Continuing Tales

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

Part 23 of 37

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No, it can’t be…that isn’t Lila, is it?

Marinette squinted at the woman at the top of the stairs.

…No. Even if it’s been years, I’d recognize her immediately if I saw her. Besides, she was taller than me. Even if she hadn’t grown at all, we’d be the same height by now. So then, who is she? A cousin? A friend? Or—’

“The extra towels are in the wardrobe in the guest room, Eri,” Adrien suddenly spoke, startling Marinette out of her rapid analysis of the wet, bare woman. She glanced over, finding him smiling up at the woman, though the action appeared rather awkward. The woman he called Eri made a similar facial expression.

“Ah, I see. Thank you. Um, excuse me…”

As the mystery woman disappeared, Marinette settled her gaze on Adrien, whose shoulders were slightly hunched, like he had done something wrong, and expected to be scolded for it. She raised her eyebrows at him.

“Uh…do you want to come in?” He offered, waving a hand as he gestured within the house. Marinette stared at him, realizing she needed a minute to process that question. Hmm. Did she want to come in…?

Adrien met her gaze unflinchingly, his eyes earnest and apologetic. Marinette couldn’t fathom whatever it was he needed to be sorry about—didn’t want to fathom it—but the fact that he wasn’t stumbling to make explanations had to count for something, didn’t it?

Marinette forced herself to take a deep breath.

Stay calm. There’s a rational explanation for all this…there has to be. Adrien isn’t a cheater.

That’s what she believed, anyway…but if they weren’t even officially in a relationship…could it still be considered cheating, if he slept with someone else…?

Marinette swallowed. If this was what she feared it was…what would she do…?


Adrien’s voice was coaxing, concerned. Marinette made herself close her eyes and breathe deeply once again. She had no idea what was going on here, but it seemed that Adrien was willing enough to explain. So what would she do? Fly off the handle over something she was only twenty-five percent sure had happened, or go inside so they could talk this out like rational adults?

Duh,’ Marinette reasoned to herself with an inward roll of her eyes. She was a grown woman, after all. This was a no-brainer.

“Sure,” Marinette answered at last, returning Adrien’s relieved grin with a small smile. As she stepped inside, Adrien closed the door behind her and led the way to the living room, Marinette’s gaze lingering on the top of the staircase for one moment before she followed.

The large television screen was broadcasting the news channel, the anchors discussing the hottest issue in Paris: the return of Chat Noir. Marinette scowled at the T.V. screen as the anchors discussed the pros and cons (mostly the cons) of having a hero like Chat Noir back on the streets.

“…and how can we trust him? Ladybug says she believes him, but she could easily be fooled, couldn’t she?”

“Not to mention they were probably an item at one point or another, so it’s hard to let go of someone you once loved—”

Abruptly, the power to the T.V. shut off. Marinette blinked, and then let out a sigh of relief, turning to Adrien, who was holding the remote.

“Thank you,” she sighed, sinking down onto a corner of the couch. Adrien chuckled, sitting down beside her as he placed the remote down on the coffee table.

“Sick of the media coverage featuring Chat Noir lately?”

“It’s not the media coverage, it’s the media itself,” Marinette harrumphed, scowling again at the blank T.V. screen, her arms folded across her chest. “If Ladybug says it’s fine, then it’s fine! But everyone seems to have an opinion, acting like they know Chat Noir better than his own partner does. It pisses me off.”

Adrien was regarding her in a strange way: it was like he was amused and trying to hide it, further evidenced by the hand he pressed to his mouth, as if to hide a growing smirk from view. Marinette narrowed her eyes at him, unsure of what to make of such an expression…but she decided to let it go for now. They shouldn’t be discussing Chat Noir at the moment, anyway.

“So,” she began, adopting a business-like tone as she crossed one leg over the other, raising an inquisitive eyebrow, “who’s Eri?”

The amusement in Adrien’s expression faded.

“Ah, yeah.” He cleared his throat, turning to fully face Marinette on the couch. “Her name’s Erika Soriano. She’s a friend of mine, from back when I was living in Milan.”

“Oh. So she came to visit? That’s nice.” Marinette paused. “You didn’t mention anything about having a guest over…”

“She sprung this visit on me,” Adrien admitted with a slight cringe. “That’s why I cancelled our meeting yesterday morning, sorry. I wanted to explain, but Eri’s never seen Paris before, so—”

“So I insisted he show me around until I was satisfied,” said a new voice, and Marinette glanced up to find Erika Soriano in the doorway of the living room, now properly clothed in jeans and a form-fitting beige shirt, her thick hair tied back and piled atop her head, curling as it dried. She was adorable, Marinette decided, frowning at the thought. Still, she reminded herself not to make any snap judgments about this woman, because she didn’t know her. And Marinette knew what they said about people who assumed…

As Erika approached, a slight bounced in her step, her smile became apologetic.

“Please excuse me for my appearance earlier. I did not know Adrien was expecting company.”

Her French was very proper, Marinette noticed. Idly, she wondered how long she had been studying.

“I wasn’t,” Adrien admitted, giving Erika a knowing look as she rounded the coffee table, sitting down on his other side; he scooted closer to Marinette to give his friend more room. “But it looks like you’re not the only one with a habit of dropping by unannounced.”

Erika stuck out her tongue, grinning a moment later as she leaned around Adrien, eyes bright with interest.

“But you have not properly introduced us yet, Adrien! Tell me, is this the famous Marinette I have heard so much about?”

“The very same,” Adrien confessed, pride surging through his voice, as if Marinette was something to show off. She flushed under his grin, clearing her throat to halt the silly smile that twitched at the corners of her mouth, threatening to give way.

“Hi, I’m Marinette,” Marinette introduced herself, raising a hand to shake, her smile polite. “It’s very nice to meet—oof!”

Erika, it appeared, was not one for formalities—bypassing Marinette’s hand completely, she lunged forward with a hearty hug that nearly knocked the breath out of Marinette.

“It is so good to finally meet you!” Erika enthused, pulling back only to grin toothily at Marinette. There was so much…joy in her expression, as if nothing could have delighted her more than to make Marinette’s acquaintance. Marinette smiled back uncertainly, thrown off by such enthusiasm. She had just officially met this woman, and yet here Erika was, thrilled to bits, as if she was meeting a celebrity. In the back of her mind, Marinette wondered just what Adrien had been telling Erika about her to make her look like that…

“Uh…it’s nice to meet you, too…” Casting about for something to say, Marinette’s eyes fixed on a choker around Erika’s neck, something she hadn’t noticed until just now, since it was the same color as Erika’s skin tone, save for the glittering green opal set in the middle. “Uh, I like your necklace.”

“Oh, thank you,” Erika replied, leaning back with a hand to the choker, her smile softening. “It was a gift from a very dear friend.”

Unable to help it, Marinette’s gaze flickered over to Adrien, who was currently being smooshed into the couch, due to Erika leaning over him. He caught her glance and blinked.

“Don’t look at me,” he said after taking a moment to interpret Marinette’s expression. “It must’ve been some other friend.”

“Aw, do not be jealous, Luce del Sole,” Erika teased, leaning back to sit properly, grinning at him, “I still have all of your presents as well.”

Luce del Sole?” Marinette questioned, frowning. That phrase was beyond her limited knowledge of the Italian language…

“Ah, it means…what is the word…oh, I remember: ‘sunshine’,” Erika filled her in.

Ah. Sunshine, huh? Fitting…

“It was better than stella,” Adrien said, his smile warm as he gazed down at Erika, who grinned toothily at him.

“Indeed: stars shine bright even after they pass, but the sun is eternal. Much more fitting.”

“You flatter me,” Adrien said, and Erika’s grin widened. Watching them interact was very sweet, Marinette had to admit.

So sweet, in fact…that it almost felt like…

“Did you two used to date?”

The question popped out of her mouth before Marinette could pause and decide whether or not she wanted to know the answer. But it was too late, the words were out…and as Adrien and Erika turned to her with wide eyes, both flushing dark red, Marinette had her answer, ready or not.

And to say that she was conflicted about it was pretty accurate.

“Oh…yes, that is true. Once, we were together…b-but that was a long time ago!” Erika rushed to assure her, as if worried about what Marinette might think. When Marinette said nothing, she raised a hand, making a flapping gesture, expression flustered. “We are only friends now, I swear to you! He is now more like my brother! I will always love him, yes, but it is not that kind of love—”

“Eri,” Adrien cut in after a moment, placing a hand on her shoulder and giving her a look that was equal parts amused and concerned, “breathe.”

Erika did as she was asked, exhaling slowly, a hand to her chest, her eyes closed as she slowly inhaled and exhaled once again.

“Okay…okay. I am calm. Sorry,” she apologized, cringing with her eyes still closed. Laughing, Adrien patted her head, much like an older brother would do with his younger sister.

“It’s fine. I know how you get.”

Erika blinked her eyes open, focusing on Marinette, looking contrite.

“I apologize for being overexcited,” she said, giving an awkward smile. “I do not wish you to worry. Adrien is my good friend, and I am so very happy for him for finding you. You should see how he lights up when he speaks about you—”

“Eri,” Adrien interrupted once again, and Marinette was faintly amused to see the flush spreading through his face as he rubbed the back of his neck. “She doesn’t need to know all that…”

“Oh, but she must know how you adore her!” Erika insisted, turning wide brown eyes onto Adrien. “How else would she know how you speak about her when she is not around?” Turning quickly to Marinette, her eyes shining, Erika began to ramble at top speed: “Do you know he has your birthday memorized and is planning a big surprise for you when it comes? He told me he has been thinking about it for weeks now, even though your birthday is in the summer, is it not? And when we were out sightseeing today, he included everything you had to say about this lovely city, like which landmarks are your favorite, and funny stories about you and your friends at certain shops and restaurants. Oh, and he often stopped to browse the flowers we passed because he knows your favorite color is pink and he was wondering which flowers you prefer—”

“Erika!” Adrien protested, his face completely red at this point as he slapped a hand over his friend’s mouth. “Shh!”

But it was too late; he could do nothing to take the words back. Marinette had heard everything.

And all she could do was laugh.

“Ahahaha! Hahaha, y-you’re so cute, Adrien,” she breathed, covering her mouth with a hand as she giggled. Adrien flushed darker, pouting a little.

“Cute is for puppies,” he grumbled, and Marinette grinned, ruffling his hair.

“Then you make a very cute puppy,” she teased as Adrien went into full pout mode, which did nothing to help his case. As he set about fixing his mussed hair while continuing to deny the ‘cute’ accusations, his blush only growing, Marinette noticed Erika’s expression. Her eyes were focused on Adrien, her hands clasped to her chest, a glowing warmth radiating from her as she watched him. If it wasn’t clear to Marinette before, it certainly was now: Erika loved Adrien, with all her heart. Even watching him become flustered due to another woman’s attention, she seemed so pleased just to see him happy. That look spoke volumes, way more than Erika herself could have ever expressed…although she certainly tried, with the chatter that spilled from her just a moment ago.

Erika glanced over, her eyes widening when she realized Marinette was watching her. She hastened to smile again, and then stood up.

“Well! I am, how you say, ‘in the way’, am I not? I will give you two time alone.”

“Oh, that isn’t necessary—”

“I insist,” Erika said, pointing an imperious finger at Marinette, a spark of mischief appearing in her otherwise sweet expression. “I may be visiting, but I am not here to interrupt Adrien’s life. So I will get out of your way. Good night!”

And before Marinette could utter another word of protest, Erika flounced out of the room. After a beat of silence, Adrien gave an awkward laugh.

“She’s something, huh?” He said, and Marinette glanced back at him, finding him smiling a little, the red not quite gone from his face. Marinette smiled.

“I like her.” Her smile evolved into a grin. “She seems really pleased that you talk about me a lot.”

Adrien gave a sigh, rubbing the back of his neck as red flooded his face once more.

“Yeah, well…” He didn’t appear to have anywhere else to go with that sentence; he cleared his throat and moved on. “So yeah. She’s just a friend who’s staying with me for the week.” His gaze grew earnest as he looked at Marinette. “That’s all that’s going on. I promise.”

“I believe you,” Marinette assured him, smiling when relief flooded Adrien’s face. So what if he happened to have a female friend staying with him? And so what if they technically had a history? It didn’t mean that anything was going on now. Besides, Marinette could usually tell when Adrien was lying anyway, so if he said Erika was only a friend, then she was just that: a friend.

“Thank you,” Adrien said fervently, moving forward to embrace Marinette. She let out an involuntary giggle when he nosed at her neck, inhaling deeply.

“Mmm…you smell good…”

“Down, boy,” Marinette teased him, wriggling out of his grasp and grinning up at him. “You have company, remember?”

“Company that just gave us space and privacy…” Adrien pointed out, but Marinette tapped his nose to discourage him. He wrinkled and rubbed at it, and Marinette giggled at the familiar gesture…hmm…it was very familiar, in fact…

“No,” she discouraged, even when Adrien gave another pout, his eyes beseeching. “I’d feel strange fooling around with you when you have a guest from out of the country staying over. Those flight tickets aren’t cheap.”

Adrien gave a sigh, sitting back, as if he needed the space as a buffer.

“I guess you’re right…and I haven’t actually seen her in years. She went to study in America around the time we were going off to university, so this is my first time seeing her in a while—”

“So what’re you still doing down here with me?” Marinette teased with a grin, getting to her feet. “Go spend time with your friend. Oh, and be sure to bring her to ice cream on Friday, so Alya and Nino can meet her, too. I think they’d like her.”

Adrien frowned, rising as well and following Marinette out to the foyer.

“You think so?”

Marinette gave him an easy shrug and a smile.

“It’s kind of hard not to. She’s really sweet.” She reached for the door handle. “Sorry for disturbing you when you have a guest over—”

A hand closed over hers before she could get the door open. Marinette glanced over her shoulder, about to ask what Adrien was doing—

Adrien leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers. In that moment, Marinette forgot that she was supposed to be leaving, and her original intention for visiting him resurfaced, nudging her into his awaiting arms, a warm, tingling feeling spreading through her as he kissed her—

THIS IS DANGEROUS,’ her mind warned, and Marinette worked to heed it, drawing back from the kisses that threatened to become heated if she wasn’t careful.

“I gotta go,” she sighed, pressing her fingertips to Adrien’s lips when he leaned down, intending to kiss her again. His brow puckered, and she giggled at the pouty look once again. “Oh come on. You act like I’m never going to kiss you again.”

“Mari—” Adrien breathed, her name practically a whine of longing. The look in his eyes as he gazed down at her made Marinette shiver, but she stood her ground, reaching behind her for the handle of the door as she held him at bay.

“I’ll see you later,” she insisted, only allowing one more quick kiss before she stepped out of range, giving him a smile before she pulled the door shut behind her. Marinette hurried down the stairs and walkway, throwing herself past the gate before she shut it behind her and leaned against it for a second, catching her breath. Oh dear…she hadn’t realized how difficult it was to not fool around with Adrien, once they got started. It was different when they were out in public with their friends, easy to remember that they were meant to behave…but when it was just the two of them, in a big, empty house—

Mostly empty,’ Marinette corrected herself sternly. That’s right—Adrien had a guest staying with him this week, a friend he hadn’t seen in a long time. It would be wrong for Marinette to take advantage of Adrien when he had a guest staying over…a guest that willingly excused herself to give them privacy…

There was probably a limit to that kindness,’ Marinette reasoned, shaking her head and pushing off from the gate, moving to her car. ‘I doubt she’d appreciate it if I didn’t let Adrien leave the couch all night…

Oh well. Maybe next time.



After two nights in her apartment passed without incident, Marinette cautiously let herself hope that that thing that had snuck up on her a couple weeks ago was no longer targeting her for mysterious reasons all its own. Tikki still seemed concerned about it, but as February rolled in with wet and windy weather, Marinette turned her attention onto more important things: the deadline for Desiree’s contest was in twenty days, and needless to say, Marinette was panicking.

All her predesigned outfits were finished: Chat Noir’s inspired outfit hung in the center of her studio, her pride and joy, flanked by the dresses for the Peacock and Bee Miraculous, the jumpsuit for the Fox Miraculous, and there was even an outfit inspired by Emerald Shell, the centerpiece a sleeveless green hoodie with the design of Emerald Shell’s shield on the back. (Marinette had had Alya model this outfit to test out its unisex appeal, and it was very entertaining to see just how ruddy Nino turned the longer she strutted around in it.)

The only thing that remained was the very last outfit Marinette could put off no longer—the outfit for Ladybug.

It was this goal in mind that pushed Marinette to the fabric store, dragging Alya along to help her keep her sanity as she fretted over her fabric decisions.

“How’re you gonna pick fabric if you don’t know what outfit you’re gonna make yet?” Alya questioned. Marinette could feel her eyes following her as she dashed back and forward through the aisles, picking up anything red or black that she could lay her hands on.

“Uh, I don’t know…” Marinette mumbled, scowling at a scrap of fabric she held, wondering where the rest of it was. “Maybe I’ll know when I see the right fabric!”

She could practically feel Alya shaking her head at her, but Marinette didn’t care; she was much too busy trying to decide between satin and chiffon, mentally noting that the Ladybug outfit had to be just as casual as the others, and that silk-based fabrics did not a casual outfit make, especially when she had done all she could to hold herself back from using such fabric in the design of the Peacock dress—

“So, this girl that’s staying with Adrien—”

Aaaaaand here Alya went again.

“They’re just friends, Alya,” Marinette said again, dropping the red satin and chiffon fabrics back where she found them with a sigh. No fancy fabrics. She could not show the Ladybug design special treatment; people might get suspicious.

“Just friends who used to date,” Alya clucked again, and Marinette turned wearily to see the disapproving expression on her best friend’s face, her arms folded. “Why isn’t she staying in a hotel like a proper friend visiting from out of the country?”

Marinette shook her head. Now Alya was just being ridiculous.

“Would you honestly make a friend from out of country pay for a hotel when you have more than enough room in a house that big?”

“…” As Alya struggled to poke a hole in that logic, Marinette returned her attention to her fabric hunt, pausing only when Alya gave a huff. “Okay, fine, I’ll give you that, but still! He should’ve said something! What if you had gone over there in nothing but an overcoat and lingerie or something?”

Marinette snorted, feeling her face go as scarlet as the fabric she was inspecting.

“Yeah, like I would do that.”

“Mm, you’re right, waaay too subtle—better to just tie a big bow around your body and ask him to slowly unwrap you like a present—”

“Are you trying to live vicariously through me or something?” Marinette demanded to know, straightening up and staring at her best friend in a bewildered fashion. Alya gave her a smirk.

“Why would I do that? I’m actually getting laid,” she pointed out, and Marinette huffed, diving back into the fabric bin she was half submerged in. “This is more like I’m giving your sexual frustration a voice.”

“Well,” grumbled Marinette, mostly to herself as she sorted through assorted fabrics, “you probably have a point there…”



“Well, anyway, I still don’t like it. I know you two aren’t together-together or whatever, but—”

“Alya,” Marinette cut in, straightening up again to give her best friend a look, “I trust him. Isn’t that enough?”

“It’s not Adrien I’m worried about.” Alya fixed Marinette with a concerned expression. “I know this girl says she’s over Adrien, but is she really?”

Marinette frowned. She didn’t want to consider the idea that Erika might be lying about this thing between her and Adrien being in the past…she had been so sincere when she tried to assure Marinette there was nothing to worry about…

“Even if she’s not,” Marinette began, biting her lip, “does it matter? Adrien and I…well, we’re…something. Just because Erika’s visiting doesn’t mean he’s going to go back to her.”

“I wouldn’t bet on her not saying anything if she isn’t over him,” Alya said darkly, fixing Marinette with a significant look. “I’ve seen how hard it is to get over Adrien Agreste firsthand.”

Okay, now that was just a low blow.

“I was fourteen, Alya. In other words, I was too young to properly handle heartbreak for the first time. But as I keep saying, that was a long time ago, and I’ve grown up.” Marinette put her hands on her hips, scowling at Alya amidst the mess of fabric around her. “So would you please stoptreating me like a child when it comes to my love life and trust that I know what I’m doing?”

“…” At Marinette’s serious expression, Alya sighed in defeat. “…All right, all right. I’ll shut up. …But I’m still gonna remind Monsieur Agreste about that favor he owes me.”

Marinette rolled her eyes and turned her attention back to fabric hunting. She supposed she was lucky to have a best friend who cared so much…but honestly, Alya just needed to calm down sometimes; constantly making mountains out of molehills was going to kill her one day.

“Just be nice to Erika, okay? I think Adrien’s going to bring her to Francoise’s tomorrow, so wait until you meet her before you make any judgements, all right?”

“I promise nothing…” Marinette gave Alya a pleading look, and Alya groaned. “Oh, Mari, no, that’s cheating! …Ugh, fine. I’ll reserve judgment. For now.”

Marinette shook her head to herself and smiled. That was the best she was going to get out of Alya, she supposed. Nino would be cool, of course—he always was—so all there was left to worry about was Erika herself, and whether or not she would feel comfortable with them. But Marinette wasn’t worried—she seemed like a sweetheart, so getting along with their group would be a cinch for Erika.

…Well, Marinette hoped so, in any case.



“She’s late,” Alya grumped, folding her arms and tapping her foot impatiently as they waited outside of Francoise’s. Marinette wished she would stop pointing that out—Adrien looked worried enough already.

“Maybe she got lost,” Nino suggested, not helping manners. “Paris is confusing for first-timers…”

“Why didn’t you escort her here, Agreste?” Alya demanded to know, and Adrien sighed, running a hand through his perfect hair.

“She insisted on doing some shopping without me, and said she’d meet me here,” he explained, his brows creased with concern as he checked his phone for the umpteenth time, but Marinette could see that there were no new messages from Erika. “I hope she’s okay…”

“I’m sure she’s fine,” Marinette assured him with a reassuring pat to his arm. “Let’s give her another minute or two, okay? If she doesn’t show up then, we’ll split up and help you look for her.”

Adrien let out a sigh, smiling slightly at Marinette through his apprehension.

“Thanks, Mari,” he said softly, reaching for her hand and giving it a squeeze. Marinette smiled and returned the gesture, wanting to say more to console him—

“Ah, there he is! Adrien, hello! Look who I ran into!”

Marinette turned, smiling in relief at the sound of Erika’s voice—

Her expression froze awkwardly on her face when she spotted, not only Erika, dressed like a model in her designer winter outfit, hefting around significantly less bags than Marinette was expecting, but also the man she dragged along behind her…a tall blonde man who was looking distinctly awkward…


There was a short intake of breath next to her. Marinette glanced over at Adrien, who was watching Erika approach with Felix in tow with a strange sort of tension present in his expression. That tension was mirrored in Felix’s face as well, Marinette couldn’t help but notice; it became more obvious the closer he got. Marinette felt her hackles rise with his approach as well, but she reminded herself to be cool. No need to make this awkward moment any more unpleasant just because Felix gave her the creeps…

Erika seemed not to notice the atmosphere, however; she was all smiles as she bounded forward, grinning up at Adrien.

“I am sorry for my lateness! I think maybe I took a wrong turn? But luckily, I met Felix, and he agreed to help me!”

Felix glanced away from Erika’s smile, as if it troubled him to look at her. The pressure of the silent atmosphere was stifling, alleviated only when Adrien cleared his throat.

“Felix,” he greeted politely.

Felix consented to give him his gaze for a moment; Marinette scowled when those cool blue eyes rested briefly on her before moving on to Adrien.

“Adrien,” Felix replied, shoving his hands deeper into his pockets, though Adrien showed no signs of offering to shake hands, anyway. Erika’s face, glowing just a moment ago, fell at the obvious coolness between the two, which piqued Marinette’s curiosity. Why did she get the feeling that she was missing something here…?

“How do you two know each other?” Marinette wanted to know, sending a sidelong suspicious glance Felix’s way. Felix merely raised an eyebrow at her, and Adrien looked uncomfortable, but it was Erika who answered.

“But do you not know?” She asked, blinking her wide dark eyes in surprise. “Adrien and Felix are cousins!”

“Cousins?!” Marinette squawked without meaning to, glancing in between them in rapid succession. No way…there was no way Adrien was related to someone like Felix

But then Adrien raised an eyebrow, as if to inquire just what she was protesting to, and Marinette abruptly saw the family resemblance.

“Problem?” Felix inquired loftily, his own raised eyebrow climbing higher. Marinette narrowed her eyes at him.

“Your last name isn’t Agreste…” She definitely would have remembered if that had been the case.

“That’s because neither of my parents were ever Agrestes. My mother and Adrien’s mother were sisters,” Felix explained coolly. “Again, problem?”

Marinette scowled at him. She’d like to give him a problem, all right…

Nino, apparently sensing that tempers were about to boil over, carefully stepped in front of Marinette, as if to shield her from view.

“Well, it was nice seeing you, cousin,” he said cheerfully. “Thanks for delivering the Maserati heiress to us. We’ll send you a check in the mail.”

Marinette glanced around Nino just in time to catch Felix’s deadpan expression before he turned on his heel and strode away, nearly as graceful as Adrien, though Marinette was certain that he had never set foot on a runway…perhaps natural grace was a family trait…

“Maserati heiress?” Marinette heard Alya question after a moment; she turned to see her best friend eyeing Erika up and down, sizing her up.

“Yeah—Erika’s a descendent of the dude who slapped his name on those fancy cars in Italy,” Nino explained, turning and giving Erika a wink. “We’re in the presence of automobile royalty, here.”

Erika giggled in a nervous manner, her face growing red.

“You flatter me,” she said, though she looked rather flustered, picking at the cuff of her sleeve. Alya asked how Nino already knew so much about Erika, and Nino went into this long-winded story about his shopping adventures from yesterday with Adrien and Erika. Marinette tuned out around the part at the pet store where they had to talk Adrien out of an exotic pet to have some company around the house; they were all heading into Francoise’s, except for Adrien and Erika, who were still standing in front of the shop and having a muted conversation in Italian. Erika looked anxious, but Adrien shook his head with a smile, patting her head.

Va bene. Non hai fatto niente di male,” Adrien said quietly when Erika continued to look troubled.

Pero…” Erika glanced over, finding Marinette still standing there. Marinette was too slow to look away and disguise the fact that she was eavesdropping, even if she had no idea what was being said, and Erika looked away before she could, giving Adrien a strained smile.

“You go in with your friends,” she insisted, abruptly switching to French; Marinette had a funny feeling it was for her benefit. “I will be just a moment: I want to call Papa and tell him that I am fine. Shoo,” she added with an accompanying gesture when Adrien opened his mouth, clearly meaning to argue.

Adrien gave her a troubled look, but when Erika continued to wave him away, he sighed and conceded, turning to find Marinette still waiting there.

“Uh…shall we?” Adrien asked, pulling the door open and waiting for Marinette to enter before him. Marinette turned, ready to head in…but something nagged at her, pausing her steps. With a quick glance at Erika, who was fiddling with her phone, Marinette turned to give Adrien a smile.

“Why don’t you go on? Keep Alya and Nino from getting too gross at the table. I’ll catch up in a minute.”

Adrien blinked, apparently uncomprehending.


He trailed off when Marinette stretched up and kissed his cheek, the simple gesture painting his face red.

“I’ll only be a minute,” Marinette promised, nudging him in the door. “Go on.”

“Excuse me, but if you’re coming in, come in already!” Francoise called from behind the counter, looking irate. “You’re letting the heat out!”

Adrien ducked his head, his shoulders hunching.

“Sorry,” he apologized, giving Marinette one last confused glance before he finally headed inside, shutting the door behind him. Marinette watched as he caught up with Nino and Alya, and then turned, carefully approaching Erika, who seemed to show no signs of calling anyone, despite what she told Adrien. She was merely staring blankly at the lock screen of her phone when she seemed to feel Marinette approach; she glanced up in surprise, and Marinette gave her a smile.

“Hi,” she greeted pleasantly, planting her feet next to the Maserati heiress. “How’s Paris been treating you so far?”

“Oh, it has been delightful,” Erika enthused with a smile that did not quite reach her eyes. “Though I think Papa might be a little upset over all the shopping I did…but I will jump off of that bridge when I get to it, I think.”

“Cross the bridge,” Marinette corrected gently, and red bloomed in Erika’s face.

“Oh…yes…crossing the bridge…thank you…”

She trailed off, her expression becoming dejected. Marinette chewed her bottom lip for a moment before speaking.

“Is…everything all right?”

Erika let out a short huff and murmured something Marinette didn’t catch…though the vehemence with which it was spoken made her feel like it might’ve been an Italian curse.

“I am an idiot,” Erika said abruptly, turning her gaze skyward, the clouds that obscured the sun seeming to reflect in her eyes. “I do not know why I thought things would be different just because they are in Paris together…”

Marinette rested her back against the wall next to Erika, folding her hands in front of her.

“You’re talking about Adrien and…Felix?”

“Yes,” Erika huffed, flipping long, dark hair out of her face in an exaggerated fashion…though she still managed to make it look fashionable. Marinette idly wondered if Erika herself ever considered a career in modeling. “I knew they were not close when we all still lived in Milan, but still…he is so happy here…I had hoped that things with his family were better now…”

As Erika twirled a strand of hair through her fingers, frowning at nothing, Marinette watched her, an uncomfortable feeling swirling in her chest. Something just occurred to her: here was a woman who knew Adrien in a way Marinette never would. Erika knew Adrien when he was grappling with the loss and sins of his father, raised by faceless strangers Marinette did not know, for he never talked about them. The only reason she now knew that Adrien and Felix were cousins was because of the woman beside her. Erika, and Erika alone, would have a piece of Adrien that Marinette never would, simply because she knew that hidden side of him…and Marinette hated herself for coveting that. She shouldn’t be jealous over this. It was childish to be so.

…And yet…

“Adrien never talks about his life in Milan,” Marinette confided quietly. It was her turn to turn her gaze away, though she felt Erika’s eyes on her; she watched the street instead, as cars drove by and the clouds shifted above, indecisive about whether to rain or not. “He changes the subject whenever someone brings it up.”

Carefully, Marinette glanced over to Erika, hazarding a small smile.

“The way you talk, though…I’m guessing he didn’t have a very happy life there.”

Erika watched Marinette for a long, measured moment, her lips pursed thoughtfully.

“…No,” she replied at last, “he did not.”

Marinette’s smile turned into a cringe.

“Isn’t it stupid that I’m a little jealous of you for being there for him when he needed support the most?”

Erika blinked.

“It is stupid,” she said rather bluntly, though she looked so innocent doing it that Marinette had to laugh a little. “You hold his heart, Marinette. Do you not see that? His past does not matter when he is with you.”

“Hmm,” Marinette hummed thoughtfully, tilting her head to the side as she glanced away. “I don’t know about that…”

“It is true,” Erika insisted, taking Marinette’s wrist. Marinette blinked at the touch, her gaze returning to Erika’s face, where a low level hum of tension was just discernable. “You should see how he speaks of you! When he speaks your name, he glows, Marinette. Truly, he becomes luce del sole when you are in his thoughts. And he is beautiful.”

Marinette felt herself go rather warm. True, within her own thoughts, she liked to think Adrien sung her praises, but that was within the privacy of her own mind. Hearing such things confirmed out loud was more than embarrassing.

Erika’s grip on her wrist suddenly tightened, and the anxiousness of her gaze intensified.

“You will…not hurt him, yes?” She asked, her voice barely above a whisper as she anxiously inspected Marinette. “Please, Marinette. He has been through so much—more than I could ever know, in fact. It has been so long since I have seen him so happy…but I am afraid for him. He is so very breakable…more than he would like to admit.”

Marinette was alarmed when tears suddenly pricked Erika’s eyes, as if the thought of seeing Adrien hurt was killing her. She really did love him, didn’t she?

“You will not hurt him, Marinette, yes? Will you swear to me? Please?”

The fervor of Erika’s request seized Marinette’s heart, squeezing tight. She cared so much about him, and only wanted to see him happy…but was Alya right after all? Despite what she said to the contrary, was Erika still in love with Adrien as well? Someone as sweet as her, who begged so passionately for Marinette not to hurt the man she loved…

How was Marinette supposed to feel about this?

The bell to the gelato shop gave a jingle, and Marinette jumped, glancing over to find Adrien stepping out, peering at her and Erika with some concern.

“Uh…is everything all right out here?”

“Fine,” Marinette was quick to assure him, feeling Erika’s grip on her wrist slide away. “We’re just talking.”

“Okay…” Adrien rubbed the back of his neck, clearly uncomfortable. “But Alya’s getting antsy. Apparently, she thinks it’s a cardinal sin to order anything without you present.”

Marinette rolled her eyes.

“I’m supposed to be keeping track of her calorie intake for the diet she’s supposedly starting,” Marinette explained with a slight smirk. “It’s the ‘tomorrow’ diet: always a day away.”

Adrien chuckled at that.

“Ha ha. Well, like I said, she refuses to order without you, so…”

“I’m coming, I’m coming…” Marinette took a step forward before she remembered Erika, turning to give her a kind smile…or she tried. Erika’s face was averted, staring at the ground, and so she missed it. “Erika? Are you coming? You should try the gelato here, it’s delicious.”

Slowly, Erika lifted her gaze, and gave them a wide smile. It was too wide, as if she was working to hide her true feelings behind it. Marinette frowned at the sight, wondering if it was a bad habit inherited from Adrien.

“You two go on,” Erika insisted, folding her arms around her, her hands cupping her elbows. “I am not quite hungry enough for gelato yet…I think…I think I will take a short walk, and then I will join you.”

“Erika—” Marinette and Adrien began at the same time, but Erika shook her head and waved them off, still smiling that too-wide smile.

“Do not worry, I will be sure not to get lost this time. Go on! I will just be a few minutes.”

Before either Marinette or Adrien could think of anything to say, Erika turned and quickly disappeared around the corner. Marinette took a step forward, half her mind made up to go after her, but she was stalled by Adrien’s hand taking hers.

“Marinette,” he began, and Marinette turned to see him frowning in concern, “what happened?”

Marinette blinked at him. How on earth did she answer that question when even she wasn’t exactly sure what had just occurred…?

“I’m…not sure,” she confessed, her brow furrowing to match Adrien’s. “We were talking…and it was kind of an important conversation…but then you showed up…”

Adrien cringed.

“What did I interrupt?”

Marinette felt red surge to her face.

“Um…I’d rather that stay between me and Erika.” At Adrien’s frown, she added, “But it wasn’t like we were having an unpleasant conversation. It was just…some things that needed to be said on her part, I guess.”

“You’re scaring me,” Adrien admitted, his green eyes searching Marinette’s face. “What—”


The door to Francoise’s burst open again, and now Alya stood there, looking irritated and ignoring Francoise’s impatient clucks.

“Are we here to have ice cream or what? What’re you two waiting for?”

“Erika just went off by herself,” Marinette explained, turning again to glance at the corner the Maserati heiress had just disappeared around. “I was thinking of going after her.”

“What happened?” Alya wanted to know, her brow furrowing.

Before Marinette could launch into any more vague explanations, however, Francoise stomped over, glaring at the three of them.

Listen. I appreciate your business here, but if you three do not stop storming through here like it’s a barnyard, I will ban you from my shop! Now what will it be? In, or out?”

Alya looked to Marinette, who looked to Adrien, who had closed his eyes and was apparently thinking very hard about something. After a moment or two, he sighed, slowly opening his eyes to glance at the corner where Erika had disappeared before his gaze switched to Marinette, and then to Francoise.

“In,” he announced, and he moved to hold the door open for Alya and Marinette, the latter pausing to wait for him as he shut the door behind him.

“Are you sure?” She asked in a low voice, biting her lip anxiously. The frown did not leave Adrien’s face, which made Marinette worry. He probably thought she had said something to upset his friend, and was now thinking that she was the kind of girl that was so insecure that she had to ward off his female friends in order to feel confident, even though they weren’t even officially dating—

Adrien slid an arm around her waist, leading her forward.

“…Erika’s the type that likes to suffer in silence,” Adrien remarked, his gaze focused on Alya as she joined Nino at their claimed table. “If she needs a few minutes, she needs a few minutes. She’ll be back.”

Marinette glanced back behind them at the large window looking out onto the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of Erika hurrying back, but no dice.


As she struggled to come up with a reason to chase after Erika, she glanced up, finding Adrien’s gaze on her. It was inscrutable for a brief moment…before giving way to a soft smile.

“Thank you for worrying,” he said softly, pressing a kiss to the side of Marinette’s temple, making her blush. “Tell you what: we’ll give her five minutes. If she isn’t back by then, we’ll track her down. Deal?”

“Deal,” Marinette agreed, returning Adrien’s smile if only to assure him; behind those pearly whites, she could tell he was worried, too.

“Where’d Erika go?” Nino wanted to know, blinking in surprise when he noticed there were only two when there should have been three.

“For a walk,” Adrien replied, saving Marinette the trouble. “She wanted to be alone for a minute.”

Nino frowned.

“Everything okay?”

Adrien shrugged in response, though his expression was nowhere near as relaxed as the gesture.

“If it’s not, we’ll go after her in about four minutes.” Adrien frowned. “Erika doesn’t like being cornered; she has this habit of disappearing when anyone tries to get her to do something before she’s ready.”

“But if she gets lost again—”

“Then we’ll go find her,” Marinette assured him, though Nino did not appear appeased.

“Why don’t we just go now? The longer we wait, the more lost she could get—”

“Guys,” Alya interrupted, and Marinette glanced over to find her best friend frowning down at her phone. When she consented to glance up, her expression was grim.

“You’re gonna want to see this…”

She set her phone down in the middle of the table, and heads crowded in to watch what appeared to be a news broadcast. The familiar face of Nadja Chamack was speaking urgently into her microphone, though her voice was too low; Marinette reached over to tap the volume button a few times, and Mrs. Chamack’s voice came out stronger:

“—just a moment ago. The akuma’s demands have not yet been made clear, but—eeeek!”

Marinette’s heart jumped into her throat as the camera feed suddenly cut out, but just for a split-second, she noticed a figure in a garish pink dress storm by, dark hair piled under a ridiculous-looking tiara…

She, Adrien, and Nino stood up at the same time.

“I have to go,” they said in unison, and then blinked in surprise, eyeing each other nervously. Slowly, Alya rose to her feet, surveying them with raised eyebrows. Marinette cringed, prepared to be peppered with probing queries—

“You’re right,” Alya decided, and Marinette stared at her in surprise. What…no twenty questions?

Ignoring Marinette’s look, Alya continued.

“Erika’s out there somewhere, and there’s an akuma on the loose. We should go look for her.”

“Oh…right!” Nino agreed, nodding enthusiastically. “Uh, tell you what: I’ll go with Marinette in the direction Erika was heading last, and you two head in the opposite direction, just in case she got turned around somewhere, all right?”

“Sure,” Alya agreed easily enough. Adrien, however, looked less than pleased.


“Thanks!” Marinette cut him off as she and Nino rushed out of the gelato shop, Francoise’s shout of frustration following them out the door.

“What did I just tell you?!”

“We’re gonna have to leave a really big tip after this,” Nino acknowledged, keeping pace with Marinette easily as they raced around the corner and down the street.

“Never mind,” Marinette said, spying an abandoned alley that was just big enough for the both of them. “Come on!”

In the alley, kwamis were released from their hiding places, their powers invoked in the heroes’ quest to save the day. Super suits were snapped on, and Ladybug and Emerald Shell were on the scene, swinging and hovering their way around the city.

“So much for patrol tonight,” Emerald Shell called over the whip of the wind as he and Ladybug made their way through the streets, searching for the cause of trouble.

“Chat wouldn’t have been able to make it anyway,” Ladybug reminded him, pausing briefly on a rooftop to look around. “He’s busy with his ‘friend’ or whatever.”

She felt rather than saw Shell’s gaze on her.

“You sound a little bitter there, LB.”

“Shut up,” Ladybug snapped at him, shooting him a glare before she sent her yo-yo out again, intending to swing to the next checkpoint within her mind. “If you start again about Chat, I swear to god—”

“What about me?”

Ladybug jumped in surprise, nearly slipping off the roof before she was ready. A strong arm went around her waist just as her toes nearly cleared the edge, pulling her back into a well-muscled chest.

“Whoa,” a low voice cautioned, and Ladybug felt her pulse become erratic, jumping violently in her skin. “Are you okay, Ladybug?”

“F-fine,” Ladybug stuttered, stepping out of Chat Noir’s loose grip as soon as she was able. Avoiding his gaze, Ladybug said, “I, uh, thought you’d be busy today, Chat.”

“I managed to slip away for a moment or two.” Ladybug chanced a glance in his direction, but he was merely smiling slightly, a secret embedded in the corners of his lips. Ladybug looked away hastily, turning her back just as Chat greeted Shell.

“Nice to see you, Snapper.”


The tone of Chat’s voice was too innocent as he replied, “What? You don’t like your new nickname? But I spent all night thinking up new ones for you! That one’s my favorite so far.”

Oh boy,’ Ladybug thought, glancing over her shoulder to peek at Shell’s reaction. His expression was inscrutable at the moment, but Chat was nearly bouncing in place, his slight smile replaced by an eager grin as he awaited Shell’s reaction.

“Well, Snapper? How’s the nickname, Snapper? It’s not making you feel like snapping, is it, Snapper?”

At last, after a moment of charged silence, Snapper—er, Shell—opened his mouth to speak.

“Actually…it’s a lot cooler than Shelly,” he noted. Grinning, he reached up and patted Chat on his stiff shoulder. “Thanks, Catnip Brain.”

Ladybug bit her lip to keep from bursting out laughing, but it was hard, especially when Chat’s expression suggested that Christmas had just been cancelled. But the hilarity was interrupted by a terrified shriek, and Ladybug was brought back to reality with a resounding crash.

“We don’t have time for this,” she reminded the other two, tautening the wire of her yo-yo, ready to fly. “There’s an akuma loose, remember?”

“He started it,” Shell and Chat blamed each other in the same moment, and Ladybug huffed and rolled her eyes before she took off, swinging away and ignoring the yelps and cries behind her for her to wait for them. They wanted to act like children? Fine. But Ladybug had a job to do, and a limited amount of time to do it, so she was not here to screw around.

The heart-wrenching sobbing Ladybug was hearing grew closer, and she dropped down into the street, next to a woman who was weeping into her hands. The hair color suggested that it was Mrs. Chamack, and Ladybug approached her, putting aside past grievances with the reporter for the moment.

“There, there,” Ladybug soothed, crouching down next to Mrs. Chamack and patting her back. “Everything’s going to be a—aiyeeeeee!!!”

Ladybug stumbled back, staring in horror at Mrs. Chamack, who had just lifted her face, revealing—nothing.

She had no face. There was just a blank stretch of skin, though somehow, the wailing grew louder, and her hands started scrabbling, reaching blindly for help. Ladybug scooted back in horror, gaping at the faceless Mrs. Chamack. What the hell happened here?!

“LB! Are you all—augh!” Shell yelped, jumping back on one foot once he spotted the monstrosity that was Mrs. Chamack. “What the hell—?!”

“Whoa!!” Chat cried, hissing when the faceless Mrs. Chamack drew too close to him. “The fuck kind of akuma did this?!

There was sudden laughter behind them, and Ladybug whirled around, stretching her arms out protectively to shield Mrs. Chamack, as well as her teammates.

The woman standing before her was nearly being swallowed in a ball gown that looked like it might have been beautiful, once. But the bottom was shredded and splashed with mud, the pink color faded, though still outrageous. Long dark hair was piled atop her head, her curls coming undone, held in place only by a ridiculous tiara that was tarnished, missing jewels in some places, lackluster jewelry dotting her fingers, wrists, neck. In fact, the only thing that seemed pristine about the woman was her face: her make-up was perfect, her face calm and composed and beautiful…and not hers.

Ladybug felt her mouth come open in horror, staring at Mrs. Chamack’s face on someone else’s body.

This akuma was stealing faces.

“Greetings, Ladybug,” drawled the akuma with a supercilious accent, lifting her skirts to curtsy. “I am Beauty Queen. As you have noticed, I seek a face—the most beautiful face in Paris, for only that face would be worthy of me. This face is nice,” she said idly, whipping out a mirror from nowhere to inspect it, pursing her lips in speculation. “But I’ve just had a thought: wouldn’t the face of Ladybug suit me much better? After all, no one knows the face behind the mask, do they? If I had your face, I would be the most sought-after woman in all of Paris! And then he would come crawling right back to me...not that I’ll take him back right away, of course…he ought to be punished for his wandering eye…as if I’m not enough. Hmph!”

This rant made Ladybug squint at the akuma. No…it couldn’t be…could it? But they had only left her alone for a couple minutes! Surely she couldn’t have been akumatized that quickly, could she?

There was a choker around the akuma’s neck. Ladybug cursed softly under her breath, leaning forward for a better look. If that was the same choker—

“Oh! So you understand my plight, Ladybug! How thoughtful of you to volunteer!”

Abruptly, Ladybug found herself faced with her own reflection. Beauty Queen’s mirror was in front of her face, and suddenly glowing with a light that seemed rather ominous.

“Hold still, please,” Beauty Queen trilled, but it wasn’t like Ladybug could move anyway—something about the mirror was damnably hypnotic,forcing Ladybug to remain in place, her terrified eyes staring back at her as the mirror turned brighter, brighter—

“Look out!”

Something collided with Ladybug, knocking her out of the way just as a strange sound reached her ears; it was like a laser from a sci-fi movie firing. Ladybug rolled to the side, pushing herself to sit up as soon as she lost momentum, looking up just in time to see Chat fall to his knees.

“CHAT! NO!!” Ladybug cried, trying to jump to her feet, but her legs were numb with horror over what had just occurred.

“Tsk! You naughty kitty, you ruined my catch!” Beauty Queen cried, scowling down at her mirror, where Chat Noir’s face was frozen in a grimace, mask still in place. “Hmph! This face may be pretty in its own right, but I wanted Ladybug’s face! Now I have to get rid of this one first!”

Without warning, she aimed her mirror at Shell, who only just managed to get his shield up in time once she fired.

“Whoa! Hey, watch it!” Shell shouted, charging at Beauty Queen with his shield raised, but she jumped out of the way, racing for Ladybug, her mirror raised.

“Ha ha! Now really hold still this time, Ladybug, or—ack!”

Before Beauty Queen could do any more damage with the accursed mirror, Ladybug had her yo-yo out and wrapped around it, all while still on the ground. She gave a tug that was a little too strong—she fell back onto her back from the force of the pull, and the mirror went flying. Beauty Queen gaped after it for a second…and then turned on Ladybug, her teeth gnashing together.

“How DARE you! Fine! We’ll just do this the hard way, then!”

Ladybug pushed herself to sit up again, watching as Beauty Queen stomped towards her, jagged nails raised, as if she was ready to tear Ladybug’s face off. Ladybug scrambled back, mentally cursing her useless legs, which were still numb from the shock of what had happened to Chat Noir. Just as she had resigned herself to her fate of having to harm the akuma to defend herself, though…something peculiar happened. There was a strange, sharp sound, right before Beauty Queen could reach Ladybug. Beauty Queen paused, jumping a hasty step back, her stolen eyes widening.

“What? What is—ouch!” She leapt forward, hands flying to her backside as she whirled around, searching for some kind of culprit! “Did you just smack my bottom?!” She accused Shell, who was standing just behind her, staring at his shield for some reason. He glanced up, blinking perplexed eyes at her, but before he could answer, the sharp sound came again and Ladybug saw it for just a moment: the tail end of something whipping at the air, snagging on Beauty Queen’s dress. She jumped back with a yelp, and then a snarling growl rumbled through her throat.

“Oh, so you’re trying to play a trick on me, are you?! Just you wait! The minute I find my mirror, you’re all in trouble!!”

And, with a speed that should be impossible in a dress that large and poofy, Beauty Queen sped off in the direction of her flung mirror, the sound of her rapidly tapping heels slowly fading in the distance. Ladybug breathed in and out, mentally commanding her heart to slow down as she slowly pushed herself to her feet. Her legs were unstable; they wobbled under her as she made her shaky way to Chat Noir, where he was slumped over, hands against the ground, head averted.

“Ch-Chat…” Ladybug whimpered, a hand going to his shoulder. One of his cat ears twitched, and his head jerked up, towards her—

Ladybug knew it would happen, but she still could not have prepared herself for it. Nevertheless, she swallowed the scream that had almost burst from her lips as Chat Noir’s faceless head stared at her. Hot tears began to push at her eyes as her shaking hands went to the sides of his head, cupping what would have been his cheeks, but was now just smooth, blank skin.

“Oh Chat,” Ladybug sniffled, pressing her forehead to the blankness. “I’m so sorry…”

“It’s okay, LB.”

“It is not okay!” Ladybug protested hotly, drying her eyes with her arm before she glared at Shell and the strange look on his face. “Look at him! Beauty Queen took his face, and I probably destroyed the mirror! If he’s stuck like this until I use my restorative powers—!”

“Ladybug, calm down,” Shell insisted, stepping closer, his shield still held between his hands, that odd look still plastered to his face. “It’s okay. He…he didn’t go far…”


The question was swallowed before it was completed—Shell turned his shield around for Ladybug to see, and stuck in the center of it, looking highly disgruntled, was Chat Noir’s face. Ladybug gasped, jumping to her feet and rushing over immediately.


“Glad to see you, too, My Lady,” Chat’s face replied, looking distinctly awkward. “Though I have to say, this is by far the most bizarre akuma we’ve dealt with to date.”

“Oh Chat, thank god,” Ladybug sighed, her thumbs pressing into Chat’s cheeks. “I thought…I thought…”

“Don’t cry, My Lady. Tears don’t suit you,” Chat soothed, giving her a soft, charming smile that positively melted Ladybug. “Besides, it could be worse. At least I’m not working for the enemy this time around, right? But then you’d just fling me off a roof, I guess…”

Ladybug laughed, the sound equal parts hysteria and relief.

“Thank goodness you’re okay,” she sighed again, her thumbs stroking his cheeks…until Shell lifted his shield away, that is.

“Okay, okay, no making out with my shield, please,” he said dryly, ignoring Ladybug’s scowl. “Well, this is a fine pickle: we’re down one player, there’s a deranged akuma on the loose, and my shield is now useless.”

“Hey!” Chat’s face protested, and Ladybug caught the movement of Chat Noir’s body reacting indignantly as well, leaping to his feet, his arms folding and foot tapping in irritation. Ladybug stared at this bizarreness, merely listening as Shell retorted,

“What? Do you want me to use your face to block enemy fire and potentially heavy objects?”

Chat Noir’s cat ears drooped, his shoulders slumping. Ladybug glanced over to find his face twisted unpleasantly, as if Shell’s reasoning was causing him pain.

“…I rescind my offended outburst,” he muttered after a moment.

“Thought so,” Shell replied, looking satisfied for a brief moment before his gaze turned onto Ladybug, troubled. “This ain’t good, LB. What do we do?”

Hmm. That was a good question: what could they do in this situation…?

“Pardon me, but maybe I can be of some assistance?”

Once again, Ladybug whirled around at the sound of an unfamiliar voice, automatically moving to protect her friends. At first, she saw nothing, and this confused her. If nothing was there, where was the voice coming from…?

Shell gasped, and Ladybug spared him a brief glance of confusion before, suddenly, she was seeing what he was seeing: the air in front of them was shifting, as if there was something moving through it, something invisible…but not quite invisible, no, more like it was—

Suddenly, she came into view with a toss of her hair: a short, curvy woman clad in a chartreuse outfit and mask. Her dark, curly hair was pulled back a high ponytail that ended in a spiral that hung over her shoulder, and her gloves were odd, separating her fingers into three parts. The stranger unhooked something from behind her—a length of green, the end frayed, like a whip. Abruptly, Ladybug realized that the sharp sound she registered earlier must have been coming from her, and the reason Ladybug hadn’t seen her—

It was not quite invisibility, but just enough disguise to appear invisible.


As Ladybug stared, blinking in a startled fashion, it was Shell that voiced the question buzzing around in her mind at different frequencies:

“Who are you?”

The mystery woman’s dark eyes sparkled from beneath her mask.

“You may call me Camille.”

Back to Us

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

Part 23 of 37

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