Continuing Tales

Back to Us

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

Part 3 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document


“These akuma sure like to hear themselves talk,” Chat Noir grunted from somewhere to Ladybug’s right. She rolled her eyes.

“Look who’s talking,” she shot back at him, and she felt rather than saw his grin aimed at her.

“CHLOE BOURGEOIS!!! COME OUT!!!” Patchwork demanded yet again as she soared through the streets in her monstrous hang-glider. “I’LL TURN THE WHOLE CITY INTO MY QUILT LOOKING FOR YOU IF I HAVE TO!!! NOT THAT YOU CARE ABOUT ANYONE ELSE, YOU SELFISH BRAT!!!

“Someone’s angry,” Chat Noir commented once again as he and Ladybug paused on a nearby rooftop, Chat crouching, Ladybug swinging her yo-yo.

“Chloe stole her designs for a winter fashion line she’s been putting together since August,” Ladybug reported with a rather weary sigh. “It devastated her.”

I thought things were fine when I left…something must have changed…

Chat Noir scoffed.

“All this fuss over clothes?”

“It’s not just clothes,” Ladybug protested, her inner seamstress offended. “It’s her livelihood.

She should’ve expected for Chat to not understand, but she was still irked at the way he shrugged.

“Still seems like she’s overreacting.” His eyes found hers, glittering mischievously. “Purr-sonally, I purr-fer nudity.”

Ladybug hated that the comment managed to make her blush. Stupid stray.

“Using the same cat pun twice in one sentence,” she sighed loftily, making her scorn obvious in hopes to distract from her embarrassment. “You’re getting sloppy, Kitty.”

The familiar nickname slipped out by accident, and she didn’t like the way it made Chat Noir smirk at her.

“Yeah?” He asked, straightening up simply to tower over her as he leaned forward, grinning like he was going to…well, eat her. “Purr-haps you could show me how it’s done later.”

Ladybug nudged him back with a push to his chest, valiantly ignoring the way his muscles flexed under her touch.

“Quit flirting, we have work to do!” And she was off again, the trailing snicker behind her making her face no doubt as red as her mask.

Patchwork’s destination became clear in a matter of moments: The Grand Paris Hotel loomed in the distance, gleaming in the dark of the city. Practically a beacon. Ladybug sighed as Patchwork finally touched down in front of the hotel, brandishing her needle threateningly.


“Symone, stop!” Ladybug called, dropping down into the street, Chat Noir just behind her. “You don’t have to do this! What about the new line you were going to design? Didn’t you say it would be better than whatever Chloe Bourgeois stole?”

“IT’S NOT ABOUT THE CLOTHES!!!” Patchwork screamed, stamping her high-heeled foot so hard that it cracked the street. “It’s the principle! That spoiled little bitch thinks she can just walk all over whoever she wants just because of who her father was! Well, I’m not going to stand for it any longer! And you will not stand in my way!!!”

While Ladybug felt for Symone—really, she did—her sympathies vanished as soon as the oversized needle she was wielding was sent her way at an alarming speed. She ducked and rolled, thankful that Patchwork’s throws took time, enough time for her to come up with a plan—

“Chat—” She said as she turned to her former partner, intending to use their fall-back strategy: Chat as the distraction, Ladybug as the plan-maker.

Chat Noir, however, was one step ahead of her for once.

Somehow, (cat-like reflexes, perhaps?) he had grabbed the needle before Patchwork could reel it back in, and with a flash of his claws, the needle broke free of Patchwork’s thread.

“I’m assuming this is what you want?” He asked, tossing the needle to Ladybug, who stumbled a bit as she caught it, surprised by his swiftness.

“Uh, yeah! I hope so, anyway…”

Ignoring Patchwork’s roaring protests, Ladybug brought the needle high into the air before she slammed it over her knee.

But nothing happened.

Not only did the needle not break, but a sudden throbbing lanced through Ladybug’s knee. She hissed in pain, staring down at the overlarge, still unbroken needle.

“What the hell…?” Akuma source or not, nothing she’d taken from the enemy had refused to break before. What was going on??

“Ladybug?” Chat Noir called, and Ladybug looked up, finding him using his baton to spar with Patchwork, who was now infuriated beyond belief. “Anytime you’re ready…”

“I—I’m trying!” She protested, attempting to bend the needle now, but the metal would not yield. “It—won’t—break!”

Chat spared her a glance before ducking a blow from Patchwork.

“Wrong item?”

“This has to be it!” Ladybug protested, now attempting to break the needle against the ground, and failing. “Everything else on her is just cloth!”

Chat gave a shrug, swiping his leg under Patchwork and tripping her up.

“All right, then—Plan B.”

This made Ladybug pause—Chat Noir, coming up with a plan on his own? This was new; usually she was the thinker out of the two of them.

She was about to ask what he was scheming, but just as she opened her mouth, her voice died as she saw Chat Noir’s hand close around Patchwork’s throat. The akumatized seamstress gave a choking cry, her nails clawing at his hand, but Chat Noir’s fingers merely flexed, claws digging into her skin, drawing blood—

Ladybug felt herself go cold.

What the hell was he doing?!

“Chat! Stop!” She called, racing towards them. Chat Noir glanced over his shoulder as she approached, looking quite unconcerned.

“What’s the problem? I’m just getting rid of the akuma,” he explained to her calmly as his grip on Patchwork’s throat tightened. Her face was beginning to turn blue.

“Let her GO!!” Ladybug shouted, dropping the needle and giving Chat’s arm a fierce yank. She wasn’t wrong about the hard muscle; it was like gripping a rock. A rock that refused to yield under her grip, just like the needle.

Chat was giving her a curious look, his eyes glittering strangely.

“Why are you so upset? It’s just an akuma. Either way, we win, right?”

Ladybug gaped at him. She could not believe she was hearing this.

“I don’t want to win this way!!” She protested, pulling at Chat’s fingers now. “There’s a person in there, Chat! Don’t you care what happens to her?!

“Why would I? I don’t know her.”

“That doesn’t stop her from being a person!!”

Chat’s pupils narrowed.

“Didn’t stop you from doing what had to be done with Hawk Moth,” he said quietly.

He might as well have slapped her with a barbed glove. But though the physical injury didn’t exist, the sting was still there, tearing at Ladybug as she stared at Chat Noir. There was another choking gasp from Patchwork, her eyes rolling into the back of her head. He let go.

Ladybug rushed to seize Patchwork’s wrist, fingers desperately searching for the pulse point…

She found it. It was faint, but it was there.

Ladybug slowly rose to her feet. She couldn’t look at Chat Noir, even though she felt his gaze on her. It was a cold, compassionless gaze. The gaze of a stranger.

Moving to the side, she snatched up the stubborn needle before returning, moving to stand over Patchwork’s unconscious frame. Chat crouched before her, his expression unreadable.

Though tensions were high between them, Ladybug knew this wasn’t over. She still had to purify the akuma. To do that, she needed to break the needle.

And to break the needle…

She held out the weapon to Chat Noir, hating that she had to ask him for anything at this point. But if she couldn’t do it herself…

“Break it.”

It was an order, not a suggestion.

Chat dared to give her a patronizing look.

“If you can’t break it, what makes you think I can?”

Gritting her teeth, Ladybug shoved the handle of the needle into his chest.

Break it.” Her tone made it clear that she would not be asking twice.


Chat stared up at her, and she stared down at him. Though she could hardly stand to look at him right now, she refused to be the one to break gazes first. And perhaps somewhere, in their silent stand-off, that was made clear, for Chat shrugged after a tense minute that seemed to last ages.

“As you wish, My Lady.”

Ladybug watched numbly as Chat Noir used his Cataclysm power to slice clean through the needle. The fluttering akuma finally came into view—

A terrible scream ripped through the air. Ladybug clapped her hands over her ears, horrified when she realized the scream was coming from the akuma—it flapped haphazardly, as if blind, confused. And the way it screamed was so agonizing, like it was in pain so unbearable that it had to scream, despite having no discernable mouth—

A clawed hand reached out, snatching the akuma from the air. The screaming was muffled, but only just, which allowed Ladybug to think again.

“Stop it!!” She shrieked when it looked as if Chat Noir intended to crush the butterfly. He looked up at her with a flat gaze.

“Then do something about it already,” he prompted her, holding the screaming akuma by one frantically flapping wing. Ladybug pushed through all the unnerving events of the night, successfully capturing the akuma in her compact and purifying it. She winced when the white butterfly emerged, but it fluttered away harmlessly, to disappear into the night. Ladybug tossed her yo-yo into the air, calling out the magic chant that would right the world once again:

“Miraculous Ladybug!”

The magical ladybug swarm exploded, scattering throughout the night, reappearing people, fixing all the damage Patchwork had caused in her wrath. And Patchwork herself de-akumatized, revealing Symone once again.

But she didn’t move from the street.

Heart in her throat, Ladybug crouched over her again, shaking her shoulder.

“Symone? Symone, can you hear me? Wake up!”

To her everlasting relief, Symone’s eyelids began to flutter. She slowly opened them, blinking in surprise once she spotted the hero before her.

“L-Ladybug?” She questioned, sitting up with a speed that surprised Ladybug. “Wh-what are you doing here? What am I doing here? What time is it?”

Her eyes found her watch, and she gave a dramatic gasp.

“Never mind, I don’t have the time for this! I have to get back to my desk! I was in the middle of a brain wave; I just got the greatest idea for a new line that’ll knock Adrien Agreste’s pretty little head off! Excuse me!”

Standing up and brushing herself off briskly, Symone set off at a trot, surprisingly able in her six-inch heels. Ladybug let her go, unable to think of anything to say to call her back.

There were bruises on Symone’s neck.

Reaching over without looking, Ladybug snatched the leather tail of a certain cat that was attempting to make his getaway.

“Where do you think you’re going?” She asked, cutting her eyes to him. He turned, blinking his green eyes like he had no idea why she was upset. Like he was innocent.

“…Oh, sorry.” He lifted a fist. “Mission accomplished…?”

Ladybug stared at him coldly. If he thought he could just give her a fist bump and the whole thing would be over and done with, he had another thing coming.

“We need to talk,” she told him, her tone brooking no argument. Chat tilted his head at her, his face impassive.

“Right now?” He gave a nod to her. “You sure you have the time?”

Her Miraculous’ beeping grew more insistent. She had a minute, tops, before her transformation wore off. The knowledge made her growl in her throat.

“This is important,” she insisted, despite knowing that stubbornness drove her at this point. Her problems increased when cars and people started heading their way, the flash of cameras obvious even in the distance. Reporters.

Chat Noir gave a shrug.

“Hey, if you’re ready for all of Paris to finally know who you really are, be my guest.”

The beeping in her ear grew faster, coinciding with her heartbeat. Ladybug let out a huff of frustration, and she sent her yo-yo out to a nearby high fixture.

“Fine. But this isn’t over, Chat Noir,” she told him with a fierce look. “The next time we meet, you have a lot of explaining to do.”

“Here they come,” Chat Noir prompted as the reporters closed in, questions already on their lips.

“Ladybug, what happened?!”

“Chat Noir?! Have you returned to fight crime?!”

“Was there an akuma here just now?!”

“Is there a new Hawk Moth terrorizing the city?!”

“I’m sorry, I have to go,” Ladybug regretfully informed the reporters, yanking on her yo-yo string to zoom off, above their heads. “I’ll answer your questions another time!”

“Well, I’ve got time to kill,” Chat Noir announced, his roguish grin making an instant comeback as he smiled for the cameras. “I don’t mind answering in My Lady’s stead, just this once. That is, if you’ll have me.” He winked at the female reporters, who all burst into flustered giggling. Something turned over in Ladybug’s stomach, and she felt like she might be sick, but she made herself leave the scene only because she had nothing on her to feed to Tikki right away.

But boy did she have a big ass-whooping stored up for Chat Noir the next time they saw each other.



Marinette stood out on her balcony, the night air doing its best to permeate the blanket around her shoulders. It wasn’t getting far, but it hardly mattered—Marinette was already shivering. The view here was nowhere near as spectacular as it was from the balcony of her room at her parents’, but even that was of no consequence when Marinette could see nothing anyway.

“I don’t understand, Tikki,” she admitted quietly to the kwami, who sat next to her on the balcony railing, munching on a much-needed cookie. “What’s happened to Chat Noir? How could he have grown so…so callous?

It was not right, in any sense of the word. The Chat Noir she had once known was annoying, sure, but he was caring, and kind, eager to sacrifice in order to protect others. As much as she was loathe to admit it, he was very much the cute kitten when he wanted to be.

This Chat Noir was completely different. If the Chat Noir from her past was a kitten, the present Chat Noir was a panther, armed with muscle, sharp teeth and claws, and a predator’s attitude.

And the worst part?

He seemed to have gotten the idea of keeping Paris safe by killing bad guys…from Ladybug.

From her.

The memory of his eyes still burned into her, dark pupils narrowed, green glittering in the dark.

“Didn’t stop you from doing what had to be done with Hawk Moth.”

Marinette shivered again, drawing the blanket tighter around her, despite knowing that it wasn’t the weather causing the chill within her.

“How could he throw that back in my face?” She asked of the air, as if the stars held the answer. “He said he didn’t blame me…but he does, doesn’t he? He blames me for Hawk Moth’s death. He…he thinks I did it on purpose.

“But you didn’t, Marinette!” Tikki protested, her tiny features warped in concern.

Marinette sighed, rubbing her kwami’s head with a fingertip in reassurance.

know that, and so do you. The only one that doesn’t seem to get it…” she frowned in the distance, “is Chat. Seriously, where the hell does he get off, trying to murder someone after being MIA for seven years? And why is the Butterfly Miraculous being used for evil once again, when he was supposed to deliver it to Master Fu?! Ugh, if my Miraculous wasn’t about to wear off—”

“You can’t turn on each other,” Tikki chided, swallowing the last bit of her cookie before rising into the air. “I know Chat Noir is…different, and maybe a little scary. But no matter how much time has passed, you’re still partners.”

“I don’t know about that, Tikki,” Marinette huffed, her eyes turning skyward. What a beautiful night…hard to believe an akuma had surfaced again merely hours ago. “If it were still the same Chat from seven years ago, then maybe, but Chat as he is now—”

“You have to talk to him, Marinette,” Tikki insisted, apparently refusing to hear any argument on the subject. “I don’t know what’s happened to make Chat Noir the way he is now, but I know he’ll listen to you if you just talk to him. He still cares about you, after all.”

“Hmm,” Marinette hummed dubiously. Once again, she had to check her previous assertion that Chat Noir hadn’t changed—the very opposite, in fact. He had changed too much. She squirmed at the thought of him giving an interview to the reporters of Paris, which would no doubt be broadcasting on all networks tomorrow morning. The thought of it gave her a headache, prompting Marinette to go to bed.

She didn’t have time to stress over this. Tomorrow marked the beginning of her senior project, and work for the new winter line at Tres Bien Boutique. And her knee had bruised from where she’d tried to break that needle, something that still perturbed her.

If she was going to stand a chance tomorrow, she needed all the sleep she could get.

As it turned out, it wouldn’t be much.



To say that Alya was mad that she had missed the first big Ladybug scoop in seven years would be akin to saying that puppies were kind of cute.

Alya. Was. Livid.

“I cannot believe this!” She exclaimed for the fourth time, once again drawing stares from the other patrons of the gelato shop. Marinette shushed her again, cringing in apology at the curious glances.

“Alya, shhh. It’s not a big deal—”

“It’s a very big deal!” Alya protested, slamming her fists into the table. Strands of red hair were escaping from the ponytail at the back of her head, and the blouse and vest she had buttoned up over her chest were straining against her ample breasts as she heaved in displeasure. Marinette could practically see smoke unfurling from Alya’s nostrils. “The first big scoop in years, and where was I?! At Nino’s, thirty kilometers away! This is allyour fault!” She threw at said boyfriend, who paused in his approach of the table, hands heavy with frozen treats. His well-trimmed scruff did little to hide the trepidation in his expression.

“Uh, sorry,” he apologized, though he clearly had no idea what they were talking about. He extended the ice cream Alya had specifically ordered. “Peace offering?”

Alya huffed, but she accepted the frozen treat with relatively good grace.

“You’re lucky I like you,” she told him pointedly. Marinette grinned as Nino passed her milkshake across the table before he wrapped a tentative arm around his girlfriend’s shoulders. As hot-tempered as Alya was, Nino was mellow enough to balance her out. She supposed that was why they worked so well together.

“Don’t I know it. So, what’s new, Marinette?”

Marinette shrugged, sipping at her straw.

“Same old thing: work, work, work.” She stifled a yawn. “It doesn’t help that my mom has called me every day since the akuma attack on Wednesday to check up on me.”

“Well yeah, it happened pretty close to where you live, didn’t it?” Alya mentioned, her temper giving way to concern as she eyed Marinette up and down. “You sure you didn’t get caught in that mess? You’ve been walking a little funny today…”

Marinette inwardly cursed the slow-healing bruise on her leg as she hastily laughed Alya off.

“Oh, that. I, uh, tripped while I was bringing in some fabric for Symone. Landed badly on my knee.”

“What am I going to do with you, girl?” sighed Alya, shaking her head. “You’re still so klutzy that it makes me worry about leaving you alone for more than ten seconds at a time.”

Marinette’s brow puckered, her lower lip jutting out in a pout.

“I get along just fine without you, thank you very much,” she protested, prompting Alya’s grin of apology.

“Relax, babe,” Nino added, giving Alya’s shoulder a squeeze. “‘Nette’s a big girl now. Look how successful she’s becoming: working at a high-end fashion boutique, on the edge of getting her master’s in…uh…what’re you studying again?”

“Fashion business,” Marinette reminded him with a smile.

“Though I bet it’s hard to focus with Madamoiselle Trace around,” Alya teased with a wink. “Oh man, for an American, she’s gorgeous, y’know? I might do something about it, if I wasn’t already tied down…”

“…And if you weren’t straight?” Nino added, giving his girlfriend a strange look, which intensified when she shrugged.

“I don’t like labels.” Before Nino could ask whether or not she was kidding, Alya leaned forward, focusing on Marinette, the manic gleam in her eyes returning. “Speaking of, how’s your senior project going? Had any meetings with the prodigal Mr. Agreste yet?”

Nino nearly choked on the banana split he had just taken a bite out of.

“Wh-what?” He sputtered as Alya thumped him hard on the back, shaking her head.

“Ah, right, that,” Marinette mumbled, shooting Alya a frown. It was one thing to tease her about this when it was just the two of them, but in front of Nino… “Basically, my senior project is a competition: I have to create my own line of spring fashion in tandem with Agreste Fashion, to be submitted before Fashion Week in the spring. If I win, my designs will be modeled by Agreste Fashion models, and I'll have a guaranteed career at the company.”

Nino mulled that over for a moment before he frowned.

“That sounds like a whole lot of work you’re doing for free,” he pointed out. Marinette shrugged.

“Technically it’s not free—it’s my final grade. And if it leads to a job at one of the best fashion companies in France, then it’s worth it.”

“That, and you get to spend a whole lot of up-close and personal time with one Mr. Adrien Agreste,” Alya said slyly. Marinette did her best to roll her eyes so hard that it would distract from the blush she could feel heating her face.

“Oh yes, and I’m so excited to do that, since it’s been, what, seven years since we last spoke to each other? I’m sure we have so much to catch up on. Not.”

Nino picked at his banana split for a moment, frowning.

“…How is he?” He ventured tentatively, looking guarded, as if he’d rather not let his girlfriend and her best friend know just how concerned he might be.

Marinette matched his frown.

“I’m…not sure,” she hedged, worrying her lip with her teeth. “I only talked to him for a few minutes, and, ugh, I managed to mention the whole thing with his father being Hawk Moth…”

“Ooh,” Alya hissed, wincing in sympathy. “How’d he take that?”

“About as well as expected.” Marinette sighed. “Desiree tells me I’m meeting with him first thing on Monday morning, so I hope I didn’t shove my foot too far in my mouth.”

“On Monday?!” Alya directed her spoon at Marinette like a sword. “You didn’t mention that earlier! Withholding information from me, are you?”

“I didn’t have a chance to bring it up,” sighed Marinette, whacking the spoon away from her. “And besides, it’s not a big deal.”

Alya’s smirk grew devious.

“Oh really? You’re meeting him alone, aren’t you?”


“And you’re going to be showing him what you’re working on for your senior project?”

“Kind of the point of the meeting—”

“So let’s cut to the chase, then! What kind of underwear are you gonna be wearing?”

“Alya!” Marinette protested, feeling her face heat up as Nino pointedly looked away from them, whistling under his breath as if to block out the conversation. “For the last time, I am not interested in pursuing anything but a career with Adrien Agreste!!”

Alya gave her a long, measured look. Marinette sat up straighter, as if that would help make her more convincing. After a few seconds of charged silence, Alya sighed.

“All right,” she conceded, leaning back. Marinette stared at her.

“All…right…?” She couldn’t believe her eyes: Alya Cesaire, giving up a lead?

When Alya shrugged, Marinette suddenly worried for her best friend’s health.

“Believe or not, Dupain-Cheng, I know when to take a hint. And you seem pretty determined for nothing to happen.” Alya gave a dramatic sigh, and suddenly, Marinette was suspicious. “I just thought, y’know, that this could finally be your chance. You’d been pining away for this boy since I can remember, and you were devastated when he left. And now, here you are, in all your twenty-one year old grown woman glory, with an in to the pretty supermodel himself…I just thought you’d like to take advantage is all. But if you’re really not interested—”

“Don’t you try your journalistic double-talk on me,” Marinette warned her friend, scowling now. “I won’t fall for it.”

“Don’t listen to her, ‘Nette,” Nino surprised Marinette by speaking…and what’s more, by taking her side over Alya’s. “I know it might be tempting, since you, er, had a pretty huge crush on him back when we all were in Dupont, but…”

Nino frowned. There was something hidden in his usually bright eyes…something painful.

With a sigh, he shook his head, as if to rid himself of irksome flies.

“…But he’s different now. That whole fiasco with his dad…it broke something inside him. I didn’t lose contact with him because we were too far apart or anything like that—he shut me out.”

Nino reached across the table, patting Marinette’s arm.

“You don’t deserve that kind of treatment, Marinette. You’re still so sweet after all these years…” Nino’s eyes were uncharacteristically serious as he gazed at her, dire warnings in his stare. “Don’t get wrapped up with Adrien. You deserve better.”

Marinette blinked, equal parts touched and embarrassed that this conversation was even happening. Didn’t she say at least a dozen times already that nothing was going to happen between her and Adrien? So what about her childhood crush? It didn’t mean anything now, damn it. She was a grown ass woman, for god’s sake!

But the sincerity in Nino’s expression could not be ignored, and she gave him a quiet nod.

“Okay. Thanks, Nino.”

Alya gave a sigh.

“Well, I hate to say it, but when the boy’s right, he’s right.” She punched his arm. “You didn’t tell me about Adrien shutting you out, though. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have told Marinette to go for it.”

Nino rubbed the spot where she punched him, the action automatic as his gaze drifted far away.

“I didn’t want to talk about it,” he admitted quietly. Marinette watched as her best friend’s gaze softened, her hand going to Nino’s chin and guiding his gaze to her.

“I know it’s painful,” she assured him with a comforting smile. “But honestly, if he’s gonna act like that, you’re better off. And you’ve got me!” She gave him a playful wink. “That’s enough for now, right?”

Nino smiled, the gesture lighting up his whole face.

“More than enough for forever,” he corrected, moving in to kiss Alya’s cheek, their glasses bumping together.

“Get a room,” Marinette teased.

Alya gave her a sly look.

“This is a room. You and a bunch of other people just happen to be in it.”

“Oh boy. I’m leaving now before I get caught up in your indecent exposure charge,” Marinette giggled, getting up from the table and shelling out some cash for her milkshake. “Anyway, I’ve got work to do if I’m going to be ready for my meeting Monday. I’ll see you lovebirds later, when you’re not being so cute.”

“Then you’ll never see us again,” Nino called after her as she walked away, and Marinette rolled her eyes with a laugh. Though her romantic life was pretty much D.O.A. at the moment, seeing the way Nino and Alya looked at each other helped her keep faith.

One day, that would be her.

For now, however, she had career goals to chase.



This was such a stupid idea.

Why had she let that comment get to her?

Marinette squirmed in the lobby of Agreste Fashion, her sketchbook and garment bag sitting beside her on the sleek couch. Her bra was pinching her, and Marinette cursed herself again for thinking that lingerie wasn’t actually such a bad choice to wear under her business blouse and skirt.

She was going to kill Alya the next time she got her hands on her.

Agreste Fashion was absolutely no joke: a large, imposing building on the outside became a sleek and well-oiled machine on the inside, the walls stainless steel, the floor black marble. Marinette tried to shift as little as possible, despite how her underwear pinched, already feeling out of place as gorgeous supermodels and people in suits barking orders came and went, barely sparing her glances, as if she was just a part of the upholstery. She would take more offense at this…if her skirt wasn’t the same shade of gray as the couch she was currently perched on. She withheld a sigh. Just twenty minutes of Adrien’s time, and then she could get out of here…and hopefully drown her nerves in either ice cream or booze…whatever she got her hands on first.

The dark-haired secretary hung up the phone she was speaking into, throwing a glance Marinette’s way.

“Mr. Agreste will see you now,” she announced. She gestured a manicured hand towards the elevator at the end of the hallway—the elevator no one else had approached since Marinette had entered the building half an hour ago, choosing instead to filter through the three elevators on the other side of the lobby. She gulped, and then nodded, trying to smile at the secretary as she passed. The secretary’s smirk told her she hadn’t quite succeeded.

The elevator took only a moment to reach her, and as Marinette stepped inside, hoisting her garment bag higher into her grip, she noted that there was only one button within: for the twentieth floor. Swallowing again, Marinette reached out and pressed it.

The doors of the elevator slid shut immediately, and she only just felt herself ascending, the speed of the elevator deceiving her senses. Within a few short moments, it slowed to a stop, the ding announcing that her destination had been reached. Marinette took a deep breath as the doors slid open—

Her eyes immediately snapped to Adrien, who stood across the room from her at one of the large windows. Though the view of Paris below was fantastic, his eyes were on the sky, closing briefly to lift a water bottle to his lips. Marinette felt her legs lock up, staring at his profile, at the way his throat moved as he swallowed, the cloth towel draped around the back of his neck, sweat glistening on his bare torso—

He was shirtless.

Adrien Agreste…was shirtless.

Why was he shirtless was he trying to kill her?!

Marinette’s involuntary squeak managed to pull Adrien’s attention out of whatever cloud he had his head lodged in. He turned to face her, a smile lifting the corners of his mouth.

Lord have mercy.

“Miss Dupain-Cheng,” he greeted, moving away from the window. “Come in.”


As Marinette forced her legs to unlock, she managed to stumble out of the elevator before the doors could close on her. She straightened up, trying to make her desperate need for air natural-looking, breathing slowly through her nose as she took in the office as an excuse not to look at Adrien.

The entire back wall was made of glass, and as her first glance had told her, the view was truly spectacular. On the left side of the office sat bookcases and bookcases and even more bookcases, somehow impossibly filled to bursting point, though Marinette was almost certain that so many books could not be in existence. To the right was a mini-kitchen area, along with a door that was open, revealing a bathroom. The middle of the office had a sunken-in floor, with more sleek furniture, a ring of couches alternating between black and white, and a large coffee table centered within. Marinette took note of the heavily-laden tray upon it, sporting a delicate, silver coffee pot and an assortment of sweets. Near the windows sat a large desk, the initials “A. A.” carved into the front in gold. Three computer monitors sat upon the desk, nearly blocking the view of a tall, comfy-looking leather chair. Being the CEO of a major fashion company clearly had its perks.

Marinette wanted to compliment Adrien’s office, and was in the process of unsticking her tongue when a sudden movement caught the corner of her eye. She glanced over, frowning at the bookcase. What was that? A bug?

“Excuse my appearance,” Adrien suddenly spoke, and Marinette’s attention snapped back to him, both relieved and disappointed that he was currently buttoning up a white shirt over those toned abdominal muscles. She swallowed once again. “I got back from the gym a little later than I was expecting.”

“Oh, uh, yes! Er, I mean, no…”

Pull yourself together, Marinette Dupain-Cheng! He’s just a person, so talk to him like one!’ Alya’s voice ordered sternly in Marinette’s mind, and she took another steadying breath.

“It’s fine,” she said, moving a little further into the office now. “I got here a bit too early.”

“Yeah?” A secret smile tugged at the corner of Adrien’s lips as he ran a hand through his blonde hair, pushing it back from his face. “As I recall, you used to be frequently tardy to class back in Dupont. Glad to see that’s changed.”

His teasing made Marinette indignant.

“A lot of things have changed, I think you’ll find, Mr. Agreste,” she told him with a slight lift of her eyebrow. “I’m not quite the teenage girl you remember anymore.”

Adrien paused at this. Marinette did not miss the quick sweep of his eyes over her frame again, and she worked hard not to flush under his gaze, maintaining eye contact when he lifted his back to hers.

“…I suppose not,” was all he said in reply. Turning from her, he gestured to the sitting area. “Please, have a seat. I just need a second. Help yourself to whatever you like.”

Including you?'

The flirtatious suggestion that floated through Marinette’s mind surprised her; she mentally smacked herself and obediently sat down, taking a cookie before that stray thought could accidentally escape her mouth. She clearly had spent too much time with Alya over the weekend.

As she munched, the movement from the bookcase happened again. Marinette turned and stared, eyes narrowing. What was that?

“Something wrong?”

She squeaked in surprise, jolting when she realized Adrien had moved closer, standing just a meter from her. Why hadn’t she heard him approach?

“Oh, nothing,” Marinette said, hastily finishing her cookie. It was really good…maybe she could sneak a couple back home to Tikki. “I just think there’s a bug or something flitting around your bookcase. That’s twice that I thought I saw something move…though it could be just my imagination…”

Marinette trailed off, watching as Adrien frowned at the bookcase. God, why did he have to be so devastating up close? If she didn’t manage to lose her head during this meeting, it would be a miracle.

“Hmm. I’ll have to check that out later, then.”

He folded his long frame, sitting down on the couch next to the one she occupied, a gap between the two couches, prompting Marinette to turn and face him. She hoped she didn’t look too eager, but she hoped she didn’t look too nervous either, a prick of annoyance flashing through her as Adrien draped himself across the couch with casual elegance. Posing.

“Do you always sit that way?” She asked, unable to help herself. Adrien gave her a curious look.

“What way?”

That way.” She gestured towards his arms, positioned over the top of the white couch, one long leg crossed over the other. He looked downright tempting, and it really wasn’t fair. “Is that what happens after years of modeling? You just forget how to sit like a normal person?”

Adrien’s brow puckered at this, glancing away from her.

“It’s comfortable,” he admitted after a moment. Appearing self-conscious, however, he removed his arms from the top of the couch and sat forward, turning to her, hands folded in between his legs. Better, Marinette decided.

“…Well,” Adrien began when Marinette said nothing, “you know why you’re here. Could you show me what you have planned so far?”

“Of course,” Marinette agreed, growing more comfortable as she reached past her garment bag for her sketchbook. Talking about fashion—now this, she could do. This was her element. When it came to her designs, Marinette was queen.

“I’ve been playing with some Italian themes,” she said, flipping through the appropriate pages of her sketchbook before turning it around for Adrien to see. “Namely, the—”

Carnevale di Venezia,” Adrien interrupted, and Marinette was pleased to see his eyes light up with interest. “Yes, I know it well. Attended a few of them, even. It’s a much anticipated event in the spring for Italy.”

“Exactly,” Marinette enthused with a bob of her head, tucking a stray raven lock behind her ear. “I find the Carnival of Venice fascinating, so for my spring line, I intend to create fashions that take inspiration from the carnival, but also make them casual enough to wear without all the fuss of elaborate gowns and costumes.”

“But you’re choosing to keep the masks,” Adrien noted, and Marinette grinned.

“Of course. It can’t be inspired by the Carnevale di Venezia without the masks. That’s what the carnival’s famous for in the first place.” She flipped a page, showing a detailed sketch of a mask she’d been designing. “The emphasis should be on the mask. It is not a mere accessory, but rather, it makes the whole outfit. If the mask isn’t perfect, the rest of the outfit might as well not exist, right?”

“Interesting,” Adrien muttered, green eyes thankfully too intent on Marinette’s sketchbook to notice the way she thrilled at his praise. His eyes found hers a moment later, however, and she worked to keep herself composed. “So. What’s in the garment bag?”

Marinette smiled.

“Funny you should mention that…” She closed her sketchbook and placed it on the coffee table before she got up, moving over to the garment bag and carefully unzipping the creation within. “This was my first idea, and I couldn’t wait to make it, so I spent a good portion of Saturday night on it. It’s not final, but this is the basic idea, so I thought it would be a good idea to bring it in and show you…”

Inwardly, Marinette had to admit that she wasn’t quite satisfied with this design yet—it screamed “Phantom of the Opera” to her more than “Carnival of Venice”, but so excited was she to bring in something tangible for Adrien to see that she just shrugged and went with it. It had, after all, been designed with him in mind…though she would never admit it to his face.

The shirt was simple—cotton, with an open v-neck that would dip just past Adrien’s collar bones if he chose to wear it. She got a little more creative with the pants: black velvet with gold, swirling trim up the sides, a design echoed in the mask that hung from the top of the hanger, though the gold only appeared when the light hit the black feathers attached to the mask just right. A simple black cape draped over the shirt, taking up the back half of the hanger, though Marinette pinched a corner of it and held it out so that it could be seen for what it was.

Well, maybe Marinette was a little proud of it as is—the theme was a fallen angel, something she felt fit Adrien perfectly.

Her smile, however, began to fade as Adrien simply stared at the outfit, his expression suggesting that he was less than impressed.

“I-I know it’s a little simple—” Marinette began, feeling herself blush, but Adrien cut her off.

“It’s not simple.” He stood up, towering over her, his frown disappointed. “It’s boring.”

Marinette felt her lips part in shock. Boring? Okay, so it wasn’t her best work, sure, she had already said it wasn’t a final design. But boring?

“B-boring?” She stuttered as Adrien moved closer, critical eyes on the outfit she had pricked her fingers for, over and over, in her haste to have it ready by today…something she had been so excited to show him…

“Yes, boring.” He gestured to the outfit with a wave of his hand. “You said the mask should be emphasized, otherwise the outfit might as well not exist, right? But not even the mask is anything to look at. It looks like a cheap Halloween costume more than anything that should represent Carnivale di Venezia. Looking at this, I wouldn’t have even known this was Carnivale-inspired if you hadn’t told me.”

The cold, precise words were razor-sharp, cutting through Marinette, wounding her pride. She clutched the outfit to herself protectively, as if the words would start shredding through it as well.

“It’s still a work in progress,” she protested, hurt bleeding into her tone. “I-I just started it Saturday night—”

“Then why bring it in?” Adrien questioned with a lift of a pale eyebrow. “Why show me something so mediocre? If you were trying to impress me, this was not the way to do it.”

“Mediocre?!” Marinette protested, positively gaping at him now, shocked. Was Adrien Agreste actually saying such terrible things to her?!

Adrien, for his part, merely sighed and shook his head.

“I’m sorry if you’re disappointed that I’m not thrilled,” he told her, not looking sorry in the slightest. “But I honestly expected better from you, Miss Dupain-Cheng. I mean, you once made a derby hat out of feathers that managed to impress even my father. And trust me, that was no easy feat.” His eyes hardened briefly. “Your idea is great, I’ll give you that, but if you want to make it work, you’re going to have to try a little harder—no, a lotharder. Because this just won’t cut it.”

Make it work.

The simple phrase, probably so innocent to Adrien’s ears, caused something to snap within Marinette’s brain.

“What is your problem?!” She demanded of him, tossing her outfit to the side in a fit of pique. “Why are you being so…so mean?

Adrien raised an eyebrow. “Mean?”

“Yes, mean!” Marinette asserted, pointing a finger at him. “I already said it was a work in progress, didn’t I? You don’t have to tear it down like that! The Adrien I knew never would’ve…would’ve…”

Marinette felt her voice trail off.

Because Adrien Agreste, love of her adolescent life, was glaring at her.

If looks could kill…

“The Adrien you knew,” he quoted her quietly, folding his hands behind his back. “I see. Tell me, Miss Dupain-Cheng: who was this boy you thought you knew?”

“I-I didn’t think I knew him, I did!” Marinette protested, standing her ground though she was inwardly quailing at the look Adrien was giving her. “H-he was a sweet person, and cool, considerate…he never would have spoken to me the way you just did!”

Like she was nothing more than the dirt on the underside of his shoe…which was amazingly what Marinette felt like right now.

Adrien just shook his head.

“Miss Dupain-Cheng,” he said, referring to her once again by her last names with a tight smile that didn’t reach his eyes, “the boy you knew…was a lie.”

“He was not!” Marinette protested with a stomp of her foot, hating that she could feel tears beginning to gather in the corners of her eyes. “He was Adrien Agreste, fifteen year old fashion model, a kind person, love of my—”

Marinette abruptly cut herself off, slapping a horrified hand over her mouth. Oh god, what did she just say?!

Adrien’s face grew impassive. Whether or not he caught the last thing that had flown out of her mouth in the heat of the moment, he didn’t show it. He just glanced away from her, gaze moving to the sky outside his windows once again.

“…I’m sorry to have misled you,” he said quietly. He might’ve sounded sincere this time…if his voice wasn’t devoid of emotion. “Back then…I was only what my father wanted me to be. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.” Marinette stared at him, feeling her vision cloud, nearly missing the way his eyes tightened. “That Adrien Agreste doesn’t exist, Miss Dupain-Cheng. You’d be better off forgetting him.”

“He was real,” Marinette protested once again, her stubbornness pushing the words out of her mouth, even if all she wanted to do was run away sobbing at this point. But something kept her rooted to the spot, desperately searching Adrien’s face, searching for the sweet, shy boy who had meant more to her than she ever dared to admit, sometimes even to herself.

But he was nowhere to be found. Before her was a man, a stranger, who thought her designs mediocre, and her, probably pathetic.

Marinette wanted to die, but like an idiot, she persisted anyway.

“That Adrien Agreste couldn’t have been fake. I…I would’ve known if he was…”

That statement brought Adrien’s gaze back to her. His eyes were dull.

“Really?” He asked quietly, green eyes focused completely on her. “You have enough confidence to claim that, despite the fact that you hardly ever spoke to me when we were in school together? Despite the fact that it’s been seven years since we last saw each other?”

Marinette opened her mouth to argue—really, what else could she do at this point?—only to snap it shut once again at the look that transformed Adrien’s face. His lips quirked, curving automatically, as if he couldn’t help the reaction, due to years and years of being told to smile for the camera. But his eyes—those beautiful green eyes Marinette had loved—tightened in pain. His smile spoke volumes of pure, unfiltered loneliness.

It was a smile that broke Marinette’s heart.

“Really, Marinette…can you really say that you ever knew me at all?”

In his voice, there was a hint of a new emotion: desperation.

Somewhere, deep down within him, Adrien was calling out for her, asking her—begging her—to prove him wrong. To prove that she did indeed know a part of him, at least just a tiny bit. That she hadn’t been one of the many stupid girls to fall for his fabricated, pretty face, that she knew some core part of him, some piece that was important, that made him who he truly was, anything.

He waited, watching her, his eyes searching, beseeching…

Marinette lowered her gaze.

She couldn’t say it. She couldn’t claim that she knew him anymore.

Because it wasn’t true.

She really hadn’t known Adrien at all.

The hot, sick flash of shame that crawled through her, burning through her skin, was enough to attest to that cold, hard fact.

The silence thickened, tension in the air palpable. Marinette knew that she should probably say something, but her mind was blank. All she could process was the intense shock that pounded through her at the realization that came seven years too late.

A sudden beep cut through the silence of the room, followed by the cool voice of the secretary from downstairs.

“Mr. Agreste, your next appointment is here to see you.”

Marinette kept her eyes carefully averted as Adrien moved away from her, his steps silent as he approached his desk. There was another beep, and his carefully composed voice answered:

“Thank you, Sylvia. Inform them that I’m just wrapping up my last meeting, and I’ll be with them in a few minutes.”

Marinette saw her escape and took it. Shoving her shameful work in progress back into the garment bag, she yanked the zipper shut, snatched her sketchbook from the coffee table, and swiftly made her escape, willing her knees not to give in under her as she fled to the elevator. She pressed the button, and to her relief, the doors opened immediately—

“Miss Dupain-Cheng.”

Marinette froze. She was starting to really hate the sound of her last names coming from him.

Reluctantly, she turned back around to face him. He wasn’t looking at her—he was back at the window, eyes on the sky, hands clasped behind his back.

“I will see you in two weeks. I hope you’ll have something a little more impressive to show me, the next time we meet.”

Marinette said nothing. Her chest heaving with the effort of restraining herself from throwing anything, she simply stepped into the elevator, staring at Adrien’s back until the elevator doors obscured him, and she was descending.

Adrien waited, listening for the sound of the elevator to leave. And then he turned around, scowling at the bookcase.

“Plagg, get out here.”

The black, cat-like kwami zoomed into view, looking very lazy as he floated through the air on his back, arms crossed behind his head.

“Wow, that was a teensy bit harsh, wouldn’t you say?” He commented idly, floating near Adrien’s cheek and peeking at him with a green eye. “Why so cold, Adrien? I thought this was your chance to start over.”

“It is,” Adrien insisted, turning his gaze back to the scenery. He saw none of it, as if the entire city of Paris was determined to evade his gaze. So he focused on the sky instead—at least then he had an excuse to look at nothing.

“By alienating former friends?”

“By destroying the image that was Adrien Agreste for so long,” Adrien asserted, momentarily distracted by his own scowl in the reflection of his window. He hastily smoothed out his brow—no wrinkles in this face allowed.

“You probably made her cry, you know.”

He did. He regretted it. Despite the fact that they really hadn’t known each other well, after their first misunderstanding, Marinette had been nothing but kind to him in the past…even if she often stumbled and tripped over her own tongue when speaking to him. Those brief bouts of sass he’d witnessed in her from afar—usually when she was goading Chloe—had clearly multiplied in occasion, if their last two conversations was proof of anything…he had a funny feeling Alya was to blame for that.

“You heard what she said, didn’t you? About you being the love of her youth?”

Adrien felt his face heat up despite himself.

“She didn’t say that.”

“She didn’t finish, yes, but I’m certain that’s where that sentence was going.”

Adrien firmly shook his head.

“I doubt it. There’s no way she could’ve been in love with someone like me. In Dupont, even if Chloe always teased her, she was surrounded by so much light and warmth—both from her classmates and her parents. Everyone loved her. What would she have wanted from someone like me?”

Plagg sighed.

“Twenty-two years old and you’re still like this,” he complained loftily. “No wonder you can’t keep a girlfriend.”

Adrien scowled at this.

“I’m not interested in just any woman,” he said quietly, bringing his right hand up to his face. The silver ring nestled on his fourth finger glistened in the sunlight, and he closed his hand into a fist.

“Yes, yes, I know, Ladybug, you want Ladybug, I knooow.” Plagg sighed, flipping over in the air and landing on Adrien’s shoulder. “You’re going to let that woman ruin you if you keep obsessing over her, you know.”

“I am not obsessed.”

Plagg gave him a flat look.

“You’ve been keeping tabs on her for eight years, Adrien. You are the very definition of ‘obsessed’.”

Now Adrien seized Plagg by his tail, scowling at the upside-down kwami as he hung limply from Adrien’s grasp.

“Enough,” he chided, “I only called you out here to warn you to behave yourself. Marinette saw you moving around, so knock it off.”

“Ohhh, Marinette now, is she? I thought she was only ‘Miss Dupain-Cheng’. Do you have something against using her first name?”

“I was trying to be professional.”

“Or you were trying to be distant. Either way, mission accomplished.” Plagg gave a sarcastic round of applause, and Adrien dropped him with a huff just as the intercom on his desk beeped again.

“Mr. Agreste, should I send your next appointment up now?”

Adrien stifled his sigh, made the “I’m-watching-you” sign with his fingers at Plagg (who rolled his green eyes), and pressed a button to answer his secretary.

“Yes, Sylvia, send them up.”

No more thoughts about Ladybug for now. Adrien had work to do.

Back to Us

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

Part 3 of 37

<< Previous     Home     Next >>