Continuing Tales

How to Bond With a Cat

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

Part 17 of 19

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There was about a week until Valentine's day, and Adrien was falling deeper into a pit of despair. Nino had no idea why he seemed so conflicted about falling for Marinette. She was lovely. He'd known her since they were small and she'd always been lovely. But when Alya was complaining about Marinette falling for Chat Noir, Nino put two and two together and came up with 3.5.
Marinette liked Chat Noir.
Adrien liked Marinette.
That must be why Adrien was hurting so deeply. Well that was unacceptable. Nino would have to intervene. But if he just asked Marinette for his number, that'd be suspicious. And he couldn't go chasing Chat after an akuma attack, or he might find out who he really is. Plus Alya would be pissed if he did, especially after all the lectures he gave her about being careful and staying out of sight, so she didn't get hurt. No, he'd have to be subtler about this…
Nino waited by his window long after everyone in his house went to sleep. He didn't feel the sleep seep in. His determination kept him awake. This was important. Not just for him, but for Adrien. Well, determination, and headphones.
There he was!
Nino's hero.
He moved, cat like, through the chimney pots on top the rooves stretching past his window. He leapt two feet in the air when Nino banged on the window, which pleased Nino and made him feel guilty in equal measure. Chat tilted his head as Nino beckoned him over. He landed on the fire escape almost silently, and Nino yanked open the window between them.

"Hello citizen. Nino, right?" Chat Noir's eyes sparkled.

Usually he would have been ecstatic that Chat remembered his name. Not tonight though. Tonight, it made him feel a little guiltier. Nino cut through to the point. He couldn't drag it out. it would hurt too much.

Very seriously, Nino asked, "What are your intentions with Marinette?"

Chat Noir tilted his head, puzzled, "I'm sorry?"

"Marinette. My friend. What are your intentions with her?" Nino repeated, firmer.

Chat felt a bubble of nerve in his stomach. Lying to Marinette hurt, but lying to Nino was unacceptable. He had to avoid it at all costs.

"Um, why?" he asked.

"Tell me," Nino said, firmly.

Chat's ears flicked anxiously as he shrugged. "I intend to be her friend. There when she needs me. Ready with pizza and all that."

He gave a nervous smile, hoping that that would ease Nino's mind enough to end this conversation. it didn't. Nino folded his arms and his amber eyes bore into Chat, through the mask.

"Is that it?" He asked.

Chat licked his lips. "Um... why?"

"Is that it?" Nino repeated, firmer.

Chat opened his mouth, and then shut it. his ears flattened against his head because of the way Nino was staring at him. It was something he'd never seen before. Like he was desperately hoping that it wasn't true, that he didn't love her. like this was some kind of betrayal. That hurt more than Alya trying to break them up before they could even get together, because this was Nino. Nino. His first real friend.
And friends don't lie.

Chat bowed his head. "No... I love her, and I intend to tell her that."

Nino's chest heaved, and he dropped his head. Chat Noir winced. He didn't have a lot of fans like Marinette and Nino, not like Ladybug, and he was losing him. Nino drew a deep breath from somewhere. His tone was not one to argue with.


Chat frowned. "Why not?"

"Please just… don't."

Nino's voice quivered. Adrien knew that one more push, one little tap, and it would all come flooding out, like a confession he just couldn't hold back anymore. He hesitated. Did he really want to know?

"Why Nino?"

"Because she'll say yes. She'll run into your arms happily, and you're Chat Noir! You're literally her hero. So perfect no one else will stand a chance…" Nino hung his head with a sigh.

Chat's chest ached. The signs he'd picked up on so long ago, back when he thought Louis was Nino… it wasn't her in love with him. it was him in love with her… he closed his eyes. he had to ask, but he didn't want to know the answer.

"You Nino?"

Nino shook his head stiffly. "No, not me. Not anymore at least. I mean… My best mate, Adrien, he loves her. head over heels. He even took us all to the fashion week because he knew she wanted to go, and that he'd be too busy to keep her company, so he wanted her to not be alone..." A kind of desperation edged back into his tone again, "He's kind and thoughtful, and he cares, and he loves her, and he deserves this small, tiny piece of affection in return. His mothers gone, and his father might as well be as well, so he had nothing, and I'm begging you dude... Let Adrien have Marinette… please…"

Chat blinked in surprise. His jaw was hanging open. Whenever Nino spoke about Chat Noir it was always in awe of him. it wasn't going too far to say Nino had a bit of a crush on Chat himself. but he was still willing to stay up this late, to argue with his hero, the person he idolized, for Adrien. Now there was a precarious situation. He didn't want to smile, and make Nino think he wasn't taking this seriously, but he was so overjoyed to be loved, that his heart was glowing. He sighed.

"Nino… it's really brave what you just did. I'm sure Adrien would be proud to call you his friend. but Marinette isn't something to take or keep or win. She's a person. It's not down to me, it's down to her," Chat explained.

"yeah, I know, but… but can't you be like… like… I dunno, a little less utterly perfect?!" Nino huffed.

Chat couldn't help smirking at that one. Nino seemed so desperate to help Adrien to end up happy. That was a real friend. his first real friend. God he was so lucky he met Nino when he did. So, so lucky.

"you really love your friend, don't you?" Chat said.

"He means everything to me. I told you, he doesn't have a lot of love. I want him to. He deserves to. Marinette used to love him before you came along, so I'm begging you. Please let him win," Nino begged.

Chat took a deep breath, so his chest puffed out. "I can't promise you she won't choose me anyway. and I won't promise you that I will say no. she's the light of my life Nino. The highlight of my week. I'm pretty sure I would have died if she hadn't been there to save me. Twice!"


"But I promise that if she chooses Adrien, I won't intervein. I just want her to be happy. With or without me. Cats honour."

He crossed his heart with his hand, and held it up to Nino. Nino's shoulders sagged. "See what I mean about perfect?"

Chat laughed. the capsule of joy sliced though the sorrowful silence around them, and even Nino couldn't help smiling, even though he felt so helpless inside. Chat leaned forward and laid a hand on Nino's shoulder.

"You're a good friend Nino."

"Not good enough. I can't even help my friend get laid."

Chat's cheeks flushed pink and he took his hand back quickly. "Yeah, well, um, I'm sure he appreciates the effort."

Nino chuckled softly. "yeah, maybe…"

Chat's cat ears picked up a cry of alarm somewhere across the city. He was needed elsewhere. But Nino needed him too. Sometimes it was tough to be a hero.

"It's late. You have school in the morning. Get some rest," Chat said.

"yeah… dude, thanks anyway."

"Goodnight Nino."

Alya turned up on Nino's doorstep when he was still in his pyjamas. She had been awake for at least two hours already. If she slept at all that is. She probably didn't. she didn't quite often. He hadn't. Not well anyway. it showed.

"Did you sleep?" he yawned.

Alya sniggered. "Did you? You look worse than I feel."

"I… it's a long story," He sighed.

"I know the feeling. Go get dressed and you can tell me on the way to school," Alya practically ushered him back into the house.

Half an hour later Alya had packed him a breakfast to eat on the go, so they wouldn't be late, and packed his bag because he left his (unfinished) homework on the side even though it was due in second lesson. They were bundled up in warm clothes from the moment they stepped out of the door, because that icy wind blasted them relentlessly.

"Chat Noir could be good for Marinette. He could bring out her fun side, and she could reign him in, and they could be a good couple, right?" Alya asked.

Nino gave her a pained look. "Adrien is in love with Marinette Alya."

Alya smirked. "I know."

Nino stopped dead in the middle of the street, "What'd you mean you know?! Who told?!"

"I may have glasses but I'm not blind Nino! He's one smitten kitten," Alya sniggered.

Nino stared at her, confused at why she hadn't felt the need to tell him. then she wandered back to his side, linked her arm though his, and they wandered down the street again, sharing in the warmth of each other.

"Then you'll help me split them up?" he asked.

Alya frowned at him in confusion. "Split them up? Nino, didn't you get my message?"

"What message?" he frowned.

"the one I sent like two days ago!"

"I don't have voicemail anymore, I forgot the password and it's too much effort to change it,"

"You're hopeless you are," she rolled her eyes, but leaned closer towards him, affectionate about his uselessness. She lowered her voice slightly, so she could just be heard above the wind. "I found out who Chat Noir is."

"Really?! Who?"

Nino gasped in horrified awe. He didn't actually want to know anymore. He didn't want to know who he had bargained with last night, because if he knew them, it would be so embarrassing to have to face them. Alya, however, had no one else to share her discovery with, and was eager to tell Nino. Her eyes sparkled behind her glasses.


Nino stopped dead again, and Alya peeled away from him to drink in his reaction. Nino went through all five stages of grief over the next five minutes. Starting with the shock and denial.


"SHHH!" she hissed, and nodded eagerly. "I think so."

Nino let it sink in for a moment, and then wrinkled his nose, unconvinced. "Like you thought Chloe was Ladybug?"

Alya scowled at him, indignantly. "No! Better than that! that was stupid, this time I have more evidence."

"real evidence?" He arched an eyebrow.

"well it might not hold up in a court of law, but it's pretty damn compelling," She said, firmly.

Nino's unconvinced expression changed to annoyance. "That's stupid Alya! This whole thing is stupid! Chat Noir isn't Adrien, that's ridiculous!"

"Don't take that tone with me!"

"It can't be Adrien!"

"Why not?!"

"Because…" Nino searched for explanations, but found only questions. "Because if he's Chat Noir, how comes it's taken us so long to notice?"

"Under your nose is the last place you look," Alya shrugged.

Nino's frown deepened, "But he's been at akuma scenes before… he and Ladybug fought Riposte together."

"Yeah, but Chat Noir didn't. he's still the only boy in our class who's never met Chat Noir, and never been akumatized."

"Yeah but… But…" Nino's confused frown saddened. "But that means the only love he gets he gets in secret. No one can know who he is. No one can really love him. but no one really loves Adrien anyway, except you and me… Imagine being a hero of Paris, and not being loved for being yourself."

Nino bowed his head sadly for his friend. he hated that Adrien wasn't appreciated for the modelling work his father forced him to do, so the idea that in his limited spare time he also saved Paris, and was unappreciated for that too, deeply upset him. Alya growled in frustration.

"Dammit Nino! Now you've made me sad!"

"I made myself sad," Nino sighed.

"Dammit," Alya grumbled.

She grumbled under her breath as she struggled against her pocket to get her phone into her hand, and had to yank off her fox-coloured gloves with her teeth to be able to use it. Nino watched, fascinated.

"What are you doing?"

"Phoning Adrien!"

Nino's eyes widened. She couldn't drop a bombshell like Adrien being Chat and then invite him over!


"Because I want him to come into school early, so he can come get breakfast with us, and he doesn't have to be lonely," Alya snapped.

Nino, despite Alya's aggressive tone, could hear the concern in her voice. She was protective of him too, extra so now she knew he was Chat Noir, and she wasn't about to let him be sad if she could avoid it. That warmed the cockles of Nino's heart.

"I love you Alya," he said.

She pressed the phone to her ear as it rang. "I love you too dofus."

As the phone rang something dawned on Nino. He frowned thoughtfully, and allowed it to just sort of slip out. "If Adrien is Chat Noir, it means I just begged Adrien to let himself be happy…"

Adrien answered, urgently, "Hello Alya? what did you do? what did she say?"

"H-hold on a second Adrien," Alya held the phone to her chest and turned to glare at Nino. "You did what?!"

The fire in her eyes shook him to his core. She was a fiery one. Her mood could spin on a dime, and being on the receiving end was like being burnt by a dragon.

"I… It's a long story?" he offered.

Alya moved her phone to her forehead as she sighed again. "You've gotta tell me when you're going to intervene, so we can work together and not get under each other's feet Nino!"

"Sorry Alya…" he muttered.

She reached out and booped his nose gently. "You're lucky I love you."

Down the phone, Alya heard Adrien say, a little puzzled, "You love me?"

"Not you Adrien. Wait – err, yes you Adrien, I love you, but not like I love Nino, and I meant that for Nino and – oh just come downstairs so we can take you to breakfast," Alya huffed.

"Breakfast? What?" Adrien frowned.

"Me and Nino are going to the café by the school, the one we go to for lunch, and we're having breakfast there in ten minutes. Come meet us. We wanna talk," Alya said.

"Sure… sounds great," Adrien gulped.

"see you there."

She hung up on him. Alya slipped her phone back into her pocket and yanked back on her gloves. Her fingers were too numb to tell she'd even put them on in the first place. Nino linked his arm though hers this time

"you're a good friend Alya."

She gave a content sigh. "I know Nino. So are you."

"She's going to kill me." Adrien declared.

Yawning from his pillow, Plagg agreed. "Yeah probably."


It was hard not to be a little hurt that they hadn't invited her to their breakfast that morning, but Marinette guessed that they had their reasons. At least Alya seemed to have moved on from her determined quest to sabotage any chance at a relationship between Marinette and Chat Noir. Adrien seemed cheerier too. He was smiling and laughing with Nino, right in front of her. Marinette watched the way his smile curled the corners of his mouth. You never saw that in his magazines. That's how she knew this was his real smile. It still warmed her chest when she saw it.

"I know that look. Thinking about Mr perfect, are we?" Alya teased.

Marinette shook her head. "He's far from perfect. He's closer to purr-fect."

"Oh Mari! Your puns were bad before but this is a whole new level," Alya groaned.

In front of them listening eagerly to their conversation, Adrien grinned at the bad pun. He loved it. He could see where he was rubbing off on her, and he loved it.

"I was actually thinking about how much I wanna go home," she said.

"School just started," Alya pointed out.

"Yeah, I know, but it's Thursday. I have to talk to Chat about... you know..." Marinette trailed off pointedly.

Alya's eye edged towards Adrien. "Yeah I know. I have to talk to you about that too. Me and Nino."

Adrien glanced over at Nino, who was staring down at his work, as if he wasn't aware of the hot water his girlfriend had dropped him in. Marinette frowned suspiciously at Alya.

"And Nino?"

Alya nodded but promised, "It can wait."

Marinette kept glancing over at Adrien, even when she didn't want to. Alya once said he was the safer option. That he was less likely to hurt her. At the time just, his touch made her ache like she was sat on by an elephant, but it was always so blissful afterwards. This pain... this heartbreak... even though it wasn't for her, but her alter ego, it felt like lava had replaced her blood and everything burned. Right now the safer option was looking super safe.
His hair bounced as he turned to smile at her. For the first time in almost two months she felt her cheeks going pink. She cursed under her breath. One heartbreak and everything goes out the window.

"Are you coming to lunch?" Adrien asked.

"You go on ahead, we'll be right behind you," Alya said.

"Yeah, I'll catch up," Nino promised.

Confused, and more than a little anxious to know what they were up to, Adrien lingered outside. He couldn't hear very well, given that Alya and Nino kept their voices low, even in an empty classroom.

"I'm a reporter, if anyone knows the walls have ears, I do!" Alya pointed out.

Marinette leaned her head on her hand. "What's this all about?"

"That can wait, why have you gone back to making goo-goo eyes at Adrien?" Alya challenged.

Marinette raised her head at the accusations. "What?"

"You've been staring at him all day, why?" Alya asked.

"I haven't!" She argued.

"You have Mari..." Tikki said, quietly.

Marinette's shoulders sagged. "Have I?"

"Yes! Why?!" Alya demanded.

"I guess I just... I've been thinking about what you said. I love Chat Noir but he's reckless and dangerous, and I don't know if he could always be there when I need him-"

that was a lie. She knew why he was late to things because she was too, and she could forgive him for it easily. Right before her birthday there had been an akuma and he spent the entire time worrying about being able to get back to finding the perfect birthday present. Ladybug repeatedly told him not to worry now, but he was eager to get back to it. It was important, he said. That's when she knew she could rely on him, even if he was late in the end.

"You said he wasn't safe, and I mean, the day we met he asked for my help to capture and akuma, then I saved him, and he saved me at my birthday party from my own grandma, and this is ridiculous. Trouble follows him..."

Marinette sighed. Her heart ached for him. It ached every time she thought about him, or that messy hair, or those mischievous eyes, or that killer smile that made her knees weak. It hurt more recently.

"Ok now what's the real reason?" Nino asked.

Marinette frowned. "Huh?"

"Mari I've known you since you could talk I can tell when you're lying," Nino pointed out.

"You'd be surprised," Tikki muttered.

Marinette glanced between Alya and Nino. A rock, and a hard placed. She was sat right in thinking middle.

"Adrien is lovely and sweet and kind and thoughtful and... and I know him. How can I love someone I don't know?"

Alya and Nino shared a look. Alya's expression asked a question. Nino silently nodded in reply. Alya cleared her throat. Her voice was softer and more caring than before.

"Marinette... Adrien is Chat Noir."

Marinette frowned. She lifted her head to look up into her best friend's eyes. There was no way to explain the disbelief in her stomach. It had lessened since the last time she suggested it, but still hadn't died away.


"I found out the other day. Adrien is Chat Noir," Aly explained.

"You're lying," Marinette accused.

Tikki's heart beat faster. This was not how she was supposed to find out. It wasn't supposed to be one sided. They were supposed to defeat Hawkmoth, and take off their miraculous at the same time, so Plagg and Tikki could welcome Nooroo home. That's how it was in her mind.
An utterly happy ending.
Not like this.
Never like this.

"Think about it. Adrien's never met Chat Noir, every time there's an akuma and he's around Chat isn't, when we got locked inside a building, Chat happened to arrive right after Adrien went missing, Adrien wasn't at the Jagged Stone CD signing Chloe put on to become class president until he came running downstairs after the akuma with a bad pun!" Alya insisted.

"Chat loves bad puns..." Marinette whispered.

"Exactly!" Alya huffed.

"It could be a coincidence?" Marinette said hopefully.

"Tell her about the nails," Nino suggested.

"Right! Chat Noir paints your nails and now Adrien can paint like a pro too. You taught Chat to do hair and now Adrien is in our salon. What's it going to be next, you teach Chat to bake and Adrien suddenly brings in homemade macaroons?!" Alya demanded.

If this was good cop bad cop, Alya was definitely the bad cop. Nino was quieter and more careful. He knew how shocking this was. It was hours since he found out and it still hadn't sunken in fully.

"That would explain how you fell for him so easily too," he said, calmly.

"What, him being the same boy you've been in love with for over a year? Yeah maybe!" Alya huffed.

"How did you two even find out?" Marinette asked.

"I..." Alya trailed off. She really wasn't proud of how underhand she'd been. Still, no time like now to throw someone else under the bus. She pointed at Nino, "he threatened him."

Nino's eyes widened in alarm and then in fear as Marinette stared at him, horrified.

"You did what?" She demanded.

"I didn't threaten!" He hung his head in shame. "I begged him. And it wasn't about his identity, it was about... never mind."

Nino clamped his mouth shut. He had to protect Adrien. Marinette's eyes narrowed. He coiled back in fear. He knew what she could be like when she was angry. Tongue silver, like bullets.

"About what Nino?" She demanded.

Nino shrugged. "It doesn't matter."

Marinette folded her arms firmly. "Nino if you don't tell me I'm telling papa not to sell you salted caramel tarts anymore."

Nino's head snapped up, filled with more fear that ever before at the very idea of having to choose between his best friend and his favourite snack.

"You can't do that!" He gasped.

"You'd better tell me then," she threatened.

Nino was defeated. It came falling out, like a pained confession. Nino always had been one for the dramatics. "I... begged him... to... to leave you alone."

She reeled back. Her voice soft with surprise. "What?"

Nino tried to explain himself, desperately, "Not like that, I just asked him to stop being to perfect, because he doesn't love you back so it's not fair and-"

Marinette took his hands in her own and silenced him. Her own voice wasn't much stronger than his had been. "I love you Nino. I love that you care enough to do that. But, in future, don't. And anyway, he wouldn't tell you who he was because you begged him to stay away from me. What'd you really do?"

"Alya told me."

"How did you find out?"

Alya looked like a deer in headlights. She didn't want to tell her. It wasn't going to make her happy. It was going to make her mad, and the only time she ever saw Marinette annoyed was around Chloe. Alya didn't want to be like treated Chloe, even if she deserved it.

"I um... I showed Adrien this..."

Marinette's eyes widened as she took in the photo Alya was showing her.
Chat Noir...
Marinette knew it was fake. Marinette knew she was Ladybug. She knew that she was actually looking at a fake picture of her kissing her crush. And yet it broke the splinters of her heart again.

"Wh-why-why- why would you do this?!" Marinette asked, urgently.

Alya bowed her head, "I'm sorry."

Marinette glared at her, betrayed and heartbroken, and Alya felt that guilt in her stomach.

"What did you say to him?! He's going to be- I'm -why?!"

Nino bowed his head too, shamefully. "Sorry Marinette."

"Can you two just butt out?! I know you both mean well, but you have me and Chat all twisted and unsure what to do! We were completely fine until you got involved!"


"We were happy... when did things have to get so messy?!"


"I just wanna go back to December..."

She dropped her head in her arms to cover up the tears welling in her eyes. Alya and Nino stayed nearby. They knew this was their fault, and they felt that, but they didn't want her to feel alone. Tikki crept into her lap, to sympathise with her. It was only February, and yet December seemed so very long ago.

How to Bond With a Cat

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

Part 17 of 19

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