Continuing Tales

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

Part 18 of 37

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His phone was ringing.

That was the only sluggish thought that registered with Nino as he slowly woke up, smacking his lips as he rolled over, cracking his eyes open to squint into his room, which was dark, thanks to the fabulous black out curtains that hung over his window. Bless Alya for introducing such technology to him.

She’s my other gun

Should I go to war

Holdin’ me down,

That’s what she’s there for

She’s my other gun~

Speaking of,’ Nino thought, recognizing the ringtone. He rolled over, squinting at his nightstand. Let’s see…one of these black objects was either his phone or his glasses…the thing lighting up and vibrating was probably the phone.

Nino snagged it off his nightstand and rolled onto his back, answering the call.

“Morning, babe.”

“Hey. Did I wake you up?”

“Mmm,” Nino hummed, pushing himself to sit up. “What time is it?”

“About an hour later than you usually get up. What’s up?”

Ah…that’s right. He’d been out late training with Master Fu last night.

Nino frowned at that. He felt bad for the old master, being out so late and in the cold…but he never complained once as he helped Emerald Shell get a better feel for his powers. Things had been a little quieter lately, but Nino was on edge rather than relieved by it. He was afraid that he and Ladybug would be caught unawares at any time if they ever dared to relax, so Nino was using the extra time to train, since Marinette still had years of experience on him. Nino didn’t want her to have to worry about picking up any slack with him; he wanted to be her teammate, not dead weight. And since she already had an ex-partner that was MIA—

“Nino! You still there?”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry, babe. Just taking me a little longer to wake up today,” Nino admitted with a yawn. “I was up late working last night.”

“Damn. That record company is running you ragged, isn’t it?” Alya huffed from the other end of the line, and Nino smiled, picturing her disgruntled face on his behalf. He loved her. “Now they’re not letting you sleep? Do I need to go over there and have words with someone?”

“Take it easy, babe. You’ll get me fired.”

“Well, if they’re working you to the bone, maybe you need to quit. Be all badass with it. Pull a Marinette and storm out dramatically. God, I wish I could’ve been there to see that bitch’s face when Mari quit. I bet it was priceless.”

Nino chuckled, reaching for his glasses now and sliding them on. His room came into view, sort of; it was still dark, but Nino knew his own room well enough by now. It was not messy, but comfortably lived in, his clothes from the night before strewn over his computer chair, the light at the bottom of the monitor blinking, indicating that his computer was on sleep mode. Nino ignored all else for a moment, glancing around his room with a frown. Where was Wayzz?

“Anyway,” Alya was saying as Nino scratched the back of his head, reassured by the weight of jade on his wrist. “Tell me you’re free for lunch today.”

Nino eyed his calendar. He had a recording session this morning at ten…hmm…

“I might be,” he hedged, feeling guilty as Alya gave a pointed sigh. “Why, what’s up?”

“You mean other than the fact that I haven’t seen you in three days?” Alya pointed out, and Nino cringed. She let it go soon after, however; apparently something else was much more pressing.

“We need to have an emergency meeting. It’s Code Red, Nino.”

Nino’s eyes widened as he stepped out of his bedroom, his eyes scanning his apartment for Wayzz.

“Code Red? You mean—”

“I just got the text from her two hours ago,” Alya confirmed, her tone grave. “I’m sorry, Nino: I know you guys have gotten close again, but I gotta cut him.”

“Whoa, let’s not be hasty, Alya…”

“I gotta, Nino.”

Ah, found him: the kwami was in the fish bowl on Nino’s kitchen counter, sitting at the very bottom. He appeared to be meditating, and the goldfish above him, Gaspard and Genevie, were paying him absolutely no attention, just swimming around and minding their own fish business. Nino had to pause for a moment and take this in; rare were the times when he witnessed Wayzz doing actual turtle things, and it was highly amusing.

“Do I have to come to lunch to talk you down?” Nino wondered, moving to the fridge to retrieve a tin of sardines. He wrinkled his nose at the smell as he peeled the top back. Ugh. He didn’t get it, but Wayzz was nuts about the stuff.

“If there’s anyone you should be talking down, it’s Marinette,” Alya huffed as Nino set the tin down and gave a slight tap to the fish tank. Wayzz opened his eyes, and Nino waved at him before gesturing to the sardine tin. Smiling, Wayzz zoomed out of the fish tank, drying quickly (Nino blamed magic) before he settled down onto the counter to enjoy his breakfast. “I could only talk to her for a second, because she had to get ready for class, but I can already tell that she’s in too deep. We need to pull her back up, Nino.”

Nino leaned against the kitchen counter, equal parts amused and confused.

“Wait a second…remind me, why is it such a bad thing for her to have feelings for Adrien again? I mean, I know dude’s been fucked up for a while, but he’s getting better. I wouldn’t be putting up with him if he wasn’t.”

“Yeah, but Nino, do you honestly believe he’s in a good enough mental place to be dating? Dating Marinette, especially?”

“Whoa, why’d we jump to dating? Are they dating?”

Alya gave a short huff.

“I don’t know. The only thing Mari told me was that there might be feelings surfacing again. Psh. ‘Might’ my ass. She was damn giddy about something when I was talking to her…”

“So let me get this straight: the guns are out before we know if there’s a situation to worry about?” Nino paused, smiling a little at the sudden silence on Alya’s end. “Are we jumping the gun a little, babe?”

“No,” Alya replied, her tone several shades of defensive. “I just think we need to be on high alert for the inevitable.”

“So it’s not Code Red, but rather Code Pink: there might be a situation, but we don’t have enough evidence to justify this big deal we’re making out of it.”

“Shut up, I know I’m right. In any case, you just worry about showing up for lunch. I invited Marinette, too, so we’ll sort this mess out, then.”

“Aw, you’re not gonna make me help you double team her, are you? Come on, Alya.”

“Nooo, you’re going to be there as our Adrien informant. Speaking of, see what you can wheedle out of him before lunch. I want all the facts before I go in and try to straighten things out.”

Nino sighed, resigned.

“Yes, dear.”

“Good. See you at noon at our favorite sushi place?”

“I have a recording at ten, so I might be late.”

Alya gave another sigh.

“You better be making bank with all this work you’re doing. Are you sure I don’t need to have words with someone over at Bob Ross Records?”

Nino grinned. Aw, his scary, protective girlfriend was so cute.

“I love you too, babe.”

“Okay, okay…I gotta go to my next class, so I’d better see you later.”

“I’ll do what I can.”

“All right. Don’t work yourself too hard, you hear me? I love you.”

“Love you too. Bye.”

“Good morning, Nino,” Wayzz greeted politely as Nino hung up, pausing in between bites of sardine. “Did you sleep well?”

“Like a rock.” Nino rolled his shoulder with a slight wince. “Just wish this soreness would go away.”

“What is that human phrase…‘no pain, no gain’?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Nino huffed, lifting his glasses to rub the sleep out of his eyes. “I guess it helps to train ‘til I drop, anyway. It’s been too quiet, lately.”

“I agree,” Wayzz said, worry creasing his tiny green brow. “The erratic attack pattern of our enemy is most troubling. For all his obvious faults, Hawk Moth, at the very least, was consistent.”

Hawk Moth…Adrien’s dad, the late Gabriel Agreste. So much about the man had abruptly made sense once his supervillain identity was revealed…and yet, his death had managed to hurt his son much more than Gabriel himself had ever hurt Adrien when he was alive. Nino huffed and shook his head. Thank god his friend was finally climbing out of the pit that was his father’s shadow. It couldn’t be easy, but Nino was proud of him for trying.

His phone buzzed and rang for the second time, and Nino picked it up, wondering if Alya was calling to remind him about some little detail about today’s ambush that she had forgotten. But the ringtone was different, and it was Adrien’s name that flashed across the screen now.

Curious, because Adrien didn’t generally call him, Nino answered.

“Yo, dude. What’s up?”

“Hey,” Adrien replied in a hoarse, scratchy voice that made Nino frown.

“Adrien? You okay, man?”

“Fine. I…” there was a sudden explosive sneeze, followed by a sigh. “I think I might be coming down with a cold.”

Oh, that sucked.

“You need anything?”

“Nah. I’m gonna be in bed for most of the day…but I did wanna talk to you today, if you have the time…”

Nino raised an eyebrow knowingly, though he knew Adrien couldn’t see him.

“This wouldn’t have anything to do with ‘Nette, would it?”

There was a sputtering noise on the other end of the line.

“I didn’t—who said anything about—I don’t know what you’re—”

“Dude, I’m friends with ‘Nette, remember? And what’s more, I’m dating her best friend. There are no secrets in this group because word travels so fast.”

…Well, there were some secrets, actually. But those were the kinds of secrets that had to be taken to the grave, for the safety of everyone involved.

Adrien sighed in defeat.

“Okay…yeah, it’s about Marinette. I…might’ve done something stupid…but I can’t figure out on my own whether or not it was stupid. I could really use a friend’s opinion.”

Nino smiled.

“Well, I have some time before I have to go to work…gimme half an hour to get dressed, and I’ll swing by with some soup and a sympathetic ear.”

“Thanks, Nino. You’re the best.”

“I know. See you soon, dude.”

For the second time that morning, Nino hung up his phone. With a quick pat to Wayzz’s head, Nino headed for his bathroom to shower. Looked like he was going to be a little busier today than he’d originally planned for…

Well, that wasn’t a problem. Nino would take this kind of busy over “akuma” busy any day.



“Dude. You look like shit.”

Nino didn’t bother to hide his smirk at the unamused look Adrien gave him. But he did look like he needed a day of bed rest: his face was flushed and sweaty, hair matted to his forehead and the back of his neck. He sneezed as he stepped back to let Nino in, and Nino cringed, taking a pointed step away from him.

“Ugh. Maybe I should just let you rest…”

“I’m fine,” Adrien insisted stubbornly, despite the fact that he sounded a lot more stuffed up then he had when Nino had spoken to him on the phone. With a wave, Adrien invited him upstairs, and Nino followed, cautiously watching his friend for any sign that he might pass out.

“Wow. Your room is a lot less exciting than your teenage room,” Nino remarked, startled by the lack of arcade games and the rock climbing wall. Adrien snorted to himself as he climbed into his bed.

“Yeah. I didn’t need all the distractions anymore, now that I’m not confined to my room half the time.”

Oh, right.

Nino cringed and hastily changed the subject.

“Here’s your soup when you want it,” he announced, lifting the container full of hot pea soup he’d picked up on the way. He moved to the side of Adrien’s bed, letting the container sit on Adrien’s nightstand, since he didn’t look like he was ready for soup just yet.

“Thanks,” Adrien mumbled, shifting on his pillows with a sigh. He pushed his hair out of his red face, looking downright miserable. Nino felt for him…but not enough to get too close to potentially catch that cold. Instead he carefully perched himself on the very end of Adrien’s bed, giving his friend a concerned look.

“How’d you get sick, anyway?”

Adrien reached over, seizing a tissue from the box on his nightstand right before he sneezed. Sniffling into the tissue, he answered Nino.

“Might’ve spent a bit too much time out in the rain yesterday without an umbrella.”

Nino gave him a flat look.


“I know, I know, Marinette already gave me an earful, trust me,” Adrien sniffed. “This sucks. I thought I was fine earlier this morning…but it snuck up on me. My secretary had to send me home, ‘cause it looked like I was gonna pass out.”

“You still look like you’re gonna pass out,” Nino remarked, frowning in concern. “You sure I shouldn’t just let you sleep?”

Adrien frowned at Nino through his exhaustion.

“I wouldn’t be able to sleep anyway. I’ve spent all morning thinking about…what happened…with Marinette.”

Nino’s eyebrows shot up.

“So something did happen?”

Adrien blinked at him.

“I thought you already knew?”

“Dude, all I know is that Alya’s up in arms because ‘Nette sent her a text—”

Wait…maybe he should be careful about what exactly he divulged here…

Shaking his head, Nino tried again.

“Actually, I don’t know any concrete details. But I do know that Alya’s on high alert.” At Adrien’s groan, Nino’s eyebrows climbed higher, disappearing into his hair line. “Does she have reason to be on high alert, man? What did you do?”

Nino couldn’t be sure, but he rather felt that Adrien’s face grew redder, if that was possible.

“I…might have spent the night at Marinette’s,” he mumbled, not quite meeting Nino’s eyes as he gaped at Adrien.

“Whoa, what?!

“Nothing happened,” Adrien protested, sniffling. He paused, and then added in a begrudging tone, “Well…something happened. But all we did was kiss.”

“You kissed her?”

“Er…technically, she kissed me,” Adrien said, his eyes far away, a familiar dream-like film taking them over. Nino had learned to recognize this look by now. “But I didn’t stop her…and I didn’t not respond, either…and things kind of…escalated a bit…”

Nino stared at Adrien for a long moment…and then a wicked grin split his face.

“I knew it,” he crowed, pointing a finger at a shocked-looking Adrien. “Dude, I knew you were falling for her!”

“Wha—did not,” Adrien protested around a sneeze and a cough. “How could you know when I didn’t even realize it until, like, a couple weeks ago?”

“‘Cause I’m smarter than you,” Nino said simply, grinning at Adrien’s put-out expression. “Seriously, dude, it wasn’t hard. Ever since we started hanging out again, you haven’t shut up about her. And you’re wearing her charm bracelet, like you’re a teenage girl with her boyfriend’s jacket…some of us can read between the lines, man.”

Adrien blushed, his fingertips brushing across said charm bracelet on his right wrist.

“Men can wear bracelets,” he grumbled, eyeing Nino. “You’ve started wearing one.”

Nino not-so-subtly moved his hands in between his legs to hide his bracelet from view. Best to leave that can of worms the hell alone.

“Touché,” he allowed, grinning a bit. “And I wasn’t making fun of you wearing the bracelet, I was making fun of the fact that it’s Marinette’s bracelet. Admit it, dude: you’re a lovesick puppy when it comes to her.”

“I am not lovesick,” Adrien grumbled, though his pout and the heat in his face were more than telling.

“Uh-huh,” Nino drawled, inspecting his friend and the way he sunk into his pillows in defeat. Dude was so far gone he didn’t even realize it…or maybe he did and was just denying it because he was embarrassed? “I know how you act when you have a crush, dude. Remember when we were teenagers, and you had that super-obvious crush on Ladybug?”

Now Adrien’s face turned completely red. Nino felt a little bad…but his main reaction was amusement as Adrien briefly floundered, his mouth opening and closing like a fish.

This man is twenty-two years old,’ Nino thought to himself with a soft snort. His poor, oblivious friend.

“H-how—when—” Adrien’s sputtering was interrupted by another sneeze, and Nino’s pity increased. “How did you know I—that I—”

As he struggled with words, Nino raised an eyebrow at him.

“Seriously, Adrien? Do you not remember when Jackady took over the television studio during my audition for The Challenge? The minute I found you again, once you saw Ladybug, you pushed me out of the way just to say hi to her.” He couldn’t help but snort at the chagrined expression on Adrien’s face. “Yeah, don’t think I didn’t know what was going on there.”

And oh, wasn’t the irony ridiculous, now that Nino knew what he knew? If Adrien ever found out, Nino was certain his head would explode.

Adrien hid his face behind his hands and groaned, followed by a cough. At the reminder that he was ill, Nino decided to ease up on the teasing…at least until Adrien was well enough to take it, anyway.

“So,” he said, folding his arms and glancing away from Adrien, “you said on the phone that you were afraid you did something stupid…did you mean kissing ‘Nette?”

Adrien was quiet. Nino focused his gaze outside his window, watching what was undoubtedly a chilly breeze blow through the trees in his backyard. Finally, the sigh drew his attention back to his friend, who stared down at his lap, fingers idly shifting the bracelet on his wrist.

“…Yeah,” he admitted. As Adrien reached up to rub the back of his neck, Nino frowned.

“Why do you think it was stupid? She kissed you back, right? It was consensual, wasn’t it?”

“Of course,” Adrien replied, frowning, “but now I’m thinking…maybe I should’ve kept my lips to myself.”

Nino snorted at the turn of phrase, grinning an apology when Adrien turned an anxious gaze onto him.

“Sorry…go on.”

Adrien shook his head.

“There’s not much else to tell. I’m just…stunned at myself, I guess. I thought I had better control than this…but I guess I should’ve known better.” He gave a humorless laugh. “When do I not act on impulse?”

Nino frowned. Adrien wasn’t being very clear, here…what, exactly, was the problem?

“So, you like ‘Nette. And it seems that ‘Nette likes you, too,” he summarized, lifting and dropping a shoulder. “What’s wrong with that?”

Adrien sat up straight with a sigh, pushing sweaty hair out of his face and coughing a little.

“The problem is that I’m still under construction,” Adrien replied. At Nino’s confused look, he smiled a little. “You know…a work in progress. I’m still trying to un-screw myself up; I have no business looking for a relationship right now. And I wasn’t looking for one…but things just happened last night…and I…”

Nino stared as Adrien’s feverish face grew desperate.

“…I don’t want to hurt her, Nino,” he admitted in a low voice.

Suddenly, Nino was fifteen years old again, watching the awkward new kid sit next to him after being chewed out for a crime he didn’t commit. When asked why, he had said, with much the same look he was wearing now, that he couldn’t betray the only friend he had.

In that moment, Nino had known that this was a kid who needed him, his council and his friendship, to help him adjust to public school, and life outside his ivory tower.

And now, looking into his friend’s flushed and hopeless face, Nino felt a similar call to action. Poor guy was so worried about Marinette…how could Nino not help?

Heaving a sigh, Nino quirked a brow at Adrien.

“Okay…I’m guessing you haven’t talked to ‘Nette about all this, yet.”

Adrien dropped his eyes to his lap, cradling his bracelet again.

“I don’t want her to hate me,” he mumbled, and then sneezed. As he sniffled and reached for his tissue box, Nino pulled out his phone, sending a quick text before focusing on Adrien again.

“You got cold medicine?”

“No,” Adrien said around the tissue pressed to his face. “It’s probably a bad idea for me to go out in the cold, sick.”

Nino nodded his agreement as his phone buzzed in his lap. He opened the text, smiled, and stood up.

“Well, I gotta go, but I think you’ll be in good hands for the rest of the morning.” As he adjusted his scarf, he grinned over at Adrien. “‘Nette just texted me. She’s on the way with some cold meds for you.”

Adrien’s face grew impossibly redder at the news, his eyes widening to an enormous degree. Nino snickered, hopping lightly out of reach when Adrien made to swipe at him. Damn, for a sick dude, he was still pretty agile.

“Nino!” Adrien hissed, looking horrified. “How could you? We’re supposed to be friends!”

“Ah, but I did it because we’re friends,” Nino assured him with a smirk. “If you wanna work this out, you gotta talk to ‘Nette. You know…” he gave a comforting smile. “Just be yourself.”

Adrien blinked, seeming to register the familiar words. He smiled for a moment, the both of them remembering a day long past that had changed their lives forever. But all too soon, the stress returned to Adrien’s face.

“But…I don’t know what she’s expecting of me. I don’t know what to say.”

“Just be honest.”

“But what if the truth hurts her?”

Nino paused to think about that.

“Well then, I guess you’re gonna have to go into hiding if you don’t want my girlfriend harvesting your organs,” he suggested lightly, chuckling until he registered how pale Adrien’s face became. “Dude, I’m kidding. Seriously, ‘Nette’s a big girl. You should be able to talk this out like rational adults…but then again, considering who I’m talking to…”

“Get out,” Adrien huffed, flinging a pillow at Nino, who dodged around it easily as he moved to exit the room.

“Haha, relax, man, really. As long as you’re open and honest, it’ll be fine, promise.” He paused at the door, giving Adrien a look. “Have I ever steered you wrong before?”

Adrien pouted, but the way he slumped into his pillows suggested that he had been defeated once and for all.

“I guess not…” A begrudging smile twisted his lips. “Guess you are smarter than me.”

“Damn right,” Nino joked, pointing a finger gun at Adrien with a wink. “See you later, dude. Get well, soon.”

“Thanks, Nino.”

“No problem.”



Emerald Shell grunted as he threw up his shield once again, blocking the javelin zinging his way. But Paladin seemed to never run out of them—in fact, the one he threw kept reappearing in his hand, whole and unbroken, at lightning speed. A magic javelin. How annoying.

“Uh, LB? How’s it going with the Lucky Charm?”

“I’m working on it!” Ladybug snarled fiercely as she dodged another toss of Paladin’s javelin. “But if I sit still too long, I’m gonna get skewered!” She twirled out of the way of the javelin, ending up back to back with Shell. “You need to distract him!” She hissed, apparently unfazed as Shell turned to gape at her.

“Distract him how?”

“I don’t know, just do it!”

And suddenly, she was gone. Groaning, Shell peeked out from behind his shield, registering that Paladin was raising his javelin again, poised to strike.

“Whoa, dude, just chill!” He protested, holding his free hand up in an attempt to make a peace offering. “What’s your deal, anyway? What’re you so pissed off about?”

Paladin paused in his pose.

“I am Paladin. I seek to conquer this territory for my king.”

“Yeah, you said that,” Shell reminded him, frowning at the strange figure that had just popped up from nowhere, introduced himself and his purpose, and then started chucking a spear at him and Ladybug without further ado. And to think, if they hadn’t already been on patrol tonight… “Who’s your king, anyway?”

“I serve King Arthur.”

Shell blinked.

“Like…the fabled King Arthur? Uh…I don’t think he actually existed, dude.”

Paladin lowered his javelin, his silver armor gleaming in the moonlight.

“We seek to conquer France in the name of King Arthur.”

All of France?” Shell questioned, raising his eyebrows behind his mask. “That’s a big job…is it just you, or do you have all of the Knights of the Round Table helping you out?”

“The time for talk is past,” Paladin said abruptly, raising his javelin. “Either kneel and swear fealty to my king, or be torn asunder, knave!”

“‘Knave’?” Shell questioned, raising his shield again, keeping his gaze carefully focused on Paladin, and not on the red and black spotted woman sneaking up behind him. “Wow, talk about a throwback. You’re getting a little too into this roleplay, aren’t you?”

“This is no game, knave,” Paladin replied, his tone not changing once throughout the whole conversation. “Either kneel or die.”

“Uh, I’ll take option C: neither,” Shell answered, and without warning, he rushed forward, holding his shield high. Though the helmet blocked Paladin’s face from view, Shell’s sudden rush undoubtedly took him by surprise; he hesitated in his throw, and that was all Ladybug needed to strike. She snatched the javelin from Paladin’s hands, and Shell bashed him, the shield knocking him to the ground. As Paladin groaned on the ground, Ladybug snapped his javelin over her knee. Shell watched, wide eyed, as the akuma tried to make a break for it as usual, its black and purple wings shimmering in the moonlight.

“You’ve caused enough trouble, akuma,” Ladybug called, opening the healing chamber of her yo-yo before she whirled it around, preparing to catch the escaping akuma. “I free you from—?!”

As her yo-yo swung around to capture the akuma, something went wrong. The catch was completed…but instead of being caught, the akuma broke in half. Shell and Ladybug stared as the two pieces of the akuma fluttered to the ground.

“…What the hell?” Shell asked after a bewildered moment. The sound of his voice seemed to unfreeze Ladybug; she stumbled forward, leaning over to inspect the shredded akuma. Shell approached as well, watching as she carefully lifted one half of the akuma. “Did…did you kill it?”

“No!” She protested, throwing him a scowl. “This…I don’t know what this is.”

Shell reached over, lifting the other half of the shredded akuma. Even though he held it delicately, it began to flake and splinter. A moment later, it crumbled, leaving behind nothing but a pile of ash. Shell turned his perturbed gaze upon Ladybug once again, who regarded him with as much confusion and dread as he was feeling on the inside.

Can akuma die?”

“I…I don’t know.” Ladybug gripped her chin, staring at the last bit of akuma that was left in her hand. “It’s…it’s almost like this wasn’t an akuma at all…but a shell.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means it probably wasn’t the true akuma; just a distraction.”

“The Butterfly can do that?”


Shell swore, scratching the back of his hooded head.

“I gotta tell ya, LB, the more we fight this guy, the less we know about him, and it’s starting to make me really—LB, MOVE!”

Shell didn’t have time to wait for her to react; he tackled her out of the way just as Paladin’s javelin embedded itself where Ladybug was crouching not two seconds ago. Shell’s heart was pounding in his chest, and when he heard the clanking of metal drawing closer, he knew what he had to do.

Raising his shield, he called forth upon the power of his Miraculous:

“Force Field: Activate!”

His shield sparked to life; several strands of neon green light exploded from it, crisscrossing around him and Ladybug, creating a diamond patterned shield of energy around them that spanned about five meters in all directions. Shell’s shield revolved slowly at the top of the dome, keeping the force field in place. Outside of the protective field, Paladin raised his javelin to grind against it. Shell held his breath, but his worry was unfounded—the force field repelled any outside attack, just as it should. Thank god he’d finally gotten the hang of it the other night when he was training with Master Fu.

That didn’t seem to discourage Paladin, who kept striking the force field with all of his strength. Shell was so focused on watching him fail that Ladybug’s short intake of breath startled him, and he wheeled around, following her eyes to—

“Aw fuck. He has friends,” Shell groaned, watching as three more armor-clad figures come from nowhere, these three carrying a sword, an axe, and a mace, respectively. All at once, they began bashing their weapons against the force field, looking for some kind of give. Ladybug clutched at Shell’s arm, eyes that were tight with anxiousness going to him.

“Shell, how long can you hold this force field?”

“For as long as I need to,” Shell replied, feeling a little proud when Ladybug’s eyes rounded in surprise. “It’ll stay until I call it down…” He scowled. “But while we’re safe in here—”

“We’re also helpless,” Ladybug concluded grimly. Shell watched as her eyes darted around, appearing to take inventory of the situation. He expected her to turn to him with a ready plan after a minute or two…so the longer she remained silent, the more worried he grew.

“Uh, LB? What do we do?”



“I…I don’t know.”

Shell felt himself go cold.

Those were not encouraging words from Ladybug’s mouth.

“You…don’t know?”

“No,” Ladybug huffed, stress and frustration clear in her face as her eyes kept darting around to focus on one knight at a time. “I can’t tell which one of them has the real akuma…and with four of them on us, guessing wrong would be—”

The point was driven home by the sounds of sharp and deadly weapons being struck mercilessly against the force field. Shell cringed.

“Would a Lucky Charm get us out of this?” He asked, eyeing Ladybug’s yo-yo. She gazed down at it herself, biting her lip.

“I don’t know…”

“Well we have to do something.

“I know! I just…” She huffed, pressing her fingertips to her temple. “I can’t think straight with all that noise! I don’t know what to do!”

Seeing Ladybug doubt herself was an unpleasant sight. It plucked violently at the strings within Shell’s heart, and he squared his shoulders. Ladybug didn’t have a plan, but that was fine. Given the circumstances, it didn’t seem like a ready-made plan would help them now anyway; too many variables to consider.

And that’s where winging it came into play.

“Halt!” He called, raising his hands over his head as he addressed the knights attacking his force field. “We, uh, seek, er…parlay! Yeah, parlay!”

“What are you doing?” Ladybug hissed, jumping to her feet. Shell leaned over to whisper to her, barely moving his lips.

“Just trust me.”

“But parlay’s for pirates!


The knights paused in their assault on the force field. Shell tentatively took that as a good sign.

“We seek an audience with your king!” He continued, hands still raised so they could see them. “We want to, uh, negotiate our, um, surrender!”


Shush, LB! Do you wanna get out of this or not?”

“But what do you mean, we surrender?! And what king?!”

Shell was not required to answer; the knight with the sword sheathed it in favor of a medieval-looking trumpet, which he gave a couple of short blasts.

“All hail King Arthur!” The knights called in unison, and then all knelt as a figure suddenly appeared before them, as if the trumpet and the chant had summoned it. With a swish of a red cloak, a black crown on his head, the supposed King Arthur strode forward to reveal himself…

…As a pre-teen with a smug little grin and an obviously inflated ego. As he stood before Shell’s force field, standing as proud and tall as he could, though he looked as if he only came up to Shell’s stomach, Shell was unable to hold back his loud snort.

You’re King Arthur?” He questioned, amusement swelling within him. “What’re you, like, twelve?”

“Treason!” Cried Paladin, evidently forgetting that the force field was still in effect; he rushed forward, but was bounced back, falling onto his backside. King Arthur raised a hand, his smug smirk unchanging.

“Well, well: Ladybug and…a turtle man? How disappointing, I was expecting Chat Noir. Ah, no matter: I’m sure I’ll find a place for you in my collection, regardless of your…obscurity.”

Shell made a face.

“Ugh, he’s English,” he said with distaste, picking up on the language change and the accent. Ladybug spared him an eye roll before turning her attention back on the self-proclaimed king.

“What do you mean, ‘your collection’?” She asked in English, “All you want is to collect something?”

“Um, duh,” the king drawled, yanking out a handful of action figures from somewhere in his cloak. “That’s why my knights have been marching through the streets of this city! I need new action figures! The ones they’ve collected so far are all right, I suppose, but to have legitimate heroes as action figures? I’d be quite please, wouldn’t you?”

“Quite,” Shell answered with an exaggerated British accent, only allowing himself to mock the akuma because he was so relieved that the knights hadn’t been outright killing people, just turning them into playthings for a kid’s amusement. That was reversible, at least. His cheek was not appreciated by Ladybug, however, and she nudged him in the side to shut him up.

“Yes, well…you’re surrendering to me, aren’t you? If you’ll lower this force field or whatever, we can get started.” King Arthur smirked. “It would be quite an honor for you to be a part of my army, wouldn’t it?”

“Did Chloe have a kid while we weren’t looking?” Shell asked in an undertone to Ladybug, who bit her lip, but her smile still slipped through.

“Hello?” King Arthur called, knocking on the force field, a frown beginning to pucker his brow. “Are you coming out, or do I have to send my knights in?”

“I’d love to see you try,” Shell taunted him in French. King Arthur clearly did not appreciate the language change, and his attitude began to sour because of it.

“No French,” he ordered, pointing an accusing finger at them. “If you are to address me, you will do so in English. I command it.”

“You can’t do much from out there, shrimp,” Shell answered, still in French, daring to grin as King Arthur’s face began to flush in anger.

“Stop it, I say!” He barked, stomping a foot.

“Stop it, I say!” Shell mocked him, mimicking his actions. When King Arthur bared his teeth, so did Shell, which caused the king to roar in frustration.

“I will not be made a fool of in my own kingdom! Knights! Attack!”

As the onslaught on the force field began once again, Shell took to making faces at King Arthur, since there was absolutely nothing he could do to get at them, no matter how loudly he cried for his knights to break the force field already! He only paused to shoot a look at Ladybug, who was watching him with a peculiar look on her face.

“…Well? Aren’t you gonna do a Lucky Charm now that our actual target is here?” He reminded her. Ladybug blinked, tearing her gaze away from him with a bittersweet smile.

“Sorry,” she mumbled, reaching for her yo-yo. “You just…reminded me of someone for a second, there…”

“…” Shell said nothing…but he knew that look by now. It looked like he and Ladybug would have to have a conversation later…

“Lucky Charm!”

Shell squinted at the thing that landed in Ladybug’s hands.

“Is that…?”

Ladybug snorted, a wry smile crossing her features.

“It is.”

Shell shook his head.

“Well…whatever works, right?”

“Yeah.” She drew closer to him, bending at the knees, looking like she was ready to dodge out of the way. “On three?”

“Sure. One—”


“THREE!” They shouted together, Shell calling for his shield, and subsequently, the force field, to drop. Once it did, Ladybug rolled out of the way as the four knights stumbled forward, the sudden removal of the protective field unexpected. They tripped and blundered forward, and Shell rolled out of there as well, letting the four knights crash into each other and collapse into a heap of metal.

“What are you idiots doing?!” Cried King Arthur, now on the verge of a downright tantrum. “Must I do everything myself?! Useless, unworthy peons!

Wow, ‘peons’. This kid was waaay too into his roleplay.

Luckily, Ladybug chose that moment to distract him.

“Hey, look what I’ve got!” She called to the king, waving around the action figure in her hands. “It’s a one-of-a-kind Chat Noir action figure!”

King Arthur’s head snapped up, his greedy little eyes zeroing in on the figure in Ladybug’s hands.

“Chat Noir…he’s one of the figures I’m missing from my collection! Give him to me! Gimme!”

“Do you know the word ‘please’?” Shell growled, but King Arthur paid him no mind, rushing instead to Ladybug and jumping up and down, attempting to grab the figure she held just out of his reach.

“I command you to give it to me, woman!” King Arthur roared, and Shell twitched, annoyed that such a snot-nosed brat had the nerve to speak to Ladybug like that. But she appeared completely unruffled, merely tilting her head to the side with an innocent look on her face.

“Oh, you want this?”

Yes I want it! Give it to me!!!

Ladybug shrugged.

“Well, okay…”

Without warning, she cocked her arm back and flung the figurine at Shell.

“Go get it!” She encouraged with a wicked grin. As King Arthur whirled around and cried out, Shell caught the figurine effortlessly, grinning now as he waved it tauntingly in front of the self-proclaimed king. As he ran forward to claim it from Shell, Ladybug snagged the dark crown from his hair.

“Hey!” He called, whirling to face her again, but it was too late; he and Shell could only watch as Ladybug tossed the brittle crown to the ground, and it broke in half. At last, the akuma popped out, and when Ladybug captured it, it did not break apart like the false akuma, but was safely purified.

“Aw, I wanted to play Keep Away some more,” Shell teased as he tossed the figurine back into Ladybug’s awaiting hand. She gave him a good-natured eye roll.

“You’ll get over it.” She tossed the spotted Chat Noir figurine into the air. “Miraculous Ladybug!”

People abruptly reappeared in the streets from the figurines King Arthur had hoarded, looking dazed and confused. The four knights shed their armor, revealing…

“They’re all kids!” Shell exclaimed, indignation beginning to take over as he inspected the blanket capes and rubber swords. “I don’t believe this! We were being intimidated by little punks in Halloween costumes and toy weapons!”

“Urgh…huh…wha…where am I?” Asked the child formally known as King Arthur, blinking as he glanced around him. Shell was surprised to find that he could speak French perfectly well…huh, was he pretending for the sake of his akumatized persona? Shell watched as Ladybug leaned over, placing the restored crown back on his head, a knowing look in her eyes.

“Let me guess…a D&D game gone wrong?” She asked. The kid blinked at her, startled.

“‘Wrong’? I mean, yeah, I think we were playing D&D…but not a lot’s clear after the characters entered the Enchanted Forest…I had this whole plot point set up, I think, and…oh yeah, they were trying to go off script!” Getting to his feet, the kid pointed an accusing finger at his friends, who all struggled to untangle themselves from each other. “You jerks! You really don’t appreciate all the work I went through to set up this campaign for you, do you?!”

Nerds,’ Shell thought teasingly to himself; the kid who was formally King Arthur seemed a little too sensitive to teasing for him to say the word out loud. Shell just decided to leave the situation to Ladybug, who patted the kid on his back.

“Now, now…half the fun of D&D is enjoying the surprises, right?” She reminded him with a smile. The kid regarded her doubtfully.

“What do you know about D&D? You’re a girl.

“Little shit,” Shell muttered under his breath, and Ladybug threw him a sharp glance before returning her attention to the kid.

“Well, I have to admit that I don’t play D&D, but I do know how fun games like it can be. But it’s important not to lose your temper, because it’s supposed to be fun, right? As Dungeon Master, you’re trusted to come up with a good story, but you also have to roll with the surprises, right? Your friends wouldn’t have chosen you as Dungeon Master if they didn’t think you’d be really good at it, despite going off-script, right?”

As Ladybug smiled encouragingly, Shell watched in amusement as the kid’s face flushed. Poor twelve-year-old kid…he had a long battle ahead of him when it came to girls.

“I…I guess not,” the kid stuttered, and was rewarded with a head pat from Ladybug.

“Atta boy.” She straightened up, hands on her hips. “Now I want you and your friends to go home. It’s cold out here, and you shouldn’t be out so late, anyway. Your parents must be worried, and you can’t finish your campaign if you’re wandering around out here, right?”

“Uh, right…” With another flustered glance to Ladybug, the kid ran past Shell to his friends. “Uh, sorry, guys, for getting so mad before. Do you, uh…wanna finish the story?”

“Of course,” said the kid that was formerly Paladin, grinning toothily. “It was actually getting interesting before we got, uh, interrupted.”

His friends murmured their agreement, and former King Arthur smiled before he turned and led his merry band of nerds down the street, eager to return to their realm of make-believe. Shell shrugged. He didn’t really get it…but considering the fact that he was currently dressed in a green turtle suit, he didn’t have much room to taunt and tease.

“You know, you probably made him fall in love with you just then,” Shell remarked as Ladybug approached. She snorted softly.

“He’s a kid; he can’t even spell ‘love’.”

“Don’t underestimate him because he’s young,” Shell warned her in a dire tone that was ruined by his grin. “He nearly conquered Paris in one night in his very short reign as king.”

“Hmm. Well, I have always wanted my own kingdom,” Ladybug mused as she and Shell scampered off before press or protesters could catch them unaware. “You know, big castle, moat, drawbridge—”

“I know someone who’s rich enough to pull that off,” Shell teased, grinning when Ladybug’s face flushed red to match her mask. “How’re things going with him, by the way?”

“You are cordially invited to mind your own business,” Ladybug huffed at him, not quite meeting his eyes as Shell snickered at her. “You’re almost as bad as Alya.”

Shell’s grin died at the mention of his girlfriend.

“Speaking of…she’s pissed at me, isn’t she?”

Ladybug side-eyed him as they ran through the streets of Paris.

“You did skip out on us for lunch yesterday. And I doubt it helps that we were both too busy to join her at Francoise’s today.”

Shell sighed as they paused to climb onto his favorite rooftop, the sight of the Seine gorgeous at this height. He kept his eyes focused on the river as he grumbled.

“Recording ran over yesterday. There was nothing I could do about it. Couple that with meeting Master Fu today when we were supposed to meet her for ice cream—” He gave a sigh, scratching the back of his hooded head. “This is hard, LB.”

Ladybug laid a brief, understanding hand on his shoulder as they leapt from the rooftop and raced off to complete their patrol.

“I know, Shell. I wish there was another way, too. But we’re still doing her birthday thing next week, right?”

“Oh, for sure,” Shell agreed, pacing his breath as they ran. “At this point, it’s not about just wanting to do it anymore: I need this to make up for being a complete ass to her for so long. I can’t believe she hasn’t dumped my ass yet.”

“Alya wouldn’t do that. She loves you.”

“Yeah, but have I shown that I love her lately?”

Ladybug’s Miraculous gave a beep, and they paused, her hand going to it.

“How many dots?”

“Three,” Shell replied, counting quickly. Ladybug gave a shrug.

“Then we have time.”

“Yeah.” He eyed her for a moment as they paused to survey the area yet again. “So, since we have time, I gotta ask you: you miss Chat Noir, don’t you?”

Ladybug froze, her gaze turned away from him.

“Didn’t I say you should mind your own business, Shelly?”

Shell frowned.

“Aren’t we teammates, Dots?”

Ladybug turned, giving him an incredulous look. Shell grinned at her.

“What? You’re not the only one who can come up with stupid nicknames.” His smile faded after a second. “Seriously, LB, talk to me.”

Ladybug regarded him for a long moment. Shell kept her gaze, patiently waiting. Finally, she seemed to give up, and she sank down on their current rooftop with a sigh, drawing her legs up to her chest, her arms folded under them. She waited until Shell sat down too, an arm draped over a bent knee, before she spoke.

“Yes, I miss him. It’s stupid, I know. And I can’t really explain it right…but when he’s not here…things don’t feel the same.”

Shell didn’t know what to say. Just as Ladybug couldn’t explain it, he didn’t really get it, and it made him frown. After everything the guy had done, how could she still want him around? Wasn’t Shell himself doing a pretty good job? Or did it not matter because he would never be Chat Noir?

As if she could feel him doubting himself—or maybe his feelings were obvious on his face—Ladybug bumped his shoulder with hers.

“This isn’t to say I think any less of you, Shell,” she told him seriously. “You’ve been a godsend, honestly. If it weren’t for you when Poseidon showed up last month, I’d be dead. You’ve had only a short time to adapt, but you’ve been so amazing, and I’m proud of you.” She smiled. “Thank you, Shell.”

Shell could feel himself warm, and he laughed, rubbing the back of his hooded head.

“Well, I think you’re pretty great too, LB,” he replied with a grin, and Ladybug’s smile widened. “I just worry sometimes…I can tell you’re missing him by the look on your face when we beat an akuma. I just wish you didn’t have to.”

Ladybug laughed softly at that.

“Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to, either. Stupid rogue cat.” She sighed, straightening her legs before she got up, standing tall, her silhouette striking an impressive figure against the moon and stars of the nighttime scenery. Standing there like that, if Shell didn’t know any better, he would claim that this was, without a doubt, a woman who needed no support, who could stand on her own and be the hero Paris needed, and then some.

…But because he did know her so well, Shell knew what the height of such a pedestal did to Ladybug. And because he hated to see her alone up there, he stood with her, giving her back a pat.

“Well, I don’t get it…but I’ll leave it alone,” he promised her with a solemn nod. “You can’t help who you care about, right?”

Ladybug sighed again, giving him a wry look.

“Don’t I wish,” she said dryly, and their chuckling was interrupted by the beeping of her Miraculous once again.

“Come on. Let’s finish up our patrol before you turn back,” Shell insisted, hopping onto his hover board to glide back down to the ground. He heard Ladybug huff behind him as she touched down onto the street, releasing her yo-yo from the roof.

“It is so unfair that you don’t have a time limit like I do.”

“Excuse me, but all I have is a shield that can hover and generate force fields. You can make things out of thin air. It wouldn’t be fair if you could be Ladybug indefinitely.”

Ladybug laughed at that.

“Point taken, I guess…though I think your powers are still pretty cool.”

“Me too, but I didn’t wanna be the first one to say it.”

As Shell and Ladybug laughed and disappeared into the night, both were oblivious to the green, luminescent eyes that followed them until they were no longer in sight.



Nino cringed at the list of his most recent calls.

Alya had called him no less than six times throughout the night, and she hadn’t bothered to leave a message for any of them. That was a very, very bad sign.

“Just call her back,” Marinette encouraged him, frowning around the cup of hot chocolate in her hands as they walked down the street, enjoying their ‘job well done’ treat before going home. “You told her already that you couldn’t make it to ice cream today, right?”

“Yeah, but I think my excuse must’ve sucked,” Nino admitted, glancing over at Marinette with a pained look. “And it doesn’t help that this marks the fifth day that I haven’t seen her.”

“Is it too late to see her tonight?”

“Probably. Besides, I’m exhausted; I’d probably pass out as soon as I got to her place.”

“Hmm…” Marinette hummed, sipping at her hot chocolate. But before either she or Nino could come up with an answer to this problem, Nino’s phone began to ring again, and Alya’s name flashed across the screen, the abruptness of the call so sudden that Nino nearly dropped his hot chocolate.

“Answer it!” Marinette insisted when Nino froze up, wide eyes staring at the screen. He shook his head to rid it of the cobwebs gunking up his brain. Marinette took his hot chocolate from him, and he wondered if it was that obvious that his hands were shaking.

“Oh, right, right…ahem…”

Nino hit the answer button, choosing at the last minute to put it on speaker phone as well. Marinette gave him a curious look, but he ignored it, injecting cheerfulness in his tone as he answered.

“Hey, babe!”

“Hey, Nino,” Alya replied, and Nino’s heart hurt at the sound of her tone; there was something off about it, and he shot Marinette a worried look, which she returned. “What’re you up to?”

“Oh, you know, just heading home from the studio,” he lied automatically, only to cringe once he realized he was doing it. It had been his answer to everything lately when she asked where he was going and what he was doing; the studio, it was always the studio. He might as well be dating the studio instead, at this point. “Sorry I haven’t been able to take your calls.”

“Oh.” There was a beat of silence on the other line. “Have you seen Marinette today?”

Nino glanced up at Marinette, who shook her head at him, making an X with her forearms, eyes wide. Startled at this reaction, Nino felt that he was less than convincing when he replied,

“Uh, no, not really…didn’t you see her at Francoise’s earlier?”

“No. She couldn’t make it, either.”

“Ah…babe, I’m really sorry I’ve been so busy lately,” Nino apologized sincerely, encouraged by Marinette’s nods. “I hate being away from you like this.”

“That’s okay, I understand. Work is work, right? You put up with me through deadline after deadline, so why wouldn’t I support you now?”

The playful note in Alya’s tone was encouraging, and Nino chuckled a little.

“Yeah…even so, I’m hoping things’ll slow down soon. But either way, I’m gonna start making a lot more time for you. And I have something special planned for your birthday next week, so that’s something to look forward to, yeah?”

“It’ll take my mind off aging, sure,” Alya teased. “Well, I should probably go. You’re probably exhausted after a long day at the studio, right?”

“I’m a little tired, but I can talk a bit longer, babe.”

“Nah, that’s okay. I should probably get some sleep, too; god knows I don’t get enough of it during the week.”

“All right, then sweet dreams, babe.” Nino felt himself flush due to Marinette’s presence, but whatever; he and Alya had been together too long for him to be embarrassed about expressing his affection for her in front of other people, least of all Marinette. “I love you, Alya.”

“I love you too, Nino. G’night.”

After she hung up, Nino pressed his phone over his heart, as if he could actually hug his girlfriend that way. Marinette reached out, handing back his hot chocolate before patting him on the shoulder.

“I know it’s rough,” she told him, “but this is the way it has to be.”

“I know,” Nino grumbled, staring down at his phone, where a picture of Alya was still present, smiling that sweet and sassy smile of hers Nino loved so much. “But I hate this. I hate having to lie to her like this.” A reckless sort of desperation seized him at the memory of Alya’s lonely tone on the phone, and he turned to Marinette, beseeching her with his eyes. “Can’t we tell her, Marinette?”

“No,” Marinette said firmly, her jaw locking stubbornly. “You know what’ll happen if she finds out, Nino. Do you want to lose her like this?”

“No…” Nino huffed, dropping his phone back into his pocket and rubbing the bridge of his nose under his glasses. He could feel a headache coming. “You’re right, I know you’re right, but goddamn it. This sucks.” He paused, frowning down at Marinette. “Why did I have to lie about seeing you today?”

Marinette raised her eyebrows at him.

“It’s a bad idea for her to know we’re hanging out without her. Don’t you think she’d start getting suspicious if she knew how much time we spend together?”

“Why? We’re friends.”

“Nino, we’ve literally never hung out without Alya before,” Marinette reminded him with a frown. “It just sounds too suspicious, okay? I know it’s awful, and I’m trying to work something out, but we have to keep her in the dark, understand? She can’t know about us.”

Nino felt his shoulders slump in defeat, and Marinette patted his arm again.

“I know, Nino.” And she did, if the pain and guilt in her own gaze was any indication. “But this is the only way.”

With a deep sigh, Nino nodded as he and Marinette resumed their walk down the street.

A couple buildings back, a young woman with red hair stepped out from the alleyway she had hidden herself in after seeing her best friend and her boyfriend out and about. Without her.

Alya stared hard at their backs, clutching her phone tightly to her chest.

It’s a misunderstanding,’ she told herself as she watched them walk away, chatting aimlessly. After all, this was her best friend and her boyfriend she was talking about. They wouldn’t do this to her. Not Marinette, who had learned to stand up for what she believed in so strongly that she wouldn’t even think about fooling around with the guy that Alya had been in love with for eight years. Not Nino, who had been loyal and loving to her for eight long years, loyal enough that the thought of seeing her best friend behind her back would be unimaginable.

They were good people. They wouldn’t sneak around behind her back. They absolutely would not do something so heinous to her…

But then…what was she supposed to make of that conversation just now?

In the distance, Marinette laughed about something, shoving Nino playfully. He came back and stole her hat to ruffle her hair, laughing at her squeals of protest.

The tight ball that had suddenly appeared in Alya’s chest grew tighter, and her grip on her phone grew stronger.

She was being lied to.

For some reason or another, Marinette and Nino had apparently been telling her all kinds of tall tales recently.

Well…Alya was not a journalist for nothing. One way or another, she would have the truth from them, once and for all.

No matter what it took.

Back to Us

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

Part 18 of 37

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