Continuing Tales

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

Part 20 of 37

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Ohmygod!” Marinette shrieked the minute she saw the ring. She could practically feel Francoise’s laser gaze burning into her back, but she didn’t care—her best friend was engaged! Wasting no time, Marinette practically flung herself across the table to hug her best friend, who laughed and patted her back.

“I’m so happy for you oh my god congratulations!” She squealed.

“Ha ha, thanks, girl. But, uh, you might wanna lean back. You’re about to fall into my sherbet.”

Marinette squawked and drew back, glancing down at her sweater to check the damage. There was a pink and orange stain on the front, and Marinette sighed. So much for thinking it was a good idea to wear white today…

“Well that’s embarrassing,” she grumbled bitterly, taking the napkin Alya offered her to dab at the stain.

“Why? It’s just me,” Alya pointed out. As Marinette looked up, she caught the sneaky smirk cross her best friend’s face. “It’s not like a certain lover boy’s here…but even if he was, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind the thought of ice cream all over you—”

“Alya!” Marinette yelped, scandalized. Alya snickered, her smirk evolving into a mischievous grin.

“What? Tell me I’m wrong,” she challenged. Marinette felt her face heat up, and she glanced away, her hand crumpling the stained napkin she now held.

“We’re not like that,” she mumbled, avoiding Alya’s curious gaze at all costs. After a moment, Alya huffed.

“What’re you like, then?”

Marinette didn’t answer. There wasn’t a ready response for her to give, really. Even she wasn’t sure what to label her relationship with Adrien, despite their talk two weeks ago…



Marinette parked on the side of the road, hopping out of her car a little faster than was probably necessary. But she couldn’t help it; she felt awfulthat Adrien was sick, and she wanted to get medicine to him as quickly as possible. And to think, he had looked so healthy and cheerful when he left her apartment early that morning…

Don’t think about that,’ Marinette ordered herself stubbornly, but it was too late for her to stop the hot flush that spread through her face and down her neck. Sighing to herself, she reached back into her car for the pharmacy bag she had picked up, shutting the door and locking it a moment later. In her side mirror, she fluffed her hair and straightened her muffler, adjusting the black cat pin that clung to it so that it hung exactly right. Her freckled cheeks were still rosy, but Marinette was more than willing to blame that on the cold. With a deep breath, she straightened up, and headed up the path to Adrien’s house, ducking through the gate when she reached it.

Nino sat on the porch stairs, and he glanced up from his phone when he heard Marinette approaching.

“Ah, there you are,” he greeted, straightening with a grin. “You got the drugs?”

“Right here,” Marinette answered, lifting the pharmacy bag. Nino nodded his approval.

“Good, good. Well, I gotta go, so I’ll leave our poor sick friend in your care, Nurse ‘Nette.”

As he passed, he patted Marinette’s shoulder, leaning over to mutter in her ear.

“Oh, and he’s really sick…so keep the kissing to the minimum, all right?”

Marinette’s mouth came open with a pop, and Nino chuckled, winking at her as he left. Marinette stared after him in mild horror, resolving to glue her best friend’s mouth shut as soon as she had a free moment.

Shaking off her embarrassment, she sighed and straightened her shoulders, marching into Adrien’s house for the second time.

Nothing much about it had changed, save for one little detail: there was a miniature Christmas tree in the living room, carefully decorated, as if to bring a bit of cheer into the otherwise lonely house. The sight made Marinette’s heart ache. Thank goodness her mother had the foresight to encourage her to invite Adrien to their house; Marinette could weep from the thought of poor Adrien spending Christmas alone with that minuscule representation of Christmas cheer.

Marinette shook her head and moved on, heading up the stairs to Adrien’s room. Outside his door, she paused, and took a deep breath. Okay…she could handle this. She was a grown woman. So what if she and Adrien made out last night, and then kissed again this morning? Marinette could put that aside and focus on what was important: Adrien’s health. She would not make this weird. She would not, she would not…

One more breath…in…out…

At her knock, a throaty voice granted her entrance. Marinette winced. Jeez, he sounded awful…a huge contrast from earlier this morning…

Marinette opened the door, poking her head in.

Adrien was in his bed, the covers pulled up to his waist. One hand rested against his forehead, pushing hair out of his flushed face, his eyes closed. Once Marinette shut the door behind her, one of his eyes slid open to peek at her, a small smile crossing his lips.

“Long time no see,” he greeted her, and she giggled a little before concern took over, speeding her to his bedside.

“How do you feel?”

“Like hell,” Adrien answered around a sneeze, staring up at her as Marinette moved his hand to the side to check his temperature herself. She winced at the heat radiating from him, and plunged her hand into the pharmacy bag around her wrist.

“Good thing I picked these up,” she said, a spark of triumph flashing through her as she pulled out the cold compresses she had bought on a whim. “Nino wasn’t exactly detailed when he told me you were sick and needed medicine, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to be prepared.”

As she unwrapped one of the compresses and applied it to Adrien’s forehead, he shivered and sighed.

“You sure your calling isn’t nursing, Mari?” He teased in that croaky voice of his, and Marinette rolled her eyes.

“Buying cold compresses on the off chance that you had a fever does not a nurse make,” she replied, gesturing for him to lean up a little so she could place another one on the back of his neck. Adrien pushed himself up onto his elbows, and she slipped the compress into place, too focused on her task to properly register the close proximity. Adrien merely stared at her, his face inscrutable for a moment.

“Cute cat pin,” he said after a moment, smiling at the same time Marinette blushed. “Where’d you get it?”

“Some dork gave it to me,” she teased, smiling at him. Once she realized how unnecessarily close she was to him, however, her smile dropped, and more blood rushed to her face. “Uh, you can lay back down now,” she mumbled, swiftly turning from him to rifle through the pharmacy bag. She waited, listening to the sheets shift as Adrien settled back down, coughing a little, and then took a deep breath and sternly reminded herself to get a grip. She would have none of this bashful bullshit, damn it. She was here to make sure Adrien made a full recovery. It was the least she could do, after he had bothered to grocery shop for her, filling her fridge and cabinets with a couple months’ worth of food, like they were married or something—

Do. Not. Go. There,’ Marinette ordered herself once again, aggravated at the blush that filled her face. Maybe she should apply one of those cold compresses to her own forehead, just to keep her grounded to reality…

“Have you eaten anything yet?” She asked Adrien to distract herself as she fiddled with the medicine box she’d picked up.

“Nino brought me soup, but I haven’t had any yet.”

“Hmm…” Marinette inspected the medicine box. “Says here you shouldn’t take this on an empty stomach, since it’ll make you really drowsy…” She glanced over at Adrien with a critical gaze. “But I think it should be fine. You could probably use the sleep.”

Adrien gave her a slight smile, a hint of mischief glimmering in his eyes, which were overly bright, probably from the fever.

“I suppose. I don’t think I’ll be as comfortable as I was last night, though…”

Marinette flushed and rolled her eyes at his teasing.

“Get your own electric blanket,” she shot back, opening the medicine bottle and being very careful not to spill the cherry liquid as she measured out the proper amount in the cup that came with it. “Here. You’re supposed to take some of this every four hours.”

Adrien pushed himself onto his elbows again, muffling a sneeze before he took the cup from Marinette, his hot fingers brushing hers. Marinette forced herself not to react to the contact, and instead watched as Adrien lifted the cup to his lips, took a sip…and made a disgusted face a moment later.

“Ugh,” he groaned, moving the cup away from him as he eyed it in distaste. “That’s revolting.”

Marinette snickered.

“Never taken cold medicine before, huh?”

“Not really,” grumbled Adrien, his nose scrunching at the cup he still held at a distance. “I wasn’t allowed to get sick, among other things, since it’d interfere with my modeling schedule.”

Marinette blinked at such an absurd sentence, beginning to frown.

“What do you mean, you weren’t ‘allowed’ to get sick?”

At this, Adrien lifted and dropped a shoulder, covering his mouth as he coughed, his gaze shifting away towards his windows.

“Father disallowed any activity that might result in me falling ill, and my diet was always strict. I had to be kept healthy at all costs, or I couldn’t work.”

“But what if you came in contact with people who were sick?”

Adrien’s gaze switched to Marinette, the light behind his eyes dimming.

“Anyone I had to work with was not allowed to be ill. If they were, they were replaced. As for outside of work…well, I wasn’t joking when I told you that, before Dupont, I didn’t really have any friends.”

“…Oh,” Marinette replied, unable to say anything else. Inside, however, she was boiling.

While she hadn’t known Gabriel Agreste at all, the more she heard about him after death, the more foolish she felt for once idolizing him. If this was how he treated his own son, why had it been so surprising to her when she found out he had been Hawk Moth?

The injustices burned, but there was no one to rage at; Gabriel Agreste was dead and gone, no longer around to cage his son to the point of neglect. Adrien was free of him…well, in the physical sense, in any case. Mentally, however—

“Do I really have to drink this?”

Adrien’s complaint cut through Marinette’s inner annoyance at his father, and she raised an eyebrow at the pout Adrien was currently giving her.

“You do if you want to get better,” she told him simply, feeling that her chiding was justified when he sneezed again. Adrien groaned under his breath, staring down at the liquid, as if it would disappear if he just stared at it long enough. Marinette bit her lip to keep from smirking. “Oh come on, just do it. It’s not that bad.”

“I don’t see you drinking it,” Adrien mumbled, casting Marinette a pained look. She returned it with a half-amused, half-exasperated look.

“You really are twelve, aren’t you?” She remarked with a shake of her head. “Look, Adrien, just drink it. Don’t make me force medicine down your throat.”

Adrien’s jaw locked stubbornly, the way it did the night before, when Marinette was ordering him to take her bed instead of sleeping on the couch.

“What if I’d rather just sleep it off?”

“Really, Adrien?”

“What? It’ll be slower, sure, but it’d be better than drinking this.

“Have you always been this stubborn?” Marinette wanted to know. Adrien’s eyebrows raised as high as they could without the compress getting in the way.

“You’re calling me stubborn? Remind me, who was the one who dragged me home yesterday while refusing to take no for an answer?”

“You were wandering outside in the rain for most of the day, which is why you’re sick now,” Marinette chided him. “And I didn’t hear you say, even once, that you didn’t want to come home with me. Now stop avoiding the issue and take the damn medicine.”

“Or you’ll what?” Adrien challenged her, flashing a grin that was way too cheeky to be allowed. Marinette frowned at him, silently calculating the situation in her head. Okay…he was being difficult about the medicine for no reason other than he was just being bratty. At the moment, she wasn’t sure if it was just him or his cold making him act like this, but it didn’t much matter; she had to get him to take the medicine somehow, whether he wanted to or not…

Dimly, an idea came to her, forming rapidly in her mind. It embarrassed her, and she flushed, wondering how on earth it had even come to her in the first place (though she was ready to blame Alya for it in a heartbeat). But as embarrassing and diabolical as it was…she had to admit that it was probably foolproof.

Making a show of annoyance, Marinette took the cup back from Adrien.

“Fiiine,” she huffed, giving his shoulder a light shove. “Then lay down and go to sleep. But just know that you’re bringing this on yourself.”

Adrien blinked at her, nonplussed.

“…That’s it?” He asked as Marinette set the cup to the side. “You’re giving up, just like that?”

Marinette bristled at the words “giving up”, and she let the annoyance show on her face once she turned back to him.

“Blame my mother; she raised me to believe that you have to be nice to sick people,” she grumbled, getting up to tug his blanket higher over him. “So I’m letting it go. For now.”

Adrien watched her curiously as she tucked him in, but after a moment, he smiled.

“I should thank Sabine the next time I see her, then,” he joked, and Marinette rolled her eyes.

“Just go to sleep,” she ordered him, hands on her hips. When Adrien obediently closed his eyes and relaxed, Marinette took a step closer to the nightstand. “Do you want anything else before I go? Maybe more than just soup to eat?”

“It’s fine.” As Marinette watched him, Adrien’s face flushed a deeper red. “Just…if you could…I’d like it if you’d stay until I fell asleep.”

Marinette smiled.

“I can do that,” she allowed, sitting on the edge of his bed and brushing sweaty hair from his face. Adrien sighed, leaning into her touch. He looked so at peace that Marinette almost felt bad for what she was planning…almost.

Carefully, she leaned forward, taking the medicine cup Adrien had rejected, emptying the contents into her own mouth. As Adrien said, the taste wasn’t great, but she could manage. She was very careful not to swallow, fighting against the instinct as she leaned over Adrien, firmly pressing her lips to his. He twitched under her, surprised, but as Marinette’s mouth worked against his, he relaxed, melting, opening his mouth to sigh when Marinette’s teeth prodded at his lower lip.

And Marinette seized the opportunity.

Because her eyes were open, she was able to witness Adrien’s flying open as he registered the taste of medicine flowing from her mouth into his. He jolted, but was unable to go anywhere; she had tucked him in too tightly. Marinette held his head firmly in place, moving her hand to his mouth to replace her lips once she had gotten most of the medicine into his. Without the option to spit, Adrien was forced to swallow, and he did so with the bitterest look on his face Marinette had ever seen. She finally let go of him after a minute, and he struggled to sit up, coughing and sputtering. The betrayed look he gave her as he rubbed a trickle of the medicine from his chin made Marinette feel guilty and want to laugh all at once.

“You should’ve known that I wouldn’t give in that easily,” she teased him with a wink, sticking out her tongue. “Next time, it’ll be easier if you just take the—mmph!”

Adrien cut her off by mashing his lips to hers, arms slipping around her waist to pull her closer. Marinette was startled by this kiss; it was feverish and hungry, his tongue darting around inside her mouth, as if he wanted to taste every inch of her. Marinette shivered, reluctantly pushing him back with a hand to his jaw.

“What’re you doing?” She teased him, breathless. “I thought you hated the taste of that medicine.”

Adrien panted, his eyes half-lidded as he gazed down at her, the cold of the compress on his forehead chilling her as he leaned his head against hers.

“I’m giving you my germs,” he reported, a wicked gleam entering his eyes. “That way, when you get sick, I’ll get to force-feed you terrible tasting medicine.”

“Ohhh, so there’s an ulterior motive here,” Marinette acknowledged, letting her arms slide around his shoulders, clasping at the back of his cold neck. “Well, you should know that I very rarely get sick, Mr. Agreste.”

“We’ll see about that, Miss Dupain-Cheng,” Adrien purred, reclaiming her lips after she giggled at their banter. His lips were hot as they moved against hers, and Marinette allowed herself to relish the heat only for a few minutes before she pulled back again, eyes closed, breath labored.

“Nino did say that we should keep the kissing to a minimum,” she acknowledged out loud. At the mention of Nino, Adrien froze, and Marinette glanced up at him, taking in his awkward expression curiously.

“…What?” She asked when he didn’t say anything after a moment.

“Nothing,” Adrien sighed, falling back into his pillows again with all the drama of a soap opera star. “Just…our friends are busybodies.”

Marinette giggled.

“That they are,” she agreed. Her slight smile faded when she registered the way Adrien was watching her, a corner of his mouth pulled down, brow furrowed. She gave him an inquisitive look, brushing his hair out of his face again. “What is it?”

Adrien caught her hand, pressing it to his cheek for a moment before he sighed and let go.

“I have to talk to you, Marinette.”

Marinette blinked. Well, that sounded ominous…

“Okay,” she allowed, turning and getting up from the bed to undo her muffler, coat, and boots, since it appeared that she would be staying longer than she anticipated. Once she laid them off to the side, she rounded the bed, climbing onto the other side.

“Lay down,” she ordered Adrien when it looked as if he wanted to sit up; she put pressure on his shoulder, and he yielded, settling back into his pillows as she stretched out beside him, her head propped up on a hand as her fingers trailed through his hair. Adrien closed his eyes and hummed, apparently pleased with the contact. “So, what’s up?”

Adrien opened his eyes again, his gaze going to the window. A thoughtful frown overtook his features, and Marinette watched him, a low-level hum of dread rumbling through the pit of her stomach. This had to be about last night—it couldn’t be about anything else. The only question that remained, really, was what about last night was bothering Adrien. Clearly, he didn’t mind the kissing, or else he wouldn’t have initiated it again just now. So, just what was it about their newfound intimacy that had Adrien looking like that?

When he took too long to answer, Marinette reached for his jaw, tilting it so that he would look at her. When his eyes reluctantly left the window to settle onto her, she gave him a soft smile.

“You can talk to me, Adrien. We’re still friends, right?”

Adrien’s green eyes sparkled, as they always seemed to do, at the mention of the word ‘friend’.

“Absolutely,” he agreed heartily, taking Marinette’s hand from his jaw, long fingers closing around hers and resting their joined hands against his chest. He muffled a cough, clearing his throat a little before he spoke again. “I’m just, uh, trying to figure out how to word this without it sounding as horrible as it does in my head…”

Marinette inspected his face, the tension in his jaw, the anxious glint in his eyes as he surveyed her, as if searching for a way to gently break news he thought she wouldn’t like to hear. Tilting her head in her hand, she took a shot in the dark.

“You don’t want to be in a relationship, hm?”

Adrien stared at her, his lips parting in surprise.


“How—” he turned his head to sneeze into his free hand, groaning in displeasure. Marinette muffled a giggle.

“Maybe we should have this conversation when you’re not so germy.”

“No, no, I want to get this out,” Adrien insisted, reaching over to his nightstand for a tissue. He sniffled, appearing self-conscious until Marinette obligingly looked away. He delivered a squeeze to her hand a moment later, signaling that she was allowed to look at him again. “It’s been on my mind all morning, and I don’t think I’ll get any sleep if we don’t talk about it…”

So that’s why Nino texted me,’ Marinette surmised, inwardly rolling her eyes at the antics of her friend. He and Alya really were busybodies.

“Mari,” Adrien muttered, bringing Marinette’s attention back to the strain on his face, as if the words he spoke were causing him physical pain. “I like you. A lot. And it’s not that I don’t want to be with you, because I do, so much.” Marinette's face warmed at the confession, and he gave her hand another squeeze before he glanced away. “But…I don’t think I’m in the right place for a relationship. Mentally.”

“Ohhh,” Marinette replied, understanding dawning on her.

“Yeah,” Adrien said, looking relieved that she had caught on. “I’m still working through my issues…and there’s the thing about me getting over Ladybug, too…” Adrien frowned now. “I don’t think my feelings for you have anything to do with being on the rebound or whatever…but I want to be absolutely sure.”

He glanced up at her, gently freeing his hand from hers to touch her cheek.

“You mean too much to me to screw this up, Mari,” he said softly, and Marinette felt a new blush blend into her previous one at such words. “I don’t want to lose you just because I’m a mess right now.”

Marinette huffed, smiling a little.

“You’re not a mess,” she chided him once again with a light swat to his chest. “You’re under construction.”

“An inconvenient mess, then,” he countered, chuckling when Marinette rolled her eyes. His smile fading, he added, “So, I know things kind of escalated between us…but…”

“You’re not ready,” Marinette finished for him, reclaiming his hand with hers and giving it a comforting squeeze. “I understand.”


“Of course. And I’m glad you told me what was going on. Now we’re on the same page.”

Adrien grinned.

“Did we just have an honest-to-god grown-up conversation?”

“I think we did,” Marinette answered, widening her eyes in exaggeration. “Wow…maybe you’re not some bratty twelve year old after all.”


“Yes, Adrien, bratty. Being difficult about taking medicine that’s designed to help you get over your cold faster just because it tastes bad is bratty.”

“I am offended by this description.”

“Good. The offense was meant.”

Marinette giggled at Adrien as he pouted. He rolled over, turned towards her, green eyes searching her face.

“…Is this really okay?” He quietly asked, illustrating just how bothered he was that she might be upset by this turn of events. In response, Marinette smiled and leaned forward to kiss his cheek.

“It’s absolutely okay,” she assured him, drawing back to meet his eyes. “No matter what, Adrien, I’m your friend, first and foremost. So if you say you don’t want to be in a relationship—hell, even if you never want to be in a relationship—I’ll still be here for you. Don’t worry about losing me over something so silly, okay?”

Adrien let out a breath, closing his eyes as relief flooded his expression.

“Thank you,” he murmured, bringing the back of Marinette’s hand to his lips and planting a soft kiss to her knuckles. Marinette giggled, easing down so that she was lying beside him, pillowing her head with her free arm.

“Okay? Are you ready to sleep now?”

Adrien opened his eyes again, regarding her anxiously once more, which caused Marinette to frown.


“…I don’t want to say the other thing that I told myself to say,” Adrien admitted with a cringe. Marinette merely raised her eyebrows, waiting. After a moment, Adrien huffed, clearing his throat.

“Well…this is the part where I should say that you’re not obligated to wait for me…and that if you meet someone else you want to be with…”

He couldn’t even finish the thought before his hand was tightening around hers, as if she was already slipping from his grasp. Still, Marinette watched as he took a deep breath, muffled a cough, and forced himself to finish.

“…If you meet someone else you want to be with, then you shouldn’t worry about me. More than anything…I want you to be happy.”

Oh no, he was so cute. Despite his earnestness, Marinette wanted to tease him.

“Oh? In that case, I should tell you that Chat Noir and I have had a thing going on for years.

Perhaps the joke was too obvious, for Adrien gave her a flat look.

“Very funny,” he said dryly, and Marinette’s laughter was tinged with guilt.

“Sorry, sorry,” she apologized, smiling awkwardly. “I suppose I shouldn’t be making such jokes…”

“Especially not about an infamous cat man…” Adrien raised a golden eyebrow. “Unless you’re the type that likes bad boys.”

Marinette snorted.

“Yeah right. As if I’d go for someone like that…”

For some reason she couldn’t detect, Adrien’s gaze grew suddenly speculative. Feeling herself flush—and not fully comprehending why—she returned to their previous topic.

“While I appreciate that, Adrien, I have to tell you, I’m not really looking at anyone else right now.” Hell, she’d been so busy that anything close to a relationship hadn’t even been on her mind, until she kissed Adrien last night…but she digressed. “If anyone like that ever comes along, I’ll tell you…but it’ll probably be a while, honestly.”

Adrien let out a breath.

“It’s selfish that I’m relieved by that, isn’t it?”

“A little,” Marinette teased, grinning at the chagrined look on his face. “Wanting to keep me all to yourself without putting a ring on my finger? Honestly, how dare you.” She winked, and Adrien laughed, the sound cut short by a cough he smothered with his free hand. Sighing, Marinette sat up, supposing it was tempting fate to remain in such close proximity with a sick person. “So, are we agreed? Friends?”

“Friends,” Adrien agreed with a smile. Returning it, Marinette leaned over to kiss his cheek again, but missed when he turned his head the wrong way, and their lips brushed against each other. They paused, gauging the other’s response…and then, in sync, moved closer, seeking each other’s lips and gifting each other with short, sweet kisses.

“Mm—maybe friends—who, mmph—kiss a little?” Adrien suggested after a moment, his fingers digging into Marinette’s back as he held her close.

“Friends who kiss a lot,” Marinette paused to correct him, drowning Adrien’s laugh with her lips.

It was nothing short of a miracle that Marinette didn’t get sick that day, with all the illicit kissing that occurred. Lucky, some might call it.



“Marinette? Hello? Damn, girl, where are you?”

Marinette blinked back to the present, suddenly aware of Alya snapping fingers in her face. She gave her best friend a sheepish look as Alya huffed impatiently at her.

“Well? Are you gonna tell me what’s up with you and Adrien?”


Well, despite her musings over that day two weeks ago, Marinette still didn’t have a ready answer. Was she in a relationship with Adrien? No, not really. But was it strictly platonic? Absolutely not. Still, the makeshift label ‘friends who kiss a lot’ probably wouldn’t sit well with Alya…

“We’re still figuring it out,” she hedged, and Alya gave a sigh, he features warping from annoyance to concern.

“Are you sure you know what you’re doing? I know how you are with Adrien—”

“Alya,” Marinette cut her off with a stern look, “that was seven years ago. I’m not a silly teenager anymore—I’m a grown woman, and I can handle my own love life, okay?”

Alya raised her hands and her eyebrows, looking surprised and a little bit impressed.

“Damn, girl, all right,” she said, “if you wanted me to back off, all you had to do was ask.”

“I didn’t mean—” Marinette began with a sigh, feeling bad about snapping, but an interruption arrived in the form of the men in their lives.

"Hey Alya," Adrien greeted as he and Nino approached. "Happy birthday."

“Thanks! Oh, and there he is, my handsome groom-to-be,” Alya greeted as Nino grinned widely behind Adrien. “Did you tell your folks yet?”

“Done. They’re thrilled,” Nino replied, slipping into the chair next to Alya’s and kissing her cheek. “How about your mom?”

“She might’ve mentioned something along the lines of ‘it’s about damn time’, but other than that, she and my siblings are excited, too,” Alya reported with a smile. “I was just filling in my maid of honor here.”

Marinette sputtered, shocked at the casual label.

“What? But—Alya, are you sure?”

“What, you don’t want to?” Alya teased, and Marinette hurriedly raised her hands, nearly knocking her malt shake over in her haste, were it not for Adrien’s deft catch.

“No, no, I’m honored, really! I just…you said it in such a matter-of-fact tone…”

“Well, who else am I gonna ask? Adrien?” Raising her eyebrows, Alya turned a speculative look onto the model. “Actually…that could work…”

Adrien gave her a martyr’s grimace.

“You’re already picturing me in some hideous dress, aren’t you?”

“Nah—I’m not so insecure that I’d have my own maid of honor in a terrible dress on my wedding day. Everyone has to look good.”

“Wait, what about Nino?” Marinette asked, shaking her head at the silly conversation. “Won’t you be stealing a potential best man from him if you ask Adrien to be your maid of honor?”

At this, Nino gave a shrug.

“I don’t mind if it means I get to ask you to be my best man,” he joked with a wink, and Marinette sighed before the whole table burst into a fit of laughter.

“A-hem,” Francoise cleared his throat fussily, and the group hastily quieted their laughing fit.

“Sorry, Francoise,” Marinette apologized for the group, and Francoise walked away, shaking his head and muttering to himself.

“It’s a wonder he hasn’t banned us from this place yet,” Nino remarked, slipping an arm around Alya, who was still working to get her laughter under control.

“Francoise is grumpy, but he knows he loves us,” Marinette reasoned.

“Loves our euro, more like,” Nino countered, and Marinette snickered.

“So, Adrien,” Alya addressed him as soon as she was able, her face still split in a wide grin, “You’re not usually free to hang out with us on Monday afternoons. What’s up? Couldn’t stay away from Marinette?”

Both Marinette and Adrien promptly turned beet red, and while Marinette glared at Alya, Adrien chose to laugh it off.

“Uh, not exactly.” He cleared his throat, giving a tentative smile. “I just find that I have a bit more free time, now that I’ve quit modeling.”

Silence fell at their table as that news sunk in.

“Whoa,” Alya said after a moment, blinking surprised hazel eyes. “Seriously? Adrien Agreste, no longer a supermodel? Your fans must be hanging themselves right now.”

“Alya,” Marinette chided, only to have her best friend shrug at her.

“Hey, I’m just saying.” She quirked a mischievous brow at Marinette. “I bet the only reason you’re still calm is because you get to keep him all to yourself now.”

“Alya!” Marinette protested, feeling her face flush.

“…Huh. Now that you mention it…Mari was the one to suggest I quit,” Adrien admitted, tapping his chin thoughtfully before turning a wicked gaze on an appalled Marinette. “Was that your plan all along, Mari? To get me to quit so you could keep me to yourself?”

Okay, clearly having Alya and Adrien in the same room was detrimental to her health.

“I hate the both of you,” she grumbled, her lower lip jutting out as she scowled at them while they exchanged teasing grins.

“Still,” Nino interjected, looking as if he was doing so for Marinette’s sake, “I am kind of surprised you just decided to up and quit out of the blue, dude.”

“Well, I took some time to think it over, first,” Adrien corrected, frowning down at the table. “There were some pros and cons to weigh…but in the end, the bad outweighed the good, and even I couldn’t justify staying on a career path I couldn’t care less about.”

“So what’re you gonna do now?” Alya asked, swirling her sherbet around before she took a bite. “Go into acting? Or maybe live up to your rich boy status, buy a yacht, and just cruise around the world for a year or two?”

“I still have a company to run, Alya,” Adrien reminded her with a chuckle.

“Oh right, CEO.”  Alya pursed her lips. “Must be nice to have your own company at the age of twenty-two.”

“It has its perks,” Adrien joked.

“And now that you don’t have to keep your model figure, you get to eat whatever you want,” Marinette reminded him, smiling. “I’ll tell Mama the next time I see her; she’ll be thrilled.”

“Ha ha, Sabine does always say that I don’t eat enough,” Adrien agreed with an indulgent look. “When can I come over for dinner again?”

“Uh, whenever you want? Isn’t Mama always saying that?”

“Well, yeah, but I still feel like it’s a bit rude to drop by unannounced…”

“Please, she and Papa adore you. I can’t visit them anymore without them demanding information about you, like I’m your keeper. It’s actually kind of sad, seeing as how I’m their only daughter, but you’ve become the favorite somehow.”

“Aw, don’t be jealous, Mari. If it helps, you’re still number one with me.”

“Ugh,” Nino interrupted their banter, and Marinette and Adrien glanced over to find that he and Alya were wearing similar expressions of distaste. “You guys are so sweet it’s sickening.”

“Seriously,” Alya agreed, sticking out her tongue. “I’m getting diabetes just watching you two.”

“Right? I know we just got engaged—”

“—But you two act like you’re newlyweds on a constant honeymoon.”

Adrien and Marinette’s faces promptly exploded with red.

“We’re not like that,” they denied in unison.

“Uh-huh,” Nino and Alya answered at the same time, their sarcastic tones pitch perfect. Marinette sighed as the couple across from her and Adrien moved on to their dinner plans for the night for Alya’s birthday, listing the location and the time as well as discussing which entrees on the menu they were already eager to try. She briefly wondered if she should be worried about the way she and Adrien appeared to others before dismissing the issue. It wasn’t like they were outright flirting with each other; they had just been having a conversation, for god’s sake. And yet Nino and Alya acted like they had been clasping hands and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes for ten straight minutes, or something incredibly sappy like that—

A hand slipped over hers, under the table, giving it a squeeze. Marinette glanced over, finding Adrien’s attention rapt as he listened to Nino discuss the restaurant they would all be heading to tonight. He didn’t look over to meet her gaze, but as he asked a question about how formal they should dress, his thumb began to rub circles into the back of Marinette’s hand. Smiling, she squeezed his hand back, and was just able to detect the curling of the corner of his lips.

What she and Adrien were didn’t have an easily definable label they could just slap on it.

But did it work for them?




Marinette paused just outside her door to lock it, smoothing out her coat over her dress. Okay, she was ready—purse? Check. Phone? Check. Tikki, on the off-chance that an akuma attack occurred tonight? Che—

There was the sound of squealing tires as a car tore around the corner, and Marinette’s head snapped up, gaping in horror as the owner of the car sped at an injudicious speed down the street, fleeing from someone in a black and red costume, a cold sense of purpose on her face as she swung from streetlight to streetlight, using something that resembled a grappling gun of some sort.



Cursing furiously under her breath, Marinette took off down the street, attempting to keep the akuma in her sights, but it soon became impossible, especially since she was wearing heels. Ducking into a nearby alleyway, Marinette opened her purse, releasing Tikki and grabbing her phone.

“Marinette, what are you doing? You have to transform!” Tikki prodded her as Marinette scrolled through her emergency contacts, selecting Nino’s contact information.

“I have to tell Nino what’s going on,” she said, pressing the phone to her ear after she hit ‘dial’. Within a few rings, Nino picked up.

“Hey, ‘Nette. What’s up, are you lost? We’re just getting to the restaurant now—”

“Nino,” Marinette spoke urgently, cutting him off, “I need you to call me back as soon as you’re alone. We have a situation.”

There was a beat of silence.

“Well, okay, but try not to stay too long, okay? I know you love your mom, and all, but I’m sure she’ll understand that you have dinner plans,” Nino replied calmly, and Marinette let out a breath.

“Thank you, Nino. Apologize to Alya for me.”

“You got it. Later.”

To Nino’s credit, he didn’t take long—Marinette was only left to pace anxiously in the alleyway for three minutes before he called her back, his voice grim.

“There’s an akuma?”

“Yeah,” Marinette confirmed, her tone heavy. “I just saw her swing by. She was chasing someone’s car, for some reason.”

Nino swore.

“Of all the nights…okay, where do you want me to meet you?”

Marinette bit her lip. While it would help to have Emerald Shell on her side while dealing with the akuma…to leave Alya all alone on her birthday, after the drama they had all just gone through over the weekend…

“Actually…I need you to stay put, Nino.”


“I don’t want Alya having her birthday dinner by herself,” Marinette reasoned, pinching the bridge of her nose as she huffed. “We’ve already put her through too much this week. I’ll take this one on my own tonight, and show up as soon as I can.”

“Seriously, ‘Nette? You wanna do this alone, after what happened yesterday?”

Marinette tensed and swallowed. She had been trying so hard not to think about what happened yesterday, but now that he brought it up—

Marinette shook her head, willing the horrifying images out of her mind. Now was not the time. She had work to do.

“I can handle it, Nino, promise. Just stay there, all right? I’ll get there as soon as possible.”

Before Nino could protest any more, Marinette hung up, dropping her phone back into her purse.

“Marinette, is this wise?” Tikki asked her, frowning in concern. Marinette matched her kwami’s expression.

“Maybe not…but I have to do this. I’m Ladybug—I can handle it.”

Tikki sighed, but then nodded.

“If you’re sure, Marinette…”

“I’m sure.” Marinette brushed her hand against her earring. “Tikki, transform me!”

One magical transformation later, Ladybug was suited up and ready for action. She swung through the glowing streets of Paris, searching for the black and red-suited akuma she’d spotted earlier.

It didn’t take long to find her—especially when the akuma made her location as obvious as it could get.

Ladybug was drawn up short, skidding to a halt as she rounded one street, wide eyes staring at the sight before her.

A massive, criss-crossing web of black and red wire had been erected before her, blocking off the rest of the street. And trapped on the web were—oh god. Were those bodies?!

Ladybug’s heart stopped for one staggering moment before she realized the bodies were moving, squirming for freedom, alive. A relieved breath whooshed out of her, and she was able to focus, to count just how many civilians—all men, it looked like—were trapped there. As she was counting, however, the odd placement of the trapped civilians distracted her. Ladybug frowned, backing up a little so her eyes could register the shapes the struggling forms made. That looked like an L…the next one, an A…


The captured civilians spelled out her name.

Ladybug stared, her mouth coming open.

If that wasn’t the most intentional call-out—

“Ah ha. The heroine appears. I suspected you’d show up sooner the more ruckus I made.”

Ladybug assumed a defensive stance as a figure suddenly descended from the ‘Y’ of the name spelled out on the web, landing lightly on the ground. Ladybug’s first glance of her was proven accurate: the akuma’s costume was mostly black, save for an hourglass of red splashed across the front of her suit, the ruby brooch that rested in the hollow of her throat, and the hourglass shape across the middle of her otherwise black mask. Her hair was short, cut into a pixie shape, and her amber eyes burned as they regarded Ladybug contemptuously.

“I am Black Widow. And I’m here to destroy you.”

Ladybug had to suppress the urge to roll her eyes. If she had a euro for every time she heard that…

“And what have I done to offend you?” Ladybug wanted to know, resting a hand on her hip, where her yo-yo hung. She didn’t want to come out swinging if she could avoid it—the past few weeks of working with Shell had taught Ladybug that sometimes, force wasn’t the only way to solve things. In fact, he preferred to talk to the akumatized victims first, to try and see things from their point of view, before they had to actually fight. It didn’t work all the time, but the few times it did had left an impression on Ladybug. If she could manage to solve this without violence—especially since she was out her on her own tonight—then it would be a victory well-won.

Black Widow appeared to unhook something from behind her, holding it loosely at her side. It appeared to be a pistol at first glance, but there was a telltale centimeter of wire hanging out of the end, tied off by what looked like a red hourglass charm. Ladybug was willing to bet that was how the wire web was conceived, and she unhooked her yo-yo, just in case Black Widow tried to pull a fast one on her.

“It isn’t a question of what you’ve done,” spoke the akuma, taking a slow, measured step towards Ladybug. “It’s what you failed to do.”

“Meaning?” Ladybug bothered to ask, mirroring Black Widow’s next step, conscious about keeping distance between them as the akumatized victim spun her tale.

“Just yesterday, there was an accident,” Black Widow said, her voice and steps even as she and Ladybug moved around in a wide, arcing circle, neither of them taking their eyes off the other for one second. “You might have seen it on the news: Marc Bonnhomme, forty-one years old, renowned politician…and Chat Noir supporter. He was found possessing knowledge of several more planned attacks on akumatized victims, and labeled a terrorist. There was a warrant out for his arrest, and his public image was in shambles in a matter of mere hours. Therefore, he apparently had nothing left to lose.”

Ladybug paused, feeling the blood drain from her face. Yes, indeed, she had seen the news report later that evening: a man had apparently climbed the Arc de Triomphe, and no reasoning from the police could coax him down. He had apparently stood up there for an hour, waiting for something…until finally, with one determined leap, away from the landing pad the police had deployed, his only hope for survival—

“It was a very long hour,” Black Widow continued casually as a painful lump sprang into existence in Ladybug’s throat. “The whole time I watched, praying. Surely, Ladybug would save him. Ladybug would forgive him, would grant him the salvation he so desperately needed. Ladybug would come and save the day as always…”

Black Widow paused, a hand at her brooch, her narrow eyes piercing right through Ladybug.

“But you didn’t come.” There was a slight tremor in her voice now. “And he died.”

“Where was Ladybug?” That had been a popular question during the news broadcast Marinette watched, horrified tears sliding down her face. She knew exactly where she had been: locked in her room with her sewing machine, ignorant of the world around her. She usually had the T.V. on for background noise, but not yesterday—yesterday, she had to focus, because she was falling behind schedule. Yesterday, she had to finish the Bee Miraculous-inspired dress she had been working so hard on, because time was running out and her fashion career was depending on it. The only thing that had been on her mind yesterday was her livelihood…

And because of that, she completely missed the emergency news broadcast until it was way too late.

It was a very long and sleepless night. Nino had called, berating himself for his inattentiveness the first chance he got, but Marinette wouldn’t hear of it: it was she who usually watched for trouble, and it was she who had failed to do so. Therefore, the blame lay with her, and her alone.

And now, the very tragedy she had been working hard not to focus on all day had come back to haunt her in the worst way possible.

“You’re his widow,” she acknowledged quietly to Black Widow, whose eyelids lowered dangerously.

“I was,” she confirmed in a clipped tone. “Now…I am your reaper.”

Without warning, she fired her gun, and wire shot at Ladybug. She jumped out of the way, sending out her yo-yo to flee—but she hadn’t anticipated multiple grappling guns. Just as she was gaining leverage on a nearby streetlight, there was a yank to her ankle, and she was pulled off balance. Ladybug hit the ground hard, and was being dragged rapidly backwards as the wire from Black Widow’s grappling gun began to reel her in. Ladybug tossed her yo-yo at the grappling gun, knocking it from Black Widow’s grip. As she jumped up and ran, towards the web, she heard the tell-tale whizzing of Black Widow’s second grappling gun, and she ducked just in time, growling as the added weight of the loose grappling gun trailing behind her threw her balance off. She paused for a precious second, fingers scrabbling against the wire clinging to her ankle, but it was no use—the wire was taut, and had no give, no matter which way Ladybug tugged. And Black Widow was swooping down upon her, dropping from the sky once again. Gritting her teeth, Ladybug sent her yo-yo to the top of the web Black Widow had created, allowing it to pull her up, hoping some distance would turn the battle in her favor—

The feel of wire suddenly winding itself around her neck was alarming, and Ladybug choked as she was yanked back, her yo-yo ripped from her hands as she plummeted to the ground. Pain lanced through her back as she hit the concrete, but she knew it could be so much worse were it not for her suit. Still, she was winded and dazed, vulnerable to Black Widow. The akuma took full advantage of the situation: she kicked Ladybug over, unwinding the grappling gun from her ankle to reattach it to Ladybug’s wrists. She dragged Ladybug up to her feet this way, her other grappling gun shooting to the top of the web. Black Widow zipped to the top, Ladybug in tow, standing atop the taut wire as she let Ladybug hang below her by her wrists. As much as Ladybug thrashed and struggled, she couldn’t get free, and it was with a steady, crushing despair that she realized her worst fear: she was helpless.

“See your so-called ‘heroine’, gentlemen,” Black Widow called to the men still trapped within her web. “See how easily she is bested? In the end, she is nothing and no one—a bug to be crushed under a boot.”

Madame Bonnhomme, please,” Ladybug entreated, fighting a rising panic as Black Widow leaned over her, her pitiless gaze studying Ladybug. “Think about what you’re doing!”

“I know exactly what I’m doing, little girl,” Black Widow said, her voice soft and dangerous as a gloved hand brushed Ladybug’s ear. “First, I’m going to take your Miraculous and destroy it, so no other Ladybug can arise ever again. And then, I’m going to throw you back to the ground like the trash you are, left for the buzzards. Ladybug no more.”

“T-the Butterfly won’t be happy if you destroy my Miraculous!” Ladybug bluffed desperately, but even she knew this stall for time would do nothing. She had told Nino to stay out of this, to stay with Alya…he wouldn’t be coming to save her…no one could save her now…

Black Widow laughed, the sound dark and humorless.

“The Butterfly doesn’t care about your Miraculous,” Black Widow informed Ladybug, who could feel herself trembling as Black Widow’s fingers latched onto her earlobe, about to undo Ladybug’s entire existence. “Their goals are mine: seeing you finished. Perhaps you should’ve paid better attention to who you neglected in your superhero career…but it’s too late now. Goodbye, you insignificant bug.”

Ladybug struggled harder than ever, fighting with everything she had, her legs kicking out and striking nothing but air. She tried to lean away from the Black Widow’s fingers, but they pinched her earlobe, yanking at her earring. Ladybug squeezed her eyes shut, fighting against the tears she could feel coming, for she had failed, failed so incredibly hard. This was it, the end of Ladybug—the end of Marinette. What would her parents say? What would the police deduce happened? The media was nowhere nearby, capricious as they were, and Ladybug was both grateful and cursed them for it. The only person who would know what happened would be Nino…but was it fair to leave such a burden for him to resolve, once she was gone? How could she leave him to explain to Alya why her best friend had been found lonely and broken in the middle of the street?

And Adrien…against all odds, she had found her way back to Adrien. And he was finding his way back to himself, back to a healthy head space. He was doing so well…but Marinette would never get to see any more of his progress. She would never see Alya and Nino get married. She would never see her parents again. It was over…over…

Just as she felt her earring begin to come loose, she heard it: La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, whistled from a distance, but growing louder.

Black Widow seemed to hear it, too; she paused, fingertips poised at Ladybug’s ear. Ladybug forced her eyes open, blinking the moisture out of her eyes as she searched desperately for the whistler, hoping they would be friend rather than foe—

And then she spotted him: a tall man with shaggy blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail and black cat ears, clad in a black leather suit that clung to every plane of his body, bell bouncing against his chest as he hopped from streetlight to streetlight, casual as anything. His lips were pursed as he continued whistling, glancing up just as he reached the last streetlight before the web blocked the rest of the street. His green cat’s eyes glittered as he took in the scene before him, and the end note of his whistled version of La Marseillaise ended on a long, exaggerated note.

“…Wow,” Chat Noir said after a still moment, tilting his head to the side as he stared up at Black Widow and Ladybug. “Did I stumble upon a cat fight?” His eyes glinted mischievously as he took in the webbing. “…Or a bug fight, rather?”

Ladybug never thought she would be so happy to hear one of Chat’s stupid jokes in her life.

“Chat Noir,” Black Widow greeted coolly. Her hand withdrew from Ladybug’s ear, and Ladybug felt her heart rate slow, just a little. “This is a surprise. …Have you come to kill me?”

“Eh,” Chat Noir replied with a shrug as he jumped down to the street, landing in a crouch before he straightened up, cat’s eyes inscrutable as he addressed Black Widow. “Any other time, sure…but I’m not really feline it tonight. The whole ‘superhero’ shtick’s gotten a bit old.”

Chat Noir flexed his hand, his eyes going to the ring he wore on his right hand with disdain.

“Honestly, I’d probably be better off without this damn Miraculous,” he reasoned.

Ladybug stared down at him, shocked into silence. Sure, he had admitted his desire to retire to Marinette, but she had been certain that, after Saturday, he had had a change of heart. Was that just wishful thinking? Or had the harsh words of Emerald Shell convinced him that the superhero life was no longer for him?

“Really?” Black Widow asked, her tone suggesting she thought he was full of it. “So what brings you out here if you’re so bored with your superhero life?”

“Well, I was looking for Ladybug,” Chat Noir admitted, and Ladybug’s heart gave a painful thump as his gaze settled onto her. “I can’t take this ring off without her.”

“Why would you need Ladybug’s help to remove your ring?”

“Because it’s cursed,” Chat answered, giving an exasperated look as he raised his hand, his ring facing forward. “I didn’t know it at the time, but this Miraculous is infused with all the bad luck of a black cat, which means I can’t take it off by myself.” To illustrate, he made a show of yanking on the ring, which refused to budge from his finger until he gave up. “See? So I’m pretty much stuck with the damn thing…unless I get some good luck to counter-balance it.”

Chat shrugged, staring up at Ladybug.

“Which means I need a kiss from Ladybug to take it off.”

Ladybug stared back at him, speechless. What the hell was he talking about?

“You need a kiss from Ladybug to take off your Miraculous,” Black Widow summarized, her tone flat and unimpressed.

“Trust me, I’m just as aggravated as you are,” Chat assured her, folding his arms. “It’s not like Ladybug and I have been on the best of terms lately. But I’m sick of this. I have better things to do with my life than to run around in a suit that screams ‘BDSM reject’.” He gave a shrug, leveling a flat look at Black Widow. “I don’t care what you plan to do with her, but one way or another, I’m getting this ring off me tonight.”

Casually, he lifted a hand, his fingers arched, showing off his claws.

“You can stand in my way if you want to, Madame Araigne…but just remember that Ladybug was the only thing standing in between me and the akuma in the past. And you’ve got her trussed up at the moment.”

Ladybug heard a small sound behind her, a muffled curse. And then there was silence for a very long moment—

Ladybug gasped as she felt herself being lowered, her wrists still tied and held over her head, her arms aching from being left hanging for so long.

“Very well, Chat Noir,” Black Widow drawled from above, “take your kiss if you must. I only allow you this because I know my husband greatly admired you. This favor is in his memory.”

Merci, Madame Araigne,” Chat replied, stepping forward to intercept Ladybug as she was lowered far enough for him to reach her.

“And keep your hands where I can see them,” Black Widow ordered, and Chat made a show of raising his right hand, his left going around Ladybug to steady her.

“Chat,” Ladybug whispered urgently, wide eyes searching his desperately, for assurance, pity, anything. “Chat, please—”

“Shh,” Chat shushed her, a clawed finger to her lips as he stepped closer, eyes unreadable. “Close your eyes, Ladybug.”

Ladybug felt fresh tears begin to well within her eyes, and it was for that reason only that she closed them. Was this it, then? Did everything she thought she felt with Chat on Saturday mean nothing? Was he really lost to her for good?

Was it really over between them?

She could feel his breath on her lips. Ladybug trembled, fighting back a sob. What she wouldn’t give to go back in time, to the days where he would jump into danger for her, despite the way it made her heart leap into her throat every time he pulled off something dangerous just to defend her—


Ladybug’s eyes flew open in time to see Chat’s claws flash through the air, ripping through the wire that bound her wrists together. The wire promptly disintegrated, and Ladybug was free, cradled briefly in Chat’s free arm before he set her down onto her feet. As she rubbed feeling back into her wrists, there was an angry snarl from above, and she glanced up to find that Black Widow had been thrown off-balance when she abruptly lost Ladybug’s weight; she clung awkwardly to the top of her web, flinging her now useless grappling gun aside.

“Treacherous cat!” She spat, baring her teeth. “You tricked me!”

“Oops?” Was the only non-apology Chat offered, with a shrug and a roguish grin. “I guess you shouldn’t really take a cat at its word all the time, huh?”

“You will pay for this!” Black Widow hissed, but Chat looked nothing short of amused as he drew his baton and lifted a hand in invitation.

“Come down from your web and dance with me, then, Madame Araigne,” he said, all cheek.


“Your yo-yo,” Chat cut her off, sparing Ladybug a quick glance before his gaze flickered back to Black Widow, who was quickly descending upon them with her free grappling gun, fire and hate blazing in her eyes. “Go get it.”

He nudged her out of the way as he jumped back himself, blocking the shot Black Widow took at him. Ladybug was stood frozen, her heart hammering as she watched the deadly wire from Black Widow’s grappling gun shoot in short spurts, becoming bolas, the weights at the ends two red hourglasses, which she aimed at Chat Noir’s legs to try and trip him up as he danced around her, using his baton as leverage whenever possible.

“Ladybug, what are you doing?!” Demanded one of the civilians that still hung from the web, capturing Ladybug’s attention. “Do what the cat man said! Get your yo-yo!”

“Oh, right!”

Shaking her head, Ladybug climbed onto the web, scaling it as rapidly as she could, her eyes on her yo-yo, tangled at the top of the web. A part of her was still reeling at the sudden turn of events, but she shoved that part of her into the corner, to be dealt with at a later time. She just needed her yo-yo…then she could put this whole mess right…almost there…

“Gotcha,” she mumbled, reaching her yo-yo, tugging at the end to untangle it just as a loud thud and an “oof!” sounded behind her. Whirling dangerously as she clung to the web, Ladybug’s eyes widened when she saw that Chat was down, his legs trapped in a bolas. He was using his baton to ward off Black Widow, but she appeared to be a tough opponent, pushing against the baton so hard it smacked Chat Noir in the face. The skin of his forehead split open, and he blinked, dazed.

“You want help getting your Miraculous off?” Hissed Black Widow, seizing his right wrist as he was distracted. “Allow me…”

Ladybug was moving before she realized it, using her yo-yo to arc through the air, towards Black Widow’s back. She slammed into the akuma with her feet, kicking her forward, off Chat Noir. As Black Widow groaned and rolled over, clutching at her face, Ladybug dropped down behind her and rushed forward, pinning her to the ground before she could go anywhere.

“How dare you!” Ladybug spat, her fist flying into Black Widow’s cheek, snapping her head sideways. She was dimly surprised at this rage, how all-consuming it was, as if to encompass all the fear and anguish she had just gone through, coming to a peak the minute Ladybug witnessed Black Widow draw blood from Chat Noir. Sure, Black Widow had tried to take her Miraculous, and had even tried to kill her, but for her to attack Chat Noir—

Ladybug raised her fist again, intending to leave as large a bruise as she could, when her arm was seized.

“Ladybug, no!”

Ladybug’s head whipped around, about to snarl at whoever was interrupting to mind their own business—

Blue met green, and the eyes of Chat Noir broke through Ladybug’s blind rage. Blood seeped from the wound on his forehead, but he didn’t seem to care, and the way he stared at her—as if he was surprised at her—jolted her back to herself, made her realize exactly what she was doing. Her body shook, and she was breathing heavily, adrenaline pounding through her body. ‘More, more, more,’ her blood seemed to chant as her fist flexed. She hadn’t paid proper retribution to Black Widow yet, hadn’t paid her back in kind for all the panic and pain she’d inspired…was Ladybug just going to let her go unpunished?

Even as her emotions cried out for justice—or vengeance, really—only Chat Noir’s gaze kept her anchored, reminding her of who she was…who she was meant to be, no matter how angry she might feel. He watched her, saying nothing as sense returned to her, and when she closed her eyes, he dropped her arm, as if he could sense that she was herself again.

That kind of faith he exhibited, even after their time apart, tightened something in Ladybug, but she couldn’t focus on it; she still had a job to do.

As Black Widow struggled underneath her, snarling obscenities, Ladybug reached down, tugging the brooch from her throat. This had to be where the akuma was housed…as soon as she broke it…

Ladybug threw the brooch to the ground, smashing it with her fist—

A terrible scream suddenly split through the silence of the night, and Ladybug cringed. A part of her hoped it wouldn’t happen…but if the akumas screamed because Chat Noir hurt the victims, then why would she be any different?

She snatched the screaming akuma out of the sky, purifying it and sending it on into the night a harmless butterfly. With just a chant of her restoring phrase, the widow’s web dissolved, returning the captured men to the street, much to their relief.

The woman on the ground de-akumatized, leaving a middle-aged woman in black, who frowned and stirred, finally blinking gray eyes open.

“What…” she began softly, pushing herself to sit up. Ladybug noticed her hand go to her cheek, saw her flinch as her fingers made contact. Her cheek was swelling from the blow Ladybug dealt to it; no doubt it would bruise before the night was out.

Her fault.

Madame Bonnhomme, this is yours,” Ladybug told her, holding out her brooch, much to the widow’s surprise. “I’m sorry for your loss. If there’s anything I can do—”

Her surprise melting away rapidly, the widow snatched her brooch from Ladybug, climbing to her feet to glare down at Ladybug, as if she was her judge, jury, and executioner. Swallowing, Ladybug stood as well, forcing herself not to shy away from Madame Bonnhomme’s furious gaze. She had every right to be angry: Ladybug had failed her in the worst imaginable way.

“Your apology means nothing,” she spat at Ladybug, angry tears gathering at the corners of her eyes. “You can’t turn back time. You can’t bring my Marc back. You had the power to do something before it was too late, but you didn’t, and now he’s gone. What kind of hero are you?!”

Ladybug flinched. The words were hard to hear, but they weren’t untrue. It was Ladybug’s responsibility to save Marc Bonnhomme…but she didn’t. And now he was dead.

All her fault.

Her silence did nothing to comfort Madame Bonnhomme, nor did it vindicate her—after a furiously silent moment, she spun on her heel and marched away, the slight trembling of her legs the only suggestion that she perhaps wasn’t all fury and fire. Ladybug stepped forward, intending to go after her and say…what? What could she possibly say that wouldn’t ring hollow to the poor widow’s ears? How could she right something that had gone so horribly wrong that ‘right’ was no longer an option anymore…?

A hand fell on her shoulder, giving it a squeeze.

“Let it go,” a voice suggested in her ear. “It can’t really be helped. People do crazy things when they’re grieving.”

Speaking of crazy…

Ladybug turned, allowing herself to become fully occupied with Chat Noir, now that the akumatized victim had been healed…in the physical sense. She took in all of him, from his shaggy blonde hair to his cat-toed boots. She took in the way he held his arms awkwardly at his sides, as if it was a struggle to keep them there, at the stiff set of his jaw, the way his eyes were fixed on her, wary and heartbroken. Thanks to her restorative powers, the cut on his forehead had disappeared, since it had been damage caused by an akuma, even if it was his own weapon. The sight of his unblemished skin set loose a coil that had been wound tight within Ladybug, and she sighed, closing her eyes for a moment. Thank god he was all right…

“…You’re not gonna hit me?” Chat questioned after a moment, and Ladybug opened her eyes to find him smiling awkwardly. “Not even a slap for all the hell I put you through? Or would you prefer to yell at me? Because yelling would be effective too, if that’s how you want to express how incredibly pissed you are at me—”

Ladybug reached up, and Chat flinched, bracing himself…as Ladybug lightly patted his cheek. He blinked, staring down at her as her hand rested there. She tried to smile, but the signals got mixed somewhere from her brain to her face, and she felt herself tear up instead. Chat’s eyes widened, and Ladybug leaned forward so she wouldn’t have to see his face, burying her head in his shoulder as she clutched at him, an embarrassing sob escaping her.

“Oh, no, no no, Ladybug, please,” Chat begged, his voice breaking as his arms went around her, holding her tight. “I’ll take the punches and the kicks, anything but this. This is the worst punishment you could’ve come up with. Oh, Ladybug, please don’t cry…”

“You…damn…stray,” Ladybug choked out, lightly tapping her fist against his chest as she cried.

“I’m so sorry, My Lady,” Chat whispered, arms tight around her as he rubbed her back. “I’m so sorry, and I know I’ll never make this up to you, but I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying anyway. You don’t have to forgive me. Just know that I’m sorry.”

Ladybug was content to just stay here, in the shelter of Chat’s arms as he whispered apologies and reassurances to her, his presence finally soothing that deep ache within her that throbbed every time she thought of the crevice that had split between them, at first a gaping wide chasm that seemed impassible. But now…

“There she is!”

“Ladybug! Ladybug, over here!”

Ladybug sighed. Reporters. Of course.

She and Chat pulled apart. Neither of them had to exchange one word; as one, they both leapt to a nearby roof and escaped into the night, fleeing to the one place Ladybug had been avoiding since their partnership had dissolved the last time she was there.

The Eiffel Tower was as beautiful as it always was, but neither she nor Chat stopped to fully appreciate its beauty; instead they swung and climbed all the way to the top, the city of Paris sprawling beneath them, a wondrous sight…if they had really been looking, anyway.

No, tonight, Ladybug and Chat Noir had only eyes for each other.

The air was much colder up here, but Ladybug barely felt it; Chat’s presence pushed all else from her mind, and she focused on him now, clutching at her elbows as she waited for him to say something.

It was a feat he was struggling with: several times he opened his mouth, only to close it again when nothing came out. He sighed in frustration after a moment, rubbing the back of his head.

“I’m trying to figure out how much I should apologize before it starts getting obnoxious,” he admitted sheepishly. This confession pulled a laugh from Ladybug.

“Let’s put the apologies on hold for now, then,” she suggested, sobering as she took a step toward him. “…What made you come out tonight? Really.”

“Well, I really was looking for you,” Chat admitted, scratching his cheek. “I was hoping to run into you on patrol or something…I didn’t expect you to be in the clutches of an akuma, though.” Chat frowned. “Why wasn’t Emerald Shell with you?”

“I sent him on another mission he had to fulfill,” Ladybug answered, wanting to protect Shell’s honor. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been there because he didn’t want to be; Ladybug had left him no options. Chat was still frowning, however, and so Ladybug moved on. “Why were you looking for me?”

“Ah…” Chat’s cat ears flattened against his head as he glanced away from her, looking ashamed. Ladybug waited for him to slowly articulate his thoughts. “I…ever since Trinket, I…”

“You…what?” Ladybug prompted when he took too long to finish his thought. Chat blew out a sigh, turning his troubled gaze back onto Ladybug.

“I was an asshole,” he said, without preamble or filter. “I was selfish, irresponsible, and I willingly blinded myself with my own beliefs, just so I didn’t have to stop and wonder for one second if what I was doing was actually right.

“And I hurt you,” Chat acknowledged, his voice and eyes lowering. “I hurt you so badly, like it was nothing. And no matter how much I apologize, I know I can never take it back.”

His cat’s eyes met hers again, anguished.

“You’ll never know how sorry I am for that, Ladybug. I could apologize for the rest of my life, and it still wouldn’t express just how much I’m sorry for everything.”

Briefly, Ladybug thought back to the visits Chat Noir paid to her as Marinette, the way his eyes had looked—lost and lonely—when he spoke of her costumed self to her civilian self. Maybe those visits hadn’t encompassed the entirety of Chat Noir’s regret…but Ladybug still felt she had decent enough insight to how sorry he truly was.

Breathing deeply, Ladybug exhaled the rest of her anger, her misgivings, everything negative she still associated with Chat Noir. It was cleansing, and she felt lighter, which made it easier for her to step forward, toe to toe with Chat. He watched her, tension emanating from him as Ladybug stared up at him, deliberating for one last moment…

Finally, she reached forward, resting a hand against his face once again. She was able to smile this time around as Chat’s eyes widened in surprise.

“I forgive you, chaton,” she told him, and it was sweet relief to speak the words, after months of painful tension building between them.

Chat’s lips parted in surprise, his eyes shining as he stared at her, as if she couldn’t be real.

“…Really...?” He asked softly, the question whimpered, broken. The sound made her heart throb painfully, and so she decided to lighten the mood.

“Yes. You’ve been a stray for too long, and I miss my partner. So, if you want to come back, you can…” Ladybug lifted her hand from his face to raise a finger. “On one condition.”

“Name it,” Chat said without hesitance, standing straighter, as if he wished to prove himself. “Anything, Ladybug.”

“You’re on probation,” Ladybug said, sternly and without hesitation, before her face split into a knowing smile. “…which means you’re only allowed to use one cat pun per day.”

Chat’s jaw dropped.

“Only one?! My Lady, surely, you can’t be serious—”

“Do you want to rejoin the team or not?” Ladybug asked him, giving him a look. “It’s probation or nothing, Chat Noir.”

Chat gave her a pouty cat face, which made Ladybug laugh so much that she nearly missed it when her Miraculous gave a beep. Chat’s Miraculous echoed hers, and they glanced at one another with matching rueful smiles.

“I guess that’s my cue to leave,” Chat said, taking a careful step back.

“Mine too,” Ladybug admitted with a shrug. “I have dinner plans that I’m late for.”

“Unfortunate.” A ghost of Chat’s usual smirk appeared on his face; he was still being careful around her, something Ladybug appreciated. Despite her forgiving him and their agreement to work together again, it would probably take them some time for things to heal completely. But they were getting there. “So…I’ll see you later?”

“Shelly and I were planning to patrol on Friday night,” Ladybug told him, smiling sympathetically when Chat’s smirk dropped at the mention of Shell. “I’ll introduce you two then.”

“Ah, right. He’s…not going to be happy about this arrangement, is he?”

“He’ll get over it,” Ladybug reasoned with a careless shrug. Honestly, it didn’t much matter to her whether Shell disapproved or not—if Chat Noir hadn’t shown up tonight, she would’ve been dead, or grievously injured if she was lucky, her Miraculous destroyed, Tikki gone from her life forever. No matter what Shelly said, tonight just proved that Chat would always be Ladybug’s partner.

“Then I’ll see you Friday,” Chat said, extending his baton as he prepared to leave. “Where are you meeting?”

“Oh…we hadn’t decided yet—”

“I’ll find you,” Chat assured her. Ladybug’s hand rested on her yo-yo, preparing to leave…but the longer she looked at Chat, the more she knew that she couldn’t just leave things like this. And so she surged forward, taking Chat by surprise as she wound her arms around him once again, holding him tight.

“Welcome back, Kitty,” she muttered, smiling to herself when Chat slipped his arms around her as well, giving her a squeeze.

“Thank you, My Lady.”

Ladybug let her eyes close again, pulling comfort from the steady thrumming of Chat Noir’s heartbeat in her ear. Finally, the world had stopped spinning, and she felt grounded, centered. Balanced.

The twinning beeps from their Miraculous forced them apart again, parting smiles and jaunty salutes the only words of goodbye they shared before they each took off into the night, their own agendas on their minds.

Ladybug was forced to return to her apartment, for it would seem strange if she arrived at the restaurant without her car. It turned out to be a blessing, however; once she had de-transformed and approached her car, one look in her side mirror was enough to tell her that she needed to re-do her makeup, thanks to all the crying she did. Marinette cursed under her breath and rushed to do that, shooting a quick text Nino’s way to let him know that she was fine, and that she’d be arriving soon.

Once she was deemed presentable, she sped all the way to the restaurant, relying on her luck to keep her off any police officer’s radar, and she made it to the restaurant within record time. She was so busy rushing to the door that she didn’t realize there was someone else in a hurry as well, until their hands overlapped when they both reached for the handle of the door.

“Oh! I’m sor—” Marinette began hastily, only to blink in surprise when she noticed it was Adrien, who was giving her the same mystified stare.

“Oh, hey,” he greeted, chuckling sheepishly as she gave an awkward smile. “You running late, too?”

“Ah, yeah, kind of lost track of time,” Marinette answered as casually as she could, discreetly smoothing down her hair.

“Yeah, I got caught up in some stuff, too,” Adrien said vaguely as he opened the door for Marinette. “Oh well. At least we’re here now, right?”

“Oh yeah: now Alya can commit double homicide in one go instead of hunting us down individually,” Marinette remarked dryly, and Adrien laughed, slipping his hand into hers and giving it a squeeze.

“At least then our vengeful ghosts can haunt her at the same time.”

“Sounds fun,” Marinette allowed, flashing a grin Adrien’s way as the maître d’ led them through the restaurant. “You can make creepy sounds, and I’ll levitate stuff.”

“Aw, I wanna levitate stuff!”

“Trade-off every midnight?” Marinette offered. Adrien grinned and gave her hand another squeeze.

“Deal,” he agreed. “Guess we’re partners, then.”


The word never had a sweeter ring to Marinette until tonight.

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

Part 20 of 37

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