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when i'm gone.

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The digital clock on top of her shelf marked the time with a light beep. 

She rolled her eyes at it, and sat on her bed, looking at the infinite. 

Brushing her hair away from her face, and rubbing her eyes to not fall asleep again, Marinette let out a big sigh. 

The dark atmosphere of the room did nothing to help her feelings. Not that anything would. 

She looked at the shelf beside her and reached for the pair of red earrings that were lying there like they were nothing when they actually were the most precious thing she would ever own. 

Marinette held the earrings close to her heart. 

To her stupid, damned heart. 

None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for it. She always knew her heart would be the doom of her existence but… not like this. 

She unwrapped herself from the sheets and made her way down to the first floor of her room. 

Tikki followed close, she was silent but she might as well be talking because her thoughts were extremely loud. 

“I’ll be okay,” Marinette said. Lying. “Let’s go through the rules one more time,”

“Do we have to?” Tikki asked in a tiny voice. “I know them perfectly, Marinette… you’ve been repeating them for a month and a few weeks now. I know what to do…”

“I just….” Won’t be there to repeat them if you need to. 

Marinette sighed, defeated. 

“No, we don’t have to,”

She walked to her desk and took the plate filled with baked goods.

“Do you remember my parents’ schedule?”

“Yes, I do,”

“Your hidden spot?”

“Yes,” She nodded and sat on Marinette’s shoulders, nuzzling her head against her cheek. 

Marinette sighed and threw her head back. 

“This is harder than I thought,” 

“Is it really?” Tikki asks, curious peeks through her words. 

Marinette nods, “I… thought pain had a limit, you know?”

Oh, Marinette, ” Tikki does her version of a hug, leaving tiny kisses all over Marinette’s face. 

Silence reigns in the night once again. 

The moonlight leaks through her window and lights up a square in her room. Marinette pulls a blanket, drags it to the chaise and brings with her the plate with food, ready to have a long and heartwarming talk with her kwami.

It is painful, to chat like this. It is not different from what they usually do but knowing that tonight will be the last time they talk like this makes it emotional.

What makes it worse is that it is not her first goodbye of the day. 

She already said goodbye to Chat Noir, he just didn’t know it. Because he can’t know it. 

So, he didn’t see this patrol as anything but a fun time with his dear friend. 

Marinette tried her best to have a good last encounter without making it obvious that she was leaving. She took a tupperware with food, a selection of his favorites, she raced him to the Arc de Triomphe and they ended up staying until very late talking about everything and nothing. She even let slide a few things about her civilian life so he would giggle with joy every time he realized what she had done. 

She hoped he had treasured tonight just as much as she was going to treasure it for the rest of her life. Or at least, until she could come back to him. 

Marinette lied awake, looking at the roof, Tikki sleeping on top of her chest, and hummed to herself. 

She couldn’t sleep. She wasn’t even going to try, it was going to be useless. 

Instead, she started to think about every battle she had had as Ladybug, trying her best to remember every single detail, as little as it could be. 

Those memories were the only thing she would have to remind herself that she was, had been Ladybug. 

Because as from tomorrow, she would not have the earrings as proof.  

 

xx

A brand new day started with the rise of the sun, with beautiful weather and birds singing. If today had been any other day, Marinette would be all about it, but sadly, that wasn’t the case. 

She had only slept two hours and the bags under her eyes were more prominent than ever, something her parents would not be happy about and neither was Tikki, but she didn’t say anything, giving the situation. 

Marinette took a short shower and dressed with the first thing she found in her closet. Unfortunate, since today she had the time to take care of her outfit and carefully select it, she just wasn't in the mood for that. 

She put her hair in a ponytail, too afraid that she would start crying if she did her iconic pigtails, and put a pair of black earrings she had bought a few days ago at the mall. 

“Are you ready?” Marinette asked at the silent kwami beside her. 

Tikki’s eyes gleamed with tears as she shook her head. 

“Oh, please,” She sobbed, biting her lip to keep her from crying. 

“I will miss you so much, Marinette,”

“I will miss you too,” Marinette took Tikki in her hands and pressed their foreheads together, “I’ll be back as soon as I can. I promise.”

“I’ll count the days,” Tikki kissed her cheek.

The kwami flew away and sat on top of the wood hexagonal box with the earrings. 

“Goodbye, Marinette,”

“Goodbye, Tikki,” She waved until a red light popped and Tikki disappeared.

Marinette closed the box without giving any second thoughts because if she let herself have them she would never leave her room. 

These days her routine was a constant of doing things as fast as she could because if she didn’t then she would never be able to reach her goal.

She took the bag on her chair, pulled her pink parka out of a hanger and ran downstairs.

Marinette couldn’t make it through the living room without getting caught. 

“Where are you going, little lady?” Her mother said from the kitchen. 

“I have an appointment I can’t miss,” And that was the full truth. 

“You need to eat breakfast first, you know it, Marinette. And did you take your medicine?”

Marinette rolled her eyes softly. 

She pushed the bag to her front, opened it and took a little cat bag and a bottle. She shook the cat-bag and this made a funny noise. 

“All here, I was going to take it on my way to the metro,”

“You need to eat before you take them,” Sabine said, a little angry.

“I was going to grab a bite at the bakery, mom,” Marinette whined, “I’ll be back soon, I promise, I love you!” She said running over her words as she ran to the door. 

She heard her mother scream but ignored it. There was no way she would be late today. 

As she said, she took one bag of small cookies out of the bakery, she put them on her backpack, and as she walked to the metro she took the medicine. 

When she put the silver plastic tablets full of pills back in her cat-bag, she frowned at them and threw them with hate inside the backpack. 

She was tired of taking them, she was so done with having to swallow fifteen pills a day. Especially when medicine had been the reason she was unhealthy. 

Marinette tried to brush off her thoughts, to keep her mind on the game, but when her heart started to beat fast, she couldn’t do it. All her focus was on the beat, on the rhythm, on how she was feeling. 

And it had been like this since she had been diagnosed two months ago. 

 

xx

Marinette only stopped worrying about her heart when she reached her destination. 

She bounced out of the wagon, on her station and her eyes were back on the goal. 

Her phone had been rining a few times, but she had ignored it. No distractions until she delivered her package. 

Marinette strutted the streets of a more suburban area in Paris. She looked around at the rooftops, they were lower than they were in the center, but they would work. 

She couldn’t change where her chosen lived. It was that or choosing someone she did not like to replace her. 

Marinette had look through all Paris, picking and testing different girls all over the city. Until she found her perfect match. 

Aimée Song. 

Aimée looked awfully similar to Marinette, -she was Korean, not Chinese, but because of her French ascendency, it wouldn’t be much trouble- she was also top of her class, very kind and had great physical skills that could come handy in the time for battle. 

With a little bit of training, she would become the perfect replacement. 

So, for a month, Marinette -without revealing her identity- had been training her to be the next Ladybug.

And now she was about to make her replacement official. 

Marinette stopped in front of a grocery store, she looked at each side, searching for curious eyes and when the coast was clean she ran to the alley to the right. 

She walked until the alley got divided in two by a green wall. Turning to the right, she leaned on the wall, took a cap of her bag and waited. 

Not long after, she heard cautious steps approaching. 

“Ladybug?” Aimée’s voice echoed through the alley. 

“Yeah,” Marinette said, doing her best to change her voice. 

Aimée walked at the other side of the wall and sat on the street. 

“I can’t believe this is really happening,” Aimée gushed.

Neither did Marinette but here they were. 

“Do you remember all the rules?” Marinette asked. 

It was important for her to remember, even if Marinette had written them in a note that she was about to give her. 

“I must not reveal my identity. I must do my best to keep the status quo. I can’t go looking for you. I can’t let anyone know that Ladybug has changed. I can’t let Chat Noir know I am not you. I can’t show Tikki to anyone. I can’t abuse my powers. I have to take care of Chat Noir,”

Marinette winced. 

They were out of others, but they were almost all the important rules anyway. She wouldn’t give her a hard time for it. However, she did think it was important to mention again one last thing.

“You can only look for me if, and only if you guys defeat Papillon, and if and only if something really bad happens. Understood?”

“Understood,” Marinette could tell Aimée was nodding and smiling. She was joyful like that. 

“I’m leaving you a binder with everything you need to know, please study it. You’ll find a few recipes for Tikki, and a few warnings that will come handy. There are a few notes about Chat Noir too, a few jokes that I remembered last minute, and things he likes in case you need to surprise him or cheer him up,”

“Okay,” 

“And all the information we have gathered across the years that you must know. It’ll be weird if Ladybug stopped knowing all these secrets. Please promise me you’ll make your best to remember them,”

“I promise, Ladybug. This is a once in a lifetime chance, and such an honor too, I won’t let you down,”

Marinette kept her mouth shut. Unsure of what to say because she was unsure of how she actually fell. 

“So, are you ready?” Marinette asked

“Yes!” Aimée answered.

At the same time, Marinette realized that she was not. 

But it was already too late. 

Chapter Text

 

Adrien changed his bag to his other arm as he made his way to the classroom. He chassé-ed his way to the door with joy beating on his heart. 

What a beautiful evening he had had. He went to bed beaming and he woke up with the same happiness still vibrant inside of him. 

Nothing could ruin his day, the memories of his incredible partner laughing and hugging him last night were going through his mind like the scenes of an old movie. They were so tender and they felt surreal, but they were a hundred percent part of his life. 

In the late months, Ladybug had loosened up her hair. She hadn’t been as strict with their identities as she had always been and had talked about her life with much sincerity. He didn’t know what had managed to make a change in her, but he liked it. 

Adrien was arriving at the art room when the sound of clattering books and school supplies distracted him. 

He turned around to find that the author of such noise was no one else but Marinette. 

Adrien gave a lopsided smile and spun on his heels to go help her. 

Marinette was on the ground, her bag was open on the floor,  books, pencils, papers, and miscellaneous items were scattered all around her and she was shakingly moving to every direction trying to catch things that rolled, so they wouldn’t distance away from her. 

Adrien ran to her, kneeled down and started to help immediately. 

“Morning, Marinette,” He said in a singsong voice.

“Hi,” She simply replied, too busy catching her things. 

Adrien started to pick up 

“Hey, how cute is this,” He said shaking the small cat-bag on his hands, “Is this like a pouch? I want one,”

Marinette glared at the little bag and snatched it from Adrien’s hands. 

Adrien swore he listened to something similar to ‘you wouldn’t’ but she said it so low and so fast that he couldn’t be sure. 

He stopped grabbing things and pushing them in the bag and stopped to look at her. 

Of all the girls he had ever met, Marinette was the only one that he considered was beautiful enough to get on Ladybug’s level and make his heart skip a beat every once in a while. Because of that, he had studied her features a thousand times, knowing them by memory. 

One look was enough to realize there was something wrong. 

Her hair was in a messy ponytail, she was wearing light wash jeans and a big purple hoodie. He checked her hair again looking for a bow a clip or some sort of decoration. It wasn’t like Marinette to dress so… sloppy? Could he call it that? She didn’t look bad, he had seen her wear this kind of outfit when he went to her house, however, Marinette -fashion lover, future designer extraordinary- liked to dress up. 

It was odd to see her so... normal .

This wouldn’t be a problem, maybe she woke up in a hurry or didn’t have time to prepare anything the prior night, those things could happen, but what made him certain and worried was the big purple under eyes marks and how pale her fair skin looked. The yellowish undertones of her skin were prominent and her cheeks were flushed in vivid red, instead of the peachy pink she always had across her face.

Marinette looked tired, sad and weak. 

“Everything okay?” Adrien lifted a worried brow. 

“Uh, yeah,” He heard the lie in her words, but he wasn’t going to push it further.

Not directly, at least. 

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Adrien started, giving one look to check her expression, “But these days you’ve been clumsier than, uh… ever,” 

“I know,” She winced, “It’s been some rough days… weeks...” There was a hidden ‘months ’ at the end of that phrase. 

Adrien put one hand across her shoulders and pulled her close to him, squeezing. 

“I’m always here for you, you know that, right?” She nodded, “So it is Alya and Nino, and I’m sure Luka and Kagami will be more than happy to make time for you if you asked,”

“I know,” Marinette said, standing up quickly. 

Adrien mirrored her

“I’m meeting Kagami for ice cream tomorrow, you could join if you want,” He smiled.

“I’m fine, Adrien,” Marinette furrowed her eyebrows, but the mean gesture disappeared almost as fast as it had appeared. 

Marinette rubbed the space between her brows and huffed. 

“I’m sorry. Thank you for worrying is just… I… I had an errand to run super early and I’m not in the mood,”

“It’s okay, we all got those days,” Adrien shrugged and put one hand across her shoulders, bringing her close to hug her. 

He was expecting her to push him away, but to his surprise, Marinette hugged him back. She wrapped her arms around him as if her life depended on it. 

She shook on his arms and a whimper came out of her lips. 

“Oh, Nette,” He whispered tenderly, wrapping his arms even tighter.

Adrien lifted his gaze and looked at his surroundings. A few students were glaring at them with confused looks on their eyes. 

To keep this more private, Adrien started walking, moving Marinette with him, to a corner of the hallway that turned and where the light wasn’t reaching at that time of the morning. 

“Are you sure you don’t want to talk about it?” Adrien whispered.

He brushed pieces of her hair away of her face and cupped her cheeks to clean the tears. He bent his knees so he would be at her height and fix his sight with hers.

Adrien waited for an answer but Marinette remained silent. Which, thinking it well,  was an answer on itself.

So he did the best he could do right now. He kept his mouth shut, and he held her until she stopped crying. 

xx

 

Marinette never said what was bothering her, didn’t even give a clue. However, what she did said, was to keep the situation forgotten and don’t comment to Alya that she had been crying. 

Adrien followed her orders but that didn’t stop him from having his gaze on Marinette the whole day. 

They were having lunch at the park, taking advantage of the last warm days they would get before the autumn really came into town. Instead of breathing the delicious mix of cotton candy and feel the breeze on his hair, Adrien kept trying to catch a glimpse of information on Marinette’s expression.

Nino elbowed him at the middle of lunch, making a face and some gestures, asking him to stop. 

Adrien just shrugged, trying to explain back, without talking, that he was worried. Nino didn’t understand, and a frowning look from both of the girls made him stop. 

They ate the rest of their baguettes listening to Alya talk about the new gadgets she was about to introduce to the Ladyblog, to make the community interact even more than before. Adrien pulled a tupperware with strawberries and listened carefully as he ate one by one. The taste of the fruit was as sweet as last night had been, it was cheering him just by remembering it. 

Maybe strawberries could cheer Marinette up! They were her favorite fruit after all, just like Ladybug's! And bringing strawberries or strawberry anything to Ladybug always put her in a good mood.

This plan could not fail!

“Nette,” He called in a whisper, to not interrupt Alya.

Marinette lifted a brow and waited for him to speak.

Instead, he offered the tupperware so she could take a berry. 

A smile appeared on her lips, and his heart made a pirouette. 

“Thank you,” She mouthed and gave a bite to the fruit. 

Adrien gave a toothy smile, which made Marinette laugh loud. 

He sent her a wondering look. 

She pointed at his teeth, still laughing, “You have strawberries all over your teeth,”

Adrien could feel his cheeks getting warm, nonetheless, he laughed with Marinette, happy his embarrassment was at least worth it. 

“What are you two laughing about?” Alya inquired.

“Nothing,” They said at the unison, still giggling a little. 

“Okay,” Alya rolled her eyes, “Changing the subject, I was thinking we should do something this weekend,”

“Something like?” Adrien asked, interested. 

“We should go to an amusement park!” Nino said before Alya could talk.

But she must have thought it was a good idea because she didn’t complain. 

“Amusement park sounds awesome! I don’t think I’ve been to one since I was a kid,”
Nino took his cap off and dramatically pulled his hair, “Why is that phrase so common with you? Will it ever end? Oh, magical energies, I swear I’m doing my best,” 

Adrien rolled his eyes amused, and elbowed Nino. 

They both laughed loudly and started pushing each other and rolling on the grass like two kids. 

“Can you believe these two?” He heard Alya say. 

“You’re going to get your white pants full off green smears, Adrien,” Marinette shouted but it lacked her usual strength, “The jacket you sat on will not help you with this,”

Adrien pushed Nino away one more time and took Marinette’s advice, he stood up and cleaned his pants, already seeing some green spots, but nothing serious that couldn’t disappear with a quick wash. 

He went back to his seat, on top of his jacket and leaned to reach Marinette. Leaving one kiss on her cheek. 

The girl opened her mouth astonished, and she flushed. 

“Thank you,” He simply said.

He ignored Alya and Nino’s wiggling brows and amused look. 

“So,” Adrien cleared his throat, “Amusement park?”

“Yeah!” The couple screamed and put their hands in the air. 

Adrien copied them an looked at Marinette. 

She did not move. 

“Marinette?” Adrien tilted his head.

“What do you think, dudette?” Nino asked crawling to be in front of her.

He took her hands and swung them from side to side, “You love roller coasters, don’t try to hide it,”

“Uh…” Marinette stammered. Her gaze fell on each of them once, before looking at the horizon, “I’ll see if I’m free,”

“Oh my, oh my, look who’s busy. I was expecting that line from Adrien, to be honest,” Nino said. 

Adrien laughed and shrugged. It was true. 

“I’m just very busy lately,” 

“I’m sure your mom will give you a free day of helping on the bakery,”

“Yeah, Sabine is that cool,”

Adrien didn’t add anything, he just waited for Marinette to say something. 

“I’ll see what I can do, if not just go without me, don’t let me ruin your fun,”
“Are you crazy? We have to go together. All of us,” 

“If you guys can work around my crazy life, I’m sure we can work around your schedule, Nette,” Adrien said and the couple nodded.

Once again, she did not speak. 

He turned to look at his friend and the easy and relaxed smile he was wearing fell. 

There was vivid sorrow in Marinette’s eyes.

 

xx

When they made their way back to school.

Adrien made sure to stay behind so he could have a private talk with Marinette.

However, Papillon had other plans. 

Instead of finding an excuse to talk to his friend in private he had to come up with a nice lie to disappear on them. 

After three years of constant escapades, their friends were used to it so it wasn’t hard to run to the closest empty street and transform. 

The rush of the transformation, the sudden enhance of strength and energy was something he would never grow tired of.  He wished it didn’t come with a fluorescent colored villain trying to hurt him badly so he could take his precious piece of jewelry, but not everything in life could be perfect. 

This akuma to be exact was proving to be a nuisance. 

He wasn’t extremely powerful or dangerous-looking, in fact just by a look he seemed to be more interested in getting his goal than attacking him.

Although, he should have known better than underestimate an akuma. 

When he rushed to her, baton in hand and shriek of war resonating in the air he was meet halfway with a huge wall. To say that hitting it had hurt like hell was to fall short. 

This same situation happened four times before he considered to change strategies. Now, he escaping from it and attacking only when the time seemed right. 

Nonetheless, the akuma had her eyes on him, there was no distraction for him to use at the moment. 

This wasn’t a one-man operation, it never was, but Ladybug was taking her sweet time appearing. How long had he been fighting the akuma? At least an hour and a half and there was no sign of her. 

Had something happened to her? Had she been crushed by one of the wall bricks? Had she--

He couldn’t complete his thought when a bunch of heavy bricks started to fall like rain on top of him. 

Chat Noir was quick and strong, but he was human under the mask, so it wasn’t a surprise when one hit his head and he fell from the rooftops to the streets. 

Adrien groaned, slowly lifting his body from the ground, putting his weight on his elbows. He coughed and his ribs hurt. 

Where was Ladybug?!

He crawled to the edge of the street, to press his hand on the wall and help him stand. 

Once up, he shifted his body and leaned against the wall.

He looked up and saw the dust created by the akuma getting thinner. She had not seen him fall here, that was great. Now he had to come up with a plan. 

He couldn’t start reviewing the facts because a scream caught his attention.

At the end of the street stood his beautiful friend. 

“Are you okay?” Marinette asked from afar, hiding behind a locker.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” He said grinning and lying. He must look like a mess, but he couldn’t worry her. 

She frowned, unamused. 

Chat laughed. 

“Everything is fine, princess,”

Adrien stood up straight, he put his hands on his hips and made a superhero pose. 

He heard her huffed and she approached. 

“You don’t look okay,” She whispered.

Chat waved his hand and clicked his tongue, “I’m wonderful! You don’t have to worry about me, princess. It’s just occupational hazards. You’ll see, LB and I will have everything going right in no time. Like we always do,” 

Marinette looked down, “Yeah, like you always do….”

There was some sadness on her tone, but he couldn’t figure out what brought it. 

“I must go back,” Chat said, pointing to the sky. 

Marinette leaned on the wall and nodded. 

“Goodbye?” 

Marinette looked up, her eyes pierced his soul. “Bye… good luck, Chat,”
“Be safe, princess.”

 

xx

Back on top of the buildings his plan to come up with a strategy begun. It was hard to start, with the image of Marinette engraved on his mind. What had she been doing here? So far from home? Was she with Alya? She never followed the reporter, but it was the most reasonable theory he could come up with now. 

“Ugh,” He groaned. He had to worry about that later, now the akuma was his priority. 

It wasn’t a difficult akuma at all, he was just missing his---

An image on the distance cut his train of thought. A girl was running dressed in spots. 

Chat couldn’t help but grin. 

Finally!

She was at his side only seconds later. She didn’t stop running and he began to chase her. 

“Good evening, my lady!” 

“Good evening, chaton!” She replied, smiling back at him. 

“What took you so long? I’ve missed you,” He said, running closer. 

She giggled and pressed her hands on her face, hiding .  

That made him smirk. He felt some sort of pride in making her blush.  

“I wasn’t in the area,” She shrugged, gaining back her composure. 

“Let’s finish this quickly!” 

Ladybug nodded and focused her sight on the akuma in front of them. 

Adrien couldn’t help but look at her. She was his favorite vision after all. 

He watched her move with elegance through the rooftops, her pigtails bounced as she did so. He narrowed his eyes, there was something… different. Had her hair grown a little? 

He couldn’t tell as they ran, but there was something that wasn’t the same. 

But he would have time to admire her in more detail and tell her how beautiful she looked, later. Once they defeated the akuma. 

xx

Maybe he had jinxed the situation when he said they should finish the battle quickly. 

It hadn’t been the longest fight they had ever had, but it was up there. 

Tired and breathless, they sat inside of a dark room, it was safe -from strangers eyes, and their own- until they recharged. No one was coming and they couldn't see each other. 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” She kept saying. 

“Bug, it’s okay, I already told you,”
“I fucked up so many times… I…”

And she kept rambling. 

He wasn’t listening to her now, it was the same speech over and over, and if he heard it one more time he was going to say what he was really thinking.

Was he a little disappointed by her performance today? Yes, he was. But everyone was allowed to have bad days. 

However, when he said this the last time, Ladybug had started crying. So, for today, sincerity was out of the question and he was going to be sweet. Sometimes friends had to do this, sometimes friends had to give one step back and let their friends express their emotions in all their colors. 

A sob echoed in the room and that didn’t sit well on his heart. 

“Hey,” He said, reaching for her hand in the dark, even if he knew he shouldn’t. “We all have bad days,”

She kept silent. 

Their hands met each other, and she squeezed his hand softly. 

“Thank you,”

“I’m always here for you, my lady,” Adrien caressed her hand with his thumb, “If there’s anything you want to talk about, anything at all, just call and I’ll be there,”

“You really are the best, Chat Noir,”

“Well, I can’t be nothing but the best to be with you,” 

A nervous giggle. Not quite like her echoed in the room. 

“Thank you,” She said again, “I have to go, but I’ll see you next time,”

“Until we meet again, bug. Love you,” He whispered and left one kiss on top of her knuckles. 

“I… I love you too,”

Adrien wasn’t prepared to be hugged, so when the girl threw herself at his arms, he lost his balance and fell to the floor. 

“I am sorry,” His partner whined.

He couldn’t help but laugh and hug her back. Leaving one kiss on her cheek. 

“It’s okay. I liked that,”

“Okay,” Ladybug giggled, “I have to go now. See you next time?”

“See you next time, my lady,”

Ladybug kissed his cheeks before transforming and leaving the room. 

Adrien waited for five minutes in the room once she left, and then did his same old routine, leaving the room by going out of the window. 

What Adrien didn’t know is that someone had followed them and had been hiding there in the room. 

She wasn’t happy with what she heard. 




Chapter Text

 

It’d been a week and a few days after Marinette overheard the superhero team inside the darkroom, yet the conversation still bothered her.

The lovely words they exchanged, words that should have been for her weren’t settling well in her heart. 

The worst part was that she couldn’t blame anyone but herself. The other horrible thing to deal with was that she had to see him from afar, and on the last days she had only been able to catch a glimpse in the night when he was doing his patrol. 

She hadn’t followed the last akumas as close as the first one, because they had been incredibly hard to reach as a normal civilian, and because she actually got caught by one -a new experience, very annoying experience-.

And Aimée wasn’t doing badly, so she shouldn’t be worried. 

As she thought, her athletic skills made her a more agile and fast Ladybug that Marinette had ever been, and while it took her longer to figure out how to use the lucky charm, and when she did, her ways of using it were rather odd and not as creative as Marinette’s, Chat was by her side and helped her make all the plans come to life.

Something told her that Chat had been coming with various parts of the plans they had pulled, just by afar, she could tell it was his style. 

But...

Marinette looked down at her notebook and saw the messy scribblings all around the page. 

She winced just by looking at them. All of those were little notes she had taken the last day after spending a whole afternoon following Aimée. 

Not her best moment she admitted, but she needed to know how she was dealing with civilian life and if she had not let clues behind her that could make her a target to get the earrings. 

Aimée had been fine, nothing to worry about, or well… nothing to worry about from the professional aspect because when it came to the relationship she could initiate with Chat… then Marinette had everything to worry about. Or so she thought after seeing her interact with her friends. 

One of the things Marinette learned about the girl as she trained her was that she was a complete extrovert and did not carry a grain of shame in her body. 

Marinette scooted over the notes: Flirty, extroverted, charming, not a grain of shame on her body, a bit arrogant.

Aimée had been all over the top when she was training with her, but all these new traits had been a late discovery. They weren’t bad, not at all, it was just…

“Ugh,” 

She threw her head back and rubbed her eyes. She had to let this go. 

She was great at faking her friendship with Chat Noir and isn’t that what Marinette wanted? For Chat to be loved and have a friend while she was gone?

Yes, that’s pretty much the reason why she came up with a plan, yet… she begged for Aimée to lower her attitude a notch. For Chat. 

As much as Marinette flirted with him, and how confident she was around him, she had never been that bold. 

Part of her wished he wouldn’t notice these changes, that he would brush them off if he happened to think weirdly of “her new attitude”, but the other half of her begged for him to realize that whoever was by his side, was not his lady.  

Nonetheless, that wasn’t the objective of her plan, if he did figure out that there had been a change, all would go wrong. 

Still, she couldn’t help but wonder if he had realized the little changes. 

“Nette,” Adrien put a hand on top of hers and squeezed, taking her out of her thoughts, “Dreaming of the moon?” 

“Something like that,” She smiled. “What were we talking about?”

“The amusement park,” Adrien said and looked at Alya and Nino who were writing down ideas on a notebook, “Is this weekend okay with you? Since you couldn’t last week,”

“Uh…” 

Just tell them the truth!

“Not this weekend either?” 

“Well-” A scream pierced through the air interrupting her.

“Akuma,” They said at the unison, the only difference was their tones of voice. Alya was excited, Nino sounded tired, and Adrien… Adrien’s voice was hard to describe. 

Marinette was sort of happy.

Saved by the akuma! No need to spill the truth yet!

Marinette stood up ready to give an excuse and start running but she sat down almost instantly. 

She didn’t need to disappear. She didn’t need to go. 

She wasn’t Ladybug any more.

Why was it so hard to get used to it? Wasn’t a week enough to stop these reflexes?

Actually, one week wasn’t enough to know what to do. 

It felt so strange to stay still or hidden while chaos was enduring outside. 

Maybe she would never let those reflexes disappear because it didn’t matter if she wasn’t going to fight, she was still going to be invested in the fight somehow, in case that anything went wrong. 

Also, she missed it so much already. 

Marinette always saw it as her duty, not some sort of game that she was allowed to be part of, but she had enjoyed it like one. It was freeing, it was fun, it let her do things that she would never have been able to do otherwise. 

She missed talking with Chat Noir too…

If she could only find a way to--

Wait a minute

Marinette looked at her side. 

Adrien was long gone now, wherever he went to hide, but Alya and Nino were fastening their backpacks around their waist and shoulders and taking their cameras, ready to go film the battle. 

“Can I go with you?” She spat, loud and quick so they would hear her above the noise.  

Alya turned on her heels and jolted her head as if she had punched her. 

“Why?” Her friend asked, curiosity mixed with judgment washing all over her face. 

She flinched, “ Jeez , sorry, I didn’t mean to bother,”

“No, no, no. I… I’m sorry. That sounded horrible, that’s not what I meant… I’m just really curious. You’ve never been interested in it before,”
“I just realized that I’ve never accompanied you to one of your chases. I’ve always supported the blog, read it and give you feedback but I’ve never seen your whole process…”

“Marinette,” Alya awed and threw herself at her arms, “You’re the sweetest, of course, you can come!”

“Amazing!” Marinette shout. 

This was a good idea. An excellent idea!

Alya knew how to catch the battles and avoid trouble better than anyone. This was her ticket back to the battleground. 

And an easy way to keep an eye on her partner and her chosen replacement. 

 

xx

 

Today’s battle had been short, one of the shortest battles they had ever fought. As amazing at that was, since they took care of the akuma quickly, Adrien was left with a bitter taste after it. 

Ladybug had changed his way of approaching the akumas completely in the short term of a week. She wasn’t fighting and analyzing them, she wasn’t trying to find ways to get through them instead of attacking them directly, she wasn’t coming up with smart ways to trick them. Also, she had been using her lucky charms at the beginnings of all the battles, and the ways she used them went according to her new style of fighting but were all the opposite of the smart plans she always used to have. 

Today she had actually gotten a teaser and electrocuted the poor guy. 

She had worn the most triumphant smile and she flickered her head with such confidence, that a little bit of arrogance leaked through.

He had fun, he couldn’t deny it, but it still felt… wrong. This wasn’t how their team worked. 

He barely got things to do but punch the akuma with his staff. 

Now, as they jumped around the rooftops he couldn’t keep wondering and coming up with answers himself, so he asked her. 

Her answer wasn’t what he was expecting. 

“I have a lot to do today,” She said, running her hands through her dark hair. 

Adrien gulped at the sight. It was rare to see her without her pigtails, he could count with the fingers of one hand how many times he had seen her with her hair loose, and two of those had been because one of the akumas cut the elastics, and the other because she used it for her lucky charm. 

But then he came back to his senses, leaving the lovestruck attitude behind and focusing on his doubts. 

“You’ve changed the way we fight… it’s okay if you do so but I would have like to get a warning… we are a team, you know?”

“Of course I do, the best team ever!” She chimed and swirled like a ballerina, moving towards him and throwing herself at his arms, “I just have so much to do that I rather end it quickly. Why must we come up with sneaky plans when we can just punch it really hard and get over with it?”

His stomach twisted. 

“Because they’re people?”

“They don’t remember anything,” She shrugged, then she batted her lashes at him, “Also, didn’t I look so hot when I got the akuma?”

She tilted her head close to him and pouted as she waited for an answer. 

“Yeah, you did,” He finally gave up at her charming face. 

Chat was about to hug her back when Ladybug pushed him away and started to walk toward the north. 

A bit dizzy with the sudden movement, he followed. 

“Where are you going?” 

“I left my backpack somewhere near here,” She said, “I’m going to a café to do homework until my mom can pick me up,” 

“For what class?” Chat asked. 

“Chemistry,” She answered. 

“Do you need help?” He knew she is not the best at chemistry. In fact, it was odd that she hadn’t asked for his help beforehand. 

Whenever they had the time they would do their homework together. She would always help him with geometry and french, and he helped her with chemistry and physics. 

Instead of the lovely smile and an excited wiggling of legs, he got an amused smile and a scoff. 

Ladybug flipped her hair and giggled. It didn’t sound good. 

He didn’t like it. 

“Please,” She mumbled and rolled her eyes

“What?” He asked between clenched teeth. 

He could feel where this was going. He didn’t understand that it was happening, but oh boy it was happening. 

“Nothing, nothing,” She waved her hand at him. 

“No, c'mon, I want to know.” 

It took all of him to not growl at her. Oh how much he loved her, but he felt so offended. And her attitude, ugh, he despised it. 

She let out a long sigh and walked to him, her hips swinging more than they usually did. 

“Chat… I’m top of my class,” She said, brushing one piece of her out of her face, and letting a proud lopsided smile appear on her pink lips. 

He crooked a brow.

Was she? She never mentioned. 

However, that didn’t explain the… disdain.
So? ” He was about to say that he, also, was also top of his class but he stopped himself. He wanted to hear what was she thinking. 

“Don’t take this the wrong way, okay? You’re incredibly hot and funny, those are amazing things to be,” 

He didn’t like where this was going. 

He didn't like this part of her that he was seeing. 

“But…”

“But?” He pushed.

“I… I don’t think you’re top of the class, I mean… I don’t think you could help me. But thanks for the offer,”

He scowled. 

“Good to know you think so highly of me, bug,” He scowled at her and looked away. 

He moved away from her, only a few centimeters, but giving how close he liked to be this could be interpreted as meters. 

“Hey,” Ladybug called, making the distance disappear. “Are you angry?”

“No,” He lied.

Ladybug wrapped her hand around his wrist and pulled him. He jolted his head to look at her, surprise shining on his eyes at the sudden attack. 

He was ready to speak, to send her away, but she rested her head on his shoulder and let out a dreamy sigh.

“Aren’t the stars so beautiful tonight?”

Adrien looked up. There was nothing. 

He snorted. Where was she going with this?

“They really are!” She threw her hands in the air and then when they dropped, they were on his cheeks. She softly cupped them and rubbed her thumb on them. “So big and gleaming and green, oh wait, those aren’t stars, those are your eyes,” 

She bit her lip as she said those words and he paralyzed. 

Chat blushed completely. He felt his heart stop and then start beating again like a maniac. 

It was a surprise that he hadn’t turned into goo. 

She’d never flirted so blatantly with him. She had never touched him that shamelessly. 

“Wh-what?”

She giggled, one hand covering her mouth. It leaned towards sexy more than adorable. 

“You were angry, or sad, I don’t know,” She shrugged, “I’m sorry if my comment offended you, I just say whatever is on my mind you know. No filter.”

No, she did not. 

Not for as far as she knew her. When it came to feelings and friendships she was very careful with her words, she was always thinking of how others could feel.

Where was she going with this?

Maybe she hadn’t meant it like that?

“Oh, kitty-cat,” She said and crossed her arms around his neck, pressing her body against his back,” Well, that was a new nickname. “You’re too cute to be this sad,” 

And a kiss on his cheek.

Maybe, just maybe he was leaving behind his anger.

She surely didn’t mean to offend him. She wasn’t like that. 

Yeah, maybe he misunderstood. 

“Can I get another?” He teased, pushing his luck. 

Instead of a roll of eyes or a huff, as he expected, she gave him another kiss. 

“A goodbye kiss for the sweet feline,” She harmonized, “See you next time!”
“You’re going so soon?” They hadn’t been together for more than twenty minutes!

“Didn’t you hear me earlier? I have homework to do!”

And she took off. 

Five minutes later, after the initial shock, he also went back home. 

More confused than he had ever felt. 

xx

Back in his room, Adrien stared at the ceiling. 

He did not check if Plagg was around to talk. If he was eating, sleeping or finding ways to get in trouble, it didn’t matter, he would hear him anyway. Besides, he didn’t need answers, he just needed to talk. If he got them, great, if not, he got the feelings out of his chest. 

“There’s something going on with Ladybug,” He started “And it is… weird,” 

“Maybe I’m going crazy,” He pushed his bangs back, “Or too sensible… people grow, maybe she just got a boost of confidence and… well, no, she’s always been confident it is just…

“You realize I’m not really listening right?”

Oh, but he was. 

Adrien kept going.

“She flirted with me… she’s been flirting with me a lot but it’s been different to her usual flirting, it’s been like that since… since… since our picnic at the Arc de Triomphe ,” 

And before that, she had spent a month or so being extremely nice and sweet to him. 

Coincidence? He thought not. 

“Oh yeah?” Plagg asked. 

Yeah, he could fake to be uninterested all he wanted. 

“Yes,” Adrien nodded, “She was super sweet, like beyond her limit sweet. She took more patrols than ever, she said yes to every plan I had, and now her flirting is… is not teasing, not like it was before. She isn’t following my game, she is not doing our dynamic she… she is calling the shots, almost like…”

Adrien stopped. He let the thought bounce around his head for a few seconds before he said out loud.

“It is like she is trying to seduce me,”

When he said it, he had to seat down. 

All the air disappeared from his lungs and suddenly his room felt too small. 

“Oh fuck!” Adrien shouted. He looked around until he found Plagg at the end of the bed and crawled to him. “Do you think she finally fell for me? Do you think she is trying to woo me?”
“Doubt it,” Plagg shrugged and gave another bite to his snack. 

“Oh, you don’t care about anything but cheese at this moment,” He rolled his maybe, “Maybe that’s it! She is trying to impress me! That’s probably why she mentioned being a top student, and it didn’t come out well because she is nervous!”

“I don’t think she would act like that if she’s nervous,” 

“Shut up, I know her well,” 

“You do not, not really,”
Adrien ignored that.

“This is wishful thinking, I know but, it is just… it’s what makes the most sense to me right now,”
“That is what makes more sense to you? Really?

“Yes, “ Adrien hissed and threw a sock at him. “I can’t come up with anything else that could explain that change of behavior.”

And he wasn’t able to keep thinking about it, because he got a text and his mind got busy with other things as important as Ladybug were.

It was from Luka. 

| LUKA |   23:08 

hey adrien! if you’re not busy, can we meet tomorrow?

i had dinner with nette today. you’re right, she is acting weird. 

 

Adrien stared at the text for a very long time. 

So, it wasn’t just him. It wasn’t just Nino noticing little changes in Marinette’s attitude, it wasn’t Alya getting worried because Marinette looks tired. It wasn’t him missing her cheery smile and chiming laughs. 

It was also Luka. 

It was also Kagami, who had texted him something similar that morning. 

It was Chloé who had let a nice comment slid that morning. 

It was everyone around his precious classmate noticing that she wasn’t the same. 

Adrien sighed and threw himself at his bed. 

What could have happened in the span of a week to make her change so radically?




Chapter Text

Alya and Marinette were together on the metro, going back to their respective homes after spending an evening at a new thematic café they had just opened downtown.

It was the most fun Marinette had had in weeks.

Alya was scrolling through her tablet, showing her the pictures she had taken of the most recent akuma attack.

“I think those are nice,” Marinette said, pointing out at a few pictures of Chat Noir in battle. 

All the elegance of his movements had been captured in the shot, and the best part of it was her smirk. It lighted up his face so beautifully. 

She was going to ask her for a copy.  

“Yes, those are nice but I’m trying to pick one of them together. I haven’t been able to get a good one in a while, well, of a battle. I have a few of them hanging out,”

Marinette hummed in response. 

She did not like to see pictures of Ladybug and Chat Noir, not now at least. It was difficult to watch someone else pretending to be you, being all cozy and sweet with each other. Chat Noir being his affectionate and flirty self with her as they went to all the places she used to go with him. 

She couldn’t shake the thought that he was betraying her. She knew it wasn’t that! And that was her plan for the beginning, for him not to notice! How many times did she have to repeat that to herself?

“Marinette?” Alya poked her shoulder.

“Yes?”

“You spaced out,” She explained. She was on her feet, “It’s my stop,”
Alya had her bag on her shoulder, she was going closer to the door, but was still reaching for her iPad.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Marinette said, giving it back. “Send me the rest of the pictures and I’ll keep helping, we’ll find the perfect picture!” 

Alya frowned. 

“Marinette, you don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. You know that, right?”

“I know. I want to,” 

Alya narrowed her eyes as she stepped out 

“Okay,” She finally nodded and waved at her, “Let me know when you get home,”

“I will,” She waved and the doors of the wagon closed. 

Marinette went back to her seat and threw her head back, leaning against the wall.

What was that all about?

xx

 

Days went by slower than she would have ever imagined. 

Marinette finally had the time to do all the things she loved and had yearned to do, but they didn't feel as good as she thought they would. 

She feared that her lack of enthusiasm was starting to get noticed by her friends. She almost got a confirmation that evening, as Kagami and her were hanging out in her room. 

They had a Korean drama on, blankets on the floor and scattered pillows; bowls filled with popcorn, and different kinds of sweets Kagami had brought from her trip to Japan a few weeks ago. 

As they watched the drama, Marinette was still looking for a picture to send Alya. She didn’t even like one. 

“You are really passionate about all this,” Kagami commented, leaning forward, looking down at the laptop where the pictures were open, “Can I ask what awakened this interest?” 

“Uh… I just… I don’t know, do I have to have a reason?”

“No,” She shrugged, “But I do feel like you have one,” 

Kagami was always straight to the point. There was no escaping on this one, she would not stop until she got an honest opinion from her. 

To think that she hadn’t liked Kagami at first, and now she was one of the people who knew her best, and who Marinette cared the most. 

“I like chasing the battles,” Marinette admitted, “It makes me feel something,” She couldn’t explain what, because if she did she would have to reveal more than what it was allowed. 

“I also like to spend time with Alya. I’ve never been quite involved with the Ladyblog, yes, I always give feedback and I try to read the articles she gushes about the most, but I’ve never supported her like she wanted me to. It feels nice to do it,” She continued. 

“It sounds to me like you feel as if you own Alya something,”
“No, it’s not that at all,”

“Alright, alright, it is not,” Kagami waved her hands at her, asking her to sit back. “It doesn’t sound like you. Why would you do something that you’re not a hundred percent passionate about,”

“You just said I was passionate about it,”

“It was sarcasm,”

“Oh my, we still have a long way to go in that area, don’t we?”

Kagami pursed her lips wtih certain desdein. 

Marinette giggled and elbowed her softly, “C’mon you know I was teasing,”

“Yes, I do, however, I would like if you teased me after telling me the truth,” Kagami glared at her, “I understand that it is a nice thing to do, to support your friends, but it is taking you time away from things you actually enjoyed. I have not seen you come up with anything new lately, it’s all old designs, and things you’re doing over and over again,”

“I’m going through a designer’s block,” 

“You’re distracted all the time and you lack your usual cheery energy,”

“I think you’re throwing this out of proportions,” Marinette tried her best to not hiss. She wasn’t liking where this conversation was going.

Kagami was someone who had not been very good at social relationships at the beginning, but once she started to hang out with more people and called them friends, she put all her effort into resources into being better at it. To this day, she had become one of her more assertive friends. 

Because of that, it wasn’t a surprise that she had come up with the right theory. 

“Marinette,” She said, a sigh escaped her lips, “Are you sick?”

Marinette felt herself paling. Her whole body turned to stone. 

“Why do you think that?” Her words came out in a stutter. 

“You’re tired most of the time, you’re being more selfless than you usually are, and you fake happy way too much to not be noticeable,”
“That doesn’t say a thing,”

“Also, last time when we went for ice cream with Luka, I saw your pouch, it was full of meds,”

“Allergies,”
“Marinette,” Kagami sighed frustrated, “Why are you trying to hide it?”

“I’m not… I mean, I am but… I just, ugh,” It was useless to keep pulling an act. 

Kagami had won. 

Marinette threw herself back, bouncing on the pillows when her body touched the floor. She looked at her roof and remembered that visit to the doctor. 

“Cardiomyopathy,” She finally said, when all her thoughts were sorted out, “It’s when the walls of your heart get so thick or they scar so badly they can’t pump blood as they should…”

Kagami stayed silent, letting her continue. 

“It’s highly rare to have it so young but… I was taking a medicine… ugh, do you remember the news that broke about the pain medicine that--

“Yes, I do,” She interrupted, her eyes grew bigger, “They pulled it out of the market because of all the heart and lung failure consequences”

“Yes… well, I was using that medicine,” Marinette shrugged, “My muscles hurt so much and the medicine helped like it was a miracle in a tube,”

There was only much the miraculous cure could do. As the years went by and the fights got tougher, so did her injuries, so did her pain. 

She thought she had found a solution to allow her to keep fighting freely. That was the saddest part of it. 

“I’m so sorry, Marinette,” Kagami said, her eyes were gleaming. 

Kagami didn’t cry when people were around. Her shining eyes were almost as powerful as a few tears would. 

“What are the repercussions of this?” 

“So many things,” Marinette laughed but it was numb, “I have cardiac insufficiency now, there are 4 stages, and I’m at number two, but they think it’s likely for me to pass to stage three, and then I won’t be able to brush my teeth without feeling tired and like suffocating.

Soon, my heart could start beating without rhythm, and that’s messed up, and I could have a heart attack too if I don’t take care of myself,”

“Have you been taking care of yourself?”
“As much as I can,” She had given up her earrings, that was answer enough, but again, she couldn’t tell. 

“Why haven’t you told everyone else? “Everyone can tell something is off with you,”

Had they noticed? Really? She thought she was doing such a great job at fooling everyone. She had been hiding a superhero identity for the past three years, how could she not hide this?

“Because I don’t want them to worry,” Marinette sat again, hugging her legs close to her chest, “I don’t like people worrying and, well, is more than that. I don’t want people to treat me like I’m fragile. I’m still me.”
Kagami smiled and then pushed her away playfully.

Marinette gasped, “What was that for?”

“To prove you I’m gonna treat you the same. This doesn’t change anything about you, Marinette. I think you should tell everyone else, I know they’ll act just as I do,”
Marinette pouted. 

“I don’t want them to know yet. I still haven’t made amends with it. The only reason I’m confessing this to you is that you’re too pushy,”

Kagami gave a smug smile.

She reached for her hand and squeezed. 

“Okay, but don’t let it be too long. It isn’t good for you,”

Marinette sighed. She knew this. 

She nodded and then leaned to rest her head in Kagami’s shoulder. 

Until she could come up clean, it would be nice to have someone knowing. 

 

xx

 

The truth was that her conversation with Kagami had helped a lot. Another truth was that it had made her feel really guilty. 

Kagami was right, she should tell her friends. 

She had good reasons to keep it a secret, she had told Kagami, and she still believed them to be powerful enough to not tell anyone else, but it was still stupid. It was better if they knew, in case anything happened, they would be aware of her condition and act on it. 

Marinette grunted. She hated feeling weak.

But, it was time. 

She really had it all planned, she was going to tell her friends all about her illness but then… the akuma attacked. 

Alya wasn’t even around her, but now Marinette was so used to leave everything behind and start chasing the battle, that she just did. After all, she had always been running to transform and fight when she had her miraculous, there was not much difference in this. 

 

Marinette picked up a bike with her transport app and started following the battle. She started feeling tired and lethargic quite soon, but the adrenaline and her need to be close to the battle helped her keep going. 

Nonetheless, it wasn’t easy, not only because of her condition but also because the akuma wasn’t making it easy to go through the streets. 

The pavement had completely disappeared and branches, shrubs, and dirt were replacing the streets. 

Maybe it was a gardener or someone really passionate about plants or jungles because the more time it took to defeat it, the more Paris looked like the mix of a rainforest, a glasshouse, and the Amazonas. 

The battle was pretty loud, if not Marinette wouldn’t have been able to follow it, because of the tall trees that were replacing the buildings of the town. 

When it was too hard to breathe and keep cycling, she left the bike behind and started climbing, this way she would find a good point of view and see the battle from afar. 

Marinette didn’t stop coughing in the good twenty-five minutes it took her to climb the tree. In the past, it wouldn’t have taken her more than ten, but with the constant wheezing, the weakness of her body and how many times she fell, this was the best she could do. 

Thankfully, it paid off, she could see everything from here. 

Chat Noir and her replacement were fighting viciously, however, they didn’t seem to be in the same team. 

Chat’s fighting style was the same then it always had been, but it lacked her. He did certain attacks where he expected her to be right behind, but she wasn’t there. 

Marinette focused on Aimée, who was trying to keep the akuma chained with her yo-yo, as she looked at the spray bottle in her hands.

What would it be? 

Why was it taking her so long to figure it out how to use it? 

Marinette sighed. It didn’t matter how clever she was, or how well she had trained her, Aimée lacked that little something that had made Marinette the perfect match for the ladybug miraculous. 

Tikki had warned her about this. 

Her thoughts were quickly brushed off by the scene that was presented in front of her. 

She didn’t know how, she didn’t know when, but replacement-Ladybug had used the bottle, however she had just tried to spray the liquid all over the akuma’s face. 

That hadn’t been a well-thought attack. 

It made the akuma angrier than he was, and he tried to defend himself. 

A branch full of thorns was aimed at them. 

Marinette watched it go down in slow motion. 

It wasn’t directed at Ladybug, it was directed at Chat Noir. 

He wasn’t aware of it because he was trying to come up with his own solution. 

She tried to scream but nothing came up, and it wouldn’t have made a difference, she was too far away. 

But, Aimeé could. Aimée could warn him. She was only a meter away from him. 

Had she seen it? She should have seen it! 

Ladybug let go of her yo-yo.

The akuma moved faster. The bran moved with more speed. 

Ladybug threw her yo-yo to a tree. 

Marinette felt her heart sink

What was she doing?

What was she doing?

WHAT WAS SHE DOING?

Aimée pulled the yo-yo and she jumped away from the branch, letting it attack and surprise Chat Noir. 

This time she did scream, and it tore her apart. 

The branch went through his chest as he kept fighting, unaware of what his partner had just done. 

Marinette looked everywhere, trying to find a way to go and help him out.

He was shaking and trying to use his batton to cut the branch.

He was trying to find a way to keep fighting.  

“Don’t move, you idiot,” Marinette sobbed.

She cleaned the tears on her face and sniffled. 

The akuma was coming closer to him and he couldn’t do anything about it. 

She couldn’t do anything about it. 

Marinette couldn’t remember what happened next. She couldn’t tell how her replacement had saved the day or how Chat had been able to keep his miraculous and his life. 

Because she was so so angry that her whole body had stopped functioning only to focus on the dark feeling that was taking over her. 

She couldn’t even tell how she made it back to the ground because the only image going through her eyes was the one where Chat got impaled with a green branch and red splattering all over it. 

She was vibrating with rage. 

Miraculous cure be damned. 

That branch had gone through his body, he was going to get a wound out of that. She knew the suits and charm had their limitations. 

And even if it didn’t, the girl had let him there to die. 

She could have lost him! 

Marinette finally understood what meant to see red. 

And she was going to do something about it. 

 

xx

Marinette found a motorcycle in the middle of the road and took it to get faster to where she saw Ladybug land. 

She was tired and had troubles breathing, so walking or a usual bike wouldn’t cut it. 

Also, she had learned how to drive one when she visited her grandmother in Italy a year ago.  The hardest part had been to turn it on without the keys, but years of being Ladybug and hearing random facts from Chat Noir had her well equipped. 

When she arrived, she saw Ladybug transform. It was odd to see someone else doing it. 

However, the weird feeling didn’t last long, because her anger was still the main emotion reigning her heart. 

She left the motorcycle behind and ran as fast as her heart allowed her. 

Another thing she learned through the years, was little fighting tricks and moves, I mean she didn’t spend all that time fighting without picking it up and sliding them into her civilian life. 

The moment she was in front of Ladybug, she attacked.

In a second she had Aimée lying on the ground and letting out a high pitched scream. 

When she recovered, she was able to snap out of Marinette’s grab. She stood up and took a few meters of distance. 

Aimée narrowed her eyes and spoke, “You’re not an akuma,”

“I’m not,” She said between clenched teeth. 

That seemed to relax her because her whole stand changed. 

“How can I help you?” The girl asked, fluttering her eyelashes and gifting her an amicable smile. 

Oh, but she was about to make all that sweetness disappear. 

 

xx


Marinette had never screamed so loud in her life. 

She had never in life treated someone like she was treating Aimée, not even Lila. 

Aimée apparently had never been treated this way, because she remained motionless and with her mouth hanging open as Marinette shouted. 

“You’re a coward! You’re selfish!” Marinette kept screaming, “Did you see him?! Did you see how badly hurt he was?! You could not have ignored it!”

Marinette grabbed her closer, not letting her escape if at some point she snapped out of the trance.

“You saw he was getting attacked! You saw he was going to get hurt! HOW COULD YOU?!”

Marinette opened her mouth to say something else. 

Her hands were gripping into Ladybug with more strength as she got angrier. 

But then, she was stopped. 

One hand wrapped around her elbow and pulled her back. 

What do you think you’re doing? ” 

Marinette’s anger shot down immediately. 

She turned around and saw him in all his glory. 

However, the sweet smile she was so used to wasn’t plastered on his face. There was not even a glimpse of happiness in his expression. It made her nauseous. 

She had seen almost every mood of his, she could read him like a book even when he was pretending, yet she had never seen him this angry. 

Chat had never glared at her with that amount of poison on his eyes. 

Marinette felt like crying. 

Chat seemed to be waiting for an answer, so she gave one to him. 

“She left you there to die,” Only saying it made her want to slap Aimée.
“She would never!” Chat said aghast. 

“That’s exactly what she did,” Marinette said, her voice was lower this time, to match his.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about, Marinette. You have no idea how our relationship works,” 

But she did! 

How could he be so blind?!

“You’re not a superhero! You have no idea how this works! LB and I are a team, this is between us two, not anyone else!” Chat shouted at her.

Marinette trembled and started breathing loudly. 

He had been harsh, but that would be enough for her to realize that she didn’t have to meddle. He couldn’t understand this interest she had in them, that popped all out of a sudden, but she needed to check her approach to it.

“Go home,” He ordered.

Then he turned and found Ladybug halfway.

His hands reached for her face and cupped her cheeks. 

His tone of voice turned softer

“Why were you listening to her?” Chat asked Ladybug, “Are you okay?”

The scene in front of her made her heart hurt. 

Yes, she should go home. 

She turned around and started walking away.

Each step she gave felt like a mission impossible on its own. Soon she realized her heart was not only hurting because of what she had just seen. 

 

xx

 

“Are you okay?” Ladybug asked, her hands roaming around his chest.

“Yes, I am. The cure fixed everything,” It was mostly true. He could still feel pain when he moved. He was sure he would have some big bruises once he de-transformed but she didn’t need to worry about that. 

Ladybug hugged him tightly and left a kiss on his cheek, very, very, very close to his mouth. 

A smile rose on him. 

He tangled his fingers in her hair and put one hand on her lower back, pulling her closer.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” She whispered, her nose nuzzled against the crook of his neck. 

Adrien felt warm inside. 

This was his Ladybug! This was the girl he had been missing so much!

Her flirty techniques were fun to watch at times, but they made him feel like he was seating right new to a completely different person. 

Here in this moment, it was only them and the strength of their bond.
“I have a few minutes to spare,” Ladybug giggled and suddenly her face was aligned with his. Her lips were dangerously close. 

“Uh…”
“We could go for ice-cream,” 

“That sounds great,” He smiled. 

Ladybug returned the smile and took his hand. She started walking out of the alley and into the street. 

“If I’m not wrong there’s a place close by,”

Adrien started looking around with her from their spot, she seemed to be sure it was on the street. 

From the corner of his eye, he caught a group of people gathered in a circle. At first, he thought they were coming to them, but when he focused he saw they were standing looking at the floor. They hadn’t even noticed the superheroes. 

Over the years he had learned how to control his cat-reflexes and cat enhanced hearing. At the moment he had only been trying to listen to Ladybug, but he had grown curious and let his hearing roam. 

“Did you call 112?”

“Please, take it easy, do you need something?

“Backpack,” A girly voice said in the middle of a wheeze. A girly voice he knew too well. 

Chat let go of Ladybug’s hand and ran to the circle. 

His sight bounced through the circle of people first, but just as he feared, Marinette was not there. 

Marinette was on the ground, her hands were against the floor and she was breathing heavily. 

“Marinette?” He asked scared.

She looked up but took her time and when her sight found him, Adrien felt like a piano had been thrown on top of him.

Her lips were purple. Her eyes were lost and she was tearing up. Her whole body was shaking. 

“Backpack,” Marinette wheezed again. 

What had happened?! 

He had just seen her. 

Adrien fell to the ground, beside her. 

He took the backpack and looked at her, but Marinette was not looking at him anymore. 

She was pressing her hands against her chest, pulling her t-shirt tightly. 

“Marinette,” He repeated again and reached for her hands. 

She pushed him away. 

More tears appeared in her eyes. 

His heart broke. 

Something was happening to her and he couldn’t figure out what. He couldn’t do anything because he didn’t know what would be right and what would be wrong. 

The mumbling whispers made everything worse, he couldn’t think with everyone trying to give their opinion, trying to touch Marinette, trying to give her instructions on how to breathe. 

She was doing her best! She was keeping herself afloat as everyone just stared and he couldn’t do anything to help her because he was too overwhelmed!

And then something hit him.

Actually, someone slapped him. 

Ladybug.

“What are you doing? Stop being useless and move! We need to call an ambulance and you’re just--
“I know what to do!” He shouted at her, glaring with so much poison anyone would think he was looking at his enemy and not the love of his life. 

He had been surprised by the hit. He was hurt with her words, but they had been enough to snap him out of his own feelings and know how to act. 

There was no time for an ambulance, he would be faster. 

He took her on his arms and he started running. 

 

Chapter Text

 

These were the times when having a secret identity did not only suck or made him annoyed, no, sometimes having a secret identity was the most horrible thing he could have. 

Yes, being a superhero did grant him powers and because of said powers, he was able to get Marinette to the hospital on time, however, once he had finished his mission he had to go back to being Adrien. 

Adrien who had not been there when Marinette was turning purple. Adrien who had not seen Marinette start shaking desperately. 

Adrien did not know, Chat Noir did, and because of that he had to leave. 

Adrien had to pretend not to know and go home as if nothing was happening. 

He had to go to his room and sit down on his desk and wait and wait and wait. 

And keep waiting. 

All of these while he knew that Marinette was not doing okay.

As he sat and looked at the infinite he couldn’t stop thinking of what could have happened to get her in that state. 

The worst was that he couldn’t help but realize that Marinette had to know what was happening. Between her fear, there was that determination that characterized her. She was giving orders, hardly but still giving them, because she knew what was happening. 

It made him feel sick to his stomach. 

The twisting and nauseating feeling only aggravated when he got the call he had been waiting for sixteen hours. 

Adrien did his best to fake surprise and ignorance but he was sure he hadn’t pulled a perfect role. It did not matter, he was on his way to the hospital and to see Marinette, and that would be the only thing on his mind, not what others thought of him. 

He was lucky that Nathalie had grown to like Marinette because when he was out and she tried to stop him, only the mention of her name and the word hospital was enough for her to set him free of any scheduled event he might have had. 

It took him twenty-five minutes to get to the hospital, and in those twenty-five minutes, his feet had not stopped bouncing of the anxiety the situation was causing him. 

When the car stopped in front of the hospital, only for a second as his driver saw where to park the car, Adrien wasted no time. He opened the door and jumped out, running to the entrance and kept running through the corridors of the clinic. 

He only stopped to ask where Marinette could be and when he had his answer he speeded up once again. 

Once he reached the floor and the hallway, he saw Nino and Alya in the distance, sitting outside one of the rooms. 

Adrien slid in the hallway and stopped in front of them. 

“Oh, you’re finally here,” Alya gasped, putting one hand against her heart and letting the tension disappear from her shoulders. 

The couple stood up and threw themselves to find Adrien in a hug. 

“What is it?” Adrien asked worried, his heart beating as fast as a train, “Is she okay?”

“She is stable,” Alya said, “They performed surgery on her last night, no complications or any other thing but… Sabine hasn’t explained anything to me. I have no idea why she could have needed surgery. Do you?”

“No,” Adrien shook his head, “Not at all. I was hoping you would know,”

“None of us knows,” Nino said, “Whatever this is, whatever she is going through, I bet this is why she’s been acting so weird these past months,”
“It has to be,” Alya nodded,

“Yeah,” Adrien nodded too, “But… does not one know? What about Luka?”

“No. I called him but he had no idea what it could be,”

“Ah… is he coming?”

“Yes. He was on Nice with the band but took a train back, he’ll probably arrive in a few hours,” Alya explained, “I don’t have Kagami’s number so I was expecting for you to let her know,”
Adrien nodded, taking his phone and immediately sending a text to his fencing partner, informing her of the situation. 

“Done,” 

“Great,”

“So, are we allowed to see her? Or are we here waiting for someone to give us more information?”

“We are allowed to see her, but we were waiting for you, and as we were waiting for a few doctors came to her room and are telling her and her parents a few things… things that are not audible through the door,” Alya rolled her eyes and kicked the air with her foot. 

“We’ll know soon, babe,” Nino said, putting his arms around her and rubbing her arms in an attempt to calm her down. 

Adrien wished there was someone to comfort him too. 



xx

Marinette looked at her parents as the doctors left the room. 

Her mom was on the edge of tears, and her father was already crying waterfalls. 

“Please don’t,” Marinette said, looking at the roof trying to escape her own tears. “I’ll be fine, you heard the doctors,”

“Marinette,” Her mother said and looked at her with so much pain in her eyes. 

“We have to be positive, maman,”

“I’m trying to be, but when you’re out there running around when you know you shouldn’t, I can’t help but think the worst. You’re not taking care of yourself, Marinette,”

“I am, I take care of myself!” She whined, “This was a fluke, it was important, I... I really did my best to not run and overwork myself,” The last part was a lie, her illness had been the last thing on her list of priorities. 

“Marinette,” Her mother sighed, “An angioplasty is something that is planned and procedure needed when things get worse. You didn’t plan this nor prepare it for it, they had to make one because of the damage your heart has suffered in the short run,”

“They didn’t have to,” Marinette huffed, “I was stable and then they decided to perform the surgery,” 

“Because they do not think you would have been able to stay stable if you didn’t have a little bit of help. What does that say, Marinette?” Marinette looked down, the accusatory look on her mother’s eyes was much to take in, “We’re trying our best to stay positive but when things like this happen we can’t,”

“I’m sorry,”

“You don’t have to be, sweetie,” Sabine sighed, “But you need to promise me that you’ll take care of yourself, that you’ll change the way you live your life. I know it is a hit on who you are and what you want to do, but you can’t do those things anymore… please, Marinette. We can’t lose you,”

“I know,” Marinette sobbed. 

She opened her arms and her parents approached to reciprocate the hug. 

“I love you,” She whispered.

“We love you too,” They said at the unison. 

“I’ll take care of myself, I promise,” 

“Thank you,” Her father said, cleaning the tears that were still falling. 

“Now we need to go back to the bakery for a few hours. You’ll be discharged tomorrow if everything goes according to the plan, so don’t be a nuisance to the doctors. Can you do that?”

“Yes, mom,” 

“Great,” Sabine kissed her forehead, “Marinette… your friends are outside,”

“What?!” She shrieked. 

“I know you didn’t want to let them know, but the situation has escalated and I think your friends have to know that you’re going through a difficult situation. It will take the weight of so many things, sweetie,”

Marinette couldn’t argue, her mother was right. 

Nonetheless, she sighed resigned. 

“Should we let them in?”

“Okay,” She shrugged. 

 

When her parents left and her friends entered the room, the energy around her shifted. It was a little lighter than the one her parents radiated, but it wasn’t something comfortable either. 

Alya was the first one to run to her and catch her in her arms. 

“Oh, my girl, you’re okay,” She said between sobs.

“You’re asphyxiating me,” Marinette said, trying to brush off the seriousness of the situation. 

“I’m sorry,” But she didn’t let go.

“Alya,” Nino called and pulled his girlfriend away. 

Alya huffed and leaned to leave a kiss on Marinette’s cheek. 

“Hello there, Marebear,” Nino said and shook her hair, messing it up more than it already was.

“Hello there, you,” 

Marinette’s eyes then found Adrien, who still was standing in the door and looking at her with numb eyes. 

She waved at him and got a weak wave back. 

“How long have you guys been here?” 

“Not more than an hour,” Alya answered.

She pulled the chair closer to Marinette’s bed and sat down. Nino did the same.

Adrien only took a few steps further. 

“What did my parents told you?”

“Not much,” Nino shrugged, “That you were in the hospital, that you got emergency surgery and that’s about it,”

“Oh,” Marinette hadn’t expected for them to tell so little. 

None of her friends spoke, but all three kept their eyes fixed on her. 

Marinette rolled her shoulders relieving some tension and took a deep breath before speaking. 

“I haven’t been honest with you guys,” She started, “I mean, I haven’t deliberately lie about anything but I have kept you in the dark about what’s happening to me,”

She looked at Alya who nodded, telling her to keep going. 

“I didn’t want to put the weight on your shoulders and I… I didn’t want you to see me as fragile. I wanted to stay being me,”

Something changed in the way they moved, and in the way, they were looking at her.

Nino and Alya now looked concerned. 

Adrien looked frightened. 

“I’m sick, I have been for a while,” She stayed silent after that, waiting for them to talk. 

“What kind of illness?” Nino asked, more serious than she had ever heard him before. 

“Heart disease,” 

“How did it happen?” Alya jumped, “You’re young!”

“I… remember how I had that horrible muscle pain?” Alya nodded “Well, I started taking medicine and… it had some consequences, my heart started to fail,”

“Medicine? You got sick beca--- wait a minute… did you take that medicine, the one with the lawsuit?”  

Marinette simply nodded. 

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?!” Alya shouted.

Marinette looked at her fidgeting fingers, “I told Kagami,” She whispered. 

Kagami?! You told Kagami and not me?!”

“She figured it out! I couldn’t lie,”

Alya opened her mouth to scream again but she was interrupted by Adrien who seemed to connect to the conversation for the first time, even if he wasn’t following the pace of it. 

“You’ll be fine, right?” Adrien pushed again.

“For now,” She said, sincerity breaking her voice. 

“What do you mean for now?” Alya asked in a high pitched tone, her anger disappeared with that.  

“My condition is more serious than they initially thought and… I’ll probably need a transplant,”

“A transplant?!” The couple said at the unison,

“That’s serious, Nette!” Nino shouted.

“Not that much!” She waved her hands, trying to calm them down, “It’s only a possibility, if I take care of myself I won’t need one like ever!”

“Why do I feel like you’re lying?” 

“Why would I? I mean, now, I know I’ve sort of lied before,” Her response was so quick that not even herself would have believed it

But she needed them to. She just had hit them with her diagnostic, she couldn’t tell them that the angioplasty would be a temporary solution, that it could only last one or two years with the pace her damage was extending through her heart. 

“Because a transplant is a serious deal, Marinette… you might need a new heart , you know what that means? It means that you could die if you don’t get one,”

“C’mon we don’t have to-

“No,” Alya cut, “I’ve been following this case, Marinette. I’ve read all that’s going down with it. Sixteen people have already died, Nette. Sixteen people took the same medicine as you and now they’re underground!”
“All the people who died got their lungs affected, not their hearts, also they were much older than me and had a history of smoking,” Marinette shouted. She had read all about it too. 

“Marinette!” Alya shouted back, tears starting to fall down her cheeks. 

“She won’t die,” Adrien’s whispered somehow turned to be the loudest voice in the room. 

All looked at him. 

Adrien’s skin was a green undertone and his whole body was shaking. 

“Adrien?” Marinette said

“You won’t die,” He said, this time louder. “You can’t die!”

“Adrien,” Nino said, standing up and going for him. 

But before he could reach him, Adrien ran away. 

 

xx

 

Nino had called after him and when he didn’t reach him, he called to his phone and left a thousand of texts but Adrien never answered. 

He needed his time alone. 

For that, he transformed and spend the rest of the day on the rooftops. 

He was sure Nathalie would be looking for him like crazy but he didn’t care. 

Adrien’s heart hurt so much that he was sure it was dripping acid all around it and burning everything inside him. 

The image of Marinette on the hospital bed bounced around his brain in the most painful way. 

When he saw her on the street, gasping for air and crying his heart broke, but when he saw her in the hospital it completely shattered. 

Then she said that she needed a transplant and after that Alya had voiced up what he had been fearing. 

Marinette could die.  

Marinette was sick and she could die because of it.  

No, no, no. NO!

Marinette couldn’t die! She just couldn’t! 

He would not let it happen! 

Marinette had to stay alive, cheery and playful, smart and confident. Marinette had to stay there with them and reach every goal and dream she ever proposed to get. 

Marinette didn’t deserve this! 

Marinette… 

She couldn’t die. 

He couldn’t lose her. 

He couldn’t lose anyone else he loved, it would be too much. 

Adrien hugged his legs close to his chest and let the tears fall. 

He wished the day would cry with him, but the sun was shining bright and that only added more pain to his heart. 

If Marinette died beautiful days would all be grey.

“Fuck,” Adrien shouted as he hit the pipe wall beside him. The anger boiling up inside him.

This wasn’t fair! 

And to think that just yesterday he had been so angry at her, that he had screamed at her and then… then all the chaos had ensued. 

He had treated her so badly when all she was trying was to help him. For what he had gathered, Marinette thought that Ladybug had left him to die. Marinette had been angry because he could have died. 

Was it because she herself could meet that end?

Stupid girl! She had endangered herself just because she thought he had been in the doors of death. 

Adrien growled. 

“Oh, what’s that?” Ladybug’s voice echoed behind him.

He turned around and saw her in all her splendor. 

He hadn’t even heard her land. 

“Hi, bug,” He tried to wave but he had no strength. 

“What is it?” She asked and sat down beside him. 

Ladybug threw herself at him and wrapped him in a hug. Her hands lied close to his face as she brushed his hair and nuzzled her nose against his cheek. 

They were touchy, but she had been crossing the limits these past weeks. For the first time, he did not mind. It was calming to have her so close and tenderly caressing him. 

“Why were you crying?” Ladybug asked.

He didn’t think twice, he told her everything. 

Without saying Marinette’s name, Adrien told him all his story with her, from when they first met to when they became friends and how their relationship evolved so much over the years. He told her how strange Marinette had been acting and how he and all his friends couldn’t help but worry, and lastly, he finished with the bad news. 

“I don’t want her to die, Buginette,” He sobbed, “I can’t lose her,”
Ladybug hummed beside him and let go of the hug. 

She put her hands on top of her knees, and then her head on top of the palms of her hands. 

“She said she wasn’t going to, that the transplant wasn’t necessary,”

“Yes, I know but--
“Okay so why are you worrying?” She asked, “If you ask me I think you’re exaggerating. Don’t worry about stupid stuff unless it happens. You’ll be happier like this,” 

What?
Adrien looked at her aghast.   

Ladybug stood up and looked around. 

“Is that all that’s worrying you?” 

“All? Yes, that’s all,” He said half laughing, not because he was amused but because he couldn’t believe what she was saying,

“Cool, then let’s patrol, I gotta be home earlier,” 

“Patrol?” 

“Yes, isn’t that what we do,”
“My friend could die and all you think about is patrol?!” Adrien stood up and threw his hands in the in complete incredulity.

“I thought we had already established that she wasn’t going to die,”
“You established that,” He hissed, “ What’s wrong with you?”

“Chat, c’mon,” Ladybug sighed and she put one hand against her forehead, “It’ll be alright! You just have to stop being a drama queen. Just be logical about it, I promise she’ll be fine,”
He shook his head slowly and took one step away from her. 

“Go patrol alone,” He spat. 

There had not been a single moment in which he had even considered the option of hating Ladybug, but at that moment, hate was the closest emotion to what he was feeling towards her. 

What was going with the girl he loved? What was going on with her sensible and assertive friend? The one he could trust, the one he could tell him all about, the one who would comfort him and talk to until he wasn’t hurting anymore.

That girl wasn’t there that night. 

And he feared that she hadn’t been in a long time

Whatever was happening with her, whichever change she was going through. He did not like it. 

Not one tiny bit. 

This version of her wasn’t the girl he loved. 

Chapter Text

Marinette was back at school after a week in the hospital and staying at home. 

Her meds, her diet, and her exercise routine had changed, but besides that, she was trying her best to pretend nothing had ever happened. As if her condition had not gotten worse. 

The day went by smoothly with nothing interfering her way to class, no akuma in sight and not much homework to add to the one she missed as she was taking care of herself. 

Per her request, none of her friends had said anything, they would keep the secret and join her little facade. 

None of them had been happy about it but they gave up after Marinette begged them. 

So, everything had gone pretty normal. 

Well, almost everything. 

Adrien was acting out. 

He barely looked at her or wouldn’t stop following her and asking her if she was okay. 

He opened the door for her, he took her tray for her, moved the stool, and so on. Then his attitude would give a drastic turn and he wouldn’t answer to her, too lost in his own mind to pay attention to her. 

In any other situation she would have screamed and called him out on his behavior, and she was about to when Nino took her by her wrist and pulled her close, only whispering one word: mother

His attitude started to make sense, they weren’t excused and she still believed it wasn’t the right way to approach the situation but she would let it slide. 

Marinette was going through papers, homework and missing assignments. Flipping through the notebooks and writing notes in the margins in different colors, she was in the zone. When she reached for a new highlighter, her hand didn’t touch a pen, but something warm and in movement. 

She shrieked and jolted back, pushing her chair to the back and hitting the left part of the desk. 

“Don’t scream!” A tiny voice warned her and right in front of her, Tikki appeared. 

Marinette gasped loudly. 

“What are you doing here?!” The question came filled with anger but inside Marinette was the happiest person in the world.

“Aimée is out with friends close by, I’ll be back as fast as I can if anything happens,” Tikki explained, “I just miss you, and couldn’t miss the chance to visit you… aren’t you happy to see me?”

Marinette’s heart softened, and so did her sight. 

She opened her arms and invited Tikki in for a hug. 

The kwami giggled excited and went to leave a kiss on her cheek.

Instantly, tears started to fall down her cheeks. 

They didn’t say a word for the longest time, only enjoying each other’s company and crying together. 

 

xx

After tears and kind words filled with love, Tikki and Marinette started laughing and talking about how their lives had been going. 

Eventually, Marinette couldn’t push the subject away any longer. She didn’t want to either, there was something suspicious about the way Tikki was behaving. 

“How is Aimée treating you?” She asked. 

Tikki stopped for a second, a weird look crossed her eyes, and then kept eating the little biscuit.  

“Fine,”

Marinette rose a brow. 

The lack of emotion was unlike Tikki.
“Does she give you nice cookies?”

“Yours are better,”

“But she is making an effort,”

“I guess she is,” 

Marinette opened her mouth, concerned. 

She knew Tikki enough to know what was going on.
“You don’t like her,” Marinette whispered, standing up from her chair, hands reaching her hair. “ Oh no, ” 

“She is nice, Marinette!” Tikki said, waving her little hands in front of her, trying to make Marinette sit down again.

“Nice? I can tell that you don’t like her,” Marinette frowned, “You try your best to see the good in others, but you just said ‘I guess’, so unattached… you don’t like her,”
“I don’t dislike her,” Tikki said in a tiny voice. 

“Tikki!”

“It’s not that bad Marinette, she can be really nice is just… she is… she is a little self-absorbed, that’s all, oh, well, and she is not very sympathetic towards others and sometimes she is a bit mani-”

“I don’t want to hear it, if I hear more I’ll have to do something about it, and as much as I love you if I want to go back to being Ladybug I have to focus on recovering, not anything else,” Marinette whined, covering her ears with the palms of her hands, “I can’t train anyone else and she is doing an okay job taking care of the akumas, and Chat doesn’t seem to have a problem with her--

“He does,” That had not been Tikki’s voice. 

They both turned where the voice came and saw the blub of black floating in the middle of the room. 

What was it? Marinette visitation day?

“Plagg, what are you doing here?” Tikki said before Marinette. 

“Kid is close by, I felt your energy here and had to come,” 

Chat is close. 

Marinette felt goosebumps run all over her skin. 

The thought was enough to distract her of the conversation, and once she was back she had missed a good bunch of it, but thankfully she got to the important part.
“I don’t like to know everything because is too much to carry on my little body but this is the kind of thing you must tell me!” Plagg spat, “I knew something was fishy but didn’t know how bad it was until now!”

“Pla--”

“I’m sorry,” Marinette said, “This was my idea. I begged Tikki to not say anything,”
“I don’t forgive you!” Plagg hissed, “Do you know in how much danger you put us in? Does Fu even know?!”

“Yes,” Marinette nodded, answering to both questions, “It took some convincing too but… since I’m the next guardian and he is too old and tired to keep calling the shots, he couldn’t say much. It was my decision to make, no one else’s.”

“It wasn’t! You left my kid alone!”

“He is not alone, and he is doing fine,” Marinette said, not trying to think of the akuma fight where her chosen replacement had left him all alone and not fine at all!, “He can’t tell--”

“He can tell,” Plagg interrupted her angrily, but then sighed looking defeated, “He’s been scratching his head the whole time. He realizes there’s something wrong with Ladybug. He is… not happy with Ladybug!”

“Did she do something?” Marinette gulped. 

“Not being you,” Plagg sat on the desk, “They’re unbalanced. Their dynamic is not the same that the one he had with you. She flirts with him one second and then looks down on him. He doesn’t know what to expect or how to react,”

“That’s… awful, it really is but.. he still doesn’t suspect so,”
“Why would he suspect that she is not you?”
He wouldn’t. He would have expected her to tell him. 

“I know… can you… can you just… ugh."

“Not let him figure out?”
“Please,”

“I’ll do my best… I’m still angry but I know your decision was not out of whim.”
“She would never!” Tikki pushed him.

“That’s exactly what I said, sugar cube,”

And then a fight ensued between them. 

Marinette couldn’t help but laugh at this. 

It was nice seeing them both. 

“Guys,” She interrupted, hiding her amused smile. “I’m going downstairs, would you like some food?”

Their excited response was all that she had been waiting and it was enough to light up her week. 

 

xx

 

Adrien missed his target once again. 

It was so bad that Kagami didn’t make fun of him once. What she did was talk to him,  a heartfelt talk, which she didn’t do often. It was enough to understand that he was not behaving like his usual self. 

“We all care about Marinette but you shouldn’t let it affect you this much.” 

“This is not about, Marinette,” He let out a shocked laugh.
“You’re not a good liar,” Kagami rolled her eyes and threw a towel to his face, “You’ve been odd the whole week."

“Ugh… it’s not only about Marinette,” He finally said.

“Okay. Why don’t you want to talk about it?”

“I never said that,”
“You didn’t spill when I asked, that’s a synonym to ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ in Adrien Agreste’s language.” 

Adrien clicked his tongue.

When had she gotten so good at reading people?

“It’s too personal,” It was not a lie. 

“Is it about your mother?” 

Adrien huffed. Maybe she read people know but she still wasn’t able to read the mood nor be assertive with her words. 

“A little bit,” He admitted, “I don’t want to lose anyone else,”
“We won’t lose, Marinette. She is strong, she is headstrong too, she won’t let the illness win that easily.”

Adrien chuckled at that, but the smile on his face faded away quickly.

Kagami’s words were very similar to Ladybug’s, one week ago, but why did they make him feel so different?

Because Kagami wasn’t brushing off his feelings. Because Kagami was like that, to the point. She kept eyes on the price, and as emotional as she could be -even if she didn’t like to show it- she never let the obstacles cloud her goal. 

Right now her goal was Marinette’s wellbeing, and if she believed she was going to be okay, then she most probably would be. 

Now, this wasn’t the case with Ladybug. 

His lady was emotional and as positive as she was, she did let insecurities leak through and worried about the unknown. She was also empathetic to a fault, and now… now she just wasn’t. 

That was what bothered him the most, that he couldn’t tell what had changed to make her act as weird as she was behaving the past month and a half. It wasn’t just painful, it was also eerie. 

“Ad--

“Kagami,” Adrien stood up of the bench and cleaned the sweat off his face with the towel she’d thrown, “Do girls radically change the way they act, like completely, when they like someone?”

“What? No, why would they do that?” Kagami grimaced with disgust, “Or maybe a few do, but I don’t understand why would you love yourself so little.”

Adrien threw his head back, a smile appeared on his lips no matter how much he tried not to let it curl.

“Why do you ask?”

“Well… there’s this girl… this girl that I like a lot,” Adrien started. 

A few years ago, he would not be able to start this conversation with anyone but Plagg, however, there were the least chances to have this conversation with Kagami since they had gone on a few dates, but now as friends, there was no damage in telling her about it. 

“Oh,” Kagami’s eyes popped. 

She sat next to him and looked at him attentively. 

“I’ve known her for almost four years and… I’m so in love with her, yet lately… It is like I can’t help but wonder why."

“Alright,” Kagami dragged the words, she sounded confused. 

“She’s been acting odd, nothing like herself sometimes and I don’t know what to do. We’ve always flirted, but it was always innocent and more teasing than actual physical contact and, ugh, those sensual looks she sends and how her lips--

“I really don’t want to know that, skip it” 

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” Adrien rubbed the back of his head, “She flirts constantly and intensely, but she… she is not as kind, assertive, and caring as she was and the way she treats me…”
“How does she treat you?”

“She treats me differently every day, sometimes every hour, she tells me I’m the best but then she throws mean comments or looks down on me,” Adrien sighed, “I don’t know what to do,”

“Have you talked to her about this?”

“No,” 

“You should,”

“We fought,”

“More reason to talk to her,”
There was no way to argue against that logic. 

“If you care about her and are confused about something she is doing, the only person who can tell you what is going on is?" 

“Her,” Adrien completed. 

He rubbed his hands against his face and let out a little moan of frustration. 

“I don’t want to,”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know,” Adrien shrugged, “Something doesn’t add up and I can’t tell what it is,”

“And you won’t know what it is until you speak to her,”
Adrien blew a raspberry.

“I hate when you’re right,”
“Then you must hate every moment,” 

Adrien let out a big laugh and Kagami joined him too, only to then keep laughing and teasing each other as they went back to fencing practice.  

A little bit of happiness before facing Ladybug was a nice thing to have. 

 

xx

That night, the sky was missing the moon. The only lights illuminating the rooftops were the reflections of the ones on the street. 

Nonetheless, it was a beautiful night to spend with your lover or someone you cared deeply about, it wasn’t a night to be alone in the rooftops waiting for your best friend to appear. 

It wasn’t a night to get frustrated because your partner was one hour and forty minutes late. 

Any other day, he would have understood but Ladybug had been testing his patience. 

What a change of roles. It was him who was always pushing her over the edge, it was him who was late most of the time. 

But, nothing had been like it always was, right?

When footsteps pounded in the air, and the roof quivered under him, Adrien stood and turned around, watching her come near him. 

“You’re late,” Chat said, watching his tone. He would not let out all his frustrations in one go.
“My cousins were over for dinner, I couldn’t just leave,” 

“You could have warned me,”

Ladybug put one finger on the middle of her mouth and tilted her head

“Yes, I guess I could have,” She nodded and sat down next to him.  

“Is it important? I am--

“Busy,” Adrien spat, “I know. You’re busy all the time now,”

“Yes, I am. What’s with the passive-aggressiveness?”
“What’s with you?” Adrien said, blowing all his plan of taking it slowly, “You don’t act like yourself lately. That air of superiority you’ve integrated to your daily behavior, I fucking hate it and I’m tired of brushing it off just because I love you!”
“What are you talking about?” Ladybug asked, but her voice shuddered. 

“You act like you are the cat’s meow, and I mean, you are, but you never rubbed it in my face. You’re acting… you’re acting like a spoiled brat! You’re being a bad friend! That’s what I’m talking about!”

Ladybug looked taken back. Her features were contractured in an odd expression and her eyes glimmered under the moonlight. 

A tear rolled down her cheek.

Adrien gulped but he didn’t take anything back. 

She recovered fast of that state, she sat down straight and rubbed her under eyes, pulling a confident look on her face, it wasn’t peaceful, it was full of anger. 

“I didn’t know it was going to be this hard!” Ladybug shouted, “I have a life outside this!

“I know that! So do I. What does this have to do with what I’m telling you?”
“It is too hard,” Ladybug whined, her voice fading, “I have so much to do, so much to work on, just… it’s too much and…”

“You’re doing it again,” Adrien gasped and shook his head. 

This was unbelievable.

“Doing what?” She asked in a suffocated whisper. 

“Only thinking about yourself,” He explained, “You’re not the only one that has things to do, you’re not the only one who has a hard life, you are…”

“You don’t get it!” Ladybug interrupted, “You would never get it,” 

“Help me understand, then,” He threw his head back and laid on his back on the roof, “Tell me why are you acting the way you are! I’m not a psychic, I can’t read your mind,” 

“Listen, I know you’re the funny and charming one, but I’m the smart one and--

“Oh, fucking,” Adrien growled, before saying anything he would regret, “There it is! You can’t even begin to explain what’s going on without telling me I’m worse than you,”

“I didn’t say that!”
“You’ve been underrating my intelligence for the past month, bug,” Adrien stood up and looked down to her, “Every time we talk, you describe yourself as someone wonderful, but when you talk about me… I don’t know what’s the objective of all this,”

“I didn’t mean to! Really I… I don’t know what’s going on with me,” Ladybug sobbed. 

Adrien’s heart broke but he gave her his back. He wouldn’t fall down until she spoke the truth, if he was weak then they would never patch this up.

“Chat… Chat,” Ladybug called, “Chat look at me,”

“No,” 

“Please, Chat,” Her hands were on his arms and she shook him, “There’s nothing to explain,”

“Don’t lie to me. Something is obviously going on with you, I can’t tell what it is but… I don’t like it,” 

“Chat…” Her cries were louder. 

“I’m angry, I’m disappointed but it all can change if you just tell me what is making you act this way, I know this isn’t you,”

He felt her head against his back, shaking as she sobbed. 

“I’ll work on it,” She whined, “I’ll fix it all, please just look at me,”

“Bug,”

“I love you,”

“Lately I’m not sure if you do,” Chat said, his heart aching. The truth spilled from his lips felt like acid. 

He heard her gasp, and repeat the words. 

Adrien pinched the bridge of his nose. 

This was a situation he never saw himself in to. 

Her hand gripped his wrist and she pulled him to her. 

Adrien let himself be moved but was ready to shout something, to push her away and try to convince her into talking when something he had not been expecting happened that made him forget about everything he had meant to talk about. Because the world stopped around him when Ladybug’s lips found his. 

 

Chapter Text

 

Adrien looked up to the roof, lost in thought, mind captured by the recent memories. A particular one to be exact. 

His index and middle finger were on top of his lips, drawing their shape as he played the moment on his head over and over again. 

His left hand fell on the water making a loud sound and splashing water all around the bathtub, but he did not mind, he was numb to everything but the memory. 

He was trying to find an explanation of why Ladybug’s soft lips had landed on his, why had she kept them there, brushing and moving them against his own. 

Adrien was trying to understand what had happened with his heart. 

He had returned the kiss, too lost in the sensations and in the feeling of dreams coming true to notice the uncomfortable weight landing on his heart and stomach. 

Something had not been right. 

He still couldn’t decide what. 

Adrien sighed and threw his head back, seconds later Plagg landed on his forehead. 

“You’re late.”

“I know,” Adrien answered, tone low and uninterested. 

“You don’t like to be late,” Plagg kept going. 

“I know,” Adrien said again, “Why do you mind? You always bother me about how early we go, that I deprive you of valuable hours of sleep.” 

Plagg flew around his head and ruffled his hair, not answering the question, but pulling his blonde locks to make him get out of the tub. 

Adrien didn’t complain, he just got out. The bewilderment that left yesterday’s kiss was too strong, his attention could not be directed to anything else. 

The astonishment followed his every move, making him stop his actions as his thoughts spiraled in a continuous mess. 

It took him half an hour more than usual to get ready for school. 

When he walked down the stairs, he saw Nathalie waiting at the end. She was frowning at him. It was subtle, but Adrien knew her well. 

“Adrien,” She started. 

“Good morning, Nathalie,” He waved at her weakly. 

“We said--

“No baths on school days,” Adrien finished for her, “I know.”

“Is something wrong, Adrien?” Nathalie asked. She didn’t look up to check on him, too immersed in her own tablet, but her voice did carry concern, the fact that she had asked her without him giving more clues was also important to remark. 

“Teen stuff.”

Girl stuff?” 

“That obvious, uh?” 

“Not at all, it was a guess,” Nathalie said, “I hope Miss Dupain-Cheng is feeling better.” 

Adrien rose a brow. 

What a change of subject!

“Yeah, she is. She’s a strong girl.” 

Something similar to a smile appeared on Nathalie’s lips, but it disappeared as quickly as it popped. 

“Go to the car, you don’t want to be late.” 

Adrien nodded and followed her instructions at a very low peace. 

For the first time in a long time, he wasn’t excited about going to school. 

 

xx

Adrien really wanted to go unnoticed today, but his wishes were destroyed the second he put a foot out of his car. 

Marinette was waiting for him on the stairs. 

If it had been anyone else he would have been angry, but it was Marinette, she made him feel nothing but happiness. 

Especially when she was looking stunning as ever, her fashionista style on but very chill compared to other outfits she had used to school. 

She was wearing a pair of summery striped culottes and a white turtleneck t-shirt with no sleeves. Her hair was up in space buns, she had black earrings around the arch of her ear to match the ones she usually wore, and to finish up, her eyeliner was on a cool variation of a cat-eye. 

Seeing her there, so lively and so herself made his heart warm up, and a few of his problems seemed to disappear. 

“Good morning, pretty girl,” The words escaped before he could really process them. 

Marinette seemed taken back, but thankfully didn’t say anything. That didn’t stop him from wanting to punch himself in the face. 

“Good morning, hot stuff,” She replied. 

Adrien let out a goofy laugh. 

Aw, she was awesome. 

“So, I was waiting for you,” Marinette begun. 

“What for?” Adrien said, softly nudging her arms with his elbow, to tell her to walk with him. 

“To talk,” Marinette’s voice was soft but determined. 

Talk ,” Adrien gave one nod, “Is everything okay?”
Dandy, ” She dragged the word, 

Adrien chuckled and rolled his eyes.

“Am I in trouble?”

“Of course not, it is just a small chat between friends,” Marinette singsong.

“Okay, I’m totally getting scolded,” Adrien shook his head from side to side, and covered his face with his hands. 

“Yeah, you got me,” She shrugged and threw her hands to the side, actually looking defeated.

“C’mon shoot me,” Adrien said, dramatically taking a step back, putting his hands on top of his chest and gasping loudly. 

Marinette giggled but quickly returned to her serious stand. 

“I like you like this, you know? Relaxed, joking around, not afraid of what my next move could be.”

“Well, thank you,” He scratched his scruff, “There’s more to that, isn’t it?” 

“Yes,” Marinette slightly nodded, “You’ve not been yourself around me. I know it took time for me to be a normal person around you, and that it took time for you to realize that you could be you and no one would judge, but those times are far gone now, so I don’t understand why you’ve been acting so strange around me.”
“Oh.”

“I mean, I do understand, I… I see where you’re coming from, and I won’t judge you for it but,” Marinette stopped, looking down, a thousand thoughts running through her eyes. “You know how I said that I kept my condition a secret because I didn’t want to look fragile?”

Adrien nodded, then softly he said, “You would never be fragile, Nette. You’re the strongest person I know,” A second later, the memory of Ladybug ran across his mind. Strangely, he didn’t back up or correct himself. Yes, Marinette was the strongest person he knew, even winning over Ladybug, or at least, this new version of Ladybug.  

“Well, it’s strange for you to say that because whenever I’m around you I feel like I’m made of glass,” Marinette panted, the frustration was clear, “Or ignored.” 

“I-ignored?” Adrien’s eyes went wide. 

“Yes. Either you treat me like I’m about to shatter or you avoid me completely.”

Adrien closed his eyes tightly, rubbing his fingers under them. 

He had not realized he was doing that. His mind was a mess and it felt like he had been working on autopilot for the whole week and a half that had passed after Adrien found out about Marinette’s illness. 

“I didn’t know I was doing it, Marinette,” He started, “I know that does not excuse it, but I really want you to know that. I’ll do my best to not do it again, you must have felt awful.”

“I did, but I understand.”

Did she? He didn’t understand it himself. 

But, he would not tell her that, this was for him to discover. 

“Hey,” Marinette said, jumping at his side and trying to press her arms on top of her shoulders. 

Adrien rolled his eyes amused and bent down his knees so she could do what she wanted to. 

Marinette put her hands close to his neck and hugged his shoulders, pressing her head behind his. 

“I wasn’t angry, a bit annoyed maybe, but not angry. And it’s all good now, right?”

“Right,” Adrien said. 

He threw his arms back and twisted them around Marinette’s legs, standing up after. 

Marinette let out a strange noise when he did that, probably the surprise, but then she laughed. 

“Amazing now I have my own personal carriage,” She said cheerily.

“Happy to serve you, princess.” 

Marinette tensed up behind him, her nails dug on his shirt. 

“Marinette?” He asked, concerned.  

But then there was no time for her to answer when Alya’s scream cut through the air and she came running, jumping and swirling until she reached them. 

“Did Nino propose or something?” Marinette asked, “Because I’m happy if you’re but I have to say you’re crazy if he did in fact propose.” 

Alya gushed so fast and in such a high pitched tone of voice that it was impossible to follow her. 

Adrien turned his head and looked at Marinette, she was staring back at him just as confused. 

Alya jumped in her place, holding her phone close to her heart. 

“What is it, Alya?!” Marinette asked, unlinking her legs off his waist and jumping to go back to the floor. 

Alya let out another shriek and showed Adrien her phone. 

His heart sunk. 

“Fuck,” He said under his breath. 

Now, his memory was not the only record of that night.

Now, there was a video. 




xx

Marinette brushed the dust of her pants as she heard Alya’s little blast of energy words. 

She shifted to Adrien, to look for his support in this strange situation but when she did, he looked like he had seen a ghost. 

It only made her more interested. 

“What is it?” She asked again. 

Alya didn’t listen, she was looking at the screen again. 

Marinette rolled her eyes.

Tired of waiting she reached for the phone and took it out of her hands. She would apologize later, and after all, they were friends, Alya would not be too mad. 

She flipped the device to get a better look and pressed play. 

Her breath got caught in her throat. 

Her hands shook. 

She watched how the video zoomed in. No more blurry silhouettes in the night, now it was more than clear -as if hadn’t been before- who were the protagonists of the video. 

Marinette paused the video and scrolled to rewind, only to press play again and zoom on it herself. 

Tall and strong, there stood Chat Noir, with his hands on the hips of the girl that was replacing her, with his lips against the girl who was faking to be her. 

A strange twisting sensation toured down her throat and into her stomach. 

Her heart ached. 

She had had enough scares to know that the pain she was feeling had nothing to do with her illness, this was pure emotion, poured like firey whiskey on her heart. 

“Marinette are you okay?” Alya asked, her euphoria dissipated. 

No, she wasn’t okay. 

She felt horrible, and she couldn’t describe exactly what it was what she was feeling. Disappointment? Betrayal? Jealousy? 

She couldn’t put a name to it. 

It was just dripping sorrow, like acid, it was burning and destroying everything inside her. 

“How did you get this?” Marinette whispered, “When was it?”

“Someone sent it to the Ladyblog last night,” Alya explained, taking her phone back, “You both look so shocked. I thought it was obvious that they were in love.” 

Marinette looked up, Adrien still looked like a deer on the lights. 

“But they’ve been off lately. You said so.”
“It was most probably was because their feelings were getting in the way!” 

Was it?

Was that really it?

No, it couldn’t be, Plagg said that Chat Noir wasn’t happy with Ladybug.

But, what if it had been a lie? What if Plagg had tried to make her feel better?

Because why would Chat kiss Ladybug if he sensed something different about her?

Unless… unless he only loved Ladybug-the-superheroine, the loved poster girl, and not… not her. Not who was underneath. 

Marinette gulped. 

After Chat confessed his love for her, she felt hurt, because that she would have to reject him, nonetheless, a part of her was extremely happy. He had seen through the mask and the spots and had fallen for her. 

She had never doubted his feelings.  Until now. 

This would be a problem all on its own, but it became even bigger when this little discovery made her doubt how she actually felt about him because this scorching sensation she had on her chest could not be explained by simple feelings of friendship. 

Maybe she felt something more.

Maybe these were romantic feelings.

Maybe she was in love with him. 

Maybe, she had always been. 



Chapter Text

Adrien looked down at his notebook, reviewing the chemistry problem and trying to catch the error. Because even if he didn’t have a sheet with the answers, he could tell something wasn’t right. 

It shouldn’t be so hard to understand why the equation wasn’t working, but here he was. 

A pen tapped the top of his notebook. 

“You put two instead of four,” Marinette pointed out, “It is implicitly said in the enunciate.” 

“Oh,” Adrien nodded and took his eraser, “Thank you, Nette.”

“You’re welcome,” Marinette smiled, “But is usually you who catches me making those kinds of mistakes, not the other way around.”

“Well, it was meant to happen,” He shrugged. 

“Yeah but… is everything okay?”

“Why wouldn’t it be? I mean besides the obvious pre-test stress.”

“Because your mind has been somewhere else from the past week and a half, and I sure hope this doesn’t have anything to do with me because we talked about it,” She rose a brow.

“Nothing to do with you, I promise,” He reached for her hand and squeezed, “Its’... it’s dumb and a little bit complicated… I don’t even know.”
“You don’t even know,” Marinette hummed. 

Adrien put his pencil down and looked around the café. It was quiet, only the sound of the kettles and cash making sound around them to accompany the music. 

“I… well… there’s this girl.” He started

Marinette gave a little jump on her spot, her face lifting and watching him with wide eyes. She looked taken back. 

“Sorry, sorry, let’s keep studying, I know you were troubled and here I am not helping and also wanting to talk--

“Hey,” Marinette leaned on the table and poked his cheek with the back tip of her pen, “A break is always well received. Tell me about it.”

Adrien lighted up with her sweet smile.

What kind of magic did she possess to make him feel good all the time?

Nonetheless, he hesitated. He doubted his problems were as important as Marinette’s were. She was facing her situation like a champion, and he couldn’t even bear with love. 

“Are you sure?”

Marinette looked down, she bit her lip and a strange yet melancholic look crossed her pain. It faded soon, but it still echoed on his mind.

“Of course. What are friends for? It is not like you haven’t asked advice about girls before...”
Something about that phrase hit him the wrong way. 

But she insisted and he needed to talk. From all the people he trusted and he felt at ease with, Marinette was on top with Nino. His stomach twisted when he realized he hadn’t mentioned his lady… before everything, she would have been on top, all alone.  

“It’s…” He sighed, and pushed back his hair, “Well, I asked Kagami first but--

“You asked Kagami? !” Marinette chirped, “ You dated her .”

“And now we’re close friends,” He said, putting his hands up, “I didn’t get into details or anything.”
“It’s still weird,” She shivered, “What did you ask her?”

“If girls changed their behavior when they liked someone,”

“What did she say?” A smile formed on Marinette’s lips.

“That it was ridiculous.”
She laughed, “Oh, I love her. Of course she said that. But, yes some girls do change the way they behave, in fact, I think we all do, since we’re trying to show the best part of ourselves to our crushes.”

“Well, yes, I guess, but what I was trying to say is… what if the girl changes their personality completely? Not all the time, but it’s like when she acts like her old self it doesn’t feel like her at all…”

Marinette rose a brow, “I think I will need a better explanation.”

“Yeah, I think so too,” Adrien threw his head back, his arms hang loose on each side of him as he leaned back on the chair, “I think I should start from the very beginning.”
“Be my guest.”
“Alright,” He sat straight and clapped his hands together, “So, I’ve known this girl since I’m fourteen, she is like… a friend from work. But our bond is more than that, or it was… something is not right lately.”

“Because she doesn’t act like herself?”
“Yes. She changed, not completely, but she has these attitudes that I can’t stand, and I know her well and I’m aware of her faults and I’ve loved despise them, but now it’s just…” Adrien moved his hands all over the place. 

Marinette gave a small giggle.

Adrien smiled at her. “It is a mess, Nette, my heart is in a duel.”
“You look like a mess when you talk about it,” She nodded, “How long have you liked her?”

“Ever since I met her.”

Marinette choked on her coffee. She grabbed a napkin and cleaned her face. 

“But… is this the girl you told me about a couple of years ago?”

“Uh, yeah,” Adrien nodded, trying to remember when this had been.

“But you dated Mimi,” Marinette looked down, her mouth slightly open. 

“I know but… that’s why it didn’t work out, I was too caught up on this other girl to give Kagami the attention and love she deserved.”
Ah ,” Marinette’s eyes darkened.

“I know, it’s bad.”

“No, I mean yes, it is not good, but… well, it’s normal, it happens,” She reached for his hand and took it, “I understand you. It didn’t work with Luka for the same reason.” She shrugged. 

“I’m sorry to hear.” He looked down. 

Adrien was aware that something had happened between those two, but he never dared to ask. He felt like it wasn’t his place to do so. 

“Yeah… I wanted to love him.” Marinette sighed, “But it was better, to be honest, that to push me to stay in the relationship and hurt him even more.”

Adrien hummed and intertwined his fingers with hers before taking a sip of his café.

Marinette’s hand trembled for a second, he thought he might pull away, but then she stayed. 

“Going back to your problem. What exactly is bothering you about her?” Marinette asked. 

“She… she has this superiority complex that is driving me insane.” Adrien admitted, “When I met her she was a bit insecure, and slowly she built up confidence, and I loved to see that, I loved to see her happy and trusting herself. She is beautiful, smart, kind, she really has it all so I was genuinely happy to see her so proud of herself, but this is different. She looks down on me, and when she talks it sounds like she thinks she is better than everyone else. She can be very kind and funny to be around, it’s not like everything has changed, but these little things are so powerful that they make me wonder if…

“If you’re still in love.” She completed. 

“Yes,” Adrien nodded, “Am I?”

“Only you can tell. Love is messed up.”

“Are you talking from experience?”

She nodded, “My heart is dueling too.”

“Tell me about it.”
“We’re talking about you.”

“I want to help. I don’t like that sad look in your eyes.”

“I have a sad look in my eyes?” She mumbled. 

“Yes, I’ve seen it for the past week,” He softly smiled. 

“It’s complicated too,” She begun, “I love this guy, and I’ve loved him for a long time, so long that it is hard to imagine myself not loving him. But on the other side, there is… this friend, my best friend that I love and respect and would want to keep forever in my life but lately… given my circumstances I… I might not see him ever again and I… I always knew that I could love him but it still took me by surprise.”
Adrien ran his thumb across her knuckles. His heart tightened at her words. A strange feeling made him shiver and a scorching sensation settled on his stomach. He didn’t like what he heard, it made him speechless. 

Marinette didn’t let silence lay down. 

“It’s crazy, I never thought something like this could happen but I guess I’m in love with both of them,” She rolled her eyes, and he could see the tears accumulating, “It’s stupid anyway, one of them has never seen me as more than a friend and the other… the other is dating someone else.”

Idiots, ” Adrien huffed, “You’re the most amazing girl I know, you really are one of a kind. Those guys really missed the greatest chance of their lives.”

It came out of his lips without him thinking it, but when he heard himself he realized how true his statement was. 

Marinette was as pink as her crop top, “Thank you…” She whispered. 

Adrien lifted her hand, and leaned to kiss her knuckles, “You’re welcome.”
He felt himself blush too. 

Butterflies appeared on his stomach, and even if he didn’t want to admit it, he knew his love problem had become more muddled than before.


xx

 

His studying session with Marinette ended up late. They stayed three hours longer than they expected, just talking and teasing each other as he ordered more food for them to share. 

He was walking back home after leaving her at her front door. He had not wanted to leave but he had to. 

The streets weren’t empty but it felt like they were, his thoughts were too loud to hear anything but those. 

Until a voice rang on his ear loudly. 

“We should have entered the bakery. I smelled cheese.”

Adrien was about to scold him for appearing in public but when he noticed they were walking through a lonely alley, he relaxed. 

“She didn’t invite me in.” 

“She was about to but you decided to leave. Bad decisions, Adrien,” Plagg grunted, “I like her, and I know that you do too.” 

“I know you like,” Adrien chuckled, “You tell me every time we see her.”

“I do not.”

“Almost every time.”

“Well, she is nice and has good cheese pastries. Also, she makes you happy, and you need that, I’m tired of seeing that kicked kitty look on your face all the time, is no fun.”

“Is this your way of telling me that you’re worried about me?” 

Plagg ignored him and gave another bite to the piece of cheese he was eating.  

Adrien laughed, “Finish that quickly, we’re late to patrol.”

“We are?” He asked, “Would have never guessed. Usually, you start to bounce and gush at least twenty minutes earlier.”

Adrien looked down. 

He was right but all that excitement had vanished in the last months. He hadn’t found a way to bring that excitement back, not even now when he had the kind of relationship he always wanted with Ladybug. 

His talk with Marinette had let him organize his thoughts a bit, but they were still messy. 

He had such great memories with her. He hadn’t lied, he would love her till the end of time, but right now… he wasn’t in love. 

It hurt to admit but it was what it was. 

After years of fighting the feeling, the moment he less expected it, it vanished. No, it didn’t vanish, there were still some feelings there. It had faded. It was washed out. 

Adrien shook his head and rubbed his face. 

This was all too much to handle. 

He didn’t wait for Plagg to tell him that he was ready. He called for his power and jumped to the closest rooftop the moment the suit and the magic wrapped him up. 

He ran as fast as he could, wishing that this way he could escape the increasing doubts filling his mind and heart. 

Who did he love? Who did he want?

What was going to happen next inside his heart?

He couldn’t know. 

In the back of his mind, the last months started to run like a movie. 

He thought of them and carefully analyzed them. 

What had changed? 

What in the world could have changed?

Ladybug had been strange at battles, she wasn’t as resourceful or merciful as before. It hadn’t been like this from the beginning of the change, but it had increased. She liked this job, less and less as the days passed, the only thing on her mind was to finish the battle fast. Yes, they usually tried to not extend it, but his lady would never jump into action without a plan, not before at least, because the only thing she was doing now, was trying to hit the enemy as hard as she could to leave them out of commission. 

The way she acted around him. It changed gradually too. After the picnic, there was something new in her, but nothing to worry about, it was only a few weeks later when he started to see these new behaviors blooming. 

And the flirting… why was it so blunt? Why was she all over him all the time? Why was she hot and cold and made him doubt her feelings?

Even when they kissed he wasn’t sure if she was really in love. Also, while kissing was fun… it lacked something.

She lacked something.  

Two weeks after their first kiss, he was finally able to admit it with Marinette, and now he was seeing it again. Something inside his heart wasn’t right. 

And talking about Marinette. It wasn’t a good sign that he enjoyed more his time with Marinette than his time with Ladybug. 

Adrien stopped harshly in the middle of a rooftop. 

He watched their point of encounter in the distance, he was so close, yet he had no desire to go there. 

Adrien spun on his heels and started running in a different direction, to a shadow in the night waiting outside a quiet balcony. 

 

xx

 

The night was looking as beautiful as a painting, but Marinette would have never known it. Her eyes were fixed on the screen of her phone and she wasn’t paying attention to anything else.

Alya had asked for help to select pictures of Ladybug and Chat Noir and now, Marinette was receiving a bunch of pictures of them having a romantic picnic on the rooftops two days ago. 

They were kissing. 

Aimée was all over her kitty. 

She could have twisted her cellphone with the strength of her anger alone. 

However, as much as she hated the pictures she couldn’t help but scroll through them and watch carefully.

“Bonsoir, princess!” 

She let out a scream and jumped back. The phone falling from her hands. 

“I’m sorry,” Chat said, taking her hand and saving her from stumbling with the table and fall flat on her butt, “I didn’t mean to startle you, I thought you had heard me.”

“What are you doing here?” She hissed. 

She pulled her hand back and put her hands on her hips.

“Visiting?” Chat said in a tiny voice. His ears dropped and he pouted, “I saw you in the distance and I wanted to say hi.”

“This is not your route!” 

Chat rose a brow, “How do you know that?”

Yes, how could Marinette know that?

But she came up with an excuse pretty easily, “Alya runs the Ladyblog and I’ve been helping so I know all this stuff too. So, why are you even here?”

“I haven’t seen you since…” Chat cleared his throat, “Since I had to take you to the hospital. I didn’t come earlier because I thought you would be too mad to see me.”

“I still am,” She answered without thinking it twice. Because as sad as she was to see him with another girl, the anger was still prevalent over that emotion. However, she couldn’t tell this to him. 

“I’m sorry.” Chat said softly, “I shouldn’t have screamed at you or treat you the way I did.”

“Yeah, you shouldn’t have.” Her lips sat on a harsh line, “Is that it?” 

“No.” 

Marinette knitted her brows together and waited. She waited and waited, but the only thing Chat did was look at her with gleaming eyes.  

“If you apologized and have nothing else yo say, why are you still here? I didn’t invite you and I bet you rather spend time with your girlfriend than with an angry civilian,” So much poison in only one sentence. 

“She’s not my girlfriend,” He mumbled.

What?

She was so taken back, she staggered a little. But then she came back to her senses.

“You haven’t asked her yet?” She huffed. 

How strange of him.

He looked down.

That look on his face didn’t go well on him. 

Something wasn’t right. 

“What?” She pushed. 

“I… I don’t know if I want to ask.”
“What do you mean?” Marinette asked, this time gentler. 

The confusion was overtaking her and the anger was slightly evaporating from her. 

“I don’t know if I want her to be my girlfriend…” Chat tsked and threw his head back, hands on his air, “I do know actually. I don’t want to date her.”

Marinette gasped. Baffled.

“I know, I’m as bewildered as you.” Chat said.  

“What happened?” She asked and took a step closer to him. 

“She is not the girl I fell in love with,” And once he said it, he wouldn’t shut up, and started to share everything with Marinette. 

“Is just… it feels like she is someone else. I don’t know the girl she has become. Sometimes she acts like the girl I know but it somehow feels forced, and when she acts naturally, she is not the girl I love.”

This conversation was just like the one she had with Adrien. It made her feel uncomfortable. 

Why did she always end hearing the boys she was in love telling her about their love lives? 

Okay, fair, Chat was technically talking about her. Sort of.  

“I mean I do love her, I will love her until the end of times but… I’m not in love… “ 

His eyes went wide and he shivered, “ I’m not in love. ” He repeated. 

The desperate state that left him in once he was faced with the truth. 

She could see him crumbling down. 

“I’m sorry,” She whispered. 

It took all of her to not cry.

“Saying it out loud… it hits different,” Chat mumbled, “It’s one thing to say that she is not the girl I fell in love, but to say that I’m not in love… I can’t even imagine myself not being in love with her… and I am!”

They stayed in silence once again.

Marinette wished she could hug him and let him know that everything was going to be alright, that she was going to find a way to come back to him, that that was her plan from the very beginning. Things had turned more difficult and dangerous that she initially thought, but she still had her eyes on the goal: going back to him. She was going to anything in her power to get back her earrings and her partner.
Chat took a step to the side, approaching her, yet still leaving some space between them. 

“Sorry, I really made you hear all of this without even asking… and you were angry.”

“I’m not angry anymore,” She truthfully said. 

No, that wasn’t what she felt. It was more like sadness.

“Is your pity stronger than your rage?” He chuckled, but it ran sadly. 

“Something like that,” She half-smiled and sat on the closest chair to her, feeling a little tired. 

She felt Chat glancing at her. 

“I was really scared when I saw you on the street that day,” He whispered, sitting on the chair across her, “I visited you… and asked one of your friends how you were doing. I hope you don’t mind.”
“I don’t,” She gasped. It made her heart warm that he was worried about her.  

Chat hummed, “I hate that this is happening to you. You don’t deserve it.”

“Maybe I don’t,” She shrugged, “But I don’t think it’s about deserving… it was just bad luck.”

“Well, I wish I could have the good luck to turn it all back. I would give it all to you.”

You don’t even know me. She thought to say, but another thought crossed her mind, stumbling with it. 

Your soul knows me even if your eyes don’t.  

Her whole body trembled and the tears she so strongly had tried to fight won the battle. She broke like a dam. 

She wasn’t human anymore, she was just water. Tears fell and fell and fell. Her whole body stopped working, she felt numb to everything around her but the pain. 

It felt like a river losing its course, like the ocean breaking down on the shore. 

She didn’t stop, it wasn’t an option, her body was releasing all her feelings without restriction. 

She cried even harder when she felt his arms wrapping around her. His hand tangling on her hair and pressing her face against his chest as he whispered on her ear. 

What he was saying? She didn’t know, but whatever it was, to have him so close, to feel his breath brushing her skin, it made the pain bearable. 

In safe arms, she cried until her body gave up.