Continuing Tales

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

Part 5 of 37

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There was another thing Marinette wished she could have outgrown, aside from her pigtails—her damn near-crippling klutziness. Becoming Ladybug might have increased her luck, but it could only do so much for Marinette’s coordination, as proven when she tried to quietly slip into her track pants and ended up tripping on the hems and falling with a loud crash, which roused her sleeping kwami—something Marinette had been trying to avoid.

“Mm…Marinette?” Tikki inquired, rubbing sleep from her indigo eyes. “What are you doing? It’s six in the morning.”

“Sorry, Tikki,” Marinette apologized with a cringe. She carefully wiggled into her track pants this time, with more success. “I was just gonna go for a run.”

“Really?” Marinette would be more insulted by Tikki’s incredulous tone if her overwhelming track record of not being a morning person didn’t speak so loudly against her. “But…didn’t you go to bed late last night?”

Marinette cringed. Indeed, she went to bed at three last night—in a fit of pique, in fact, after her creativity refused to flow properly and give her some good ideas for her spring line. As a result, the floor around her workspace was littered with crumpled up sheets of paper…and Marinette was more than willing to let the failed creations take responsibility for her stumbling this morning.

“Yes,” she admitted with a sigh to Tikki, her body’s groan of exhaustion echoing the truth of her kwami’s words. “But I can’t afford to sleep in anymore. I need to get back in shape.”

Tikki’s eyes widened in realization.

“Oh…is this about yesterday?”

Yesterday. Marinette growled at the reminder—not only had she had to fight a tree-themed akuma, whose roots threatened to tear up the city and imprison her within the earth, but she had also had to contend with Chat Noir and his new attitude of “kill the enemy to stop the akuma”. It had honestly been a nightmare, and, were it not for quick thinking on Ladybug’s part—a Lucky Charm gardening hoe that ended up clinching the battle, and a well-placed foot that had caused Chat to trip and use his Cataclysm on the possessed item by accident—either the akuma or Chat Noir would have succeeded…which meant they all would have lost much more than they could afford. The fact that she had only bested the both of them by the skin of her teeth bothered Marinette, and so she resolved that it was time to dust off and lace up her running shoes. This could not happen a second time.

“Paris is depending on me, Tikki,” Marinette said, slipping on her track jacket next before she tied her hair up into a ponytail. “I can’t afford to fail, so if it means running on three hours of sleep today, then so be it. I have to do this.”

Tikki smiled a little, zipping over next to Marinette.

“I’m glad to see you’re taking your responsibility so seriously…but I’m worried about you, too. Are you sure this is okay?”

“I’ve had worse,” Marinette reminded her kwami with a grin. “Remember that time I stayed up all night studying for a final all jazzed up on energy drinks?”

Tikki’s eyes widened at the reminder.

“Oh, that was scary. I was sure you were going to start bouncing off the walls!”

“Which is why you banned me from the stuff indefinitely,” Marinette teased, and Tikki gave a giggle. “I may need one later, though…”

“Well, all right, if it’ll help. But one only!” Said Tikki sternly as she followed Marinette down the stairs of her townhouse apartment. It was a modest place, this space Marinette had made for herself—mismatched furniture littered her living room, a combination of bargain hunting and assistance from Alya and Nino. Marinette’s favorite piece of furniture in the room was the lamp that sat in the corner, the shade a hot pink with fur trim that sparkled when the bulb within was turned on. The only luxury items in the room were a sleek gaming system hooked up to a sizable TV, for when Marinette was feeling a MechaStrike itch that just had to be scratched. (When she could find the time to scratch it, anyway.)

Passing by the living room, Marinette headed for the kitchen, cringing at the week-old shopping list on the front of her fridge. She really had to make the time to go grocery shopping.

“I was thinking,” Tikki said as Marinette fished out her water bottle and began filling it with ice, “it would be a good idea for us to visit Master Fu soon.”

“Yeah,” Marinette agreed with a nod, turning on her faucet to fill the rest of her water bottle. “I was gonna go see him while on my run.”

“Without me?!” Tikki protested, flying into Marinette’s face with a big pout. Marinette cringed while simultaneously trying not to laugh at how cute her kwami was.

“Er, well, I didn’t want to wake you if you were sleeping…but, since you’re already up—”

“I’m going,” Tikki insisted, quite fiercely. Marinette sighed but shrugged, unzipping the breast pocket of her track suit and allowing Tikki to nestle in. After making sure she had her keys, Marinette left her apartment, carefully locking up after herself as always.

There was a fine mist in the air—the morning fog of fall settling in. It looked like it would lift soon, so Marinette didn’t bother herself about it, concerning herself instead with a couple warm-up stretches before she took off, relishing in the warmth that shot through and loosened the muscles of her legs as she ran. To be honest, she would rather be flying, but that would be just a tad distracting, even if most of Paris was still asleep at this hour. Besides, it probably wasn’t advisable with all this fog around.

Slipping a hand into her pocket, Marinette retrieved her phone and earbuds, selecting her favorite Jagged Stone CD and putting it on loop as she ran. The sound of the guitar being shredded by her favorite artist electrified Marinette, pushing her to run faster, a grin on her face. Despite her lack of sleep, this run was energizing, and she commended herself for being responsible enough to make this decision on her own. Hmm…maybe she could squeeze in a visit to her parents’ bakery on the way back from Master Fu’s before she had to go back home and get ready for class.

As Marinette rounded the corner, nodding her head to the beat of her music, she didn’t notice the figure crossing the street towards her at a worrisome rate until it was too late, and they collided. With an ungraceful yelp and fall, Marinette was on the ground, her backside slammed into the concrete under her.

“Owww,” she groaned, tugging out an earbud and wincing. “What the hell?”

“Oh, sorry,” apologized a harried-sounding voice, and a tall figure leaned through the fog towards her. “I didn’t mean to—”

Marinette froze, her mouth coming open with a pop.

Green eyes blinked at her, seemingly as astonished as she was.

You have got to be kidding me.

It was enough that she was dreading seeing this guy as Ladybug later tonight; did she really have to run into him first thing in the morning, too?

Marinette inwardly groaned, straightening up as Adrien Agreste sat back, still blinking at her.

“Marinette,” he named her at last, and Marinette felt herself inexplicably flush.

What’re you blushing for? You’re the one that told him to call you by your first name! Get it together, girl!

Shut up, Alya,’ Marinette thought at the voice, sighing in defeat.

“Mr. Agreste,” she replied to him coolly, much like she did on Tuesday after she had left his place of residence. She got to her feet, brushing herself off and discreetly patting her breast pocket, just to make sure that Tikki was still there. The telltale lump assured her, and she was able to switch her focus to the too-tall model unfolding himself in front of her. She scowled as soon as his height cleared hers; did he have to be so tall? Unfairness upon unfairness upon total bullshit.

“What’re you doing here?” Marinette asked, working to seem like the answer didn’t really matter to her as she removed her remaining earbud. “Don’t you live on the other side of town?”

To this, Adrien merely shrugged.

“I like jogging on this side of town,” he answered, the corners of his mouth twitching suspiciously. “And I see I’m not alone.”

“But unlike you, I actually live nearby,” Marinette told him, without really knowing why. Why should he care where she lived?

Adrien tilted his head to the side. His hair was carefully swept to the side, as always, but Marinette could tell some of it was pulled back into…was that a bun at the back of his head?

Oh no, THAT’S CUTE,’ Marinette thought without really meaning to. She inwardly chided herself, nearly missing the bane of her existence’s next words.

“Still living with your parents, then?”

It was an honestly curious question…but Marinette bristled at the nonexistent insinuation anyway.

“Just because I live nearby doesn’t mean I’m still living with my parents,” she sniffed, and Adrien quirked a brow, his lips beginning to curve upwards.

“I was just asking. I like your parents,” he said, causing Marinette to blink at him. What did he mean, he liked her parents? He had met them once, seven years ago. How could he possibly claim to still like them after all this time?

The doubt must’ve been obvious on her face; Adrien grinned a little, like he wasn’t able to help it anymore.

“You don’t believe me?”

“It’s just funny how you claim to like them after only meeting them one time, years ago,” Marinette pointed out, folding her arms. “You didn’t even recognize me at first when you saw me again.”

“Like I said, lack of pigtails,” Adrien defended himself with a shrug. “I figured it out a minute later, though. No reason to be bent out of shape about it, right?”

He was mocking her, Marinette knew it. Nose in the air, she stomped past him, praying with all her might that he would go on with his jog and leave her alone—

No such luck. He immediately fell into step beside her.

“Wow, you’re not happy to see me.” He sounded indecently amused by that. “Are you still upset about Monday?”

“Why shouldn’t I be?” Marinette shot back, sticking one earbud back into her ear as she picked up the pace, hoping he would take the hint and disappear. In response, Adrien lengthened his stride. “You were very rude to me. Why wouldn’t I still be mad?”

“What about the offer to start over?” Adrien reminded her, and Marinette cursed under her breath. “Is that still valid?”

“I don’t know. You didn’t say anything when I offered it.”

“You didn’t exactly give me a chance, Mari.”

Oh, so she was Mari now, was she?

Marinette scowled, skidding to a stop about a block from Master Fu’s place. She turned to frown up at the model beside her, who was in a track suit, just like hers, though his was dark green and black to her pink and black. He gazed down at her, no longer smiling…but his expression was more open than Marinette had ever seen it. It confused her, and so she glanced down, scowling at the tiny little nudge in her mind that prompted her just to forgive him already.

Come on, look at him. How could you stay mad at that face?

That was her lingering attraction to his looks talking, and she stubbornly ignored it, turning her face back up to scowl at him.

“Just because I might want to start over doesn’t mean I can’t still be mad,” she told him sternly. Adrien glanced away, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Yeah…I get that,” he assured her. He stuck both his hands in his pockets, his shoulders hunching, as if he was trying to make himself seem smaller. “…And, in the spirit of starting over…I am sorry about the way I spoke to you. I thought about it all week, and…you’re right. It was uncalled for.”

A tiny smile curved his lips now, giving him the look of the shy boy Marinette had once fallen hard and fast for. “Forgiven?”

Fourteen year old Marinette would have squealed and melted into a puddle right then and there, all negative thoughts revolving around Adrien Agreste disappearing on the spot.

Twenty one year old Marinette, however, had a lot more grit than that, and a hit to her pride that had yet to be truly recovered. So while she took note of the puppy eyes and filed the danger they posed away for later, she stood her ground.

I’ll decide when I forgive you for being a jerk, thank you,” she told him firmly, and turned on her heel, continuing on her jog. To her mixed frustration and bemusement, Adrien continued to follow her.

“Yikes. Marinette Dupain-Cheng knows how to hold a grudge. Noted,” he said, amusement clear in his voice. Marinette refused to look at him, focusing on Master Fu’s massage parlor. It wasn’t open yet, but that hardly mattered—Master Fu would want to see her, no matter what time it was. But Marinette couldn’t just enter with Adrien tailing her—it would raise too many questions that she just wasn’t willing to answer. And so, with a stab of annoyance, she ran past Master Fu’s and continued down the street, improvising her plan: she’d stop by her parents’ bakery and see them, maybe grab a bite to eat, and then she’d double back to Master Fu’s before heading home. Her newly acquired shadow will hopefully have fucked off by then, if she was lucky…

Marinette was pulled out of her thoughts by the sound of Adrien softly singing to himself. With a jolt, she realized that he was singing along to the song she was listening to; her free earbud must be louder than she thought.

“…You still listen to Jagged Stone, hm?” She noted, pausing her music. Adrien’s singing died away with it, and he gave her an amused look.

“Of course. As do you,” he pointed out. “Other artists can come and go as they please, but give me ten more years of Jagged Stone and I’ll be happy.”

“They didn’t have good music in Milan?” Marinette asked, honestly curious. Adrien lifted and dropped a shoulder.

“Eh, it was all right. Lots of stuff you could dance to, but if you want to rock out? Jagged Stone’s the only answer.”

Marinette hummed noncommittedly. From her peripheral vision, she sized Adrien up, taking note of the easy breaths that passed through him; talking while jogging didn’t seem to wind him at all, which made sense, considering how obvious it was that he was in good shape—no, Marinette, bad, focus. His hair pulled back into a bun was indeed adorable, now that she was looking at his profile…but something about it reminded her of someone else—

Adrien glanced over and caught her staring. The corner of his mouth twitched again.

“Yes?” He asked, and Marinette tore her gaze from him, fresh irritation flashing through her, which explained the heat she could feel in her face. Yup, definitely due to irritation. Absolutely.

“Just wondering how long you plan on following me,” she grumbled.

“I always jog this way,” Adrien answered, and his lips twitched again at the snort of disbelief Marinette made. “It’s true. I like the smell of your parents’ bakery. It’s calming.”

Marinette quirked a brow at him as they drew closer to Boulangerie Patisserie. She supposed she knew what he meant about the smell—she could already catch whiffs of baking bread, and that was soothing to her in a different way: it was home. But as for why he should find it calming, Marinette had no idea.

“You just run by my parents’ bakery without buying anything?” She felt like teasingly scolding him. Adrien’s brow puckered at this.

“Well, it’s not like I wouldn’t like to…” He shifted a glance over to her, and Marinette was surprised to find that he actually looked guilty. She was about to tell him that she was just pulling his leg when he continued, “It’s just…bread’s not something I’m supposed to have…an excess of.”

Oh, right. Model.

Marinette frowned, slowing as they approached the front door of the bakery. She had never really thought about it before, but now that she was looking at him, Adrien was pretty slim, despite the muscle mass he’d seemed to accumulate over the years. No doubt he had to be on a strict diet to keep his trim, model figure intact…but jeez, a life without bread? How sad.

Abruptly feeling sorry for him, Marinette stopped, her hand touching the handle of the bakery.

“Come on. Let’s stop for a croissant. I don’t know about you, but I skipped breakfast, and I’m starving.”

Adrien stopped too, glancing to and away from the bakery quickly, like he was peering at something he really shouldn’t be looking at. His model smile suddenly appeared, making Marinette raise her eyebrows.

“That’s okay. I’ll eat when I get back. I really shouldn’t…” He paused as Marinette opened the door a crack, and the smell of fresh bread swirled around them. The smell seemed to stun him; he blinked a couple times, breathing deeply. It looked like he was having a hard time not openly salivating; Marinette bit her lip to keep from giggling.

“One croissant won’t hurt you,” she pointed out, a smile curving her lips as she rested against the door frame, keeping the door propped open with the toe of her tennis shoe. Adrien inhaled some more, his eyes closing momentarily. He opened them again a moment later, sending her a frown.

“Ah…I get it. You’re trying to ruin me, aren’t you?” He gave her a tight smile. “Revenge for my being rude to you on Monday?”

Marinette scoffed and rolled her eyes.

“No one’s trying to fatten you up, Mr. Model,” she chided him, nudging the door open wider so that the bell tinkled. “Like I said, one croissant won’t kill you…but if you’d rather do without…”

She let the door fall slowly closed behind her, a challenging look in her eyes as she kept Adrien’s gaze. To her great amusement, he looked extremely conflicted, as if she was offering him forbidden fruit that he knew he wasn’t allowed to touch. But just as the door was about to shut all the way, his hand caught the knob, and he ducked in after her, shoulders hunching again, like he was skulking. Marinette didn’t bother to stifle her giggling this time around.

“Excuse me, we’re not quite open yet—oh, Marinette!”

Marinette turned with a smile to the short woman that had just emerged from behind the counter, wiping her hands on her baker’s apron. Her dark hair held a gray streak or two, but her gray eyes were still kind, and it was with much warmth that she embraced her daughter.

“Hi, Mama,” Marinette greeted, smiling down at her mother, whom she only dwarfed by a couple centimeters.

“This is a surprise,” Sabine remarked, looking quite pleased. “Tom, look who’s here! It’s Marinette and—oh!”

Oh, right. Marinette glanced over her shoulder, spotting Adrien still hovering by the door, hands buried in his pockets. When he noticed both women looking at him, he smiled his model smile and raised a hand to wave. He looked natural enough, Marinette supposed…but there was something awkward about the set of his shoulders that she just barely noticed.

“Good morning, Mrs. Cheng,” he greeted politely enough.

“Sabine, honey, please,” Sabine corrected him, waving him forward. Adrien obliged, sliding a sideways glance Marinette’s way that she didn’t quite understand. “I told Tom that was you running by our bakery in the mornings, but he didn’t believe me. Said you would be working out indoors in a gym somewhere rather than be out and about where you might be mobbed by fans. Just goes to show,” she said, turning to wink at Marinette, “Mama knows best.”

“I suppose I owe you that thirty euro after all, then,” said Tom’s voice before the man himself appeared, as large as ever, his kind face slightly obscured by his mutton chops and bushy mustache. He was carrying a tray of freshly baked bread, and he eased around the counter with it, smiling at Marinette and Adrien. “Good morning, kids.”

“Morning, Papa,” Marinette chirped, accepting the kiss Tom pressed to her cheek after he set the bread tray upon its proper rack to cool.

“What’re you two up to so early?” Sabine wondered, smiling at the pair of them. “It’s rare to see you at this time at all, Marinette.”

Adrien coughed slightly, the back of his hand resting against his mouth. But Marinette wasn’t fooled; she knew he was laughing, and she scowled at him for it.

“I decided a jog would be good for me this morning,” she stated with as much grace as she could, her nose in the air. “And then Adrien ran into me. Literally.”

“It was an accident, and I apologized,” Adrien returned calmly. “No need to hold a grudge.”

Marinette made a face at him before turning to her parents, who shared a knowing look that made her frown in confusion.

“Anyway, we’re just here for a couple croissants. Do you have any of the chocolate-filled kind left?”

“Of course,” Tom huffed, blustering in a teasing fashion as he picked up a paper bag and a pair of tongs. “What kind of bakery do you think we’re running here?”

“The best kind,” Marinette returned, grabbing another pair of tongs and dropping things into the bag her father already held. Behind her, she heard her mother strike up a conversation with Adrien.

“It’s nice to see you again, honey. Are you going to be settling down in Paris?”

“That’s the plan for now,” Adrien replied, and Marinette could practically see his professional face in place. “We’ll see how business goes, but for right now, Paris is where I’ll be.”

“That’s good.” Sabine’s voice warmed. “I’m so happy to see how well you’re doing. We were worried for a while, you know. I think Marinette cried for a week after you left—”

“Mama!” Marinette protested, her face turning crimson as she turned to gape at her mother in shock. Sabine touched her lips with a hand, looking as if she was trying to hide a smile.

“Oh. Sorry, sweetie,” she apologized, but the damage was already done, if the twitching lips on Adrien was any indication. Abruptly, Marinette was regretting her decision to bring him into the bakery.

“Here,” she huffed, pushing the bag of pastries onto Adrien. The sooner they left, the better.

“Oh. Thanks.” He shifted the bag into one arm, reaching into his pocket and drawing out something black and leather—his wallet. At the sight of it, however, Sabine shook her head.

“No, honey, go ahead and take the bag. On the house,” she insisted, Tom moving to her side and nodding his agreement. Marinette watched as Adrien blinked, staring at her parents. It was clear that he had trouble with the concept of “free”.

“But—” he began, lifting his wallet, but Sabine gripped his forearm and firmly lowered his hand.

“No charge. You look like you don’t eat nearly enough.”

“Besides, half of that is Marinette’s,” Tom said knowingly, “and we’d feel terrible charging you for her share. She’s a bottomless pit.

“Papa!” Marinette protested, her annoyance growing when her parents tittered at her outrage. But it was the soft snort from Adrien that was the final straw, and Marinette turned an about-face, stomping towards the door. “Okay, we’re leaving, right now.”

“I’d actually like to stay and chat with your parents more—” Adrien said, sounding like he was trying not to laugh again.

“They’re very busy,” Marinette snarled, coming back for Adrien and pushing against his back. He seemed startled by her strength, and his surprise allowed him to be shunted from the shop.

“Er, bye, Mr. Dupain! Bye, Sabine!”

“Tom’s fine, son,” Tom called after them with an amused look.

“Come by anytime!” Sabine invited, waving merrily. It wasn’t until they were a block away that Marinette stopped pushing Adrien, and she slumped forward, though this exhaustion was mental rather than physical. Adrien’s soft laughter made her glance up, scowling at him. His face was deceptively straight as he met her eyes…but mischief was alight in his gaze. Before Marinette could decide just how thoroughly she wanted to curse him out, he lifted the pastry bag like a peace offering.

“Shall we?”

Her stomach rumbled in reaction, and Adrien snickered, muffling the sound with a hand as Marinette glared at him, red-faced. She snatched the bag from him and walked resolutely to the nearest bench, her morning already off to a terrible start. And it wasn’t even seven yet. Ugh.

“Nice to see that your parents haven’t changed much,” Adrien said as he sat down on the bench next to her, a careful distance away, something that Marinette appreciated. She deliberated a moment, and then allowed the pastry bag to settle in between them, swiping the first pastry she could and taking a bite. It was still warm, and the taste of chocolate and butter was heavenly.

“I guess,” she mumbled through her mouthful, watching Adrien delicately pick through the bag for his promised croissant. “Still as invasive as ever…but they’re good people.”

Adrien took a bite out of his own croissant, chewing for just a second before he released a noise so satisfied that it brought a blush to Marinette’s face.

“Your father’s baking is still amazing,” he moaned, taking another bite and producing the same result. Marinette giggled, unable to help herself.

“Okay, calm down there,” she urged him with a slight shake of her head. “It’s food, not sex.”

“You’re right—it’s better than sex,” Adrien practically purred, and Marinette’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline.

“You must’ve had some pretty disappointing partners if you believe that,” she commented idly. Adrien glanced at her from the corner of his eye, but said nothing else, continuing to eat his croissant. The slight suggestion in his expression left Marinette a little warmer than she liked, and she cast around for a subject change.

“You’re a bit different outside of your office, huh?” She couldn’t help but remark. It was hard to miss, after all: after being subjected to his all-business tone on more than one occasion, to see this side of Adrien—more human than she had ever seen him—Marinette had to admit that the change sort of gave her whiplash.

Adrien had finished his croissant and was rooting around in the bag for another one, briefly glancing up at the observation.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean,” Marinette persisted, looking amused as Adrien stared down at his second croissant, a battle of wills seemingly raging in his mind. “That when you’re not all business, you’re actually…more relaxed. More free with yourself, I guess.”

Adrien paused, his gaze cutting to her once more. The air changed, and suddenly, Marinette felt as if she had said the wrong thing. The feeling grew stronger when, after a stiff minute, Adrien slowly replaced the chocolate-filled croissant in the bag.

“Hmm,” he hummed, but that was all. Marinette watched as his posture visibly straightened, an ankle crossed over his knee, his arms draped over the back of the bench. Posing again. She wanted to roll her eyes.

“…That’s not a bad thing, you know,” she remarked, just a hint of dryness in her tone. Adrien’s gaze was far away; as she watched, it tightened.

“It’s not a good thing, either,” he muttered quietly; he seemed to be talking to himself. Marinette frowned now, pulling the chocolate croissant he had replaced back out of the bag and offering it to him again.

“Why not?” She asked, genuinely curious. What was so wrong with him cutting loose every now and then?

Adrien glanced down at the croissant, and then turned his head away, as if avoiding temptation.

“I should be more careful,” he said in that same quiet tone, making Marinette wonder if he was even really talking to her, despite answering her question. “I’m running a company I had to start from scratch. I have an image to uphold.”

He sounded so stiff when saying it that Marinette’s frown grew more pronounced.

“Haven’t you had enough of ‘image’?” She questioned him, irritated when he wouldn’t look at her. “Weren’t you the one who told me your father expected you to act a certain way all the time just because of who he was? Aren’t you sick of the pretense?”

Adrien closed his eyes and let out a short huff. Marinette wondered if she was irritating him. If she was…she was supremely unconcerned about it.

“It’s different,” he said shortly.


“You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

Finally, Adrien looked at her. His frown was one of annoyance.

“You’re stubborn.”

“You’re evasive,” Marinette shot back. They had a stare-down for a few precious seconds before Adrien looked away first. The way his lips were set suggested that he would be saying no more on the subject. Marinette huffed and got to her feet.

“You know what? Fine. Don’t tell me.” She picked up the bag of pastries, dropping the chocolate croissant she still held into his lap. “But just so you know, my offer to start over depends on you. If you’re not willing to be yourself, even when you’re not working, I don’t see how you expect to make any real friends.”

Adrien flinched, as if Marinette had slapped him. She sighed at the look.

“Just think about it,” she told him in a much softer tone, offering a small smile when he dared to look up at her. “I’ll see you around, Adrien.”

Adrien said nothing. Rather than wait for a response, Marinette nodded her head to him, resuming her jog in the opposite direction, carefully clutching the pastry bag to her. The bulge in her breast pocket wiggled impatiently, and Marinette patted it, mentally promising that she would feed Tikki once they reached Master Fu’s. At the corner, just before she turned, she allowed herself a tiny peek over her shoulder.

Adrien was still sitting on the bench. She watched as he lifted the croissant she’d left for him up to his face. One more second of seeming deliberation, and he took a bite, appearing to chew thoughtfully. Marinette smiled a small smile before she turned, sprinting to Master Fu’s.



Though her parents were definitely aging visibly, Master Fu gave no sign of being any different than when Marinette had first met him; despite the fact that he was now pushing a hundred and ninety-three, he appeared as if he could just as easily be Marinette’s uncle.

After serving them tea and accepting a couple pastries from Marinette, he listened quietly as she recounted her recent Ladybug experiences, merely stroking his beard and staring thoughtfully into space. She hoped that whatever he was thinking would help lead her to a solution she had yet to come to herself.

“…and I still have no idea what this new Hawk Moth copycat wants,” Marinette was saying after she’d finished her second cup of tea. She allowed Master Fu to pour her a third one as she continued, “It could be that he’s still after the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous, but since his akumas have kind of just wreaked havoc on Paris with nothing but their own goals in mind, I can’t be sure. But that makes him even more dangerous, I think, and with Chat Noir becoming…well, villain doesn’t quite fit…an anti-hero? Well, anyway, he’s basically turned his back on me and has got it in his head that killing the akumatized victims is the right way to cure them, and I don’t know what to do or if I can make him change his mind, this whole thing is just one big mess and—”

Master Fu raised his hand, and Marinette gratefully fell silent, eager for someone else to agonize over this problem now, because she was fresh out of ideas and being spread way too thin for her liking. Master Fu stroked his beard a minute more before his gaze focused on Marinette, and she leaned forward, waiting with baited breath.

“I am afraid,” Master Fu began, looking more troubled than Marinette had ever seen him, “that there is not much you can do about either situation, Ladybug.”

Marinette felt herself deflate.

“There’s…nothing I can do?” She protested weakly, staring hopelessly at Master Fu. He bowed his head, and Marinette felt crushing finality weigh her down.

“Until we know the motives of this new Hawk Moth, we cannot begin to guess at their intentions,” Master Fu stated, “so making preemptive moves on an unknown enemy would be quite foolish.”

“And Chat Noir?”

Here Master Fu paused, stroking his beard once more.

“It seems…he is at a crossroads,” he said mysteriously, and Marinette worked to suppress a groan. “Blinded by his own goals, he seeks his own solution, one that does not depend on you.”

Marinette scowled at this.

“But why? Nothing was wrong with our partnership in the past!”

“As far as you know, Marinette,” Tikki piped up from where she and Wayzz were sharing a pastry, her pixie features anxious. “But we don’t really know what Chat Noir went through in the seven years that he was absent. Something about him must have changed.”

Marinette growled under her breath. She realized that he was different now—much too different—but she was still unable to comprehend just what could cause someone to change so drastically. What in the world happened to Chat Noir in the seven years that he was out of her sight?

“Incidentally,” Master Fu spoke, fixing Marinette with a searching gaze, “his loss of the Butterfly Miraculous is very concerning.”

“Do you think he was lying?” Marinette forced herself to ask. More news of Chat Noir’s treachery would not please her, but even so, she had to know…

Master Fu shook his head, and relief washed over Marinette.

“No, I do not think he was lying. As a matter of fact, on the day in question, when I returned here, I felt traces of dark magic around the place. I did not know what it meant—the traces were too faint for me to make much of them—but hearing his side of the story, I can only assume that whatever dark force invaded here was searching for the Miraculous that I guard.”

His eyes found the old-looking gramophone in the room. Marinette glanced over as well, remembering dimly the first look she had gotten at the well-hidden Miraculous that Master Fu guarded, even to this day. When she last saw the box, only two Miraculous remained nestled inside—a bee comb, whose kwami she had never met, and a fox tail, its image eerily similar to the one Lila tried to pass off as an actual Miraculous, once upon a time. The other slots were empty: the slot for the Butterfly Miraculous, the slot for the Turtle Miraculous, still owned by Master Fu, and an empty slot for some kind of bird Miraculous that Marinette had never seen. And in the center of a yin-yang symbol were the empty slots for the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous; two halves of the same whole. Or, that was how it was supposed to work, anyway…

Marinette sighed. Though she and Tikki worked better together than ever, she had to admit that she still did not quite comprehend the ancient magic that bound the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous together. All she could register, really, was a deep ache within her at the loss of Chat Noir as her partner…but whether it was due to the Miraculous or her own personal feelings of betrayal, Marinette could not be sure.

“So,” she began, hands gripping her tea cup tightly as she stared at Master Fu, “if we can’t do anything about Hawk Moth or Chat Noir right now…what can we do?”

She knew the answer before it even left Master Fu’s mouth.

“We wait,” he stated, and Marinette couldn’t help the sigh that deflated her.

“I was afraid you’d say that,” she said grimly. Her eyes found her watch, and with a yelp, she surged to her feet. “I’d better get back home or I’ll be late for class.”

“And I have a client coming in a few minutes. Best get set up.” With a grunt, Master Fu was on his feet, taking Marinette’s tea cup from her. “Well, thank you for the update, Ladybug. Should you need me again, you know where to find me.”

“Of course.” Marinette bowed to Master Fu, beckoned to Tikki, and was nearly out the door before a sudden thought struck her, and she hastened back in. “Oh! Uh, there’s, um, something else, actually…”

Master Fu looked at her inquiringly, and Marinette felt red coat her cheeks. She took a deep breath in an attempt to alleviate some of the tension.

“Tonight,” she began, fiddling with the zipper of her track suit, “I, uh, sort of told…Adrien Agreste…that I’d meet with him. As Ladybug.” Marinette bit her lip, peering up at Master Fu. “Do you…think I should?”

Master Fu’s eyes were bright with interest, the stroking of his beard resuming.

“What you do in your personal time is not up to me, Ladybug,” he remarked, wise eyes dancing with laughter. Marinette felt her face explode with heat.

“N-no, no, it’s nothing like that!” Marinette hurried to protest, dimly aware that she was only making it worse, if the look on Master Fu’s face was any indication. She ceased her flailing and cleared her throat, trying for a modicum of dignity she did not currently possess. “I just mean…I think he wants to question me. About…Hawk Moth.”

“I see.” Master Fu appeared to inspect her for a moment. “And…you don’t know what to tell him?”

Marinette frowned, worrying her bottom lip again with her teeth.

“It’s not that…more like…I’m afraid he’s going to…well, blame me, I guess. Not that he doesn’t have the right to, it’s just…” She lowered her gaze to her socked feet, having taken off her tennis shoes when she came in. “…I don’t want him to hate me,” she admitted in a small voice.

And this was Ladybug talking, not Marinette—personal feelings aside, Ladybug didn’t want to do her duty, knowing that one of her citizens harbored a grudge against her for murdering his father. While it was true that she was responsible, to actually hear Adrien Agreste say the words “I hate you” would be more devastating now than they would’ve been when she had a crush on him. And with Chat Noir running wild with his insane ideas of right and wrong and justice, Ladybug had to be embodiment of goodness now more than ever.

But how could she possibly keep that image under the accusing stare of Adrien Agreste?

Master Fu was silent, simply watching her. After a moment, a finger twirled through his beard once more.

“I am sure you are tired of old sage advice at this point,” he stated rather shrewdly, and Marinette grinned guiltily. “I have advised you for years, Ladybug. I have watched you grow into the amazing young woman I see before me, and I must say that I trust your judgement completely. So, rather than filling your ears with sentiments like “just be yourself” or “follow your heart”…I will say nothing. You are more than capable of handling this on your own, Ladybug. And so you shall.”

Something warm thrummed inside Marinette. Though a part of her floundered, almost feeling like she was being thrown to the sharks, a larger part of her recognized that this was not Master Fu abandoning her. Rather, it was much like a mother bird pushing her babies out of the nest, with the implicit trust that instincts would take over, and they would spread their wings and take flight for the first time.

Rather than allow her to stay cooped up in the nest, Master Fu was encouraging her to fly on her own. Because he believed, completely and unconditionally, that she possessed the power to do so.

Marinette smiled wide, and Master Fu returned the gesture; though it was a smaller smile, the warmth was the same.

“Thank you, Master Fu,” she said, bidding him goodbye once more before exiting the massage parlor, nodding to the client that moved past her to enter.

Master Fu was right—she was tired of sage advice. And while he couldn’t give her all the answers she sought today, he had done her one better and gave her courage.

Whatever happened tonight, Ladybug would deal with it.

Because she was Ladybug—she could do anything. So Marinette would let Ladybug deal with it when the time came.

For now, Marinette just had to worry about being Marinette for the day.



Green eyes searched the star-strewn sky, intent on the velvety blackness of night. He searched for a hint of spots, a flash of red, a pair of fierce blue eyes that lit his very soul on fire—

But there was nothing.

No red.

No spots.

No Ladybug.

Adrien sighed heavily. She wasn’t coming, was she? He was trying to stay optimistic, really, but the later the night wore on, the more convinced he was becoming that she wouldn’t show up.

Plagg certainly didn’t help matters.

“It’s an hour later than what you agreed,” bragged the cat kwami, his green eyes glittering maliciously as he floated up to Adrien’s face. “Looks like you’ve been stood up, Lover Boy.”

Adrien’s shoulders stiffened stubbornly under the dress shirt he had carefully selected for tonight.

“She could still be coming. Maybe she had something else to deal with.”

“Or maybe she changed her mind,” Plagg suggested. Adrien turned to glare at his kwami.

“Do you have to antagonize me when I’m nothing but a ball of nerves right now? Besides, I thought I told you to hide. If Ladybug sees you—”

“I’m hungry,” Plagg interrupted, matching Adrien’s look of disdain perfectly. “How can you expect me to behave when my stomach’s rumbling so noisily? At this rate, Ladybug—if she ever shows up—will discover me just by the sound of my poor, starving belly.”

Adrien huffed, clutching the bridge of his nose. There was just no winning with Plagg, was there? Curse his rotten luck…

“Fine,” he bit out, walking stiffly past the tiny table he had set up with food, wine, and candlelight. Looking at it embarrassed him, and so he averted his eyes as he headed back inside, Plagg floating after him. Really, what was he expecting? That Ladybug would show up and agree to this impromptu date? She didn’t know him from Adam.

And, at the rate the night was going, she wouldn’t even be showing up anyway.

Adrien sighed as he dug into his camembert reserves for Plagg. It had been a stupid idea, foolish to even consider trying to woo Ladybug as Adrien Agreste. She was a superhero, a goddess, even. Why on earth would she ever agree to be with him?

Then why did she agree to see me?’ Persisted an unbelievably stubborn and hopeful part of Adrien. He merely rolled his eyes at himself a second later. She probably agreed because she thought he wanted to talk about his dad. Talk about a mood killer. Adrien already knew she regretted what happened to his father; she had confided as much to Chat Noir. But then, seeing as how she didn’t know he was Chat Noir, it would be a bit suspicious if he didn’t ask some things about his father, wouldn’t it?

Moot point,’ Adrien reminded himself bitterly, leaving his glutton kwami to pig out in the kitchen. ‘No use in even worrying about this if she’s not gonna show—

Adrien stepped back into his room and nearly choked in surprise.

A striking figure in red and black stood poised on the railing of his balcony, blue eyes wide as she took in the date setting. Nearly tripping over himself in his haste, Adrien rushed to the door across the room from him and flung it open.

“Ladybug!” He sputtered breathlessly, her name inspiring a million tendrils of longing to unfurl within Adrien; they ached to wrap Ladybug in his embrace, to whisper a thousand words of devotion as he drew her in and never let her go—

Cool it. You’ll only scare her,’ the side of him linked to Chat Noir said, urging him to keep his head. He cleared his throat and straightened up, though it became harder for him not to lose his nerve the moment her eyes met his.

Her hair was longer than he had ever seen it, branching out in the two pigtails she wore, the tips of her hair brushing her shoulders. She had grown taller as well, her suit more form-fitting than ever, hugging every curve she possessed, drawing his gaze to the swoop of her hips, the swell of her chest, before he sternly wrenched his eyes to her face. Despite other changes, her blue eyes burned with the same fire as before, and it momentarily left Adrien speechless as he stared at her. Tentatively, while he could only gawk, she smiled.

“Hello, Adrien. Sorry I’m late.” She carefully jumped down onto the balcony itself, her gaze flickering to the date table. “…Am I interrupting?”

“No!” Adrien said too loudly, hating himself as his voice threatened to break. He scraped around for the confidence he had to drag himself through fire and brimstone for, gritting his teeth and hating the way he was outside his suit. He wasn’t fifteen anymore, damn it. Why did she still manage to make him falter just from a glance? Clearing his throat and straightening his spine, he tried again. “I…I just set this out in case you might be hungry. Crime-fighting must be draining, after all.”

Ladybug blinked her blue eyes at him, tilting her head to the side. The moonlight reflected off her raven locks, her hair nearly blending in with the night. Even just standing there, she was a vision…and Adrien was struck once again by how thoroughly fucked he was.

“Oh. That’s sweet of you,” she smiled, and Adrien felt his heart begin to beat violently against his ribcage, as if it longed to break free and physically place itself in her hands, just to illustrate how very much he was hers.

Get a grip,’ Chat Noir’s voice reminded him lazily. ‘She’s just a person, just like everyone else.

No,’ Adrien thought back stubbornly, bidding his alter ego be quiet. Though he felt foolish, he didn’t think his worship was uncalled for. After all, Ladybug was much more than human. Always had been.

“Would you like to sit down?” Adrien invited, only blushing a little as he gestured towards the obviously romantic set-up. Ladybug eyed the table, pursing her lips.

“Actually…while this looks nice…I’d just rather make this quick.”


Well, now he felt stupid. He gave a shrug, as if it didn’t really bother him whether or not she agreed to have dinner with him, and hastened to blow out the candles he’d lit. An awkward silence followed.

“So…” Ladybug began, shifting her weight from foot to foot, looking at anything but him. “You wanted to talk?”

“Yes,” Adrien decided, squaring his shoulders. Okay, he could do this…the dinner had been a little much, but he could probably still pull this off…

Ladybug’s gaze flashed to him. Her blue eyes tightened under her mask.

“Adrien,” she began before he could think of anything else to say, and the brittleness of her voice hurt him, “I’m so sorry. Your father…I never meant—”

“It’s okay,” Adrien said hurriedly, raising his hands. “I know it was an accident. I, uh, saw the press conference you gave after…after it happened.”

Ladybug clutched at her elbows, closing her eyes with a heavy sigh.

“It couldn’t have been easy, having to hear from the police what happened…who your father turned out to be.” Her eyes peeked open, glancing at him from under her lashes. “I should’ve been the one to tell you. I’m so sorry.”

Suddenly, Adrien was fifteen years old again, scaling the wall outside his bedroom. He’d managed to slip into his room, de-transform, and vault into his bed just as Nathalie came in, flanked by two police officers. Her expression, usually so composed, had been nothing but a mask of shock; she had only stood there, tight-lipped as the police had explained to Adrien why his father would not be coming home, and he had had to pretend that it was all news to him, that he hadn’t seen the costume ripped from his father’s broken body, like he hadn’t been there to hear his final, empty words, like he hadn’t seen the life vanish from him the minute Gabriel Agreste had tried to reach for him—

Adrien shook off the bad memories, swallowing against the lump in his throat. It was over. Seven years had passed. He had moved on.

“It’s okay,” he made himself choke out, forcing his voice to be as normal as he could manage. “It was better this way. I’m glad you weren’t the one that had to tell me.”

Because to look at her face then as he was looking at it now…if she had made that face at him in the past, when the wound was still so fresh, Adrien was certain he would have broken down right then and there.

Ladybug lifted her chin then, her gaze stiff, as if she was resigning herself for the worst.

“You’re…angry with me, aren’t you?”

Angry. Ha. That was a good one. As complicated as his feelings were towards the spotted superhero as of late, ‘angry’ was not one of them.

“I’m not angry,” he assured her. Ladybug stared at him, her gaze searching his face.

“Not even a little bit?” She wanted to check. She was so adorable that Adrien had to smile.

“Not even a tiny bit,” he said, taking a step towards her, and then another, until he was suddenly there, right in front of her. “I could never be angry with you, Ladybug.”

She blinked up at him; it was clear that she did not comprehend.

“But…I was responsible for your father’s death,” she pointed out, as if he needed a reminder. “I…I killed him, Adrien.”

“It was an accident. You said so yourself.”

“That doesn’t change what happened,” Ladybug asserted with a shake of her head, and it hurt Adrien to see that something like this, someone like his father, was still hurting her. “He was still your father.”

Adrien felt his expression twist as he briefly succumbed to the darkness within himself.

“He hadn’t been my father for a long time before I found out he was Hawk Moth,” Adrien growled. He barely registered the widening of Ladybug’s eyes, but it was enough for him to clear his throat and remind himself not to lose it. “Let’s not talk about him anymore, all right?” He requested in a much more civil tone. Ladybug blinked, inspecting him for a long moment.

“…All right,” she agreed in the end, taking a step back. “If you’re sure. I don’t want to end this conversation without you gaining some type of closure—”

“Already done,” Adrien insisted, “I saw a therapist about it years ago. I’m good.”

Ladybug gave a quiet nod, taking another step back.

“Okay. Well…I’m glad we talked, then.”

Adrien paused, stunned as she hopped up onto the balcony railing again, as if she meant to leave. She couldn’t go now—she had just gotten here!

“Wait!” He bade her, rushing forward, even as she straightened up, hand idling on the yo-yo hanging from her hip. She peered down at him curiously, apparently confused by his sudden anxious tone.

“What is it?” She glanced around, as if she expected to see an akuma, but there was no demon possession going around here, save for the (whatever he told Plagg to the contrary) obsession blazing within Adrien, filling nearly every night he lay awake in his bed with thoughts of her, and her alone. He swallowed, reminding himself that he could do this. He was a grown man, and she was…miraculous…but he could still do this.

Or he could try, anyway. And he had to try, or he was quite certain that he would finally take a nose dive off the deep end, as he had been threatening to do for so long when it came to all thoughts Ladybug.

“Ladybug, I…I don’t want you to go,” he admitted, a hand outstretched, as if he meant to touch her…but then he thought better of it and dropped the hand to his side, though his anxious gaze never left her face. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you for so long…”

Ladybug peered down at him, tilting her head to the side.

“…We did talk,” she pointed out, slowly crouching down so that she was eye level with Adrien. His heart thudded and stuttered in his chest at her closeness, and he swallowed.

“Yes, but not about anything I wanted to talk about,” he persisted, daring to step closer, so that they were mere centimeters away. “There’s something you should know. Something I’ve been dying to say since I was fifteen, and I first saw you…”

Ladybug said nothing, merely gazing at him curiously, perfection even in the swoop of her eyelashes as they brushed against her spotted mask when she blinked. She was everything he wanted, and everything he didn’t deserve, but if he didn’t try, if he didn’t say something now, after nearly eight years of dreaming and wishing and pining and worshipping—

“I…I think you’re amazing, Ladybug. You’re so brave and heroic, and you never hesitate to save Paris, despite the fact that it can’t be easy, doing what you do. I just admire you so much…so much, that I…I…”

Just say it!’ His mind cried out, years and years of pent-up feelings nearly bursting from him, ‘Spit it out or forever hold your peace, because you’ll probably never get this chance again!

Adrien squared his shoulders, swallowed against his sudden sandpaper tongue, and met Ladybug’s gaze head-on.

“…I love you, Ladybug.”

There. It was out. He’d said it.

Years of hopeless pining like a lovesick kitten, all condensed in four simple, terrifying words.

And, as the look on Ladybug’s face changed drastically, Adrien was abruptly aware that he was not alone in his fear.

Ladybug nearly rocketed to her full height, and Adrien lunged forward as she wobbled, but she skipped out of the way, out of the helping hand he stretched towards her. Her mouth had come open, plump lips framing a horrified, yet silent ‘o’. Her bluebell eyes were wide in her face, her chest abruptly heaving, as if he was transforming into an akuma right before her eyes.

Hell, maybe he was, with how terrible he was suddenly feeling.

“Ladybug—” He called weakly, a hand outstretched, desperate.

Ladybug ripped her gaze from his, turning her back on him.

He felt his heart shatter, caving in on itself, the damage unmanageable, irreparable.

“I have to go,” she said, her voice suddenly hollow. With a flash of her yo-yo, she was gone. And Adrien was left in the aftermath, staring after her, the ache within him growing by the minute suggesting that it would have been better if he had just kept his feelings to himself.

Well, what did you expect?’ Chat Noir muttered in his mind, though Adrien could feel that even he was downed by this turn of events, ears and tail drooping. ‘Like you said, she’s Ladybug. And you’re just Adrien Agreste. What the hell could she ever want with someone like you?

It was true. Adrien had known it all along. But his attempts to dissuade himself from his set course of action were feeble, overwhelmed by the need to be with her, in any way he could, in whatever form she was willing to accept of him.

But that had been foolish.

Ladybug didn’t want Adrien Agreste. She didn’t know him. Her abrupt departure had made that perfectly clear. Even in the past, when she and Chat Noir were still partners, her dismissal of his feelings had been gentle, playful…its very own brand of cruelty. But that was just their dynamic—she ran and he gave chase, a friendly game of Cat and…Bug, he supposed. And it had been enough, Chat reasoning to himself that she could do much better than some mangy stray.

But to just outright leave after Adrien Agreste dared to lay himself bare before her…

Did that mean that Ladybug, had he not been behaving so deplorable towards her as of late, would prefer Chat Noir more? She had never outright left him standing somewhere after speaking words of adoration towards her.

Did that mean that Ladybug preferred Chat Noir to him?

It doesn’t mean anything,’ Chat chided him within his own mind. ‘She never knew how serious I was about her. I never did what you just did, never outright confessed to her. Besides, she knew me: we were partners. It’s different.

It was different. Chat Noir had been Ladybug’s partner. Their trust in each other had been implicit, so naturally, she would tolerate him more…

Until, almost in a blind jealous rage, Adrien destroyed Chat Noir’s image before his Lady’s very eyes.

Oh, is that what this edgy anti-hero thing we’ve got going on is about now? Why didn’t you tell me? I’ve been confused ever since we returned.

Adrien fiercely shook his head. Bad enough that he was personifying his own alter ego in his mind; he didn’t need to be questioning his motives again on top of everything else.

He had fucked up. He had fucked up bad. He should have waited until Ladybug got to know him, the real him, not the face he put up for the public, not the mask he wore during battle—

But even if she had gotten to know him…it wouldn’t have made one damn difference, would it? She would still be Ladybug.

And he would still be just Adrien.

Feeling the tension of the evening drain away from him, leaving just the shell of a man behind, Adrien covered the tray of food on the table he had set up—it would go in the trash, uneaten, because he no longer possessed anything remotely resembling an appetite anymore.

Adrien eyed the bottle of wine, already uncorked, waiting by two flute glasses. Wasted.

He snatched up the bottle and took a swig, feeling the fruity taste of alcohol numb his senses the longer he drank. When the bottle was empty, he was tempted to let it smash onto the balcony, to hell with it, to hell with this night, and to hell with him.

But something stopped him—a tiny cat’s paw resting on his ring as he clutched the neck of the bottle.

“Don’t lose yourself to darkness because of a woman,” Plagg scolded him, though his tone lacked the usual derision he held for humans and their emotions. “And yes, Ladybug is just that—a woman. It’s time you stop treating her like she’s the sun and stars, Adrien. Because she’s just a person. Just like you.”

A person? What person? He didn’t know what Plagg was talking about.

Adrien did not feel remotely like a person anymore.

Years of yearning, of dreaming…shattered the moment Ladybug looked at him with such horror in her eyes that he felt that he would be sick.

She would have no more to do with him. That much was certain.

He had ruined everything just as easily as if he had used his Cataclysm powers on the thread that tied him and Ladybug together. Both as Adrien, and as Chat Noir, he had lost her.

Well. That’ll make going against her a little easier, won’t it?

Adrien’s head spun uncomfortably. He slumped to the floor of his balcony, his loose hand letting the empty wine bottle roll away from him. His eyes felt hot and itchy, so he closed them, feeling something wet roll down his face.

All he could taste was wine, salt, and bitter defeat.

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

Part 5 of 37

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