbon tied closed at the base of her throat, and her cobalt blue hair was accented with multi-colored hair clips in the shapes of rectangles, hearts, and stars, the star clips matching the star earrings that dangled from her ears and the giant star tattoo that was plastered over her left eye. Said eyes were blood red and pulsed with power, and after she attached the shooting star charm to her dress, those eyes cut to the side, focusing on the gelato patrons. As Adrien watched, a wide smile split her features.

“Oooh, goodie!” She cheered as she kicked the door open, reaching into a small purple bag at her side and withdrawing a handful of purple and yellow glitter, her smile manic. “More cute charms for Trinket!”


The panic was instantaneous—several of the patrons threw their tables up in defense or even by accident, scurrying for cover or escape from the shop. This didn’t deter the akuma—Trinket—who giggled and was indiscriminate with her glitter, blowing it in every direction, apparently determined to make her collection huge. Adrien found himself crouched down behind the ice cream counter with the woman from earlier, who was whimpering in panic.

“Get everyone you can out the back way,” Adrien urged her. “Hurry!”

She gave a shaky nod and scurried away; he could hear her whispering frantically to whomever was hiding just around the corner, but he focused on slinking out from behind the counter.

Trinket’s back was to him, busy retrieving the people she had just turned into charms and attaching them to her dress. Clenching his teeth, Adrien slipped out the open door and into the next alley over.

“Plagg, we have to do something!” Adrien urged his kwami, poking the cat-like fairy out of his pocket. Plagg gave a theatrical yawn, peering at Adrien with a flat gaze.

“What, are you gonna try and claw your way through this one, too? This is clearly a child throwing a tantrum. Just let Ladybug deal with it.”

Adrien had been meeting this attitude from Plagg a lot recently—it was clear the kwami did not approve of Adrien’s way of doing things. Normally, it wouldn’t have bothered Adrien, because he had been so convinced that his way was just as justified as Ladybug’s way.

Lately, however…

“I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” Adrien protested, clenching his right hand into a fist. “Just get in the ring!”

“Say the magic words…”

“Plagg, transform me!”

As his reluctant kwami zoomed into his ring, Adrien was filled, as always, with the heady sense of purpose and freedom that came from being Chat Noir. Ears on, claws out, bell jangling, he jumped back out onto the sidewalk, grabbing his baton to defend himself as he raced to the door of the gelato shop—

But Trinket was nowhere to be seen. Chat grit his teeth, wondering if she had snuck out the back while he wasn’t looking, but a shriek from down the street told him that she hadn’t gotten very far. He raced forward, extending his baton and propelling himself up onto the nearest roof, using the high vantage point to inspect the situation.

His gaze zeroed in on Trinket immediately as she tossed glitter at a screaming woman who cowered under the attack, only to turn into a lollipop-shaped charm a moment later, ripe for collection. Chat raced forward, jumping down into the street, intending to stop this reign of knick-knack based terror early—but because he had been so focused on the akuma, he was too late to stop when another force entirely yanked him backwards, his feet flying out from under him, leaving him to belly flop painfully on the ground. Before he could even attempt to get up, something strong slammed into his head, making him yelp and keeping him down.

“Don’t you go near her,” a furious voice above him commanded, and Chat could just barely turn his head to spot his assailant…though he didn’t need three guesses as to who it could be…

“You’re a little rougher than usual today, My Lady,” he drawled, the nickname all but ironic at this point. “Could it be you know this victim?”

“I don’t have to know her to know that it’s wrong to hurt a child.

“Is that what you see?” He asked just to antagonize her. It worked; Ladybug’s gaze tightened, and her foot shoved his head further down, grinding his face into the asphalt.

“You’re sitting this fight out, Chat Noir,” she growled at him, and abruptly, they were moving, her dragging him behind her. Chat dug in his claws, but it was no use; if Ladybug wanted him out of the way, then she was going to get him out of the way.

Which was why he found himself tied to the base of a streetlight a moment later, Ladybug’s trusty yo-yo locked securely around him. He gave her a dry look as she plucked at the wire, testing the binding.

“You’re gonna have a hell of a time facing off against the akuma without your yo-yo,” he pointed out. In fact, he didn’t like this one bit—it was one thing to keep him out of the way, but doing so by rendering herself defenseless? Bad move, very bad move.

Ladybug seemed unconcerned, scowling down at him once she was satisfied he wasn’t able to move.

“Mind your own business,” she told him roughly, her hands on her hips as she leaned down to his eye level, blue eyes blazing. “You just sit here and don’t move.

“But what if I get hungry or need to use the litter box?” He asked sarcastically.

“Too bad,” Ladybug retorted. “Don’t move until I get back.”

“You can’t just keep me tied up here, you know.”

“I’ll untie you when the akuma needs to be purified. Until then, stay put.”

“Or what?”

Ladybug’s eyes narrowed into near slits.

“I hope for your sake that you don’t find out,” she growled at him. Chat Noir stared at her impassively, all the while inwardly trying to repress the unreasonable flash of arousal he could feel pooling within him. Why did he seem to have such a fatal attraction to women who could kick his ass? This masochistic tendency was troubling, to say the least.

And off she went, racing after the akuma who seemed intent on making every citizen of Paris a personal accessory. Growling under his breath, Chat Noir wiggled against the restraint of her yo-yo. He didn’t care what she said; she wasn’t going to keep him out of the fight like this. Besides, what the hell could she do to him when he had her yo-yo?

That wasn’t an empty threat, though…’ His thoughts warned him. Well…he’d cross that bridge when he got to it.

But damn this was hard to get out of. How did Animan achieve it so easily? Oh right, shapeshifting. Well, that wasn’t an option for Chat, and he was just beginning to wonder if using his Cataclysm would be enough to break through the wire of Ladybug’s magic yo-yo—

There was a sudden tugging at his back. Chat held perfectly still; though he was curious to know who was assisting him, he didn’t want to meet their eyes and make them change their mind…though, it had to be one of his ‘supporters’, right? Who else would be freeing him when Ladybug had been so intent on restraining him…?

Finally, the wire of the yo-yo fell away, and Chat Noir jumped to his feet, flexing his arms. Ah, sweet freedom.

“Than—” He began, whirling to give a charming smile to his rescuer…only to freeze in place, his mouth hanging open in shock.

Nino stood before him, the wire of Ladybug’s yo-yo clutched loosely in his hands. He was breathing hard and scowling, as if he had run a race to get here, and found that what was waiting for him at the end of the finish line had not been worth all the effort.

Chat Noir paused, scratching the back of his head. How…exactly was he supposed to react, here…?


Nino’s eyes tightened behind his glasses, clearly not appreciating the sentiment.

“Look, I’m only untying you because I know Ladybug needs this,” he stated point-blank, lifting the yo-yo. “I don’t like you, I don’t like what you stand for, and I don’t trust you as far as I could throw you.”

Chat’s face grew impassive. He was used to his treatment; for every supporter he gained, there were three more Ladybug supporters, booing and hissing at him as he went by. To find that Nino was one of them was no surprise.

“Well, thanks anyway,” he said dryly, turning to go—but Nino seized his arm.

“Hold up, Whiskers, I’m not done.”

‘Whiskers’? Chat twitched in irritation; he didn’t even have whiskers!

“What?” He spat, tugging his arm from Nino’s grip. This didn’t seem to bother Nino; he merely folded his arms, staring hard at Chat Noir. As if he could see just who was under that mask and was unimpressed.

Chat swallowed.

“I care about that girl,” Nino stated, baldly and without preamble. “The akumatized girl. She’s like a little sister to me. If I could, I’d be the one running after her to stop her. But I don’t have the super-powered jewelry, so I can’t do anything.” That fact clearly frustrated him, if the way his scowl deepened was any indication. Huffing, he yanked the yo-yo wire taut, and it snapped back into place. He tossed it at Chat, who almost fumbled the catch, he was so surprised. “The only thing I can do is make sure that yo-yo gets back to Ladybug so she can help.”

Chat Noir stared down at the yo-yo, and then raised his gaze to Nino, blinking in a bewildered fashion. Didn’t he just say he didn’t trust him as far as he could throw him…?

“So what’re you giving it to me for?” He dared to ask. Nino frowned.

“Because I don’t have much of a choice,” he said point-blank. “I’m not as fast as you are, and I’d probably just get in the way. At least you have the suit if you end up getting in the crossfire.”

Ahhh, so he was the sacrifice. Nice, Nino.

“So you don’t trust me…but you’re giving me Ladybug’s only weapon…”

“Didn’t I just say I don’t have a choice?” Nino huffed, rubbing his shoulder, as if there was a knot there that needed working out. “Just take the damn yo-yo back to Ladybug, all right? And don’t even think about trying anything—I’ve got a grandma that’s into voodoo, and she loves to hex the shit out of people.”

Chat had to work not to laugh—the threat was familiar, and it brought about a wave of nostalgia he wasn’t anticipating, so he had to move fast to keep himself under control.

“Noted.” Tucking Ladybug’s yo-yo in the back of his belt, behind his baton, Chat turned to go…but was halted once again by the strong grip that held him by his arm. “Look, do you want me to go to the rescue or not?”

“Just one more thing…” Chat was forced to lean back as Nino stepped forward, invading his space. His gold eyes were burning, fierce behind his glasses. “I don’t care what kind of magical powers you’ve got: if you hurt that girl…I’ll never forgive you.

A chill ran down Chat Noir’s spine.

Nino meant it: he wouldn’t forgive Chat if he hurt the akuma…which meant that there was a good chance Trinket was actually Kira.

This put Chat in a rather awkward position: if he dared to end this on his terms…Nino would hate him forever.

He doesn’t know you’re also Adrien Agreste,’ a voice in his head tried to reason, but it was stifled immediately by a hideous fear: even if Nino didn’t know now, who was to say he would never find out?

Could Adrien, in good conscience, attempt to be his friend again, knowing he had hurt one of the people Nino cared about…?

Chat pulled his arm out of Nino’s grasp once more, and Nino backed off, the fire in his eyes still burning, daring Chat to test him. He could think of nothing else to say to his former best friend, and so he merely left, racing across the streets and rooftops to find the action again…though it felt like Nino’s eyes followed him the whole way.

It didn’t take long to find them, and Chat found that he was completely correct in the assertion that Ladybug would struggle without her yo-yo: she couldn’t fly out of the way like she usually did, so the grounded Ladybug had to duck and dodge and roll all over the street, somehow avoiding the glitter Trinket was tossing out left and right, which looked like it was a difficult feat, ‘cause that shit got everywhere. And apparently, her magic pixie dust could transform objects into charms, too—every hiding place Ladybug dared to duck behind became some kind of bric-a-brac a second later, leaving her just another second to dive for cover once more.

Chat clucked his tongue. Ladybug couldn’t dance forever—all it took was one little slip—

Thinking the word was magic: Ladybug slipped on one of the charms Trinket had yet to collect, and down she went, cringing as she landed. Chat tensed, his muscles bulging in anticipation as the akuma skipped her way closer to Ladybug, a wide, eager grin on her face at the thought of adding such a famous hero to her collection. As she reached for her purse of glitter, Chat prepared himself to pounce. As much as he was interested in what kind of charm Ladybug would be turned into—probably a ladybug—only she could reverse the chaos that was an akuma attack, so—

Before Chat could move, however, something sliced through the air, too fast for him to get a clear view of it. All he registered was blue before his nose began to itch, and his eyes squeezed shut as a forceful sneeze exploded out of him, the momentum rocking him forward and off the roof. He yelped and groaned as he hit the pavement below, grimacing. That was gonna be sore in the morning…

“Ooh! A kitty!


Chat scrambled into a backflip, landing crouched on his feet. A quick glance told him that Ladybug was still safe; her wide blue eyes were focused on something blue and huge she held, hints of red and black at the very tips. Chat had to dart his gaze away to focus on the akuma again…but…was that what he thought it was…?

“Trinket always wanted a kitty,” the akuma sang, digging into her apparently bottomless purse of glitter. “You’ll go right next to Mommy’s charm.”

‘Mommy’s charm’, huh? Chat was willing to bet his non-existent whiskers that that charm was the one pinned right over Trinket’s heart—a four-leaf clover pendant that was black instead of green.

Thinking fast, Chat lunged forward, swiping for the charm. But Trinket was fast, too; she jumped back farther than was meant to be possible for any kid, her mouth open, incensed.

“What’re you doing?!” She shouted, stomping her foot in aggravation. “You can’t have Trinket’s charm, it’s MINE!!! Mommy gave it to me!!!”

“Just let me see it for a second!” Chat Noir growled, chasing after the akuma, who clearly did not like this game of Tag.

“Stop it! Leave me alone!!” She shrieked, apparently forgetting all about her magic glitter as Chat pursued her.

“Chat, stop it!!!” He could hear Ladybug calling behind him, but he was faster than both of them; with a short burst of speed, he caught up, snatching Trinket’s arm and tearing her purse full of glitter from her so she wouldn’t get any ideas.

“Gotcha! Now just give me the—”

No one was prepared for Trinket’s reaction, least of all Chat: as he gripped her arm, she suddenly cowered, her eyes going wide in her face. She slumped in Chat’s grip, raising a hand and turning her face away, screaming at the top of her lungs:


Shocked, Chat dropped her arm, taking a hasty step back, but Trinket only threw her arms over her head, turning into a quivering ball on the ground.

“I’ll be good! I promise, I’ll be good!! Please, stop!!!” She sobbed as Chat could only look on in horror, not knowing what to do. “Mommy! Baa-chan!Nino!! Help me!!!

Chat backed up until his back hit something; he didn’t care to look at what it was. All he could focus on was the sobbing, screaming akuma—child—in the middle of the street, terrified that he was her father come to brutalize her.

He didn’t dare approach her. Not even when he could spy the possessed item—it was right there, right there—but he couldn’t go near her. Not like this.

Chat registered the pair of eyes on him, but he couldn’t meet them. His gaze would not be pulled from the child.

Slowly, so very slowly, a woman in red with black spots blocked the child from his view, carefully crouching down near the child, but not too close, as if she were afraid of frightening her.

“…Kira?” She asked softly after a moment, and the child flinched. “Kira, I’m Ladybug.”

The child sniffled.

“I know,” she whimpered, still cowering in her tight ball. “The Butterfly told me about you.”

“Then you know I’m here to help. That I catch bad guys.” Ladybug paused for a delicate moment. “Your dad’s a bad guy, isn’t he, Kira?”

Trinket quivered, sniffling louder.

“He doesn’t stop,” she cried, her voice wrenching something apart in Chat Noir. “Why doesn’t he stop?! I said I’d be good…and he always gives me presents to say he’s sorry…but he still hurts me!! He took Mommy away from me!!” The child gripped at her hair, rocking back and forward. “He calls me a thing. He says that I deserve to be punished, but I didn’t do anything! I’m a good girl! I was only doing what The Butterfly said!! They said that if I made enough charms that Daddy wouldn’t hurt me anymore!!”

“The Butterfly is a liar, Kira,” Ladybug said gently; Chat was probably the only one to pick up on the steel in her tone. “Whatever they said to you wasn’t true. But I can help you. I’m going to make sure your dad never hurts you again. Can you trust me, Kira?”

The child sniffled, lifting her head a little. Her eyes were swimming with tears, and she stared up at Ladybug, who smiled. There was such sadness in her smile that Chat had to physically restrain himself from moving to her, holding her, and promising her that everything would be all right, just as she was promising Trinket.

After a long, long moment…Trinket nodded.


“Thank you, Kira. You’re being very brave,” Ladybug praised her with another smile. She lifted a hand, as if she meant to pat Trinket’s head, but the child’s flinch stopped her, and she slowly lowered her hand back onto her knee. “I just need to borrow your mommy’s charm for a second.”

Trinket raised her hands, clutching protectively at the charm.


“I’m sorry to ask, Kira,” Ladybug apologized; indeed, she looked like she was hating this. “But I need it. I promise to give it back, good as new, if you let me borrow it for a minute. Can you do that for me?”

With trembling, hesitant hands, Trinket removed the dark clover pendant, and placed it in Ladybug’s awaiting palm.

“Thank you, Kira,” Ladybug said softly, briefly squeezing Trinket’s hand before she stood up. “I’ll be right back with it. I’m going to make everything better, I promise. Can you stay here for a second?”

Trinket nodded, clutching her knees to her chest, tears streaming down her face. Ladybug hesitated, looking like she’d rather not leave her…but then she glanced down at the pendant in her palm, and her resolve seemed to strengthen. Chat was only dimly aware of the fact that she was moving closer to him, not registering her approach until she was right in front of him. His wild gaze switched to her, at her strong stance before him, her gaze as steady as ever.

She had handled the akuma way more effectively than he ever could.

And she did it all without having to be aggressive at all.

In his mind, Chat Noir felt himself finally surrender.

His way…wasn’t the right way.

He was wrong. All wrong.

It took him a moment to catch that Ladybug was speaking to him, the words refusing to register, her hand held out for something. Chat recoiled from it, as if touching such pure goodness might burn him.

“What?” He rasped, just catching the surprise that flitted across Ladybug’s face before it smoothed over, her poker face sliding back into place.

“You have my yo-yo,” she reminded him, her hand stretching out. “Give it.”

Oh. Right.

Numbly, Chat Noir reached behind him, pulling the yo-yo out from his belt and surrendering it to its rightful owner. She peered up at him, something speculative in her gaze. Chat looked away from her, feeling his cat ears flatten against his head. Why was she looking at him like that? Why didn’t she just end this so he could get out of here already? In fact, what was he still doing here?

As if she sensed his desire to escape, Ladybug gripped his arm.

“Still got a Cataclysm in you?”

Chat’s gaze snapped to her, her hand splayed, offering the pendant to him. He tried to take a step back, but whatever was already blocking his back had no give. He was cornered.

“You break it,” he insisted, looking away from her again, his hand tightening into a fist. He would not touch the thing that carried so many of Kira’s memories of her mother. Even if Ladybug could restore it, to break it in the first place, with his own two hands—

“I don’t think I can,” Ladybug admitted, bringing Chat’s attention to her once again. She frowned now, staring up at him. “I think…it has to be you.”

Chat stared at her. She was making no sense.

“Why me?”

“Because you hurt her,” Ladybug reasoned. But it still made no sense to him; wasn’t that all the more reason why he shouldn’t break it?

“Look,” she said after an impatient huff when he failed to comprehend; he watched her drop the pendant to the ground and stomp on it. She winced, moving her foot…but the pendant remained stubbornly intact. Pristine, even.

It was just like Patchwork’s needle—for some reason she seemed to detect, Ladybug couldn’t break it on her own.

And since she couldn’t break the possessed item on her own…

Chat raised his right hand, staring down at it. So much destruction…all in the palm of his hand. It was usually a blessing…today, it was a curse. Or maybe it had always been a curse, and Chat had always been too carried away with the idea of being a superhero to notice.

He closed his eyes, letting out a sigh. He had to do this. If he didn’t help now, Trinket—Kira. What would happen to Kira…?

Chat opened his eyes, scowling down at the pendant. He knelt down, flexing his clawed hand, muttering for his power’s aide before smashing his palm onto the pendant. It shattered immediately.

A terrible scream ripped through the air.

Chat clapped his hands to his ears, terrified for a second that Trinket had started screaming again for some reason, but she was too busy de-akumatizing. The screaming was, once again, inexplicably coming from the akuma that escaped the pendant, as if it was being tortured beyond imagination, beyond pain itself. Chat stared, horrified. Why did it scream?!

Ladybug’s yo-yo snatched it out of the air a moment later, and in a heartbeat, it was purified. Chat watched the harmless butterfly flit away into the sky for a moment before his gaze dropped to Ladybug. She was staring at him, the winter sunset glinting around her hair, almost like a halo. Her eyes were calm, watching him, like she expected him to make some connection she had already reached—

And then, as his gaze touched upon the butterfly flying away, he abruptly understood:

The akumas never screamed...unless he had directly harmed one of the victims.

The akumas screamed because he hurt them.

The weight of such a realization fell upon his shoulders, and he hunched them, wanting to be smaller, to disappear from sight. He stared down at his clawed hands, horrified. Was this going to be his legacy from now on? Being so horrible that even akumas screamed because of him?!

Ladybug seemed not to care for his plight. She just did her job, calling for her restorative powers to fix the world again. Chat watched numbly as people and objects reappeared, everything put back to the way it was, as if nothing had ever happened.

But Ladybug’s restorative powers couldn’t fix the writhing shame inside him. No, that would stay with Chat until he found a way to deal with it properly.

“…Huh…what? Wh-where am I? Baa-chanBaa-chan, where are you?!”

Chat glanced at the de-akumatized child, only to immediately wish he hadn’t—the star tattoo that had been over her left eye had hid a black eye, and Kira sniffled, curled up with her knees clutched to her chest. The sleeve of her sweater had ridden up, and there were dark bruises on the exposed flesh of her right arm, in the shape of large fingers. Chat went cold, because he couldn’t be sure if they had already been there…or if he had caused them.

Ladybug left him to the chaos suddenly swirling within him, moving back to Kira.

“It’s okay. You’re safe now.”

“Ladybug!” Kira squeaked, and Chat ached at the sudden adoration that filled the child’s expression. But Ladybug just smiled.

“That’s right, I’m Ladybug. I’m gonna take you to your grandma, okay?”

Kira agreed eagerly, and Chat looked away, turning around. He was no longer needed here, and besides, his Miraculous was beeping. It was time to go.

He was about to do just that when a flash of blue caught his eye once again. Chat’s head snapped towards it…but it was just the blue thing Ladybug was holding earlier. Curiosity directing him for the moment, Chat Noir made his way over, leaning over to inspect the large blue thing, though his nose registered what it was way before his eyes did:

It was a large blue feather, circles of red and black fanning the edges. Chat picked it up, noting how huge it was…much too big for a regular bird to have dropped it…


Okay, it was a mistake to pick it up. Chat sniffled, squinting through suddenly watery eyes at the feather. Where had it come from?

“Oh, right. I forgot you’re allergic to feathers.”

The voice startled him; he hadn’t realized Ladybug had gotten so close to him again. She gazed speculatively at the feather he held before her gaze switched to him, something like amusement dancing in her eyes.

“Nice to know some things don’t change,” she noted, keeping a gentle grip on Kira’s hand. When Chat glanced down at her, she hid shyly into Ladybug’s side.

For the sake of his sinuses, Chat handed the feather off to Ladybug. If he still knew her, even after all the shit he’d put her through, he knew she’d want to keep it, because whoever had helped her avoid becoming a lucky charm in the literal sense had left this behind, and it probably warranted investigation. An investigation she would embark on her own, no doubt.

Turning, Chat Noir finally decided to make a break for it, especially because his Miraculous was beginning to throw a fit. That, and his sensitive hearing just managed to pick up the telltale sounds of protesters in the distance, their chants of “NO MORE AKUMA” filling the streets. With a sick swoop of his stomach, Chat remembered that he was responsible for that. Despicable.

 As he fled, he could only gain a few steps before Ladybug’s voice halted him in his tracks.

“Chat…thank you.”

He stiffened.

No. He shouldn’t be thanked. He didn’t want to be thanked. After everything he’d done—after everything he’d put her through—

How could she stand there and thank him?!

It was too much. In light of what happened today—hurting Kira, making her relive trauma from an abusive parent, realizing he was the reason for the goddamned akumas to scream—Chat Noir had had enough. He was done being Chat Noir for today.

Vaulting quickly over rooftops, Chat fled as far as he could, as far as the end of his transformation would take him. It lasted just up until he reached the Jardin du Luxembourg, and Chat de-transformed behind a large tree, catching Plagg before the exhausted kwami fell to the ground.

“You slave driver!” Plagg accused, flopping in Adrien’s grasp. “This is ridiculous! I can’t even remember the last time I ate! This is abuse!!”


Adrien’s mind flashed back to Kira, at the terrified way she quailed from him, convinced he was going to harm her, just like her father had harmed her.

Adrien knew a thing or two about abuse. He was never struck physically by a parent, of course, but the neglect was abundant. He had only just started talking about this stuff with Ivan, had only just begun to work through his issues between himself and Gabriel Agreste. He had talked about the emotional distance, the overbearing isolation, the fact that he’d been treated more like a company asset than an actual person…two hours’ worth of anger and resentment and loss and loneliness, and still, it was only scratching the surface…and it wasn’t enough.

Where did Adrien turn when he needed someone to talk to, but he hadn’t made an appointment to do so?

His mind immediately jumped to Marinette, but he shut that thought down; he couldn’t drop this on her, and besides, she was probably out helping Nino look for Kira right now, who was in safe hands with Ladybug…no, Adrien would not interrupt that.

But then, if not her…who?

His feet seemed to know the answer—before Adrien knew it, he was running, his heart pounding in his chest, threatening to burst. He needed to be free of the burden that was this crushing guilt, his constricted heart feeling like it would collapse from such weight. He couldn’t breathe with it pressing upon him, tearing at him from the inside out, like he was purposefully inhaling water instead of air, determined to suffocate himself in the most painful way possible—

Adrien burst through the door of the building where Ivan’s therapy practice was housed before he even registered where he was, approaching the startled secretary.

“Is Ivan free right now?” He hardly recognized his own voice, it was so hoarse with emotion. The secretary gaped at him, uncomfortable.

“Uh…well, yeah, he is, but you don’t have an appoi—hey! You can’t just barge right in, it’s rude!!!” The secretary called after him as Adrien made a bee line directly for the doors of Ivan’s office. He ignored him, wrenching the door open and slamming it shut before the secretary could follow and give him hell.

Ivan was at his desk; he jolted upright, blinking in a startled fashion.

“Oh, Adrien,” he greeted as Adrien paced forward. “Jeez, you almost gave me a heart attack…what’s wrong?” He asked, immediately registering the distress on Adrien’s face. Adrien huffed, dragging rough hands through his hair.

“I have to tell you something,” he said in a rush, his jittery state making it impossible to stay still; he tapped his foot against the floor, rubbing the back of his head, but even that was not enough, and so he began to pace like a restless panther trapped in a cage that was far too small to be comfortable. “I’ve never told anyone before, and it’s not something I should go shouting about, but you’re my therapist and my friend, and I have to tell someone or I’m gonna go fucking crazy, so here it is.” Adrien stopped, his feet planted in front of Ivan’s desk, his eyes zeroing in on Ivan.

“I’m Chat Noir.”

Honestly…he didn’t know how Ivan would react to this news, whether he’d be cool...or come out of a bag on Adrien. So he just waited, on needles and pins, for the other shoe to drop.

After Ivan seemed to finish gawking at him, all he did was blink.

“Oh,” he said.

And that was it. No shouting. No accusing him of lying. No having him committed to a sanitarium.

Just 'oh'.

“That’s all?” Adrien pressed, put on edge by such a…tame reaction. “Just ‘oh’? You believe me, just like that? You don’t want me to prove it or anything?”

“I am not transforming you again just for you to prove a point!” Grouched Plagg from one of Adrien’s pockets. Adrien ignored him, focused on Ivan, who frowned at the disembodied voice for a moment before coming to focus on Adrien once more.

“No, I believe you,” he assured Adrien calmly, much to the model’s surprise. “Honestly, it explains a few things…and in any case, that’d be an awfully big lie to tell for someone who’s not a pathological liar.” Ivan smiled slightly. “Besides, I usually know when you’re lying—you have a tell.”

Adrien blinked at this, momentarily sidetracked.

“I do?”

“Yeah.” Ivan’s smile grew more amused. “But I’m not telling you what it is, or you’ll just work to correct it and develop a whole new tell for me to figure out.”

Adrien frowned. Damn it.

“…While I appreciate the faith you’ve put in me so far, Adrien,” Ivan began, and Adrien made himself focus on the conversation at hand, “I don’t think you burst in here just to tell me you’re an infamous superhero.”

Infamous. That’s right. Chat Noir was infamous now.

He was infamous.

With a sigh that threatened to take his soul with it, Adrien gave up and flopped down on the chaise longue, staring up at the ceiling. He heard Ivan get up from his desk, moving to the armchair nearest him. He knew without looking that the gentle giant had his hands folded loosely in his lap, knew that he had Ivan’s complete attention, despite the fact that it was not his appointment time, that he had all but kicked the door in, and he, as Chat Noir, might be very unwelcome. Ivan could’ve had other plans—he could be planning to meet with Mylene for dinner soon. It was abominably rude for Adrien to come here unannounced, and it bordered on taking advantage.

In fact, he had half a mind to march himself out right now, and still pay extra for the inconvenience, when a light pat to his shoulder stayed him.

“Go ahead, Adrien,” Ivan urged quietly. “I’m listening.”

That was all the invitation Adrien needed. He sucked in a deep breath, pushed his nerves aside, and closed his eyes.

“I hated Hawk Moth. I hated everything he stood for. I’m supposedly the embodiment of chaos, but he—”

“Excuse me, am the embodiment of chaos!” Plagg protested, zooming out into the open now; he apparently seemed to think there was no point in hiding, now that Adrien had spilled his most carefully guarded secret to Ivan. Nevertheless, Ivan stared, but Plagg didn’t seem to care as he floated smugly in the air, regarding Adrien with a lazy green eye. “Repeat after me: Plagg, god of chaos and destruction, Adrien: human disaster vessel. Get it right.”

“Uhhhhh,” Ivan said, his eyes still wide and staring at Plagg. Adrien huffed.

“Ivan, Plagg. Plagg, Ivan.”

“Charmed,” Plagg said carelessly, floating up to Ivan’s eye level. “Got any cheese around here, big guy?”

“Uhhhhh,” Ivan repeated, and Adrien was briefly amused to see the utterly perplexed look on Ivan’s face. Psychology degree aside, he had never come across something like Plagg before, so Adrien was at least satisfied with this form of shock on him.

“I’ll explain later,” Adrien assured him, digging into one of his coat pockets for the camembert he was forced to carry everywhere. Once Plagg was placated, Adrien shut his eyes once more.

“Like I said, I hated Hawk Moth for the trouble he caused everyone. …But at the same time, I was thankful to him. If it weren’t for him…I never would have met her. Ladybug.”

Ladybug, the girl who had rocked his world and set the bar impossibly high for other women for the rest of Adrien’s life when he was just fifteen years old.

Ladybug, the woman who always stood up for what was right, even if she was forced to battle her former partner to uphold her values.

Ladybug...the woman who, despite all the bitterness and betrayal between them...could still find it in herself to thank her enemy for his help.

The reverence with which Adrien spoke her name must have tipped Ivan off.

“You love her, huh?”

Adrien exhaled shortly through his nose.

“I don’t know,” he admitted, resting his forearm across his forehead, his other palm flat against his stomach. “I used to think so…but the situation’s seriously fucked up right now.” Adrien sighed again, opening his eyes a crack. “That, and she’s already rejected me. I didn’t mind it so much as Chat Noir, because we were just joking around…but as Adrien…”

Ivan shifted in his seat.

“So Ladybug knows your real identity?”

“No,” Adrien admitted; the subject was still a sore spot for him. “We agreed when we were younger not to tell each other. Well…I should say that she wasn’t ready, rather. I wanted to know…but I wasn’t about to push her into something she didn’t want to do.”

It was quiet for a moment in the office, the setting sun winking through the window, giving a final parting wave before it settled in early for the night. As the amount of light in the room began to change, Ivan spoke.

“Why do you think it hurt more to have Ladybug reject you as Adrien rather than as Chat Noir?”

Adrien snorted. That was the shrink-iest question he had ever heard. Ivan didn’t ask a lot of them…or maybe he did, and just usually didn’t make it so obvious. Adrien didn’t know. He was new to this.

Because he was on Ivan’s time now instead of his own, Adrien made himself think about the question before he endeavored to answer it as fully as he could.

“Because Chat Noir has a cool suit that lets him bounce back from most anything,” Adrien said, staring up at the ceiling now. A frown creased his brow. “Adrien doesn’t. Adrien is soft and squishy, and more fragile than he’d care to admit.”

“Not to mention he gets carried away with all his ideas of what justice is supposed to look like,” Plagg called from the end of the chaise. Adrien had to master the impulse to kick him. Besides, he wasn’t wrong.

“Anyway, I’ve always been a little bit grateful for Hawk Moth’s existence because of Ladybug,” he admitted, shamed-faced. “Without a villain, there’s no need for superheroes. So though he kept akumatizing people left and right, a tiny part of me was grateful…because it meant that I’d get to see My Lady again.”

Realizing who he was talking to, Adrien turned, cringing at Ivan.


Ivan shrugged. His face, for once, was unreadable.

“It’s how you feel,” he said simply. Such a noncommittal response concerned Adrien, but since Ivan said nothing more, Adrien re-focused on exorcising this poisonous ball of darkness he had been carrying around for so long.

“Finding out Hawk Moth was…my father…was…” Adrien swallowed, his eyes far away, on a broken man that used to stand over him, ten feet tall, cold, unreachable. “He died right in front of me, spouting some bullshit about how he only did what he thought was best.” Exasperated, Adrien threw up his hands. “How was terrorizing Paris best?! What the fuck was he talking about?! I still don’t understand what he meant!” Adrien grit his teeth, forcing himself to calm down, laying his hands down on his stomach and folding them to discourage himself from throwing something.

“In any case…somehow, in the end, he’d figured out I was Chat Noir. He was looking right at me, while I was Chat Noir, when he spoke his last words. I don't know how he figured it out...but he did. And Ladybug wanted to tell me—me, Adrien—right away after Hawk Moth…Father…after he died. But I—as Chat Noir—convinced her not to, because if she had to tell me, without my mask, that she was the reason my father was dead…I don’t know how I would’ve reacted. And…I’m a little scared to admit that…I might have been more relieved than upset.”

“Mhm,” Ivan hummed when he paused, just to let Adrien know that he was still listening, and that he could keep going. So Adrien did.

“After that…well, you know what happened. I moved to Milan, and no one heard from me for seven years. My aunt and uncle…they were nice people. On the surface.”

In his mind’s eye, Adrien scowled at the image of his new foster parents, their smiles aimed at him always a little too wide to be believable…but he didn’t understand what that meant until much, much later…

“They treated me well, I guess. I never wanted for anything, and they were always around when I needed a parental figure for school or other things…but their kindness wasn’t real. I overheard them talking one night, just after my eighteenth birthday—they threw this awesome party, invited all my friends from school, got me a ton of cool presents…I was so happy that night.”

Now, the memory made him ache, remembering the naïve boy who had just reached manhood, and yet still managed to be so incredibly child-like that it was unreal. He had no one to blame but himself for what happened next…

“I was sneaking downstairs for a snack one night when I heard them arguing. My uncle was upset about all the money they’d spent on the party—it was apparently more expensive than they had agreed to in the first place. My aunt talked him down. It wasn’t that much, she said. They could afford it, after all—my mom’s family was from old money. Besides, she wanted to keep me happy. She said my uncle should drop that attitude and focus on doing whatever I wanted…because she didn’t want the family to be turned into monsters just because I was upset.”

There was a small intake of breath next to him. Adrien ignored it, staring blankly up at the ceiling.

“That’s when I figured it out: they didn’t actually care about me. I was just a relative that was dropped on them, with a fucked up past and nowhere else to go. They didn’t really get how the Miraculous worked—they seemed to think that it was a hereditary trait, or maybe witchcraft, that made my father Hawk Moth. And now that he was gone…they were sure the ‘gift’ had been passed to me. And who wouldn’t want it, right? Being able to get whatever you wanted by threatening all who opposed you with monstrous transformations that had you destroying anything and anyone you loved? My aunt was right to be afraid: what if I turned on her family next, just because I didn’t get a specific toy I wanted, or was fed the wrong kind of salad at dinner? What if—”

“You’re not your father, Adrien.”

It was the third time those words had to be spoken to him. Adrien closed his eyes.

“I know,” he muttered. “I’m still trying to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.”

Ivan seemed to have nothing to say to that. As the seconds ticked by, Adrien went over, in his mind’s eye, what happened next, a black and white reel playing in his mind:

He had rushed back upstairs after overhearing that argument, his happiness from the best birthday party he had ever received vanishing completely. What was the point in being happy in a lie? Didn’t this mean they had never cared at all? That he was just an obligation rather than a person?

Well…if they were so worried that he’d throw a fit one day and turn them all into monsters…what was the point in staying?

And so he had begun to pack, grabbing whatever his hands found first, because his mind was still reeling, trying to process through the shock of how his own flesh and blood had betrayed him once again, how he really was the tragic teen that no one understood, how he had nothing…nothing…

But then his door had opened…and then…

“My cousin caught me before I could run away,” Adrien reflected out loud, irony in his tone. “Any other time, he would’ve just ignored me—he was three years older than me, and had ignored me since I moved in, so I didn’t really bother myself with him much. But…for some reason that night…he was there. I don’t know if he was just walking by and heard me shuffling around or what—he liked to skulk through the house, I think, when he wasn’t in the library or in his room reading…but he kind of just stared at me for a second. And then he told me to stop crying. I didn’t even know I was doing it until he said something, and it was super-embarrassing. He made me sit down on my bed…and then he scolded me. He told me it was absolutely foolish for me to go out at this time of night, that I didn’t have anywhere else to go, and that it would only stress everyone out needlessly if I ran off on my own.

“I didn’t take being treated like a stupid kid too well, no matter how accurate it might’ve been at the moment, and so I shouted back, saying that I wasn’t going to stick around if people were just gonna walk on eggshells around me because they were scared of me. He looked at me for a long time—I think he always knew how his parents felt about me, and I didn’t realize until a lot later that his brush-offs with me were his quiet protests of the preferential treatment they were showing me for all the wrong reasons. Finally, he took my bag, and dumped everything I'd tossed into it on the floor. And then he told me point-blank that running away wasn’t going to solve anything, and that I’d be stupid to try. And then, as he left, he looked at me one more time…”

And Adrien saw, in his mind, that cool blue gaze surveying him, finding him foolish.

“…And he said… ‘If you don’t want to be mistaken for a demon…then show them what real demons look like.’”

And then he had left, leaving Adrien to stew in his anger, the injustice of the situation squirming under his skin, making him pace restlessly, helplessly, until finally…

“That’s when you got the idea to start hunting akumas.”

Ivan’s voice was quiet. Adrien didn’t dare look over at him as he nodded.

“The Butterfly Miraculous had been stolen from me before I left. I knew it was only a matter of time before a new Hawk Moth rose to power. And I wanted to be there when it happened.

“So I prepared—I studied my ass off, aced all my tests and papers, graduated from Scuola media superiore at the top of my class, and then again in university with my Master’s degree in Business. In a little under a year, and though I don’t like it, mostly thanks to my father’s former influence in the fashion industry, I managed to build my own company from the ground up, all by my twenty-second birthday. I decided it was time to move back to Paris, and once the locations for my house and office were ready, I bought my plane ticket…and just when I had managed to get settled, that night, an akuma attacked the city for the first time in seven years.”

“That timing was uncanny,” Ivan had to admit. Adrien glanced over, frowning.

“Yeah, it was. Had me paranoid for a bit, like the new Hawk Moth knew I was back in town…but I don’t know how he could have known, unless he knew who I was…”

Which was impossible—just because Gabriel Agreste had figured out his son’s secret didn’t mean anyone else in Paris knew…Adrien doubted Gabriel would have confided in anyone else about something like this…

“And so the hunt began. I did everything I could to pursue what I thought was true justice…because there had to be something innately dark in these akumatized victims, right? After all, there was never more than one akuma attack at a time, and it was unlikely that everyone else was just having a really good day, save for this one person who’d been slighted in some way. There had to be something about these specific victims, other than their anger or their despair, that drew Hawk Moth to them. At least, that’s what I told myself, over and over and over again…”

Adrien’s mind went to Kira, to the bruise over her left eye, to the finger marks on her arm. His fist tightened reflexively, burning with guilt.

“…But that’s not true. Hawk Moth doesn’t cause the negative feelings in akuma victims. We do. …I do.”

Adrien could feel both Plagg and Ivan staring at him now. He kept his gaze carefully averted to the ceiling.

“Humanity is responsible for humanity. And to blame the akuma victims for becoming victims…it’s like blaming them for feeling, just like Ladybug said.” Adrien’s eyes tightened. “I knew what it was like to be blamed for my feelings, to be called irrational, overemotional. Having someone cut you down that way—it hurts. Like what you feel doesn’t even matter because it’s inconveniencing someone else. My father made me feel that way all the time when I was upset with him for missing something we’d had planned in favor of work, for restricting me to the house, isolating me from the world…but how was I any better, when I hunted akumatized victims for being taken advantage of by a supervillain? Didn’t I just become my father after all, with such an attitude?”

Adrien raised his hand, his silver ring glinting on his finger.

“I may have been chosen for this life, but I chose it, too,” he mumbled. “I might’ve been able to say no, to quit…but I needed this. Chat Noir was the only way I was able to feel free…and if I think about it, it’s not that different from when the akumatized victims accept Hawk Moth’s help. We all want to be free of something once in a while, don’t we? Don’t we all feel trapped every now and again? Even lost…or helpless? If I dare to judge akumatized victims for what I believed was weakness of spirit…then what about me?”

How can you sit there and judge anyone for wanting the power to change their life with this ring on your finger?

Adrien closed his hand, letting it fall back onto his stomach.

Marinette was right, and so was Ladybug. His way was not the way.

It was cruel. It was wrong.

He was wrong.

“I was wrong,” Adrien made himself say the words out loud, feeling years and years of pent up tension leaving him at the admission, leaving him…lighter. Liberated. He turned to look at Ivan…at the very first akumatized victim he had ever saved, the knowledge of his guilt burning within him.

“I was wrong…and I’m sorry.”

Time stood still for one long moment.

And then Ivan slowly smiled the widest smile Adrien had seen on him to date.

“They say that the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem,” Ivan said. He reached over and patted Adrien’s shoulder. “You’re a bit farther than I was expecting, so I’m glad.”

“It’s about time,” Plagg drawled, zooming into the air to hover over Adrien. His tone was exasperated…but his expression was pleased. “I’ve been wondering whether or not you were ever gonna show up again, you stubborn child.” He settled onto Adrien’s shoulder, the tops of his ears brushing the underside of Adrien’s jaw. “Welcome back, Adrien.”

Adrien couldn’t help himself—he laughed, tears pricking his eyes. It felt good to laugh like this again. Usually he only laughed this way with Marinette anymore, so to do it without having to rely on her presence felt really, really good.

“Thanks,” he said to Plagg, scratching the kwami between his ears, rewarded with a purr a moment later. He sat up carefully and turned to Ivan with a wry grin. “Does this mean I’m cured, Doc?”

Ivan laughed.

“It doesn’t quite work that way…but your breakthrough is encouraging.”

“So…about the whole ‘me being Chat Noir’ thing—”

“Your secret is safe,” Ivan assured him with a nod of his head. “There’s a thing called doctor-patient confidentiality, so I couldn’t tell anyone even if I wanted to.”

“…I was just gonna say that I was sorry for making you doubt me,” Adrien finished his thought, smiling a little. “But I’m glad you’re willing to keep my secret.”

“Oh…no problem.” Ivan blushed, smiling a shy smile. “Now I can go back to thinking that you’re super awesome.”

Adrien blushed too, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Ahaha…maybe not yet…” A frown creased his brow. “There’s a lot I have to make up for, first.”

“One step at a time, Adrien,” Ivan reminded him. “And, as always, if you need to talk, you know where to find me. Just, uh…try not to take my door off its hinges in the near future, okay?”

Adrien grinned sheepishly.

“I’ll be better. I promise.”



Adrien didn’t know how he knew they’d be there today. Maybe it was just a lucky guess.

He snorted, his hand closing around the charm in his pocket, the one he’d stumbled upon as he was going through his old belongings last night, sorting through things to purge from his past, if he wanted to move forward the right way. It took him a moment to remember what this strange charm was when it fell out of a box of stuff Adrien hadn't touched in ages. The longer he stared at it, the more he began to remember—there was a video game tournament…quiche…and Marinette…

Adrien had almost sent her a picture, wanting to gloat about what he’d just discovered, after he got over the realization that he’d unconsciously kept it all these years…but he changed his mind at the last minute, cancelling the text. He wanted to see Marinette’s face once she saw the charm, wanting to see if she’d recognize it faster than he did. And so Adrien had thrown on his coat and left the house, with no direction other than a gut feeling that she and her friends might want to finish the ice cream social that had been interrupted during yesterday’s akuma attack…

And just like yesterday, he found them easily within the gelato shop. But there was a new addition today, one he hadn’t noticed until he’d already entered the shop and began to head their way, intending to march himself over there and start a conversation, no matter what it took:

Kira was among them, laughing brightly at some story Alya was telling her. She wore a pink eye patch over her left eye, bedazzled with rhinestones and other sparkly items, hiding her bruise from view.

Adrien halted in his tracks, legs locking in place.

The abrupt movement alerted Nino from his peripheral vision, and he glanced over. Their eyes met.

“…Be right back,” he said to the table after a moment, getting up and approaching Adrien, who merely stood there in the middle of the gelato shop, unsure of what to do. He could only watch as Nino drew nearer, planting his feet in front of Adrien, his golden eyes blazing. The silence was thick with tension and uncertainty.

Finally, after an excruciating moment, Nino spoke.

“Hey,” he greeted casually. Adrien blinked.

“Hey,” he returned carefully. Nino tilted his head to the side, inspecting him.

“Still stupid?” He asked.

Adrien smiled weakly.

“I think I’m getting smarter,” he admitted. Nino appeared to chew that over…and then he nodded.

“Cool.” He clapped a hand briefly to Adrien’s shoulder. “Have a seat.”

Adrien shot a grateful smile his way, and Nino smiled a bit in return. As they approached the table, Adrien noticed Marinette’s eyes go wide and sparkly, the way they usually did when she was excited about something. She was adorable.

Alya, however, was nothing but shrewdness and suspicion when Adrien carefully sat down across the table from her.

“Well, if it isn't Mr. Adrien Agreste, supermodel and CEO of Agreste Fashion,” she drawled, looking down her nose at him. “What’re you doing slumming it with us little people? Are you even allowed to have ice cream on your model diet?”

Adrien glanced at Nino, who shrugged at him, which Adrien took to mean that he was on his own when it came to Alya.

“Uh…what my dietician doesn’t know won’t hurt me?” He offered with a slight shrug of his shoulders. Alya had yet to be convinced, it appeared…but thankfully, Nino decided to step in after all.

“Must be awfully boring, going to all those fashion events with nothing but twiggy models and fashion designers to talk to—no offense, ‘Nette.”

“None taken,” Marinette said graciously, her hands on her cheeks as she sipped at her malt shake.

“Anyway, looks like Mr. Agreste here decided he’d rather hang out with a cooler crowd.” Nino nodded importantly. “Guy’s wising up.”

Adrien smiled tentatively, and Alya gave a huff.

“Fine. He can stay…for now. But I’m reserving judgment, you hear that? I’m watching you, buddy,” Alya assured him, pointing a threatening spoon at him. Adrien gulped theatrically, and Marinette snorted behind her hand.

“Alya, finish your story!” Kira suddenly piped up, tugging on Alya’s sleeve. The suspicion melted from Alya’s face as she turned to face Kira.

“Whoops, sorry, kid. Now, where was I…oh yeah! So the Unicorn Squad and I decide to storm the castle, ‘cause this witch ain’t got nothin’ on us, right? So…”

As Alya spun this bizarre tale of castles and unicorns and witches and magic, Adrien watched as Kira became enraptured, gasping at all the right parts, booing when the bad guys seemed to get the upper hand, and cheering when the good guys became victorious. It was so easy for Alya, Nino, and Marinette to make her laugh…Adrien was glad.

That is, until they put him on the spot.

“This is a cheering up party for Kira,” Marinette mumbled to him when he froze after Alya demanded he tell a story next. “She’s…been through a lot.”

Yes, Adrien knew—more than Marinette knew that he knew, in fact. But what was he supposed to say? It wasn’t like he was a very good storyteller or anything…

As he tried to think of something, shoving his hands into his pockets so no one would see him sweat—maybe he should take his coat off—his hand brushed against something hard, and he abruptly remembered the charm in his pocket…the charm a fourteen year old girl had once given him when she wanted to encourage him…

Adrien took a deep breath. As much as he didn’t want to let go of this charm…maybe there was someone else who could use it more than he could. He just hoped it would be acceptable…

“So, uh…Kira? You like charms?”

Kira’s dark brown eye lit up at the word.

“Yeah! I collect them! But this one’s my favorite!” She gestured to the four-leaf clover pendant pinned to the front of her shirt. Right over her heart. “My mommy gave it to me. She’s…not here anymore.” Kira frowned at that before brightening a moment after. “But that’s okay! As long as I wear this pendant, I know she’s watching over me. It’s my good luck charm!”

“That’s good,” Adrien enthused with a soft smile. Digging into his pocket, he fished out the long-forgotten charm, holding it out for Kira to see. “I have a good luck charm, too.”

“Oooh,” Kira cooed, staring down at the charm in awe. “It’s really pretty!!”

“It is.” Without meaning to, his gaze slid to Marinette. “A good friend gave it to me a long time ago.”

Marinette’s eyes widened when she spotted the charm. Her face filled with red, and she ducked her gaze away from him, brow furrowing, annoyed at her embarrassment. Adrien had to work not to grin.

“I’ve kept it for a while, and I like to think it’s helped me through a lot, even if I didn’t know it.” Adrien hesitated for the space of a heartbeat, before extending his hand further to Kira. “But…I think it might help you more, now. If you want it, I mean.”

Kira’s gaze shot to his face in surprise.

“…Huh? But…but it’s your lucky charm! Your friend gave it to you!”

“I know,” Adrien assured the child, “but I don’t think she’d mind if I gave it to you. You can never be too lucky, right?”



Excited, Kira reached out a hand, intending to take the charm—but then she flinched, her hand drawing back suddenly, staring at it. Adrien’s smile faltered. Was she all right…?

“…No,” Kira said after a moment, staring at the charm with a perturbed look on her face. “No, I don’t want it.” Abruptly, her gaze shot to his face, looking apologetic. “Oh…I don’t mean that I don’t like it or anything! It really is pretty! But…”

As her brow puckered, suddenly, Adrien understood: Kira admitted that her father used to give her presents after he abused her. Maybe she was wary of new presents now…afraid that they came with a heavy price.

Carefully, he closed his hand around the charm, drawing it back.

“It’s okay,” he promised, smiling when Kira peered up at him. “You don’t have to take it if you don’t want it.”

Slowly, Kira nodded.

“You should keep it,” she decided, her cheerful demeanor returning, bit by bit. “It’d make your friend happy to know you still have it, I think.”

Adrien smiled at the child.

“You think so?”

“Uh-huh. You should show her sometime!”

“I should,” Adrien agreed quietly, pocketing the charm again, slyly glancing Marinette’s way once more, who refused to look at him, her face burning. He chuckled under his breath as Nino reclaimed Kira’s attention with a new story about kids with elemental powers that had to save the world from an evil conqueror who could command fire at will.

“Well well…Shy Marinette. It’s been a while,” he muttered from the side of his mouth. Marinette scowled at the table.

“I’ll sic Alya on you,” she threatened, and Adrien chuckled again.

Ladybug was right: it was nice to know that some things didn’t change.



“Did you have fun today, Kira?”

“Yeah!” Kira grinned up at Nino. “I really like your girlfriends. They’re a lot of fun!”

“Whoa, there, Short Stuff: only Alya is my girlfriend. Marinette’s just a friend.”

“Oh.” Kira was quiet for a moment as they climbed the stairs of their apartment building, up to the second floor where they lived next to each other. “Is she dating that blonde boy?”

“No,” Nino replied, though he did blink in surprise at the observation. “Why, what’ve you heard?”

Kira merely shrugged as they made their way down the hall.

“It just looked like they like each other,” she reasoned simply. Nino frowned at that. Huh. Well, sure, they liked each other—Marinette was the one to reach out to Adrien first, since she had to work closely with the dude for a good part of the year. Still, they did seem like they were getting closer…a lot closer than Nino would’ve thought, originally. Huh…was there something going on with them?

I’ll ask Alya later,’ Nino resolved; if anyone would know what was going on, it’d be his reporter girlfriend.

“Here we are: home sweet home,” Nino announced as they approached 2D, a.k.a. Yuri and Kira’s apartment. “Got your key?”

“Yep,” Kira affirmed, holding up said key for Nino to see.

“Good. Go on inside, then.” Nino grinned down at the girl as she stuck the key in the door, twisting until the deadbolt unlocked. “And let me know if you need anything, all right? I’m just next door.”

Kira peered up at him with her good eye. No matter how pretty he’d helped her make the eye patch, Nino still ached at the necessity of it. At least the scumbag bastard was back in prison now, after Kira had bravely agreed to go to the police…but only if Ladybug could come with her. And Ladybug had obliged, though she had to leave soon after…but not before making sure Kira knew that Ladybug was proud of her. It was something that warmed Nino’s heart all the way down to the bottom; at least one of their superheroes still had her head on straight.

“Don’t worry, Nino,” Kira said, reaching up and patting his hand in a placating manner, as if she could sense his concern for her. “I’ll be fine. I have my lucky charm.” She gestured to her pendant with a smile. “And one day, I’m gonna use this charm to fight bad guys like Ladybug!”

Ah, the spotted hero of Paris had gained another fan. It was well-deserved, of course…but Nino couldn’t help but be a little envious of the hero worship that had entered Kira’s expression at the thought of Ladybug.

“I’ll be rooting for you, kid,” Nino assured her with a thumbs up. “Say hi to your grandma for me.”

“I will!” Kira chirped, grinning toothily at Nino before she slipped inside her apartment and shut the door. Nino was only satisfied when he heard the deadbolt slide home once again, and he let out a sigh. Interesting day: Adrien Agreste might not have devolved into a terrible human being after all…and he and Marinette might be a thing.

The most important thing, however, was that Kira was smiling again.

Nino had his door halfway unlocked before he remembered that he hadn’t grabbed his mail yet. Cursing mildly under his breath, he pounded his way back down the stairs to the lobby, where the stainless steel mailboxes awaited, mounted into the wall. Nino rolled out the combination that would unlock the box labeled "LAHIFFE, N.", and cringed at the abundance of post that awaited him. That’s what he got for only checking once a month around bill time, he supposed…

With a resigned sigh, he headed back upstairs and into his apartment, flopping down onto his couch and facing the coffee table so he could begin The Sorting.

“Okay, lessee…junk, bill, subscription to a magazine I don’t care about, junk, bill, junk…hm?”

From under a flyer for a new type of metabolism pill rested a black box, unmarked. As Nino lifted it to eye level, he frowned, unable to remember ordering anything that required a package recently.

“What’s this…?”

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A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by DarkReyna16

Part 11 of 37

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