Continuing Tales

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

Part 36 of 37

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Marinette awoke that morning feeling more rested than she had in what felt like ages. She laid there, her eyes still closed, a small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. It was rather cheesy, she supposed, to quietly muse over the peace of the moment, of the way the birds chirped outside as sunbeams warmed her face, a gentle waking, the way her mother used to wake her when she was a child. Marinette wanted to bathe in the warm beams, stretch luxuriously across her bed…but her movements were kind of limited at the moment, thanks to the weight on top of her.

Marinette let her eyes flutter open, taking in a mop of messy blonde hair just under her chin. She giggled a little, teasing the locks with her fingers, wondering if it would be enough to get the hair to behave. There was a rumbling against her stomach, and Marinette paused.

“Adrien?” She said softly, unsure of whether or not he was awake. If he wasn’t, she didn’t want to disturb him, but if he was…

There was a sigh, and Adrien snuggled closer to her.

“Five more minutes,” he mumbled. Marinette snickered.

“No rush, chaton,” she assured him with a quick glance to the alarm clock next to her bed. “We still have an hour before I have to check out.”

Despite there being no rush, Adrien still sat up a little, his eyelashes brushing his cheeks as he blinked sleepily. Marinette grinned at the state his hair was in, running her fingers through it again. Adrien closed his eyes and let her, rumbling in approval.

“Morning,” he said softly, his voice rough with sleep. Marinette giggled and leaned up to peck his lips.

“Morning,” she answered, letting a lazy smile cross her face. Adrien returned her smile, nuzzling his cheek against hers. ‘Overgrown cat,’ Marinette thought affectionately.

“What time is it?”


“And you said we had an hour…?”

“Yeah…?” Marinette blinked as Adrien pulled back, registering the sudden sultry shift in his expression.

“Hmm...I wonder: what could we do for a whole hour before you have to check out…?”

Marinette was about to point out that they couldn’t take the whole hour to do the sinful things Adrien clearly had in mind—she needed time to shower, dress and pack, after all—but the protest was swallowed as Adrien kissed her, and quite soon, Marinette found the whole ‘check-out’ thing to be a non-issue. So she would be a little late, so what? It wasn’t like she had anywhere to be—

“MARINETTE!” Cried Nino as he abruptly crashed into the room, throwing open the door so hard it bounced into the wall behind it. “We have a situa—oh shit I’m so sorry!” He yelped, realizing too late that Marinette was not alone—and naked—in here; he threw his hands over his face as Adrien and Marinette scrambled for further cover under the bedsheets.

“Nino, what the hell?!” Marinette shrieked, feeling herself blush from head to toe. “What are you—how did you even get in here?!”

“Alya gave me the spare key card to your hotel room,” Nino explained, keeping one hand firmly clamped over his eyes and under his glasses as he held up the evidence for Marinette to see for herself. Ah, damn it…she had forgotten all about that spare key card…

“Okay, but, why are you barging in here without even knocking like there’s some kind of emergency?” She shot at him. The lower half of Nino’s face cringed.

“Because there is an emergency,” he insisted. Marinette waited, but Nino didn’t elaborate further. Instead, he blindly felt his way back to the door, adding hastily, “But, uh, we should probably have this conversation when you’re both, uh, not…bare.”

He cleared his throat, successfully locating the door and stepping back out into the hall.

“Just, uh, throw on what you can and come upstairs to me and Alya’s room. And hurry, all right?”

When Nino shut the door behind him, Marinette glanced over at Adrien, sharing his bewildered look.

“What do you think that was about…?” He asked, and Marinette gave him credit for how casual he worked to sound, but she could see it: that glint of trepidation in his eyes that was beginning to creep into her system as well, effectively ruining the afterglow from the night before. Whatever Nino had to tell them, it was obvious that it was nothing good.

With a frown, Marinette threw off her sheet and snatched up her dress from where it was discarded the night before. She had more comfortable clothes with her, but Nino had said to dress fast, so…

“We’d better go find out,” she said grimly. Adrien nodded, smoothing a hand through his hair as he got up to get dressed as well. Marinette was tempted to watch him, almost sad that that toned body had to be covered up…but no, now was not the time.

“I’ll go get Tikki and Plagg,” she mumbled, moving over to the bathroom to retrieve the kwamis. Call it experience, or call it intuition…but Marinette had a very strong feeling that they would be needing the help of the tiny gods of creation and destruction. And soon.



Alya only tore her gaze away from the television when Nino returned…alone. She raised an eyebrow at him.

“Where’s Marinette?”

“She’s com—wait, no,” Nino paused, and Alya’s other brow raised as her fiancée turned ruddy. “I mean, uh…she’s on her way.” He rubbed the back of his head as he moved closer, joining Alya in front of the TV. “She, uh…wasn’t alone.”

It didn’t take long for Alya to realize what Nino was implying. She grinned a wicked grin.

“Atta girl,” she said to herself, nodding in approval. “I knew she’d put those condoms to good use.”

“You could’ve warned me, y’know,” Nino griped.

“Why? Didn’t you knock before you let yourself in?”

He didn’t answer, but it didn’t matter—his expression told Alya everything she needed to know. She smirked and folded her arms, opening her mouth to tease him—

“If you didn’t knock first, it sounds like you were just asking for trouble, tod,” Trixx piped up, popping out from under Alya’s hair. Nino scowled at the pair of them.

“Figures you’d get a kwami who’s just like you,” he grumbled. Alya grinned, stepping forward to stretch on her toes and kiss his cheek.

“Best mistake you ever made, baby.”

Nino grumbled something about not being able to afford mistakes as Guardian, but before Alya could chide him, she was interrupted once again by a kwami.

“Actually, I do not believe it was a mistake,” Wayzz said, emerging from Nino’s pocket to calmly rest upon his Chosen’s shoulder. “It seems that Fate merely sought to intervene. Do not be discouraged, Nino: all is as it should be. You are an excellent Guardian.”

Nino blushed, and Alya grinned. While her contact with Wayzz had been limited, she could safely say that she adored him—he never had a bad thing to say about Nino, and was there to encourage him when he was putting too much weight on his shoulders. Becoming a superhero just might be one of the greatest things that could have happened to her fiancée, and Alya was so grateful to be able to witness it up close. Especially now, when they were about to face their biggest challenge yet…

There was an insistent knock at the door.

“Nino? Alya? We’re here,” came Marinette’s voice through the door.

“What’s going on?” Adrien’s voice added. As Nino moved to answer the door, Alya turned her attention back to the television, a scowl crossing her face as she watched the chaos unfold.


Marinette’s voice was nearer. Alya spared her a glance, suppressing the smirk that threatened to cross her face as she took in Marinette’s appearance—in the dress from the night before, huh? Oh, the jokes she could make…sadly, this was not the time.

“Look,” was all Alya said, stepping to the side to allow Marinette a better view. Adrien, who had just finished exchanging a greeting with Nino, joined her, and Alya watched their faces grimly as the news channel continued its live broadcast:

“…all-out war, here in Paris today. The entity known as Shade struck late last night, and since then, we have been dealing with an army of akumatized victims destroying Paris.”

‘Destroying’ was, sadly, an apt description: the newscast cut to several spots around the city, akuma of all shapes and sizes, both old and new, causing damage to the city and its people: Patchwork was setting to work on a new quilt, Stormy Weather was incasing half the city in ice, Poseidon was causing tidal waves, the Magician of Misfortune was disappearing everything in sight…and there was a huge swarm of akuma flying around, obscuring the sky, throwing the city into darkness. It was a terrifying sight, and Alya didn’t blame Marinette for gasping, her mouth falling open in shock.


The reporter on the scene continued, and Marinette cut herself off, but Alya could see the horror growing in her eyes, and she hated that. Adrien reached over, gripping Marinette’s hand, his knuckles white, his face drawn, and Alya felt her pity grow. Sure, she was part of Team Miraculous too, but they had been at this way longer than she had been. And they just couldn’t catch a break, could they?

“While there have still been no signs of Team Miraculous, we have confirmation that there is a Miraculous user on the scene,” said Nadja Chamack, and a flash of blue appeared on screen as that mysterious blue bird man flew around, repelling akuma from citizens—Pavone, right? “No one knows the identity of this Miraculous user, but for now, he is our only defense against this attack. All we can do now is urge the public to follow the deputy mayor’s evacuation plans—the mayor could not be reached for comment, but the deputy mayor is urging everyone to flee the city, while offering City Hall as a bunker for anyone who may need it.”

The broadcast cut to a harried-looking Bridgette, terrified-looking citizens huddling together behind her in what looked like one of the board rooms of City Hall.

“More than ever, we have to look out for each other,” she said, smoothing a hand over her ruffled dark hair. “I know things are scary right now, but please, I urge you all to have faith: our heroes have yet to let us down. Team Miraculous will save the day, and as long as we believe in that, we’ll be—”

The uplifting words of the deputy mayor of Paris were suddenly cut off. The screen went funny, glitching out…

Suddenly, a pair of bright and eerie eyes consumed the screen.

Alya yelped, jumping and accidentally bumping into Marinette, who gasped and seized Alya’s arm, clutching her so tightly that her nails dug into Alya’s skin. Alya didn’t have the presence of mind to react—her attention was absorbed by the television, where an eerie, slithering voice began to hiss through the speakers…

Ah, the hardiness of humanity is an interesting thing,” Shade said, casually leaning back from the camera to recline in some sort of chair, wherever she was. “Some would call you brave for daring to believe you will be saved…but I see it for what it is: foolishness.

I will not disappear simply because you wish it, Paris. The words of a hero-worshipping fangirl will not grant you salvation. Accept your new reality: your heroes have forsaken you, and I am now your god. Flee if you wish, but rest assured, your city is lost. Tremble, Paris…

Shade’s eyes narrowed into slits.

“…for your reckoning has finally arrived.

The screen went black for a moment, before Nadja’s pale face came back on screen.

“We…apologize, for the technical difficulties. Um…w-we will continue our broadcast until further notice…”

Alya had to admire Ms. Chamack for her professionalism—she wasn’t sure that she would be able to pull something like that off…

“Oh my god,” Marinette whispered beside her; Alya turned to find her best friend’s head bowed, staring at nothing as she clutched at her head. “Oh my god, I think I’m going to be sick…”

“Breathe,” Adrien urged her, steering her to sit on the foot of the bed. “Breathe, Mari.”

Marinette did as she was told, but the breath shuddered through her, her eyes still wide with horror.

“Of course,” she muttered, and Alya watched as a spark of anger suddenly flashed through Marinette’s expression. “Of course she would attack the minute we left town. Of course she would.”

“About that,” Nino spoke, looking troubled as he stepped forward. “It’s…likely she’s been watching you, dude. Both of you.”

Adrien swore, clenching his hand into a fist.

“That doesn’t surprise me at all. Seems just like her, to strike when Paris’ heroes just happen to be out of town—”

“Wait,” Marinette interrupted, her head snapping up, regarding the television with confusion. “Pavone’s defending the city…but where’s Vixen? Why isn’t she out there helping him?”

Oh, right.

“Uh, hun?” Alya said, sitting down next to Marinette to pat her on the back, working not to look too amused. “I’ve got something to tell you—”

“Hiya!” Trixx interjected, popping out from Alya’s hair once again. “I’m Trixx! Nice to meet ya, Lady Luck!”

As Marinette stared at the mischievous kwami, Alya huffed.

“Or, y’know, we could just jump into this head-first…” She gave her kwami a pointed look, and Trixx grinned cheekily. Rolling her eyes, Alya finished, “Anyway…yeah. I’m Vixen.”

Alya was very impressed—and a little bit disappointed—when it didn’t take longer than three seconds for Marinette to finally blink.

“…You know,” she began slowly, squinting a little at Alya, “that…makes a lot of sense.”

Alya pretended to pout.

“You’re not surprised at all?”

“Well…I’m surprised it took you so long to tell me.” Marinette folded her arms with a raise of her eyebrows. “So, since you, uh, apparently know about me, given there was no freak-out…when were you going to tell me that you’re Vixen?”

“Let she who does not keep superheroine secrets cast the fierce tone,” Alya chided her with a brief smirk, before reality set in again and she grew serious. “Anyway, now’s not exactly the time to talk about all this. We need to get our asses back to Paris. And fast.”

“Yes, we do,” Marinette agreed, and Alya could practically see Ladybug take over as her best friend stood, tall and firm, with all the righteous fury of a superhero horrified by a supervillain’s atrocities. Alya was so lucky to call her a friend. “I want to transform right now, but it would take us too long to get back that way, so—”

“We can take my car; it’s probably the fastest,” Adrien reasoned as he got to his feet as well. Alya watched as Nino gave a perfunctory roll of his eyes.

“Oh sure, brag about your super-expensive, super-fast car to the rest of us.”

“Wha—that’s not what I—”

“I know, dude, I’m messing with you,” Nino said, grabbing hold of Adrien’s arm and pulling him along as they sped-walk to the door, Nino picking up his and Alya’s luggage bag on the way. “You go get the car, and ‘Nette and I will check-out.”

“I still need to pack—” said Marinette fretfully, but Alya patted her shoulder and gave her a smile.

“I can help you with that. Don’t worry, girl—you’re not alone, remember?”

Marinette looked at Alya with a look so grateful that it embarrassed Alya. Jeez, it was just packing…sure, Alya knew she was an awesome person in general, but it was nothing to have kittens over…

“Right…okay. Meet in the lobby in ten minutes?”

“You got it, boss,” Nino told Marinette, shooting a finger gun at her as he tugged Adrien out of the room, but not before Adrien shot an anxious glance Marinette’s way, as if he was afraid she would disappear the moment he looked away. Alya watched as Marinette smiled gently at him, giving a small wave. Adrien returned the gestures, and it was Alya’s turn to give an exaggerated eye roll.

“Okay, you two can be mushy later,” she insisted, pushing Marinette’s back as she shoved her best friend out of the hotel room. “Trixx, do one last sweep for me, okay?”

“On it!” As the kwami flitted away, Alya pulled the door shut, making sure she had both keys before slipping them into her pocket.

“Okay, let’s get you packed so we can get outta here and kick a supervillain’s slithering ass,” she insisted, walking past Marinette to head for the stairs. A hand grabbed her shoulder, however, pulling her to a stop. Alya blinked, glancing back at Marinette. “What?”

Marinette was looking at her with a complicated expression—a mix of relief, trepidation, and…chagrin?

“…Alya,” she began, stepping closer and biting her lip. “I’m…sorry that I never told you. About me, I mean.”

Ah. Well, maybe a few years ago, Alya would’ve been upset by this, but after everything they’d all been through the past few months…

It was so easy to smile, and so Alya did, patting Marinette’s hand.

“Don’t even sweat it, girl. Now that I’ve been on the other side of that super-heroic fence, I understand why you couldn’t say anything. If it were me…I know I’d hate myself if anything happened to you, just because I didn’t keep my mouth shut.” Alya patted her best friend’s cheek gently. “I’m glad you’re Ladybug, Marinette.”

Marinette smiled, relief breaking over her face. When Trixx returned and gave the okay, Alya jerked her head, and Marinette didn’t hesitate to follow her upstairs so they could get her things squared away before their race to Paris. As they speed-packed, Alya paused when Marinette brought up an…interesting revelation:

“You know…you were almost Ladybug.”

“…Excuse me?”

“Yeah. When we were fourteen, and I first became Ladybug…it was so daunting that I almost gave it up. I planned to give the earrings to you, but then the whole thing with Stoneheart happened, and you got trapped under that car, so I had to transform to save you. But yeah, if you had remembered to take your bag before you left, you might have been Ladybug.”

“…Son of a bitch.

“Hey! You tryin’ to make me angry? What, I’m not good enough for you?!”

“That’s not what I meant, Trixx. And shhh.


Alya cleared her throat, sheepishly handing Marinette her make-up back as Marinette zipped her overnight bag closed.

“Well, what almost was doesn’t matter—it’s in the past now.”

“Yeah, it is.” Marinette hoisted her bag up over her shoulder, her bluebell eyes sparkling. “Besides, I’m glad things turned out this way. Vixen probably suits you a lot better than Ladybug would have.”

“Because I’m foxy?”

“Because you’re brilliant,” Marinette corrected, laughing at the faux pout Alya gave her. “And, as much as I wished superhero drama didn’t have to affect your life like this…I’m glad you’re Vixen, Alya.”

Alya smiled, pulling Marinette into a quick hug as they hastily exited the hotel room.

“I love you too, Marinette.”



If she kept biting her lip like that, she was going to chew it off. Adrien took his right hand off the wheel so he could reach over and rest it on the tightly folded hands in her lap. He couldn’t keep his eyes off the road for too long to see her reaction—he was going a lot faster than he should be—but he was heartened to feel Marinette take hold of his hand and squeeze it. It made him happy to be able to give her comfort like this.

They were almost back in Paris: the ominous shadow the swarm of akumas cast loomed closer and closer, and they had passed by a lot of cars fleeing in the opposite direction, lots of terrified faces in the windows gawking at them, probably wondering who was so ignorant of what was happening that they were willing to speed right into the clutches of a madwoman.

But they were anything but ignorant: nobody spoke in the car as the news channel played from the radio, giving them updates which were too chaotic to follow. There were too many akumatized victims terrorizing the city, too much destruction, too much information to process. It was almost too much, and several times through the drive, either Marinette, Alya, or Nino would lean forward, their hands outstretched, meaning to shut the radio off…but they would halt at the last minute, as if coming back to their senses.

Adrien felt the way they did—it hurt, to hear all of this happening when they still weren’t close enough to do anything about it. And, in a strange way…he rather felt like Shade had betrayed them, pulling such a stunt the minute they left town, like some ancient ritual between hero and villain had been broken. It was ridiculous—clearly Shade didn’t care anything about rules anymore at this point—

Something large and heavy and dangerous was suddenly flung through the sky, heading directly for them.

“LOOK OUT!!” Marinette screamed, and Adrien swerved, screeching out of the way. The car spun out of control, and Adrien slammed his foot on the break, bringing them to a sudden, painful halt.

“Everyone okay?!” Adrien demanded, once he managed to catch his breath, his heart still thudding painfully in his chest.

“I’ll live,” Alya grumbled from behind him.

“Me, too,” Nino huffed.

“I’m…I’m fine,” Marinette said, and Adrien looked over to see her staring over her shoulder. “Was…was that…?”

Adrien unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car, gaping at the piece of debris that had almost hit them—

It was the top of the Eiffel Tower.

He swallowed, just standing there as his friends and girlfriend exited the car as well, staring at the chunk of their country’s most famous landmark, looking like it was literally just plucked off the top and tossed carelessly aside by an ornery giant. They weren’t even within the city limits yet—the tower was still kilometers away. What had happened that the very top had made its way all the way here…?

“Guys,” Marinette spoke, turning to the rest of them with a grim look, “it’s time to transform.”

No one argued. Instead, four voices rang out in the deserted air:






In a shower of red, black, green and orange, their civilian selves vanished.

Team Miraculous was on the scene.

“Follow me!” Ladybug directed, sending out her yo-yo and taking to the air at once. Chat Noir obeyed without hesitation, and he heard the start of a hover board behind him as a swish of an orange tail appeared above him as Vixen jumped to the nearest rooftop to follow.

Once they crossed into the city, immediately trouble found them, as if Shade knew they were back in the city and wanted to give them a proper greeting. Two akumas Chat had never seen before attacked them with fire and lightening, but Chat rolled out of the way, pouncing onto the one shooting fire at Ladybug while Vixen landed on the lightning-wielder nearby, Emerald Shell blocking the bolt the startled akuma shot at him with his shield as he dropped from mid-air. Quickly, Chat grabbed the dark hair pin from the akuma’s hair, smashing his clawed hand into it.

“Ladybug!” He called as the akuma flitted out, and Ladybug snagged it immediately—or she tried to. The akuma crumbled at the touch of her yo-yo, and Ladybug stomped her foot in frustration.

“Not again!” She cried, and Chat tried to think of something to calm her, but was distracted by the akuma he had pinned throwing him off. He landed hard, the air rushing out of him. As he picked himself back up, wincing, he looked up in time to see the wristband Vixen and Shell had wrestled away from the lightning akuma end just as the hair pin—crumbling to ash the minute Ladybug tried to purify it.

“Lousy goddamn fake akumas!” Ladybug shrieked in outrage.

“What do we do?” Shell called, pushing back against the blast of fire hurled at him.

“I don’t know!” Ladybug burst out, too frustrated to notice the bolt of lightning the akuma was about to hurl at her. Chat lunged at her, tackling her to the ground just as the akuma threw it; it hit an abandoned car and fizzled out.

“That’s it!” Vixen growled, baring her teeth. Chat opened his mouth to warn her not to do anything crazy, but it was too late—she was already in motion. The akumas turned on her, but before they could ready any more attacks, Vixen slipped between them, delivering swift jabs to the backs of their necks. With choked cries of surprise, the akumas crumbled, and Vixen let out a breath, straightening up as Ladybug squirmed out from under Chat.

“Wh—what did you do?!”

“It’s okay! I just knocked them out.” Vixen winked at them, flexing an arm. “Self-defense classes are important, even if you happen to be Miraculous.”

“Okay, that’s great, but that only temporarily solves our problem,” Shell pointed out, and Chat would have laughed at the sour look Vixen shot him, had the situation not been so dire. “And there are thousands of other akumas running around and causing a ruckus. LB…how do we figure out which akumas to purify?”

Chat’s heart sank at the overwhelmed look Ladybug gave Shell in response.

“I…I don’t know. We could never tell before either, so I don’t know how…damn it! How did she get this much power?!”

“We need to find her,” Vixen insisted, scowling as she menacingly cracked her knuckles. “If we could just get to Shade—”

“But we don’t know how to find Shade,” Chat interjected, trying not to fall victim to the pit of despair he could feel growing within him. But damn, was it hard… “We’ve never even seen Shade in person before, according to—”

“Pavone!” Ladybug suddenly interjected, but once Chat glanced at her in surprise, he realized that she wasn’t cutting him off—she was staring at something in the distance. When he turned, he saw the tell-tale blue of the hero that had saved him and Marinette from their untimely deaths. It looked like a few of the flying akuma were chasing him…

“LB, wait up!” Chat heard Shell cried, and he looked over just in time to see his partner take off, flying through the air as she sped toward Pavone. The rest of Team Miraculous only had time to exchange glances before they were off as well, chasing their leader as she chased the enigma that was Pavone.

They arrived on the scene, at the stairs of City Hall, just in time to watch Pavone dance artfully around the attacks the akumas were flinging at him, dodging so elegantly that it didn’t look any harder than fancy footwork.

“Pavone!” Ladybug cried, and Pavone was distracted as he glanced in her direction, blue eyes wide. In that moment, an akuma struck him. Chat heard Ladybug gasp as Pavone flew through the air, but this time, it was not of his own volition. The momentum carried him to the top of the stairs, where he landed hard and collapsed.

Chat watched, in horror, as rapid chimes began to sound from Pavone, and suddenly, blue sparks were surrounding his ankles…

He was de-transforming.

“No!” Chat shouted, racing forward to intercept the akumas that pursued Pavone. He lost track of things for one heart-pounding minute, just working to keep the akuma busy rather than actually trying to defeat it, because Ladybug was busy with her own hand-to-hand combat over there, and Vixen and Shell had teamed up to take down the biggest one, and oh no, Pavone was defenseless, Chat had to help—

He did a low sweep of his leg, tripping the akuma up and jumping over its groaning form to race up the stairs, to protect whatever civilian form Pavone had taken—

Pavone slowly pushed himself up onto one elbow, looking like he was struggling to do so, opening one cool blue eye as the other winced in pain—

Chat was brought up short. He didn’t mean to stop running, but…his body refused to move, locked mid-race up the steps as he gaped at what could not be possible…

His cousin could not be the one there, struggling to sit up, after his transformation ran out, a small, bird-like creature shivering at his side. It couldn’t be him.

But it was.

Chat was too caught up in his revelation; he lost focus. Within seconds, another akuma was shoving him out of the way, barreling forward as it pursued what was clearly an easy target.

Chat reached out a clawed hand, his mouth opening in a silent cry as the akuma bore down on Felix—

A sharp sound cracked through the air, and suddenly, the akuma drew up short, yelping in pain.

Smettila! Back off, akuma!”

That voice…

Just as Chat realized who that voice belonged to, she appeared from thin air: her normally green suit flushing red in her rage, Camille stood guard before Felix, brandishing her whip menacingly. She cracked her whip once more, and the akuma growled and fled, as if it just decided that it didn’t need this grief. It snarled for the akumas still fighting Team Miraculous, and they all fell back, like the lead akuma was the leader of a wolf pack, which was probably accurate, considering the fact that they all bore wolf-like features.

Chat turned back, racing up the rest of the stairs. Camille was crouching down beside Felix, her hands hovering over him as she dithered, dark eyes wide.

“Are—are you all right? Is there something I can—”

“I’ll survive,” Felix grunted, though he winced more as he managed to fully sit up, the tips of his fingers gingerly probing his temple. With his free hand, he carefully scooped up what must be the Peacock kwami and tucked it into an inner pocket of his vest. Chat’s nose itched, but he just managed to avoid sneezing. But only just. “Just sore.”

“Felix?” Ladybug called, coming up next to Chat and gawking at him. “You're not—wait, Camille?”

Camille glanced up, her smile strained as she looked at Ladybug.

Ciao, Coccinelle,” she greeted, getting to her feet. “Things here are just a bit, um, hectic, yes? I came because I thought that I could maybe help…” She frowned, the expression strangely familiar to Chat. “How did this happen?”

Before anyone could explain, the doors to City Hall creaked open. Chat glanced over, finding the deputy mayor blinking at all of them.

“Ladybug!” She cried, exiting the building to rush to them. “Oh, thank goodness, I knew you would—wait, Felix? What are you doing out here? Oh no, are you hurt??”

Too many questions. Chat’s head was beginning to hurt.

Mlle. Deputy Mayor, would you mind if we claimed City Hall as our sanctuary for a moment?” He requested, leaning over to take hold of Felix’s arm, slinging it over his shoulders as he helped his cousin to his feet. “We need to regroup.”

“Oh…yes, okay,” Bridgette allowed, flushing for a reason Chat couldn’t quite understand. She opened the doors wide, and Chat, with the help of Camille, ushered Felix inside.

“Is there a room we can use where we won’t be disturbed?” Ladybug asked once Bridgette closed the doors behind them, securing them with a large board she slid through the handles. Bridgette nodded, and briskly led them upstairs. Chat recognized the path, and was therefore not surprised when they arrived in the mayor’s office.

“Where’s the head honcho?” Shell inquired, sounding as sour as Chat felt as he and Camille led Felix over to the armchair next to the fireplace. Chat sneezed, and then winced, moving a bit faster.

“He was one of the first people to flee the city when we started evacuating,” Bridgette explained, the stiff quality in her voice extremely telling. “Who knows if he’ll even come back?”

“Good riddance,” Vixen huffed, moving over to the windows, as if she meant to keep watch.

Felix grunted as Chat and Camille sat him in the armchair; Camille’s hands fluttered over him, but he waved her off, a hand resting over the lump in his vest. Sneezing again, Chat moved a safer distance away.

“I…is there anything I can do for you all?” Bridgette asked, casting an anxious glance around the room. “I…I want to help, if possible…”

Team Miraculous exchanged glances as Chat wracked his brain for a way for Bridgette to help. Truthfully, though he wanted to give her something to do—it must be so frustrating to be in a position of power, but be unable to do enough in this situation—he was honestly coming up blank.


Chat glanced over at Felix, raising his eyebrows behind his mask. What an odd request. Why would—

The lump in Felix’s vest pocket quivered, and suddenly, Chat understood.

Bridgette, however, did not.


“Or any fruit that you have,” Felix amended, glancing over at Bridgette. “Please.”

Bridgette flushed red again, and Chat watched curiously as she fiddled with the hem of her shirt, as if concerned that it was not hanging right.

“Um, all right…any other food requests?”

“I could use some cookies,” Ladybug said, looking rather sheepish.

“If you have camembert, I’ll gladly take some,” Chat added on. Bridgette looked mildly perplexed by these food requests, but she nonetheless nodded.

“I’ll see what I can do.”

She exited the room, shutting the door quietly behind her.

“…Are we fucked here or what?” Vixen huffed after a moment of silence. Shell hummed, perching himself on the edge of the mayor’s desk as he folded his arms, scowling at the floor.

“That might be putting it mildly. Shade’s not even close to fucking around anymore. LB, how you holding up?”

“Don’t ask,” Ladybug groaned, leaning against the paneled wall next to the door. “It’s like Shade crawled into my brain and recreated my worst nightmares with what she found there.”

“No kidding. What do we…”

Chat Noir was deaf to the ensuing conversation. While he wanted to go over there and hug Ladybug, because she seemed like she really needed one, something else was demanding his attention, the elephant that he'd helped into the room. He turned to stare at Felix, who was quietly speaking to Camille as she crouched next to him. Taking a moment to apologize to his nose in advance, Chat took a deep breath and moved back over to his cousin. Felix saw him coming, and kept his gaze as Chat moved closer; Camille stood up as Chat came nearer, as if she was afraid that she was intruding.

Slowly, ignoring his watering eyes, Chat knelt down next to Felix, staring into those cool blue eyes he had resented for the longest time…eyes he was beginning to wonder if he ever understood at all. And those eyes stared back, Felix meeting his gaze unflinchingly, almost as if…

As if…

Chat lifted his chin.

“You know.”

Felix inclined his head ever-so-slightly.


“You knew this whole time.”

“…Yes,” he admitted.

Chat stared harder, though he knew it was pointless—Felix had always been a mystery to him, so he would never be able to decode him by just looking.


Felix glanced away, his brow furrowing as his pale cheeks turned rosy.

“…Would you believe me if I said…it was because I cared?”

“No,” Chat said immediately, and Felix glanced back at him, the corners of his lips twitching.

“Then that’s why,” he said, nonsensical as ever.

And yet, somehow…Chat still understood.


The voice was sharp and much closer than Chat had anticipated; he jumped a little, straightening to glance over at Ladybug, who had her hands on her hips as her gaze bounced between Chat and Felix. Eventually, after appearing to size them both up, she turned to Felix.

“…Felix,” she greeted tersely. Chat thought he saw an almost-smile flash across his cousin’s face, but he sneezed at that moment, so he could have just imagined it.

“Ladybug,” he replied, cool as anything. Ladybug didn’t seem pleased with that—her eyes narrowed at him.

“So. You’re…Pavone?”

“But did you not know?” Camille asked, blinking her wide brown eyes at them. “I thought you came to his rescue because you are friends?”

“We’re not—” Ladybug paused, huffed, and pinched the bridge of her nose. “…‘Friends’ is a stretch,” she growled at last, glancing over at Chat for some reason. “Let’s say we’re…allies.”

“I…see,” Camille said, though she clearly didn’t, if the yellow swirling through her costume was proof of anything. “Felix, are you in much pain?”

“I’ll survive,” Felix repeated himself, frowning a little as he reached inside his vest, pulling out the quivering kwami from before. “Dusuu? Are you all right?”

“Oh…I’ve been better,” said the kwami in a small, high-pitched voice, unraveling itself from its tail and sitting up, peering up at them with tearful red eyes. “I’m sorry, Felix. I tried to hold on—”

There was a low rumble from somewhere, and eyes jumped to the window. Some sort of destruction was happening in the distance, and Chat’s jaw tightened.

“We have to do something,” he stated the obvious.

“Soon,” Vixen added, never turning her gaze from the window she stood sentinel by.

“I know,” Ladybug growled; with one last disapproving look shot at Felix, she walked away, beginning to pace. “But what the hell are we supposed to do here? We can’t purify false akumas, and we have no way of telling them apart from the real akumas, and there are thousands of them loose in the city right now! How did this even happen?!

“Kinda makes you miss Hawkmoth, don’t it?” Shell said dryly, but then he caught Chat’s gaze and cringed. “Ah, dude, I’m sorry—”

“It’s fine,” Chat said with a shake of his head. “I’m working to make peace with it.”

He could see Camille giving him a confused look from his peripheral vision, but chose to ignore it. Though she seemed to know Felix—which was strange, given that the last time they saw her, she claimed she had no idea who Pavone was—she was still an outside party. No need to air out all his dirty laundry to everyone in this room, even if most of them knew, and all of them were Miraculous users.

The awkward moment was interrupted by the television in the mayor’s office suddenly cutting on. Shade appeared once again, almost looking bored, with the way her head rested against her fist as she reclined on her throne once again.

Ah, I see Team Miraculous has returned to Paris,” she drawled, and suddenly, her teeth flashed, her horrible grin forming. “Interesting…all right, my pretty akumas, this is your new mission: destroy Team Miraculous. I don’t care how you do it—crush them, maim them, drop them from great heights, whatever pleases you. As long as they’re dead, I’ll be satisfied. Remember: I gave you these powers, so it’s no trouble for me to take them away just as easily. Do not disappoint me.

Her eyes flashed wickedly.

Word has it that they’ve holed up in City Hall, so that building is now fair game. Have fun, my dears.

The television shut off, leaving stunned silence in its wake.

“…She’s really not fucking around anymore,” Shell said in a hushed voice. Chat looked over just in time to see Ladybug sway dangerously; he reached out and caught her, holding her tight.


“Oh my god,” she whispered, despair breaking her tone. “Oh my god. We’ve gotta get out of here, now.

The rumbling grew in the distance, and Chat felt his insides tighten. They couldn’t stay here. If they did, everyone who had taken shelter here was in danger. They had to go. They had to flee—

“Where?” Camille finished his thought, her costume growing paler and paler as all color drained from her face as well. “Where can we go that they will not follow? What can we do?”

“We have to find Shade,” Chat asserted, his hands tightening over Ladybug’s arms protectively as he felt her shiver in his grip. “If we find her, we end this. All of it.”

“But you said before that we have no idea where she could be,” Vixen pointed out, looking reluctant as she tore her gaze from the window, despite the fact that they knew a storm of akumas were making their way there, even as they stood there, trying to plot their next move… “It’s not like we can search the whole city for her, can we?”

“And even then, she’s watching us,” Shell snarled, slamming a frustrated fist into the mayor’s mahogany desk. “We can’t get away with shit as long as that’s true; even if we get close, she’ll probably just move to a new location. We’re fucked.

“Her powers are not as limitless as you fear,” Felix spoke up, sitting up a little and rubbing his head. “She’s still only human.”

“She has two of the Miraculous!” Ladybug spat, suddenly whirling in Chat’s arms to snarl at Felix. “Even if there’s a limit to her power, who’s to say when that’ll run out?! She’s been at this since last night! How the hell are we supposed to compete with this kind of power?!”

“Oh dear. Ladybug, surely you of all people are not giving up? Your positivity is one of the biggest reasons I believe you can overcome anything.”

The new voice that intruded was both unexpected, and instantly welcome. Both Chat and Ladybug whirled to the door, finding Bridgette standing next to a bowed old man, his hair completely white and beard down to his chest…but the Hawaiian shirt was still absolutely familiar.

“Master Fu!” Chat, Ladybug and Shell cried, Shell rushing forward to take Master Fu’s arm when the aging man seemed to have trouble shuffling into the room himself.

“Now now, no need to fuss,” said Master Fu genially, though he did accept Shell’s help as his student led him to the large swivel chair behind the mayor’s desk.

“What are you doing here?” Ladybug wanted to know as she and Chat approached the desk, and it warmed Chat to see her suddenly so hopeful, like Master Fu held all of the answers to their prayers.

“I chose to remain behind when the city began to evacuate,” Master Fu explained, grunting a little as he sat down, resting his walking stick across the desk. “I felt that I would be of more use here. I was comforting some of the scared children here when I saw Mlle. Reine hunting down a peculiar assortment of treats. Naturally, I put two and two together and decided to accompany her.”

Bridgette, for her part, didn’t seem to understand fully what was happening, but Chat gave her credit for taking it in stride, handing little packets of snacks to him, Ladybug, and Felix, who promptly hid Dusuu from sight at her approach.

“Master Fu, thank god,” Ladybug sighed, sounding near tears as she sank down to Master Fu’s eye level across the desk. “We need your help. Shade’s calling for our execution, and we have no idea how to find her and stop her.”

“I am aware,” Master Fu said, his wizened eyes growing serious. “It seems she will stop at nothing to achieve her goals.”

“What do we do?” Ladybug questioned, looking more desperate than Chat had seen her in months; it physically hurt him to see her look so lost, when just a few hours ago, she was looking up at him with a sleepy, content expression, looking loved and safe…

If there was ever a time that Chat found himself hating Shade, it paled in comparison to the way he felt now, having to watch Ladybug look like this now as the wrath of this merciless supervillain bore down on them…

On cue, the rumbling grew louder, distinct sounds growing closer. Vixen turned from the window to shoot Shell an anxious look, and Shell stood up, sliding his shield off his back, as if he was ready to defend everyone at a moment’s notice. Good man.

Master Fu, for his part, inspected Ladybug, stroking his long beard for a long moment…

Finally, he closed his eyes.

“I don’t know.”

The words were like a death sentence; Chat had to watch the last glimmer of hope fade from Ladybug’s eyes, and he hated it.

“There must be something we can do,” he insisted, laying his palms flat against the desk, not ready to give up yet, not ready to give up his world, not ready to give up his Lady… “Anything. I’ll do anything.

Even if it meant he had to surrender himself to whatever madness Shade had in store for him, even if it meant that he could never see Ladybug—Marinette—again, if it meant saving Paris…if it meant saving her…

As if she knew what he was thinking, Ladybug clutched at his hand, and though she looked so small, crouched down like that, her eyes were suddenly so fierce, intent upon him.

Stay,’ her expression commanded. And Chat didn’t dare disobey.

Master Fu opened his eyes again, regarding them silently.

“I say that I don’t know what you can do because I know nothing about the force you are up against,” he said, resting his hands over his walking stick. “This is as new to me as it is to you.”

…Well, that wasn’t true. They knew a little bit about what was going on here, even if Master Fu didn’t…

Master Fu glanced at him, and Chat straightened, as if he didn’t wish to be caught in wrong-doing. Master Fu just had that effect on him, but it wasn’t his fault—Chat still carried too much guilt over his past actions to be able to meet Master Fu’s gaze easily. This did not seem to bother the old man, however; he even smiled at Chat, as if he was looking fondly upon his favorite grandson.

“…You appear to have a few ideas,” he noted. Chat shifted uncomfortably.

“Well…we do know her motive,” he said slowly, though he trailed off, uncomfortably aware of the two women in the room who did not know his secret identity. Thankfully, Master Fu did not seem to need details.

“That’s good! Start there, and think: you know why she’s doing what she’s doing, so use that. Go back to the beginning. How can you use her motive to your advantage?”

Use her motive to their advantage…?

How the hell was Chat supposed to know? All he knew was that Shade wanted him dead because the reporter she was related to, probably her father, knew that his father was Hawk Moth, and did nothing but accept hush money from Gabriel Agreste for a while before he was found dead of an overdose…how were the sins of the past supposed to help them here in the present?

There was a sharp intake of breath next to him, and suddenly, Ladybug shot to her feet. Chat blinked, staring at her as she stared down at the desk, her eyes wide.

“…Maybe…?” She muttered, her gaze going to him next, as if she expected him to know what she was getting at just from that one word.

“Maybe what?” He asked, and Ladybug turned to fully face him, determination sparking a fire in her eyes to chase away the darkness that had briefly invaded. Thank god.

“Agreste Manor,” she said, and Chat automatically stiffened at the mention of his childhood prison/home. After a moment or two, he realized she was trying to tell him something by mentioning it, but what could—

And then he realized what she was trying to say. His mouth popped open.

There?” He asked, disbelief coloring his tone. “Why would she be there?”

“She might not be,” Ladybug readily admitted, gripping her chin in thought. “But it’s possible. Think about it: that’s where it all started, isn’t it? Gabriel Agreste wronged her, so maybe, just maybe, she’d want to see Paris be destroyed from the place where he once stood…?”

“If she hasn’t razed it to the ground,” Shell added with a shake of his head. Still, Chat’s gaze returned to his Lady, focusing on the resolve in her expression.

“…You sure about this?”

“No, not at all,” Ladybug readily admitted, shrugging. “But we have no other leads. Wouldn’t hurt to check, would it?”

“But how will we go to check if she is watching?” Camille wanted to know, leaving Felix to Bridgette’s quiet concern and approaching Chat and Ladybug, looking anxious. “She will know immediately if we try to find her, yes?”

Ladybug frowned.

“Damn it, you have a point,” she admitted, and Camille gave an apologetic look. The room grew silent again, save for the worrisome rumbling that kept getting louder the longer they stood there—

“Sounds like what you need is a distraction.”

For the second time, Chat whipped around to stare at the doorway of the mayor’s office, because this voice was surprising and familiar, too, even more so because—

“Alix!” Vixen yelped, rushing to Chat’s side to gape at the pink-haired woman leaning against the doorway. “You’re awake!”

Alix made a face.

“I woke up last night—that psycho bitch is making such a racket that not even I could sleep through it.” She gave Vixen a dry look. “So. From what I hear, you turned my rebel group into a bunch of pansies.”

Chat thought that Vixen would be offended by this, but instead, she smirked, as if she had been complimented. …Her friendship with Alix was weird.

“A bunch of pansies that Paris actually listens to now,” Vixen answered, looking self-satisfied. “You’re welcome.”

“What did you mean by saying we need a distraction?” Ladybug interrupted the playful banter, and Alix sobered, straightening up.

“Right. Well, some of AVA’s holed up in here with idle hands, and I know for a fact that we still have a bunch of goo stashed away at our hideout—”

“I told them they should get rid of all that,” Vixen interjected, frowning. Alix smirked at her.

“You only advised them to remove the goo you could see.”

“You sneaky little bastards,” Vixen commented fondly. The rumbling outside suddenly grew to a roar, and Chat glanced over his shoulder and hissed: there was an outright mob forming outside, and they were headed straight for City Hall.

“That’s my cue,” Alix said, stepping back from the doorway. Abruptly, Chat realized that she hadn’t once stepped foot inside, almost as if the place held too many bad memories for her to enter the room ever again.

“Wait a minute,” Shell called after her with a frown. “You do realize you’re basically risking your lives here?”

Alix shrugged.

“So are you guys.”

“Yes, but…we are superheroes,” Camille pointed out, staring at Alix as if she had never seen such an odd creature before. “It is a bit different.”

Alix glanced over at her, raising an eyebrow.

“The only difference, honey, is that you guys can take a couple more hits than we can.” She smirked. “But what we lack in super-armor, we make up for enthusiasm. Stick around, and you’ll see what I mean.”

“Wait,” Ladybug forestalled her for just a moment longer, frowning. “What do you get out of volunteering to help us?”

Alix’s brows shot up into her hairline.

“Um, I live here too?”

“But in agreeing to help us,” Ladybug pressed stubbornly, “you’re agreeing to help us. Chat Noir included, you know.” She folded her arms, giving Alix a searching look. “Are you okay with that?”

Chat watched, conflicting emotions warring within him as Alix’s expression grew thoughtful. On the one hand, he was glad that Ladybug was bringing this up—it meant that she truly hadn’t disregarded his feelings concerning AVA—but on the other hand, maybe now wasn’t the best time to remind the rebel leader of their differences…

After a moment, Alix’s gaze switched to Chat. He stared back at her, shoulders automatically straightening. He didn’t bother to try and look non-confrontational, nor did he try to look dangerous. He was just…himself: doing the best he could to make amends.

Whether or not Alix had come to finally realize that remained unseen. After a tense second, she merely shrugged, turning and giving them her back.

“Well…let’s just say that we all have bigger problems to worry about right now.”

It wasn’t acceptance, or an apology, but right now, Chat would take it.

Before anyone else could bring up legitimate concerns, or attempt to talk her out of it, Alix walked away, apparently determined to raise more hell, now that she was awake. Chat turned, bemused as Camille stared at the doorway still.

“…She is…interesting…” she said, fingertips lightly touching her lips. Chat raised an eyebrow under his mask. Hmm…

“She’s in a relationship,” he warned her, amused as Camille’s face flushed and her suit turned pink. “But, y’know, if we live through this, maybe I can get you her number, in case you want to get to know her better…”

“Oh, do not tease me,” Camille insisted, swatting at him in an endearing way…and a familiar way…why was she so familiar…?

“Speaking of distractions,” Vixen piped up, and Chat turned to find her palming the flute she usually kept strapped to her back. “I can provide a few, if you guys wanna go check out Agreste Manor.”

Raising the flute to her lips, Vixen played a short ditty, and a glowing sphere appeared at the end. She tossed it, and suddenly orange smoke filled the room where it landed. Once it cleared…

Chat gaped. He couldn’t count that fast, but…he had to be staring at a dozen replicas of himself, at least.

He wasn’t alone, either: there were several Ladybugs, a few Vixens, and a whole lot of Emerald Shells, so many that Chat was sure that they outnumbered all the other copies. He glanced at Vixen, who seemed to notice this, too, and muffled a snicker.

“Whoops. Guess we can tell who my favorite is,” she laughed.

“These are brilliant, Vixen!” Ladybug enthused, taking in the view before her. “They look just like us!”

“Thank you, thank you,” Vixen said graciously, bowing to ham it up. “Shade ain’t the only one that can make copies around here.” The amusement faded, replaced with a frown. “But they won’t last too long. So if you two want to head to Agreste Manor, you’d better do it now-ish.”

“Okay…I say we split up,” Ladybug directed, turning to Vixen and Shell first. “You two run around the city with the clones, make as much noise as you possibly can. Oh, and if you see AVA around, please try to make sure they don’t do anything stupid, all right?”

“We promise to try,” Shell said dryly, tapping his shield for emphasis.

“All right, troops, you heard the lady! March!” Vixen directed the clones, who poured out of the mayor’s office at her order. Vixen stopped just long enough to give both Ladybug and Chat a big hug before she chased after them, dragging Shell along behind her.

Chat watched, absolutely sympathetic as Ladybug stared after them. He wondered if she, too, was trying not to think about when they would see their friends again…

The distraction plan seemed to work immediately, however; there was a large uproar outside, and Chat glanced out the window to see the utter bedlam of watching several different copies of himself taunt and tease several of the akumas into following him in several different directions of the city. Well, that took care of one problem, for now…

“Camille,” Ladybug called, and Chat ripped his gaze from the window to watch as Camille straightened, her face determined. “Can I ask you to protect City Hall? I don’t know how many of those akumas will be kept busy by clones, and some of them might try to come back here.”

“You can depend on me,” Camille assured her, clenching her fists in determination. “I am here to help.”

From the corner of his eye, Chat saw Felix get up.

“Oh, Felix, you’re hurt, you shouldn’t—” Bridgette began to fuss, only to pause, her eyes widening as Felix briefly touched her cheek. Something wordless passed between them, leaving Bridgette flushed, and Felix stepped away from her, pulling out his kwami again, who tossed the last blueberry Felix had given her into her mouth, swallowing loudly. Chat sneezed and stepped to the other side of Ladybug.

“Ready?” Felix asked, and Dusuu fluttered into the air, doing a little twirl.

“Ready!” She chirped, and Chat was astounded to see his cousin smile, possibly for the first time since Adrien had known him.

“Then, Dusuu—transform me.”

Chat rather felt that Felix was showing off at this point—blatantly transforming in front of the woman he was…interested in? Dating? Somehow, Chat couldn’t see Felix dating, but whatever they were, he felt it was a bold move to suddenly reveal that he was a superhero to Bridgette like this. Still, he supposed he didn’t have much room to talk, and merely let himself be amused by the way Bridgette’s jaw dropped as Felix disappeared, and Pavone was born again.

“I will assist you, Camille,” he said smoothly, as if he hadn’t just been nursing a huge headache a moment ago. Camille smiled up at him.

“Talk about a…oh, what is it…a blast from the back, yes?”

“Blast from the past,” Chat corrected her automatically, and then he paused. Wait, this scenario was familiar, too—

“Oh! Yes, past, ha,” Camille said, looking embarrassed as she stuck her tongue out, the way—

The way Erika used to when he had first started teaching her French.

Chat gawked at Camille. Wait a damn minute—

“Wait a damn minute!” Ladybug echoed, and Chat jumped, wondering if she had just had the same epiphany he reached…oh, but she was glaring at Pavone. “What makes you think we need your help?”

Pavone’s eyes widened slightly, as if he was raising his eyebrows underneath his mask.

“I was under the impression that you could use all the help you could get,” he said quietly, and Ladybug scowled, as if he had insulted her through nine generations. Camille glanced between them, looking troubled.

“Is…there a problem…?” She wanted to know, and Chat watched as Ladybug’s mouth opened angrily, as if she was adamant that Pavone have no part in this haphazard plan to save the city…all because she found out today that Felix was Pavone all along.

Chat placed a hand on her shoulder, and Ladybug glanced over at him, rebellion in her gaze. Chat countered it with a soft look, giving her shoulder a squeeze. He knew she had issues with Felix, but considering they really were up a creek without a paddle right now…

“We owe him our lives, My Lady,” he reminded her gently. Ladybug’s jaw locked stubbornly, as if she was about to spit that she didn’t give a damn and that Pavone was not invited to help them save Paris—

“Pavone is a strong and just hero,” Master Fu spoke up in his quavering voice, and Ladybug’s gaze switched to him. “You would do well to accept his help, Ladybug.”

Rather than convincing her, however, this just made Ladybug scowl more…until she met Chat’s eyes again.

“…Are you okay with this?” She wanted to know, surprising him. He blinked at her, wondering why it was suddenly so important for him to be okay with Pavone helping them. Perhaps because she had just learned that he was Adrien’s cousin? And yeah, sure, he was still reeling from that revelation, too—from two revelations now, actually, but didn’t they have more important things to worry about…?

“Any and all help is good,” Chat replied, curious again as Ladybug searched his expression, almost as if she expected that he was just saying what he thought Pavone wanted to hear. But he must have looked sincere enough to satisfy her, for she looked away, taking a deep breath.

“Then you and Camille will both guard City Hall,” Ladybug said stiffly, and Chat patted her shoulder, proud. After all, he knew what his Lady’s temper was like: agreeing to work with someone she clearly did not like could not have been easy.

“Be careful!” Camille wished them, hugging Ladybug, and holding out her hand for Chat to shake, just as she had the first time they’d said goodbye. Though he didn't understand why he didn't get a hug now either, he didn’t complain, giving her hand a slight squeeze.

“Take care,” he wished fervently, because if he was right, and he knew who was under that mask, he didn’t want any harm coming to her whatsoever.

Camille, whether or not she knew fully what he was feeling, still seemed to understand; she smiled, her nose wrinkling.

“Do not worry. I am tougher than I look!” She assured him, flexing for emphasis before she let go of his hand, turning to go. “Pavone, andiamo!

Si, si,” Pavone replied in a practiced tone, as if he was used to being urged to follow after Camille. He tipped his hat to Bridgette as he passed, and Chat was pretty sure that she almost swooned. He bit back his amusement by reminding himself that he and Ladybug had work to do still.

“Then we’re off to Agreste Manor,” Ladybug insisted, moving to open the window behind the mayor’s desk. “Master Fu, thanks again for everything. You too, Bridgette.”

“Oh…yeah, sure,” Bridgette replied, and Chat smirked, thinking that this was probably the first time he had ever seen her so flustered. It was cute.

“Good luck, you two,” Master Fu wished them. Chat couldn’t help the wry look he sent the old man’s way as he joined Ladybug on the windowsill, his arms sliding around her.

“Good luck isn’t really a thing I have an abundance of,” he reminded Master Fu, who smiled.

“Perhaps.” He paused, stroking his beard. “But I was never one to believe in old superstitions.”

Chat watched as he waved goodbye, and he had barely enough time to return the gesture before Ladybug was swinging away, to follow this hunch she had about their enemy. As they flew through the air, and Chat got a good look at all the destruction, he prayed that she was right.

Agreste Manor was the last place he ever wanted to return to…but if it meant taking down Shade once and for all, then Chat would face the demons of his past once again in combat.

And this time, he would be unquestionably victorious.



“All right nerds, if we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do it right, so grab as much goo as you can carry,” Alix directed the remaining members of AVA, her eyes scanning the hideout, nose wrinkling as she took in the sight of their rebel flyers removed or painted over, replaced with what looked to be a peaceful slogan, and some sort of website to learn “more information”. Ugh.

As Alix placed a hand on the wall next to her, the redhead with them—Amanda, Alix thought her name was—paused, peering at her in some concern.

“Are…you all right?”

Alix shrugged, attempting to look careless.

“Just a little woozy. Being unconscious and doped up on an IV for a month isn’t exactly the funnest experience. I’m fine,” she added in a firmer tone when more of the AVA members paused to shoot her anxious glances. “Just grab the goo. There’s no way we’re missing this fight.”

“You sound like this is fun for you,” the Viner—Antoine—grumbled as be began to stuff his satchel full of their patented goo creation.

“Like I said, I’ve been asleep for a month. I’ll take whatever fun I can get.”

One of the members handed a full duffel bag off to her, and Alix shouldered it, smirking as she tossed one of the goo balls a couple times. Ah, it had been way too long…


Alix sighed, giving Amanda a dry look.

“Alix,” she corrected. “That bit got old a long time ago, didn’t it?”

Amanda flushed, hesitantly pushing her hair from her face.

“Alix…can we…actually do this?”

“Scared?” Alix challenged, smirking…until she saw the other AVA members exchange glances. Right…this was something entirely new to them, wasn’t it? They weren’t fighting bigoted citizens of Paris anymore—there were honest-to-god akumatized victims out there, being forced to bend to the will of some crazy bitch on a power trip. They had never had to deal with a threat this big before…

But even so…

“Look, I’m not gonna lie to you,” Alix said to the half-dozen AVA members still with her—where the hell was Kim? Alix wished he was here, though she would never admit it out loud—“things are crazy. We’ve never had to deal with this caliber of bullshit before…”

Alix clenched her free hand into a fist.

“But that’s exactly why we can’t just sit down and let Ladybug and her crew take the brunt of this. This is our city too, and some of our comrades are out there again, made into ‘monsters’, thanks to the Butterfly.  We owe it to them to do anything we can to get them outta this…and we owe it to ourselves.”

Alix looked up from her fist, meeting the eyes of her remaining rebel group.

“And while that sounds nice and all…this is dangerous. Truth be told, I’d rather not end up on a hospital bed for another month…but even so, I’m gonna go out there and do what I can. But I won’t hold you guys to the same standards. If this is too much for you—and you’re lying or crazy if you don’t think it is—now’s the time to bow out. I won’t judge, promise.”

Alix waited, but no one moved past her to walk away. Not one of them.

This brought a full-blown grin to her face.

“All right, then what the hell are we waiting for? They want a fight, so we’re gonna fuckin’ give ‘em a fight! Let’s go!”

The remaining members answered her war cry enthusiastically, and Alix stepped aside to let them rush out first. Normally, she liked to be in the thick of things, but considering her condition…

There was a brief touch to her arm, and Alix glanced over, surprised to find Amanda was still with her. Alix raised her eyebrows, and Amanda gave her a hesitant smile.

“I’m sticking with you,” she said as they left the hideout. “My aim’s not exactly perfect, but I’ve been told I’m pretty good support when someone needs it.”

Ah. She was still worried about Alix. This made her want to scoff, but honestly? It was kind of sweet.

“Well I’ll watch your back if you watch mine, Red,” Alix said, raising a fist for Amanda to bump. She did so, a little clumsily, but they’d work on that later…once they got out of this mess.

As they dashed from the alley way to rush head-first into danger, Alix thought of Ladybug, and her question from before:

“But in agreeing to help us, you’re agreeing to help us. Chat Noir included, you know. …Are you okay with that?”

Alix frowned. Honestly? She wasn’t sure how to feel about the cat man right now. A part of her, the part that still burned with injustice, didn’t think that she would ever be able to forgive Chat Noir for betraying them. But, then again, a month out of commission was a long time to mellow out…and maybe, just maybe, Alix was just being stubborn. After all, the cat man had been on the straight and narrow since returning to Ladybug’s side, and Alix wasn’t stupid: she saw the way he looked at Ladybug. Perhaps his obvious feelings were enough to keep him out of trouble from now on…

Alix scoffed at herself. The goddamn mayor must’ve knocked something loose when he clocked her. She was going soft.

Oh well. Like she’d said before: they had more important things to worry about right now.



“Hya!” Camille cried, cracking her whip at the feet of an akuma that dared to stray too close. “Shoo, shoo!”

There was a sharp, predatory cry, and Pavone swooped in, raising his hang-glider in a threatening manner. The akuma hissed and fled, and Camille let out a sigh of relief. Thankfully, they weren’t too busy defending City Hall—Vixen’s clones were keeping many of the rampaging akumas busy, and the ones that did reach City Hall were promptly scared off by her and Pavone. This situation did not involve her as thoroughly as it would back in Italy, but still, she was happy to help, and to be reunited with her new friends…not to mention old ones…

Camille glanced over at Pavone, taking in the little changes as well as the big ones, like how much taller he had gotten. And though she never saw him laugh, he used to smile a lot more…but his frown lines were more prominent now, his face more drawn, pinched, like he had forgotten how to enjoy life. When had he lost his joy?

“…Pavone,” Camille said softly, switching to Italian, just in case. “Do…you know who I am?”

She watched Pavone blink. He didn’t look over at her.

“Why do you ask?”

Camille shuffled her feet, feeling uncertain. Was there any basis for the way she was feeling? She couldn’t be sure…but still, if she never asked, it would only gnaw at her and make her wish she had when the opportunity had presented itself…

“I feel like…” Goodness, she was speaking in her native tongue, and yet she was still unsure of how to phrase this. Feeling herself frown a little, she turned to Pavone, resting the hand that held her whip on her hip. “…it seems like you hold all the cards here. Like, you know everything.”

Pavone glanced up at the sky, tilting his head a little, as if he could see beyond the akuma swarm, into the cosmos above, as if the future was transcribed there, and he was just the messenger.

“…I don’t know everything,” he corrected, glancing down at Camille, his eyes widening slightly. “Just most everything.”

Camille giggled, unable to help herself. Maybe he hadn’t changed as much as she thought.

“As I thought,” she teased, bumping her hip against his. “You’re very sly for a peacock, you know. Perhaps you and Vixen should trade Miraculous? I know it bothers you to be so flashy all the time.”

Pavone shrugged.

“It’s a living. Helps that I don’t get paid much attention to with Team Miraculous running around.”

Ah, right. They were a team of four now, with the fox lady named Vixen that Camille hadn’t been properly introduced to. Ah well, they could exchange formalities later…provided they all got out of this mess unscathed first…

“…Pavone? May I ask you why you came to Paris?”

There was silence as Pavone looked away, into the distance, his cool blue gaze surveying the area for trouble. Camille merely watched him, taking him in again, as if she was getting to know a stranger rather than an ex-partner. It was so strange how familiar he still felt, despite the fact that they hadn’t worked together in years, not since she had left for America to study, and not since he had gone to France for whatever reason…

When he didn’t answer right away, Camille took a deep breath, gathering her courage as she stepped closer.

“Will you tell me? Please?”

Slowly, Pavone’s gaze shifted to her, almost sizing her up. Camille held her breath, waiting.

“…I wanted to help Adrien,” he admitted in a low voice, as if his reason was shameful. Camille blinked; this was not the answer she was expecting.

Huh…so he did know who she was…

“…You and Adrien don’t get along, I thought,” she said softly, reacting automatically to the quiet of the moment. At this, the corner of Pavone’s mouth twitched, and his expression grew wry.

“We don’t. And it’s my fault.” He let out a short breath, the corner of his mouth reversing direction, pulling down. “But still. I had to try.”

Camille bit her lip.

“Adrien doesn’t understand you,” she said, the words a quiet lament. Oh, if only these two stubborn men would just talk to each other…they were family, weren’t they? Why couldn’t they just work it out?

Pavone shrugged.

“It’s fine. He doesn’t have to understand me. I’m not here to be understood.” He straightened up, his frown becoming more pronounced. “But I had a hand in breaking his heart. I…regret that. So, if I can, I will do what I must to help him. That is why I’m here. To help.”

Camille frowned.

“But…you left for Paris before he did, right?”

“Yes, but I knew he’d return, one day. I had to be ready.”

“Does Adrien know all of this?”

Pavone closed his eyes.

“He doesn’t have to.”

“But if you would just explain—”

“Erika,” Pavone interrupted, and Camille snapped to attention, startled at the use of her civilian name. Pavone slowly opened his eyes, glancing over at her, the smallest of smiles tugging at the corner of his lips…though his eyes were unbearably lonely. “You’re a very sweet woman, and it was my privilege to work with you in Italy. Thank you for worrying about me.”

Camille sighed softly, returning the bittersweet smile. He didn’t want to talk about it. All right, then Camille would leave him alone. But she hoped, with all her might, that Pavone would be able to find the happiness he was working so hard to make sure Adrien achieved, one day.

In fact…

“So,” Camille began casually, her smile growing as she peered up into Pavone’s face. “The beautiful deputy mayor, eh?”

She was delighted when Pavone promptly flushed red and pointedly looked away.

“That’s…another story,” he grumbled gruffly. Camille grinned, waving her hand through the air.

“Then tell it, Pavone! We have all the time in the world right now! Go on, sing me a song of your love!”

“I take it back—you should’ve stayed in Italy.”

Camille laughed.



One thing was for sure: Emerald Shell was definitely getting the workout of his life as he and Vixen dodged and deflected and flipped and hopped their way around akumas. It wasn’t easy, but it kept them on their toes, covering each other’s weak spots when needed.

And, of course, the clones helped.

“This is bizarre,” he commented as he stood back to back with Vixen, fending off a particularly vicious akuma wielding a spiked bat with his shield. “I just watched myself double-team an akuma over there while I’m fighting over here.

“Phrasing,” Vixen snickered, whirling to trade places with him as Shell unbalanced the bat-swinging akuma—a few swift jabs later, and the akuma was down, dozing for the moment. “Still, it is handy to have clones.”

“Too bad they disappear as soon as you touch them,” Shell reflected with a frown, tossing a lighter akuma over his shoulder when it lunged at him. “It’s…kinda freaky, how similar your powers are to Shade’s.”

“Yeah, but please note that I’m using my powers for good.

“I’m aware, babe,” Shell said, turning to smile at his fiancée, but the gesture was interrupted as a charging akuma came at them. “Watch it—”

“I got this. Look, watch—roundhouse!” Vixen cried, going into a spin, her leg poised to kick. Shell really wished she would stop having so much obvious fun, since literally anything could go wrong here, but he didn’t have time to warn her when another akuma was speeding their way. He warded it off with his shield, sighing under his breath. He really, really hoped that Ladybug and Chat Noir found Shade soon, because this was getting ridiculous—


Shell froze. What was—

Vixen screamed. Shell whirled around, his mind rapidly processed one thing:

Vixen’s leg in the akuma’s grasp, her foot twisted the wrong way.

Shell saw red. Before he knew it, he was charging forward, bashing his shield into the akuma. It jerked back, dazed, and Shell delivered a swift kick to its chest to send it toppling over, collapsing into the Seine. Its head broke the surface, sputtering and snarling, but it was rendered ineffectual for now. Breathing hard, Shell whirled around and crouched down next to his fiancée, who was clutching her ankle, her foot hanging at an awkward angle. Her breathing was shallow, and tears were gathering in the corners of her eyes, the sight piercing Shell.

“Oh god. Babe, hang on, I’m gonna take you to the hospital—”

“Look out!” Vixen suddenly cried; she flung her flute past Shell, thwacking an approaching akuma square in the face. As it cried out in outrage, grumpily rubbing its forehead, Shell yanked his shield over, raising it over them.

“Force Field: Activate!”

His faithful shield created a barrier around them, preventing any more akumas from getting close to them. Sadly, this only seemed to irritate them; they took to banging on the force field, as if brute force would grant them entrance. Within his own mind, Shell dryly wished them luck.

“Nino,” Vixen whimpered, clutching at him, and Shell’s arms immediately went around her.

“It’s okay. They won’t be able to get in, and I can keep this shield up as long as I need to. They’ll give up sooner or later.” Shell prayed that it would be sooner—Vixen’s face was twisted in extreme pain. He really, really needed to get her to a hospital…

“My flute…” she muttered, and Shell grimaced, glancing at the instrument lying ignored upon the asphalt…outside of their protective dome. “I can’t make any more copies without it…”

“I know, but don’t worry about that now,” Shell shushed her, pushing her wild hair back from her face as the akumas continued to pound fruitlessly against the force field. “You’ve done enough. Just rest for now. I’ll get you to the hospital as soon as I can.”

“Do you think…” Vixen trailed off in a painful hiss, and Shell hated, hated, hated that there was nothing he could do for her in this moment, to make it better. All he could do was hold her hand, which she squeezed so tight that Shell almost thought that she was trying to siphon off her pain through him. How he wished he could.

“Do I think what?” He urged to keep her talking, to give her something else to focus on, other than the pain. Vixen’s jaw was clenched tight; it was a moment before she could speak again.

“Do you think…that they’ll be all right?”

Shell didn’t need to ask who Vixen meant.

“They’ve been at this a lot longer than we have,” he pointed out, doing his best to smile. “They’ll figure a way out of this. They always do.”

Vixen groaned and closed her eyes.

“Ah…sorry, Nino. I fucked up.”

“You didn’t know the akuma would break your ankle.”

“True.” Vixen grimaced, scowling at the akumas pounding on the force field. “This is so uncool…but I guess I was too excited about saving the day.”

Shell chuckled, the sound strained.

“Shit happens,” he said, his arms tightening protectively around her as he locked eyes with one of the akumas and glared, just daring them to break through, even though he knew they couldn’t. Lucky for them—Shell wasn’t exactly in a chill place right now.

“Fuck…I hope Camille and Pavone don’t have to deal with attacks just because I fucked up here—”

“We’ll worry about them later,” Shell insisted, doing his best to smile again for his injured partner. “Let’s just hope that LB and Whiskers find what they’re looking for.”

And soon—the faster this nightmare was over, the sooner Shell would be able to breathe easy again.



There it was, looming over him. Though the years had passed, and aged this place, it still stood so tall over him…casting a shadow he thought he had escaped…

But if that was true, then what did it mean that he stood here, before the rusted gates, looking up at the mansion that had become nothing more than a derelict building…and his heart trembled?


Her voice always seemed to be the thing to ground him; Chat Noir blinked, glancing over to the lady at his side…his Lady. She was peering up at him in concern, blue eyes wide and worried.

“Are you okay?”

A question so innocent should not feel so heavy, and yet, whenever someone asked it of him, there was this mysterious weight that settled over him, as if answering wrong would cost him a lot more than his pride. Why was that?

Chat didn’t bother trying to smile, or to play off the tension of the moment with a stupid joke like he usually would. He felt, just as he was sure Ladybug did, that this was now endgame—if Shade really was waiting for them inside, then the outcome of this encounter would decide Paris’ fate. If they fell here…

Chat balled his hand into a fist, his ring catching his attention. He and Ladybug had taken a break to refuel, to make sure their kwamis were up to the task of defeating Shade before they proceeded. All five paw pads were present and accounted for on his ring, so he shouldn’t have anything to worry about…and yet he couldn’t stop himself from thinking of the last time he and Ladybug had run across Shade…or what they believed to be Shade at the time…

“…Ladybug?” He spoke softly, lowering his fist to stare through the bars of the rusted gate, to the mansion beyond. “If we find Shade in there…what will we do?”

Ladybug paused, as if to absorb the question fully before she answered.

“…We take her down,” she said after a moment, and Chat glanced over to find her determined gaze fixed on the mansion as well. “We’ve let her have the run of Paris for too long. It’s time to end this.”

“By any means necessary?”

Chat expected her eyes to flash, and to berate him for saying such a thing, because of course they shouldn’t harm Shade if they could help it, because that’s not what heroes did—

Ladybug closed her eyes and took a deep breath, taking much longer than Chat was expecting to answer.

“…No,” she seemed to finally decide, turning to look up at him. Her eyes were tight. “Not if we can help it, anyway.”

He understood—despite the fact that they were superheroes, Shade was dangerous, and she had proven to be too much for them at times. He was really hoping that things wouldn’t come to this either, but…

He raised his right hand, making a fist.

“For luck,” he explained when Ladybug gave him an odd look. She smiled at that, loosing a small laugh.

“Luck. Right.” She bumped her fist against his. “Let’s hope luck is enough this time.”

“It’s always enough with you around, My Lady.”

She gave him a wink before her smile faded, her determined look returning.

“Ready to do this?”

“As ready as I’ll ever be.”

“Then let’s go.”

Chat Noir obeyed the order, raising his clawed hand.


The rusted gate fell at their feet, and they dashed forward. Chat was anticipating some sort of resistance before they reached the doors, since they weren’t exactly being stealthy, but even as Ladybug kicked those in, there was nothing. The dust that had settled in the foyer swirled around them, making them sneeze, but though there were plenty of shadows that haunted the place…nothing stirred.

Chat took a few cautious steps inside, but he saw nothing moving as he glanced around. His eyes flicked upward, toward the last family portrait that hung in the hall, the one of him and his father. It was gone now, of course, packed away in storage somewhere, because Adrien couldn’t stand to look at it, but he couldn’t bear to have it destroyed, either. Now there was just empty space, that patch of wall a little less dingy than the rest. Conflicting emotions coursed through Chat at the sight, and he turned away.

“It’s quiet,” he remarked to Ladybug when she drew level with him, her eyes darting around in much the way they did when she was trying to figure out how to use a Lucky Charm to her advantage. She nodded her agreement, though a frown was present on her face.

“Seems that way…” She turned to Chat, and he saw the stubborn set of her jaw. “I want to look around a little, though. Just in case—”

Are you looking for me?

Chat jumped back as something suddenly manifested from the shadows nearby. He threw out an arm to defend Ladybug as Shade appeared, her bright eyes narrowed.

“So you are here,” Ladybug growled, and Shade raised her hands, clapping out a mock applause.

Well done, clever Bug. I suppose your hunches were always what made you a brilliant student.

“We know this isn’t actually you,” Chat interrupted once he noticed the flash of pain cross Ladybug’s face. “Quit hiding behind your illusions!”

Shade fell silent, appearing to contemplate them for a long moment.

…Very well,” she answered, much to Chat’s surprise. He expected her shadow form to melt away right then and there, but she threw him off again by turning her back and gliding away.


Lower your voice, you snarling beast,” she shot at him, turning to eye him. “If you wish to speak to me, you need only follow.

She continued on her way, disappearing once she reached a door.

The door that led to his father’s old office.

Chat Noir swallowed, glancing over at Ladybug.

“It might be a trap,” he mumbled, because the walls probably had ears now.

Ladybug nodded her agreement, her eyes tight.

“I don’t like how willing she is to talk. Something’s up.”

“What do we do?”

Ladybug closed her eyes and folded her arms, frowning as she appeared to mull it over.

“We still need to stop her…and it isn’t like we’re defenseless,” she reasoned, opening her eyes to give Chat a firm look. “We follow…but stay on your guard.”

“Got it.”

Chat needed a moment before they entered the old office. So many memories threatened to creep up and overwhelm him, and so he took a deep breath, easing it out before he reached a clawed hand forward…and pulled open the door.

Aside from the soft glow from the lights above--likely another illusion, since Chat doubted that electricity was actually still running to this place--the office was just as he remembered it, the day Nathalie ordered everything essential to be packed up and taken away. He remembered standing there for the longest time, watching the movers leave behind things deemed inconsequential—his father’s books, the desk where he worked, old awards…and pictures. That whole day he still stood there, staring at the double doors, as if his father would waltz right in at any moment and throw a fit over his personal effects being disturbed…

But Gabriel Agreste was not here.

There was a stranger here instead, and though it had been a long time since Adrien had called this place home, seeing her here still made him feel violated, like she was tainting sacred ground.

As he stood in the doorway glaring at her back, it was Ladybug who entered and spoke, for she had always been so much bolder than him:


The woman standing before the bookshelf turned, and it was jarring not to see her surrounded by shadows.

Instead, she looked the way a proper Miraculous user ought to look—her supersuit reminded Chat of a wizard’s robe, with a high collar, square shoulders, and billowing folds surrounding her long legs, completely black, save for the collar and her sleeves, which were a steel gray. She even had a scepter to complete the look…but as Chat squinted, he realized it didn’t fit with her outfit.

In fact, if the butterfly brooch attached just under her collar was familiar for a reason, it looked more like…

Shade’s face was hidden by a steel gray mask, the points at the ends coming down over her cheeks, like a snake’s fangs. Her dark eyes, normally so full of passion, were now cold—they narrowed at them as he and Ladybug stopped in the center of the room.

“Shade, if you please,” Shade spoke in that same soft, hissing voice her illusions were prone to. “You don’t see me being disrespectful and calling you ‘Marinette’, do you?”

Ladybug did not so much as flinch, as if she was determined not to show weakness now. Chat was proud of her.

“Why are you here of all places?” Chat wanted to know, fighting the nonsensical urge to chase her away from his father’s old books. Even if none of these things had been used in years, it still rubbed him the wrong way to have their enemy touch anything that used to belong to his father.

Shade’s gaze switched to him, and he felt an involuntary shiver run down his spine.

“…I suppose I’ll tell you, since it would be inaccurate to say that it’s none of your business.” Shade shifted her grip on something, and Chat, after squinting, realized that it looked like a book of some sort. “Tell me, Chat Noir…were you aware that your father knew of your superhero double-life?”

Chat stared at her.

“…What?” He said, because surely, he must have misheard her. There was no way that his father knew what he was up to. Sure, Adrien had occasionally gotten into trouble for not being where he was supposed to be in his youth, but his father had never known the actual reason for those random disappearances…

But oh, wouldn’t it have been ironic? Hawk Moth getting upset at Chat Noir for not attending his fencing lessons and saving Paris instead…

“Don’t bother trying to trick us, Shade,” Ladybug cut in on Chat’s behalf, taking a defensive stance in front of him. “We know your specialty is lying.”

Shade smirked coldly.

“Oh, but I am not lying, Ladybug,” she said, and with her free hand, she lifted the book she had previously been cradling close to her chest. “See for yourself.”

She threw the book so that it fell open at their feet. Cautiously, because he still sensed a trap, Chat leaned over, squinting at the book in the low light of the office.

“‘Tuesday, March 7th, 8:15 P.M.—G. A. leaves his mansion, unaccompanied and unobserved from within the mansion. Assumed heading to secret hideout.’…What is this?” Chat asked sharply, lifting his gaze to glare at Shade. She slipped her hand under her chin and smirked at him, as if he was a mildly interesting television program.

“Keep reading—it gets better.”

Ladybug snatched up the journal, and Chat rose to read alongside her, his eyes flying rapidly across the page.

8:25 P.M.—An akuma appears to assault Paris. Name: ‘Ringleader.’ Gimmick: Snubbed circus performer turned Dark Side. Ability: Turning people into trick-turning animals.

8:27 P.M.—C.N. spotted leaving the mansion by roof; presumably escaped through a window.


Chat’s eyes froze on the initials, the back of his neck tingling, because he knew all too well what they meant…

Beside him, Ladybug gave a sharp gasp.

“This is…this is your father’s journal, isn’t it?”

“Very good, Ladybug. Gold star,” Shade said mockingly, and Chat’s head snapped up to stare at her, his mouth open, because surely this couldn’t mean what he thought it meant, surely he was mistaken—

“Where—where did you find this?” He croaked, his throat suddenly, inexplicably dry. Shade regarded him coldly, folding her arms around that strange scepter she still gripped.

“It belonged to my father, idiot. Where did you think I found it?”

She turned, unraveling her arms to smack the scepter into her free palm as she strolled in front of the bookshelves, so casual, as if they were merely discussing whether to go out or dine in for lunch.

“There is another version here, of course, but it’s useless—the truly important information was inked out of existence by Gabriel Agreste, but it doesn’t matter. That was merely a copy of my father’s notes, the journal he gave Hawk Moth as a show of good faith, when he named his terms.”

Shade paused, near the windows, her head tilted slightly to the side, as if she was contemplating something.

“For the longest time, I wondered why Hawk Moth would bother to trouble himself. My father was no big-name reporter—he possessed a keen eye, but what he lacked,” she laughed harshly, “was a lucky break. To his credit, he waited until he had enough substantial evidence before he came to Gabriel Agreste, but it was still so very foolish to reveal himself—it put him at the mercy of a dangerous supervillain. So I constantly wondered: why did he do it? And why would Gabriel Agreste, with all his influence and power, actually agree…?”

Shade turned on her heel, and now, her eyes were not so lifeless; rage bubbled just beyond, a fury building higher the lower her voice became.

“It took me much longer than it should have to understand, but I believe I have the answer now, despite the both of them being unable to tell us: for all their differences, your father and my father shared one single similarity: they dearly loved—and would therefore do anything for—their children.”

It felt like all the air in the room had suddenly disappeared, for all the good breathing was doing for Chat Noir right now. He wanted to cover his ears, to screw his eyes shut and turn away, run, for what he was hearing could not be true, Shade had to be lying, there was no way that all of this, all of this was

“You’re mentioned in the journal, Chat Noir. Which means that my father had figured out your secret as well. Gabriel Agreste didn’t pay for my father’s silence to protect himself. He was protecting you.”

his fault.

All his fault.

There was warmth on his cheeks. Chat opened his eyes to find that Ladybug was gripping his face, her expression fierce.

“Don’t you dare!” She snarled at him, anxiety and anger warring in her eyes. “Don’t you dare blame yourself for this! None of this is your fault!”

“Oh, but isn’t it, though?” Came Shade’s voice from behind Chat, coldly amused. “Who’s to say that Gabriel Agreste didn’t become Hawk Moth for the good of his son as well?”

“Shut up!” Ladybug spat, side-stepping Chat to glare at Shade. “I’m sick of you! Taking all of this out on Chat Noir—it’s not like he murdered your father!! Maybe he should’ve minded his own business!!”

Chat turned in time to see Shade’s smirk vanish. The tension in the room amped up a few notches as she and Ladybug had a staring contest, neither of them appearing to back down for a long minute…and then…

“…You know,” Shade began, tilting her head to the side in that unnatural, frightening way, “the funny thing is…I agree.” She slowly turned to stare out the window again, where chaos still reigned, even though they were isolated from it inside. “If my father had left well enough alone…maybe he’d still be alive.”

Chat watched, his fingers flexing, as Shade lifted the scepter, stroking the sphere on top.

“He was a foolish man, you see. He’d been beaten down too many times by the world, and my mother had had enough of him and his ‘idle dreaming’, because it didn't help to put food on the table. On the verge of divorce, he came to Paris, looking for a scoop of the superhero action to report on, and quickly grew frustrated when his reports were continuously turned away. The discovery of Hawk Moth’s secret was nothing more than dumb luck, and he intended to use it to his full advantage…but his heart bled a little too freely, you see. He saw the damage Hawk Moth caused, and came to the same conclusion as others did—in exchange for his silence, he was made an accomplice.”

Chat noticed the way Shade’s grip on the scepter tightened.

“…I was too young to see my father slumped over the desk in that damn hotel room, alone and refusing to wake up no matter what I did. He was courteous enough to leave behind a suicide note…but it was little comfort. And oh, as soon as the vultures you call reporters here discovered that doctored set of notes here…”

There was a sudden explosion of darkness from Shade; Chat cried out in surprise, shielding Ladybug, but the dark beams just passed by them, harmless. Like they were the result of a tantrum rather than meaning actual harm. Chat glanced over his shoulder to find Shade glaring at the pair of them, her chest heaving, her eyes wide and livid behind her mask.

“They blamed him,” she spat, casting shadows off her tongue as well, as if her anger was making her lose control of her powers. “‘What a terrible person’, they said, choosing money over decency, as if it would be so easy to betray the most powerful man in Paris. They rejoiced in his death just as much as they rejoiced in Hawk Moth’s death, all too happy to have him share in the blame, to accuse him of being human.

Suddenly, she slammed the scepter into the bookshelf beside her with such force that it shook ominously. The sphere atop the scepter remained undamaged, and no books cascaded to the floor, but the show of force was still worrying enough that Chat kept his guard in front of Ladybug, warily watching as Shade gripped the scepter tightly once again.

“Paris and the Agrestes ruined my father’s life. I have waited years to put this plan into the motion, the minute I stole the Butterfly Miraculous. Now I will stop at nothing to ruin Paris…”

Her gaze flicked up, focusing only Chat—no, Adrien—with cold fury.

“…and the Agrestes,” she finished.

Chat felt Ladybug’s hands grip his wrists. He looked down at her, and she was looking up at him, gesturing with her eyes for him to move aside. The look on her face wasn’t scary, but still firm enough that he felt himself obey automatically, though he looked on with apprehension as she took a few more steps forward, her shoulders squared as she faced Shade. Chat didn’t need to see her face to know how determined she must look as she said,

“…I’m sorry, Desiree. I’m sorry that you lost your father that way, and I’m sorry Paris was so callous about it. I won’t make excuses for our behavior, because I know you probably won’t want to hear them. But I can’t—I can’t let you do this. This won’t make you happy, Desiree. Even if you achieve your revenge…you won’t be happy. You’ll just be hollow.”

Shade sucked her teeth.

“What a heroic thing to say. It almost makes me sick. Tell me, Marinette—what do you know of what would make me happy?”

“Amanda,” Ladybug said quietly, and Chat was startled to see Shade flinch. “You can’t tell me she didn’t mean anything to you. I saw how you two were together. Is all of this really worth it? Would you be happy to know that she was hurt during your rampage through the city?”

Shade looked away, but her grip on the scepter grew tighter still.

“…I told Amanda to leave,” she said in a low voice that suggested the barest hint of vulnerability. “I told her it wasn’t safe. She's been under my influence all this time, whether she knows it or not, so there is no way she wouldn't heed me. She can’t still be here. She can’t be.”


Ladybug took a step forward, probably believing that she might be getting through to Shade, but she was mistaken—Shade jumped back with a furious hiss, as if it offended her for Ladybug to stray so close.

“I’ve already decided,” she hissed, glaring fiercely. “I won’t be swayed. Paris will pay, and if you interfere, then it’s on your own heads. In fact—” she bared her teeth at Chat, “feel free to pursue me. It’ll only mean me killing two birds with one stone.”

“Desiree!” Ladybug cried, but the name fell on deaf ears as Shade shattered the window behind her, leaping out and up. Chat and Ladybug ran to the destroyed window in time to see her leap over the wall, disappearing from sight. Chat swore, clearing broken glass from the sill before he jumped up onto it.

“We have to go after her,” he growled, the muscles in his legs bunching, ready to spring—

“Chat, wait.”

A hand on his shoulder stayed him, and he turned to look at Ladybug, who was regarding him in concern again.

“Are you okay?”

Déjà vu.

For a moment, Chat allowed himself to search his feelings. The shock of discovering that both his father and some stranger had ferreted out his secret…the tumultuous confusion that came with hearing the assumption that his father had been paying to protect his identity…the ever-present anger that Gabriel Agreste had even left him in this mess with absolutely no explanation other than his nonsensical dying words…and just…sadness. So much aching sadness…

Chat Noir took a deep breath…and shook his head.

“No,” he answered, blinking back the emotions that pushed at his eyes. “No, I’m not okay. But we’ll deal with that later—we can’t let Shade get away.”

Ladybug bit her lip, looking like she wanted to protest…but after a second, she seemed to realize the greater priority in this moment, for she sighed and nodded, climbing up onto the sill with him and sending out her yo-yo.

“You’re right…let’s go, then.”

“We’ll talk later,” Chat promised, the irony of the situation causing a wry grin to spread across his face. Ladybug caught his look and returned the gesture helplessly. After all, a superhero’s work never seemed to be done, did it?

“Later,” she agreed.



Her breath was ragged, muscles straining, crying out for relief. Her transformation wouldn’t wear off anytime soon, but she was still feeling the strain.

But Ladybug refused to falter. She couldn’t afford to. Not when they were here, so close, on Shade’s trail, on the verge of finally stopping her madness, once and for all—


She heeded the warning, and was saved the trouble of falling down into an alley—her eyes were glued to Shade’s back, and so she hadn’t noticed that she was about to run out of building. Good thing she had a second pair of eyes around.

“Thanks, Chat,” she called to him, smiling as he sent her a wink.

“No problem, My Lady…you wanna try a Lucky Charm here?”

“Only if we run out of options…you can’t run forever, Shade!” Ladybug cried after their target, who was a whole rooftop ahead of them, surprisingly agile in that cumbersome robe she was wearing. As if she had to concede to Ladybug’s point, she suddenly stopped, whipping around to face them with a wicked grin.

“You’re right,” she agreed, and Ladybug’s stomach suddenly plunged as she watched Shade twist the ring on her finger. “How about instead of just a game of Tag, we make it more interesting?”

“Don’t—!” Ladybug tried to protest, but it was too late—throwing out her arms, Shade summoned several different copies of herself, each of them shadow clones. For a second, this confused Ladybug. After all, it was too easy to tell which Shade was the real one like this—

But then the original Shade immersed herself in shadow as well, and she and the four clones spun around them so quickly that Ladybug quickly lost track of the real one, groaning in despair when the five shadows darted off in different directions. Chat cursed under his breath, his head snapping this way and that in an attempt to keep track of all of them.

“Shit…should we split up and try and take them down individually?”

A terrifyingly vivid image of Chat Noir being strangled to death by a giant snake invaded Ladybug’s vision, and she swiftly shook her head.


“Then…” Chat glanced over at her questioningly. “Lucky Charm time?”

Ladybug took a breath. This would only make her transformation wear out faster…but if they got something that would actually help them in this situation…

Realizing that she didn’t have much of a choice, Ladybug tossed her yo-yo into the air.

“Lucky Charm!”

Please be something good, please be something good, please—

Her prayers to the powers that be were answered—from out of the charm popped a red and black-spotted flashlight.

“Yes!” Ladybug cried, lifting it in celebration.

“Hope it doesn’t need batteries,” Chat grumbled, but he appeared relieved as soon as Ladybug flicked the switch, and the flashlight turned on without any trouble.

“Awesome,” Ladybug cheered before turning to glare at the fleeing visions of Shade. “We’re gonna have to get close enough to be able to tell, though…”

“Leave it to me,” Chat assured her, squeezing her shoulder before he took off after the nearest vision, vaulting over rooftops with his pole. Ladybug followed him, staying close as he pursued their enemy. He dropped down and made a ridiculous yowling noise when he landed in front of the Shade vision, who grew startled and hissed at him, and Ladybug’s heart jumped into her throat. Surely an illusion couldn’t be that convincingly human, right…?

“Hey, Shade!” She cried, dropping down behind her. Shade whirled around in time for Ladybug to flash the light directly in her face—

She shrieked…and then vanished.

Damn it!” Ladybug growled.

“Don’t give up!” Chat called as he started running again, already chasing after a new target. “We still have four more to go!”

“Well who’s to say she won’t just keep trying the same trick over and over again?” Ladybug asked as she took to the air beside him. Chat’s response was interrupted by the beeping of his Miraculous, followed by hers not a second later. They both glanced at each other’s Miraculous, and then at each other’s faces.

“…Let’s cross that bridge when we get to it,” Chat decided grimly, and Ladybug silently vowed to move as fast as she could while following him. They were always on a time limit, but today, it was more crucial than ever that they beat the clock.

Every clone of Shade they faced off against grew fiercer than the last. The second time, it was not so easy to sneak up on it: as if it sensed that they were there, it whirled on them and morphed into that giant snake form Ladybug hated, hissing and snapping at them so that they had to be constantly on the move in order for it not to catch them. It somehow got the drop on Ladybug, landing its full weight on her and nearly crushing her before Chat body-slammed into it. However, this illusion took a lot longer to dissolve than the others, so Ladybug had to toss her flashlight to Chat to break free from under it.

The third was worse—it melted into the shadows on the roof of the building, so that Ladybug and Chat Noir had to remain back to back so they wouldn’t be snuck up on. It was too close a call—Ladybug only just noticed it flying out of the shadows, fangs exposed, ready to attack her at the last minute. It got a full flash of light in the face, and was no more, but Ladybug’s heart continued to race as they moved on to their next target, spurred on by the second chirp of her Miraculous.

The fourth picked up a new trick—any time they tried to get near enough to get it with the flashlight, it screamed that same blood-curling scream the akumas used to use when Chat Noir and Ladybug had gotten too aggressive with one of the akumatized victims. The scream was disorienting, and it took Ladybug and Chat Noir several tries to actually subdue that clone, and at that point, they had lost track of the fifth one, who must be Shade. As they swung around the neighborhood, searching for her, dread settled within Ladybug.

No…they couldn’t lose her again. If they did, what would happen to Paris? To its people?

If they failed here…would France even survive it…?


Ladybug’s head snapped to where Chat Noir’s clawed hand pointed, and sure enough, there she was, fleeing across a nearby roof…heading straight for City Hall. Ladybug angled her body towards Shade, not even pausing in her swing as she readied her flashlight, speeding ahead of Chat. If she could just blind Shade long enough, they’d be able to take her down and maybe wrestle her free of both Miraculous—


Shade turned, and Ladybug flashed her directly in the eyes. Shade cried out, stumbling—

Her foot caught the lip of the roof. Ladybug watched, her eyes widening, as Shade pitched backward over the edge—


Not again.

“NO!!!” Ladybug cried; unthinkingly, she released her hold on her yo-yo, disregarding everything that was not one singular thought: ‘Save Desiree.

She snatched Shade’s wrist just as her body made contact with the roof. Her weight combined with Shade’s threatened to drag her forward after Shade; she seized the lip of the roof with her free hand, but her grip on Shade slipped to the point where she was only holding her fingers, the ring Shade wore coming loose—

“No!” Ladybug shouted again when her grip on Shade was lost; she lashed out with her free hand, catching her again, even as they both dangled dangerously off the roof. Ladybug’s eyes squeezed shut with the effort of holding them both in place even as she slowly felt herself being dragged down as well, praying with all her might that Chat would reach them in time—

“What the hell are you doing?!”

Ladybug opened her eyes to retort, but was distracted by a silver mask and a purple supersuit—

She was looking at Hawk Moth.

No…wait…not Hawk Moth, but…

Shade’s ring was in Ladybug’s hand, so therefore, that transformation had come undone, but she had somehow forgotten that, in order for the akumas to be active, that the Butterfly had to be active as well.

The Butterfly glared up at her now, wiggling in her grasp, as if she wanted to kill them both.

“Let go of me, idiot!” She snapped, thrashing in Ladybug’s grip. “If you don’t, we’ll both fall to our deaths!”

“No!” Ladybug ground out, even as she felt her abdomen slide over the edge; her hips would soon follow suit, and then they would both fall… “I won’t let go!”

“Don’t be stupid!” The Butterfly mocked her, glaring up at her. “You’re about to be rid of your villain for good! Fitting, isn’t it? That I would die just like Hawk Moth? So what’s stopping you from just leaving me to my fate? Some hero you are!”

“You’re wrong!” Ladybug bothered to correct her, even if now was not the time for talking; it was like she couldn’t help it. “I don’t want to win this way! That’s not what being a hero’s about, and neither my suit, nor letting the villain die makes me a hero!”

“That’s right.”

There was a strong grip around her, and a hand joined hers, closing over Shade’s wrist. Both startled and relieved, Ladybug looked over to find Chat Noir with her, his eyes focused as he worked on slowly pulling them back up onto the roof, gritting his teeth a little.

“It’s not the suits that make us heroes,” he grunted as he pulled. “It’s our compassion—even for our enemies—that make us heroes.” He caught her gaze and managed a grin. “Right, My Lady?”

He had come so far. Ladybug could have cried, could have kissed him, could have done both…but sadly, they both had more important things to worry about.

“Right,” she agreed. And, together, once Ladybug gained her balance back, they dragged the Butterfly back over the edge, and onto the roof. As Ladybug panted from adrenaline and exertion, Chat pulled out both her Lucky Charm flashlight and her yo-yo, the two items she’d abandoned after launching herself through the air to save Desiree. Ladybug accepted the yo-yo back and quickly circled it around the Butterfly, ensuring that she wouldn’t be fleeing anywhere else…not that she was trying to. Huh…weird…

When Ladybug moved back to admire her work, she noticed the Butterfly staring at her, her expression…uncomprehending.

“…Why?” She whispered, her eyes dull once again as she stared at Ladybug, as if her fury was the only thing keeping her alive. “Why couldn’t you just let me die…?”

“…” It was ridiculous that Ladybug almost wanted to apologize in this moment. Once upon a time, Desiree was her friend, and even now, it still hurt to see her looking so miserable…

But those days were over now. It no longer mattered what Desiree wanted.

All Ladybug could do…was her job.

She leaned over, keeping Desiree’s gaze for one long moment…and then she pulled the Butterfly Miraculous from her chest. Instantly, the transformation broke…and Desiree was herself again. What was left of her, in any case.

“This isn’t yours,” she said quietly. Somehow, Desiree managed to pull her lips into a smile, though it was obvious her heart wasn’t in it.

“I always knew you’d do great things.” Her smile grew sad. “I told you so.”

“She was always great,” Chat cut in, resting a hand on Ladybug’s shoulder. “You’re not telling her anything new.” Ladybug turned to him, and he handed over her flashlight, smiling. “Ready to put the world back the way it was?”

The city had grown quiet, the cries of akuma absent. The swarm that had been blocking the sun was dissipating, as if the akumas were reluctant to go. Determined to speed their progress along, Ladybug tossed the flashlight up into the air.

“Miraculous Ladybug!”

The magical ladybugs careened around the city, fixing any and all damage caused by the akumas in the last twenty-four hours. Ladybug watched their progress for a while, a huge sense of relief washing over her before another noise caught her attention—babble. People were beginning to gather outside of City Hall, emerging from cars, nearby buildings and City Hall itself, watching the progress of the ladybugs as they healed Paris. Once they replaced the top of the Eiffel Tower, Ladybug was satisfied. Chat grinned in response to her smile, moving to the edge of the roof and extending his pole.

“Ready to be adored by your fans for saving the day once again?” He joked, climbing onto the pole and extending a hand for Ladybug to take. She snorted at him, glancing over her shoulder at a despondent Desiree before she turned back to him, placing the Butterfly Miraculous in his outstretched hand. (The Snake Miraculous she held onto for now, because she wasn’t quite sure what to do with it…she would ask Master Fu another time.)

“Make sure to hold onto it this time,” she said dryly, and Chat Noir cringed.

“I’ll do my best.”

Slinging Desiree over her shoulder, Ladybug held tight to Chat Noir as he slipped an arm around her.

“Going down,” he joked, and his pole lowered them to the ground, their feet making contact with the pavement just as the police arrived.

“Here,” Ladybug said, unwinding her yo-yo from Desiree and turning her over, into their custody. “You all can finally rest easy—the Butterfly’s finally been caught.”

“That butterfly’s a bit bigger than the ones you’re used to saying goodbye to, though,” Chat muttered in her ear, and Ladybug playfully elbowed him in the gut with a smirk and an indulgent roll of her eyes.

As she watched the police put Desiree in the back of one of the police vehicles, there was a sharp gasp somewhere nearby. Ladybug turned, and her heart sank as she recognized Amanda, her hands covering her mouth as her eyes welled with tears. Glancing back at the car, Ladybug noticed Desiree stare at Amanda for a long moment…before she turned away, her curtain of dark hair hiding her face from view.

Oh…why couldn’t Desiree have lived her life trying to make herself happy instead of being consumed by revenge? Her story could have turned out so differently…

“Whoo-hoo! I knew you could do it, Lady Luck!”

Distracted from this particular tragedy, Ladybug turned, smiling in relief once she spotted Vixen and Emerald Shell touching down near them, Vixen barreling past the police barricade that was being set up around them to keep the citizens from getting too close. She headed right for Ladybug, pulling her into a crushing hug that Ladybug returned two-fold.

“I’m so glad you’re all right,” Ladybug sighed, pulling back to grin at her best friend. Vixen made a face, scratching the side of her head.

“I’ll admit, things got a little hectic for a while, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. Shush,” she added to Emerald Shell, who was passing by and giving her a paticular look that Ladybug didn’t understand. Whatever the issue was, he seemed to let it drop, shrugging as he pulled Chat Noir in for a hug of his own.

“Good to see you in one piece, dude.”

“Same.” Ladybug watched as Chat seemed to remember something; he stepped back, holding out his hand. “So…this is for you.”

“Whoa,” Shell muttered, carefully handling the Butterfly Miraculous as if it were a precious treasure. “So this is the thing that’s been causing us so much trouble?”

There was an abrupt flash, and quite suddenly, a kwami that Ladybug had never seen before appeared…but it could only be the kwami of the Butterfly Miraculous. Nooroo.

“I’m…so sorry…” the tiny creature apologized, looking more haggard than any kwami Ladybug had ever seen before; pity washed through her at the sight of its exhaustion. “I didn’t mean…I never meant…”

“Whoa, dude, shhh,” Shell hushed it, looking concerned as he carefully stroked the head of the pitiable creature. “I wasn’t blaming you directly—I know you probably wouldn’t have had anything to do with all this if you had a choice. Just…rest for now, okay? It won’t be for a long while, but I guarantee that the next time you get a Chosen, it’ll be the gentlest person imaginable. Okay?”

Ladybug felt her heart ache at the way Nooroo closed its eyes, as if relieved that it was being allowed to do something as simple as sleep.

“…Thank you…”

Nooroo sparkled with a violet light…and then faded away into nothing. Ladybug looked away, unable to help how responsible she felt. If only she had made sure to get the Butterfly Miraculous back to Master Fu the first time…

“…There’s another Miraculous you have to look after too, Shell…”

Ladybug’s head snapped up in time to watch Chat Noir reach for his ring, as if he meant to remove it.

“No!” She cried, moving around Vixen to jump in between Emerald Shell and Chat Noir. “Chat, you can’t—”

“I promised, Ladybug,” Chat reminded her with a sad smile. “You were there at the press conference, remember?”

Ladybug opened her mouth to argue—because he couldn’t quit, not after everything they had been through! Who cared what Paris thought?! She wanted to keep her partner!

“All right,” Shell said behind her, and Ladybug whipped around to give him a look of betrayal. He refused to look at her, however, and instead, reached over her head—damn both of their heights!—to take Chat Noir…by the shoulder. “Let’s figure out where you stand, then.”

Chat blinked, clearly uncomprehending.


“Come on,” Shell urged, tugging Chat after him, towards the police barricade. They allowed them through and Shell led Chat up the stairs of the City Hall. Ladybug made to follow them, to stop this, but Vixen grabbed her.

“Hold up,” she bade Ladybug when she shot her a look that accused her, too, of being a traitor. She frowned after them as Shell waved for quiet. “Trust my boy for a second…”

“Citizens of Paris!” Shell called to the crowd as Ladybug stood there, grinding her teeth while shackled to Vixen, “the time has come to decide! A while ago, Chat Noir made you a promise—that if he could not prove to be the hero you needed, he would surrender his Miraculous. Well, now we’re here: the villain’s been defeated, and almost all of you have either seen with your own eyes, or heard through the grapevine, what Chat Noir has done for this city!”

Shell paused, looking over the crowd.

“Who here will stand with him?”

Ladybug watched, not breathing, as the crowd stirred, the citizens muttering amongst themselves. Chat lowered his gaze to the ground, and Ladybug ached, wishing to fill that empty space next to him, even though it wasn’t her place. But this wasn’t fair! If no one would defend him, then—!

“I will.”

Chat’s head snapped up at the same time Ladybug gasped, and she clutched at Vixen’s arm when one very tall, broad figure strode forward, and though his back was to Ladybug, he was instantly recognizable—


Ladybug was quite sure that he should’ve been off on his honeymoon by now…but she was so, so glad he was here instead.

Emerald Shell grinned.

“You will?”

“Sure,” Ivan confirmed, and he climbed the stairs easily, clapping a large hand on Chat Noir’s shoulder. “I know how hard he’s been working. He deserves to stay.”

Chat gave Ivan a look so grateful that it seemed to make the gentle giant blush; he cleared his throat, his smile a bit embarrassed.

“Me, too,” said another voice, and this time it was Myléne, stepping forward. “I…kind of owe you an apology. So the least I can do to start is to stand with you now.”

That seemed to be enough to encourage the others to step forward, first one by one, and then in groups, and then in droves. Ladybug grinned through her tears, watching as the citizens of Paris finally accepted Chat Noir again, her relief so strong it threatened to swallow her whole. Sure, there were some that remained stubborn—Alix in particular turned her back and folded her arms, but Ladybug could see from here that she looked a little uncomfortable, as if her heart wasn’t in this rejection of Chat’s redemption. But still, it was easy to forget the others in light of so many that willingly went to him, Camille eagerly hugging him in joy when she was close enough. Pavone kept his distance, which Ladybug was glad for—she was still very irritated with him—but all the love and support surrounding her boyfriend was overwhelming, and she cried for him.

Vixen rubbed at her wet cheeks, giving her that indulgent, mothering look she was so adept at.

“Oh, hun,” she laughed in a “you’re hopeless” fashion. “If I had a euro for every tear you’ve shed over that boy…”

“These are happy tears,” Ladybug insisted, quickly drying her face before anyone saw. Vixen grinned and shrugged.

“If you say so. Now you can go over there.”

Not needing another prompt, Ladybug swung her way over, dropping into the circle that surrounded Chat Noir.

“Ladybug!” Chat crowed, so pleased to see her, as if it had been years. He slipped his arms around her, grinning so wide that it sort of looked like it hurt. “They like me, they really like me!”

Ladybug giggled, her hands resting on his shoulders. Her Miraculous chirped, signaling that she—and probably Chat—should really get somewhere safe to de-transform, but at the moment, she didn’t care. They had time. And they had each other.

“They may like you, chaton,” she said, lowering her voice, for these words were for Chat’s ears only. “But I love you.”

Chat’s gaze softened, as did his grin.

“And I, you, My Lady.”

He leaned in, closing the distance between them for a kiss so sweet that Ladybug found herself tearing up again, and pulling him closer. Finally, the nightmare was over, and they were free to do…well, whatever they wanted.

The crowd cheered, someone yelled something about their ship finally sailing, and Vixen could be distinctly heard, crying, “Get a room!”

Ladybug ignored her, as well as the rest of the crowd, as if they weren’t even there.

All that mattered to her right now was Chat Noir, this kiss, and the feeling of being totally, completely, and deliriously happy.

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

Part 36 of 37

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