Continuing Tales

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

Part 12 of 37

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Marinette winced as she managed to prick her own finger with her sewing needle for the fourth time in twenty minutes. She really should slow down, or she was going to slowly bleed to death before the day was out. But she was so close! Just a few more stitches…and…

“Done!” Marinette announced proudly, sticking her needle into its pin cushion and taking a step back to admire her work.

Working with leather was a little harder than Marinette had anticipated, but even so, she was pleased with her creation: artful tears ran up and down the sleeves of the jacket, giving it the appearance of being shallowly clawed, as if a tiny cat with abnormally sharp claws had taken to climbing the sleeves for fun. Marinette circled her sewing mannequin to nod her approval of the design on the back of the jacket—shallow tears here, too, but dominating the back was a criss-cross of wider tears, bringing into view a large, green paw print, obscured slightly by the remaining strips of leather crossing it, but still distinguishable as a paw print all the same.

As Marinette nodded, satisfied, Tikki zoomed forward to rest on her shoulder.

“Wooow…at first I was scared when you brought out the saw…but this is wonderful, Marinette!”

“Thanks,” Marinette said, grinning. “But you haven’t seen anything yet…”

She moved over to her light switch, cutting it off. Her curtains were already drawn over her balcony doors, blocking out any light…which meant that the only light available was from the green paw print on the jacket, incandescent in the darkness, almost…pulsing, as if it were alive. Tikki gasped, and Marinette giggled.

“Cool, huh? Luminescent paint,” she explained, cutting the lights back on. “Took ages to get off my hands, but I think it was worth it. Hmm…” She hummed, circling around to the front of the jacket again and tilting her head. “I think I’ll add another paw print just above the pocket here on the front…maybe not one that glows, but definitely a green one…”

“Chat Noir would love this,” Tikki commented, and Marinette’s smile faded, replaced with a frown.

Speaking of the rogue cat…she hadn’t seen him at all, despite there being a couple more akuma attacks since the last time she’d encountered him. Ladybug had to admit that it was a little easier to do her job without him mucking things up, and his protesters were a little less rowdy with their leader nowhere in sight…but the déjà vu really wasn’t appreciated. He hadn’t disappeared off the map again, had he? Not when she felt like she was finally getting through to him…?

Marinette let out a sigh. That stupid stray was going to be the death of her if she kept fretting over him like this.

Besides, he wasn’t the only mystery that required her attention at the moment…

Marinette turned her gaze to her work desk, where her sketchbook lay open to Chat Noir’s intended design, his unfinished mask lying beside it. Above both those items, resting casually on the desk, was a large blue feather with black and red rings at the edges. Marinette moved over to the desk, picking it up again to examine it. It was truly an exquisite feather—she was almost dying to incorporate it into one of her designs—but it was evidence as well. There was an unknown ally working behind the scenes, and they had left behind this feather as proof. Ladybug might have been finished had it not been for this mysterious ally…but for whatever reason, they were choosing to stay hidden in the shadows, out of sight. Why?

“Tikki,” Marinette said, twisting the feather in her fingers, “this is a peacock feather, isn’t it?”

“It looks like it,” Tikki agreed, floating up to get a closer look at the feather.

“Then, does that mean…that the Peacock Miraculous holder…is helping me?”

Tikki sighed.

“I’ve said it already, Marinette—I have no way of knowing that.”

“Yeah, but this is pretty big evidence, isn’t it?” Ladybug noted, running her fingers through the soft down of the feather. “I’d be a key chain hanging off Trinket’s dress right now if it weren’t for this.”

“That’s true…” Tikki sighed again, sinking back down onto Marinette’s shoulder. “I really want to talk to Master Fu about this.”

“Me, too…” Marinette eyed her phone, where it lay on her bed nearby. “…I don’t feel comfortable calling him while he’s recovering, though. Let’s save it for an emergency.”

“Good idea,” Tikki agreed. “I suppose it can wait—we’re doing fine on our own for right now.”



Marinette threw a quick glance to the box under her bed with a frown. Having the responsibility of the Guardian of the Miraculous was beginning to wear on her…but she couldn’t very well just dump the chest on Master Fu the minute he got back anyway, because his Miraculous was still missing. Did this mean that Marinette would have to take over for him…?

“The Butterfly…” Tikki suddenly said, and Marinette tore her gaze away from the box.


“No, I’m talking about the name of the new Hawk Moth,” Tikki explained, zooming into the air to meet Marinette’s gaze head on. “Trinket mentioned it, remember?”

Oh, right. Marinette had almost forgotten; since so much had happened during that battle, such a tiny detail threatened to slip right from her memory.

“The Butterfly,” Marinette repeated, frowning. “It’s not as intimidating as Hawk Moth…but at least we have a name now, right?”

A tiny frown crossed Tikki’s features.

“Yes…but we still don’t know what this new enemy wants.” She descended, resting in Marinette’s free hand as she returned the peacock feather to her desk. “Have you noticed? None of the akuma have demanded your Miraculous after Patchwork. They all just rampage around Paris until you stop them. That doesn’t make it very clear what The Butterfly is after…”

That was true, and it was troubling: from the beginning, Hawk Moth made it clear that his goal was the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous, though what he intended to do with them died with him, and remained a mystery to this day. But The Butterfly—if that was indeed the chosen name of their new nemesis, and not just a name Trinket used to describe them—had not bothered to make contact with them at all. They just kept throwing new akuma at them every other day, with no established goal other than to cause trouble, it seemed.

Then, if they were not after Ladybug’s and Chat Noir’s Miraculous…what were they after?

Her phone buzzed on her bed, distracting Marinette. She dropped Tikki off on her usual pillow before flopping down on the bed. She could afford to sit down and check her messages for a bit; now was as good a time as any to take a break from her work.

Adrien’s name glowed across her screen, and Marinette snorted. What did this nerd want?

Adrien: Hey, I know we have a meeting tomorrow…

Adrien: …But am I going to see you beforehand for our morning jog?

Marinette: Ugggh, do you know how cold it is? It’s the middle of December!

Adrien: Fine, then no Christmas present for you. :P

Marinette rolled her eyes.

Marinette: Again, not necessary for you to give me gifts while we’re out running.

Adrien: I know, but it’s like, a thing now.

Marinette: It is most definitely not a thing.

Adrien: It’s totally a thing.

Adrien: It’s such a thing now that you can’t stop its thingness.

Adrien: People look at the thing while it goes by and whisper to each other, ‘Hey, check out that thing over there.’

Adrien: It’s a thing. Deal with it.

Marinette: Why are you such a dork, and how did I get stuck with you?

Adrien: Birds of a feather?

Marinette was going to kick him tomorrow morning.

Marinette: Ffffffiiiiiiiiiine. I’ll freeze my ass off tomorrow just so you can give me my gift…though I don’t understand why you can’t just give it to me when I’m coming to your office tomorrow anyway.

Adrien: I never mix business with pleasure.

…Was he flirting with her?

Marinette shook her head. No way, he was just being…well, Adrien. Adrien Agreste, it turned out, was a huge dork. Marinette was still trying to get over the (false) disappointment.

Marinette: It better be good, Mr. Agreste.

Adrien: It is, Miss Dupain-Cheng. :)

Adrien: So…

Adrien: While we’re on the subject of tomorrow’s meeting…

Marinette: I’m not showing you until it’s finished.

Adrien: Aw come on!

Marinette: Nope.

Adrien: Pleaaaaaaase? *Sad puppy eyes*

Marinette: You’re supposed to use them in person. They’re ineffective in a text.

In response, Adrien sent her an emoji of a black kitten with big, pink, sad eyes. Marinette bit her lip to keep from giggling.

Marinette: That’s a cat.

This didn’t seem to bother Adrien; he just bombarded her with several more cat emojis. Marinette was beginning to suspect that he had installed a shitload of cat emojis to his phone just to annoy her…or maybe because he just liked them that much. Marinette wasn’t sure which one was more disturbing.

Marinette: I’m turning off my phone.

Adrien: Ahhh, nooo!

Adrien: I’ll stop, I’ll stop!

Adrien: See?

Adrien: Stopping.

Adrien: No cats here.

Adrien: These aren’t the cats you’re looking for.

Adrien: Move along.

Marinette: Nerd.

Adrien: Yep. :) So I’ll see you bright and early tomorrow morning?

Marinette: I hate that you’re a morning person.

Adrien: I know. :D See you tomorrow!

Marinette: You’re buying me breakfast for this.

Adrien: I think that can be arranged. :)

It better—the promise of bread and chocolate made the prospect of getting up earlier than she had intended more bearable, especially if Adrien was going to be paying for it. Her parents, if they had their way, would’ve kept giving him food for free, except that Adrien put his foot down one morning, reminded them that they had a business to run, and that he could more than afford to pay for the pastries they kept pushing onto him. And so they compromised—Adrien paid half price for every pastry, and Sabine made him promise to come around for dinner some time when he wasn’t so busy.

Marinette smirked at the thought, knowing her mother would do her damnedest to feed Adrien up while he was under her roof since he was “so terribly thin, does he actually eat? Do they let him eat, Marinette? I ought to have a talk with his dietician; the boy’s too lean for his age! Let Adrien eat!”

Marinette was looking forward to seeing how much food Adrien could get down before he had to admit defeat under her mother’s doting; she bet he had nothing on how much Marinette herself could put away.

Laughing to herself, she got up and stretched for a moment, smiling happily at her finished Chat Noir jacket before she returned to her work table to finish up the mask. The main pieces were about done, so Marinette supposed it wouldn’t do any harm to bring them in to show Adrien tomorrow…but she wasn’t about to tell him that. Better to see him sweat, since she knew how eager he was to see the finished product. And she hadn’t quite forgotten how he’d reacted the first time she brought in anything to show him…

Marinette frowned, the perfectionist within her swelling with determination that bordered a little on indignation. If she was going to bring in anything, she was going to make sure that they were finished to her complete satisfaction. Because if Marinette was proud of it beyond a shadow of a doubt, then Adrien wouldn’t have anything to criticize about it.

And she dared him to try.



“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Adrien greeted her as she met up with him on his usual corner, bright and cheery, as if it was nothing for him to get up at five a.m. to go for a six a.m. morning run.

Marinette hated him and his stupid, casual grace, looking perfect even in a track suit. Ugh, he made her sick.

She grumbled something that might’ve been a morning greeting, though there was certainly nothing good about it, continuing to jog in place since she was unwilling to stand still in the cold, god, it was freezing. Adrien chuckled.

“Little chilly?” He teased. Marinette glared at him, and he held his hands up in surrender. “Whoa, okay, no jokes right now. Sorry.”

“What’s in the bag?” Marinette bothered to ask, noticing the wicker handle that hung from one of Adrien’s thumbs, attached to a large black bag. Gold letters were stamped across the front, but before Marinette could get a closer look at the word, Adrien dropped his arms and hid the bag behind him.

“Your Christmas present,” he said simply with a shrug. But his eyes were mischievous. “Should you choose to accept it, anyway.”

Marinette raised an eyebrow.

“Do I need a grappling gun?” She quipped sarcastically. Adrien laughed and shook his head.

“Nah. But you will need this.”

From out of his pocket he withdrew an envelope with a fancy seal on the back. He handed it over to Marinette, who blinked up at him.

“What’s this?”

“Open it and see,” Adrien invited. Marinette gave him a look.

“It wouldn’t actually kill you to be straightforward for once, would it?”

“It would be terminal,” Adrien contradicted her with a serious look…though the corners of his mouth twitched. “Are you gonna open it or what?”

Again, how did she get herself stuck with this dork?

With a longsuffering sigh, Marinette slit the envelope open, pulling out a tiny, well-decorated card…with her name on it. Curious, she opened the card, reading the scrawling cursive out loud,

Mademoiselle Marinette Dupain-Cheng, it is our great pleasure to invite you to the Sainte de-Coquille Winter Ball—what?! THE Sainte de-Coquilles?! Are you serious?!”

“I take it you’ve heard of them,” Adrien teased as Marinette gaped up at him.

“Heard of—it’s a fashion designer’s dream to be invited to one of their events!! People murder for these invites!! How—how did you get me one?!” Marinette sputtered, unable to comprehend.

Adrien merely shrugged.

“I have to show my face since I’m the CEO of Agreste Fashion. And I’m allowed to bring a plus one, sooo…” Adrien rocked back on his heels, smiling down at her. “You free this Saturday?”

This Saturday was Christmas Eve.

Marinette was going to scream.

Hell yes she was free this Saturday! Hell, she’d clear an entire month of her schedule for one of these events! It was last minute, sure, but Marinette was certain she’d be able to scrape together something to make herself look presentable…she must have some outfit from the past that she could fix up really fast to be good enough for a Sainte de-Coquille event…or maybe she’d just use the rest of her rent money to spring for something. Who needed to eat when she was going to the Sainte de-Coquille Winter Ball?!

She was about to jump up and down and make an utter fool of herself…when a sudden thought struck her, and she paused in the middle of raising her arms, the scream building within her dying away.

Wait. If she was Adrien’s plus one, then…

“…What about Chloe?”

The question made Adrien blink.

“Chloe? What about her?” He asked, causing Marinette to frown. Was she missing something here?

“You’re not taking her?” She fished. Adrien only stared down at her, perplexed.

“Do you…not want to go?”

“I’d love to,” Marinette rushed to assure him, a part of her screaming at her to drop it, drop it now, if he wasn’t taking Chloe then good for her, shut up! But something about this didn’t feel right…and she had to know… “But doesn’t it look bad if you show up with a friend rather than your girlfriend?”

Adrien sputtered.


Marinette’s brow furrowed further.

“You are dating Chloe, aren’t you?”

“No!” Adrien exclaimed, flushing pink. “Da—god, I grew up with Chloe, she’s like a sister to me! Why would you think we’re dating?!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Marinette drawled, raising her eyebrows now, “maybe because the last time I saw her, she was wearing your shirt?”

Adrien clearly needed a minute to pinpoint when that moment was. Marinette waited, running a finger longingly over the lace trim of the invitation, looking up only at the soft exhalation that was Adrien’s realization.

“Ohhh.” He shook his head. “She was wearing it just to wear it, Mari. I swear,” he insisted when Marinette leveled a flat look at him. “There’s nothinggoing on between me and Chloe, romantically.”

Marinette took in Adrien’s expression, the wide innocence of his eyes, the openness of his expression. He wasn’t lying—there was nothing between him and Chloe. Dimly, she wondered if Chloe herself was aware of that. She was betting on not…or very strong denial, in any case. But that was Chloe’s problem.

But, then again…

“She won’t be happy if she finds out you’re taking me to the Sainte de-Coquille Winter Ball instead of her, though.”

“Chloe hates the Sainte de-Coquilles,” Adrien informed Marinette with a sigh. “Something about the eldest son and an offense about comparing her hair to straw…it’s this whole thing, so I doubt she’ll want to go.”

“She might change her mind once she finds out you’re taking me,” Marinette pointed out, and Adrien frowned.

“Hmm…you might be right,” he mumbled, looking troubled. Marinette, though it killed her inside, decided to give him an out.

“You can invite her instead, if you want. If you think it’s easier just to avoid the trouble—”

“No,” Adrien said, the firmness of his tone surprising Marinette. Sure, Adrien had had his moments in the past when he was tired of Chloe’s bullshit and let her know it, but he generally just did whatever it took to appease her. That appeared not to be the case anymore, however…he had changed for the better somewhat too, Marinette supposed.

“Are you sure?” She asked, biting her lip. But Adrien nodded.

“Positive. Besides, it’s too late to change the name on the invite.” He tapped the invitation in Marinette’s hands, making his pout exaggerated as he asked, “You’re not gonna make me go alone, are you…?”

Marinette frowned at him. She was experiencing such a weird bout of déjà vu right now…

And for some reason, it just felt natural to poke Adrien’s nose when he leaned too far over her, trying to use the force of his puppy eyes to win her over.

“All right, I’ll go,” she agreed, smirking at the way Adrien wrinkled and rubbed at his nose, giving her an odd look. She stuck her tongue out at him and, realizing they had just been standing there for the past ten minutes, decided to begin her jog. “You’re gonna have to give me a couple days to figure out something to wear, though.”

“Ah. Well, since you’ve accepted the invitation…that leads us to your Christmas present.” Falling into step beside her, Adrien revealed the mysterious black bag once again. Marinette stared at him.

“You do not have a dress in there for me.”

“I do.” Adrien winked. “In your favorite color, no less.”

Marinette’s jaw dropped.

“Noooo no no no no no,” she protested immediately, jogging faster, as if she could outpace the problem. But Adrien merely lengthened his stride, and Marinette cursed. Damn him and his long model legs…

“What’s the problem? Saves you the stress of having to find something last minute, right?”

“A dress is way more expensive than a pen or a pin,” Marinette explained with a huff, keeping her gaze determinedly forward, avoiding the temptation that was the black bag in Adrien’s grip. “That’s one gift I definitely can’t accept, jogging or otherwise.”

“Oh come on, it’s Christmas. I’m allowed to splurge on my friends,” Adrien said. “Especially because I know you like the brand…”

Marinette couldn’t help herself; she glanced over just as Adrien raised the bag again, finally able to read the name on the bag: Chanel.

Her legs locked into place, halting her so suddenly that she stumbled and would have fallen, were it not for the sudden grip on her arm, steadying her.

“Whoa, you okay?”

There was laughter in Adrien’s voice, and Marinette straightened her snow hat, scowling up at him.

“I can’t accept this dress,” She insisted, though her eyes strayed longingly to the bag, wondering what it looked like. “Besides, isn’t it a conflict of interest for you to be purchasing expensive dresses from your competitors?”  

She saw Adrien purse his twitching lips, threatening a smile.

“I’m feeling generous. And are you sure you can’t accept it? Not even a dress that you’ll look amazing in, turning heads as you walk into the hottest party for couture, on the arm of a devastatingly handsome model?”

Marinette raised her eyebrows slightly at the last comment; someone certainly thought a lot of himself, didn’t he…?

“It probably won’t fit,” she reasoned out loud, both to him and herself. “It’d cost a lot to have it tailored…and I don’t know if I’m good enough to tailor a Chanel dress on my own…”

Adrien raised an eyebrow, his expression suggesting that he couldn’t believe Marinette would think him so naïve.

“It’ll fit,” he assured her with a nod, “trust me.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“Well…” Adrien rubbed the back of his neck, glancing away from her, his face pinking slightly. “Alya has your measurements…”

Marinette felt her eyes bug out.

“You went to Alya?

“She seemed like a safe bet. I owe her a favor now, though…and I gotta tell you, Mari, I’m a little bit scared.”

“You should be,” said Marinette, working a thick edge of menace into her tone. For something to do, she resumed her jog, shaking her head for a straight minute. “So, wait…the Winter Ball is this Saturday…but before even inviting me, you somehow had the foresight to get me a dress and even ask Alya for my exact measurements? Just how long have you been planning this?”

Adrien smiled.

“I’m a man of strict schedules.” He lifted the bag with a wink. “And I’m always prepared.”

Marinette snorted despite the awe she could still feel rippling through her.

“What’re you, a Boy Scout?”

“I might be.” He jiggled the bag delicately, letting it hang from his index finger. “So?”

Marinette paused again, though she had a red crosswalk light as an excuse this time. She turned to Adrien, gaze switching between the bag and his expectant, even eager face. He had clearly put a lot of thought into this, determined to impress…and it was Christmas…

Just don’t ask about the price tag!’ Her mind insisted, and she sighed, defeated.

“All right,” she relented, making sure to make her expression as put-out as possible as she reached up for the bag. “I’ll take the—”

Adrien moved the bag out of reach. Marinette blinked up at him, taking in the suddenly speculative look on his face. Her brows furrowed.


“…This suddenly feels too easy,” he remarked, tilting his head to the side, wickedness beginning to gleam in the green depths of his eyes. “A gentleman invites a lady to a ball, and she responds by making a big fuss about it, from the invitation itself to the dress…only to change her mind a moment later, willing to accept. I can’t help but feel like I should make this more difficult for you.”

The flat look returned to Marinette’s face.

“That wouldn’t be very gentlemanly of you,” she pointed out dryly. Adrien flashed a grin that was…rather wild…on him.

“Maybe not, but I never said I was a gentleman all the time.”

Marinette made a swipe for the bag, but Adrien only hoisted it higher, his grin widening.

“Adrien,” she growled in frustration, but he wagged a finger at her, clucking his tongue.

“Now now, you were so eager to make this difficult for me…

The crosswalk turned green, and Adrien dashed across, faster than Marinette was used to. She gaped at him as he grinned at her from across the street, dangling the bag like a carrot in front of a donkey.

“You want the dress? Come and get it,” he challenged before he turned on his heel and flew down the street. Marinette wasted a few precious seconds gawking after him, unwilling to believe that had really just happened. The shock wore off rather quickly, however, and she scowled.

That little shit! The very second she decided she could live with such an expensive gift, just this once, he decided to pull the rug out from under her! Ooh, when Marinette caught him, she was gonna kick his ass!

“Adrien!” She snarled, kicking it into high gear as she raced across the street, determined not to lose sight of his stupid blonde hair. “Get back here!”

Only his laugh answered her, whipping by her, the wind carrying it away. Marinette growled and poured on the speed, determined to catch the slippery model. She thought she had him, when he rounded a corner too sharply and ran the risk of running into a trash can—she smirked at the thought of Adrien sprawled out on the sidewalk, hopefully not too hurt, but certainly dazed enough to make him think twice about pulling such a stunt ever again—

Her smirk dropped when Adrien simply vaulted over the trash can, landing lightly on his feet before continuing to sprint. Again, she gawked. Holy hell, he was in good shape…

Marinette did the same without thinking twice about it, smirking at the brief bewildered glance Adrien sent back at her before he faced forward again, running faster. If he expected such a little thing to trip her up, he was clearly underestimating her.

As they neared Boulangerie Patisserie, Marinette realized that she could use the area to her advantage. She’d been swinging through here as Ladybug for years—she knew all the back alleys like the back of her hand, and she knew which loop-around would help her pull ahead with little effort on her part. Grinning, she veered off down a side street. She didn’t slow up for a second, though there was more debris back here than there would be on the sidewalk, but years of ducking and dodging akuma attacks made this a breeze. She swerved, the main street coming back into view just after she leapt over an empty crate. Adrien was just reaching her, glancing back—he had slowed down because he couldn’t see her anymore behind him, and he thought he had lost her. His guard was completely down.


Not slowing her momentum, Marinette jumped onto a nearby streetlight, using the pole to swing her way around in front of Adrien. He turned a second too late, spotting her just as Marinette was diving onto him. She had a split-second to watch his eyes go wide in his face before they were colliding, and then collapsing. Adrien took the worst of the fall, his back and his head hitting the concrete with a dull thud as Marinette landed on him, thighs clamped down on his abdomen, the rocky fall barely winding her. She cringed, glancing down at Adrien, wondering if she had accidentally concussed him—

“…Pfft! Ha ha ha ha!”

Marinette blinked, registering the laughter issuing from Adrien with some surprise. He had a hand clapped over the left side of his face, his right eye squeezed shut, grinning hugely as he laughed. It was…cute.

Marinette frowned in concern.

“Did I knock something loose in there?” She asked, daring to delicately touch the side of Adrien’s temple, as if she could assess the damage just from there.

“Ahaha! Ha ha…no. I’m fine,” Adrien assured her, looking up at her with his uncovered eye, still grinning. “You just surprised me, dropping out of nowhere. For a second, I mistook you for Ladybug.”

Marinette kept her expression neutral through sheer force of will.

“I think you hit your head too hard,” she teased him lightly, hoping such a response would be enough to dispel any suspicions he had on the subject. “Are you sure you’re not bleeding or something?”

“I’ve had worse,” Adrien assured her, sitting up a little. She tilted her head at him.

“When? Did a light fixture fall on your head during one of your photo shoots?”

Adrien’s look turned dry.

“If that ever happened, I wouldn’t live to tell you about it,” he assured her. “Besides, I was talking about fencing.”


“You still fence?”

“Nah. No more time. But I still manage to stay in shape in other ways…”

There was a glimmer of a secret in his eyes. It made Marinette curious…but she had other pressing matters to attend to.

“Well, since you’re feeling fine…I believe I won the challenge, Mr. Agreste.”

Adrien laughed, raising the black Chanel bag, which had miraculously remained unruffled.

“I guess so. All right, all right—the princess can go to the ball,” he teased, handing the bag over, which Marinette accepted with a smug nod.

“That’s what I thought,” she answered, and Adrien grinned.

There was the sudden sound of a tinkling bell, and they both looked up.

Sabine stood in the doorway of the bakery, looking very amused about something.

“Well, good morning, kids,” she greeted them, leaning against the doorframe for a moment, folding her arms. “Am I…interrupting something?”

It took Marinette far too long to understand what her mother was implying. Once she glanced down, however, she registered too late that she was sitting in Adrien’s lap, practically straddling him, after tackling him to the ground.

All because she couldn’t stand to lose.

Her face turning bright red, Marinette scrambled off of him immediately, jumping to her feet.

“Nope!” She squeaked, her voice too high to be considered natural. In her haste to make sure everything looked perfectly normal, she yanked Adrien to his feet as well, ignoring his look of surprise aimed at her and laughing with a light, airy voice that did not fit her at all. “Morning, Mama!”

“Morning, Sabine,” Adrien greeted as well, and though he was also blushing, it was a significantly less amount than Marinette. “We’re here for breakfast.”

“Are you sure?” Sabine asked, touching her lips delicately, though Marinette could still see the smile breaking through. “You two looked rather busy—”

“Mama,” Marinette cut in as she and Adrien blushed darker, “we’re hungry.”

“I’ll bet,” Sabine replied, turning and leading them into the bakery. Not daring to look up at him, Marinette followed her mother, cursing the woman’s timing and her own obliviousness.

“Morning, kids,” Tom grunted from behind the counter, hauling what looked like heavy trays into the back room with the ovens. From there, he called, “Any luck on the job front yet, Marinette?”

“No,” Marinette sighed. Though she was loathe to talk about her failure in this department, anything that distracted her mother from what she thought she saw outside would do. “It just takes me mentioning my name, and then, before I know it, I’m being shown the door for every boutique I’ve visited so far. I wouldn’t be surprised if Symone is blackballing me…”

“That’s terrible,” Sabine said, her kind features crumpling with worry. “The nerve of that woman…”

“Well, if you need some extra cash, Marinette, you know we could always use an extra pair of hands here,” Tom said as he reentered the room, laden down with freshly baked bread.

Marinette sighed again. Great—going back to her lycee job of baking bread with her father. Not that she didn’t love her parents, but from going to having her foot firmly jammed in the door of the fashion world to returning to the hot ovens of her parents’ bakery…it wasn’t encouraging.

But though her pride put up a very good fight, in the end, her common sense—and her bank account—won out, and she sighed once more, this time in defeat.

“I may have to take you up on that, Papa,” she replied regretfully, though she tried for a smile. “I’ll send you my resume later.”

“I’ll only accept applicants who love bread more than life itself,” Tom replied with a serious tone, though he was grinning as he moved past them to stock a nearby shelf. “You’re free to apply too, Adrien, if you ever get bored of your modeling.”

“…I’m sorry, what?” Adrien asked; Marinette looked over to find him blinking stupidly, pulled out of his trance that the scent of fresh bread had pulled him into. Marinette muffled a giggle behind her hand.

“Well, I hope you kids don’t mind, but I thought we could sit down and eat breakfast today,” Sabine announced, ushering them past the counter and into the house. It hadn’t changed much since Marinette moved out—perhaps only the pictures on the bookshelf showed just how much time had passed, with her lycee graduation photo with Alya, a photo snapped of her mid-celebration when she had gotten the acceptance letter from IFA, things of that nature. As she set down her jogging bag and the Chanel bag, Marinette caught Adrien staring at the photos, and she shooed him away to the table, where a mountain of food awaited them. Awesome.

“Eat up, honey,” Sabine encouraged Adrien, taking an empty plate and filling it for him. “I swear you look thinner every time I see you…are you sureyou’re getting enough to eat?”

“He’s a model, Mama,” Marinette reminded her mother for the dozenth time, pulling a plate towards her without hesitation and grabbing whatever was closest so she could dig in immediately. “They keep him on a very strict diet.”

“More like they’re starving him.” Sabine sniffed in disapproval, placing a loaded plate of food in front of Adrien. “Now eat up, young man—I want to see a clean plate before you leave.”

As Sabine whisked off to the fridge for orange juice, Adrien gave Marinette a martyr’s grimace. She giggled, her cheeks bulging dangerously with her mouth full of food.

“Just eat,” she encouraged him, once she had swallowed. “Mama’s an excellent cook.”

“I’d never turn my nose up at free food…” Adrien picked up his fork, looking strangely guilty. “I just feel bad for cheating on my carefully constructed diet.”

“Oh it’s fine,” Sabine said, setting down glasses of orange juice for Marinette and Adrien. “You’ll be able to work it off in no time, I’m sure, what with all the running around you do.”

“We only jog for about an hour every morning, Mama.”

Sabine smiled, something mysterious about the gesture.

“Of course,” she answered, and then left it at that. Marinette gave her a curious look, but Sabine promptly distracted her by pointing out that her food was getting cold. To avoid such a tragedy, Marinette ate more, contributing to the conversation Sabine struck up with Adrien about his company when her mouth was clear.

To her great surprise, Adrien beat out her record of triple helpings at breakfast with two more plates.

Marinette was furious.



“Is that it?”

“Yes…now, it’s not the whole outfit yet, just the main pieces—”


“—So before you get all critical, just remember that this isn’t the whole thing—”


“Let me finish. This isn’t the whole thing, but since you were so eager to see progress, I’ve brought in what I did finish. You know what the end result is supposed to look like, so I want feedback on what can be improved on these two pieces only. Think you can manage that, Mr. Agreste?”

“Yes, okay, fine,” Adrien answered in a rush, nearly bouncing in his seat in anticipation. Marinette bit her lip to keep from grinning. “Can you show me now? Please?”

Those puppy eyes are dangerous,’ Marinette noted to herself once more, shying away from Adrien’s gaze. It was annoying that a grown man could still manage to be so cute.

“All right, all right,” she relented, amused at the grin Adrien tried to stifle, without much success. Shaking her head, Marinette carefully undid the zipper of her garment bag, very aware of the way her heart pounded in her throat. It was fine…she could do this…

Jacket first…

Moving the mask further into the bag, Marinette carefully tugged the leather jacket free, holding it up for Adrien to see, carefully turning it front to back. Her teeth moved to worry her bottom lip despite herself as Adrien stared at the jacket.


Slowly, Adrien stood up, staring down at the jacket. Marinette felt her heart pound harder as he moved forward, a hand raised, yet he did not touch the jacket. Rather, he just held his hand up to the paw on the back, as if he was matching the print. The silence in the office stretched for an uncomfortable amount of time, until—

“This is so damn awesome,” he breathed, and a miracle grin lit up his features, like…well, like a kid on Christmas. Marinette let out the breath she’d been holding in a whoosh, allowing herself to smile.

“You like it?”

“It’s so much cooler in person!” Adrien enthused as Marinette obligingly spun the jacket around once more for him to see. He reached out, tapping the mini bell she had attached to the zipper, grinning wide at the jingling sound. “Does the paw print really glow in the dark like you planned?”

“Yep,” Marinette answered, bragging just a little now. But she couldn’t help it—seeing Adrien so pleased with something she designed was a major ego boost. Her friendship with the CEO aside, Marinette was feeling really good about her chances of winning this challenge now.

“So cool,” Adrien sighed again, and Marinette allowed herself to giggle now.

“I take it you’re a Chat Noir fan?”

The smile faded from Adrien’s face, drawing Marinette’s curiosity.

“I mean…he’s okay,” he replied, frowning a bit. “He was better, in the past…but I’m more of a Ladybug man myself, anyway.”

Marinette felt her face turn red, and she cursed herself for it. He…wasn’t still in love with Ladybug, was he?

It’s hard to make eight years of feelings just disappear,’ Marinette reminded herself, glancing away from Adrien. Poor guy…Marinette wished there was something more she could do for him to help him gain closure…

“Speaking of Ladybug…”

Marinette snapped to attention, her wide eyes on Adrien’s face.

“Y-yeah?” She questioned in a voice a bit too squeaky to sound natural.

Calm down,’ she scolded herself, forcing a deep breath to keep her from freaking out, ‘he has no idea who you are…

And he wouldn’t ever find out, if Marinette had anything to say about it…

“I noticed you haven’t designed anything for her, yet,” Adrien continued, and the tension left Marinette’s shoulders. “The bee and fox outfits are cool…but aren’t you going to make something for her, too? I don’t think she’d be happy to find out she’d been snubbed for a Marinette Dupain-Cheng design.”

Marinette snorted at that. As if Ladybug would care about something so silly.

“I want to,” she admitted to Adrien, laying the Chat Noir jacket carefully within the garment bag once again. “Just…being forced to design all those Ladybug outfits for Symone left a sour taste in my mouth.”

“Ah,” Adrien sighed, nodding in understand as he moved back to his usual couch, sitting down. “Understandable. So you’re not going to design one?”

“I never said that,” Marinette chided him with a shake of her head, shifting her garment bag so that the jacket rested comfortably inside. “I’m gonna save her for last.”

“Oh, that’s good. For a second, I was worried you wouldn’t make anything for her after Symone—”

“Symone didn’t break me,” Marinette interjected huffily, her hands on her hips as she glared down at her garment bag at the thought of Symone. “I just need some time, but I will make something for Ladybug.”

“That’s good.” There was a smile in Adrien’s voice; Marinette glanced over to find said smile on his face as well, eyes warming. “After all, what’s Chat Noir without Ladybug?”

“You have that backwards,” Marinette said automatically, the words thoughtless. It was only when Adrien proceeded to stare at her that she realized what she said. She cleared her throat and tore her gaze from him, rooting around in her garment bag for Chat Noir’s mask now.

“…Are you a Chat Noir fan, Mari?”

Marinette frowned, feeling herself flush for no good reason.

“Well, like you said, he was better in the past,” she huffed, frowning at the thought of the rogue cat. “I really hate the turn he’s taken, especially because it feels so sudden…but…”

But that look on his face the moment Trinket started screaming…the moment he realized the extent of the harm he caused the akuma victims…that wide-eyed, horrified look on a face she used to know well, transformed by time, hardened by unknown experiences…

Marinette picked up the mask she’d designed, a thoughtful finger tracing the cat ears at the top of the mask.

“…But I still believe in him,” she said softly. “There has to be good still in him. He just needs to realize it, first.”

Realizing that she’d been babbling, Marinette turned to show her next piece to Adrien—and was promptly surprised by the blush that filled his features, his gaze torn from her, focused on the wall of glass across the room. He was rubbing the back of his neck, looking embarrassed and uncomfortable. Marinette blinked, startled. Was he all right?


He snapped to attention, suddenly sitting straighter, as if he was about to be reprimanded for being caught slouching. Marinette frowned now.

“Are you ok—”

“I’m fine,” he insisted a little too quickly. Marinette stared as he coughed, rubbing the back of his neck again. “Just, ah, my stomach’s acting up a bit. Think I might’ve overdid it at breakfast.”

“Oh? Couldn’t take the heat after all, huh?” Marinette couldn’t help but tease, still stinging from her most recent loss. Adrien grimaced at her.

“Maybe not.” He cleared his throat. “So, is that the mask?”

Changing the subject, hm? Marinette let it go this one time—he looked like he was suffering enough on his own.

“Yeah, here it is.”

Marinette felt a bit guilty—she had done a lot more work on the jacket than she had on the mask, but it was a smaller project, so she supposed nothing could be done about that. Still, she was proud of it: the edges were rough and sharp-looking, matching the scheme of the jacket without being uncomfortable to wear, thanks to the mesh she added underneath to protect the skin from the sharp edges of the mask. It was black, of course, with two small, pointed cat ears added at the top, the insides painted green to go along with the color scheme. She had managed to carve a cat’s nose at the tip of the bridge of the mask, to hang over the tip of the model’s nose, and surrounding the bridge of the mask—Marinette’s favorite part—were thin, clear, plastic strips that stuck out at strategic points of the mask, creating whiskers. Marinette giggled to herself as she turned the mask around for Adrien to see.

“What do you think? Enough like a cat to be passable?”

Marinette paused when Adrien frowned. Uh-oh.

“What?” She asked warily when Adrien pursed his lips. It took him a moment to open his mouth and articulate what was bothering him, but once he did…

“…It has whiskers.”

Marinette arched a brow.


“Chat Noir doesn’t have whiskers,” Adrien pointed out. Marinette rolled her eyes.

“I know he doesn’t actually have whiskers.” No one knew that better than her, actually…but Adrien didn’t need to know that. “This outfit is looselybased on his costume, remember? So I took some artistic liberties.”

“Yeah, but…whiskers?” Adrien practically pouted, and Marinette worked hard to keep her temper in check. Okay…she could handle constructive criticism…she could do this…

“What exactly about the whiskers is bad?” She asked in a professional voice, tilting her head at him. “Does it not fit with the scheme? Is it a bit too cute to be allowed? Do they look bad?”

Adrien frowned, gripping his chin as he inspected the mask. After a moment, his face noticeably fell.

“…No,” he admitted, sounding irritated. “It…pulls the mask together well, actually. And they’re not too flashy, so it’s not like they draw focus immediately, just when you’re looking closely…it’s a good addition.”

“So what’s the problem?” Marinette pressed, scenting victory just within her grasp. Adrien did pout this time, and Marinette was torn between the desire to laugh and pinch his cheek and the desire to bop him on the head and remind him that he was a grown man, for god’s sake.

“Chat Noir doesn’t have whiskers,” he repeated stubbornly, and Marinette let herself sigh.

“Well, good thing we’re not making Chat Noir wear this, isn’t it?”

Adrien pursed his lips.

“I suppose…” Giving himself a slight shake, he tore his gaze from the mask, choosing to focus on Marinette instead. “Won’t the sharp edges hurt anyone who puts the mask on?”

“Oh, no, I took care of it,” Marinette promised, flipping the mask around so Adrien could see the mesh underneath. “This’ll protect the face of anyone who has to wear the mask.”

“Really?” There was a note of doubt in Adrien’s voice, and Marinette frowned.

“What, you don’t trust me?” She stepped forward, raising the mask. “Here, why don’t you try it on and see for yours—”

Adrien caught her wrists before she could press the mask to his face, his eyes suddenly wide.

“Oh, that’s okay,” he said in a rush, laughing a laugh so strained it caused Marinette to raise an eyebrow. “I trust you, Mari, I promise. You don’t have to prove anything to me.”

“Okay…?” Frowning a little at his odd behavior, Marinette looked pointedly down at his hands, and he dropped them, muttering an apology for grabbing her so suddenly. She gave a shrug, turning to replace the mask within her garment bag before she sat down, facing him, hands folded in her lap. “So? Am I on the right track?”

“Definitely,” Adrien enthused with a more natural smile. “The jacket is amazing, and the mask…fits, despite my, er, reservations.”

“Your unreasonable reservations,” Marinette commented with a dry look that had Adrien grimacing in apology. “Seriously, you’re a stickler for the details, aren’t you?”

“Sorry,” Adrien apologized with a slight shake of his head. “Forget I said anything. The whiskers are fine.”

“I thought so,” Marinette replied, and Adrien chuckled a little. “I plan on starting on the boots next. They’ll fit more closely with Chat Noir’s design, with the cat toes and the design on the bottom.”

“Right…” Adrien raised an eyebrow. “You seem to be very familiar with the design of his costume.”

Marinette held her head up high, nose in the air.

“I’m a designer. It’s my job to pay attention to the little details,” she sniffed. Adrien brushed his mouth with the back of his hand, and Marinette frowned. What was he smirking about?

“If you say so,” was all he said. Marinette opened her mouth, prepared to call him on whatever it was that was making him look at her like that—

“Mr. Agreste,” Sylvia’s voice called through the intercom, and Marinette regretfully snapped her mouth shut, “your next appointment is here to see you.”

“Time’s up,” Adrien announced needlessly, getting to his feet, waiting for Marinette to do the same so he could walk her to the hall, hands clasped behind his back as she hoisted her garment bag over her shoulder. “I’m glad you brought in what you have so far. Now I’m really pumped for you to finish.”

“Don’t rush me,” she teased him, smiling a little as she folded her garment bag carefully over her arm. “I’ll finish it when I finish it.”

“No pressure,” Adrien assured her, raising his hands in a placating manner. “Just letting you know, I’m excited.” He grinned. “I’m sure a lot of men in Paris would love to have a badass Chat Noir jacket of their own, myself included.”

“Well, maybe that dream isn’t that far off,” Marinette said, smiling. “We’ll find out come March, won’t we?”

The intercom beeped once again, their banter interrupted.

“Mr. Agreste? Should I send up your next appointment?”

“Someone’s impatient today,” Adrien muttered, raising a brow at his desk. Marinette snickered.

“We are just standing around chatting at this point,” she reminded him with a shrug. “You’d better answer that…and I’d better go.”

“See you tomorrow morning?” Adrien wanted to check, and Marinette made a face as she shrugged into her coat and muffler.

“Don’t count on it,” she told him dryly, and Adrien chuckled.

“Then I’ll most definitely see you Saturday.”

“Right, about Saturday—where are we meeting?”

“I’ll come pick you up,” Adrien assured her with a smile. “Can’t have a princess walking to the ball, can we?”

Marinette blinked up at him. That was twice he’d called her a princess today…and it made her feel strange, reminding her uncomfortably of a certain rogue cat that would not be named…

“Okay…what time are you picking me up, then?”

“How’s six?”

“That works. I’ll send you my address later.”

“I already—” Adrien began, and then abruptly stopped, his face growing pale. Marinette blinked up at him, alarmed at his change in expression.

“You already what?” She asked, tilting her head to the side. Adrien coughed, rubbing the back of his neck.

“I already…have my tie picked out,” he finished. “You know. Pink. We’ll match.”

“Oh.” Marinette searched his face. It didn’t seem like he was lying…but still, it felt like that wasn’t what he was about to say…or maybe she was just being paranoid?

His intercom beeped for the third time.

“Mr. Agreste? Are you there?”

“It’s like she thinks you’re holding me hostage or something,” Adrien mumbled, huffing as he approached his desk. As he finally answered Sylvia, Marinette turned away, fishing her gloves out of her pocket with a twist of her lips. Perhaps Sylvia was worried they were up to something else entirely, up here in Adrien’s office…but that was ridiculous. Marinette wasn’t that kind of girl, after all.

Then again, Sylvia had no way of knowing that…so it was time to go. She was holding up Adrien’s appointments by standing around chatting about nothing.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Agreste,” Marinette called over her shoulder, pressing the elevator button, the doors sliding open immediately to admit her. As she stepped in, turning to push the button for the ground floor, she caught the tail end of Adrien’s smirk.

“My pleasure, Miss Dupain-Cheng,” he replied, sinking into a bow. Marinette rolled her eyes, but couldn’t help the answering smirk that strayed across her face just as the elevator doors slid shut, and she descended.

Well, that had gone better than she had expected…Adrien absolutely loved the jacket, which was more than encouraging.

…In fact…

Hmm. Marinette had been planning on making her Christmas gifts this year, being so strapped for cash at the moment. She hadn’t figured out what she would make Adrien yet—perhaps a hat, despite what he said about the cold not bothering him anyway—but maybe he’d like a jacket a little bit more…?

After Marinette was gone, Adrien straightened up, a sigh of relief escaping him. Well, that had been needlessly stressful…

“Smooth,” called a little voice from one of his desk drawers. Adrien frowned, spotting tiny green eyes peering up at him from a crack in the almost-closed drawer. “What was that—about three close calls? You’re getting sloppy, Adrien. There’s already one person out there who knows your secret—do you really wanna risk it and make it two?”

“Shut up, Plagg,” Adrien grumbled, completely shutting the drawer now. Not that it would stop Plagg if he really wanted out—

Sure enough, the kwami merely phased through the drawer door, floating up next to Adrien and regarding him with a dry look.

“Look, just because Ivan was understanding doesn’t mean Marinette will be,” he reminded Adrien. “You’re not supposed to just tell people anyway—anyone you tell is in terrible danger because of you, remember?”

“I’ll be more careful,” Adrien promised with a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck. “They were accidents, I swear. It’s just…easy…to talk to Marinette.”

Dangerously easy. Plagg was right—those calls were way too close, and Adrien had to do better.

Plagg let out a huff, sinking down onto the desk.

“You really need to get a grip,” he griped, “telling your therapist, I suppose I could let slide, but bringing your girlfriend into this—”

“Whoa,” protested Adrien, holding up a hand to halt his kwami, his face growing hot. “Why is everyone assuming I’m dating my friends today?”

Plagg merely stared at him for a moment before giving a hearty sigh.

“You know what? Never mind. I give up. You’re hopeless.”

“What’s that supposed to mean? Plagg!” Adrien called, but the kwami ignored him, disappearing into his designated drawer once again, no doubt to nap or plow through the stash of camembert hidden there. Adrien had half a mind to yank the drawer open and demand to know what Plagg was talking about, but his elevator chimed, and his next appointment rushed in, forcing Adrien to give a smile and drop the issue.

For now.



“No Nino today?”

“No,” Alya grumped, scowling down at her sherbet. “He’s been stupidly busy lately. He says it’s because of the record company, organizing appearances and promos for him, but I have yet to be invited to any such event.” Alya huffed, stabbing at her ice cream with unnecessary vigor. “I’m kicking his ass for neglecting me as soon as he has a free moment.”

Marinette reached across the table, patting her friend consolingly on the arm.

“Come on, Alya, be fair: Nino never complains when you’re busy with work, right?”

“…I guess not…” Alya admitted begrudgingly. Marinette smiled.

“I’m sure things’ll die down once he gets everything straightened out,” she assured her best friend. Alya gave a resigned sigh, but she looked placated by the end.

“Yeah…let’s stop talking about the boy for a second to focus on another one.”

Uh-oh. Marinette dreaded this moment…but as soon as the suspicious gleam entered Alya’s hazel eyes, she knew she was done for. She should’ve just stayed home today…

So, Miss Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” Alya began, pointing her spoon at Marinette like a microphone…or a shiv, depending on one’s point of view. “What’s this I hear about you going on a date with Monsieur CEO/Supermodel Adrien Agreste tomorrow night?”

“It’s not a date,” Marinette answered with a roll of her eyes; she had been repeating this fact too much to her mother lately, whom she had had to tell to explain her absence from their Christmas Eve tradition of baking holiday cookies for Santa…a tradition that still held to this day, despite Marinette knowing better by now. “It’s two friends, going to a party. And by the way, I don’t much appreciate you giving Adrien my measurements without asking me first.”

“He and Nino ambushed me,” Alya admitted, scowling at the memory. “They were on about doing something special for you for Christmas, and how Adrien wanted to get you something really spectacular to thank you for being such a wonderful friend…that guy’s sweet talk is dangerous, girl. I’m a little worried for you.”

Marinette smothered a smile, sympathizing with Alya completely.

“I can handle him,” she assured her friend with a wave of her hand. “And apparently, Adrien Agreste now owes you a favor.”

“Oh yes,” Alya affirmed, her grin growing wicked. “And that is not a position he wants to be in…but I’ll let him sweat for a while before I actually cash in.”

“You already have a favor in mind?”

“Oh yeah.”


Alya set down her spoon, folding her arms under her as she leaned forward, fixing Marinette with a serious stare.

“I’m gonna tell him not to go breaking your heart again.”

Marinette blinked, startled speechless by the unexpected response; it was a moment before she could say anything.

“Wha…Alya, don’t be silly,” Marinette protested with a shake of her head. “We’re not even in a position for Adrien to break my heart. We’re just friends.”

A small, sad, knowing smile crossed Alya’s features.

“Mari, I’ve known you for forever at this point,” she said, as if Marinette needed reminding. “I’ve celebrated all your triumphs with you, and I’ve suffered with you through every heartbreak and disappointment you’ve ever had to go through. Don’t you think I know better by now?”

“If you know so much, you should be able to tell that I’m not kidding,” Marinette pointed out with a slight lift of her brows. “Adrien and I are just friends, Alya, nothing more.”

“Yeah…but I have a feeling it won’t stay that way for long,” Alya said, her tone dire.

Marinette frowned at this. For god’s sake, couldn’t she be good friends with a boy without it being misconstrued as romantic? Okay, yeah, sure, she had feelings for Adrien when they were younger, but that was different—she had just been a stupid kid back then, crushing on a model she was too awkward to ever properly speak with. She had grown up since then, and so had he…very well, in fact…and he was a little more playful and open with every passing day that she knew him, and despite what he said about fifteen year old Adrien being a lie, there was still that same quiet kindness about him as there was back then…it had just taken Marinette a while to find it, behind the iron, Gabriel Agreste mask he’d clumsily crafted in an attempt to hide his true nature—

“You’re crazy,” Marinette insisted, shaking her head at her best friend. “I promise, there’s nothing going on between me and Adrien Agreste, nor will there be in the future, ever.”

Alya raised her eyebrows, her hazel gaze glinting mischievously behind her glasses.

“You seem confident.”

“That’s because I am.”

“Confident enough to make a bet?”

Marinette leveled a flat look at her best friend.

“Seriously, Alya?”

“Hey, you said yourself that nothing’s going on,” Alya pointed out, taking a bite of her sherbet to hide her smile…and not quite succeeding. “Since you’re so sure, what’ve you got to lose?”

Marinette raised a dark brow. A part of her couldn’t help but think that this was a trap of some kind…but the competitive streak in her had already sensed the challenge, and was now rising to the occasion, overriding all other reasoning in Marinette’s brain.

“All right,” she allowed, smirking a little. “I could use the extra cash in my pocket—not that working at my parents’ bakery isn’t helping me out…”

“Oh, right, how’s that going?”

“Don’t change the subject,” Marinette chided Alya, her smirk growing. “You wanted to make this bet, so let’s make it: name your price, Cesaire.”

Alya grinned.

“All right: if you win, I’ll give you anything you want, with only the exception of eternal servitude.”

Marinette’s eyes flew up to join her hairline.

“Speaking of confident…”

“But if I win,” Alya went on, as if Marinette hadn’t spoken, pointing her spoon at Marinette once again, “you have to send me a text that reads, and I quote: “Alya, you are the all-knowing queen of my life, and I am in serious trouble. I need your guidance.””

“What, that’s all?” Marinette said dryly.

“That’s all,” Alya replied quite seriously, nodding. “Because I’m gonna need to know so I can prepare the ass-whoopin’ of Adrien Agreste.”

Marinette had no idea whether or not Alya was serious. She decided not to ask.

“Okay…so, what’s the time limit on this bet?”

Alya shrugged as she ate her sherbet.

“‘Till the end of next month.”

Marinette nearly choked on her shake.

“T-that’s it?” She coughed and sputtered, clearing her throat with the help of a few well-placed thumps on her back, courtesy of Alya. “You’re just ready to lose, huh?”

“Don’t be so cocky.” Alya finished her sherbet, leaning her chin on the back of her hand as she surveyed Marinette from over the rim of her glasses, that knowing little smile back in place.

“After all…it’s only a matter of time.”

The double meaning in Alya’s words was promptly and studiously ignored.

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

Part 12 of 37

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