Checking her answers to see if there was something she had correct or add to her answers, before delivering her Chemistry exam. She had lost too much time on one of the questions, and she was forced to answer the rest of the questions in a bit of a rush, so she could finish the exam. Her heart was pounding, the classroom felt like an oven, and all that was making her even more nervous by the minute. That was the last exam she and her class had, and the nerves, combined with the stress and the fatigue she was feeling, were beginning to get the best of her. She checked the time on the clock that was hanging above Miss Bustier’s desk, to see how long she still had, and saw that there were only fifteen minutes, before she was forced to hand over her exam. Realizing just how little time she had left to finish revising all her answers, Marinette’s heart skipped a beat.
“Calm down, come on, calm down. You still have a couple of minutes. Just keep your head cool and don’t overthink it.” -Marinette thought to herself, while trying to calm herself down. –“Okay, this formula looks alright. But I’m not so sure if this one here is the formula of sulfuric acid or if it’s the formula for sulphurous acid… come on, brain, don’t do this to me, not now! Not when I’m already on the final stretch, please!” -she thought to herself, as she tried to figure if the answer, she had written was the right one or not.
And she was not the only one who struggled with a particular question. Some of the others also had difficulties answering it, which left them with less time to answer all the questions in the exam. Just like it was happening with Marinette, the rest of the class was also suffering from mental exhaustion. Even Max, who was usually the best student in class, was feeling exhausted, and exhaustion causes one to doubt himself, even when he believes that everything is right.
“There, done! No, wait a moment, this isn’t right… or is it? I can’t even tell if I’m doing things the right way or the wrong way.” -Max thought to himself.
“No, this one’s wrong… darn, look at the time! I’ve got to hurry up.” -Juleka thought to herself.
“Okay, this one’s done. But I’ve got to write faster, I don’t have much time.” -Mylene thought to herself.
“At this rate, I won’t be able to finish this exam.” -Nino thought to himself. –“Still, I’ve got to try it. I can’t have a bad grade at Chemistry. If I do, mom will ground me for a week, at the very least.” -he mused about it, while trying to finish the last two questions.
Eight exams in 48 hours was a little more than a regular person could handle. As they used the last of their brain power, they just wished for two things to happen. First, that they would be able to complete the exam on time, and second, to get enough right answers to ace it. Still, when they handed their exam sheets to Miss Bustier, they all believed that they had done their best and that now, they had to wait for the results. Once outside the classroom, they allowed themselves to breathe a sigh of relief.
Shortly after, the school bell rang, signalling the end of classes that day. All students made their way out of school, believing they had earned the right to some peace and quiet for the rest of the day, while thanking whatever God there believed in, for the end of classes that day. But unlike the rest of the students, Miss Bustier’s class decided to stay a little longer. Sitting on the entrance’s stairs, they decided to take a moment to celebrate the fact the exams were over, as they saw their fellow students go home, along with some of the teachers.
“That last exam was so hard…” -Kim sighed. –“I’ll be lucky if I manage to score a half-decent grade.” -he admitted.
“You and me.” –Nino said. –“Chemistry was never an easy subject for me. I knew I should have studied a little more.” -he admitted.
“Well, it’s a little late for you to think about that.” -Alya told her boyfriend, as she placed her arms around him. –“Still, I bet you’ll score a good grade on it. I did catch a glimpse of the formulas you wrote on your exam sheet, and they were mostly correct.” -she smiled at him.
“Thanks, Alya.” -Nino smiled at her, before kissing her.
“We’ve got to ask Miss Bustier that next time, instead of doing all our exams in two days, we be able to do them all in three or four days.” -Max sighed. –“My brain can’t take another round of exams like this.” -he said.
“Well, it was your idea to do all the exams in just two days, so we would save time, remember?” -Rose told Max. –“You can’t complain about it, when it was you who suggested it to Miss Bustier.” -she pointed out.
“Maybe, but I can complain about the fact that you guys agreed with this dumb idea of mine, and went ahead with it, supporting it, when I presented it to Miss Bustier.” -Max told her.
It had not been the best idea Max had, and he and the others could see it now. He came up with it, so as to save them all some time. In case Hawk Moth or one of his Akumas decided to show their ugly face, they did not want any battle against them, to interfere with their exams, because that would raise another kind of problems, which was something none of them wanted. But all that was in the past now, and that was all that mattered to them. For better or worse, they had done all their exams and they could not be happier about it.
“What matters is that now that every exam is out of the way, we can finally relax for a little bit.” -Marinette told them, as she stretched her arms. –“It’ll feel good just to do something that isn’t studying. Plus, I’ll be able to sleep better tonight, knowing that tomorrow we don’t have any exams.” -she said.
“I’m with you on that one, bugaboo.” -Adrien said, as he placed his left arm over her shoulder and gently pulled her towards him, as he placed a kiss on Marinette’s lips, making her giggle, when he did it. –“But in my case, it’ll have to wait a couple of more hours. I’ve got fencing practice today, and whether I’m in the mood for it or not, I have to attend it.” -he sighed.
“Look at it this way. When Kagami beats you, and you get your pride wounded, you’ll call me and ask me to console you, by telling you you’re a good kitty and that no matter what, you’re still number one in my book.” -Marinette told Adrien in a playful tone. –“Oops… I think I’m beginning to sound a lot more like a certain someone we all know, without realizing it.” -she said, referring to her superhero self, Ladybug.
“Indeed. Though, I don’t mind it.” -Adrien told Marinette, with a mischievous smile on his face. –“Still, I’m a little surprised you’re not jealous of Kagami.” -he told her.
“Well, I know you only have eyes for me.” -Marinette smiled at him, before kissing him again, this time on the cheek. –“Though, you still have to introduce her to me. I would like to know the girl who helped you finding the courage to finally tell me how you really felt about me.” -she smiled.
“Deal. I’ll ask her if she wants to come with us all, the next time we go to the movies.” -Adrien promised her.
The others could not help but to chuckle or giggle a little, with whole the scene. No one in their right mind would even dare to say that the two were not dating. And as always, a certain black cat kwami had something to say about all that.
“Oh, please… get a room, you two! I don’t need to see all this mushiness happening, with my eyes.” -Plagg exclaimed, from inside the pocket in Adrien’s jacket.
“Plagg!” -Tikki yelled at Plagg, reprimanding him, her voice coming from inside Marinette’s pochette.
Like it always happened, Plagg had a knack to make everyone laugh, whether you were a human or a kwami. His commentary got Tikki to rebuke him, but it also got him a bunch of laughs from everyone else. Even Flint was impressed with that commentary of his.
“Now that was a funny comment.” -Flint thought to himself, while remaining inside Rose’s backpack.
“Changing the subject for a moment, tomorrow is a very special day.” -Nino said. –“Tomorrow, a certain member of our gang is celebrating her birthday tomorrow.” -he said, as he looked at Alya. –“Tomorrow, Alya’s our birthday girl.”
“Oh, yeah, tomorrow you’ll be a year older than you are now.” -Alix joked. –“And you all know what that means.” -she smiled wickedly.
“Yes! Birthday cake for everyone!” -Rose exclaimed. She was a sucker for birthday parties. It did not matter if it was a kid’s birthday party or an adult birthday party. Rose just loved them, especially the cake part, when everyone would gather and sing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday person.
Hearing her say that, Alya giggled. The way Rose spoke about it, it felt that she was the one who was going to celebrate her birthday. She knew the blonde loved birthday parties. In fact, the gang would usually joke about the fact that instead of attempting to become a ballerina, Rose should try and become a party planner, because that way, she could plan all the birthday parties she wanted to, and would have an excuse to attend them.
“Rose’s right. It’ll be birthday cake for everyone. Not only that, it means that Miss Bustier will give us a full hour just to celebrate it.” -Kim said. Their teacher was also fond of birthdays, and whenever someone in class celebrated it, and that included herself, she would finish classes an hour earlier, so they could celebrate occasion properly.
“I’ll be in charge of the music, as always.” -Nino smiled. –“So, the rest of you guys, you are in charge of everything else.” -he joked. –“Let’s give my beautiful half here, the birthday party she truly deserves.”
“Who’s going to bake your birthday cake this year, Alya? Your mom, or Marinette’s parents?” -Ivan asked her.
“Actually, both. The birthday cake will be eating tomorrow with Miss Bustier, will be made by Marinette’s parents, while the one that I’ll be eating with my family, it’ll be made by my mom.” -Alya answered him. –“And before you ask me, no, I don’t know how the cakes will look like. The only thing I know is that they will both be carrot cakes.”
“Your favourite. Why am I not surprised?” -Nino asked in an amused tone.
“Because you know me too well.” -Alya smiled at him. –“And before you all start asking, no, I don’t know what the birthday cake Marinette’s parents are making for me looks like. It’s a surprise.” -she told them
When she finished saying that, the rest of the gang looked at Marinette, smiling wickedly at her, making her feel like they were a pack of hungry wolves, and she was an innocent little bunny, who was about to be devoured by them. They all wanted to
“Sorry, but I don’t know it either. The only thing I know is that my dad told me this morning, that he had come up with a great idea for it, and that Alya’s going to love it.” -Marinette told them. –“You’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, to find out what it will look like, like the birthday girl over there.” -she smiled at her best-friend.
“Well, I know one thing. Whatever it might look like, I know it’s going to be extra delicious.” -Alya said. –“Oh, and one more thing. I’m only going to say this once. I don’t want any presents, okay? Having you all around me, is already the best present I could have.” -she declared.
“Oh, then, I guess the present I bought you, I’ll just keep it to myself.” -Alix joked.
“I was going to say the same thing. If you don’t want any presents, I’ll keep the one I bought you, as well.” -Mylene declared.
“At least, that way, we won’t need to bother losing time wrapping them. If she doesn’t want any presents, why bother?” -Kim said in a sarcastic tone.
Alya knew they were just kidding about it, but still decided to tell them what she really thought about that matter, just in case someone had the idea of doing just what she first asked them to do. She loved to get presents, but she did not want her friends to spend too much money on account of her.
“Okay, okay, never mind what I said before. If you have already bought them, then, I’ll accept your presents, since you guys were kind enough to buy them. But I maintain what I said before. The best present I could get, is having you guys around me, celebrating my birthday.” -Alya smiled at the whole group. –“Still, I hope you haven’t spent too much money on those presents.” -she said, hoping to be the case. –“I’d be happy if you guys gave me a birthday card and a hug.”
“What money? I’m officially nearly broke.” -Kim said. –“But speaking seriously now, don’t worry, I didn’t spend more than 20 euros on it.” -he told Alya.
“Trust me. I didn’t spend a single penny on mine.” -Nathaniel joked. –“You’ll see what I mean, tomorrow.” -he winked at the brunette.
But not everyone was excited about the presents they were going to offer Alya. Chloe Bourgeois was not excited at all. The present she wanted to offer her, was still out of her reach, and she did not know if she was going to be able to get it.
“The ticket for the KISS concert was going to be my gift to you and the rest of the class, but I’m beginning to think that I’ll have to get you something else.” -Chloe confessed.
“Still no luck in contacting Jagged Stone?” -Adrien asked the blonde.
“No luck at all, Adrikins.” -Chloe admitted. –“My dad’s secretary has been trying to contact both his agent and his manager, but neither one of them answer her calls. She can’t even find where his new house in Paris is.” -she sighed.
“He has a house in Paris?” -Nathaniel asked her.
“Apparently he does. There have been a couple of rumours about it on the news a couple of months ago.” -Chloe said. –“And I think those rumours are true, because whenever he was in Paris, he stayed at my dad’s hotel, and he’s not staying there, right now. I should know, I live there. If he was staying there, I would have seen him by now, or my dad would have told me about it.” -she sighed.
Hearing that, Juleka quickly took out her cell phone and did a quick search online, looking for anything related to Jagged Stone in Paris that week. In a matter of seconds, dozens of results came up, with most of them being about his concert the previous week, or about the KISS concert next Saturday. But there was one result that caught her eye, and that instantly told her that was what they were looking for.
“According to what’s on this forum, there have been sightings of a woman walking a crocodile, who looks like Jagged’s pet crocodile, Fang, near Trocadero.” -Juleka said, as she opened the photo file attached to it. –“It does look a bit like Fang. Can’t be absolutely sure, because he’s wearing a muzzle.” -she said, showing them photo on her cell. In it was a woman dressed in a white sports jumpsuit, wearing a baseball cap of the same colour and wearing sunglasses, walking a crocodile. More than once, Fang had appeared on one of Jagged’s album covers, so he was pretty recognizable. Still, the photo’s quality was not very good, making it hard for anyone to see if it was the same crocodile or not.
“Well, there can’t be many people with a pet crocodile in Paris, especially one as big as Fang.” -Rose told Juleka. –“Maybe we could try and find out where he lives. That way, you could knock at the door and talk to him.” -she suggested.
It was a good idea. Simple, yet good. Unfortunately, even knowing what they were looking for, finding out someone walking a crocodile would be hard, given that at the hour the photo was seemingly taken, they were in class. If they had more time, they could risk losing a weekend or two, trying to see if they could find the person who was walking the crocodile, see if it was Fang, and if it was, follow it back home. But time was something they did not have. The concert was Saturday, and it was already Wednesday.
“Trocadero is too big an area. We could be lucky and find someone who’s walking a crocodile tomorrow, or we might not be that lucky, and we’ll only find that someone a week, or even a month from now.” –Sabrina said. She had gone with her dad on patrol around that area a couple of times, and she knew just how large the Trocadero area was. –“Even if we all split up, and each one goes one way to find it, we would still have a large area to check. Plus, if we went ahead with this plan, we would have to skip classes to do it.” -she sighed.
“Sabrina’s right. My only chance is to hope my dad’s secretary is able to get in touch with either Jagged’s agent or his manager.” -Chloe sighed, with a disheartened voice. –“If not, then, I guess none of us will get to see Jagged in concert.” -she said.
“Don’t worry about it, Chloe.” -Sabrina told her. –“If you don’t get them, it’s okay. We’ll know that you at least tried to get them for all of us.” -she smiled at the blonde, trying to cheer her up a little, while still believing luck would smile upon them, and that she would manage to get those tickets.
Listening to Chloe saying that, Marinette felt bad for her. The blonde was trying so hard to get Jagged Stone’s number, so she could talk to him, and there she was, with Jagged’s email on her cell phone. She, who did not even ask for it, and ended up having Jagged commissioning her a face paint, which he would hopefully wear, if he liked it, on Saturday night, when he was called by KISS to share the stage with them. Marinette could not help but to feel that the whole situation was incredibly ironic. She, who did not try to contact the musician, or anything similar, was contacted by him, while Chloe, who was desperate to contact him, and was doing her best to do it, felt like destiny was conspiring against her. Marinette had promised herself and Tikki, that she would not reveal what had happened to her, regarding that matter, before their exams were out of the way. And now that they were, she was going to tell them. By doing it, she would share one of the most incredible things that had ever happened to her, with her friends, while also giving Chloe the means to contact Jagged Stone.
“Huh, guys, regarding the tickets, I’ve got one thing to...” -Marinette said, when she heard her cell phone ringing.
Just as she was about to spill the beans, her cell phone rang. It was not a call, but rather a text. Wondering what could the text be, Marinette quickly pulled the cell from her pocket and checked it. What she read sent shivers up her spine, and they were not the good kind of shivers.
“What’s the matter, Marinette?” -Adrien asked her, noticing how her expression changed in a heartbeat.
“Code red.” -Marinette said, practically whispering it.
“Code red? What does that mean?” -Adrien asked her, puzzled with what he had just heard.
There was only one other person in that group who understood what Marinette had just spoke, and that person was Alya. The moment she heard her best-friend speak those words, she feared the worse.
“It’s something Marinette’s parents and her came up with. It’s a code for when there’s an emergency.” -Alya answered him. She still remembered the time when they came up with it. –“The code has three colours, yellow, orange and red, red being the most urgent.” -she explained.
“Red means that something really bad happened.” -Marinette said, trying not to think about what could have happened. Still, it was hard for her not to imagine the worse. Their parents and her had devised the code to be used in emergencies alone.
When hearing that, the whole gang immediately wondered what could have happened, and just like it happened with Marinette, they feared the worse. And before any of them could say anything, Marinette decided that she could not waste a single moment. She needed to get home as quickly as possible.
“I’m sorry guys, but I have to go.” -Marinette said, as she grabbed her backpack and slid over her right shoulder. Whatever was going on, she had to get to the bakery and see what was happening. Regarding what she had to tell them about Jagged Stone, it would have to wait until later.
“Wait, you want me take you?” -Adrien asked her. –“Gorilla should be arriving at any moment.” -he told her.
“No need, Adrien. I’ll use my lucky trump card to get there in a couple of minutes.” -Marinette said in a serious tone. Her lucky trump card being Tikki. She was planning to transform into Ladybug and get to the bakery as fast as her legs and arms allowed her to.
“Are you sure you don’t want us to go with you, girl?” -Alya asked her. She did not feel good about letting her best-friend to face whatever had happened alone.
“No, there’s no need. I’ll text you when I find out what’s going on.” -Marinette said, as she began sprinting up the street.
Once she found a place to transform, Marinette wasted no time in making her way back home. As Ladybug, she ran on top of the rooftops, she could not help but to wonder could have happened. That code was to be used in emergencies alone, so whatever it had happened, it had to be serious. All kinds of possible scenarios went through her mind, one worse than the other. She truly feared the worst had come to pass.
“What could have happened? Did dad have a heart attack? Or maybe it was mom who had one? Or perhaps grandma Gina suffered an accident and is in a coma? Or maybe, even grandpa Roland suffered an accident? Or maybe the bakery caught fire?!” -Ladybug asked herself, fearing which scenario could be real. She could feel her heart pounding like a hammer inside her chest, fuelled by fear of a tragedy that might have happened. –“No, stop thinking that way! If you keep thinking about what might have happened, you’ll go insane, before your halfway home. Just focus on getting there, before making any assumptions.” -she thought, as she tried to calm her nerves.
But the more she tried not to think about it, the more intense those thoughts in her mind became. She did not want to think about whatever had happened that forced her mother to send her that text, but it was hard, especially when those bad thoughts were echoing inside her mind. Turning left, she launched herself from the top of the building and used her yo-yo to swing down the street, while at the same time, trying to get those awful and negative thoughts off her head. Unfortunately, it was not easy, because the closer she got the bakery, the stronger those thoughts became. When she was only a couple of streets from the bakery, she swung into an alley, she knew was always deserted, to change back into her civilian self. Landing on the ground, and not seeing anyone around, she quickly changed back and began running out the alley, almost not giving Tikki enough time to get into her backpack. Marinette needed to know what had happened. She had wanted to call either her mom or her dad, and find out what had happened, but she was so scared to hear the bad news, that she was unable to do it. Turning the corner, she saw the bakery. It was still standing and there were no police vehicles or ambulances, or fire trucks in front of it. Not seeing any of that, made some of her fear dissipate from her mind. Unfortunately, she knew that just because there were no police cars, or fire trucks or ambulances, it did not mean everything was right.
Crossing the street, she did not even look both sides to see if it was safe to cross, and almost got hit by an incoming car. Luckily, her athletic reflexes allowed her to slide over the hood, without getting hurt. With her heart in her mouth, Marinette entered the bakery, hoping that whatever had happened was not as bad as her worst thoughts. But when she entered the bakery, she did not see anything that suggested something bad had happened. Her mother was behind the counter, smiling at one of the customers, as she handed the order.
“Mom, what happened?! Are you okay?! Is dad okay?! Why did you send me that text?!” -Marinette quickly bombarded Sabine with questions, reflecting how nervous and frightened she was. She was huffing and panting like she had just run the marathon, which was not far from reality.
Seeing her daughter, Sabine immediately saw that she might have done something that she should have not done. With a smile, she asked the following customer to wait a couple of seconds, so she could talk to Marinette, and put any fear she had to rest.
“Nothing bad happened, Marinette.” -Sabine smiled at her. –“I just thought that you would come home a lot quicker if I sent you a text with that code. We have a very special guest upstairs.” -she told her.
When she heard those words, Marinette became confused. Her mother had sent her a message, using a code they had devised themselves, to signal for when something bad had happened to either one of them, and now she was telling her that everything was alright. This made her feel both confused and slightly cheated. In her mind, she wondered what could have happened that made her mother do that to her?
“Okay… I’m really confused.” -Marinette said, not understanding what was really going on, while still trying to get her heart rate to go down.
“I’m sorry if I made you believe that something bad had happened. But I’m sure you’ll forgive me, when you find out what has happened. Go upstairs, and you’ll understand what I mean. And whatever you do, try not to scream or faint, Marinette.” -Sabine said. –“I left him a plate of macarons, and if he asks, I’ll take him another one, as soon as I have a moment. I need to take care of the customers, and help your dad, who’s having a little problem with Alya’s birthday cake.” -she told Marinette. –“Well, go on, don’t keep him waiting. Oh, and one more thing. Your father and I are very proud of you, honey. You should have told us about it sooner.”
At first, Marinette did not know what her mother was talking about, and much less how to react to it. But when she heard Sabine saying that last part, a thought appeared inside her mind. And if that thought turned out to be what was really happening, she needed to know. Making her way upstairs, Marinette asked herself if what she was thinking was just wishful thinking or not. As she climbed the last flight of stairs, she could feel her heart pounding with the same intensity, as when she was making her ay home. Only this time, it was beating like that because of a completely different reason; a reason that she was about to find out if such reason was what she thought, or not. Stopping in front of the door that gave access to the apartment, Marinette opened the door. Entering, she saw someone sitting on one of the living room couches Closing the door behind her, she saw that the person was a man, who was reading a book. This one was wearing a brown trench coat, along with a blue baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses. When the door closed, the man looked at her. It took her a split second, but Marinette recognized him, even with wearing that poor excuse for a disguise. Even wearing a pair of sunglasses and a cap, there was no way he would not be recognized by one of his fans.
“J-J-Jagged…” -Marinette mumbled, as she saw the iconic musician, who was one of her greatest idols, sitting there, in her parents living room.
“Yes, that’s me. Please, don’t faint. I hate it when that happens.” -Jagged begged her, as he placed down the book that he was reading. –“I’m sorry, but I took the liberty of picking this book from that self over there. Your mother told me she did not know how long it would take you to arrive, so I decided to make myself comfortable.” -he told Marinette, as he got up from the couch, and walked towards her.
She could not believe it. Jagged Stone was right there, talking to her. The whole thing looked like a dream come true. When she took on his commission, she imagined that perhaps she would get the chance to meet him in person, maybe through a videocall, but never really thought too much about it, especially since he was a person who would have an incredibly busy schedule. And now, there he was, standing in front of her.
“It’s Jagged Stone! THE Jagged Stone!!! What do I do?! What do I say?! What do I tell him?! Come on, Marinette, say something! Say something, or he’ll think that you’re stupid or something! Heck, he may even think you’re disrespecting him!” -Marinette thought to herself, while trying to come up with the right words to tell her guest. –“Y-Yes! I’m… I’m M-Marinette. N-Nice to meet you, Mr. S-Stone.” -she said, as she waved at him with the awkwardest smile in her face, one could think off.
“Please, Mr. Stone is my father… well, not really, because that’s not my real last name, but you get my meaning. Just call me Jagged, or JG if you prefer. Heck, you can even call me Uncle Jagged if that helps you not being so nervous.”-Jagged told Marinette in a calm and serene voice. He was used to some people reacting to his presence that way, especially, if it was the first time they met.
“O-Okay…” -Marinette smiled. –“Calm down, Marinette. Keep it cool… oh, this is going to be one of those stories that you’re going to tell not only to your friends, but also to your children and your grandchildren, one day.” -she thought to herself, as she tried to rationalize what was happening to her. –“N-Nice to meet you, J-Jagged.” -she stuttered a little.
“You already said that.” -Jagged pointed out with a chuckle. –“Don’t be nervous. If you want to, I can also begin to stutter a little bit, so you won’t feel like you’re the only one who’s nervous about this.” -he joked.
“Oh my gosh, he’s so sweet! He’s like all the magazines say he is.” -Marinette thought. –“N-No need for that.” -she smiled.
“Alright, if you insist.” -Jagged smiled back at her.
Marinette could still not believe Jagged Stone was right in front of her, talking to her. Of all the crazy, insane things that had ever happened, this one would have a special place on her top 5. With both her brain and her heart racing like crazy, Marinette felt the need to try and calm herself down, before continuing to chat with Jagged. She was afraid that if she said the wrong thing, he would get upset at her, or think she was mocking him. Right then, part of her truly wished that when she got that text from her mom, that there truly was a real emergency, so she would not have to worry about acting like a fool in front of one of the world’s biggest music stars.
“I-I suppose you came around to see if I have finished the face paint you ordered.” -Marinette asked, as she did her best not to flip out, or do something embarrassing. –“Good, good, you didn’t say anything stupid or embarrassing. If you can keep it like this, you won’t have any problems.” -she thought to herself.
“I have. I’m really anxious to see what you came up with. I know I should have contacted you first, so you knew I was coming, but it just happened. I needed to get out a little, so I grabbed this trench coat, a baseball cap and a pair of sunglasses, and I came looking for you.” -Jagged admitted. –“But first, I actually wanted to ask you something.” -he told her. –“Aren’t you going to ask me how did I find out where you live? I mean, your address is not on your page.”
It was true. Marinette’s address was not on her page, so how was he able to find out where she lived? That was quite the issue, and the musician wasted no time in explaining it to her. First, he assured her that he had not been watching her or stalking her, or had someone do it for him, in case she thought that. He told her how when he found her page, it was because of the fact that he had recognized her last name from the box of macarons that her agent had brought from her parents’ bakery, and that he had taken that as a sign that he should try and commission her. He also told her that her agent, Penny, had recognized her from the photo that was on her page, having seen her in the bakery before, and that it was not hard to figure out where she lived. When he showed Marinette a photo of Penny on his cell phone, the blue-haired girl quickly recognized her, having seen her a couple of times in the bakery.
“That’s your agent?!” -Marinette asked, recognizing Penny.
“That’s Penny alright. Unlike me, she’s able to blend in, wherever she goes and no one knows who she truly is. I keep telling her that sometimes, I wish I wasn’t as recognizable as I am. At least that way, I wouldn’t have to wear these disguises, for when I want to go out, because of the fear of someone recognizing me, or some photographer snapping a photo of me. And don’t’ even ask me about the paparazzi. In one sentence, absolute nightmare.” -Jagged sighed. –“But anyways, now you know how I managed to find out where you live. And I must say, your parents are incredibly nice. I’m actually surprised your mother didn’t faint when she saw who I was under this hat and these sunglasses.” -he told her. –“Tell me, did you manage to finish the face pain’s design?”
“Well… sort of… I wasn’t able to finish it yet… I…” -Marinette admitted. She had been so worried about her exams, that she still had not finished the face paint’s design.
“Don’t worry. Your mother has told me that you have been a little busy with your school exams, and it’s okay, I understand. School before anything else, that’s what I believe, when it comes to you kids and your education.” -Jagged said, reassuring her everything was alright. –“Just tell me one thing. How much longer do you need to complete it?” -he asked her.
Without wanting to, Jagged made Marinette’s heart race like crazy, but not in the good sense. When she heard that specific question, she feared that if she said the wrong thing, that he would decide that he would not want the face paint design anymore. It took all her mental strength to not say the first thing that came to her mind, afraid that it might cause trouble for her.
“I-It’s nearly finished!” -Marinette exclaimed, slightly nervous. –“I… I just need a couple of minutes, half an hour tops to finish it.” -she said, being absolute sincere about it.
“Well, I can wait half an hour. Especially, when I have those macarons to eat, while I wait. I forgot to tell you, but I literally became addicted to them. The macarons from your parents’ bakery are the best in Paris. I just can’t get enough of them.” -Jagged admitted.
At first, Marinette thought that she could finish the design in the living room, while Jagged waited. But she figured she would do a better job in her bedroom, where there was a lot more sunlight. And so, without trying to think too much about it, the blue-haired teenager invited Jagged Stone to her bedroom, with him accepting the invitation. While going up, Marinette kept telling herself to keep her cool and do her best not to sound like she was a massive fan of Jagged’s work, obsessed with most of his songs, fearing he might get offended by it, inside her backpack, Tikki was listening to everything that was happening, and doing her best not to burst into laughs. She knew it was wrong form her to be finding all of that amusing, especially when she, like everyone else in the Miraculous gang, thought that something bad had happened to Marinette’s parents. But all of that was just too amusing for her not to be amused by it.
“Marinette is sure having a crazy afternoon.” -Tikki mused to herself. –“Let’s just hope she doesn’t have a heart attack with all this excitement.” -she thought, while trying not to giggle about it.
Before entering her bedroom, Marinette tried to remember if she had left this one a mess, like she always did. Opening the trapdoor, she took a second to look around and saw that this one did not look as bad as she momentarily believed it was. Taking deep breaths, she allowed Jagged Stone inside the bedroom, who was positively surprised by what he saw. From the sketches he had seen on Marinette’s online page, he had imagined that her bedroom would be filled with all kinds fashion things, from sketches on a notice board, to fashion magazines, a sewing machine, among other things. But what stood out was the mannequin, where Alya’s birthday present, still was. As a fan of the Miraculous Team, Jagged immediately recognized the hoodie’s colour pattern, and could not help but to take a better look at it.
“This is amazing! You did this?” -Jagged asked her.
“Uh… y-yes, I did.” -Marinette stuttered momentarily. –“It’s for a friend of mine. Her birthday’s tomorrow and that’s my present for her.” -she said.
“Then, she’ll be very lucky. This hoodie looks amazing. I’m incredibly jealous of her right about now.” -Jagged said, as he inspected the hoodie, paying close attention to the details. –“You’ve even added the ears. This is quality work.” -he praised her. –“As a fan of the Miraculous heroes myself, I wouldn’t mind having one myself.”
Having Jagged Stone praise her work was a dream come true for her. She had already heard Adrien’s dad praise it before, but having another person as important as he was, praising her, it made Marinette feel like she was on top of the world.
“You should really consider making more of these. I bet you would be able to sell them easily.” -Jagged suggested to her.
“T-Thank you.” -Marinette said, as she placed her backpack next to her chaise longue. –“Oh my gosh, he really thinks my stuff is good enough to sell to other people! If this is a dream, don’t wake me up.” -she thought, while trying her best not to begin jumping out of happiness. –“L-Let me show you what I already did, when it comes to your commission. I must admit that it was a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I do like a good challenge.”
Grabbing some of the sketches she had come up with, while attempting to find the one she believed would be perfect for Jagged Stone, Marinette hesitantly handed them to the musician, who checked them, one by one, taking the time to admire them all.
“These look impressive. You did manage to capture the essence of what I asked you.” -Jagged said, as he looked at the sketches. –“They all look so authentic. And though some look rather modest, the way you drew them, you’ve given them personality. I can see you put your soul into them, and that’s something I can appreciate in a fellow artist.
“T-Thank you.” -Marinette smiled, not believing he had called her a fellow artist. For her, that had been the most beautiful compliment he had told her, until then, and that made her happier than anyone else could imagine. –“But they’re just, you know, sketches I came up with, while trying to find the right one for you.” -she said, as she grabbed her sketchbook, where she had been working on the one she felt was perfect for Jagged. –“Here it is. It’s not finished yet, but I believe it will give you an idea of what I’m aiming for… I call it, the Crocodile.”
Showing Jagged the still unfinished design, the musician was stunned by what he saw. Just like it happened with make-up from all members of KISS, this one was white, allowing the other colours to stand out. Marinette had decided to go for something that would mimic the scales of a reptile on his forehead and nose.
“Whoa… once again, I’m speechless.” -Jagged admitted, as he kept looking at the design. –“Did you based yourself on my pet alligator to do this?” -he asked her, without taking his eyes from the sketch.
“I admit that when I came up with the idea, I was thinking about Fang, yes.” -Marinette admitted. –“I mean… from all the things that I’ve read and seen about you, you seem to have a very close friendship with your pet crocodile, that maybe, your face paint for this concert, could play out as a tribute to both KISS and Fang.” -she told him.
“Not only you’re talented, you also have amazing ideas. And you’re right about Fang. I really do love that crocodile.” -Jagged praised her.
After that conversational bit, Marinette asked Jagged to make himself at home, while she completed the design. Having Jagged there with her, was a bit distracting, especially since she was feeling the pressure of having to finish that design. Still, she tried not to think about it, as she tried her best to complete the face paint design. As for Jagged, he sat on the chaise longue, taking the time to once again look around and see just what was in Marinette’s bedroom. He was not a nosy person, but like everyone else, who had a pair of functioning eyes, he could see things, and he could not help but to notice that on one of Marinette’s bedroom walls were some posters of various bands, with two featuring him, as well as some of his albums piled up next to a small sound system. From just those objects, Jagged could tell that Marinette was a fan of his work, and that put a smile on his face.
“She’s got good taste, when it comes to music. I don’t see any signs of anything related to that XY brat. It’s not that I have a problem with anyone being a fan of that brat, but it’s nice to see that if this girl likes anything of his, she doesn’t have it on display.” –Jagged mused to himself.
Putting a few finishing touches on the sketch, Marinette smiled as she rushed to finish it. Looking at it, she believed that she had done a good job, and she could already imagine Jagged Stone wearing at the concert, where thousands of people would see it first-hand, not to mentioning the millions that would later see it online. Just thinking about it, was causing her to have butterflies in her stomach, the good kind. This would be the first time a work of hers would be seen by so many people. Unlike what had happened when she won the competition to create a derby hat for Adrien to wear on his father’s latest fashion show, which was seen by a few thousands of people in the fashion world, this time, her work would be seen by countless people, all over the globe. Still, trying to keep both her feet on the ground, she could not consider her work finished, before signing it. Like any other artist, Marinette believed that a work was not finished, until the artist who did it, signed it. Grabbing a ink pen that was on her desk, she quickly signed it, like she always did with the sketches she believed were good enough to have that honour. After a last look at it, Marinette announced that she had finished, and gave it to Jagged Stone for appreciation.
“I love it. It already looked amazing, but now that it’s finished, it looks even better than before. I’ll be happy to wear it on the concert, next Saturday.” -Jagged Stone said, without being able to take his eyes from Marinette’s work. –“And I’ll be paying you what we agreed, plus a little bonus. I know that fabrics can’t be cheap, and I would be happy to help you buy more fabrics, so you can make really cool clothes, like the Rena Rouge hoodie over there.” -he told her.
The idea of having more money to buy more fabrics and create new clothes, by putting her design and sewing skills to the test was quite tempting. Marinette would be lying to herself, if she did not admit she would love to be able to buy more fabrics, some of them a little more expensive than the ones she had been using in her works, without having to count the nickels and dimes in her purse. But once more, the kindness and compassion she had for others in her heart, made her do something entirely different. Something she hoped would benefit not only her, but a lot more people.
“Actually… I was thinking of another thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t want the money, but… you see… well, here’s the thing. My friends and I, we attended your concert last week, but unfortunately, we ended up on a place where we couldn’t see the show properly. The show was good, but we couldn’t enjoy it the way we really wanted it to.” -Marinette said, lying about the part where they attended the concert. –“And, I was wondering…”
“You’re wondering if I could get you tickets?” -Jagged finished sentence. –“Is that what you want, instead of the money? Because I can get you and your tickets for the Golden Circle, as well as VIP and backstage passes for that concert, no questions asked.” -he told her. –“How many do you need? Three? Four? Five?”
“Fourteen.” -Marinette said, piratically whispering it, with a sheepish smile on her face.
“Fourteen?!” -Jagged asked, a little shocked. He was not expecting her to say that number.
“Y-Yes. My whole class is a very big fan of yours, and, we pretty much do things together. We’re a tight group.” -Marinette told him, a little embarrassed. She knew it was a very high number, and that most likely he would not get her that many tickets, but she felt she had to be honest about it. –“I know. It’s a pretty large number.”
“It’s a pretty large number, alright. It’ll be a little hard to get that many tickets, along with VIP and backstage passes… but it’s doable.” -Jagged declared. –“I mean, it’s like I said, after the magnificent work you’re doing, it’s the least I can do.” -he told her.
When Jagged told her that he would get her the tickets, Marinette quickly hugged him. She did not want to, but the excitement was so great that she did not have control over her own body. A few seconds later, she realized what she had done, and apologized to him.
“Uh… s-sorry.” -Marinette apologized to Jagged. –“What were you thinking, Marinette?! I’ll tell what you were thinking… absolutely nothing! You can’t do something like that!” -she thought to herself
“It’s okay. I’m actually used to that by now. You should see how some groupies behave, when they’re near me.” –Jagged told her, as she broke the embrace.
“And… I know this is bit of a stretch, because you’re already getting me those tickets for my friends, but if possible, I would like to ask you one more favour.” -Marinette declared in a low, almost scared voice. –“I was wondering, if you could give them to a friend of mine, so she could offer them to the class? She did promise everyone she would find a way to talk to you, so you could try and get tickets for the whole class.”
“A friend of yours?” -Jagged Stone asked her.
“Yes, my friend Chloe Bourgeois, the Mayor’s daughter.” -Marinette said.
“You’re friends with that girl?” -Jagged Stone asked Marinette. –“I mean, don’t get me wrong, but, how can you be friends with someone like her? Bear in mind, that I’ve known her for years, and she’s not exactly the kind of girl most people would like to have as a friend. In fact, I don’t remember her being nice towards anyone. I saw her mistreating a lot of people, just because she did not get what she wanted. Plus, every time she sees me, she behaves like a crazy fan, always wanting to take a selfie with me.” -he told her.
“Let’s just say that we have quite the history together. She bullied me, almost from the moment we first met.” -Marinette told him. –“And I understand that you think of her that way. She was a real piece of work. But she has changed a lot, since the last time you saw her. She’s been through a couple of things that have changed her, for the better.” -she went on, defending the blonde. –“She’s not the Chloe Bourgeois she once was. She’s a different Chloe, who’s a lot nicer, and who’s the polar opposite of what she once was.”
Marinette could tell from the way Jagged Stone was looking at her, that he was not buying into what she was telling him. But she was telling him the truth. She just could not tell him what had happened to Chloe that made her change. So, the only thig that occurred to her, was to try and convince the musician of her words, by speaking from her heart, and hope for the best.
“I know it’s hard to believe what I’m saying, especially because you don’t know me at all, and you have interacted with Chloe in the past. But trust me, when I say that I’m telling you the truth. Chloe was always awful, and she always believed that she was better than everyone else, and she would treat everyone who did not agree with her like yesterday’s trash. In sum, she was a spoiled brat, who made my life a living Hell quite a few times. She was a horrible person. She was someone who made feel bad about myself, and never apologized. She was someone who sometimes made me feel like I was useless, and who didn’t deserve any happiness. In sum, she was someone who I thought I would never call a friend, ever.” -Marinette declared. Saying those things, she remembered about all the things that Chloe had done to her and to her friends. It made her relive some of the hardest moments in her life, while telling herself that all of that was in the past, and that it should stay buried in the past, where it could not hurt her or anyone else. –“So, believe me that if she hadn’t changed, I would be the last person on Earth to defend her. She’s now someone who I’m proud to call a friend. Someone, who I know, will be there for me and for others, when things go wrong. Someone who does not hesitate in helping someone who’s in need. I know, it’s hard to imagine, it’s true… and unfortunately, there are times when she thinks that just because she has changed and started to treat others with respect, that she doesn’t deserve the friends she now has, nor anything good that comes her way. And when that happens, she tries to make it up for all the times she was mean and awful towards everyone, by doing things like offering us gifts or providing us with unique experiences. She knows that they don’t excuse all the bad things she did in the past, but it helps her feel a little better about it, and gives her the strength and the confidence she needs to continue on this new path she has chosen… and I’m babbling about this more than I should, perhaps, but still, I had to tell you this. I wanted you to know why I want to help Chloe feel better about herself.” -she sighed, realizing that without wanting to, she had told Jagged more than she wanted at first. –“I would be forever grateful to you, if you could do this, not for me, but for my friend, who still has a long way to go, to be the person she truly wants to be, but that is already on the right path.”
The way Marinette talked about Chloe made Jagged feel like they were talking about two completely different persons. For him, Chloe Bourgeois had always seemed to be a spoiled brat. But he was used to seeing her once or twice a year. Marinette was someone who clearly spent a lot of time with her. She did not have to tell him about her bullying experience at the hands of the blonde, but she did it anyways. That told him that she was someone who was not afraid of telling a person what had happened, no matter how bad things were. And if she was telling him that Chloe had changed, and was trying to become a better person, who was he to say it otherwise?
“Well, you’re right. I don’t know you at all… but I know what being bullied about can do to a person.” -Jagged told her. It had been years since he talked to anyone regarding such a matter, and even longer, since he talked about it with a stranger. –“Believe it or not, I was also bullied, when I was a little younger than you are… yeah, it’s hard to imagine, but I was. Back then, people didn’t call it being bullied, but the result was the same. Myself, I was never able to forgive the people that bullied me, when I was young, maybe because I believed that they did not deserved to hear those words from me. Or maybe, it’s because I was too stubborn to even give it a second thought about it. But I know people who did that, either because they needed to do it, so they could make peace with their past, while others, their bullies had come to apologize for tormenting them, and doing that, takes a lot of strength from a person, which may sound easy, but it’s not, especially when a person was hurt, physically or psychologically.” -he said. –“But you, being someone who was hurt by her, says that she has changed and that she’s trying to do something nice for you and your friends, I believe that you don’t have reason to lie to me about it.”
Listening to Jagged, Marinette never thought she would hear what she did. He had just told her about a part of his life that she had never heard about. She felt both excited and humbled about it, and could not help but to remember about her own experience, when she told her mother about her bullying. Jagged did not have to tell her that, but even so, he did, and she did not know to properly react. When she woke up that morning, she knew how her day was going to start, but not how it was going to end, and the way it was ending, could only be described in one word: Unbelievable. Once more, Marinette told herself that she would be telling what was happening to her, to whoever wanted to ear it, for the rest of her life.
“If you really want that, and you believe that it will help her, then, I’ll be glad to do it.” -Jagged Stone declared. –“I’ll give her the tickets, so she can then, offer them to you and your friends. Plus, I’ll be paying you the money that we had agreed, regarding this work of yours. And before you tell me that you can’t accept it, allow me to tell you that I won’t take a no for an answer, and I usually get things my way. Plus, I want you to know one more thing.” -he said, as he pointed at the face paint design. –“I know that we’ve only known each other for an hour at best, but from what I’ve seen and heard, I can tell that you are not only an amazing person, but also an incredible aspiring artist, who I’m sure will become one of the best at what she does in a decade or so. I usually say that I only waste my time with those I feel, have something to give to the world; people with an incredible talent. And yours is quite big. It’s true that you still have a long way to go, but you’re heading in the right direction. Which is why, I would like to be one of the first people to help you in your path to fame. This here, was the first work you did for me, and it won’t be the last. I promise you that. Whenever I feel that I need a new accessory, or even something cool to wear on one of my tours, I’ll be sure to call you and commission it to you.”
When Jagged Stone told her that, Marinette’s brain exploded. She had already considered herself lucky in having been commissioned once by him. But having the rockstar tell her that in the future, he would contact her, to commission her again, it was something fantastic. Fuelled by the happiness she was feeling right then, the blue-haired teenager hugged Jagged once more.
“Thank you, thank you so much for the opportunity!” -Marinette exclaimed, as a couple of tears of happiness started to roll down her face.
“Don’t thank me. Thank yourself. You earned this shot.” -Jagged told her. –“And it will be my pleasure to have you and your friends on the concert, next Saturday.” -he declared.