Actions

Work Header

Corruption

Chapter Text

Chat Noir sat atop the Eiffel Tower staring out over the city. His city. The city that, two years ago, had become his alone to protect.

Two years ago, his Lady had left him on his own.

He couldn’t blame her, of course. She had left Paris to pursue her dreams and he could never fault her for that. He had been heartbroken when she had told him, the sadness so overwhelming that it manifested itself into a physical pain in his chest. But, shoving his own feelings aside, he had supported her decision and encouraged her just as any best friend and partner should.

Only once he had been back in the quiet solitude of his childhood bedroom had he allowed himself to break down. The next day, he had gone to Master Fu to learn how to destroy akumas. He couldn’t purify them like his lady could. She was creation; he was destruction. He could only destroy. He had learned to lure akumas into wide open spaces to minimize damage to the city and had been relatively successful at that. He had to be as careful as possible without Ladybug there to fix the damage.

Destroying the infected butterflies, though, came at a great cost to his own wellbeing. When he had closed the first one in his cataclysm-charged fist, he had been hit with a suffocating wave of sadness that lingered long after the fight was done. He was used to that now.

Nightmares were another side-effect that came with an akuma’s destruction. He was used to those, too. Depression had become his closest companion, insomnia his nighttime lover.

Ladybug often asked him how he was holding up on his own in her emails to him. He always told her that everything was fine. He couldn’t tell her how bad things were getting for him. He couldn’t let her feel even more guilt than she already did for leaving. Paris was taken care of and that was all she needed to know.

Marinette had left, too, shortly after Ladybug, for an internship in New York. Adrien had been so excited for her and they texted regularly, but he missed her as well. His two favorite girls were missing from his life and he felt their absence like a hole in his chest.

A lot had changed in two years. His father had discovered his secret identity somehow and had gotten physical in his attempts to take his miraculous from him. After a month of that, he had fought back and then he packed his things and left, moving into an apartment with Nino and Alya. He hadn’t spoken to his father since. He had gotten out of modelling and taken up work as a freelance photographer and he enjoyed being on the other side of the camera.

He had also thrown himself into music to cope with his spiraling mental state and taught himself several instruments. He and his ex, Luka, had tried to start another band but ultimately gave up once they stopped having fun with it. Now, he taught music lessons in his spare time for extra cash.

With a deep sigh, Chat stood up and looked off in the direction of his home. Flipping open his staff, he checked the time and decided that Nino and Alya would likely be in bed. He had finished a battle with a particularly brutal akuma and needed time alone to recover from the overwhelming sadness that weighed him down like a physical force.

He vaulted across the city closer to his apartment before dropping into an alley to detransform and finish the journey home. While he didn’t have to be as careful now that Nino and Alya knew his secret, he hoped the walk would help him clear his mind.

Plagg ducked into his jacket pocket with a wedge of cheese, knowing to give Adrien a few minutes of silence. The silence was ruined, however, by a sharp ringing from the pocket of Adrien’s jeans. Pulling the phone out of his pocket, he glanced at Luka’s contact picture on the screen before answering.

“Hey.”

“Hey, kitten. I was trying to call you to check on you but you must have still been transformed since I kept getting voicemail,” Luka said from the other end of the phone. The blue-haired boy had started calling Adrien after every akuma battle to check on him after he discovered the effects of destroying akuma’s on Adrien’s mental health. Adrien gave a small smile.

“I’m alright,” he said, stopping at a crosswalk and waiting for the light to change so he could cross the street.

“I’m sure. And how are you really?” Luka asked. Adrien sighed and shoved his free hand into the jacket pocket not occupying Plagg.

“A little down, I guess,” he admitted. The light changed and he crossed the street, feeling slightly lighter. Although the two of them had broken up, they had remained very close and that was something Adrien was eternally grateful for.

“That’s what I thought,” Luka said. “Do you need to come chill or something so you won’t be alone?”

“I’m okay, Nino and Alya are home so I won’t be by myself.” He stepped into his apartment building and stood for a moment as the warm air rushed over him, thawing his partially frozen fingers. “And you’re coming over tomorrow for Marinette’s welcome home party anyways, right?”

“Definitely, I wouldn’t miss it.” Adrien could hear the faint sound of Luka’s guitar as he spoke and he gave a fond smile. He made his way up the stairs to the seventh floor. He hated the elevator, it always made him feel trapped and jumpy. He avoided it whenever he could.

“Good,” he said. Luka’s calm voice coupled with the reminder that Marinette was coming home chased away the lingering feelings from the fight and he felt lighter than he had in weeks. “”Do you know when you’re heading over?”

“In the morning after I wake up. Alya wants me to help drag you out of bed,” Luka chuckled. Adrien breathed out a laugh and rolled his eyes. Years of forced early rising had made him a late sleeper out of spite alone and with that coupled with the insomnia, he sometimes found himself sleeping until noon on his days off.

“You mean I get to wake up to your face? That’s something to look forward to.” Playful, easy flirting was always a natural part of their friendship, even now. Luka’s laugh came through the other line loud enough for Adrien to have to pull the phone away from his ear slightly.

“Oh, yeah. It’ll be just like old times,” he said as Adrien opened the door to the seventh floor and made his way down the hallway. “Are you home yet?”

“I’m walking to my door now.” He pulled out his keys to unlock the door. “Thanks for checking up on me. I needed it.”

“Anytime. You know I’m always here. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Adrien said goodbye and hung up the phone as he made his way to the door. Unlocking it, he stepped inside.

“Adrien!” Alya yelled in excitement. “Look who’s here!”

He looked up from where he was putting his keys away to stare right into the beautiful blue eyes of Marinette Dupain-Cheng.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Adrien,” Marinette chirped brightly, setting her drink down and opening her arms. Adrien crossed the room in four large steps and grabbed the smaller girl in a tight embrace.

“I missed you,” he said into her hair. He pulled back and held her by the shoulders at arms’ length. “I thought you weren’t coming back until tomorrow.” She smiled and tucked her hair behind her ear.

“I got moved to an earlier flight. I just landed a few hours ago and I couldn’t wait to see you guys.”

Adrien hugged her again for a few seconds before letting her go so they could both sit down with Nino and Alya.

“Yeah, dude. We were starting to wonder if you were gonna get back home before Nette fell asleep. I told her you could be pretty late sometimes,” Nino said, shooting Adrien a pointed look to see if he was alright. Adrien shot him a reassuring smile.

“I got a little held up but if someone had told me you were here, I would have been home a lot sooner.” He playfully narrowed his eyes at Nino and Alya, which they returned with innocent smiles.

“My girl wanted it to be a surprise,” Alya said, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees. “But she’s staying here tonight in the guest room.” Marinette nodded.

“I hope you don’t mind,” she said, a light blush dusting her cheeks. Adrien threw his arm around her shoulders and gave her a light squeeze.

“You know I don’t mind. You can stay here forever as far as I’m concerned.” Alya perked up then and gave Adrien a sly grin.

“Actually, we were just talking about that. Marinette here was planning to move back in with her parents until she found somewhere to stay. Since we have a third bedroom that never gets used, we told her she could move in here as long as it was okay with you,” she said.

“I totally don’t mind staying with my parents if it’s not, though,” Marinette cut in before he could reply. Adrien waved off her concern.

“Are you kidding? Of course I don’t mind, I’d love to have you here. It gets old always being a third wheel to these two.” He said, jerking a thumb over at the couple snuggled up on the loveseat. “They like to gang up on me, so it’ll be nice to finally have some backup.” Marinette smiled at that and wiggled in her seat.

“Well, then, I guess that settles it,” she said, looking around at the other three. Alya shot up and pulled Marinette into a hug, pulling the girl down on top of her and Nino, who’s breath left him in a whoosh.

“You’re moving in, girl! I told you he wouldn’t mind!” Marinette laughed and worked to untangle herself from her best friend before moving back to sit beside Adrien. He felt happier than he had in a long time.

The four talked for a while longer before finally going their separate ways to bed. Once Adrien was in his room, Plagg flew out of hiding.

“Ohhh, so your girlfriend is back,” he teased, floating around the room while Adrien pulled off his shirt and looked for sweatpants. He rolled his eyes at the kwami.

“She’s not my girlfriend, Plagg. She’s just a good friend,” he said. “But this means you can’t just float around the house when everyone is up anymore, though. She doesn’t know that I’m Chat Noir.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” Plagg said, disinterested. “As long as this makes you stop moping around, I don’t care.”

“Hey,” Adrien said, shooting a look over at the tiny being curled up on his bed. “I haven’t been moping.” Plagg scoffed and chose not to respond so Adrien pulled on his sleep pants and climbed into bed.

He tried to sleep for what felt like forever before giving up and staring at the ceiling. Glanding at the clock and seeing that it was two in the morning, he gave a quiet groan and rolled out of bed, careful not to disturb Plagg.

He slipped out of his room, gently shutting the door behind him and quietly padded into the kitchen for a drink before settling down onto the couch with his laptop and his camera. He propped his feet up on the coffee table and opened up his photo editing software, deciding to get some work done on the latest photoshoot he did while he was awake with nothing else to do.

After slipping the memory chip from his camera into his computer, he selected the first picture and began the process of retouching and editing. He was on the fifteenth one when he heard a door open down the hall and looked up to see a yawning Marinette blearily making her way to the kitchen in shorts and a large t-shirt. When she didn’t seem to notice him, he turned his attention back to his computer.

“Adrien?” He heard whispered a few minutes later. He looked up at her. Her face was the picture of sleepy confusion.

“Hey,” he whispered back. “Are you alight? Need anything?” She blinked a couple of times and rubbed her eyes, shaking her head.

“No, I just woke up needing a drink,” she said, seeming slightly more awake. “What are you doing up?”

“I’m just doing some editing,” he said, vaguely gesturing to the laptop screen. “I don’t sleep very well so I’m usually up around this time.”

“Oh,” she said and yawned, covering her mouth. “Well, I’m gonna go back to bed. Jet-lag and all that.” He smiled at her and stretched.

“Goodnight, sleep well. I’ll be out here if you need anything,” he said. She started shuffling through the living room.

“Goodnight. Try to get some sleep, Adrien.” Once she disappeared back into her room, he leaned back and gave up on his work. The light from the screen was giving him a headache. Dropping his head back against the couch, his mind wandered back to his father.

Shortly after Marinette (and Ladybug) had left, his father had called him into his office.

“Adrien, your father would like to speak with you,” Nathalie said, standing in the doorway to his bedroom. Adrien got up from his homework and nervously made his way to Gabriel’s office. His father never wanted to speak with him unless Adrien was in trouble for something. He idly wondered what he did this time.

“You wanted to speak to me, Father?” Adrien asked, stepping into the man’s large office. Gabriel was standing, looking out the window with his hands behind his back.

“Sit down, Adrien,” he said, not turning around. Adrien crossed the room and sat down on the edge of the chair across from his father’s desk. “It has come to my attention that you have been lying to me.”

Adrien’s heart leapt into his throat as his stomach fell to his feet.

“W-what?” He choked out, uneasy. He rarely spoke to his father, what had he lied about?

Gabriel turned around, his expression stern and his eyes cold.

“I will not have my son gallivanting around in a catsuit trying to get himself killed,” he snapped. Adrien felt fear travel like ice down his spine. How had his father figured him out? He had been so careful.

“I’m not--” he started, but Gabriel cut him off.

“Don’t even bother denying it.” He held out his hand and regarded him with an angry look. “You will give that ring to me right now. I will not have you killed at the hands of a supervillain.” Adrien jumped and covered his miraculous with his left hand.

“No.” He said. Gabriel narrowed his eyes.

“I will not ask again.”

Adrien stood up straight, looking his father in the eye.

“I said no.”

Quicker than Adrien could blink, Gabriel leapt over his desk and grabbed Adrien, trying to grab the ring off of his hand. Adrien fought back, closing his hand into a fist so that he couldn’t get the ring off and pushing his father away. Gabriel jumped at Adrien again, tackling him to the floor and knocking over the chair he had been sitting in.

“I will not have you killed. Hawkmoth is dangerous and you have no business running around playing superhero,” the older Agreste spat.

The two fought, father and son, and ultimately Adrien had one. But not before his father had broken two of his fingers; the finger that held his miraculous, and the middle finger beside it. Turning, Adrien ran out of the office, out of the mansion, and didn’t stop until he was several blocks away.

With nowhere else to go, he had to return. Waiting until nightfall, after he was very sure that his father was asleep, he came back in through the window. Taping his broken fingers together under the watchful eye of a worried Plagg, he locked his bedroom door and tried to think of a plan.

“Ugh,” Adrien groaned, pulling himself out of his flashback and instinctually rubbing his now-healed hand. That definitely wasn’t going to help him sleep. Closing his laptop, he stood up and made his way to the bathroom to gulp down two sleeping pills before going to bed and waiting for sleep to take him.

Chapter Text

Marinette woke up the next morning feeling surprisingly well rested. She stretched and climbed out of bed, glancing at a still sleeping Tikki on her pillow. She placed a cookie from her bag on the end table for her and made her way out to the kitchen, following the smell of coffee and bacon.

“Mornin’,” Nino said from the stove as she walked in, shooting her a smile and pulling an empty coffee mug down from the cabinet and sliding it across the counter to her.

“Good morning,” she replied, grabbing the cup and fixing herself some coffee. “Are Adrien and Alya still asleep?”

“Alya is in the shower. We've called in reinforcements to get Adrien up before noon,” he said, chuckling. He flipped the sizzling bacon over in the pan and Marinette blew lightly on her drink before taking a small sip.

“Reinforcements?” She asked, quirking an eyebrow and taking a seat on the dining room chair at the table in the middle of the kitchen.

“Oh, yeah. He's worse than even you used to be,” Nino said, shaking his head fondly. “We've only ever found one person able to wake him up unscathed.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, there was a knock at the door.

“And that would be our reinforcement. Could you get that for me?” Nino said, grabbing some eggs and cracking them into a bowl.

Marinette stood and made her way over to the door, opening it to reveal familiar teal-tipped hair with eyes to match.

“Luka!” She threw her arms around him in a hug and he stumbled back a step, laughing and returning her hug.

“It’s good to see you, too, Marinette,” he said, picking her up and shuffling them both back into the apartment, kicking the door closed.

“I didn't know you were coming over here today,” Marinette said, releasing him to step back and smile.

“He’s the only person capable of waking Sleeping Blondie up,” Alya said, coming down the hall rubbing a towel over her hair. Marinette raised an eyebrow and turned back to Luka.

“Oh! So you two have gotten to be good friends, then?” She asked. Luka chuckled.

“Something like that. We dated for a little over a year,” he explained. That was news to Marinette.

“Aw!” She cooed, lightly punching him on the arm. “I bet you two were adorable.”

“They were disgustingly adorable,” Alya called from the kitchen. “I was grateful when they broke up. I couldn't handle the cute anymore.”

Luka laughed and shrugged off his jacket, laying it down over the back of the recliner before moving into the kitchen and fixing two cups of coffee.

“I'll go ahead and go wake the beast,” he joked, shooting a playful wink at Marinette as he crossed through the living room to go to Adrien's room. She watched him slip into the room before heading back to the kitchen.

“I didn't know they dated,” she said, shooting a look at Alya.

“They kept it secret from almost everyone but us for a while because of Adrien’s dad,” Nino explained, dividing up the food onto plates.

“Yeah, girl. And honestly, by the time Adrien cut off his dad and they stopped hiding it, it was such a normal thing to us that I completely forgot to mention it,” Alya tacked on. “Plus,we always had so much other stuff to talk about.”

“I get that,” Marinette said, sitting back at. the table beside the redhead. “I hate that I missed the opportunity for pictures though.”

“Don't worry, girl. I've got some funny ones to show you,” Alya said, giggling.

Nino had just set the plates on the table when a loud thump came from Adrien's room and Luka came running out, laughing. By the time he got to the kitchen, a very disheveled, very grumpy looking, very shirtless Adrien came stumbling out. Marinette felt her face heat up and averted her eyes.

Adrien shuffled into the kitchen and flopped down on the chair beside Marinette, fixing Luka with a glare.

“You have got to be the most infuriating man I've ever met,” Adrien grumbled. Luka laughed and pushed one of the two cups of coffee he had made over to him.

“You love me,” Luka quipped back, unaffected.

“So, Luka,” Nino started as he joined the rest of them at the table. Marinette nibbled a piece of bacon and looked over at him. “Guess who's moving in!” Luka brightened and turned to Marinette.

“That's awesome, Marinette. Looks like we'll be seeing each other a lot, then.” She smiled at him and nodded excitedly, her mouth full of scrambled eggs.

Once Adrien had a cup of coffee and food in his system, he looked significantly less dead but stayed silent as the other four chatted idly about Marinette's time in New York. She noticed his silence and resolved to ask Alya how he was doing later on.

When Marinette was finally able to retire to her room, Tikki flew up to her face looking concerned.

“What's wrong, Tikki?” Marinette asked, cupping her hands for the small red kwami to rest on.

“Are you going to be going out as Ladybug soon?” She asked, turning wide blue eyes up to her chosen.

“I was planning to wait a few days, why?” She asked. She hadn't planned to transform right after she got back, not wanting to raise suspicion. Nino and Alya knew her secret, but she didn’t want the rest of Paris putting two and two together to figure it out.

“When you do, you need to check on Chat Noir,” Tikki said. “There is something he hasn't been telling you.” Marinette furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Chat didn't usually hide things from her, especially if they were serious.

“What is it? Is he okay? Has he found Hawkmoth? Is he hurt? Oh, I knew I shouldn’t have left but he said everything would be fine.” She said frantically, beginning to pace. Tikki flew up to her face and waved her arms to get Marinette's attention to calm her down.

“No, he hasn't found Hawkmoth. He would have told you that. It's about the way he had to take care of the akumas. I'm sure he's fine, I just wanted you to check and see how he's doing. That's all.” Marinette took a deep breath, trying to steady her nerves again.

“Okay, Tikki. How about tomorrow we can go out and see if we run into him,” she offered. Tikki nodded and dove into one of Marinette's bags in search of more cookies.

Tomorrow she would go check on her kitty. Today, she would enjoy her time back home with her friends.

Chapter Text

Chat Noir sat leaning against an air conditioning unit on the roof of a building not far from his apartment building, staring up blankly at the stars. He was thrilled that Marinette was home, but they had been celebrating all day and he needed some time alone after everybody went to bed. He needed time to recharge, so to speak.

Ladybug had emailed him and told him that she would be home the next day and wanted to meet up that night. He was happy that she was finally coming home but he didn’t have the energy to outwardly show it. He sighed and, glancing around to make sure he was safely hidden from view, released his transformation. Plagg plopped into his outstretched hands and stretched, blinging up at Adrien with big green eyes.

“You’re not dressed for the weather, kid,” he said, noting the blonde’s thin t-shirt and sweatpants. Adrien shrugged.

“I’ll be okay for a little while,” he said, pulling his knees up and sitting Plagg on them. “Ladybug is supposed to be home tomorrow.”

“That’s good. You’ll have both of your girlfriend’s home,” the cat said, curling up on Adrien’s knee and leveling him with a look. “You gonna tell her the deal with the akumas?” Adrien gave Plagg a look and shook his head.

“No, it’s not her problem. I don’t want her to feel bad for leaving. I’m fine.” Plagg simply rolled his eyes, having been down this road with Adrien several times already. His kid was stubborn, that was for sure.

“Well, at least you won’t have to do it yourself anymore. That will definitely help,” he said. Adrien gave a half smile and nodded.

“I’m happy to see her again,” he said. Plagg groaned.

“Does this mean I have to deal with your lovesick whining again?” At this, it was Adrien’s turn to roll his eyes. He opted not to respond. A breeze blew by and Adrien shivered, pulling his arms in tighter against himself.

“Hey, Plagg?” Adrien asked. The kwami sat up and stretched again.

“Yeah, yeah. Go ahead,” he grumbled. Adrien called on his transformation and he was alone again, but he wasn’t cold anymore. Chat stood up and twisted side to side to stretch his back before pulling out his staff and vaulting to a rooftop across the street. Deciding to run for a while, he took off at random and let muscle memory take over.

Several minutes later, he found himself standing across from the Agreste Mansion. All of the lights were off except for the one in his father’s study. Chat rolled his eyes. The man was always working.

Turning on his heel, he took off back in the direction he came and ran until his muscles ached. He stopped and collapsed on top of his apartment building, rolling over to sprawl out on his back. He stared up out the stars, looking for the constellations his mother had shown him many years ago.

The sound of the roof access door opening startled him and he turned from his stargazing to see who was coming out onto the roof in the middle of the night. Marinette walked toward him, wrapped up in a soft looking blanket. On her feet were black cat bedroom slippers with green eyes that made him smile.

“Hey there, Kitty-cat. I saw you run by and wanted to see if I could flag you down to say hey,” she said, coming up beside him and sitting down next to his still prone form on the roof. Chat pushed himself up into an upright position and smiled at her.

“Hey, Princess. I haven’t seen you in a while,” he said. She returned his smile and produced a thermos from underneath her blanket.

“I’ve been in New York for an internship. I just got back today,” she said, unscrewing the lid and pouring hot chocolate into it. She took a sip before offering it to him. He took it gratefully.

“How was that?” He asked, taking a drink and handing it back to her. The sweet liquid warmed him from the inside as it travelled down his throat. He had missed having her offer him warm drinks and cookies on her balcony on cold patrol nights. He remembered fondly how they used to sit and talk for hours before he was obligated to head back home.

“It was fun. I learned so much from the head designers there. And the internship is going to look great on my resume so I’ll hopefully be able to find a good job doing what I love.” He listened to her talk, giving her his full attention even though he had heard this story earlier that day. Her voice soothed something in him that he didn’t even know was hurting.

She wrapped a corner of her blanket around his shoulders as she spoke and he grabbed it and pulled it around himself, wrapping them both in a cocoon of warmth safe from the cold night air. She offered him the cocoa again and he took a long swallow.

“So, how have you been?” She asked as he pulled the cup away from his mouth. He choked, briefly, and swallowed before erupting into coughs,

“Oh, uh,” he rasped as she looked at him with wide eyes. “I’ve been okay. Ladybug has been gone for a while, too, so I’ve been holding things down on my own.”

“Is she okay?” She asked, eyes getting impossibly wider.

“She’s fine,” he said, waving off her concern. “She’s been doing something similar to you. Chasing her dreams.”

“Oh,” Marinette said, pulling the blanket tighter around her shoulders and peering up at him through her bangs. “Are you mad at her for leaving?” Chat’s eyes flew wide and he reared back sharply.

“No, not at all. Of course not,” he said, voice going up in pitch. He cleared his throat before he continued. “She deserves to chase her dreams. I’m happy that she has the opportunity. And we talked about it beforehand. I encouraged her to go. We’ve kept in touch and she’s been having a great time. I could never be mad at her for that. I only want her to be happy. I’d watch over Paris by myself forever if it meant she got to live her dreams.”

Marinette looked at him with a fond smile that made his heart flutter in his chest.

“She’s lucky to have a partner like you,” she said softly. Chat felt the tops of his ears heat up at the compliment. “Do you know when she’ll be back?”

“She said tomorrow night,” he answered, looking away from her piercing blue eyes that were doing too many things to his heart and looked back up at the stars. “It’ll be nice to have her back.”

Marinette followed his gaze up to the sky, leaning against him as she did. They stayed that way for a while, with him occasionally pointing out the constellations to her, until her breathing fell deep and even beside him. He glanced down at her sleeping face, smiling at how peaceful she looked. He turned and wrapped the blanket around her before he positioned his arms under her and gently pulled her closer to him before standing up.

Her head fell against his chest and she sighed but remained deeply asleep. After some thoughtful deliberation, he detransformed and carried her inside. Carefully carrying her down the stairs and awkwardly fishing his key out of his pocket, he let them both into their apartment and carried her to her room.

“Goodnight, Marinette,” Adrien whispered, laying her down on her bed as gently as he could. She pulled the blanket tighter around her and curled up on her side. He gave her one last look, his heart fluttering at the sight of her again, and dropped a kiss to the top of her head before tip toeing out of her room and shutting the door.

Once he was safely out in the hallway, he banged the side of his fist against his chest, wondering briefly if he needed to get checked for heart palpitations or something.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Adrien woke up earlier than usual to the sound of banging on his bedroom door. Groaning, he rolled onto his back and threw his arm over his eyes in the slight hope that being unable to see would make the incessant banging disappear.

“Adrien, I hope you’re not naked. I’m coming in,” Alya announced before throwing his bedroom door open. He heard Plagg groan from his trashcan and then Alya was pulling Adrien's arm off of his face. He cracked open one bleary green eye and glared at her, mumbling what might have been a curse had he been more awake and not fighting to roll over.

“Oh, no you don’t,” Alya said, grabbing his arm and tugging him into what could technically pass for an upright position. “You’re supposed to help me with an article for my blog today, remember?” Adrien yawned and rubbed his eyes, trying to manually force the gears in his brain to start turning to form coherent thoughts.

Alya… Blog... Article...

Pictures. He was supposed to take pictures for an article Alya was writing. What was it about again?

While waiting for him to come to terms with the land of the living, Alya silently dangled a wedge of Camembert over the trash can, prompting Plagg to float up, eyes still closed, to where she could grab him. Plagg protested the action with an indignant squawk but the noised trailed off into a contented sigh as she offered his cheese to him.

“Come on, Blondie. It’s a three hour train to Aachen where the dancing plague started,” she said, sparking Adrien’s memory.

Alya, after her continued success with the Ladyblog, had started another blog about the Miraculous holders throughout time. She had been sent a lead about the ‘Dancing Plague,’ which began in Aachen, Germany, and had done a ton of research on the mystery surrounding it. Crowds of people would spontaneously burst into involuntary, spastic dancing until they collapsed from exhaustion. Most people danced until they died.

Alya believed that the phenomenon was caused by a rogue Fox Miraculous holder. Having been familiar with the powers of the fox miraculous through her time as Rena Rouge, she believed that these people had been forced to see an illusion that compelled them. Adrien wasn’t quite sure of the details, but she wanted to get pictures of the city where it all began.

Hence, her reasoning for waking Adrien up at the asscrack of dawn, merely three hours after he had finally fallen asleep.

“Right,” Adrien muttered around a yawn as he swung his legs off the bed. “Now I remember. I’m up.” He yawned again and stretched his arms over his head. Seemingly satisfied that he wasn’t going to retreat back to bed as soon as her back was turned, Alya nodded and left the room so he could get ready, mentioning stopping for breakfast on the way to the train station.

Adrien pushed himself out of bed and threw on his clothes, pulling a black hoodie over his head and placing a sleeping Plagg in the pocket, giving him a light scratch behind the ears and shuffling out into the living room to collect his camera bag. He walked out the door behind Alya, wondering if she would let him sleep on the train.

 

She did not, in fact, let him sleep on the train. Instead of sleep, Adrien got a heavily caffeinated Alya excitedly chattering his ear off as he nursed his to-go coffee and desperately tried to focus on opening his eyes back up when he blinked. She happily munched on her croissant beside him.

“You are lucky I love you,” Adrien muttered, swiping his own pastry from the bag on her lap. She turned to him and smiled, pulling him into a tight side hug.

“I know,” she chirped brightly. “I love you too. Even though you’re a sleepy grump-ass.” He chuckled at that and returned her hug as best as he could.

“I thought Nino was going to come with us today,” Adrien commented, taking a bite of his half-smushed croissant. Alya glanced down at her phone.

“He was, but when I tried to wake him up and he saw how early it was, he changed his mind.” She laughed. “So, he decided to keep Marinette company and help her start moving her stuff over to the apartment instead.”

“Lucky them,” he sassed, elbowing Alya lightly. “They get to sleep in.”

Once Adrien had a large dose of caffeine in his system, he felt marginally less dead and more like a human being capable of an actual conversation. Something which Alya caught onto immediately.

“So,” she started, turning completely to the side in her seat to face him and steepling her fingers. Adrien looked over at her with a growing sense of dread. “How do you feel about Marinette being back?”

“Um, happy?” Adrien answered timidly, unsure of where she was going with this. He shifted in his seat to face her better.

“I noticed she took her favorite superhero some hot chocolate to the roof last night. Apparently you used to stop on her balcony and hang out with her quite often before she left.” Alya gave him a grin that was bordering on manaicle. Adrien felt his face heat up and he rubbed at the back of his neck.

“Um, yeah. She used to always wave me down when I passed her house on solo patrols. And I enjoy her company,” he said, his heart fluttering in his chest again. He really needed to get that checked out.

“Uh-hu. I’m sure that’s the only reason,” Alya said, rolling her eyes.

“O-of course. What other reason would it be?” He sputtered out, leaning away from her. The glint in her eye was terrifying him and he briefly wondered if he would survive throwing himself out of the window while the train was moving. No, he decided, he probably wouldn’t. He still considered it.

“I think you like her,” Alya said, smile growing and eyes narrowing. Adrien wheezed, coughing a few times and looking back at the increasingly more appealing window.

“Of course I like her,” Adrien said. “She's a great friend.”

Alya’s smile slipped off of her face, exasperation chasing away that unsettling gleam in her eyes. Adrien sank back against the seat, wishing he could melt into it an disappear.

Alya huffed and turned back to the front, looking back at her phone for a few minutes before glancing back at him again. By the time she looked at him, his face had cooled and returned back to it's normal shade.

“There's this really cute little cafe in Aachen. We should get lunch there,” she said nonchalantly, as if her brief interrogation had never happened. It unnerved Adrien how easily she could do that. He nodded hesitantly and fiddled with the strap of his camera bag.

He hoped Alya wouldn't press any more on his and Marinette's friendship. But he also knew her well enough that she would likely bring it back up again. Multiple times.

It was going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Chat Noir arrived at the top of the Eiffel Tower an hour before he was supposed to meet Ladybug. He sat on one of the higher beams with on knee up and the other hanging down over the side trying to collect his thoughts. He loved Alya like she was his own sister but spending the day with her had been nothing short of mentally exhausting. As such, he needed some time to regroup and recover before he met up with Ladybug.

Chat was excited that she was coming home, of course. He had missed her and while he wasn’t blindly infatuated with her like he had been when they were children, he still loved her very much. Since she only wanted friendship from him, he contented himself with loving her deeply as a friend and being the very best that he could be for her.

However, he was incredibly worried that she would pick up on something being wrong with him. He never was good at hiding things from his Lady.

Chat sighed and shifted his weight, reaching behind him to grab his baton and checking the time. Ladybug would be there soon.

Suddenly feeling anxious, he stood up and stretched before making his way to the top platform where they agreed to meet. He kept to the shadows, not wanting to be spotted by anybody that was out roaming the city this late.

Only a few minutes passed before he saw Ladybug swinging over to him and Chat’s heart soared. For the first time in a very long time, he felt giddy. He stepped out of the shadows and waved until she redirected her swing to land in front of him.

“Hey, there, Kitty,” Ladybug said, shooting him a bright smile. Chat grabbed her in a hug that would have been considered bone-crushing were it not for the protection that their suits offered. She squeaked before wrapping her arms around his waist and pressing her face into the side of his neck, sighing contentedly.

“I missed you so much,” Chat whispered into her hair, fighting against the lump forming in his throat. He took a shuddering breath and breathed in her warm vanilla scent. He held her tight for a few more seconds, hoping that if he held her close enough, her presence would fill the cracks in his soul. He would have been content to stand there and hug her for the rest of his life but he forced himself to pull away to look at her, holding her at arm’s length with his hands on her shoulders.

Her hair had gotten longer and was pulled back into a braid that ran halfway down her back. She had filled out in the time that she was gone, her curves softening though her height remained the same. Her suit was the same, but he assumed that once she came into her new powers, hers would change like his did.

He no longer had the bell, it had been replaced with a green dog tag with a black paw print. His suit now had green piping along the seams and his boots looked more like combat boots than they did in his younger years.

Looking at Ladybug, he realized all that she had missed while she was gone. He pushed that thought to the back of his mind, refusing to dwell on it while she was finally with him again.

“I missed you too, Chat,” she said, giggling and sitting down on the ground, patting the spot next to her. He followed suit, crossing his legs and facing her. “So, how have things been?”

“Fine. Things are fine. Everything is fine,” he blurted, huffing a laugh and rubbing the back of his neck. Chat internally cringed at himself.

Really. He just couldn’t lie to her.

She turned to look at him, one eyebrow raised in speculation. He had been careful to be cheery in his emails to her, the last thing he wanted was for her to feel guilty for leaving. But, now that she was back, it was hard to pretend that things had been anything short of terrible without her.

“I just missed you so much. I’m glad you got to go and chase your dreams, but it’s really good to have you back,” he said, sounding much less anxious. She smiled at him and his stomach flipped.

“It’s good to be back,” she commented, leaning her head on his shoulder. “Has hawkmoth been very active still?” Chat outwardly cringed, this time.

“Yeah, and a lot more brutal. You’d think he was actively trying to kill me the past few months. It’s like he’s finally snapped or something,” he said. She stiffened beside him and he patted her knee. “But it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”

“Well, I’m back now and I’m not leaving again anytime soon,” she said and he felt a slight weight lift off of his shoulders.

“I feel like I should tell you, though. A few friends of mine figured out my secret identity. I trust them with my life, though,” he said, tensing and waiting for her to reprimand him.

Instead, she waved her hand in front of her nonchalantly.

“It was bound to happen sooner or later. My best friend and her boyfriend figured me out. It sent me into a panic attack at first, but they’ve been really helpful as civilians.” Chat felt his shoulders drop, reeling from her casual reaction. He expected yelling. “Who figured you out?”

“My best friend, his girlfriend, and my ex. He and I are still on really good terms, though, so there’s nothing to worry about from him. He’s one of my best friends, too, so I trust him,” he explained. Ladybug nodded and hummed thoughtfully.

The sound of screams filled the air and the duo jumped to their feet, sharing one quick glance at each other before taking off towards the commotion.

Of course, Hawkmoth couldn’t let them have one night to themselves.

A woman in a flowing white dress hovered about a foot off the ground. Black tendrils of smoke, looking a lot like Chat’s Cataclysm, engulfed her hands. Around her, the people that had been drawn out by the commotion had been struck by her power and were stumbling around as if they were blind, screaming.

“CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?” She yelled, raising her hand and aiming at another civilian. Chat leapt into action, instinct taking over. He extended his baton, smacking her hand away and redirecting her attack so that it hit a light pole. She whirled on him, eyes ablaze.

“Men,” she spat, pointing at Chat Noir. “Unfaithful scum. Always looking at other women. Your eyes drive you to cheat. AM I NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?!” Chat dodged an attack, sparing a quick glance at Ladybug behind him to ensure that she hadn’t been struck before running towards the akuma.

“At the risk of sounding like a tired cliche, not all men are like that,” he said, blocking another ball of the black smoke with his staff. The akuma scoffed, turning to attack another civilian that was running for cover. A red and black spotted yoyo wrapped around her wrist and yanked, pulling her off of her feet. “I’m being fur real! There’s no need to have a hiss-y fit.”

The akuma growled, whirling back on Chat with a snarl. She lunged forward, hands outstretched, and Chat jumped back into the shadows. With a chuckle, he watched the akuma look around in confusion as he disappeared. Shadow Blending was a helpful little trick he had learned shortly after Ladybug left.

He couldn’t see Ladybug anywhere, but he had gotten so used to fighting alone at this point that he sort of forgot to look for her. He spotted the the purple flower tucked behind her ear and smirked.

Gotcha.

“Cataclysm Whip,” he whispered, feeling the dark energy forming in his palm before trailing down from his fingers in a long whip. He jumped forward, back into view and pulled back his arm before punching forward, sending the destructive black rope forward in a controlled motion. The end of the whip flicked one of the petals of the flower and it crumpled, falling to ash as a black butterfly fluttered out.

The only way to explain what happened next is muscle memory. He had done this so many times, he moved without thinking. He jumped up and captured the butterfly in his cataclysm-charged fist. A wave of despair threatened to suffocate him and he gasped, opening his hand and letting the ashes float to the ground.

He barely registered Ladybug running up to comfort the akuma victim, sending Chat a concerned glance. He stepped back into the alley and vaulted himself up onto a nearby rooftop, dropping to his knees.

Why did he do that? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

He still had one more cataclysm to use before his timer started, so he sat and waited for Ladybug. He was in no state to face her questioning gaze, but he knew that she would be hurt if he ran. He didn’t want her to think that he was mad at her.

“Ladybug was right there, you idiot,” he muttered to himself, feeling himself slipping into another downward spiral. Just like every other akuma attack for the past two years. He heard her land softly on the roof beside him and he pushed the sadness away, allowing himself to go numb.

After all, feeling nothing was safer.

“Are you okay, Chat?” She asked quietly behind him. He took a deep breath and schooled his features into a mask of practiced nonchalance before turning to face her.

“Sorry,” he muttered, looking anywhere but at her. “Reflex kind of took over, I didn’t mean to take the butterfly like that.” He heard her sigh and he kept his gaze fixed on a point just to the left of her.

“It’s fine. I wasn’t much help in that fight, anyway. I’m out of practice and I need to work to get back into the swing of things,” she said.

“That’s perfectly understandable, LB,” he said, his voice void of emotion. He could feel her gaze on him. “We should meet up to train and stuff. I’m sure you’ve got some new powers to learn, too.” He met her imploring gaze, keeping his face perfectly blank.

“Are you okay, Kitty?” Hearing her call him that, hearing her care so much, felt like a knife in his chest reminding him of what he was keeping from her. She would want to know what the akumas were doing to him.

But, she was back now. And he wouldn’t mess up like that again. She didn’t need to worry about it.

“I’m alright. Just pretty tired, I had a long day,” he said. Giving her a smile that probably came across more as a grimace, he quickly bid her goodnight and took off towards his apartment, feeling her watchful gaze on his back.

Chapter Text

Adrien didn’t leave his bed the next day. He couldn’t make himself.

Nino had knocked on his door that morning, but Adrien paid him no mind. He knew Nino meant well, but he couldn’t handle a conversation in his current mental state. He wanted to crawl under his blankets and disappear. Plagg stayed curled up at his side, purring to try to give his chosen some comfort.

He stared blankly at the wall on the far side of his bedroom. He wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t do that, either. His phone buzzed on the nightstand relentlessly. No doubt, his well-meaning friends had asked Luka to see if he could get through to him. Adrien sent off a quick text to the musician confirming that he was still alive and shut off his phone, tossing it across the room.

He couldn’t remember the last time an akuma had affected him this badly. The first time he had destroyed one of the corrupted butterflies, the sheer force of despair had knocked him back and landed him in his bed crying for a day and a half afterward. Over time, he had gotten better at handling it. Emptiness and sorrow became his constant companions and he learned to function alongside them.

Alya was the next one to try reaching out to him, knocking on his door later in the afternoon. He heard his door crack open and he closed his eyes, feigning sleep. Sighing, she quietly shut his door and he listened to her footsteps retreat back down the hall. He could hear the faint sounds of conversation in the living room, probably about him. He couldn’t find it in himself to care.

“You should talk to your friends, kid,” Plagg mumbled from where he was curled up on Adrien’s chest, blinking up at him with luminescent green eyes. Adrien sighed.

“I will,” he said, his voice raspy from being unused. “Later. I can’t right now.”

Plagg sighed and raised himself up on his front paws.

“You say that but we both know you won’t. You’ll emerge from your hiding place tomorrow and act like nothing's wrong and they won’t mention it because they know you don’t want to talk about it.” Adrien rolled over on his side and pulled the blanket up over his head.

“It’s too hard to talk about. They don’t need to be burdened with my problems, anyway,” he mumbled into the darkness.

As happy as he was that Ladybug was back, he was dreading the next time they would meet up. She would have questions and he had no way to answer them. What was he supposed to say? How could he explain to her without making her feel guilty?

He couldn’t. She had bigger things to worry about than his fragile mental health. His mental state had been a garbage fire before she left, this was old news to him. He could handle it on his own. He just needed a day to be alone and to build himself back up.

He must have dozed off at some point because he woke up that night to the sound of a timid knock on his door.

“Adrien?” Marinette’s quiet voice reached his ears. He pulled the blankets down off of his head and stared at the door, silent. He didn’t want to shut her out. She just came home, he didn’t want her to regret moving in with them because he was a human disaster. But, she didn’t need his baggage, either.

He heard her sigh on the other side of the door.

“Adrien, I’m not leaving until you talk to me,” she said, her voice still quiet but with a stubborn edge. He knew she was serious. Marinette was nothing if not persistent. With a sigh, Adrien hauled himself out of bed and made his way over to the door. He slowly pulled it open and Marinette peered up at him, cheeks going pink as she took in his shirtless, pajama-clad, messy-haired appearance.

“Hey,” he whispered, stepping back as she made her way into the room. He glanced around to make sure Plagg was safely out of sight and moved back to sit on the bed. She sat beside him and pushed a glass of water and a peanut butter sandwich into his hands.

“You need to eat something. And you need to stay hydrated,” she said by way of explanation. Adrien took a sip of the water, sitting the sandwich on the other side of him on the bed.

“Thanks,” he mumbled. A warm hand settled on his knee and he glanced over at Marinette, who was looking at him with love.

“You know, it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. It’s okay to stay in bed and not want to talk to anybody all day. If that’s what you need to do, do it. But you have to take care of yourself,” she said, motioning to the glass in his hand.

He looked down at his lap and stayed silent. He hated for anybody to see him like this. He hated being like this. But he knew that Marinette wouldn’t think any less of him for it. She was too sweet for that.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asked. He shook his head and he felt the bed shift slightly as she turned to face him. She leaned over his lap and moved the sandwich to his bedside table. “Will you atleast finish that glass for me?”

When she sounded so sweet and understanding, Adrien would have happily committed murder for her if she asked. He nodded, bringing the glass to his lips and letting the cool liquid soothe his parched throat. When the glass was empty, she smiled at him and moved it to the bedside table as well.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice barely above a whisper. She patted his leg and looked around thoughtfully for a minute before stretching out on the bed behind him. He turned to look at her, one eyebrow slightly raised, and she flushed.

Marinette held up her arms and motioned with her head.

“Come here,” she said. He looked at her blankly for a few seconds before she leaned up, grabbing his arm and hauling him back down towards her with surprising strength. Settling back in behind him, she wrapped an arm around his stomach and moved her other hand to run her fingers through his hair.

He melted into the bed with a contented sigh and she moved her arm from around him to pull the blanket up around the two of them before settling back down, hugging him tightly from behind. Her fingers in his hair threatened to pull a purr out of him, but he stubbornly tamped it down.

“Sad friends need cuddles,” was all she said, kissing the back of his head. The tips of his ears heated up but he made no move to pull away. He closed his eyes and fell into a peaceful sleep, comforted by the gentle fingers combing through his hair and the warm body pressed against his.

Chapter Text

Adrien awoke to the sweet smell of strawberries, feeling more rested than he had in months. Surrounded by warmth, he smiles to himself and raises his arms to stretch--

--only to stop short at the weight on his chest, pinning his right arm to his side. Slowly looking down, he takes stock of a dark head of hair, a pink tank top, black pajama shorts, and one long shapely leg thrown over his waist. A hand rests on his chest, curled in a loose fist. He faintly hears Plagg cackling from across the room.

Marinette hums softly and shifts, tightening her leg around his hips and Adrien becomes very aware that he needs to get out of bed before his wayward body creates an incredibly awkward wake-up call for Marinette. She sighs and snuggles closer as Adrien tries to discreetly slip his arm out from between them. His hand brushes against her stomach, bare from where her shirt has ridden up, and he prays that his hammering heart won’t wake her.

Adrien is just bringing his hand up past her chest when her eyes flutter open, causing him to freeze with the back of his hand pinned between her breasts. She blearily looks around before emitting a high pitched whining sound and jerking backwards, looking at Adrien with wide blue eyes. He snatched his hand away from her and rubbed his face in an attempt to hide his red cheeks.

“Mornin’,” he slurs, trying to sound casual and not at all like his hormones were wreaking havoc in his body as an effect of waking up next to a pretty girl for the first time in a very long time. Marinette sat up and pulled her shirt down to cover her stomach, face red, and he tried to tear his eyes away from the way the shirt hugged her body.

“Morning, Adrien.” She looked around the room before lowering her eyes and looking up at him through her lashes. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep in here.” Adrien smiled at her, hoping to relieve some of the tension he heard in her voice.

“I don’t mind. That was the best I’ve slept in months, honestly,” he confessed, pushing himself up to lean against his headboard, being careful to keep the comforter over his lap. The cool morning air caused goosebumps to spread along his bare chest and he noticed Marinette’s eyes snap to his torso. The attention did nothing to cool his ardor and he forced a yawn, trying to buy time to calm himself down.

“Um,” Marinette mumbled before her eyes snapped back to his face and her hands fluttered in front of her. “Bathroom. I’m going to the bathroom and then I’ll make us all some breakfast.”

Not waiting for a response, she practically flew off the bed and ran out the room. A few seconds later, Adrien heard the bathroom door slam shut down the hall. Plagg floated out of his trash can, doubled over in silent laughter.

“Aw, man. I could feel the awkwardness from all the way over here,” he quipped, zipping over to Adrien with a smug look on his tiny face. “Did you sleep well all cuddled up with your girlfriend?” Adrien groaned and rolled his eyes, throwing a pillow at the giggling kwami and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He scowled down at his lap wishing, not for the first time, that dicks came equipped with off switches. He waited until he heard Marinette moving around in the kitchen before slipping down the hall and into the bathroom to take a much needed, very cold shower.

Several freezing minutes later, he slipped out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and padded down the hall towards his bedroom. The smell of coffee filled the air and he could hear Marinette faintly speaking to Alya in the kitchen. Nino sat on the couch, blearily staring at the television in front of him. Slipping into his room, Adrien quickly pulled on black sweatpants and a black Jagged Stone tee before making his way to the kitchen and leaving Plagg to his cheese stash in the mini fridge wedged under his desk.

“Good morning, Sunshine Son,” Alya chirped as Adrien shuffled into the kitchen and poured himself a cup of coffee. “You’re up early.” She cast a teasing glance at a pink-faced Marinette, who busied herself with checking the muffins she had placed in the oven. Adrien felt his ears hit up and rubbed the back of his neck with a sheepish smile, deciding not to comment. Nino meandered into the kitchen, giving Adrien a nod as he passed to refill his coffee.

“So,” Alya started with a devious look in her eye that immediately put Adrien on high alert. “Did you guys see the footage from the last akuma attack on the Ladyblog?”

Marinette jerked, hitting her knee on the oven door and causing it to slam shut with a bang. Adrien choked on his drink, sending himself into a coughing fit as Nino turned to pin the two of them with an amused smirk. Alya stood in the midst of it all, face lit up with poorly concealed glee.

Adrien shot her a look, glancing over at Marinette before giving the bespectacled girl a subtle shake of his head. Just because Nino and Alya knew his secret identity didn’t mean he was ready to let Marinette in on it. It’s not that he didn’t trust her, he trusted her with his life. However, he had struck up something of an odd friendship with Marinette as Chat Noir over the years and he wasn’t quite ready to explain to her why that had started.

“Uh, no, I don’t think I saw it,” he muttered through clenched teeth. Marinette elbowed Alya and gave her a sharp look, which Adrien raised his eyebrow at. Alya simply chuckled while Nino muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘oblivious idiots’ under his breath.

“Uh, dude,” Nino started, glancing at the clock. Adrien turned to him, eyebrows raised. “Don’t you have pictures to shoot for that sorority in like an hour?” Adrien’s eyes blew wide as he frantically followed Nino’s gaze to the clock.

Shit,” he exclaimed, turning on his heel and running back towards his bedroom to put on jeans. Buttoning his pants, he grabbed Plagg off the desk and deposited him in the side pocket of his camera bag, hefting it over his shoulder and hopping down the hallway while pulling on his shoes.

“Adrien,” Marinette called as his hand hit the doorknob. His heart jerked in his chest and he froze, turning to face her. She hurried out of the kitchen with a fresh chocolate chip muffin on a napkin and a paper to-go cup of coffee. “Have a good day,” she said shyly, handing the items over to him.

Acting on impulse, Adrien leaned over and pressed a light kiss against her cheek.

“You, too,” he murmured, pulling back and yanking the door open while he balanced the muffin on top of his coffee. He failed to notice her stunned face, with her hand pressed against her flushed cheek, as he took off down the hall.

Chapter Text

Adrien’s feet pounded against the sidewalk as he ran from the spear wielding akuma chasing after him. More and more akumas seemed to be coming after his civilian self and he wondered, not for the first time, if Hawkmoth had somehow figured out his secret identity. He came up on a corner, grabbing a light pole and using his momentum to swing himself around and continue running. His lungs burned and his eyes darted around frantically, trying to spot a hidden place to transform.

The akuma flew after him, throwing oversized spears that he just narrowly managed to dodge. They sunk into the ground behind him as the villain produced more weapons seemingly out of thin air. Adrien heard the akuma, Spearstorm, grunt behind him and he dove forward, catching himself with his hands and rolling forward as another spear embedded itself on the sidewalk where he had just been. His palms stung from the contact with the cement, the heels of his hands scraped and bloody.

Adrien heard the faint zipping of a yoyo and turned in time to see Ladybug’s weapon pin Spearstorm’s arms to his sides.

“Adrien, run!” She yelled as she tugged on the string. Adrien didn’t need to be told twice; jumping back to his feet, he turned on his heel and tore off down the nearest alleyway. He heard the sounds of his Lady fighting to subdue the akuma behind him and took a sharp left, putting as much distance between himself and the akuma as he could.

“Hawkmoth really seems to have it out for you, kid,” Plagg said, tucking himself into Adrien’s collar as he jogged down a side street, looking for a place to transform.

“I know. Most of these akumas don’t even have a cause anymore. They’re just pissed off and out to kill me in both of my identities,” he wheezed. He didn’t have time to dwell on that, though. Ducking behind a dumpster, he called on his transformation and leapt onto the nearest roof, running back towards the fight.

He returned to see Ladybug dodging attacks from Spearstorm and jumped into action. Leaping forward, he barreled into the akuma, who he now saw was dressed like a Spartan, and tackled him out of the air. They hit the ground hard enough to crack the sidewalk.

“Chat Noir,” Spearstorm said, giving him a malicious smile. “Just the hero I wanted to see.” Spearstorm moved in the blink of an eye, the side of his elbow connecting with Chat’s face and sending him sprawling out on the sidewalk ten feet away.

“Don't you lay a hand on my partner,” Ladybug snapped, throwing out her yoyo and swinging down. Both of her feet connected with Spearstorm’s chest, sending him flying in the opposite direction. Chat clambered to his feet as Ladybug ran over to him. “Are you okay, Kitty?”

Chat turned his head to the side and spat blood onto the sidewalk. Wiping his mouth with the back of one hand, he picked up his baton and split it into two.

“I’m alright, M’Lady. I’ve had worse,” he admitted. “I think the akuma is in his helmet.” Ladybug nodded.

“Do you have any plans or do we need Lucky Charm?” She asked hesitantly, unused to him being the one to come up with a solution. But, he had been doing this on his own for two years while she hadn’t so much as transformed during that time.

“I might have a plan. Can you help me subdue him so he can’t turn me into a human shishkebab?” Ladybug shuddered at the mental picture but nodded, spinning her yoyo at her side. Chat returned her nod and took off back towards the villain.

“Coming back for more?” Spearstorm taunted, his weapon poised and ready to attack.

“What can I say? I’m a sucker for pain,” Chat quipped as he lengthened one of the halves of his baton and threw it forward as hard as he could. Spearstorm dropped his own weapon to block it and, when he did, Chat struck with the other half, catching the akuma in the knee.

Ladybug’s yoyo wrapped back around his arms and she tugged hard, pinning them tightly to his sides as he collapsed. Chat summoned his Whip and struck, reducing the helmet to dust. He clenched his hands into fists behind his back as the butterfly fluttered out, ensuring that he didn’t mindlessly go for it again. He breathed a sigh of relief and visibly relaxed when Ladybug’s yoyo snatched the insect out of the air.

“Pound it?” He hesitantly held out a fist as the newly purified butterfly flew away and Ladybug turned to him with a bright smile, bumping her fist against his.

They checked on the victim; a middle aged man who admitted that he had only gotten mildly annoyed at a television show he was watching over terrible writing and lack of character development, but hadn’t felt anything bad enough to warrant being akumatized.

“That’s odd,” Ladybug said once the man was safely on his way and Chat sighed.

“Not really,” he said and she turned to him with a confused look on her face. “Hawkmoth has gotten really brutal lately. But, he’s been targeting me, I think. Both civilian-me and Chat-me. I think he somehow knows who I am, but I don’t know how he could have found out.”

Ladybug gasped, bringing her hands up to her mouth. Chat nodded up towards the roof as reporters started moving towards them and they waved at the cameras before quickly making their exit. Once they were safely out of earshot, Ladybug turned back to him with wide eyes.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner, Chat?” She asked, her hands on her hips and her eyebrows furrowed with concern. Chat sighed again and rubbed the back of his neck.

“I honestly didn’t notice any real pattern until today. First, I figured they were targeting me because I was the only one to target. And when they started to come after my civilian self, I was always nearby when the akumatization happened so I figured I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He shrugged, looking down at the rooftop thoughtfully.

“Was it different today, then?” Ladybug asked, gently putting her hand on his arm. He nodded.

“The akuma today came out of nowhere. I was working when it came at me. I noticed that it left everyone else alone and just came after me like it wanted to kill me. It didn’t seem to have any real objective like most of them do, but they’ve been getting like that lately, too. Not often, but enough that I’ve noticed it.”

Ladybug squeezed his arm reassuringly, so he continued.

“I really don’t know how he would have figured out who I am, though. But, that’s the only explanation that I can come up with for these things to just be attacking me as a civilian.”

He looked up as Ladybug’s hand snatched away from his arm and moved to cover her mouth, the puzzle pieces in her mind falling together and creating a picture that both excited her and shook her to her core. She looked at him, eyes wide and horrified and Chat started wracking his brain to figure out what he said that could suddenly make her look that way. He took a step toward her and she stepped back, so he froze.

“My Lady?” He asked hesitantly, concern etched in his tone. He wanted to comfort her, to figure out whatever was wrong and fix it.

Had he said too much? Did she no longer think he was capable of being a hero? Did she blame him for this? The only people that knew who he was were people that he trusted. Them, and his father. But, as much of an asshole as his father was, he was fairly confident that he wouldn’t set him up to be killed.

His mind raced to come up with a way to get that horrified expression off of Ladybug’s face until she said the one word that sent his brain--along with his heart--hurdling off the roof and onto the pavement below.

“Adrien?”

Chapter Text

Chat tried to come up with a reply as Ladybug stood before him looking more and more horrified by the second. He had always thought that revealing his identity to his Lady would be a happy moment, that they would both agree that it was time and they would become friends in their everyday lives as well. But, as he took stock of Ladybug’s wide, panicked eyes and her trembling hands covering her mouth, he realized that he was sadly mistaken.

With a sigh, Chat looked down at his feet and gave a slight nod, knowing that there was no point in trying to deny it. He had said too much, of course. She had been the one to rescue him, after all. Why was he such an idiot?

“No, that can’t be right,” he heard Ladybug whisper under his breath. The words stabbed him straight through the heart and he retreated into himself, throwing up his walls with practiced ease. Compartmentalizing his emotions, he turned his back to her and took out his baton. “Kitty, no, wait--”

“I’ll see what I can find out about Hawkmoth figuring me out,” he said before extending his baton and vaulting away, sparing no backward glance at the girl that had just ripped his fragile heart out and left it bleeding on the rooftop at her feet.

He dropped down behind a building and detransformed, silently handing Plagg a wedge of cheese and shaking his head when the kwami opened his mouth to say something. Plagg gave him a sympathetic glance, briefly butting his head against Adrien’s cheek before retreating into his pocket with his cheese. Adrien numbly made his way back to the park to finish his job, hoping that he could finish it quickly and retreat back to bed.

 

“Alya,” Marinette muttered as she trudged into the apartment. Alya looked up from her laptop and, seeing Marinette’s troubled expression, turned to give the girl her full attention. “I fucked up.”

She plopped down on the couch and covered her face with her hands, groaning.

“What happened?” Alya asked carefully, eyeing Marinette for any signs of a breakdown. Marinette sighed and dropped her hands, looking over at her friend with teary eyes.

“I hurt Chat. Adrien,” she said and Alya’s eyes blew wide.

“You know?” She asked, leaning forward. Marinette nodded.

“Only for the last half hour. I saved him from an akuma and then after the fight, Chat was talking about how he’s been targeted as his civilian identity, and I figured it out,” she explained. Alya tilted her head, eyebrows furrowed together in confusion.

“Isn’t that a good thing, though? Now you two can watch each other’s backs in and out of the masks.” Alya couldn’t figure out how this was a bad thing in any way.

“I didn’t tell him who I am,” Marinette said sheepishly. “I was in shock and reacted...not in a good way. I mumbled about how that couldn’t be right because Chat and Adrien are so different and he heard me and he thinks I’m disappointed with him now and then he left and now he’s going to hate me and he’s going to get depressed again and--”

“Marinette, breathe,” Alya interrupted, cutting off Marinette’s rambling. She watched her take several deep breaths before continuing. “Okay. Yeah, girl, you fucked up. But you can easily fix this. Just talk to Adrien.” Marinette’s shoulders fell and she looked down at the phone in her hand.

“I texted him and he didn’t respond. When I tried to call, it went straight to voicemail,” she said. Alya chewed on her nail, trying to decide whether or not to let Marinette in on everything that went down while she was in New York. Sighing, she went to the kitchen and poured them both a glass of wine before coming back and sitting down, handing Marinette a glass.

“I’m probably not supposed to tell you this, but Adrien isn’t going to tell you himself and you need to know,” Alya began. Marinette sipped her drink and looked at Alya with wide eyes. She sighed and leaned back against the couch, swirling her wine in her glass thoughtfully.

“We found out Adrien’s identity shortly after you left. We got a call from Chloe, of all people, and she was frantic because she couldn’t get in touch with him and she was out of town. So, Nino and I went to go check on him. What we found...wasn’t great. But, he was okay. It took a lot of coaxing before we finally got him to talk.”

Marinette sat, listening intently. Tikki had mentioned that she needed to check on her partner, but she had never elaborated on why. Alya glanced over at her, sipping her wine before continuing.

“Chat Noir wasn’t meant to be able to handle akumas. He’s the embodiment of destruction and bad luck, so that much concentrated negativity...it had a drastic effect on his mental health. Now, Adrien had issues to begin with thanks to his childhood, but this made it impossibly worse. He thinks he’s handling it, but he’s not. What you saw yesterday, that’s what destroying akumas does to him.”

“Why didn’t he tell me?” Marinette asked, feeling both angry at him for putting himself at risk like that and hurt that she had made him do it by going away. Alya sighed again.

“He didn’t want you to feel guilty for leaving. All he’s ever wanted was for Ladybug to be happy; he wanted you to follow your dreams. He knew that if he told you, you would come back.” Alya turned to face her then, her eyes sad. Marinette looked down at the dark red liquid in her glass, wishing that it would supply her with all of the answers she needed. Alya was right, of course. She would have dropped everything to come back home if she had known what a negative effect the akumas had on Chat.

“How do I fix this if he won’t talk to me?” Marinette whispered, feeling hot tears prickle behind her eyes. Alya leaned forward and placed a comforting hand on her knee.

“Give him some time. I’ve been close with Adrien for a while now and he won’t listen to anything before he’s ready. As soon as you get the opportunity, talk to him and clear this whole mess up.”

Marinette nodded, startling as the door opened and the blond in question stepped inside. Looking up, he shot the girls a smile that didn’t reach his eyes and silently walked to his room, snagging his laptop off the end table on the way, and shut the door.

 

Adrien sat his camera bag down on the floor at the foot of his bed and kicked off his shoes, sitting his laptop on his desk. Plagg flew out of his hiding place and perched on Adrien’s shoulder.

“I’m sure she didn’t mean it how it sounded, kid. Talk to her,” the cat said, hanging on as Adrien climbed up to sit on his bed.

“You didn’t see her face, Plagg,” was all he said. Pulling his headphones out of his pocket, he plugged them into his phone, turned on his music, and blocked out the world.

As he leaned back against his headboard and closed his eyes, he didn’t notice the dark purple butterfly wiggling in through his window.

Chapter Text

Plagg shrieked and flew into the closet as the butterfly flew into Adrien’s headphones. Adrien’s eyes flew open and he heard a deep voice float through his head.

“You have been broken by the one that you love…” Hawkmoth started and Adrien sighed, feeling numbness wash over him. “I can give you the power to make her see who you truly are.”

“Fuck off,” Adrien muttered, rolling his eyes. He was depressed and heartbroken, yes, but he wasn’t about to become a dimestore butterfly villain’s puppet. He heard Hawkmoth splutter in his mind.

“E-excuse me?” He said, disbelieving. Apparently, no one had ever refused his offers before.

“I said fuck off,” Adrien repeated, more forcefully. He ground his teeth together as he fought the akuma’s pull.

“Don’t you want to make her yours?” Hawkmoth asked, sounding unsure of himself.

“What I want is for you to get your goddamned insect out of my headphones,” Adrien growled. Hawkmoth huffed.

“Look here, boy. Just bring me your miraculous and--”

“Bye,” Adrien said, yanking out his headphones and snapping the cord. The butterfly floated out and Plagg zipped out of the closet. Adrien could only watch on in silent horror as Plagg’s jaws closed around the akuma. Letting out a small burp, Plagg screwed up his face in disgust.

“Good job, kid. I’m glad you resisted,” he said, turning to his dumbstruck chosen. Adrien shook his head, trying to shake the image of Plagg swallowing an akuma whole out of his head.

“Uh, yeah. Thanks,” he muttered, pushing himself up off the bed to make his way to the bathroom, hoping to scrub away the whole experience. Closing the door behind him and snatching a towel out of the cabinet, he turned the shower on as hot as he could stand it.

Adrien stripped off his clothes and pulled back the curtain, stepping under the hot spray. Giving himself a minute to adjust, he reached out and turned the heat up higher, until the water stung his skin. Leaning his forehead against the cool tile of the shower wall, Adrien finally allowed himself to feel. Emotions rushed at him from all around and he felt tears fall from his eyes, falling off of his cheeks and mixing with the water swirling down the drain.

He turned up the hot water again, completely shutting off the cold water and finding solace in the burning against his back and shoulders. By the time the hot water ran out, he had finished crying and stared, unseeing, at the water at his feet. His skin was red and when the icy cold spray hit his skin, he hissed at the sting. Still, he didn’t move until the cold water had rendered him completely numb once again.

Shutting off the water, he stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist. He dug the heels of his hands into his eyes until he saw spots and sat down on the edge of the bathtub.

Ladybug was disappointed, horrified, even, by the person he turned out to be under the mask. He couldn’t blame her, either. Adrien couldn’t think of a single good thing about himself, from his fucked up family history to his social anxiety. He had so many things that were wrong with him, why did he ever think that she would love the man under the mask.

He had been so stupid in his younger years. Grandiose visions of the happy identity reveals he had once imagined played behind his eyelids, mocking him. He had foolishly believed that she would be happy with who he turned out to be under the mask, even if she was sure to be a little surprise. Nothing could have prepared him for the ripping pain that seeing the abject horror on her face had caused him. A dull ache had bloomed in his chest and he idly wondered if the pain was from Ladybug ripping out his heart and crushing it beneath her polka-dotted heel.

With great effort, Adrien opened his eyes and chased the visions of happier identity reveal scenarios out of his brain.

His hair dripped onto the bath mat, water droplets disappearing into tiny dark spots against the tan material at his feet. Forcing himself to his feet, he grabbed another towel from the cabinet and harshly rubbed it over his hair and shoulders, avoiding the mirror. He didn’t want to look in the mirror and see everything wrong with himself. He had a pretty face, sure, but his eyes were hollow and sad.

Stepping out of the bathroom, he heard the tv and faint voices. Someone was rustling around in the kitchen and the smell of marinara sauce filled the air. He quietly slipped back into his room and pulled on jeans and a shirt, firing off a quick text to Luka. Adrien needed to be surrounded by music.

When nothing else made sense, music did. When things got bad, he would always make his way to Luka’s recording studio and pour his feeling into the piano, the guitar, song lyrics, anything. Music was therapeutic to Adrien and right now, he desperately needed it.

His phone chimed and he looked down at the screen. Luka wasn’t at the studio, but he gave Adrien the go ahead to go anyway. He had a key, he was free to let himself in anytime. Pulling on a hoodie, he shoved his feet into his shoes and Plagg flew into his pocket. He pulled his messy, damp blond locks back into a ponytail at the nape of his neck; he needed a haircut.

Adrien hoped that he could slip out of the apartment unnoticed, but Marinette pinned him with her big blue eyes from the couch. Blue eyes that reminded him so much of his Lady’s.

No, not his Lady; Ladybug, he reminded himself bitterly.

“Are you alright, Adrien?” She asked timidly and he gave her what he hoped was a convincing smile.

“Yeah, I’m just heading over to Luka’s studio,” he said, not wanting her to worry. Marinette was so sweet and she genuinely cared about him, though Adrien couldn’t for the life of him figure out why. He grabbed his keys off the hook by the door and slipped out into the night without another word.

Chapter Text

Marinette turned away from the door that Adrien had just walked through with teary eyes and moved robotically across the room to fling herself dramatically face-down on the couch. She felt Alya rub her back in soothing circles as she cried into the throw pillow.

“Somebody want to fill me in on what happened?” Nino asked, sitting down on the chair next to the couch to put on his shoes for work. He had a gig at a local club in two hours, but he could spare the time to help his friends.

Alya gave him a quick rundown of what Marinette had told her earlier that day. When she told him about how Marinette had reacted, Marinette felt the tears fall with renewed vigor. She heard Nino sigh and she sat up, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. Marinette knew that she was truly a sight to behold, her face red and splotchy, eyes swollen, and nose running.

“It’s not that I was disappointed, honest. I wasn’t; I was happy that the goofball partner I’ve had for so long ended up being one of my best friend. But it was such a shock, seeing both sides of who I thought was two people. I never would have guessed that Adrien was so flirty and that Chat had such bad depression. And it shocked me to know that he had been covering it all up from me--Ladybug--this whole time.”

Nino leaned back and adjusted his hat before pinning Marinette with a look that she couldn’t quite place. It seemed like reluctant disappointment mixed with understanding. All in all, the expression was frankly strange and it did nothing to help put her at ease.

“This is going to take some fixing,” Nino said carefully, obviously not wanting to make Marinette feel worse than she already did.

“I told her she needs to talk to him,” Alya interjected, her hand warm and comforting on Marinette’s back.

“Yeah, you do,” Nino said. “But it might not be easy. Adrien is stubborn as all hell and if he thinks that Ladybug is horrified by him, he’s going to avoid you. Not out of anger, surprisingly, but because he won’t want to burden you with his presence. The guy has an inferiority complex the size of Jupiter.”

Guilt stabbed her through the chest yet again at the thought of her Kitty avoiding her because of her dumb, misinformative, overly-expressive face.

“Should I just march into his room and tell him who I am when he gets home?” Marinette asked, looking between Nino and Alya. The two of them shared a glance before Nino scratched his cheek thoughtfully and pushed his glasses up on his nose.

“I doubt Adrien will be home before you go to bed,” he said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. “He uses music as an outlet so he’ll probably be at the recording studio for most of the night unless Luka shows up and tries to make him talk.”

Marinette deflated, leaning forward and dropping her forehead on her knees, arms dangling by her legs with her fingers brushing the floor.

“How do I fix this?” She groaned. Nino and Alya exchanged worried looks above her, unsure of what advice to give.

----

Adrien’s fingers flew over the keys of the piano and he swayed with the somber tune he coaxed out of the instrument. Luka’s recording studio was small and filled with every instrument Adrien knew how to play and then some. The area should have felt cramped, but he found the space more comforting than he probably should have. The faint smell of Luka’s cologne permeated the air and Adrien was reminded of a happier time, before his inability to get over Ladybug had caused the two of them to split.

He was unbelievably lucky that Luka had been so understanding and that they were able to part as close friends. Adrien had loved Luka, he still did, but he wasn’t in love with him, and the quiet boy hadn’t faulted him for that. And what a relief that was, especially considering he had less than a snowman’s chance in Hell with his spotted partner.

If she even wanted to be his partner anymore.

With the thought of lost love plaguing his mind, his fingers switched up the tune of their own accord until a familiar tune filled the small room.

He was halfway through the song when he heard familiar footsteps behind him, but he paid them no mind as he finished out the song. He should have known the Luka would come looking for him. When the last notes rang out into the air, Adrien took a deep breath and turned to face the man lounging in the spinning chair behind him.

“What’s wrong?” Luka asked, cutting right to the chase. He leaned back in the chair with his hands draped over his stomach, one long, dark denim clad leg crossed over the other. Adrien leaned back against the piano, the keys smashing behind him.

“Nothing. I just needed to clear my head,” he said, focusing on a spot just to the left of Luka’s ear.

“You were playing the song I wrote you. You only do that when you need to be reminded that someone loves you. So, I ask again: what’s wrong?” Luka reached over to pick up an acoustic guitar and began idly picking at the strings, quietly beginning the song that Adrien had just finished playing. With a deep sigh, Adrien yanked the ponytail holder out of his hair and raked his hand through the messy blond strands.

“Ladybug figured out my identity because of my big, stupid mouth,” he muttered. He slid off of the piano bench until he was sitting on the floor, leaning his head back against the spot he had just vacated and staring up at the ceiling. “She was horrified.”

“How did you know she was horrified? Did she say anything?” Luka asked, continuing to play his song. He had written it after the first six months of their relationship and it always filled Adrien with a sense of peace. Luka was right, music did have a way to soothe the soul when words failed.

“Not directly, but her face said enough,” Adrien said, focusing on a water stain on the ceiling. “She looked so upset when she said my name, her hands were covering her mouth and she looked like she was seconds away from crying. Am I that awful?”

“Of course not,” Luka said without hesitation. “You’re amazing and I’m sure if you give her a chance to explain, you’ll see that this was all a misunderstanding.”

The thought of seeing Ladybug again made Adrien want to crawl under the piano and live out the rest of his days there. His heart lurched in his chest when he thought about having to hear her actually voice her disappointment.

“She doesn’t want to see me,” Adrien said, sorrow settling in the pit of his stomach like a stone.

“Did she say that?” Luka asked. His voice was calm and steady, he wasn’t judging or accusing. Adrien shook his head.

“I don’t want to see her,” he admitted. He felt like his feelings were justified; Ladybug had really hurt him, even on the off chance that everything was a misunderstanding. But, Adrien knew he hadn’t misunderstood. There was no denying the outright horror that had been on her face.

“That’s okay,” Luka said, bringing the song to a gentle close. “She hurt you, you’re allowed to feel how you feel. But, I think you should talk to her. I’m sure she would never mean to hurt you, you two have been through too much together.”

Adrien picked his head up and sighed. His bangs fell in front of his face and he shoved them back with an irritated pass of his hand. He really needed a haircut. The hair fell back in his face and he growled, giving up and yanking it back into a ponytail again. His hair had started growing impossibly fast after his first few years as Chat Noir, his kwami had mentioned something about being bonded to Plagg and gaining cat traits, and he hadn’t been able to force himself out of the house to go get it trimmed in months.

He finished wrestling with his hair and looked up to see Luka watching him with a bemused smile. Adrien felt the tips of his ears heat up and rolled his eyes.

“Shut up,” he said petulantly, reaching out with his foot and kicking Luka’s black combat boot. He simply nodded back to the piano and Adrien stood up, sliding back onto the bench. Without any more words necessary, the two of them began to play, letting the music soothe the ache in Adrien’s heart.

Chapter Text

Adrien had shut himself away, only vaguely responding to the attempts of his friends to engage him in conversation. Spending more and more time at the recording studio, he often went straight there after work and didn’t return home until late at night. Any attempts Marinette had made to speak with him had been met with vacant pleasantries, an empty smile, and a closed door.

As Ladybug, she wasn’t having much luck either. There had been two akumas in the two weeks since she had discovered her partner’s identity, and each time Chat had appeared at the beginning of battle, breaking the akumatized object to pass the butterflies off to Ladybug, and promptly vaulted off as soon as it was over. He didn’t joke, he no longer called her his Lady, he barely spoke to her at all aside from when it was necessary in a fight.

“Kitty, please talk to me,” Ladybug pleaded after they had finished the latest battle against another akuma without a cause. Hawkmoth with either really desperate, or he had finally lost his mind. Chat Noir tensed as he readied his baton to leap away again.

“I have nothing to say,” Chat said, his voice void of emotion. He made to move away again and Ladybug lunged forward and grabbed his wrist.

“Then just listen,” she nearly begged, taking in the tense set of his shoulders and the way his eyes had snapped to the point of physical contact.

“Please let go of me.” His tone matched his tense posture and Ladybug knew she only had seconds before he shook her off and left again. She loosened her grip, allowing his wrist to fall away from her.

“I’m sorry, Chaton. I never meant to hurt you, I was just shocked to find out who you are.” He turned to her then, his eyes narrowed into slits and she flinched away from the heat of his stare.

“I noticed,” he snapped before raking his hand down his face and taking a deep breath. “Look, maybe you didn’t mean to hurt me, but you still did. So, really, I appreciate the apology but I don’t want to talk to you right now.”

Ladybug stepped towards him and he flinched, which Ladybug felt like a punch to the gut.

“Will you please come to me when you’re ready?” She asked hesitantly. Chat turned away and placed his hands back on his baton.

“Sure,” he said, not sounding sure at all. He readied himself for a leap across the roof and Ladybug spoke again.

“Do you...do you still want to know who I am? I’ll tell you, if you want.”

Chat hesitated for a brief second, seeming to fight with himself, and Ladybug felt the faint glimmer of hope bloom in her chest. With an irritated look thrown over his shoulder, Chat extinguished it.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t need you to reveal your identity to me out of pity.”

With that, he leapt away, sparing Ladybug no backwards glance. She felt the hot sting of tears against the backs of her eyes and furiously blinked them away. She was pretty sure she knew where Chat was going.

Ladybug dropped down in the alleyway behind the building she had been standing on and released her transformation, catching a tired Tikki in her hands. She fished a cellophane-wrapped cookie out of her purse and opened it before handing it over to her companion.

“How did it go?” Tikki asked through a mouthful of cookie and Marinette sighed.

“Well, he actually let me speak this time, but it still didn’t go great. He’s still upset with me. I even offered to reveal myself to him and he said no,” she recapped, shaking her head sadly.

“You guys will be okay, Marinette. You’re two halves of a whole. I know you’ll figure out how to fix this,” Tikki said with an encouraging smile. Marinette gave her a tired smile in return.

“Thanks, Tikki. I’m pretty sure I know where he went so I’m going to try another approach,” she said, placing the kwami in her purse. With a decisive nod, Marinette headed off in the direction of Adrien’s favorite restaurant to get him something for lunch. She knew by now how terrible he was at remembering to take care of himself when he was in a funk and, if nothing else, she could at least make sure he was eating.

Ordering his favorite sandwich and a drink along with something for herself from the small cafe, she headed towards Luka’s recording studio.

Chat Noir didn’t want to talk to Ladybug? Fine.

Maybe Adrien would talk to Marinette.

----

Luka made his way idly down the road to his apartment. He was worried about Adrien, but he knew when his friend needed space. He had happily given him free reign of the recording studio and had gone every night to check on him. Luka knew of the flame he held for Ladybug and, coupled with the fact that Adrien had self-esteem low enough for toddlers to jump rope with, her negative reaction to the news of his identity had cut him deep.

With a sigh, Luka let himself into the apartment building and made his way to the stairwell. His guitar case bumped against his leg and he wished, not for the first time, that the elevator hadn’t been broken since he moved in. He climbed to the third floor and fished his keys out of his pocket as he walked to his door.

The first thing he noticed upon entering his apartment was the sense of wrongness. The room was about fifteen degrees colder than usual and it was dark, as if someone had placed a shroud over the room. He sat his guitar case down and shut the door, flipping on the light as he straightened back up.

As the door clicked shut, he shadows pulled themselves from the walls and gathered in front of him, two yellow eyes staring into his own. Luka found himself unable to look away.

“What the hell?” He muttered before the shadows engulfed him and he hit the floor like a stone.

Chapter Text

A tentative knock on the studio door pulled Adrien’s attention away from his notebook, scribbles of possible song lyrics covering half of the page. He looked up as Marinette cracked open the door and poked her head in, giving him a timid smile. His stomach gave a feeble lurch at the sight of her, long dead feelings of butterflies beginning to stir.

“I brought lunch,” she said, stepping inside and holding up a bag like a peace offering. He gave her a small smile, though it was the first genuine smile he’d given in days, and nodded his head to the seat beside him. Marinette visibly let out a breath and relaxed, making her way to the chair he had motioned towards.

Marinette’s presence felt like the first rays of sunshine breaking through the clouds after a heavy storm. Adrien took in her bright smile and felt the knot in his chest loosen ever-so-slightly.

“I brought your favorite. Pot roast sandwich, onion rings, and fruit punch,” she said, pulling out a to-go plate and setting it down with his drink on the piano bench beside him. His stomach let out a loud growl as the smell of the food hit his nose and he felt his face heat up.

“Thank you,” he said, watching as she pulled her own food out of the bag.

Oh. So, she was planning to stay. Adrien couldn’t find it in himself to mind, which was odd since he usually wanted nothing more than to be alone lately. But, having Marinette around comforted him and he knew she would never judge him when he was at his lowest.

“It’s okay if you are having trouble remembering to take care of yourself so I have made it my personal mission to make sure you at least eat something during the day,” she said, biting into her veggie wrap. Adren looked down, embarrassed at having to be taken care of.

“You don’t have to do that,” he mumbled, face hot. He so loved that she cared about him, but he didn’t want to be a burden on her just because he couldn’t function like a normal human being. Marinette waved off his concern.

“I don’t have to do shit,” she said. Her straightforwardness caused Adrien to snap to attention, looking at her. “I’m doing this because you’re my friend and I care about you. We all need help sometimes, you don’t have to feel like a burden because of it. I know you would do the same for me.”

Marinette leaned forward and placed her hand on his knee, looking deep into his eyes and Adrien was pinned in place by her bright blue gaze. He could feel his heart beating in his mouth and he was acutely aware of where she was touching him.

“So, please, Adrien. Let me help take care of you while you go through whatever it is you’re going through.”

It wasn’t a request, though it was phrased like one. Adrien knew better. Marinette was going to take care of him whether he wanted her to or not. It would bode better for him to just accept it so, with a nod, he did. He deeply cared for Marinette and, had it not been for Ladybug, he could have easily fallen in love with her.

Ladybug…

Well, that was over now, wasn’t it? She didn’t want him, so maybe it was time to let her go. He needed to let her go. Adrien desperately wanted to just let this pain go.

“So,” Marinette said, pulling him out of his thoughts. His sandwich still sat wrapped up in his lap and she motioned towards it, encouraging him to eat. She waited until he had taken several bites before she spoke again. “Do you want to tell me what’s eating at you?”

Adrien set his sandwich down to idly play with his Miraculous, twisting it back and forth on his finger, and Marinette’s eyes snapped to his hands with a look he couldn’t quite place. He wanted to talk to her; something about Marinette just turned people into an open book and he was no exception to that. But, what could he tell her?

Well, I’ve actually been running around in a magical leather catsuit since we were in school and my partner, whom I’ve been madly in love with since the beginning of all of this, found out who I actually am behind the mask and she looked like she wanted to fling herself off of the nearest skyscraper.

Yeah, no. After that, Adrien was even more wary of anybody else finding out his secret identity. He wouldn’t be able to handle it if Marinette was horrified with him, too.

On the other hand, Marinette had always gotten along with Chat Noir. They had frequently hung out on her balcony before she left for New York, sharing hot chocolate and pastries and just talking or watching movies until the sun started to peek over the horizon. A big part of him wanted to let her in on the secret, he trusted her enough, but a bigger part of him was terrified.

“Well,” he started, clearing his throat when his voice cracked. “I had a...falling out, of sorts, with someone who means the world to me. She, um, didn’t like the person I am, I guess. And I’ve been taking that kind of hard.”

Marinette’s eyes started to mist over, but she cleared her throat and blinked a few times.

“Did she--did she say anything bad to you?” Her voice was strained and Adrien briefly wondered if he should have kept his mouth shut. She fixed him with a wide-eyed look of encouragement, though, and he found himself answering her.

“Not technically,” he muttered, looking back down at his food. Marinette plucked an onion ring from his plate and pressed it against his lips until he opened his mouth and took a bite.

“I’m going to be completely honest with you,” she said as he took the onion ring from her fingers. Adrien tensed, bracing himself for the worst. “You are one of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Maybe...maybe this girl was surprised, but not in a bad way. Facial expressions can be easily misinterpreted. It’s okay to be hurt, but I promise you that whoever this girl was isn’t unhappy with who you are. Nobody in their right mind would be.”

The room was silent as Adrien chewed thoughtfully.

“I’ve been working on a song,” he said, changing the subject before he actually started crying. Marinette blinked, taken aback for a second before she smiled and tilted her head.

“Can I hear it?” She asked, leaning forward before pointedly looking down at his food. “After you finish eating.”

Adrien nodded and dutifully picked up his sandwich, taking another bite. The food was good, and he was touched that Marinette remembered his favorite things. She knew what he needed to hear and in the short time since she showed up at the studio, she had already made him feel a lot better. Sure, he was still incredibly hurt over Ladybug’s reaction, but Marinette made him feel like he was going to be okay.

Wiping his hands on one of the napkins in the bag, Adrien turned to face the piano. Marinette slid onto the bench beside him and their knees touched. Adrien rubbed at his chest.

His heart was doing that weird thing again.

Shaking his head and focusing on the girl beside him, he put his hands over the keys and began to play.

Chapter Text

“I’m scared to tell him,” Marinette blurted as she swung open the front door and stepped into the apartment. Alya looked up from her laptop with a raised eyebrow.

“Hello to you, too, Marinette,” she drawled, shutting the device and setting it on the table. Marinette flopped onto the couch beside her and tugged on her ponytail.

“He actually spoke to me today when I took him lunch,” she said, looking at Alya with a half smile. “And he played me a song that he’s been working on, which was really great. I even managed to make him laugh.”

“That’s awesome, girl. I told you, you’re exactly what Adrien needs in his life,” Alya said, giving Marinette a side-hug. Marinette fidgeted and looked at her hands in her lap.

“But, I’m worried if I tell him that I’m Ladybug, he’s going to hate me,” she whispered. Alya scoffed, calling Marinette’s attention.

“Adrien could never hate you, girl,” Alya said, rolling her eyes. “When he finds out who you are, he’ll realize that you never actually meant to hurt him. Sunshine thinks the world of you, Marinette. You as Marinette, not Ladybug, though he thinks the sun shines out of your ass as Ladybug, too.”

Marinette felt her face heat up and quickly looked back down at her lap.

“I’m serious,” Alya said, bumping Marinette’s knee with her own. “He opens up to you, even when he shuts out the world. If you just tell him and explain that you were shocked, he will understand. He already knows you well enough to know that, even if you mess up sometimes, it’s never intentional or meant to hurt someone. Just tell him.”

Marinette sighed and brought her hand up to her mouth, chewing on the side of her thumbnail thoughtfully. She needed to tell Adrien the truth, but she was so worried he would shut her out again. She cared about him way too much to lose him, as both himself and as Chat.

“You’re right, Alya,” Marinette said, rubbing her palms on her thighs. “I’ll tell him tonight when he gets home.”

----

Luka groaned as he opened his eyes and stumbled to his feet. Looking around, he tried to figure out what had just happened. Why was he sleeping on the floor? He hadn’t been drinking, like he had last time he had passed out on his living room floor.

“I hope I’m not getting sick,” he mumbled to himself, stumbling to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water out of the refrigerator. His throat was dry, his tongue like sandpaper. Uncapping the bottle, he turned it up and quickly chugged half of it before pressing the cool plastic against his hot face.

He turned to look at the front door with his eyebrows pulled together in confusion. Luka had no recollection of actually opening the door and stepping inside the apartment. He brought a hand up to rub his head, feeling to see if he had bumped it or something, but he didn’t feel any pain.

“Weird,” he said aloud to the empty room and shrugged, turning up the rest of the water before crushing the empty bottle and tossing it in the trash. His stomach growled loudly and called attention to how hungry he was.

Whirling back around to the refrigerator, he yanked open the door and scanned its contents. His eyes settled on a box of leftover Thai food from the night before and he pulled it out, quickly crossing the kitchen and tossing it in the microwave, barely resisting the sudden urge to eat it cold with his bare hands. A growl sounded low in his throat and he startled, coughing and running a hand through his sweaty hair.

The microwave beeped and he yanked the container out, snatching a fork out of the drawer before dropping the food on the counter and digging in, ravenously shoving forkfuls into his mouth. A quiet voice echoed in his head.

You are mine.

Chapter Text

A faint knock sounded at Adrien’s bedroom door and he looked up from his laptop. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Plagg zip across the room to hide in the closet.

“Come in,” Adrien called once Plagg was safely out of sight, setting his laptop to the side and facing the door as Marinette peeked her head inside. Again, the heaviness in his heart lifted at the sight of her and he gave her a smile. “Hey, Marinette.”

She came inside and gently shut the door behind her, pressing her back against it and chewing on her bottom lip. Her hands pulled at one of the twin braids in her hair. Adrien looked at her with furrowed brows.

“Is everything okay?” He asked and her eyes shot up to meet his. She looked terrified.

“I have something to tell you and I’m afraid that you’re going to be really mad at me,” she said quietly, shifting her weight from foot to foot. Adrien couldn’t imagine ever being mad at someone as sweet as Marinette, but judging by her tense posture, whatever news she had was freaking her out. Scooting over on his bed, Adrien patted the spot beside him.

He watched Marinette take a deep breath before moving towards the bed and sitting down on shaky legs. Her fingers knotted together in her lap and she looked due to bite a hole straight through her lip any minute.

“I promise I won’t get mad,” Adrien said in what he hoped was a comforting tone. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and exhaled sharply in what Adrien assumed was a laugh.

“You might want to hear what I have to say before you go making promises like that,” she muttered, looking back down at her lap. Adrien raised his hand, hesitating briefly before placing it on her shoulder.

“Okay, then. Go ahead and tell me, Marinette,” he said softly, wondering what could possibly have her so afraid. He felt her take another deep breath, steeling herself.

“I’m Ladybug,” she blurted, cringing away from his touch. His hand dropped, lifeless, onto the bed and Adrien wordlessly stared at her. She covered her face with her hands. “And I know you kind of hate me right now and I should have said something sooner, but I didn’t want to lose you as my partner and as my friend and then you were so upset and it was my fault and all I could think to do was make sure you were taken care of and I was so scared that you would hate me. I’m still scared that you hate me and I promise I wasn’t disappointed to learn your identity at all, I’m really happy that you’re my Chat, but I was just so shocked because those two sides of you seemed so different even though, the more I thought about it, they weren’t that different at all and please say something!”

She looked at him again, eyes glistening with unshed tears and bit down on her bottom lip again. The room spun and Adrien realized he had stopped breathing. He took a deep breath.

“I--” his voice cracked and he cleared his throat before trying again. “I don’t hate you, Marinette.”

She exhaled, seeming to deflate in her relief.

“I’m a little upset that you didn’t tell me sooner, though,” he admitted, deciding that honesty was the best route here. “You could have saved me, both of us, a lot of pain.” He picked at a frayed thread on his sweatpants.

“I’m sorry,” Marinette whispered. “I promise I was never disappointed, though. Knowing that two of my best friends are actually the same person makes me so happy.”

Adrien couldn’t find it in himself to be mad. Hurt, yes. Definitely hurt. But, he understood why Marinette hadn’t told him sooner. After knowing her for as long as he had, he was familiar with her anxiety and he couldn’t fault her for it. After all, she had still tried to comfort him and take care of him when he wasn’t concerned with taking care of himself.

He could forgive her. But, of course, he could never stay mad at his Lady. She had always held his heart in the palm of her hand, ultimately dooming all of his past relationships. It had been the main reason he had broken up with Luka. He loved Luka dearly, but his ex deserves someone who could love him with their whole heart. He had been incredibly lucky that they had remained such good friends.

“Okay,” he whispered. Marinette looked at him hopefully. “I forgive you. But please, from now on, can we communicate better? Now that the masks are out of the way, I feel like that should be easier to do.” She gave him a soft smile.

“Of course, Kitty,” she said, leaning into him and wrapping her arms around him. He tried to return the hug, but she had his arms pinned tightly to his sides so he only managed to awkwardly pat her elbow.

“Well, I’m glad all of that is over. I missed being able to roam around the apartment freely,” Plagg said, floating out of the closet and settling down on Marinette’s knee.

“Oh, hush. Let them have their moment,” Tikki spoke up, phasing out of Marinette’s sweatshirt pocket to roll her eyes at Plagg. She turned to Adrien with a smile. “It’s nice to formally meet you, Chat. I’m Tikki.”

Adrien smiled and held out his hands for her to land on.

“It’s nice to meet you, too, Tikki. You seem a lot nicer than Plagg,” he said, returning the smile.

“Hey!” Plagg yelled, indignant. His sour expression melted away into one of contentment as Marinette reached forward and scratched behind his ear in the same place her Kitty loved so much.

“It’s nice to see you again, Plagg,” she cooed. He cracked one green eye open to glance at her before it slid shut again.

“Yeah, yeah. You too, Spots.”

“For the record,” Adrien said, already beginning to feel better. “I’m glad that you’re Ladybug. I can’t think of anyone else who could be a better partner and best friend than you.”

Marinette flushed and smiled down at her lap as Plagg made a retching noise. Adrien’s stomach flipped as he looked at her fondly. They would be okay, he thought with a small smile of his own. As long as he had Marinette by his side, he would always be okay.

Chapter Text

“Look out!”

Chat slammed into Ladybug’s side, the two narrowly missing the giant thorn that was thrown their way. They rolled to a stop farther down the sidewalk, Ladybug pinned under Chat’s body as one hand cradled the back of her head and the other splayed flat on her lower back. Knowing that it was Adrien’s body that she was pressed against cheek to ankle had her face flaming.

He rolled off of her and she shook herself out of it. They were just friends. And also, in the middle of a fight.

The plant themed akuma called herself Petal Pusher. From what they had gathered, she was a florist that had gotten overwhelmed by the bills piling up for her business. Ladybug’s hatred for Hawkmoth grew with every innocent victim he claimed. Everyone stressed about bills; nobody should be targeted for that.

She rode around on a floating rose and the stem shot large thorns at anyone who crossed her path.

“I’ll distract her if you wanna call for your Lucky Charm,” Chat offered. He had been working harder to help her get back into the swing of things and they were finally working in tandem again. During their last patrol, he had suggested starting their training sessions to help her unlock new powers like he had.

“Sounds good. I think the akuma is in her flower crown,” she said, jumping back to her feet. Chat nodded and sped off toward the nearest shadow, disappearing and reappearing in front of another building ahead of the akuma and jumping out, taunting her.

Ladybug called on her Lucky Charm and a watering can landed in her hands. Looking around, she quickly assembled a plan.

Once her plan was set into action, Chat was quickly able to pluck the flower crown off of her head and turn it to dust, allowing Ladybug to purify the akuma.

“Pound it!” They cheered, fist bumping. Ladybug left Chat to comfort the akuma victim and ran off to detransform away from the public. Tikki plopped into her hands and Marinette offered her a cookie.

She was thrilled to be on good terms with Chat again, and her and Adrien had gotten closer overnight. Nino and Alya were happy that all of the secrets were out in the open. But, Chat had backed off on the flirting and Marinette took that as a sign that he wasn’t interested in being anything more than friends.

Which, really sucked. Because Marinette wanted more.

Chat dropped down beside her and released his transformation. When Marinette turned her head to face him, she was met with Adrien’s dazzling smile. Plagg sat on his shoulder, working to fit an entire wedge of cheese into his gaping maw. The kwami was as revolting as he was fascinating and Marinette struggled to tear her eyes away from the horrifying sight.

Adrien casually wrapped an arm around Marinette’s shoulder and she hoped that he couldn’t feel her heart pounding at the gesture. They wordlessly tucked their kwamis away and casually strolled out of the alley.

“So, I was wondering if you wanted to meet up tonight at the warehouse where we took down Time Turner. We can work on your training some and see if we can work towards unlocking your new powers,” he said.

“That sounds good,” Marinette said, trying to focus on anything other that his arm on her shoulders and the way his hip brushed against hers with every step. What really sounded good was dragging him to the warehouse he mentioned and climbing him like a tree, but she bit the inside of her cheek and kept that comment to herself with some difficulty.

Who would have thought that discovering that her stupidly sexy partner was also her equally as sexy crush would have had her falling so hard, so fast, all over again? She never expected to want to rub herself against Chat, of all people, like a cat in heat but life (and hormones) had a funny way of slapping you across the face sometimes.

She felt a nudge at her side and glanced down to see Tikki peeking up at her from her purse, giving her a knowing smile. She felt the tips of her ears start to heat up and hoped that if Adrien noticed her blushing, he would chalk it up to exertion from the fight.

Adrien, on the other hand, was having a similar problem. He wanted to spin Marinette around and kiss her full on the mouth, pulling out her hair ties to run his fingers through her hair. Finding out that Marinette was his Lady hadn’t been as surprising as he thought it would be. It was less of an ‘aha!’ and more of an ‘oh, of course its you.’

Now that the pain of their misunderstanding was behind them, he found himself impossibly more in love with the girl beside him.

But, she had been clear over the years that she wasn’t interested and he wasn’t going to do anything to push her away. He looked down and admired the faint pink dusting her cheeks, the smattering of freckles spread across her nose like constellations. She was warm under his arm, the bare skin of her shoulders lighting his skin up like an electric shock.

They made their way to their apartment in comfortable silence as the sun set behind them, each lost in their own thoughts about the other.

----

A figure dressed entirely in dark clothing briskly made their way down the street. The hood of their jacket was pulled up, obscuring their face and hair. Emotionless eyes scanned the empty street in front of them.

Don't be seen….

No one was out this time of night. They were alone.

Spotting their destination in the distance, they quickened their pace, keeping a sharp eye out for any street cameras and sticking to the shadows. Within a minute, they reached their destination.

Jump over the fence….

Wary of any security cameras, they moved to the far side of the building to the gardens, the surrounding wall obscured by trees. Perfect.

Go….

Do it now….

The ghost in the night pulled themselves up and over the wall surrounding the Agreste mansion and quietly made their way inside.

Chapter Text

Anyone who knew Adrien Agreste on a personal level also knew, without a doubt, that he was not a morning person. At all. In fact, if you asked Adrien, he wasn’t even an actual person at all before ten in the morning at the earliest, and then it was only after several cups of coffee.

However, the person relentlessly banging on his bedroom door at six-thirty in the morning evidently hadn’t gotten the memo.

With a groan, Adrien cracked open his eyes and glared at the door, silently willing whoever was on the other side to burst into flames. When the banging continued despite his efforts, he groaned again and rolled out of bed, blearily stumbling to the door and yanking it open to stare at the culprit with a look that could melt steel.

Alya slowly came into focus, unaffected by the heat of his stare. She looked at him with wide eyes and sighed, running a hand through her fluffy red hair.

“Adrien, honey. I’m sorry to wake you up, but you need to see this.”

Adrien blinked at her and frowned, wondering what exactly was so important that she had to wake him up before God himself got out of bed. She was dressed for work in her usual plaid button-down and jeans, her socked feet shuffling on the ground as she reached forward to grab his hand and pull him out into the living room. Marinette and Nino were already sitting on the couch, staring at the television with matching shocked expressions.

Marinette turned to him and her face morphed into something more sympathetic, and Adrien’s frown deepened, his eyebrows pulling together. Alya gently guided him to the couch, where he sat and turned to look at the news report on the tv.

Gabriel Agreste, Age 58, Found Dead in Home

Adrien blinked hard at the screen, rubbing his eyes before looking again at Nadja Schmack on the screen, detailing the report of his father’s death. Marinette’s hand settled on his knee and squeezed.

“Nathalie found him this morning,” Marinette said gently, looking at him with big blue eyes. She exchanged a worried glance with Nino and Alya as Adrien remained silent.

He waited to feel the sting of tears, but he didn’t. There was a sizeable lump in his throat and a weight in his stomach, but no tears. There was sadness, of course, amid all of the disbelief, but nothing like the way he would have expected to feel at the news of his father’s passing. In fact, the distinct lack of an emotional reaction at discovering that his last remaining parent was dead made Adrien wonder if there was something fundamentally wrong with him as a person.

“That’s not all,” Alya murmured, sitting down next to him and placing her hand on his other knee. Adrien turned to look at her, his face carefully blank, and she took a deep breath, her face pinched as if the next words out of her mouth were causing her physical pain.

“The police investigated the house to look for any signs of foul play,” Nino said before Alya could speak. The grip of the two hands on his knees both tightened as Adrien looked over at his best friend. “They found a secret room in the house filled with white butterflies. The Miraculous grimoire was stored in there, too, that you found back when he was akumatized.”

The words swirled around in Adrien’s brain and he desperately hoped that the conclusions he was drawing weren’t about to be confirmed.

“He was wearing a butterfly brooch,” Marinette whispered, sliding her hand up his knee to grab his hand, interlacing their fingers. At any other time, the action would have sent Adrien to the moon but now, it held a deeper meaning that he didn’t want to hear. “They found Nooroo curled up at his side.”

That got an emotional reaction out of him, though it wasn’t the one Adrien had been expecting. Anger, not sadness, coursed like fire through his veins. He didn’t need to hear anymore.

His father was Hawkmoth.

His father had been preying on the emotions of the citizens of Paris while he had been left to grieve for his mother on his own. His father had been sending supervillions out to terrorize the city when he should have been acting like a parent. His father had tried to steal his Miraculous from him, not because he wanted to protect him, but because he wanted it for his own evil agenda.

His father had taken advantage of his depression and tried to akumatize him.

His father had been sending his akumas out with the intent to kill him.

A familiar weight landed on his shoulder and he glanced over to see Plagg looking at him with sorrow-filled eyes, as he must have woken up in time to hear everything. Marinette reached over with her free hand and grabbed the remote, shutting off the tv.

“Are you okay?” Alya asked hesitantly and Adrien cleared his throat. He thought about the question.

Knowing of his father’s evil deeds, he didn’t feel the least bit sad that he was gone. So, regarding that, yes. He was fine.

However, knowing of his father’s evil deeds and everything that he did to him, Adrien was pissed off. He was hurt that his father had intentionally endangered the life of his own son. It was because the akumas were so intent to kill him that he had never suspected the man in the first place.

“Yeah,” Adrien said, his voice gravelly. Yelling and screaming would do him no good. As much as he desperately wanted to hit something, that would do him no good right now either. He didn’t want his friends to see that. Most of all, he didn’t want to scare Marinette, who had a death grip on his hand. “I’m going to go back to sleep, though. Thank you for being the ones to tell me.”

Adrien gave Marinette’s fingers a light squeeze before standing up, patting Alya’s shoulder and nodding at Nino as he made his way to his bedroom to climb back into bed.

Tonight, Adrien would deal with it all. Preferably with the company of a bottle of whisky. Now, though, he would try to get another hour of sleep before his phone started blowing up with phone calls about the company, the finances, and the funeral.

Chapter Text

Luka sat up in bed with a jolt, breathing heavy and shaking. His hair was matted to his forehead with sweat and his shirt clung uncomfortably to his body. He roughly yanked the shirt over his head, flinging it across the dark room. His stomach rolled and he threw the covered off, moving to stand on shaky legs and stumbling to the bathroom. He fell to his knees in front of the toilet with seconds to spare before he was violently ill.

He spit into the porcelain bowl one last time several miserable minutes later and groaned, shakily rising to his feet and reaching out to flush the toilet. Leaning over, he flicked on the bathroom light and squinted against the sudden brightness, blindly fumbling with the knobs of the shower before shucking off his pants and carefully stepping under the warm spray.

He scrubbed at his face with his hands and felt the tension in his shoulders slowly release as the remnants of adrenaline ebbed away.

That must have been a crazy nightmare, he thought to himself. He couldn’t remember any details, but the faint echoes of screaming reverberated through his head. With a sigh, he opened his eyes and reached out to grab the soap, freezing when he caught sight of his arm.

Angry red scratches covered his arm from his knuckles to his elbow; bright red whelps with no broken skin to be seen. Bringing his other arm up slowly, he saw the same. Long red scratches ran up to his bicep, striking through the guitar tattoo on his left forearm.

“What the fuck,” he whispered, turning his arms so that his palms were pointed toward the shower floor. The marks continued all the way around. Looking down at himself, he saw the same criss-crossed lines across his chest.

With the last of adrenaline out of his system, the sting began to set in as the warm water irritated the scratches and he hissed through his teeth, quickly reaching to shut off the water. He stepped out of the shower and grabbed a towel, wrapping it around his waist and moving to the sink to brush his teeth.

Using the hand that wasn’t holding his toothbrush, Luka wiped the fog off of the mirror and examined himself more closely.

The scratches continued from his chest to his neck, with one on his face running right along his cheekbone underneath his right eye. He turned around and craned his neck to check his back, seeing only smooth, tan skin and the black cat tattoo on his shoulder blade. Turning back to the front, he spit in the sink and rinsed his mouth out before heading back to his room to get dressed.

The damaged skin along his arms and torso felt akin to a sunburn, and he pulled on a loose fitting long-sleeved shirt and dark jeans. He sat down on the edge of his bed to pull on his socks and noticed his discarded jeans from the night before.

The last thing he remembered after work was going to the bar with a few of his coworkers. He had only had two drinks, but didn’t remember anything after saying goodbye and heading home. He didn’t even remember getting home, for that matter.

He thought back to the bar, wondering if someone had possibly slipped someone into his drink, but it hadn’t left his hand the entire time. His eyebrows knit together in confusion and he scratched his head, standing to walk to the kitchen.

Coffee. Hopefully some caffeine would help kickstart his brain.

He moved on autopilot, starting the coffee pot and grabbing a banana off of the counter. Leaning against the stove, he chewed thoughtfully. There was mud on the welcome mat by the front door, his boots laying on the floor beside them also dirty.

Did he wear those yesterday? He couldn’t remember.

His phone vibrated loudly against the counter as he was pouring himself a cup of coffee and he frowned at it. He usually charged his phone on the nightstand beside his bed. Had he forgotten to plug it in?

Blowing on his cup and taking a sip, he picked up his phone and saw several messages and missed calls. Marinette had been the one to text him most recently, so he opened her message first. He scrolled up to the first unread message and quickly scanned the rest before tossing the cup in the sink.

His confusion over the previous night forgotten, he grabbed his keys and wallet off the counter and shoved them in his pockets along with his phone. Shoving is feet haphazardly into his sneakers, he took off out the door.

Chapter Text

Adrien’s day passed in a blur of phone calls, meetings with various people in suits, and hugs from his friends. Luka had been in the apartment when he had woken up the second time, looking rough, and him and Marinette had barely left his side all day. He appreciated it, but when he got the chance to be alone, he transformed and leapt out the window with a backpack of things he needed to clear his head.

Which is how Ladybug stumbled across her partner lying prone at the top of one of the tallest buildings in the city, one empty bottle and one half empty bottle of whisky sitting near his head.

She landed at the edge of the building and ran over to him, her heart in her throat when he didn’t so much as twitch an ear her arrival.

“Chaton?” She asked, crouching down beside his hip and leaning over to peer at his face. His eyes slid open, glassy and unfocused, before they landed on her and a drunken smile split his face.

“Heeeeyyyy, Bugaboo,” he slurred, clumsily reaching up to play with her hair ribbons. She gave him a sad smile and sat back on her heels, reaching out to run her fingers through his hair. He closed his eyes and hummed, pushing against her hand as a low purr started up in his chest.

Ladybug couldn’t help but give a real smile at that. He usually tried to suppress his purr, along with most of the other cat-like traits that had bled over from Plagg, but she loved to hear it when he let his guard down enough for it to slip out.

“What are you doing out here?” She asked, keeping her voice soft and gentle. Her fingers paused in his hair and he frowned, pushing against her hand again until she resumed her petting.

“Jus’ needed to be alone,” he mumbled. Ladybug frowned and pulled her hand back from his hair.

“Do you want me to leave?” She asked, knowing that she wouldn’t go too far. She couldn’t let him try to make it home alone in this state.

“No,” Chat said forcefully, clumsily reaching up to grab her wrist. “Stay, please,” he mumbled, quieter. His hand dropped from her wrist and onto the rooftop above his head. Ladybug gently pushed his bangs back from his forehead, noting how long his hair was getting. She actually really liked it.

“Of course, kitty,” she responded. She would stay on the rooftop all night with him, if that’s what he wanted.

He jerked suddenly and struggled to sit up, catching her by surprise as she was about to run her fingers through his hair again and she snatched her hand back to her chest, eyeing him to see if he needed help. He slumped over into a technically upright position and turned to her, giving her another drunken smile. He held his arms out and she scooted closer to him on her knees, letting out a surprised yelp as he flopped over onto her, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his face in her neck.

His breath was hot against her skin and the feeling sent a jolt like electricity through her, straight to her thighs. She flushed and hugged him close to her, pointedly ignoring her body’s reaction to him because now was not the time.

“I’m so lucky to have you,” he mumbled, lips brushing against her neck as her face heated up further. She took a slow breath in through her nose and reached up to pet his hair.

“Do you want to talk about it?” She asked, hoping that he was too drunk to notice that her voice was a full octave higher than it usually was. He shook his head and held her tighter, causing her to shift her weight and move her knees to the side so that she was fully sitting on the roof.

“You smell good,” he muttered, humming again. He nuzzled his face against her neck, dropping a light kiss over her hammering pulse before resting his head back on her shoulder.

Ladybug’s face was on fire.

He’s just an affectionate drunk, you know that, she chided herself. She knew that he didn’t actually mean it the way she wanted him to, though her traitorous body obviously didn’t care. She also knew that, even drunk, the second she pushed him away or told him to stop, he would immediately take his hands (and lips and arms and chest) off of her.

“Thank you,” she squeaked, and he chuckled, reaching one hand around her back to play with the end of her braid.

“Never needed him anyway,” he said, leaning back and flopping back onto the roof, hooking an arm around her waist and pulling her with him. She landed on his chest with a grunt and raised her head to look at him. He was frowning at the sky. “Only need you.”

“It’s okay to be sad, kitty,” she said, grabbing the hand that wasn’t wrapped around her and rubbing her thumb across the back of it. She rested her head back against his chest, his heartbeat a steady rhythm under her ear.

“Tha’s the thing,” he started, “I’m not sad. I’m really, really mad. I dun’ even care that he’s dead, but I should.” He sounded confused, as if his emotions weren’t making any sense to him. Ladybug reached up to cup his cheek in her hand.

“That’s okay, too. He did a lot to you, you have every right to be mad,” she said gently. Chat sighed and turned to place a kiss in the middle of her palm.

“Feel fine now, though,” he said, rolling them over so that he could curl up at her side and lay his head on her chest. Ladybug floundered for a moment, gathering her bearings after being moved so suddenly, and ran her fingers through his hair again. “Here. With you.”

If Chat noticed her heart pounding against her chest, he didn’t mention it.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she reassured him, scratching behind one faux ear where she knew he liked. He leaned into her touch, tilting his face up to nuzzle her collarbone. His breath puffed against the hollow of her throat and she was barely able to ignore the way that shot heat all the way down to her abdomen.

He’s drunk, she reminded herself. He just needs you to comfort him, keep your fantasies to yourself.

“I love you so much,” he murmured and Ladybug’s breath hitched.

As a friend, as a friend, he means he loves you as a friend.

He raised his head and looked at her with luminescent green eyes and she raised her eyebrows at him in a silent question.

“Can I kiss you?”

Damn it, if she didn’t want to yell ‘yes, yes, oh fuck yes, please!’

Instead, she took a shaky breath, bit her lip, and rested her head back against the roof, gently urging him to lay his head back down.

“Ask me when you’re sober, kitty.”

Chapter Text

Opening his eyes the next morning, Adrien was aware of exactly three things.

He had no recollection of anything after the first bottle of whisky the night before.

His head felt like it was splitting open.

And 3. He wasn’t alone.

A slender, freckled arm was wrapped tight around his chest and the rest of the person beside him was fully underneath the blankets, snug against his side. Short puffs of warm air fanned over his bare chest and he fumbled for the blanket, careful not to wake his bedmate. Quickly peeking underneath the blanket, he saw that he was wearing basketball shorts and let out a relieved breath, dropping his head back against the pillow.

Plagg phased through the bedroom door, landing on Adrien’s chest and handing him two aspirin, which he quickly swallowed dry.

“Thanks, Plagg,” he whispered. Plagg glanced at the sleeping pile of blankets beside his chosen and nodded, zipping back out the door to the kitchen, Adrien assumed. He gave a small, fond smile at the door. Plagg was a sarcastic little asshole, but he had softened up over the years, becoming Adrien’s biggest supporter.

The person beside him shifted, bringing his attention back to the matter at hand.

He reached over and gently pulled the blanket down, revealing first messy black hair, long eyelashes, a cute button nose, and finally rosy pink lips. His breath caught in his throat as he took in Marinette’s sleeping face, wondering again what exactly happened the night before. She was dressed, thankfully, as he noticed the thin strap of her tank top on her shoulder.

She grumbled, wrinkling her nose and letting out a small grunt as she snuggled closer. For a brief moment, Adrien allowed himself to relish the feeling of her skin against his, her head on his chest, and imagined waking up like this with her every morning for the rest of his life.

Adrien wasn’t a morning person, but if mornings meant waking up next to her, he could definitely see the appeal.

“Kitty?” She murmured sleepily, blinking up at him with bleary eyes. She gave him a slow smile, closing her eyes and dropping her head back down on his chest, humming contentedly, and Adrien’s heart melted.

The feeling was short lived.

Marinette tensed and shot up, clutching the blanket to her chest and staring at him with wide eyes and a red face.

“Adrien! Um, h-how are you feeling?” She blurted, running her other hand through her messy hair to tame it. Adrien blinked at her for a moment before clearing his throat, shaking off the fantasy he had allowed himself to indulge in.

“Head hurts, but I’m okay,” he said, pushing himself up to lean against the headboard.

“Not nauseous or anything?” Marinette asked, reaching across him to grab a bottle of water from the nightstand and handing it to him. Adrien shook his head and opened the bottle, taking a long swallow. “That’s good. You threw up a lot last night, I was hoping you got it all out.”

Adrien choked, spraying water onto the bedspread and he felt his face heat up. He groaned and dropped his head back against the headboard with a thud.

“Oh god,” he mumbled, dragging a hand down his face. Marinette giggled and reached over to scratch the spot he liked so much.

“It’s okay, kitty,” she said, smiling at him. “Remember my eighteenth birthday?”

Adrien chuckled. How could he forget? Ladybug had been he didn’t know how many bottles of champagne deep and decided that swinging around Paris on her yoyo was a fantastic idea. He had found her, drunk and giggly, and basically babysat her for an hour before holding back her hair while she emptied her stomach into a dumpster.

“Yeah, I remember,” he said, shaking his head with a small smile.

“Consider my debt repaid,” she laughed, pulling her hand back from his hair. He mourned the loss of contact, but held himself back from following her touch.

“Tell me I didn’t make too much of a fool of myself,” he pleaded, turning on the kitten eyes and looking up at her through his lashes. She shook her head, a faint blush coloring her cheeks.

“Not at all. You were just really affectionate. I brought you back here, helped you get ready for bed, and you asked me to stay with you. I was only going to stay until you fell asleep, but I guess I fell asleep, too,” she said, scratching her cheek.

“Thank you for staying with me,” Adrien said, smiling at her. Knowing that he had his Lady by his side made him feel lighter, given his life currently. She didn’t think less of him because his father was Hawkmoth, as he had irrationally feared yesterday.

“I’d never leave you,” she said, resting her hand on his covered leg. The affirmation loosened a knot in his chest that he hadn’t even known was there.

He wasn’t alone. He had Marinette, Nino, Alya, and Luka. He wasn’t as unloved as his brain liked to make him believe.

Marinette excused herself to the bathroom and Adrien finished off his water before rolling out of bed. The pain in his head had lessened to a dull ache, which was tolerable. Grabbing his phone, he checked his schedule for the day and saw that he had a music lesson to teach that evening, but was otherwise free for the rest of the day.

At least, until someone called him about funeral arrangements, which he had passed on to Nathalie. He was set to inherit his father’s company, which he intended to sell, but that stress was pushed back for a later date.

He made his way to the kitchen and saw that Nino or Alya had left the coffee pot on, for which he was grateful. He poured himself a cup and grabbed a muffin from a container on the counter, waiting for Marinette to get out of the shower, wondering if she would be willing to spend the day with him.

Chapter Text

“You need to work on your blocking,” Chat Noir said, leaning over where Ladybug lay sprawled out on the concrete floor. They were in the abandoned warehouse that they had claimed for training sessions after spending the day together. It was past midnight, and he was thankful that neither of them had anywhere to be in the morning.

“I’m a long distance fighter,” Ladybug complained, rising to her feet and dusting herself off. “That’s the whole point of my yoyo.”

“Long distance isn’t always an option,” Chat explained, getting back into a fighting stance. “If an enemy manages to get in close range, you need to be able to defend yourself. Swing at me, I’ll show you.”

Ladybug stood across from him, widening her stance and swinging a punch at him, aiming for his jaw. Throwing up his arm, he redirected her swing and, using her momentum, he effortlessly grabbed her arm and had it pinned up between her shoulder blades in the blink of an eye. He gently squeezed her wrist before letting her go, stepping back with a smirk.

Ladybug huffed and turned to face him, shoving her hand through her hair to push the bangs off her forehead. She stretched her arms out in front of her and shook out her hands before looking at him and tilting her head to the side.

“How did you get so good at this?” She asked, giving him that look that made his insides go crazy, all soft eyes and fond smile. He felt his face heat up and he rubbed the back of his neck.

“Practice, I guess. When you left and all that stuff happened with my father, Hawkmoth starting going crazy. The akumas he sent out were brutal, which is the main reason I never suspected him. But, I got the shit beat out of me too many times to not learn how to defend myself better. So, I enrolled in some self defense and kickboxing classes in my free time,” he explained with a shrug, dropping his arm back to his side.

“And, what happened to you when you started destroying akumas?” Ladybug asked gently, eyebrow raised and silently daring him to lie to her. He sighed and looked at the floor, shuffling his feet awkwardly.

“When you purify akumas, you change their entire makeup. When I destroyed them, all of the negativity they harbored had to go somewhere and that somewhere happened to be me. Plagg said it’s different for every Chat Noir that’s done it. Some of them had their hearts corrupted, some of them started going insane. For me, it latched onto my already shitty mental health and made it even worse,” he reluctantly admitted.

Ladybug sighed and moved closer to him, laying a hand on his shoulder. He kept his gaze fixed firmly on a rock on the ground.

“Why didn’t you tell me, Kitty?” She asked, lightly squeezing his shoulder. He shrugged halfheartedly.

“You were chasing your dream. I didn’t want to tell you and have you put all of your plans on hold to rush back here. And I know you would have, don’t try to deny it.”

She sighed again and stepped away, her hand dropping off of him.

“Is it getting better?” She asked. He looked up at her with a small smile.

“Since you’ve been taking care of them, it hasn’t gotten worse,” he said, hoping she wouldn’t realize that he hadn’t actually answered her question. Her raised eyebrow told him that she did notice, but she stepped back into a fighting stance and didn’t push the issue. He let out a quiet breath of relief, straightening and moving toward her.

“Use this part of your arm, and watch my feet,” he said, stepping behind her and reaching around to adjust her arms. As he positioned her, he spoke low in her ear. “When someone gears up for a hit, they’ll usually bend their knees and shift their dominant foot.” A light shiver ran down her spine and he stepped back, wondering if she was getting cold. The temperature had dropped significantly as the sun set.

Moving back in front of her, he slowly demonstrated a punch, talking her through the motions and how to react. He talked her through it a few more times before suddenly swinging at her, pulling his punch just enough that it wouldn’t hurt her if she missed.

She didn’t. Blocking his hit, she ducked low and swung her leg, sweeping his feet out from underneath him. He fell back and hit the ground with a thump, the air knocked out of him.

“Like that?” She asked, placing her foot on his chest and leaning over him with a triumphant grin. The single light bulb shone around her head like a halo and if Chat hadn’t been struggling for air before, he definitely was now.

“G-good job,” he stuttered out, trying and failing to ignore the butterflies in his stomach. Reaching out, he yanked the foot that wasn’t on his chest out from under her. She landed on her butt with a yelp and he lunged forward, knocking her to the ground and pinning her arms above her head. “Lesson two: don’t let your guard down.”

He grinned down at her and she stared up at him with wide blue eyes, a faint blush peeking out from under her mask and her mouth open in a small ‘o’. He became increasingly aware of the way his entire body was pinning her to the floor and jumped to his feet, coughing and reaching a hand down to help her up. He hoped the dim lighting of the warehouse hid his flaming face.

Ladybug sat up, but didn’t get back to her feet. Leaning back on her hands, she looked up at him with an expression Chat could only describe as flirty, though he was sure that wasn’t her intention.

“So,” she started, looking off to the side. “If an enemy has me pinned like you just did, how would I get out of that?”

Chat spluttered for a second before regaining his composure and running a hand through his hair in a gesture that he prayed looked nonchalant.

“That one is kind of hard to explain,” he said slowly, moving his hand to scratch the back of his neck and he wondered if the next words out of his mouth were going to get him kicked. “You’d have to pin me down so I can show you.”

That was not supposed to come out in that tone of voice. God, he sounded like he was insinuating that she should climb on top of him and take him for a ride. Not that he would mind that, of course, but she did not need to know that. Ladybug’s face was almost as red as his own felt, but she nodded and gestured for him to get down on the floor.

With a silent plea to the heavens, Chat sank down to the floor and settled onto his back once again. He stared resolutely at the ceiling as Ladybug situated herself over him, trapping his legs with her own and bringing his wrists up above his head. When she had effectively immobilized him, he glanced at her. She met his eyes with a wink and a coy smile.

“Now what, Kitty?”

Chat turned his gaze back up to the ceiling and let a slow breath out through his nose. Dear God, this woman was going to be the death of him. Focus.

Bringing his mind back to the task at hand and pointedly ignoring the feel of her body atop his, he quickly planted his feet on the ground, raising and shifting hips to throw off her center of gravity, and rolling them over so that he was on top. He grinned at her and leaned close to her face.

“Your turn,” he said, his voice gravelly. Ladybug squirmed underneath him and his eyes widened. Her tongue poked out from between her lips and her nose scrunched in concentration. She planted her feet as best as she could and thrust her hips up, twisting and trying to throw him off balance to no avail.

Meanwhile, Chat was mentally running through every quadratic formula he knew. This was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

"A sudden rise of criminal activity in Paris has seemingly happened overnight-"

"Citizens are becoming cold, remorseless-"

"Previous upstanding citizens have become petty criminals-"

"It's like there is a virus spreading through the city-"

"-at a rapid pace, corrupting even the friendliest of Parisians-"

Alya groaned and switched off the television. It was amazing, how much things had changed over the last twenty-four hours. Her office had been closed for repairs, as someone had thrown rocks through the windows early in the morning.

Citizens were brawling in the streets. Police had their hands full and Ladybug and Chat Noir had been running themselves ragged since nearly four in the morning trying to help.

Alya had ventured out with her camera, recording the events and uploading videos to her blog to warn her listeners to stay inside. With her keen eye for detail, she had noticed something nobody else had.

It spread through touch. Physical skin-to-skin contact.

She hadn't noticed right away. But, slowly, she had started to recognize a pattern. People would be running away, through the crowds, in fear. Then, they would be grabbed on the hand, arm, neck, any place where skin was showing. Eye contact would be made

After that, they would turn and run back towards the fray, joining in on the chaos.

Alya had posted a warning to her blog, then she had run home and frantically tried to contact Marinette and Adrien. But, since they were transformed, their phones were off.

"I wish we knew where Master Fu was at so we could get our miraculous to help out there," Nino said from where he was looking out the window. Alya stood up from the couch and moved over beside him, wrapping an arm around his waist.

What could only be described as a riot unfolded on the street below.

"How did is spread so fast?" Alya whispered, tucking closer into Nino's side. He shrugged.

"This is France, babe," was all he needed to say. It was true. By nature, the majority of them were very tactile. All it took was one corrupted person in the street and it spread like wildfire.

Helplessness was a feeling Alya seldom felt. She was a take-charge, independent woman and always had a plan.

But, standing at the window and looking down at the carnage below, not knowing how to help her two closest friends...Alya had never felt so helpless in her life.

Chapter Text

Trying to contain the citizens of Paris was about as effective as herding cats, Chat Noir mused as he dodged yet another blow from a hate-crazed person in the crowd. He and Ladybug were on the defensive, unwilling to harm the citizens even as they were pressing in at them from all angles.
"Roof?" Ladybug asked, breifly glancing over at Chat as she spun her yoyo in front of her like a shield. Chat nodded and jumped back, putting some distance between himself and the man swinging at him before extending his baton and vaulting toward the nearest roof. Ladybug landed beside him, chest heaving.
Chat glanced over at her from where he was hunched with his hands on his knees, trying to steady his own breathing.
"What the hell is going on?" He wheezed, using one hand to wipe sweat out of his eyes. "This can't be an akuma, Hawkmoth is dead. But what else could it be?"
Ladybug hummed thoughtfully, looking down at the brawl on the street below them with a pensive frown. She pushed her damp bangs off of her forehead and scrubbed at her face.
"It's like everyone is infected with some kind of angry disease," she said, looking at him with wide blue eyes. There was an undercurrent of fear there, beneath the worry in her gaze, that unsettled Chat more than anything else.
Fear wasn't something he often saw in his Lady's eyes.
"From what I could tell while we were down there, it looks like its spread through touch and some intense eye contact," he offered, scratching his cheek thoughtfully and looking back down at the citizens fighting. A tall figure in dark clothes walked calmly down the street towards the crowd, a hood obscuring their face. "What's happening?"
As they watched, one by one the people stopped fighting and turned to stare at the person approaching until they all stood motionless, staring as they approached. The black-clad figure waved their hand, as if carelessly swatting away a gnat, and the people dispersed, walking into stores and conversing as if there had never been a fight in the first place.
"Should we go check them out?" Ladybug asked, turning to Chat with a hand resting on her yoyo. Chat met her eyes for a second before nodding, reaching back to grab his baton.
When they turned back to the street, everyone was gone.

----
Marinette and Adrien were sprawled out on the floor of the apartment later that night, exhausted.
"What the hell is going on with Paris?" Marinette mused, frowning at the ceiling.
"I don't know. But, we need to check on your parents, Nino and Alya's family, and Luka," Adrien said, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He thumbed through his recent calls to find Luka's name, pressing the call button and pressing the phone to his ear.
"You have reached the voicemail box of--"
Adrien growled and ended the call, dropping his phone onto his chest. He glared at a stain on the ceiling while the others called their families. Luka never ignored his calls and while it's very possible that he could be busy, Adrien hadn't heard from him in a few days.
Which was very unusual.
Heaving himself to his feet, Adrien walked to the fridge and grabbed a piece of cheese for Plagg.
"My parents are fine," Marinette said, hanging up her phone.
"Nora has been infected with whatever this is, but my parents and the twins are okay and holed up in the apartment," Alya said.
"My mom and brother are fine, I sent them a message when shit started to hit the fan this morning to get out of town. So, they're in the car heading to stay with some other family members," Nino said. Adrien nodded.
"Luka isn't answering the phone. I'm going over there to check on him," he muttered, gently poking Plagg to rouse him from where he was curled up with Tikki on the couch.
"Adrien, you need to get some rest. I'm sure Luka is fine, he's smart." Marinette stood and tried to coax him onto the couch but Adrien shook his head, pulling is shoes on.
"I need to go check on him. I haven't heard from him since he came over last and that worries me. Something just doesn't feel right," Adrien explained. Marinette pondered his determined expression for a moment before moving to pull her own shoes on.
"I'll go with you," she said, reaching for her sandle under the table.
"You need to rest, Bugaboo," Adrien said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "I'll be fine. I'll go by rooftop so that I stay out of the streets as much as possible and I'll text you when I get there and when I leave."
Marinette stared at him, looking like she didn't want to let him go alone. She crossed her arms with a pout.
"I'll feel a lot better if we don't split up, though," she said. Adrien squeezed her shoulder and nodded calling on his transformation and heading to the window, hearing her do the same behind him.
"Text us if anything happens. We'll try not to be too long," he said to Alya and Nino and they ducked out of the window into the night.

Chapter Text

Ladybug and Chat Noir landed on the fire escape at Luka's apartment and looked around to make sure the coast was clear before dropping their transformations. Marinette fidgeted and anxiously watched the street as Adrien knocked on the window and waited.
Adrien was about to knock a second time when the window slid open and Luka poked his head out, smiling at the pair and stepping back to let them in.
"You didn't answer my calls and with all of this shit going on, I got worried," Adrien said, pulling Luka into a hug. Luka returned the hug before pulling away and moving to hug Marinette.
"Sorry about that, my phone is broken. I've been sleepwalking or something lately and I ended up dropping it in the toilet the other night," he explained, cringing.
"We just had to come check on you," Marinette said, moving to sit on the couch.
"Thank you," Luka said, making his way to the kitchen to grab some drinks. "I wanted to come over to you guys' place, but I figured staying out of the streets was the smart thing to do." Luka sat two sodas in front of Marinette and Adrien and popped open a beer for himself. Adrien gave him a weird look.
"Since when do you drink beer?" He asked, wrinkling his nose. Luka chuckled and sat it down on the table.
"I don't, but these taste like root beer. One of the guys from work got me hooked on them," he said. Marinette stuck out her tongue in disgust while Adrien looked thoughtful.
"Can I try it?" He asked, reaching out his hand. Luka gave him a playful glare.
"I don't want your germs, man," he said, chuckling. Marinette rolled her eyes and took a sip of her soda.
Adrien smirked and raised an eyebrow.
“Please,” he snorted, rolling his eyes. “You’ve never complained about that before.”
Luka flushed and handed the drink across the table, leaving Marinette to look between them with a look of confusion. She felt her face flush when it dawned on her.
“It’s not bad,” Adrien said, passing the drink back to Luka.
“You said you’ve been sleepwalking?” Marinette asked, leaning forward to rest her elbows on her knees. Luka shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess so. I’ve been falling asleep in bed and waking up in different places in my apartment. I woke up the other day covered in scratches and I don’t even want to know how that happened,” he said, shaking his head. Adrien cocked his head to the side.
“Night terrors, maybe?” He suggested. “It’s been a while since you’ve had those but, that sounds like what used to happen when I couldn’t wake you up.”
“Maybe,” Luka said, leaning back in the chair.
“If your phone is broken, I can order you another one,” Adrien said, already pulling out his phone to go online. Luka laughed and shook his head.
“You don’t have to do that, I can go pick one up once all this craziness lets up.” Adrien looked up at him and narrowed his eyes.
“I don’t have to do anything. Consider it an early birthday present. You know how much I worry and I’d feel a lot better if you had a way to contact us if you need to,” he showed his phone screen to Luka, who sighed and nodded. “Plus, Alya and Nino get tired of all the cat memes I send them. You’ve never complained.”
That got a genuine laugh out of Luka and Adrien put his phone back in his pocket, having successfully placed the order.
“It should be here in a few days,” Adrien said. “I picked overnight shipping, but I’m sure it’ll take a little bit longer than that since the city is so insane right now.”
“Until then,” Marinette interjected, glancing at Adrien before looking at Luka, “would you mind coming to stay with us? I don’t like the idea of you being stuck here by yourself with no way to contact us, even if it’s only for a few days.” Luka fiddled with the bracelet on his wrist.
“Are you sure? Wouldn’t Alya and Nino mind? You guys don’t exactly have a spare room,” he said. “I’ll be perfectly fine here.”
“You can sleep in mine or Adrien’s room. I have my chaise or you and Adrien can come up with whatever sleeping arrangements if you feel more comfortable with him. But, we’re both going to worry about you, so you’d really be doing us a favor by staying for a few days,” she said, looking over at Adrien. He nodded and stood up, making his way to Luka’s room.
“No chance of backing out, Songbird. I’m going to pack you a bag,” he said before disappearing down the hall. Luka chuckled and fondly watched him go.
“You still love him, don’t you?” Marinette asked hesitantly, her voice quiet. Luka redirected his attention to her and gave a small smile.
“Of course I do,” he said. Marinette fidgeted with the ends of her hair for a second.
“I think he still loves you, too,” she said, turning her bright blue gaze up at him. There was no sadness in her eyes; there was only affection.
“He does, he tells me all the time,” Luka replied, shifting to get comfortable. Marinette bit her lip.
“Sorry if I’m overstepping, but can I ask why you guys broke up? You don’t have to tell me, I know it’s none of my business but--” Luka held up a hand and stopped her nervous ranting before it began.
“I don’t mind, Marinette. You’re a friend. We broke up for a few different reasons. Mainly because I was targeted by several akuma attacks and he was worried about putting me in danger. Knowing what we know now about his dad, it makes sense. But even back then, he was worried that Hawkmoth had figured out who he was and was targeting the people closest to him and he didn’t want to risk that. Other than that, that was also around the time he started getting really depressed and pretty much isolated himself from everyone, despite all of us trying to be there. We understood, and tried to be there any way he would let us. But, he went on and on about how I deserved better and ended things between us. He really wasn’t in a good place.”
Marinette opened her mouth to respond when Adrien reappeared from the hallway, a black and green bookbag slung over his shoulder.
“Ready to go?” He asked, leaning against the arm of the couch beside Marinette. Luka nodded and grabbed their drinks, moving to the kitchen to discard them. He grabbed his keys from the counter and shoved them in his pocket. He pulled on his shoes and met a transformed Ladybug and Chat Noir beside the fire escape window.
Chat offered the bookbag to Luka, who pulled it on before climbing onto Chat’s back with practiced ease.
“I haven’t done this in forever,” Luka laughed. “Don’t do anything too crazy.” Chat shook his head, following Ladybug out the window.
“Please,” Ladybug laughed, tossing out her yoyo and looking back at him with a wink, “as if we’d ever let anything happen to you.”