Continuing Tales

Truthful Scars

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

Part 12 of 21

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Untitled Document

Saying that Marinette was tired would be a severe understatement. She was completely, utterly, overwhelmingly exhausted.

The moment her alarm clock sounded its shrill alarm was the moment she desired to smash her phone against the wall in an annoyed fit over loss of sleep. How dare it wake her when it was supposed to! How dare it tell her it was time to get up for school?

Grumbling, the teen rolled to her side and silenced the alarm, letting out a small sigh at the silence that filled the room. Every fiber in her body begged for a few more moments of sleep; to shut her eyes and let the darkness of slumber envelop her. Who cares about school, right? Stay in bed, it told her, and Marinette swore for a second she could feel herself sinking deeper into the mattress as if it was nothing but a bundle of fluffy pink clouds.

Can't, She responded internally as she sat up, her back cracking when she stretched her arms into the air. I won't see Adrien if I don't go to school.

"Hm," Sighed Marinette, letting herself fall back into the comfort of her pillows at the thought of her blond-haired, green-eyed crush. Those gorgeous bright eyes and that tousled blond hair that reminded her of sunshine were simply breathtaking, and when accompanied by a pair of velvety black ears-

What? Marinette coughed as she sprung up from her mattress, blue eyes blown wide. Chat Noir had once again successfully weaved his way into her thoughts, plaguing her mind with images of a black mask and a thin body bathed in midnight. She tried to ignore the way her heart skipped a beat from the memories of the night before; the clean smell of his skin and how wonderful of a pillow his chest had made caused her cheeks to warm with a red hue she wasn't too thrilled about. Chat Noir doesn't make Ladybug blush.

Yet… He made Marinette blush quite often, unfortunately. She felt weak.

Chat Noir had slipped into her bedroom after a long night of tears and sorrow, seeking a place to stay that would comfort him and perhaps make him feel safe. He'd gone to her first; his first choice in whose bed he shared that evening had been her. He trusted her. Marinette could practically feel those claws delicately combing through her loose hair as they had done mere hours ago, the memory of his fingers on her scalp making her sigh. As she looked to her right, she frowned at the empty bedding and ran her fingers along the pastel sheets, searching for any trace of warmth he might have left behind.

Cool fabric met her fingertips. As usual, her feline colleague had left hours ago.

Marinette was beginning to wish he'd take on the habit of waking her up to say goodbye.

There was just something so undeniably soothing about sharing a bed with another person. The slow rise and fall of Chat's chest as he breathed, the tangle of their legs underneath the warmth of a blanket, and the way a steady heartbeat that wasn't her own lulled her into a state so peaceful she never wanted to rise. A sigh blew from Marinette's nose as she fondly recalled the gentle caress of Chat's breath upon her forehead. He'd held her so close against him in such an affectionate embrace that she could have mistaken Chat for desiring a little more than friendly attention.

It hadn't felt as nice to cuddle with him as it had Adrien, yet she couldn't help but wish that the black cat had never left.

No, I'm glad he left, Marinette hissed at herself internally, grimacing at her skylight. I do not like Chat Noir. I like Adrien.

I like them both?

I am a disgusting human being.

With a final groan of defeat, Marinette buried her face within the security of her pillow where nobody could see the pink in her cheeks. Adrien had kissed her and here she was, wishing Chat Noir was back in her bed with his arms wrapped around her petite frame.

Stupid cat, interfering with my feelings!

In a feeble attempt to block out the image of Chat, Marinette reminded herself of how wonderfully soft Adrien's lips had felt against her own. Warm and ginger, like a perfectly delicious cup of tea that sat comfortably within her belly. Yes, Adrien had kissed her. Adrien Agreste had kissed Marinette Dupain-Cheng. The model whose face was the epitome of golden sunlight had molded his lips against a simple baker's daughter's. In fact, Adrien even returned her feelings—at least, she assumed. Maybe he didn't feel as strongly as she did, but... Nobody just kisses someone at three in the morning while watching old news reports without feeling something.

Before Marinette could delve on the thought much longer, her alarm went off a second time, reminding her that school was in fact still in session. A huff of annoyance left her as she kicked off her blankets and let them fall to the mattress in a heap of pink and white. Not even seconds after she'd silenced the screeching of her phone, her mother peeked in through the trapdoor, gray eyes wide with surprise.

"Marinette!" Sabine didn't seem too happy to find her daughter still in bed. "What are you still doing here? School starts in four minutes! You're going to be late."

"What!?" Scrambling out of bed as if her ass had been lit on fire, Marinette rushed to get ready, frowning at the unattractive sight in the vanity mirror. Messy hair and bags under the eyes from sleeping in makeup greeted her with a groggy frown as she combed through her knotted locks, hastily tying her hair up pigtails. How long had she been lying in bed thinking about blond hair and green eyes?

"I'll leave you to it," Her mother sighed before shutting the door, allowing Marinette to undress in private.

If her room hadn't been such a mess from the day before when she'd tore it apart looking for a certain black fabric, it would have been easier to locate some wearable clothing that wasn't pajamas or underwear. Clothes and fabric were strewn all across the hardwood floor, leaving Marinette in a frenzied panic as she attempted to find something to wear. Forming a decent outfit in under fifteen seconds in a clean room was barely manageable, so in the cluttered state her bedroom was currently in, it was damn near impossible.

"What about this pile?" Tikki offered as she hovered above a small heap of clothing. "Look, Marinette. The clothes on top are clean."

The black tank-top and faded blue skinny jeans didn't exactly fit into Marinette's fashion taste, but there was no time to search for an alternative. Slipping them on with a thank-you-Tikki to her Kwami, Marinette rushed to the bathroom to clean and fix the leftover makeup upon her face. She'd barely finished brushing her teeth before she threw on whatever article of white clothing that had been folded neatly upon her desk to avoid the risk of getting dresscode (because obviously, bare shoulders are such a turn on!)

"Okay, Tikki," She breathed, smoothing out her shirt with a glance to the ticking clock on the wall. "I'm ready to go."

Grabbing her schoolbag in a haste, she bolted down the stairs and out of the bakery with a reminder from her mother that she needed to clean her room after school and blueberry bagel clenched between her teeth. There'd been no time for a formal breakfast.

Guess I'm eating fast food today, she thought with a grin as her flats pounded against the pavement. Chat Noir would have been proud of that pun.

As she dashed towards the school, Marinette pulled her phone out of her purse to check the time—five minutes past the bell wasn't too bad, she decided, her feet carrying her up the stairs (without tripping!) and into the courtyard. It was a miracle that she'd made it to the door of her homeroom without falling flat on her face. With Ladybug's yo-yo and boundless confidence, running was a lot less of a challenge; usually, for Marinette, moving at a faster pace than simply walking ended with scraped knees and a face full of concrete.

Marinette slipped into the classroom silently, slithering back against the wall and praying she wouldn't be caught by the the teacher, who currently faced the board. With a sigh of relief, she managed to slide into her seat unnoticed. When a few glances and hushed whispers from her classmates rose from the silence, Marinette frowned, curious as to why everyone was staring at her as if her hair had been lit aflame. A small giggle from her right made her turn with a confused gaze to Alya, who covered her mouth with a hand to stifle her snickers. Marinette rose an eyebrow and parted her lips to speak, but was quickly silenced as Ms. Bustier turned and began teaching a lesson.

A rather boring lesson. A lesson that droned on and on about a subject Marinette had heard countless times before. During times of classroom boredom, Marinette would usually resort to staring at the back of Adrien's gorgeous head and daydreaming. Yet, when her eyes fell upon the model's seat, she was surprised to find that her crush's spot was vacant, leaving a lonesome Nino to scribble notes on looseleaf paper alone.

Odd, Marinette thought with a frown, cocking her head to the side. Adrien never misses school.

Maybe he'd caught a cold over the weekend—well, Marinette hoped not, or else she was due to get it too since they'd shared a kiss. Perhaps he had slept in by accident, or had a photoshoot to attend to early in the morning. Or, maybe, he was caught in traffic due to an accident up the road, or maybe he was the accident that was up the road—maybe Adrien was hurt and in the hospital and that's why he wasn't present! What if Adrien died?!

Alya must have caught her panicked expression, because it certainly wasn't Marinette's hand that had wrapped around her own. Alya gave her knuckles a comforting squeeze before shooting her a look that said, "I'm sure he's fine."

Marinette knew she was probably right—she was most of the time. It was more likely that Adrien was at home or modelling rather than being in a morgue, so there was really nothing to worry about... At least, she hoped.

With a disappointed sigh, Marinette gazed at the chalkboard with little interest as Ms. Bustier instructed them on what the teen had come to realize was a review for their final test of the year. A few small yawns came here and there, some from classmates but mostly from Marinette herself. As her eyes grew heavy, she began to regret staying up so late with Chat Noir. Sure, she'd never regret sitting on a rooftop until midnight helping her partner calm down, yet part of her wished they had retired to bed earlier; after all, Marinette hadn't done much more sleeping when he'd crawled into her bed not ten minutes after she'd gone home. Chat had drifted off relatively quickly, his head nuzzled deep within her pillow and his claws combing out the scarce knots in her hair, but Marinette could barely sleep. She had lie awake, her heavy gaze glued to the ceiling as she contemplated why exactly Chat Noir gave her the same fluttery feeling Adrien had when his fingertips brushed her own for the very first time on that rainy day nearly a year ago.

Confusion had kept her tossing and turning (in the least disruptive way possible—by all means, she hadn't wanted to wake the slumbering kitten who'd slept so peacefully with his arms cradled around her body.) Although her efforts to not disturb her partner had been extravagant, she'd eventually lost the battle and caused Chat to blink open those fiery green eyes with a small groan. Marinette had felt bad. She'd only gotten up to use the bathroom, but her movement had been too much for the light sleeper; he'd sat up and waited for her to return with open arms.

He'd told her he would stay forever if he could. The words rang in her mind like a gong's echo that never quieted.

When she'd finally laid back down within the toasty embrace of her favorite feline, Marinette had found sleep to come much, much easier. There was just something so safe about being completely enveloped by her protective partner's strong (yet surprisingly thin) arms. She could practically feel the vibration of his purr as she folded her arms on the desk and rested her head upon them, nuzzling into the comfort of her own skin.

Forearms never failed to make an adequate pillow when in need, but the chest of another would always be the best surface to rest her head upon.

She'd only meant to close her eyes for a moment. A split-second of connecting her eyelids and just like that, she was out like a light, her body relaxing into a heap of sleeping student. The bell had been her wake-up call, startling Marinette into a gasp.

"Girl," Alya began, giving her sleepy friend a nudge with her elbow. "You slept through the whole class! Did you even sleep at all last night?"

Marinette gave a simple shake of her head, grinning sheepishly. "Not much. I was up until three in the morning."

"What were you even doing up that late?" Alya rose a curious brow as she gathered her items into her schoolbag, stealing a glance at her friend's shirt.

Why is everyone staring at my clothes today?

"Uh," Nervously shifting her eyes, Marinette nodded, slinging her purse over her shoulder. "Sewing, and, uh… Making my room a mess looking for fabric."

Alya snorted. "Which I'm guessing you have to clean after school."

"Unfortunately," Marinette responded with a tired nod, giving her friend an apology before walking off to her locker. Suppressing a heavy yawn, Marinette lifted a hand to rub her eyes, but froze as she quickly remembered with a slight panic that she was wearing mascara. She didn't need to give herself a Chat Noir mask by smudging black all over her face.

God, Marinette thought with a yawn, her eyelids drooping as she walked in a zombie-like trance toward her locker. I need a nap.

And then she was met by a male body—a familiar tall and thin one—as her face collided against a broad chest. A chest she had her face pressed into Saturday night when he'd fallen asleep in her bed. A chest whose owner placed a hand on her shoulder to steady her before she tripped and embarrassed herself in front of him for what seemed would be the hundredth time. A chest that belonged to Adrien.

Apparently, I also need glasses.

"Don't fall," Laughed the model, although his voice seemed so foreign compared to his usual bright and friendly tone. It was empty and soft, quietly broken as if he'd been doing nothing but crying all morning. As Marinette stole a glance upwards, his eyes gave him away immediately; although dry, they were dull and clouded with sadness. His smile didn't meet his gaze.

"Adrien," Marinette breathed, smiling on instinct at the sight of her friend—her crush. "You look so tired."

His smile fell. Marinette mentally cursed herself for not thinking before she spoke. Now you've made him sad! "Yeah, I… I'm pretty, uh, tired."

Frowning, Marinette allowed herself to give him a quick lookover. His skin was a ghostly pale and those summer green eyes which usually glowed like little balls of sunshine had darkened to a gray cloud of sorrow. Even his hair was unstyled; a messy mop of blond that seemed a little too familiar for Marinette's taste. His normally neat clothes were disheveled, the signature black shirt wrinkled and blue jeans worn and faded. A horrible mix of sympathy and despair tugged at Marinette's heart from the sight displayed in front her. Adrien looked so shattered.

"Are-" She glanced over him once more, concern apparent on her features. "Are you sick?"

Adrien shook his head, tearing his gaze away from her as he fumbled with his lock. "I'm fine."

He's anything but fine.

Marinette watched him for a moment, studying the way his hands trembled as he pulled a mathematics textbook from his locker and how he struggled to simply unzip his schoolbag. He must have taken notice to her watching him because his eyes met hers for a moment before his lips curled upwards into a tiny grin that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Hey, you're wearing my shirt."

"I-I am?" She hadn't meant for her voice to sound so squeaky. A quick scan of herself confirmed Adrien's words; she was indeed wearing the shirt he'd left at her house two days prior. Apparently, in her rush to dress herself and get the hell out of the bakery, she'd slipped Adrien's button-up over her tanktop without thinking anything of it.

So that's why everyone had been staring, she mused, her eyes falling to the floor.

Marinette's cheeks reddened with the thought of her classmates getting the wrong idea. She was only wearing his shirt because she'd been pressed for time, and although they had become quite friendly Saturday night, nothing more than a little kissing and cuddling had gone on.

Adrien chuckled, his voice subdued. "You are. It looks better on you than it does on me, actually." He gave her a genuine smile—a small smile, but a smile nonetheless. "I'm glad I let you keep it."

Marinette let out a light laugh. "It's a little big."

"That's because you're tiny," He replied with a grin. "Your head only reaches my chest."

"That's okay," Marinette giggled, the familiar feeling of positive heat rising to her cheeks. "I like tall guys."

Adrien's eyes widened a fraction, Marinette having a moment of brief panic as she regretted ever learning the French language. Yet, when Adrien broke out into a full smile, all of her negative thoughts faded; she'd made him smile when he needed it most. A fuzziness rose within her chest that sparked a pleasant flame when he laid his hand upon her shoulder, his fingers curling around the curve just slightly.

"Well," He began, the sadness in his voice now faint. "I like short girls." He gave her nose a gentle poke before closing his locker and repositioning his schoolbag over his shoulder. "So it's a good thing that-"

A quiet meow came from behind them, so quiet that Marinette swore she'd been hearing things. Adrien turned, surprise evident on his face as she, too, found herself staring into the wide amber eyes of a black feline gazing up at them expectantly.

"Is that-"

"It's a cat."

"A cat," Marinette breathed, cocking her head to the side curiously. "In- in the school. You're seeing that, too, right?" Her blue eyes widened. "I'm not just extremely sleep deprived?"

Adrien shook his head. "No, I see it."

A lithe black feline with fur as dark as coal sat with its tail curled around its paws, whiskers twitching. With a flick of its ear, it mewled in wanting, midnight paws padding against the cool floor as it approached with caution. Its pink nose grazed Adrien's shoe and gave him a thorough sniff, the beginnings of a low purr rumbling within its throat.

Marinette smiled, curious about the cat's presence. Who knew how this cat had manage to slip into the school or why it was there, but it was certainly becoming friendly with Adrien. Marinette couldn't help but be reminded of a certain other feline who she'd been seeing a lot more of lately.

Leaning down, Marinette grinned, reaching out a fist for the animal to sniff. She squeaked in surprise as it recoiled, barring its teeth in an angered hiss with a paw outstretched to swat at her hand.

"Hey!" Marinette gasped, pulling her hand back and holding it protectively against her chest. The little fucker had definitely given her something to remember it by, judging by the stinging sensation that rose from her knuckles. "See, this is why I don't like cats."

"Maybe it's because she doesn't like competition," Adrien offered with a satisfied grin, clearly pleased by the fact that the cat had no issues with him scratching under its chin. "Aw, she's sweet, Marinette. You probably just scared her."

"Doubt it," Marinette huffed, "I think it's just mean. Black cats only cause trouble."

Adrien gave her a sideways glance, his brows furrowed curiously. "And why do you say that?"

"N-no reason," She replied, fighting the way her voice threatened to waver with a swallow.

"Well," His voice was soft. "I like black cats. They're my fav-"

A second cry of attention in a higher pitch caused Marinette to turn again. Her eyes met those of icy blue, which belonged to a fluffy silver tabby, making a total of two cats in their presence. "Another one?"

Adrien smiled, sitting on his heels as he allowed the black feline to crawl into his lap. "This school just got a million times better."

Of course he'd be a cat person, Marinette sighed internally, repressing the urge to roll her eyes (no matter how adorable it was that Adrien now had two cats fawning over him like he was some godly woodland prince beloved by all the creatures of the land.)

Adrien could barely handle two cats lounging in his lap, so when a third joined, followed by a fourth and a fifth, the poor teen was overrun by excited felines who wanted nothing more than to be pet and scratched. Marinette scowled, glaring as cats of all sizes and colors begged for attention from Adrien—her Adrien.

Her Adrien that was currently being smothered by scratch-seeking, furry missiles.

Marinette would have growled had she not been distracted by students fleeing down the hallway from cats hissing at their heels. With wide blue eyes, she set her eyes on Adrien, who had become completely surrounded by the mass of cats that purred and rubbed against him. A feeling of jealousy overtook her before she reminded herself that those are cats, Marinette, not supermodels, calm down. Besides, Adrien was laughing, his mouth stretched wide in a smile so big that she swore it had no place being on Adrien's face. His laughter was pure and gleeful as the cats' whiskers tickled his skin, leaving him in a pile on the floor that they had claimed as their new bed. The sight was almost too adorable for Marinette to bear: Adrien lying flat on his back, a heap of rumbling felines curled around him while the kittens of the group took shelter upon his chest and stomach.

"Marinette," He whispered, his grin stretching from ear-to-ear. "Quick, take a picture."

"Uh," Marinette glanced back at the hallway, where yowls and hisses were followed by the sound of students shrieking in fear. "Maybe now's not the best time? I think-" A crash confirmed her suspicions. "I think this may be an akuma attack. That's why there are so many cats."

Adrien muttered a complaint before (very gently) removing the kittens from his person, maneuvering around the cluster of cats that had bundled together for maximum warmth. "Why do all good things have to come to an end?"

Echoes of screams filtered through the hallway as Marinette buzzed impatiently. She needed to get away, to hide, to transform and deal with whatever akuma that was wreaking havoc among the streets of Paris. Tapping her feet, she shot Adrien a forced smile as he stood and brushed the fur from his black shirt. Marinette sneezed as it blew past her nose.

"You may not like cats," Adrien chuckled, "but you sure do sneeze like one."

A blush tingled upon her cheeks. Did that mean he thought her sneeze was cute? No—no time to dwell on that. There's an akuma to capture.

"We should find somewhere safe," She told him, instinctively going to grab his hand but hesitatingly as she quickly realized that holding hands with Adrien had yet to become something they were accustomed to. "It's dangerous here."

Adrien nodded, doing what she had been too nervous to by grasping her hand and pulling her down the hallway. With a glance back, Marinette found that the cats were close behind, enraged that their new favorite person had fled from their affections. She hissed under her breath as her and Adrien dashed through the swarms of feline.

"I didn't know there were so many cats in Paris," Adrien laughed as he turned a corner, his feet skidding to a stop to avoid the gang of tabbies that raised their hackles and spat as if they were the scum of the Earth. Behind them, cats flooded in, tails thrashing and teeth bared in a threat to pounce. They had no choice but to back up until their bodies hit the wall. There were no stairs nearby, and not a door close enough to slip into—the cats had cornered them completely with a barricade of fur and claws.

Marinette grumbled an obscenity under her breath. "I hate cats."

Tapping his chin, Adrien's face seemed to light up the moment he snapped his fingers from a sudden idea. Marinette internally prayed that it involved them splitting up, even for just a moment to give her an opportunity to transform. Ladybug was a hell of a lot more help when it came to defending citizens than Marinette could ever hope to be.

"They seemed to like me well enough," He began with a grin as he inched towards the approaching wall of felines. "If I distract them, can you promise me you'll find somewhere safe to hide?" His face softened with an emotion Marinette couldn't decipher. "I don't want you getting hurt."

Marinette nodded, allowing him to lean down with only slight hesitance. She feared the cats would scratch or bite, but when Adrien stretched out a closed fist, they simply sniffed and bounded to him in excitement as if he had treats for every last one of them. They pounced upon him, begging for attention with longing mewls and happy cries. Overrun by the mass of friendly felines, Adrien fell to his rear, laughing with glee as cats of all breeds found a part of his body to affectionately rub against.

A single thumbs-up was presented to her from underneath the bundle of cats, assuring Marinette that he would be safe. It was apparent these cats didn't want to harm him, although she wasn't entirely sure why—they'd been perfectly happy to attempt to maul every other student, including herself.

Maybe they just knew how good of a heart Adrien possessed.

While the cats were distracted, Marinette took the opportunity to slip away, shooting back a glance at Adrien before she made her way down the stairs. Somehow, he'd already disappeared, leaving a crowd of yowling cats behind. Where could he have run off to that quickly?

Although anxious, she knew she had other issues to attend to—capturing and purifying the akuma being the most important. With a quick scan of the courtyard, Marinette allowed herself to sprint across the open area, avoiding the cats that padded about as if they owned the place. The bathroom, she told herself, gotta get to the bathroom. I can transform there.

A startled yowl caught Marinette off guard as she stumbled, tripping over the body of a lounging (and rather fat) feline. She tumbled, rolling onto the rough flooring until she found herself in a world of pain as the back of her head collided against the cold surface of a stair step. Her vision filled with black for a split second before bright sunlight filled her gaze and caused a sharp throbbing to send a shock through her brain.

It was too difficult a task to stand—her vision was nothing but a blurry mess of color and her head spun in a dizzy haze. A horrible nauseating feeling took over her for just a moment before she found the strength to pull herself to her feet, steadying her wobbling body with a hand pressed against the side of the staircase.

Her ears rang a piercing tune, blocking out all other noise for a second or two before a thunderous, angry roar filled the air and shook the school with its mighty call. Marinette stumbled, the volume of the bellow burying its way into her head and causing a sickening ache that made everything seem a little too bright. She couldn't pinpoint the owner of the deafening roar, yet it appeared to be growing louder, more intense, as if it was approaching on heavy feet.

Marinette saw it before she had the chance to flee. A hulking gray beast with fangs as sharp as a honed blade jutted out of its furry muzzle, where white whiskers protruded like a million threads. It stalked on four long furry legs that led down to gigantic paws, inky black claws attached to each toe. With an infuriated howl, the cat-like monster's deep red eyes met her own, its pupils thinning to narrow slits of midnight that made it clear Marinette was the next item on its dining list.

Its tail was a furry whip, leaving deep indents into the walls. Fangs bared, it cried out as it caught her scent, lowering its haunches in preparation to pounce. Marinette felt her stomach plummet to the bottom of her feet in realization that she was a little too dizzy from the throbbing ache in her head to escape as quickly as she needed to, and worse—she had no time to transform!

Her feet were silent as she backed up along the stairs, deciding it was best to get on higher ground so that she had the advantage. She'd nearly tripped on her ascent and she was definitely moving slower than usual, but now was no time to give in to the heavy sensation of drowsiness that plagued her mind; Marinette needed to flee and find a safe place to transform so she could kick this akuma's ass!

Like the graceful goddess Marinette was, she tripped on the final step, toppling backwards onto the flooring, which scraped her hands as she protected herself from the fall. She was used to the usual clumsiness, but something was off about her balance, as if she could barely stand up straight without the threat of falling over. Her head screamed and begged for rest, to just go home and crawl up in bed and sleep, but Marinette knew now was not the time—there was a giant cat-like werebeast prowling the school in search of prey. It certainly wasn't the type of akuma that she could leave and come back to later.

Her body swayed as she composed herself, bracing a hand against the wall for balance while she made her way to the upstairs bathroom. The moment her fingers wrapped around the handle of the door that led to the bathrooms, Marinette felt the ground tremble, shaking with the sheer force of power that the werebeast's paws caused to vibrate through the building as it landed from its pounce. A low, throaty growl rose from its throat, saliva dripping from its open mouth. Marinette froze.

Don't move, she told herself, blue eyes wide with a mixture of fear and determination. Maybe it won't see me-

It did.

Never let it be said that Marinette was a coward. When it came down to it, she could hold her own in a fight, with or without the spotted suit. Whether it was up against Chloe, a normal every-day akuma, or a frothing, mangy werebeast that lunged at her with its jaws outstretched, she could handle it. Although her reaction time was a bit delayed, Marinette slunk out of the way of the powerful snap of teeth, landing a full-forced punch straight into the center of the beast's muzzle. The cat recoiled, hissing in pain as it spat crimson to the floor, claws raking the concrete.

If she hadn't been in the realm between alert and unconscious, Marinette would have grinned, but after moving out of the beast's line of attack so quickly, she'd given herself quite the dizzy spell. Her legs gave out underneath her from the sickening speed at which the world spun, leaving her nothing but a nauseous, confused teenager sitting on the floor of the upstairs hallway. A gurgled growl sounded from in front her and the feel of some sort of fluid—either saliva or blood—dripping onto her jeans reminded her that yes, there is still an enraged person akumatized as a werecat on the loose.

The only problem was that she felt too foggy to do anything.

Daring to glance up, Marinette's gaze met that of burning red, the scruffy gray beast looming above her with breath so hot and putrid that if the nauseous feeling from banging her head didn't make her puke, the scent of the creature surely would. Grimacing, she crawled backwards until her shoulders hit the wall, trapping her between brick and the drooling beast. She closed her hand in a tight fist, preparing to muster all of her strength into a single punch so forceful that she'd hopefully knock the damn thing out cold.

It spat, hissing as it lunged for her neck—only to be knocked backwards by the contact of her fist to its face. Or, so, she had thought it was her fist; instead, the source of the monster's pain was a silver baton with a glowing green cat paw upon the base.

Before Marinette could process what had occurred, she was flying, her body soaring through the air at such an alarming speed that she swore she'd lose what little breakfast she'd had all over the thin black figure that carried her across Parisian rooftops. Her headache pounded so intensely that she felt as if someone had taken a sledgehammer and slammed it across the back of her skull.

Marinette groaned, shutting her eyes to rid the sickeningly bright blur of the world around her as it flew by. Whoever had been holding her set her on her feet in the gentlest motion she'd ever had the pleasure to experience, a clawed hand laying atop her shoulder to steady her wobbling legs. How the hell was she supposed to save Paris if she could barely stand up straight?

"Princess, you ought to be more careful," A familiar voice rang, "you've hurt yourself."

She felt too sick to speak.

"Marinette, you're bleeding!"

"What? Oh," Sunlight flooded her eyes as she opened them. Chat Noir stood in front of her, his green gaze staring at her legs with worry. Chat had saved her when she'd been too dizzy to save herself and even brought her home, on top of her terrace. Typical hero boy. "That's not my blood."

Chat's eyes widened. "It's not? Whose is it?"

"The akuma's," Marinette responded weakly, bracing herself with a hand against his chest.

"The akuma was bleeding?"

She blinked. "I, um… It was was my fault. I kind of punched it. In the face. Hard."

"So that wasn't your puddle of blood on the floor?" The relief that washed over Chat's face was almost too much to bear. Did he really care that much…? And was that tone a hint of her partner being impressed?

Marinette nodded, but instantly regretted the movement as it caused her head to throb in agony. She'd definitely need a painkiller or two after they dealt with the werebeast. "No, I'm… I'm fine."

A lie.

"Do you need me to carry you inside?" Ugh, Chat Noir, the ever-caring, gentlemanly superhero who was more concerned with whether or not she needed a lift into bed rather than the fact that there was a rampaging furry beast tearing up the school with its army of domestic cats. "You look really sick. Are you sure you're alright?"

"I'm fine," She told him, resisting the urge to rub at the painful spot on the back of her head.

Chat faltered, stealing a glance back at the school before sighing and nodding. "I'd stay inside until Ladybug and I deal with this nasty kitty, just to be safe." He gave a half-hearted chuckle. "Not all of us cats are mean, you know."

"I can tell," Marinette responded with a weak grin. "A mean cat would have left me to be eaten by that akuma. I think I've had my fill of kitties for today, though."

Chat grinned, letting out a soft laugh as he shot her a wink. "Well, at least this kitty's on your side!" Extending his baton, he hopped onto the silver railing of the terrace, giving her a final wave before preparing to leap. "See you around, princess."

And then, he was gone. Just like that, he'd swooped in, plucked her from the ground and carried her off to safety before he left to protect the millions of other citizens within the city. Marinette sighed, watching her partner bound from the roof of the school and into the courtyard, where the hundreds of cats most likely swarmed in waiting for prey to wander into their little paws.

There was no use just standing around.

Slipping into her bedroom, Marinette smiled as Tikki flitted out from her purse with an anxious buzz. The little Kwami looked incredibly distraught as she examined her Chosen's face, zipping around her head so fast that Marinette had to shut her eyes to avoid getting dizzy again.

"Marinette, Chat Noir was right," The little goddess squeaked, "you're hurt."

Marinette frowned. "I'm fine, Tikki. We need to transform."

Tikki was clearly in a dilemma. "I know, but I think you should be careful. You've hurt your head pretty bad and I don't want you to make it worse."

"I know" Marinette replied with a quirk of her eyebrow. "But there's a giant cat-human-werewolf thing out there that needs to be stopped before it hurts anyone. If I take it easy, someone might die."

Her Kwami sighed. "Just try not to hurt yourself too much, Marinette. An injured Ladybug is no good against Hawk Moth's akumas."

"I know, I'll be safe, Tikki." Marinette felt grateful for her Kwami's concern, even if she couldn't entirely take her advice. "Spots on!"

Her suit materialized around her in a flash of red and pink, the magic of her transformation dulling the effects of her headache just slightly to the point where it was only a little less than bearable. Still, it was an improvement from the sluggish dizziness she'd felt prior to being covered in spots. With a breath of relief, Marinette exited through her skylight and swung off towards the school, her eyes widening at the sight displayed before her.

A group of students who had been hiding within the bushes fled from the fierce werebeast in a desperate attempt to escape its hungry jaws. The cat lunged, a ginormous paw outstretched to grasp one of the teenagers—only to have its furry appendage smacked back by a silver baton. Chat Noir dropped in between the monster and the students (which happened to be a few of Marinette's classmates) and hissed, his hackles rising and teeth bared in a warning that if it didn't back off, he'd make it do so. She'd almost forgotten that Chat had a pair of fangs of his own, although they were about ten times smaller than the massive teeth their current enemy sported.

Marinette had never seen her partner look so… Feral. It was almost frightening, to say the least, but it definitely got his point across. The werecat flinched—just slightly—before growling and raising a matted forearm to strike.

Her yo-yo was quicker than the blundering beast. It rammed into the side of its paw, causing it to stumble backwards and let out a surprised whimper. Its mouth foamed with rage as it limped away, bumbling through the streets and smashing parked cars. Marinette bit the side of her cheek in concentration. The akuma may have been large, but due to its size it was certainly slower than she and Chat's top speed. They needed a plan.

"Chat," She breathed as she approached her partner. "Are you okay?"

Chat Noir nodded, his lips stretching into a confident smirk as he retracted his baton and placed it upon his back. "Not a scratch on me. I think I've made it prettyclear that I'm the alpha cat of the neighborhood."

Marinette snorted, reminding herself not to shake her head or roll her eyes—she still felt quite ill. "Oh, I'm sure. Although, I don't think our little kitty there wants to see things your way."

"He'll just have to," Her partner responded through a cocky smile. "Don't you know that the most handsome cat gets the cream?"

A roll of her eyes. Ouch, pain. "If we let him destroy the city, neither of you will be getting anything, no matter your looks."

Chat shrugged, his smile never fading. "At least I'll still have you. Right, Bugaboo?"

"You can dream, kitty."

"That's the plan."

Marinette gave a soft laugh before she hooked her yo-yo on a lamppost across the street. "Actually, the plan is to capture the akuma and purify it so we can resume life as normal."

"Still a pretty good plan."

Shaking her head (and regretting the movement moments after), Marinette zipped across the street and flung onto the roof of a little fabric shop she often visited as her civilian self. It seemed like the raging werecat had torn apart its fair share of cloth before charging down the street in search of something else to destroy. A trail of yarn in all colors was strewn down the road and, as Marinette swung to the building that rounded the corner, saw that it stopped abruptly just before Le Grand Paris hotel, which had certainly seen better days. The entire entrance had been smashed through, leaving a gaping hole where the doors had once been.

Chat landed beside her with a frown. "Uh oh. Do you think he-"

A scream cut him off before he could even finish his statement.

Marinette sighed. "Yep."

From the moment the two burst into the hotel, Marinette knew that defeating this particular akuma would prove to be no easy task. It seemed as if the swarm of Parisian cats had migrated from the school to the lobby of the hotel, where they scratched up furniture and destroyed plants. If anyone dared approach, they'd be met by a pawful of sharp claws. Marinette knew that herself from experience.

"Ugh," She groaned, pressing a hand to her aching head. The headache was only getting worse the more she moved around. "These damn cats, they're everywhere! How are we supposed to capture the akuma if we can't even get within two feet of these cats without drawing blood?"

Marinette sighed in frustration as a fat little calico nipped at her leg and received a gentle shove of her foot in return. If only Adrien were here, he could-

...Do exactly what Chat Noir is doing.

Chat sat on his knees, tapping his thighs with his hands to attract the cats' attention. When one came padding over, another followed, until the entire population of cats within the lobby bounded to him in excitement. They purred, mewled, rubbed and rolled all over her partner, giving Marinette a very odd sense of Deja Vu—as if this had just happened sometime earlier in the day. An uncomfortable feeling washed over her so strongly to the point where she needed to look away. Perhaps it was the increasingly painful headache that was making her feel so odd.

"I've got them," Chat told her as his arms enveloped a clump of feline. "Go find the akuma. I'll be right behind you."

Nodding (painfully), Marinette scouted the interior of the hotel from the bottom to the top. It wasn't until she heard a shriek from the service elevator that it occurred to her the akuma must be in the kitchen. Slipping inside the tiny box, she pulled herself down, fighting off the wave of sickness that crashed over her as she moved downward. The darkness felt nice, if just for a moment, yet when she slid open the little door to reveal the piercing white light of the kitchen, she hissed in pain. Never in her life had Marinette ever been cursed to experience a headache as awful as the one she was currently suffering through. The only thing getting her through the mission was the thought of being able to curl up in bed with all the lights off when she finally got home.

"Miss me, my lady?" Chat purred as he burst into the kitchen, flinching from the sight of the werebeast devouring every ounce of food in sight. It was only then that Marinette realized the fancy kitchen of the prestigious hotel was now a complete disaster; food and trash spread all over the tile flooring, pantries raided and the multiple fridges toppled over in a sparking, leaking mess.

"Nice to see you again, Chat Noir," She responded in a forced tone that sounded too sweet to come out of her mouth. Trying to hide her pain was ending up in stupid embarrassment instead of Chat hovering over her like a mother cat whose kit had stepped on a thorn. At this point, Marinette wasn't sure which she preferred.

"Ladybug, are you-"

A giant paw swatted Chat Noir out of the way, flinging him into the wall of the kitchen. Marinette's eyes widened.

...Eh, he's been through worse.

"What's wrong with you?" She hissed at the giant cat, grinning as she successfully wrapped her yo-yo's string around its two front legs, causing it to topple to its side. "Beating up your own kind? Isn't that a little low, even for a cat?"

"I resent that," Chat grumbled as he sat up, rubbing his sore back. "That's definitely going to bruise- ow."

"Then stop touching it," She told him through clenched teeth as she searched the writhing werecat with her eyes for any sign of an akumatized item. It wore no clothes besides torn blue jeans, which were ripped beyond repair. Even as a skilled designer, Marinette would cower in fear from having to fix such a garment.

This is no time to be thinking of clothes, Marinette!

"Ladybug," Her partner groaned as he stood, wobbling on his feet just slightly. "I think it's that little cat pin on his chest. Do you see it?"

A pin?

Narrowing her eyes, Marinette scanned the chest of the furry beast, only to be jerked in its direction with a force so strong that it caused her head to feel as if it were full of jello. A whimper fell from her lips as the cat struggled to loosen her hold, squirming and thrashing in an attempt to get free. She stumbled, falling forwards and preparing to feel the agony of tile slamming against her forehead, but… It never came.

Chat Noir had caught her, his clawed fingers wrapped firmly around her hips as he stood with his feet planted on the floor behind her. Still dizzy from the sudden movement, Marinette groaned, placing her hands on her knees as she steadied herself and fought the need to vomit. No, puking in front of Chat Noir while they were in a rather suggestive position would not be the highlight of her day, her week, or even her month—she'd definitely keep it in as long as she could, at least until she got home.

It was a good thing that after a year of partnership, her and Chat Noir had no room for awkwardness. As partners, they were often intimate with each other, whether it be holding hands or having their bodies squished together while hiding out in tiny spaces. Having her ass pressed against his crotch was no different than what they had become accustomed to; physical attention was the norm when it came to being superheroes. The safety of the city was more important than personal comfort.

Still, that's not to say it wasn't a little embarrassing to have her rear brushing against her platonic partner's dick while she felt as if she was about to either faint or barf (maybe both.)

Tikki was right; she wasn't okay, but the mission was too important. Protecting Paris always came first.

The cat tugged at her yo-yo, causing her arm to jerk forwards and a stinging sensation to rise from the joint. The akuma may be slow, but god, was it strong. Marinette cried out, letting the yo-yo slide from her finger as her other hand came up to rub to spot that was quickly becoming sore. The cat wriggled free from the wire, immediately resuming to devour any food it could get its mouth on.

Late for school because of a stupid cat, scratched by a stupid cat, tripping over a stupid cat and hitting her head on the stairs because she was running from an even bigger stupid cat, nearly getting her arm torn off because of that same stupid cat—it was obvious that Marinette was having one of those rare unlucky days that could only get worse.

"Lucky charm!" She called in desperation as she retrieved her yo-yo, hissing from the pain that rose from her arm when she threw her weapon into the air. From the cloud of red light came a red and black spotted ball of yarn, soft and plush to the touch. The memory of Chat Noir rolling on her floor and covered in yarn came to mind and pulled a smile from her lips.

She didn't have to ponder on how to use the charm this time.

Snapping her fingers to get the feasting beast's attention, she swallowed as its hungry red eyes zeroed in on the ball of yarn she held so protectively within her hand. Its whiskers twitched, tail lashing back and forth (and successfully knocking a few plates of food off of the counters), approaching in a silent stalk.

"You want it so bad?" Marinette growled, surprised at how wobbly and meek her own voice sounded. The pounding headache was definitely starting to get to her now. Maybe it wouldn't have hurt to let Chat Noir be the leader for once; she was really beginning to regret not taking it easier like Tikki had suggested.

How many times do I need to remind myself that Tikki is five thousand years old and probably holds more knowledge in one antenna than I do in my entire body? She thought with a frown, raising her arm to tease the gigantic cat.

"Then go and get it!" Tossing the ball of yarn, Marinette watched with satisfaction as the gigantic feline chased after it as if it were nothing more than a little kitten bounding after a playtoy. It smacked the yarn around, a rumbling, low purr rising from its throat. It chased, it played, it pounced… Right towards the exit of the kitchen. If there was one thing Marinette knew for sure, it was that if they let this werecat out on the loose, they'd never capture its akuma.

"Chat!" She called, rubbing the sore joint on her arm. "Use your Cataclysm on the ceiling! Barricade the exits!"

With a nod, Chat called out for his special power and extended his baton, lifting himself to press a glowing black hand against the ceiling. Tiles cracked and fell followed by pipes and metal beams, blocking the double doors that led into the lobby. With Chat Noir's power, the fuzzy akuma had no way to escape; not that it wanted to, with its attention on nothing else but the ball of yarn it held between its teeth.

Having the beast distracted made it a much easier task for Chat to snatch the little tabby pin upon its furry chest and toss it to her. Marinette blushed from embarrassment as she missed, the pin dropping to the floor with a soft clank. Normally, she'd always been good at catching things, but she felt so off that nothing felt right at the moment. Her head pounded and her eyes drooped with exhaustion, the sickly feeling of nausea still lingering within her throat. Stomping onto the pin, she smiled in relief as the violet butterfly flapped into the air. Her yo-yo caught it with its usual preciseness, cleansing the insect and setting it free once it was purified.

Marinette slumped to her rear against the wall as she watched the swarm of ladybugs repair all the damage. The mess on the floor disappeared, the ceiling fixed, cats returned to their homes and the akumatized victim morphed back to his normal state. The pain that had been throbbing within her arm faded to a dull ache that would surely be gone by the time she returned to the bakery.

The victim was a tall man with gray hair and glasses, wearing a colorful vest embroidered with cat faces. It was an ugly garment, but Marinette had never been one to judge others' fashion tastes, being a designer herself. If the old guy wanted to wear ugly sweater vests, then that was his business. A vague memory of Kim telling them about the "new biology teacher with an ugly sweater and obsession with cats" came to mind.

The man's head whipped around in a scan of his location, obviously confused. Marinette would have stood to comfort him herself, but the thick cloud of sickness and pain that hung over her head was too much to bear at the moment. She didn't want to stand. She didn't want to speak. She just wanted to go home.

Chat Noir had taken care of the victim, it seemed. Her partner escorted the man out of the kitchen, leaving Marinette to collect herself and follow. Yes, she told herself, get up and follow Chat. Don't just sit here.

She hadn't even noticed she'd closed her eyes until Chat returned.

"Ladybug, what are you doing? Your miraculous, it's-" He paused as her eyes blinked open, drowsy and pained. "...What happened to you?"

"I'm fine," She slurred out, rubbing the sore spot on the back of her head. Was that dried blood?

"You're not," Her partner responded, not waiting for permission to scoop her up within his arms. "You're about to destransform and you're sitting on the floor trying to take a nap. At least let me get you somewhere safe."

"I'm fine," Marinette sighed as she wriggled in his grasp. "You don't have to baby me."

Chat Noir raised an eyebrow at her irritated tone. "Just trying to help, Bugaboo. Unless you want me knowing your identity, then I suggest you let me get you somewhere safe before you-"

"Fine," She breathed, pressing her face against the comfort of her partner's chest. The smell of a certain brand of soap that had become so familiar to her flooded her nose and drew a contented sigh from her lips. Maybe she could close her eyes for a minute, just a moment's rest within the arms of her favorite feline, it would be okay. She could sleep just like she'd been wanting to since she'd hit her head on the stairs.

The beeping of her miraculous brought her back to reality, her eyes snapping open in surprise. "I'm fine," She told Chat as she slithered out of his arms. "I'm okay, I can walk. I'm not hurt that bad."

"But you are hurt," He responded, laying a clawed hand on her shoulder. "Are you sure you can-"

Her miraculous beeped a third time.

"I need to go, Chat." Turning, Marinette gave her partner a weak wave before walking on wobbly legs into the lobby, relieved to see that it was free of everything feline.

Well, except for Chat Noir himself.

"You hurt your head, didn't you?"

She sighed. "I'm okay, Chat. I'm alive. I'll heal."

"You might have a concussion," He continued, "maybe you should go see a doctor."

A concussion was likely the cause of her discomfort. She'd hit her head pretty hard—having a concussion wouldn't be much of a surprise. Due to her clumsiness, she'd dealt with one or two before; it wasn't something Marinette couldn't handle.

"I'll be okay," She told Chat, giving his shoulder a pat. "Thanks for looking out for me, though."

"That's what partners do, right? Besides," He slung an arm around her shoulder, leaning in to whisper, "you took care of me last night. It's the least I can do to repay the favor."

Marinette smiled, gazing up at her friend (her best friend) with a thankful blink. "I appreciate it."

A fourth beep of her miraculous.

"See you around, Chat Noir."

"See you, my lady."

Marinette was thankful for the speed her yo-yo granted. She'd dropped down onto her bed just as the transformation faded, leaving her in the clothes she'd rushed to put on earlier that morning. Bloodied jeans, Adrien's overshirt, both of which she shedded before crawling underneath the warmth of her comforter. As she buried herself within its comfortable embrace, darkness enveloped her completely, allowing her mind to relax from the quiet atmosphere being underneath the blanket provided. It was a little harder to breathe, yes, but it was worth it for the shield the blanket provided against the light seeping in through her skylight. Not a sound or ounce of sunlight permeated the cozy cover.

Marinette felt completely, absolutely content.

Her thoughts drifted back to school that morning, when she'd bumped into a pale-faced and depressed looking Adrien Agreste. Her heart sank at the memory.

Poor Adrien had seemed so upset about something; something Marinette wanted nothing more than for it to go away so that her friend—her crush—could be happy. Whatever it was, whatever had happened, Marinette felt for him. She knew Adrien didn't have the happiest life, what with his father's overbearing protectiveness and practical abandonment making him a lonely shell of needy teenager.

The hollow look in his dull eyes had held no secrets. Marinette could always tell when someone had been crying, no matter how hard they tried to hide it.

Whatever was wrong with Adrien… She wanted to be the one to make it better.

If only Adrien could lie with her. Sleeping always made Marinette feel better, especially when it was with a person who wanted nothing more than to take the sadness away.

Her last thoughts were of sad green eyes and tousled golden hair before she drifted off into a well-deserved sleep.

Tomorrow is another day.

Truthful Scars

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

Part 12 of 21

<< Previous     Home     Next >>