Continuing Tales

Both of You

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

Part 2 of 53

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Marinette lazily shifted in her bed, slowly waking up to the rays of the sun gently caressing her face. The last thing she recalled from the night before was Chat Noir tenderly cradling her to sleep, trying uselessly to ease her pain. She didn't remember going to bed so she safely assumed he was the one who had tucked her in when she had finally managed to cry herself to sleep.

She felt uneasy knowing that Chat had gotten to see her so vulnerable. Without a doubt, he was going to ask her about it on his next visit, and she didn't know what acceptable lie he would take for an answer. Because there was no way she could tell him the plain and ugly truth. Absolutely no way that she could explain to him what was slowly and effectively breaking her without also telling him that she was his still faceless partner. That she was his one and only dear Ladybug.

How could she tell him that the pressure of managing her double life was taking its toll on her without giving out that she was Ladybug?

That she couldn't manage being bubbly sweet little Marinette, struggling with her final year of high school, her promising yet stressful future career as an haute couture designer; and Ladybug, Paris' beloved superhero that could do nothing wrong?

How could she tell him that she was tired of living on edge, afraid that someone would figure her out somehow? And then come after her loved ones? That she was deathly afraid that people she cared about, that he, out of all people, would get hurt because of who she was?

She was exhausted, juggling her superhero life along with classes, homework, designs and her part-time job at the bakery. She couldn't take it anymore, but she had no one to talk to about it apart from Tikki who couldn't fully understand despite her thousands of years of existence. Hence she had kept it safely all bottled up inside her. Well, up until that night. When Chat took her by surprise, and she wasn't able to compose herself before facing him when he unexpectedly landed on her balcony. His obvious compassion for her pain was her undoing and she had let her guard down in front of him.

She regretted it. Very much.

Because now she dreaded the questions to come.

Because she couldn't honestly answer any of them without revealing to him that she was Ladybug. And that, she couldn't imagine facing the consequences. Facing him coming to the realization that his beloved hero was only her, a zero.

Class had long started and Adrien had been staring intently at Marinette's back for almost twenty minutes now. Nino elbowed him alright, man? Haven't seen you look away from Marinette's hair for a while now! Trying to drill a hole in her head or what?"

Adrien shrugged. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just a little worried about her to be honest. Don't you find her a little bit... off, today?"

Nino laughed off the idea. "Marinette, off? Don't worry, man, she's probably thinking about some new design. She'll be brighter than ever before tomorrow."

Adrien knew Nino spoke from experience. True, Marinette had a tendency to bury herself into work whenever inspiration struck. The very the next day, she was usually back to her bubbly, happy, almost sappy self without even a second thought. So nobody ever questioned it anymore when she looked a bit down.

But Adrien knew all too well she wasn't okay.

He was trying to find the crack in her mask, in her perfect emotionless facade. He was trying to find an excuse to talk to her and ask her what was on her mind. The despair in her eyes the night before was hunting him every time he closed his and he just couldn't bear doing nothing to help her.

When the bell rang, every student in the room hurried to gather their things and leave. Adrien silently nodded to Nino to go on without him. As the classroom emptied he found himself alone with Marinette, who was slowly, painfully, putting her things back in her bag, her movements somewhat mechanical and robotic. When she got up, absorbed in her own thoughts, he lunged toward her and grabbed her wrist, startling her.

"A-Adrien? W-What..."

"Are you okay, Marinette? You seem preoccupied today. " He cut her off, unable to hide the concern in his eyes.

A sad smile flickered on her lips. "I-I guess I am. D-Don't worry about me, I'll b-be fine." She closed her eyes and smiled shyly. "I-I have a friend looking after me," she stated, surprising them both.

She didn't know why she had felt compelled to tell him that, but it felt right as she said it. She didn't want him to worry about her, it was more than enough that Chat had to witness her pain the night before. Adrien mused over what she had just said, wondering if said friend had pointy ears and was leather clad.

He tugged on her arm, snapping her attention back at him: "I just want you to know that I'm there for you if you ever need to talk about what's bothering you, or even just to vent a little.

She looked at him, and he finally saw it. The crack in her mask. Her usually amazingly blue eyes were dimmed, emotionless. Lifeless. "Thanks, Adrien. I... I appreciate it, though I-I'll be fine."

He reluctantly let go of her arm and she hurried past him and out of the classroom leaving a stunned Adrien behind her.

Plagg risked an eye out of his breast pocket. "What was that all about, Adrien? When did you start caring for her?"

"I... I don't know, Plagg. But she was so sad yesterday, so broken. I wish I could do something to cheer her up."

"I can think of a few things." The little kwami mumbled under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Nothing, nothing."

With a soft thud, Chat Noir landed on her balcony. He kneeled before her trap door, squinting his eyes trying to figure out if she was alone or not.

"It doesn't matter anyway, Tikki," he heard her say dryly. "To him I'll just ever be just plain, boring, little Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I don't even stand a chance."

That statement made Chat's heart drop a little in his chest. Sure, he himself had never thought of Marinette in a romantic way, his mind hopelessly filled with a certain red bug, but he couldn't believe that she thought so little of herself. Marinette was many things, but plain and boring she sure wasn't.

Uneasy at eavesdropping like that he tapped gently on the glass startling the young girl who jolted from her chair. She unlatched the trapdoor after a short delay where he heard shuffle behind the panel.

"Chat? I wasn't expecting you tonight. Is everything alright?"

Oh no, it wasn't. Not with what he just heard by accident, but he couldn't bluntly tell her just that. And something really bugged him. "Are you alone, princess? I heard voices."

Her cheeks flushed instantly and she stammered."Y-Y-yeah, I'm all by myself. I was talking to myself, you know, to fill the silence and such."

"Who's Tikki?" he asked pointedly.

Marinette's eyes went wide at this, and her brain kicked in, trying to find something plausible to send him off her track: "My plushie", she said, pointing at the little Chat Noir plush resting on her bed. A gag gift from Alya that she had grown to cherish over the years.

Chat's eyes narrowed. "You named a plushie made after me... Tikki?"

Marinette stammered. "Well, Kitty was a bit too obvious, so I thought..."

At that, she saw him relax. Good. He was buying it.

"So you named it Tikki. Clever." He chuckled lightly. "So, what were you talking about with Tikki? Maybe I could replace it as your confidant, princess. I'll behave. Well, I'll try." he added, trying to lighten her mood.

In vain. Her face darkened instantly. He almost regretted asking about it. Almost.

"I don't want to bother you with school problems, Chat. Surely you have something better to do with your time."

"To be honest, after the little number you pulled on me yesterday, I had to check on you. Make sure you're okay. Which clearly you aren't."

Marinette averted her eyes from the ground and forced herself to look at him dead in the eyes. He flinched. There it was again. The darkness in her unique blue eyes, the shadow lurking behind them.

"I'll be fine, silly kitty. You made sure of that. Thank you for putting me to bed, actually."

He sighed. "Don't feed me your little white lies, princess. I know you're upset. There was despair in your crying yesterday. And you talk in your sleep."

Now panic was all he could see in her eyes. Good. Panic was an emotion. Not a good one, but still.

"I... I what now?" was all she could manage to utter.

"You heard me. You talk in your sleep. Some gibberish about not being good enough for him, though I don't know who "him" is, and being exhausted. You also talked about unicorns and feeding them rainbows, but I took that as my cue to leave you alone with your dreams."

That was a long shot. She had never spoken in her sleep. In fact, when she finally cried herself to sleep the night before she was so heavy and motionless that he checked her for a pulse before tucking her tenderly into bed.

But he had to try. He had to try and crack the overly thick shell she had built around her. Around her heart.

She let out a deep sigh and shook her head as if she was trying to reorganize her thoughts. That's when he noticed how close he was standing to her. With a shy smile, he motioned for her to sit on her chaise and sat beside her, taking her hands into his own, caressing the back of her hand with his thumb.

"Hey. I'm your friend. You know that, right?"

She looked at him. There it was again. That shadow in her eyes, that... emptiness.

"I'm useless. Worthless. Boring. Plain," she blurted.

Chat didn't know what hurt most. Knowing that she truly believed all these lies, or being painfully aware that he could do next to nothing to convince her otherwise. Unless…

"Bullshit," he spat angrily.

She got up, not bothering to notice how upset she was making him now. Her voice was not loud since she was afraid of waking up her parents, but it was very audible. Firm. Certain. "No, it's true."


"Stop. Chat. Please stop. If you're REALLY my friend as you implied earlier, stop. I'm tired. Hell, I'm way beyond tired. I have to manage those designing gigs, school, the bakery that can barely sustain itself, young adult drama and... well... other stuff too. And I'm just tired. I can't take it anymore. I don't want to go on. In fact, what I would like most right now is a few years off the face of the earth."

His answer came instantly. "I can give you that."

"W-What?" Marinette stuttered, taken aback by his statement.

He shrugged, shifting closer to her, hoping she wouldn't notice his movements. "If that's want you really want, I can give you that. A week or two off the face of the earth."

"You're just saying that..."


There was a certainty in his words that made her look at him again. "Why would you do that?"

His heart sank a little further. "You need it. Like I said before, I'm your friend. I want you to heal, to be yourself once again."

Her smile was sad, sickening even. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to be myself again. But thanks."

Both of You

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

Part 2 of 53

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