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

Part 22 of 37

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“Are you ready for this?”

“No.” Chat Noir gave a sigh, then straightened his shoulders. “Ready or not, though…”

“Here we come,” Ladybug finished. She reached over, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze, and he slid a grateful look her way.

“Guys, come on,” Emerald Shell insisted, poking his head back into the room they were supposed to be exiting. “The deputy mayor’s not gonna wait forever.”

With one last exchanged glance, Chat and Ladybug followed after Shell, Chat’s Adam’s apple bobbing in his throat. Ladybug had already told him that he would still be a part of the team, no matter how the public reacted. But, truth be told, it wasn’t himself Chat was worried about: how would the public react to Ladybug wanting to work with him again? Wouldn’t they be angry that she had welcomed someone like him back to the team? Wouldn’t they be upset that the Protector of Paris was allying herself with someone who once held murder in his heart for the innocent?

Wouldn’t they lose faith in her?

Could Chat allow them to lose faith in her, just for someone like him?

As if she sensed his hesitance, Ladybug reached out and took his wrist. She didn’t glance over at him, still walking tall as she, Chat, and Shell exited City Hall…but Chat rather felt that her face might be a little red, under the mask she was wearing…

Once they stepped out into the sunlight, Ladybug dropped his wrist. They were out in the open now: nowhere to run.

“…So without further ado,” the deputy mayor was announcing as they approached, “I give you everyone’s favorite spotted hero, Ladybug!”

The deputy mayor stepped politely out of the way, leading the applause as Team Miraculous stepped forward. Chat stared at the deputy mayor as they passed her, surprised—if he hadn’t known any better, he would’ve mistaken her for Marinette’s older sister with a pixie cut. She didn’t have the adorable freckles that adorned Marinette’s face, but with that dark hair and those blue eyes…hmm…

Ladybug tapped one of the microphones clipped to the podium, and Chat’s attention snapped to her, as did the attention of the awaiting crowd at the bottom of the stairs of City Hall. Cameras flashed and rolled, reporters held out their microphones, as if to catch Ladybug’s words themselves rather than listening to them through the speakers. Chat wanted to blame his nerves for this, but it seemed as if he could already hear mutters of discontent emanating from the crowd as eyes flashed between him and the other two heroes; clearly, one of these things was not like the others.

Ladybug glanced around at the crowd, appearing unperturbed by the mutterings. Shell stood at her side, and Chat felt a pang over his lack of courage to join them. He was a coward.

“First, I’d like to thank Mayor Fantoche and the deputy mayor for arranging yet another press conference for me,” Ladybug announced, with an apologetic glance at the deputy mayor. “I’m sorry for taking up your time, Deputy Mayor Reine.”

Deputy Mayor Reine shook her head with a patient smile and gestured for Ladybug continue. Appearing heartened, Ladybug turned back to the crowd. Chat witnessed her back straightening before she proceeded.

“As you all have undoubtedly noticed, an old face is among us once again.”

She gestured behind her, towards Chat Noir, but the movement was unnecessary, for all eyes were upon him the minute she dared to mention him. Chat swallowed, feeling himself stiffen, unsure of how to act. Should he be cool and confident, like Ladybug? Should he appear openly apologetic?

As the mutterings increased in volume, scared and angry voices creating a cacophony of distrust, Chat felt the urge to flee grow with every passing second. This was a bad idea after all—they shouldn’t have done this. He shouldn’t have come back. He—

“Chat Noir has seen the error of his ways,” Ladybug pressed on, though she spoke a little louder to drown out the grumblings, “he has agreed that his debt to Paris could best be paid by helping Emerald Shell and I take down The Butterfly.”

“Ladybug, one moment!” Cried one of the reporters near the front, lifting her microphone as high as she could lift it. “Are you certain it’s wise to allow Chat Noir to remain a superhero, after all the animosity he’s caused?”

“Yeah, he terrorized Paris just as much as the akumas!” A civilian in the crowd chimed in, loud enough for Chat to hear.

“Where is the proof that he won’t turn on you as soon as you let your guard down?”

“How do you know he’s not secretly working for The Butterfly?”

“Working for—that’s just ridiculous,” Ladybug ridiculed immediately, and though Chat was standing behind her, he could practically see the scowl forming on his Lady’s face. “We might have been working against each other for a time, but the fact remains that Chat Noir has never once allied himself with our enemy! And besides,” she called louder still over the negative chatter, “I trust Chat Noir. He’s apologized for what he’s done, and that’s good enough for me.”

“What apology? I didn’t hear no apology!”

“Yeah! Has he ‘apologized’ to the people he tried to kill?!

“What are you thinking, Ladybug?!”

“He’s no hero!”

“He’s dangerous!”

“You’re letting him trick you!”

“No Chat Noir!”

“No Chat Noir! No Chat Noir!”

Oh no…it was happening. Everywhere he looked, Chat could see disapproving citizens shaking their heads, or otherwise joining in the chant, their fists raised to punctuate the call for his retirement. But Chat Noir could overlook all of that, if he tried.

What he could not overlook was the way Ladybug’s shoulders slumped. He didn’t know how she could, but she had clearly envisioned this press conference going differently. Though she tried to press on, the cries of the crowd continued to interrupt her:


Chat saw Shell lean over and mutter something to Ladybug, but she shook her head, hands clutching the podium as if her life depended on it.

“They have to understand!” Chat heard Ladybug say to Shell; she turned her head to address him, and Chat was hurt to see the look of desperation entering her eyes. “He’s sorry! They have to accept that! They have to—”

“LB, open your eyes: the people have spoken. They won’t accept him.”

The words weren’t cold; they were merely a statement of fact, and Chat didn’t begrudge Shell that. But the honesty seemed to pierce Ladybug in the worst way, and she slammed her fist against the podium, obviously frustrated.

“Listen to me!” She cried, her voice echoing over the crowd, thanks to the many microphones in front of her. “Chat Noir is not our enemy! It’s like I’ve been saying—we can’t turn on each other like this! The city has already been torn apart enough as it is!”

“And who caused that rift, Ladybug?”

“Yeah! Remind us: who was it exactly that started the mentality that all akumatized victims were bad and needed to be put down like rabid dogs?!”


The chant doubled and strengthened, and though Ladybug pleaded for peace, the anger and fear inspired by Chat Noir’s presence would not be staunched. He was no longer a representation of bad luck, it seemed: he had been upgraded to bad omen.

Chat heard Shell suggest that they leave, and even the deputy mayor was approaching, looking worried, but Chat couldn’t take his eyes off his Lady’s hands and the way they clenched the podium, as if the only way to remove her would be by physical force. She was so determined to stay and press his case for him, even if the crowd was unwilling to listen—even if the whole of Paris was against her.

Chat’s heart ached at the sight…and suddenly, from somewhere deep inside himself…he found the courage to step forward.

Ladybug jumped when she felt his hand on her shoulder; she turned, blue eyes wide and frantic, bottom lip caught in between her teeth. Chat gave her a little smile.

“It’s okay,” he muttered, gently tugging at her shoulder to get her to step away. “Let it go, My Lady.”

“But Chat—!”

“This is my problem, Ladybug,” Chat insisted, growing serious. “Therefore, it’s no one’s responsibility but mine. Let me start making my amends on my own. Please.”

The crowd was still shouting, rioting, but Chat barely heard them now—Ladybug held his complete and undivided attention, as she always did when she was nearby. He watched as several emotions flashed through those bluebell eyes of hers: concern, uncertainty, fear, anger, heartache. The last one pierced in an especially effective way, and his grip on her shoulder tightened.

“Please, Ladybug.”

Shell was staring long and hard at Chat. Feeling his gaze, Chat glanced up, meeting his eyes…and something seemed to click between them.

“Let him give it a shot, LB,” he encouraged as well, laying a hand on Ladybug’s arm. “It is his mess to clean up, and you’re not his maid.”

Ladybug’s brow puckered. She was unused to backing down, Chat knew; this was a matter of her pride as well as his redemption. Summoning what cheekiness he could muster in this situation, he managed a wink.

You trust me, at least, don’t you?”

“Of course I do,” Ladybug replied without missing a beat. Chat felt a rush of warmth flood through him at the words, and he gave her shoulder a squeeze.

“Then let me try.”

Ladybug searched his face for a long time. Whatever she saw there, by some miracle, seemed to be enough—she took a step back, allowing him access to the podium.

The crowd seemed to lose its nerve and mob-like mentality when Chat Noir stepped forward; the chanting faded until it died away completely, and the crowd shifted, restless. Wary eyes were upon him, mistrusting, fearful. Chat took that in, glancing around the crowd, mulling over his words. This would most likely be pointless—after all, if Ladybug couldn’t assuage the public’s fear…

But he had to at least try, didn’t he?

Frowning to himself, Chat decided to start with how he felt about the crowd’s words. Leaning forward, he made sure his face was planted squarely at the center of all the microphones before he spoke:

“…You’re right. I’m no hero.”

There was a sharp intake of breath beside him, but Chat managed to ignore Ladybug; he needed to get this out, while he still had the chance.

“A few months ago, I turned my back on everything I once fought for. I turned my back on my morals, Ladybug…and you, Paris. With my own two hands, I split this city down the middle, and created chaos. I turned rational thinking citizens into fear-mongering fanatics, fanatics that have hurt others, fanatics that almost ended a life earlier this month…in my name.”

Chat Noir clenched his hands, his claws digging into the podium, his sins weighing heavily upon him. His fault, all his fault…

“I have no excuse for it, no justification that can get me out of this. All I can say is that I’m sorry.”

A rippling of doubtful murmurs went through the crowd at this, something Chat acknowledged right away.

“I know—you have no reason to take me at my word. And that’s fine—I don’t expect you to. Actions always speak louder than words, and my track record is against me. I know that.”

Chat took a deep breath, forcing himself to stand tall, resisting the urge to shrink away. He could do this…he had to…

“A wise person once told me that the suit doesn’t make the hero. It’s our compassion, even for our enemies, that make us heroes.” Chat paused momentarily to glance at Ladybug, who stared back at him, her hands clutched into a ball in front of her chest. She smiled a little at the reminder, and that heartened Chat, allowing him to continue.

“That being said, no amount of good deeds could make up for betraying your trust. I know that, too.” He felt himself frown, a ripple of determination stirring within him. “But that doesn’t matter, because I won’t stop trying. So watch me, Paris. Continue to judge me by my actions, because from now on, every move I make will be with you in mind, and what it means to be a hero of Paris. I’ll do everything in my power to never disgrace Ladybug, Emerald Shell, or you ever again. And if you still think I’m unworthy once we settle this whole Butterfly mess…then I will surrender my Miraculous and retire.”


“Shh!” Shell shushed Ladybug, which Chat was grateful for; he didn’t want to fight her on this, because he knew he was weak-willed when it came to her. If she told him to stay, he would not argue. Hell, she might as well put a collar on him at this point…but that was another issue altogether.

The crowd below grumbled and murmured, expressions ranging from uncertainty to outright distrust. But they were no longer chanting, at least. That much, Chat could be grateful for.

“I don’t ask for a second chance, because I know that’s not something that can be asked for,” he continued, “It has to be earned. And, though I’m not sure if I can…I’m going to try. Please watch me, Paris. Watch me become a better person…and a better hero.”

Chat turned away from the podium, gesturing with a flick of his head that he was ready to leave. Ladybug and Shell each gave him a nod, and before the crowd could ask any more questions or shout any more accusations, the three heroes were off. It took only a few rooftops before Ladybug’s hand found his arm, pulling him to a stop. He stumbled, balancing precariously on one leg for a moment before he regained his footing, turning around to meet her glare.

Uh-oh. Looked like he was in trouble…

“Chat Noir, you are not allowed to retire,” she snarled at him, and Chat blinked at the ferocity of the order. Wow…he still couldn’t believe that she actually wanted him around that much…

“Not even if all of Paris is calling for my head on a pike by the end of this?” Chat asked, smiling a little at the joke…but Ladybug was not amused.

“You swore to me you’d help me fix this—”

“And I will,” Chat interrupted with a firm nod. “But once The Butterfly is defeated…what then, Ladybug?”

“Th-then we continue to watch out for the city!” Ladybug protested, hands on her hips as she glared up at him. “Just because a big problem goes away doesn’t mean all the other little problems do!”

“What little problems?” Chat inquired, tilting his head to the side. “You didn’t have a lot to deal with after Hawk Moth was gone, did you?”

Ladybug opened her mouth to retort…but then closed it again, her scowl intensifying. Clearly, he had a point, and she hated that.

“He has a point, LB,” Shell suddenly spoke, and Chat registered his presence beside them, his arms folded as he frowned thoughtfully. “You gotta admit that things were super quiet after Hawk M—”

“You shut up!” Ladybug snapped at him, to both Chat’s and Shell’s surprise. “You’re only supporting his decision to retire because you don’t like him! You’re letting your feelings cloud your judgment!”

Chat watched as Shell gawked at Ladybug incredulously.

I’m letting my feelings cloud my judgment? Hey Pot, meet Kettle! Guess what: you’re black!”

“Guys, please,” Chat interrupted before Ladybug could shoot back. “Don’t we have enough to worry about without sniping at each other?” With a shake of his head, he turned to Ladybug to address her. “Look…this isn’t your decision, Ladybug. It isn’t,” he stressed when Ladybug opened her mouth to protest. “It’s mine. Paris can’t have a hero they’re afraid of; that’s not how this works. So if it means I have to work my ass off to gain back whatever trust I can, then I’ll do it. And even if it’s not enough then—if not a single citizen will stand with me when The Butterfly is finally defeated—then I didn’t do a good enough job. Simple as that.”

“Chat—” Ladybug began to protest, but Chat shook his head, signaling that he would hear no more arguments over this, before he turned to Shell.

“Emerald Shell. If and when the day comes that I’m no longer needed, I’m counting on you to take my Miraculous.”

Shell blinked, apparently startled.

“Why me?”

“Because you’re the Guardian now, aren’t you?”

“How do you know that?”

“Master Fu told me.”

“You know Master Fu?”

“Of course—he’s the one who gave me my Miraculous in the first place,” Chat replied with a shrug. Briefly, his mind flashed back to the short meeting he had with the elder master, grateful that the old man hadn’t berated him once he finally came crawling back to seek guidance…but in a way, that was worse, too. And he had refused to take his Miraculous, because he ‘was no longer the Guardian’, or so he said. Chat personally suspected that the old man wouldn’t let him return his Miraculous even if he was still the Guardian; he sensed that the old man was simply strange that way.

“And anyway, that’s not the point: I’m trusting you to take my Miraculous from me in the future, because I know it’ll be harder to give up the more time that passes. I need someone to make that decision for me.” Chat’s eyes flickered to Ladybug briefly before they settled on Shell once more. “…Someone impartial.”

“You are not unworthy of your Miraculous, Chat!” Ladybug butted into the conversation, actually placing herself physically in between Chat and Shell, refusing to be ignored. “You might have hurt people, but it’s not like I’m blameless, either!”

“LB, that was an accident,” Shell said, placing a hand on Ladybug’s shoulder from behind. “You didn’t mean to kill—”

“I’m not talking about Hawk Moth,” Ladybug protested, shrugging her shoulder to rid herself of Shell’s touch, her gaze dropping away from Chat, shame crawling into her expression. “I’m talking about…about Black Widow.”

“…What happened with Black Widow?” Shell questioned, and Chat stared in surprise. Had Ladybug really not told their turtle friend what happened? Sure, he could tell she felt bad about it, but he didn’t think she’d hide it from Shell…or was her shame so great that she had hoped to keep such a sin in between her and Chat…?

Ladybug sighed, fingers massaging the bridge of her nose as she squeezed her eyes shut, her back still to Shell.

“She hit Chat Noir with his own baton, made him bleed…so I punched her across the face. And when I finally freed the akuma…it screamed. Because I hurt her.”

Shell stared at the back of Ladybug’s head for about ten seconds. He lifted his gaze to Chat’s afterwards, looking grim.

“I see what you mean about the impartiality thing,” he said dryly, and Chat grimaced in response. “Ugh…all right, fine. If you’re forced into retirement…I’ll take your Miraculous.”

“Thank you,” Chat replied, relieved. Well, that was one load off his mind, at least…

“So how I feel about the situation doesn’t even matter?” Ladybug protested, glaring at the pair of them. Chat sighed to himself. Of course Ladybug wouldn’t be happy about losing her partner again—to be quite honest, Chat wasn’t thrilled with the idea either. But he had forfeited the right to anything the minute he witnessed the problems his attitude towards the akumatized victims was creating…and had still turned his back on Ladybug when she had begged him to come back and help her.

“Ladybug, you don’t need me,” he said softly. Ladybug opened her mouth to protest, but Chat anticipated that; he pressed a thumb against her lips, halting her speech. “You don’t. You may think you do…but you really don’t.”

“Chat, I’d be dead without you,” she protested anyway, batting his hand away.

“You’d be dead without Shell, too,” Chat pointed out, smiling a little when Ladybug began to pout because, once again, he had a point and she didn’t like it. “He’s reliable enough—more reliable than me. I trust him to watch your back, even after I’m gone.”

“…Okay, you need to stop. Your votes of confidence are making me feel like an ass,” Shell remarked, looking uncomfortable. Chat chuckled at this.

“Sorry, Shelly. I’ll go back to antagonizing you in a minute, promise.”

“You’d better.”

Chat smirked at that before his eyes fell on Ladybug again, who was still looking less than pleased with the situation. Oh boy.

“Don’t look like that, My Lady,” he pleaded with her, giving her his kitty eyes in an attempt to soften her. “This isn’t a sure thing. The public’s opinion of me could change. But even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t matter—whether in the suit or as a civilian, you’ll always have my support.”

Ladybug sighed, her frown melting away, giving way to worry.

“Chat, I—”

Abruptly she paused, turning to stare at Shell, who gave her a dry look.

“Yes, amazingly, I am still here,” he said sarcastically.

“Shell—” Ladybug began, but Shell was already shaking his head.

“Uh-uh. Don’t bother asking: the answer is no, Dots.” Chat watched curiously as Shell scowled down at her. “Don’t give me that look. I already told you why I think this is a bad idea.”

“What’s a bad idea?” Chat questioned, moving to the side so he could see Ladybug’s expression as well, which was frustrated…and a little bit embarrassed, for some reason.

“Nothing,” Shell and Ladybug replied at the same time, serving only to feed Chat’s curiosity as he glanced between the pair of them during their silent stand-off. …Huh…for teammates that only just started working together last month…they sure were close. Again, Chat got the inkling that there was something more here than what he was seeing…but if they wouldn’t tell him voluntarily, then he had no right to ask. It was clearly none of his business.

“…Okay…well, I think we should probably call it a day, then,” Chat replied, still giving Ladybug and Shell searching glances. “I think we’ve all had enough emotional turmoil to deal with…unless there’s something else we all need to discuss?”

“…Oh,” Ladybug said, and Chat’s gaze snapped to her, finding that the blood had suddenly drained from her face, her eyes distant. As Chat stared, concerned, Shell heaved a sigh.

“That doesn’t sound like a good ‘oh’.”

“It’s not.” Ladybug folded her arms around herself, glancing in between Chat and Shell, an uncharacteristic fear glinting in her eyes, hurting Chat with its sudden appearance. “There’s something I need to tell you guys…”



He wasn’t flirting with her anymore.

Ladybug couldn’t help but notice it, even as they were battling an akuma—though Chat Noir grew more and more comfortable with the new team dynamic, throwing out his witty one-liners and ignoring Emerald Shell’s perfunctory huffs of impatience, anything he tossed her way was nothing more than polite praise. If he had to catch her from falling, he set her down as soon as she was steady, never touching her as much as he used to, his smiles always polite when she thanked him.

His actions spoke volumes about the efforts he was making towards getting over her. And Ladybug should be happy for him. She really should be.

But every time he glanced away from her too soon, as if his interest could only be claimed for a few seconds at a time, she felt a wriggling, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of her stomach.

And she was ashamed.

It’s only because I’m not used to it, yet,’ Ladybug sternly told herself as they succeeded in capturing the akuma (after having to contend with a couple dummy akumas) and purifying it.

The way we relate to each other has changed, so I’m only uncomfortable because I’m re-adjusting,’ Ladybug continued her self-lecture as she, Chat, and Shell put in a token appearance for the cameras that followed them, though they did not deign to pause for questions from reporters this time around—last week’s disastrous press conference was enough exposure for them for the moment.

I do not need Chat to fawn over me to feel validated…it’s not like I’m that kind of girl…I’m not Chloe. It’s only weird because it’s different, that’s it. I do not have feelings for Chat Noir, I do not, I do not—’


“No I don’t!” Ladybug blurted out, quite loudly and suddenly. Shell and Chat stared at her, and Ladybug blushed, cursing herself to the deepest pit in existence.

“You don’t what?” Shell questioned, only to have Ladybug wave a dismissive hand, not quite meeting his eyes.

“Never mind. I was thinking about something else. What were we talking about?”

“That thing that tried to attack you a couple weeks ago,” Chat filled her in, his expression briefly becoming the darkest Ladybug had seen it since he rejoined the team. “Has it shown up again?”

“No,” Ladybug replied with no small amount of relief. “But I’ve been kind of avoiding my apartment at night, anyway…”

Here she glanced apologetically at Shell, who gave her a half shrug and a look of grace. Alya hadn’t questioned this sudden need for girl time with Marinette (although no doubt she was suspicious that something was wrong and was just waiting to bring it up), but since Marinette had been spending the night at Alya’s apartment since last week, Nino’s already limited time with his fiancée had been cut in half. He said he didn’t mind, but Marinette still felt bad about it…when she wasn’t too busy feeling so relieved over how safe she felt with someone else sleeping next to her…

Ladybug glanced over, realizing too late that Chat was eyeing them again, suspicion scrunching up his nose as his cat’s eyes glanced between her and Shell. Hastily, Ladybug wrapped up the conversation.

“I’ll let you guys know if anything else happens, and you should let the team know if something like that comes after you, too, got it?”

Shell and Chat nodded, and Ladybug breathed a little easier. Some days were harder than others, but since Chat and Shell’s agreement after the press conference, they were becoming more of a team with every passing day, and for that, she could not be more grateful.

“Good. So, patrol: as long as everything’s quiet, we’ll meet up again on Friday night and prowl around to make sure the city’s safe. Sound good?”

“Ah,” Chat spoke up, and Ladybug’s gaze snapped to him as he rubbed the back of his head, looking oddly sheepish. “I, uh, may not be able to make patrol on Friday.”

“Why not?” Shell demanded to know, his golden eyes narrowing. Ladybug shot him a look that warned him to be nice before Chat gave his explanation.

“I have a friend staying with me this week, which kind of makes it hard to slip away. I’ll try, of course, but, uh, if I can’t make it, you’ll know why.”

“A friend?” Ladybug questioned without meaning to. She bit her lip when the words escaped, cursing herself again. It was none of her businesswhat Chat did in his free time, so she had no excuse to be prying now. But still, a small part of her could not help but wonder if this ‘friend’ was the person Chat admitted to ‘seeing’ when Marinette had stupidly made a pass at him for no good reason—

“Yeah. So, sorry if I become scarce—she’d notice if I suddenly disappeared all the time without warning,” Chat explained with a cringe.


So it was a woman…

As Ladybug grappled with the sudden python-like twisting of her insides, she heard Shell say,

“Dude, ditching us for a girl? Not cool.”

Chat opened his mouth, looking awkward, but then his beeping Miraculous interrupted, and he merely gave a shrug instead.

“Sorry. I’ll do my best to make it Friday.”

With a half wave, Chat Noir bounded away, and Ladybug let out a huff, fiddling with her yo-yo in agitation. Shell gave her a strange look.

“…You okay, LB?”

“Fine,” she snapped, contradicting the word immediately with her tone. Shell raised his hands in a peace-making gesture, but Ladybug ignored him, hooking her yo-yo to a nearby streetlight to swing down from the rooftop they were currently occupying. “Let’s go.”

Once they were untransformed, Nino spoke up again.

“Didn’t you have a meeting with Adrien today?”

Marinette scowled.

“I was supposed to…but he cancelled.”


“Yeah. I mean, I guess it doesn’t much matter, since he’s seen what I’m planning to do, and I’ve shown most of the outfits to him already, without one or two final touches. The meetings are basically formality at this point…”

Marinette glanced up, catching the look on Nino’s face, the furrow of her brows deepening at the sight of it.

“And they’re kept strictly professional at all times,” She bothered to stress, and Nino chuckled awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head.

“I didn’t say anything, ‘Nette.”

“You were wearing the ‘you’re-totally-fucking-him-in-his-office-aren’t-you’ look on your face.”

“Oddly specific look…”

“Yeah, well, you and Alya are a lot alike.”

“Sorry,” Nino apologized, presumably for both him and his fiancée, before clearing his throat. “The winner of Desiree’s competition’ll be decided soon, yeah?”

“Yep.” Marinette stared ahead, the grim finality settling upon her. “My future as a designer will be decided in a month. But no pressure or anything…”

Nino snorted loudly.

“You’re kidding, right? You have a better chance than anyone, since you’re dating one of the judges.”

“Adrien and I are not dating,” Marinette protested, though it was simply force of habit at this point. “Besides, it’s not just up to him: Desiree has to weigh in as well.”

“Oh, right, the professor who adores you. You’ve got it rough, ‘Nette.”

“Can you not?” Marinette demanded, pausing to put her hands on her hips as she scowled up at Nino, whose smirk abruptly dropped at the sight of her furious expression. “This is my livelihood, Nino! This competition is all I have going for my fashion career right now, and you know I hatehaving all my eggs in one basket. And there could just as easily be someone in the class who’s more talented than me, so don’t act like it’s a sure thing, or you’ll jinx me!”

“Sorry,” Nino replied, looking abashed. “I didn’t mean to freak you out, ‘Nette. I was just saying that I had faith in you.”

Aw…well, now she felt like a jerk.

Marinette sighed, feeling her anger leave her with the exhalation.

“I’m sorry, Nino. I’m just nervous.”

“It’s cool. Like you said, it’s your livelihood.” As they resumed their walk, Nino clapped Marinette on the shoulder. “I just feel really good about your chances.” When Marinette glanced up at him, Nino gave her a wink. “Doesn’t hurt to be extremely lucky either, does it?”

She could tell he was trying to ease her nerves, and Marinette gave a weak chuckle.

“I guess not. Still, I’m not willing to bet it all on luck…no offense, Tikki.”

“None taken! I know how hard you work for your designs, Marinette!” Squeaked the kwami from Marinette’s muffler, drawing curious gazes from the people that passed by. Nino and Marinette walked a little faster.

“That’s true, you do work hard,” Nino acknowledged as Boulangerie Patisserie came into view. “That’s why I’m so confident you’ve got this in the bag…but if you don’t want me ‘jinxing’ things, I’ll stop.”

Marinette sighed, and then gave Nino a smile.

“No, it’s fine. The stress is just piling on, you know? Not to mention that I can’t get as much sewing done as I want, since I’m avoiding my place at night, now…”

Nino scowled as they stopped across the street from the bakery, waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green.

“And you’re sure it wasn’t an akuma?”

“I’ve been fighting akuma for seven years, Nino,” Marinette reminded him with a dry look. “I know what they look like by now. And that was not it.”

Nino shook his head, and they crossed when the light flashed green at last.

“We may have to bring Master Fu in on this.”

“I know, but later, when I don’t have quite so much to worry about,” Marinette requested as she reached for the handle of the bakery door, Nino pausing just behind her. “It’s been a struggle keeping my head from spinning off my shoulders lately as is.”

“True; it’s not like I have a lot of free time left nowadays either, since I’m still working on making enough tracks to fill a CD…” Nino took a deep breath, his eyes widening slightly as he gazed at Marinette. “I never really appreciated how much data can fit on a CD until now…”

Marinette laughed at that, reaching back to pat his arm.

“Let’s both do our best, okay?”

“You got it.” Nodding to Sabine, who waved at him through the window, Nino shot a finger gun at Marinette. “You know where to find me if you need me.”

“Thanks, Nino.” As she opened the door, Marinette’s smile turned mischievous. “I’ll be sure to return your fiancée eventually.”

“You’re lucky I love you, you homewrecker.”

“You’re lucky I love you enough not to be a legitimate homewrecker, Nino.”

“…Damn. Touche.”



“Girl, what are you doing?”

Marinette glanced up from the novel she had been reading, blinking confused eyes as Alya stood over her, hands on her hips, a stern scowl on her face, hazel eyes narrowed.

Uh-oh. And here Marinette believed she wouldn’t need to have a last will and testament prepared at the tender age of twenty-one…

Afraid of making any sudden movements, Marinette carefully dog-eared her book and set it to the side, eyeing Alya warily.

“What do you mean…?”

Alya huffed and flopped on the couch next to Marinette, crossing her legs under her as she continued to frown at her best friend.

“Look, you know I love you, but this isn’t like you.”

“What isn’t like me?”

“You’re running from something,” Alya accused with a frown. Marinette bit her lip. Well…she wasn’t wrong, per se…

When Marinette didn’t bother to deny it, Alya sighed, sliding an arm around Marinette’s shoulders, her hand resting atop Marinette’s head as she patted it.

“Normally I’d demand to know whatever it is that’s bugging you so much that you can’t stand the thought of being home…but because this is so out of character for you, I won’t push. I just want you to know that I’m here for you, and you can talk to me about anything, okay?”

Marinette glanced over, but Alya was too busy resting her head against Marinette’s to make eye contact, her hand stroking through Marinette’s hair.

“Anything at all,” Alya added fervently.

Marinette felt her heart swell, and she wrapped both her arms around her best friend, giving her a squeeze.

“Thank you, Alya. I’m sorry for invading your space lately; I know you miss Nino—”

“Psh. ‘Miss’ nothing…” Alya paused, and Marinette thought she detected a faint smirk crossing her best friend’s lips from her peripheral vision. “…Okay, so I miss him a little.”

“More like a lot,” Marinette teased, and Alya gave a shrug, straightening up and grinning.

“Well, lovely as you are, girl, I kind of have an itch that only the boy can scratch…” Alya gave Marinette a wink. “Well, I mean, unless you wanna get creative—”

“May I remind you that you’re engaged?” Marinette teased, tapping the fourth finger on Alya’s left hand, where her engagement ring rested. Alya laughed and raised her hand to admire her ring, grinning that grin she always wore when thinking about Nino.

“True…damn, guess I’d better behave, then.”

“I can help you out with that itch in my own way, though,” Marinette said, sliding out from under Alya’s arm and getting to her feet. “I think it’s about time I head home.”

“Aw, Marinette, you don’t have to go,” Alya protested, but Marinette waved her off, grabbing the things strewn about the apartment that belonged to her.

“It’s been a week, Alya. Seriously, you’ve been more than nice—you’ve been a saint.”

“True,” Alya allowed, and they both laughed, knowing full well that out of the two of them, Alya was definitely the most difficult roommate, if only because she was a messy creature and a wild sleeper. Once Marinette had retrieved all of her stuff, she carefully checked that Tikki was in her bag before she zipped it shut.

“All right, I’m going. Go see Nino, get that ‘itch’ scratched,” Marinette encouraged, grinning as she headed for the door, slipping on her coat and muffler.

“If you insist,” Alya replied with a drawn-out sigh, as if Marinette was putting her out. As Marinette stepped out into the hall, Alya paused at the door, sparing her best friend a concerned glance. “But you know you can always come back if you need to, right? I don’t care what time of the night it is or whatever, if you need me—”

“I love you too, Alya,” Marinette assured her with a bright smile. She stepped forward and gave her a tight hug before drawing back. “And don’t worry: you’re always the first person I think of when I need to get out of a bind.”

Alya gave Marinette a wink.

“Good, ‘cause you know I’d kill for you, girl. And that ain’t an exaggeration.”

“I know,” Marinette sighed with a shake of her head. “It’s also why I always have to keep you out of trouble.”

“You still love me anyway,” Alya reminded her, and Marinette grinned. “Say, y’know, it’s still early…when was the last time you saw Adrien?”

“Um, a couple days ago, I think,” Marinette replied, quickly searching her memory for the most recent mental image of Adrien’s face. “We had coffee.”

Alya raised an eyebrow.

“Coffee. How…stimulating.”


“I’m just saying, it couldn’t hurt to get an itch or two of your own scratched, girl,” Alya teased with a wink, causing Marinette to sigh. “Think about it. G’night.”

“Night,” Marinette replied, giving Alya a final wave before the door was closed. Shaking her head, Marinette made her way out of the apartment complex, Alya’s suggestion still ringing in her ears. Getting her itches scratched, huh…

We’re not like that,’ Marinette sternly reminded herself, pouting as she climbed into her car and started it, driving down the street and pulling out onto the main road. Honestly, the closest she and Adrien had gotten towards anything sexual was the night he spent at her house, weeks ago. Since then, they had both been too busy for anything other than stolen kisses when they had a free moment alone, which was almost never, since she, Adrien, Nino, and Alya tended to hang out as a group. And Marinette was fine with that, really. She was sincerely happy with the way things were…they were taking it slow, smart…

…Okay, so sex wouldn’t kill her, per se, but when she considered the fact that Adrien wasn’t ready for a relationship…

Sex isn’t a relationship,’ Alya’s voice butted into her mind as Marinette drove. ‘Sex is sex. And when it’s done right? Mind-fucking-blowing. C’mon, when was the last time you got some, girl?

Marinette caught her own displeased look in her rearview mirror, and hastily glanced away. It had been a while…about two years now, give or take a month. Too long, probably, in Alya’s opinion. But so what? It wasn’t like Marinette needed a man to scratch that particular itch…but it was nice to have a little skin-on-skin contact, too…and she couldn’t pretend that she hadn’t wondered what Adrien would be like in bed…the little noises he made when they kissed made her intensely curious…

Marinette shook herself, violently yanking her mind from the gutter. Now was not the time for her to be having those kinds of thoughts, especiallynot while she was operating a vehicle—

…Wait. This wasn’t her street…

Marinette blinked and looked around, tapping her break. This was not her street, but it was familiar…in fact, if she wasn’t mistaken—

Marinette glanced to the right and bit back a groan: Adrien’s place was just a few houses down. As she was thinking about him, she had unwittingly driven to his house. Great.

Grumbling curses to herself, Marinette’s foot pressed onto the gas pedal…but only long enough for her to drift closer to Adrien’s house. She glanced over, noting that the living room light was on—he was home.

Well…she was in the neighborhood…it would be rude to just go home without saying hello, wouldn’t it…?

Atta girl,’ Alya’s voice egged on in the back of Marinette’s mind as she parked. Marinette firmly shushed the sound of her best friend’s voice, banishing it for the moment. It wasn’t like she was going over for a booty call…just to say hello. That’s it. Just hello…

I suck at lying, even to myself,’ Marinette acknowledged with a sigh as she slipped through the gate, making her way up Adrien’s walkway and climbing the stairs to the front door. Stupidly, she smoothed out her coat, wondering if she was presentable, before deciding that it didn’t matter because she was just here to say hello. She took a deep breath, held it for three seconds, let it go…and then pressed the doorbell.

A few seconds later, Adrien answered, his puzzled expression turning into surprised delight when he spotted her. He was still in his work clothes from the day, she could see, though the top few buttons of his shirt were undone, exposing his chest in an enticing manner—

“Mari!” He greeted, snapping Marinette out of her sinful thoughts long enough to focus on his smile as he opened the door wider, stepping forward to embrace her. Mmm…he smelled good…

Get a hold of yourself,’ Marinette sternly ordered herself as she returned the hug with just the right amount of enthusiasm and no more. Adrien kept an arm around her even as he pulled back, the warmth of his body felt even through Marinette’s coat.

“What’re you doing here?” Adrien asked, grinning in a pleased manner. “Didn’t come all the way out here to see me, did you?”

“Well, I didn’t plan to…but I kind of blanked as I was driving and found myself in the neighborhood, so…” Marinette gave a “what the hell” shrug. “So, if you’re not busy…maybe we could hang out?”

Marinette could not help but notice the way Adrien’s grin faltered.

“Ah…actually—” He began, looking awkward about something, but before he could finish, there was the sound of a door opening upstairs, and a voice rang out,

“Ah, ‘scuza, Adrien, but where did you say the extra towels—oh!”

Marinette craned her neck around Adrien, her eyes widening.

Standing at the top of the stairs was a girl.

No, not a girl—a woman.

A very wet, very naked woman, save for the towel she had wrapped around her, clutched close at her large bosom. She was shorter than Marinette, and her curves were emphasized by the towel clinging to her body. Thick, wet dark hair hung around her face, her olive skin smooth and glittering with beads of water. She blinked dark, surprised eyes as she spotted Marinette, half-raising a hand in greeting after a moment.

“Uh…buonasera…” she greeted sheepishly. Marinette knew just enough Italian to know that it meant “good evening”.

Well…it seemed she wasn’t the only one who was full of surprises tonight.

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

Part 22 of 37

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