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Bands of Many Soul Connections

Chapter Text

First connection that Marinette ever made was when she was little, around four, and had crashed into Nino on the way to the park right by her house.

“Maman! Maman! Pleeeeease I wanna goooooo!” Little Marinette tugged insistently on her mother's clothes trying her best to drag her out the door.

“Calm yourself Marinette, please.” Sabine smiled good naturally as she stumbled her way to the door whilst putting on her cardigan. She picked up Marinette’s and wrangled her daughter into it. “It’s a little cold out dear.”

Marinette whined as it messed up her pigtails but stopped resisting as she put her hands through the sleeves. She huffed. “Okay okay. It’s on! Can we go now pleeease.”

Sabine chuckled lightly at her daughter’s antics and pressed a light kiss against her forehead. “Let’s go then shall we?”

“Yes! Allons-y!” Marinette fist bumped the air with her tiny fists and absconded out the door at rapid speed before her mother could change her mind. She ignored her mother when she yelled at her to wait and made her way without care towards the park by her house.

She squealed in joy then screeched when she couldn’t stop herself quick enough from bowling over another kid her age.

“Owf!”

They tumbled to a slow stop and both of them felt a small warmth on their left arms. They sat there for a moment gathering their breath before scrambling to roll up their sleeves to see what the warmth was.

Their mothers had walked over statedly when there weren't any cries of pain but jumped back when their children squealed and rushed them in excitement.

Sabine patted her daughters head in order to calm down the excited babble. “Dear you are talking to me too quickly. I need you to take a breath to calm down a smidge for me to understand you please.”

Marinette squirmed in place as she excitedly waved her left arm in front of her mother. She was huffing her little heart out in order to calm herself down but wasn’t very well as she was overwhelmed with excitement. “Look look look look!”

Her mother sighed in fondness as she gently took a hold of her daughter’s and the squirmed lessened. Her eyes widened when she saw just above her daughter's elbow was her first soulband.

The band was blush pink that transitioned to a stormy grey. The word Platonic was in black loopy writing but the letters Pla had turned into lapis blue to fern green. Indicating that Marinette had just met her first Platonic soulmate.

“Owh wow! Congratulations dear. Your first soul friend!” Sabine smiled at the grin upon her daughter's face and saw a similar one upon the boy's face when he came over with his mother.

Marinette bounced on her feet once again which was different to the boy who was swaying from side to side. She thrust her little hand out towards the boy. “I’m Marinette!”

“Hey! I’m Nino!” He shook her hand and was immediately bowled back over to the amusement of their mothers.

“Maman, Maman! Can Nino come over and bake cookies with us? Please please pleeease?” Marinette giggled as she clung around Nino’s neck and he didn’t seem to mind too much as he held onto one of her arms in return.

“Cookies! Can I please mam?” Nino smiled up at his mother.

Both parents looked at each other and shrugged in agreement. “Sure, why not.”

“Yes!” Marinette squealed but quickly realised that she hadn’t played in the park yet. “Can we play first though?”

Sabine rolled her eyes and shooed them onwards to play while she talked to Nino’s mother. “I’ve got the first playdate. You got second?”

“Deal.” They shook on it and exchanged numbers as the children ran circles around them in delight.

They were glued to each other's hips through maternelle and part of école élémentaire before they hit their first bump in the road. Marinette really wasn’t expecting her first family bond to be so… buzzingly annoying.

Chapter Text

A eight, nearing nine, year old Marinette pouted as she felt her left arm warm with a new band that she truly didn’t understand. The blonde hoity toity girl standing in front of her was supposedly part of her Family bond. The Family bond band formed half way up her forearm was elegant as the last and the Fa coloured a coral pink and honey orange.

She pursed her lips when the blonde girl was glaring at her from her hunched position and folded arms. This really wasn’t what she expected from the start of this bond. Being cursed out, in a way a child could, for being only a baker’s daughter. Which according to Miss hoity toity was peasants work. Well she didn’t care if it was or not, they were at least yummy! And without her family or like minded, there wouldn’t be any yumminess at this party!

Marinette decided to copy the girl's pose which got the response of a huff and a glare more narrowed. She nearly lost her cool as she felt a giggle bubble up her throat. It is just that the girls colour choice of black and yellow as well as the fluffed up appearance that reminded her of the fluffed bees that she had been memeing back and forth with Nino.

The girl’s glaring gaze lessened with a bit of confusion. People cowered before her! Why was this blue haired protag looking commoner not to do the same! she scrunched up her nose at the influence that her Adrikins anime had on her thought process. “What are you giggling about?”

“Sorry miss hoity toity,” The girl shrieked at the comment. Marinette failed to contain her giggling at that point. “You remind me of a fuzzy bee. It’s cute.”

The girl sputtered and couldn’t really regain her better-than-thou attitude when a lovely little red head kid came running up to them with a grin on her face. “Chole! Marinette! didn’t know you two knew each other. Small world!”

“Hey Sabrina!” Marinette grinned back as it seemed that the girl, Chloe, was having a life crisis at the age of nine. “I ended up tripping and bumped into Chloe here. Turns out she’s a Family bond!”

“Cool! Let me see! please?” Sabrina's eyes went wide as Marinette took off her cardigan to best reveal her left arm and pointed to where the mark was. “Aww so pretty. Here’s mine!”

Sabrina rolled up her sleeve to show her wrist which had a teal and purple band and the Pla in Platonic in Chloe’s colours.

Marinette was about to comment when Chloe seemed to come to a decision and proceeded to screech. “DADDY!”

There was a loud crash somewhere and then a thundering of footsteps that got louder as it drew nearer. The door burst open, then suddenly the very tall mayor was standing by them with a panicked expression. “Is something the matter, my little princess?”

“Yes!” Chloe stopped her foot and put on her best pout as she folded her arms. “I refuse to be seen with my little sister in rags! Go pay her parents more money so they can buy her some decent clothes for when she spends time in my presence!”

The Mayor sputtered and twiddled a handkerchief between his hands. “Little… little sister?”

“Get with the programme daddy!” She pointed towards Marinette who just looked confused about the situation whilst Sabrina just seemed to be resigned about the situation. “The baker’s kid is my little sister. So go pay them more so Marinette can be at least decent to be seen with me!”

“Of course right away!” The Mayor nervously glanced at Marinette and she pointed toward the main dessert table where her parents were. “Thank you, you are welcome here anytime, and please be kind to my Chloe.”

“Thank you? will do?” Marinette muttered in her confusion as she watched the adult be bossed around by their child.

Sabrina just shrugged as if she was used to this and smiled reassuringly. Then an idea popped into her head. “Hey since you're here, why don't we do our homework together?”

Chloe stomped down on that idea quickly and took Marinette's arm in a firm grip. “No! We are going to leave the adults down here and play dress up in my room! I want to get to know my little sister!”

There didn’t seem to be any room for objection as Marinette was practically dragged towards her doom. She looked towards her parents for help but wasn’t able to get their attention as the Mayor was chatting with them and blocked their view of her. She was even further confused by what an Adrikins was and why did Chloe seem excited to introduce them to her?

Chapter Text

“So… Do you think he will be able to escape this time to get to school?”

“Hopefully” Chloe huffed as her manicured fingers tapped her arm. “It’s ridiculous! It’s so ridiculous that it’s taken this long for you two to meet too!”

Marinette giggled as she placed her homemade macaroons into a box for their first day back at school. It has been roughly four years since she met Chloe and each time a playdate was made to meet Adrien it had been delayed or out right canceled. Chloe was frustrated by it but Marinette just found it to be amusing.

Chloe scrunched her nose in disgust. “Seriously if Gabriel doesn’t let Adrikins out his tower and I’m going to start referring to him as mother gothel.”

“Not quite the image I needed in my head Bee.” She grimaced as the image of Gabriel in a mothel gothel attire assaulted her mind. Whenever a new Gabriel magazine came out they would spend half the day going through it and critique the heck of it. So the image was more realistic than it would have been if she hadn't known what he had looked like before. “Hopefully today will be a good day.”

She made a non committal sound as she picked up both hers and Marinette’s bag. “Just don’t drop the macaroons and we should be good.”

Marinette pouted at being reminded of her past klutziness. “Is that why you came around this time?”

“No comment.” Chloe smirked and flicked Marinette’s forehead. “Though how you are still so clumsy after doing gymnastics for so long, I have no clue.”

“Same,” Marinette rubbed her forehead and glared playfully.

“Kids! It's time to go otherwise you’ll be late!”

“Just leaving!” Marinette replied back cheerfully as she picked up her box of macaroons. The girls quickly walked out the home, down into the bakery and waved goodbye to Marinette’s parents. “Love you!”

The girls chatted animatedly between themselves. Sabrina had unfortunately had a dentist appointment the first day of school to get her braces off. So she wasn’t able to join them until after lunch. Chloe had just been critiquing Marinette’s newly blazer when they stopped at the crossroads.

Many things had happened at that point in time. A warmth of a newly formed family bond, a speeding car that was not slowly down for no one, and a short eldery man crossing the road when he shouldn’t have.

Marinette reacted on instinct by tossing the box of macaroons at Chloe who squeaked and scrambled to get a decent hold. She then proceeded to run forward to drag the daft old man back onto their side of the street before getting hit by the car, which drove on by without a care in the world.

No one other than Chloe and a tall elderly gentleman seemed to take notice of what happened and went on their merry way. Marinette gained back her breath and checked that the old man was okay. “Are you okay sir?”

“Yes, thank you very much young one.” He gently patted her hand. “Not many people have the bravery to do what you just did for an old man like me.”

Marinette nervously chuckled and quickly got a macaroon from the box to give to the old man. “Here! if you're still shaken you should go to Tom & Sabine Boulangerie Patisserie!”

Without thinking too much on it and having forgotten that she got a new connection she quickly took the box off of Chloe and ran the rest of the way to school. Chloe squawked all the way there that she was ruining her outfit and hair.

“Your tests are quite dangerous, old friend.” The tall gentlemen glanced down at the other. “Maybe something not quite as life threatening next time?”

“One must do what one can to make sure one is willing to do what it takes.” He stroked his beard thoughtfully as he moved towards the school at a slow pace. Thinking of what test to do for the other chosen.

“Hmm.” The gent sighed deeply as he walked towards the patisserie. He figured while he waited he would sample the dishes and find something to take back for his family.

-----

“You are a walking disaster Dupain-Cheng.”

Marinette whined as she collapsed in her seat and placed the box on her desk. “Can’t help it and don’t last name me.”

“I can and I shall. What you did was ridiculous! you seriously could have gotten yourself hurt!” Chloe folded her arms in annoyance.

“But I didn’t” Marinette pouted at being chassisted for doing the right thing. The old man looked frail, she doubted that he would have survived if he had gotten hit.

Chloe looked like she was about to blow her top when she was cut off by someone stomping up the steps and dumped their bag on the desk. “Leave the girl alone! what she did earlier was amazing! Super heroic!”

Marinette could see that Chloe was going to lash out at the newbie. She raised her hands placatingly. “Hey it’s okay Bee, we can talk about it later okay?”

Chloe glared before huffing and handing Marinette her bag then headed to her desk near the front. She flicked her hair in her hoity toity manner and fumed quietly in her chair.

Marinette sighed at the possibility of getting an ear full later and turned to her desk mate. The girl had lush ombre red hair, glasses and a slightly noticeable mole just above her right brow. She smiled nervously. “Don’t mind Chloe, she was just worried about me is all.”

“Okay, yeah, sure. but what you did was so cool! like it came straight out of a comic book!” The girl straightened her glasses with a grin as she sat down and thrust out her hand. “Alya Cesaire.”

“Marinette Dupain-Cheng,” She took the hand and felt a friendly warmth for the second time that day of a connection being made. “And it looks like we are Platonic!”

Alya’s face brightened as she was quick to take off her plaid shirt in order to see where the band had formed as it was her first platonic one. A burnt orange and gold band formed on her bicep with the word platonic and Marinette’s colours on the pla. “So cool!”

Before they could continue the conversation, Miss Bustier came in to start the day. Marinette couldn’t help but notice that Chole’s friend wasn’t able to show up once again. Though she was glad to see that Nino had shifted to sit beside Chloe to keep her company until lunch time.

-----

Marinette was panicking as she swung around Paris trying to get a hang of her yoyo as she made her way towards where she could see Ivan as Stoneheart wandering around. Why did she have to listen to that mouse… bug… kwami thing! She really wasn;t made for this hero business.

She squeaked as she found herself falling through the air and found herself dangling from a lamppost attached to someone else. She blushed profusely at how close her face was to the boy in black. Nose to nose, she found it rather unsettling. she squeaked. “Hi… Hi!”

“Hello!” The cat boy grinned as he swung and the both of them suddenly felt a friendly warmth on the left arms. His eyes shined brighter. “Owh wow! This is great!”

Marinette couldn’t believe her luck that she had a third connection in one day. She quickly made work of recalling a yoyo that it untangled them and landed in a heap. There was a laugh that left her embarrassed as the yoyo zipped up the wire. “Well… I suppose this will make the partnership easier as platonics”

 

Cat boy was bouncing around on his feet doing some sort of happy dance. “This is amazing! You're my first Plantonic… I.. I hope we can be friends?”

Marinettte smiled reassuringly as the boy’s emotion seems to be bouncing between nervousness and excitement. “I would be more than happy to have another friend. I'm… i’m Ladybug.”

He slowly blinked and his smile brightened even more. “I’m Chat Noir! Shall we…”

There was a sudden smash that rocked the ground that had them stumbling and remembering that they had a job to do. Ladybug shrugged helplessly, “we’ll talk later yeah?”

“Right!” Chat jumped into place then into a bow. “After you Milady.”

Ladybug snorted at that and bopped him on the nose as she swung on by. “Let’s go Minou!”

Chapter Text

Marinette wanted to collapse on her way back home. The fight was rough but she was thankful that chat noir handled Stoneheart by himself for a moment while she double checked what she needed to from Tikki. She was glad she had cause she didn’t want to find out what would have happened if she hadn't cleansed the butterfly.

She opened the doors to the bakery and called out. “Maman! Papa! I’m home!”

“Marinette! welcome home!” Sabine walked out behind the counter and hugged her daughter. “Glad to see you safe.”

“Glad you’re safe too. Is Papa okay?” Marinette squirmed in her mother's hold to see if she could spy her father.

Sabine chuckled and let go. “Yes your father is fine, but there is a surprise for you!”

“oh?”

“Apparently you had been in such a rush to get to School today with Chloe that you missed out on a family bond.” Sabine guided her daughter towards the stairs. “He spent most of his morning, sampling pastries before asking about you. He was rather polite about everything.”

Marinette nervously twiddled her fingers as she thought back about the morning. she really hoped that he hadn’t mentioned the rescue. “Is he nice too?”

“Awfully so. Do you want me to stay with you while you meet him or are you okay by yourself?”

“Myself.. if that’s okay?”

“Of course. He’s currently drinking tea in the living room. Call if you need anything okay?”

“Will do. Thank you!”

Sabine kissed her daughter lightly on the head before heading back down to help her husband.

Marinette took a breath and opened the door, only to end up dashing up into her loft room to dump her bag and race back down. She fixed her appearance nervously as she saw the tall elderly gentleman, from this morning, sitting in her living room. She waved, “Hello.”

He stood up from the couch and politely bowed his head in greeting. “Hello Miss Dupain-Cheng. it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Ah erm.. Marinette is just fine. Nice to meet you mr?”

“Alfred Pennyworth. Thank you for saving my old friend early. His perceptive for his surroundings are not quite what they used to be.”

“No trouble! None at all.” She startled and moved in closer in hushed tones. “You didn’t tell my parents did you?”

“Not all Miss Marinette,” He smiled gently. “I just mentioned that we had brushed in passing and you were in a hurry to get to school that you didn’t seem to notice a newly made connection.”

“Phew… erm.” She rolled up the left sleeve of her blazer and noticed the newly formed colours of the day. Ton was burnt orange and gold for Alya. Ic was Snow white and Icy blue for Chat Noir. Mi was a Ivory and Purple, she pointed towards the mi. “I’m guessing these are your colours?”

“That they are indeed.” Alfred had deftly moved his hand to a hidden zip on his suit jacket and removed half the sleeve. He moved his arm around to show Marinette the inside of his arm. In neat cursive was the word Family in a band of ivory and purple. She spied her blush pink and grey Ly next to a sunshine yellow and steel blue Mi, the Fa appeared to be faded that she wasn’t able to make out the colouring. “I was wondering when it would be possible to meet my last family connection before my end.”

“Are you .. are you… dying?”

Alfred lightly chuckled. “Only of old age even though it has a hard time keeping me down. No need to worry Miss Marinette.”

Marinette giggled on her exhale. “Thank goodness and it’s just Marinette.”

He gave a polite nod in response and directed her towards the couch. “How about we get to know each other in a more comfortable manner.”

“Oh! Right yeah. Sorry…” She all but squeaked in response but sighed as she slumped down on the couch. “It’s just been a long day.”

“Yes I do suppose that beating up villains can take a lot out of one's self.” He smiled knowingly.

“Like you wouldn’t believe…” Marinette speaked when she realised what she had said and quickly clapped a hand over her mouth as she stared at him with wide eyes. “I… I…”

Alfred raised a calming hand. “It’s quite alright Miss Marinette. Your secret is safe with me. I happen to have been through similar experiences in my younger years and I have a few connections with heroes back from where I am from.”

Marinette let out a long suffering groan at having broken the one thing Tikki told her to keep. Before she could catrophisize further the little being was gentle patting her cheek. “Tikki…”

“It’s okay Marinette! I recognise him from his time helping the Guardian during war. You got super lucky!” Tikki cheered as she swooped this way and that. “Don’t worry, you're in safe hands with Alfie. Nice to see you again!”

“A pleasure Miss Tikki.” Alfred shook Tikki’s little paw with a fond expression. “I do apologize that I’m meddling in with Miraculous business but I felt it best that I do so. Especially since there’s a connection between Miss Marinette and myself.”

“I.. hmm.” Tikki folded her little paws in thought. She swayed a little in the air as she spoke slowly so that the both of them understood. “It’s true that you shouldn’t be meddling, however… in this day and age, help is needed more than ever than being thrown into the deep end of this. So I’ll allow it, we’ll just keep quiet and not let the Guardian know!”

“But won’t you get in trouble Tikki?” Marinette chewed her lip worryingly as the Kwami floated down into her outstretched hand.

“Don’t worry about it Marinette! The guardian needs to listen to us as much as we should take on board what he says as well. Though in this instance you are also soul connected with Chat Noir so no doubt with your luck that you’ll find out who he is too.” Tikki spoke gently and smiled up at her chosen. “You are given help from the beginning instead of having to wait till the worst possible time.”

“I’ll be a third party in this matter but I'll be more than happy to help on the sidelines for whatever you deem necessary. Such as possible training regimes for example.” Alfred informed politely. “I’ll be returning to Gotham at the end of week so i’ll be sure to give you a way to contact me should you need anything.”

“Gotham?” She blinked surprised as his french didn’t show a hint of an american accent. “You’re from Gotham!?”

“Well I currently live there with the family I work for.” Alfred's face softened at the thoughts of his family. “If you would like, after this situation has been handled, I’ll introduce you to them?”

“Why not during?”

“Let’s just say for now that my family doesn’t have a great track record for leaving things well alone when it isn’t their jurisdiction.” He tutted but it seemed out of fondness more than annoyance.

“Sounds like a handful.” Marinette giggled as she saw Tikki go upstairs to get some of her cookies. She turned to face Alfred nervously. “I’m aware we just met and I feel pretty exposed to you right now with what you know and all but erm… Is it okay to call you Grandpa Alfred?”

“I would be honoured Miss Marinette.”

“No no no. If you’re my grandpa Alfred then I can’t be Miss to you.”

“Of course.” He chuckled gently. “Would Little Bug do for now?”

Marinette choked on her spit at that name but couldn’t protest when her mother came into the room. “Hi maman! Everything okay?”

“Yes everything is fine dear. I just wanted to come up and check on you two and see if Mr Pennyworth wishes to stay for dinner?”

“Thank you for the invitation Mrs Cheng. However I have a previous engagement that I must attend to before night falls.” He stood up and bowed ever so slightly. “It has been a pleasure conversing with your daughter and I look forward to future interactions.”

“Well I’m glad to see second impressions has worked in your favour.” Sabine chuckled politely as she walked over to clasp Alfred’s hands. “Make sure to have at least one dinner before leaving to go back home and you have an open invitation for the next time you come to Paris.”

“That would be wonderful. Thank you.” He gave a gentle squeeze of her hands before turning back to Marinette who was standing there awkwardly. “I’ll bring you a mobile that you can connect me with the next time I’m here before I leave.”

“That would be great! Thank you!” Marinette excitedly hugged her newly dubbed grandpa Alfred but quickly pulled away when she realised what she had done. “Eh hmm. I’m off on Wednesday if you would like to meet then and I can show you around?”

“That would be lovely.” He turned back to Sabine. “Dinner would be good for then as well if that’s okay with you Mrs Cheng? I’ll bring my own dish in thanks.”

“Wednesday it is then.” Sabine smiled brightly. “Until then I do believe you have some chores to do before dinner time Marinette”

“Yes Maman!” Marinette stood to attention before dashing quickly away to go do her chores but stopped suddenly to wave goodbye. “See you wednesday Grandpa!”

Then she was off again with a plan to talk to both Chloe and Nino about what kind of day it had been, minus superheroing, as she tidied her room.

The adults chuckled in the living room. Sabine smiled upwards “She hasn’t been that full of energy in a while. Thank you for coming to find out who she was to keep the connection.”

He hummed thoughtfully, “I can see that your daughter has a bright future in front of her and wished to be there to witness such greatness.”

“Glad Tom and I aren’t the only ones to see it.” Sabine looked thoughtful when she guided Alfred out with a box of petit fours and a promise to see him on wednesday for dinner. Once he left she looked towards the skyline to see the hero, Chat Noir running across the rooftops. “Hope he’s okay.”

-----

Marinette blinked when she walked into the classroom the next day. Chloe and Sabrina were giggling to themselves as a blond boy was panicking at her desk. Specifically trying to get the gum off her chair.

She laid her bag quite loudly onto her desk causing the boy to jump and bang his head when he scrambled to get up. She tried to hide her amusement as she raised her eyebrow. “What were you doing?”

“I erm… was” He held up his hands in surrender exposing his soul connections. He nervously rubbed his neck with his left hand.

Marinette unconsciously glanced to his arm and sucked in a sharp breath. She could see her colours clearly on the Pla. He was still babbling on about the gum that she had time to collect herself. She smiled as she took his left hand away from his neck and held it gently in hers, making sure that her connection was on show. “Don’t worry about the gum, I’ve dealt with Chloe long enough to know it was her doing. I’m Marinette.”

“I’m Adrien,” He blushed lightly in embarrassment. It took him a moment to look at her exposed arm as she squeezed his hand in order for him to look. His eyes widened a fraction as he took in his colours connected to another. “I’m you Ic?”

She giggled lightly. “And I'm your Pla. Pleasure to finally meet you Adrien.”

“Finally meet?” Adrien blinked in confusion. There was a sudden squeal and then he found both his arm and Marinette’s within Chloe’s fine manicured claws. “Chloe?”

“Both my sibling connections are Platonics! and it has taken this long for this to happen!” Chloe screeched as she thought of all the things that they could have done if they just met earlier. Like they were supposed to! She flung their arms away from her and stomped back to her seat to be comforted by Sabrina. “Ridiculous, utterly ridiculous!”

Marinette snorted a laugh and quickly covered her hand in mortification. She hadn’t snorted like that since she was little chasing Chloe and Sabrina around the hotel. She looked to see Adrien was trying really hard not to laugh, she glared.

Adrien ended up letting a few giggles escape as he waved his hands. “Sorry sorry… though I thought it was pretty cute.”

She flicked his nose in response.

“Ow..” He rubbed his nose but couldn’t help but laugh still. First day of school and he had a friend, a connection… his partner! His eyes widened again in realisation. “Lady…?”

Marinette tilted her head slightly as she smiled and placed a finger to her lips. “Talk after school minou.”

He smiled brightly at that and felt himself relax. He was in safe hands. He was going to talk more but Marinette was suddenly taken away by a hurricane of red and orange plaid. He blinked. “Erm..”

“Don’t worry about it Dude.”

There was a sudden clap to his back that startled him, along with a quick warmth on his left arm. Adrien turned to see a cool dude behind him with his hand raised and a chill air about him.

“I’m Nino, Nice to meet you man, How about you join me in front and we’ll talk connections?”

Adrien grinned once again as he followed Nino to the front desk, in front of Alya and Marinette. He could see Marinette giving him the thumbs up as she was being interrogated by Alya. Once he settled into his chair he remembered to introduce himself. “I’m Adrien. I look forward to our friendship.”

Chapter Text

“Sorry for imposing on you like this Marinette. Fans are everywhere today.”

“No worries Adrien! I’m just glad your bodybard is giving you a half hour here to chill out.” Marinette chirped happily as she led Adrien towards her balcony. “We can look over the list of classes that Grandpa recommended.”

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to change any of my extra classes” Adrien mused as he brought up the dishes that Sabine had handed him earlier and passed them over to Marinette.

She placed them on the small table between her sun lounge chairs and took out her notepad and pen before settling down on the chair. “Well I'll say the classes and if we say yes to it then we come up with a reason for it in a way your father can see to strengthen your modeling career?”

“That could.. potentially work…” His face brightened at that as he picked up a croissant and dropped dramatically into the other sun lounger. “You think your grandpa could help word it in a way to be convincing?”

Marinette warmed at the thought of her newly found grandpa figure in her life. The man was a miracle worker. Two days after being back home in Gotham, Alfred sent an email with a list of classes that could help with their emotions and fighting styles. Then went on to say that he was creating a care package to help them in future. “I can ask but let's figure out what we want to do first yea?”

“Whenever you are ready, MiLady, hit me with it.” Adrien squawked when Marinette literally hit him with her notepad. “Meo-uch!”

She giggled and stuck her tongue out. “You said to hit you with it!”

“You knew what I meant!”

She continued to giggle at his indigent huff then looked at her notepad as she popped a tiny tart into her mouth. “So the first class he has recommended is gymnastics, but that is more directly aimed at my style, so i’ll mark that with a M. Next is yoga and Tai chi? I think that is to help keep ourselves limber and centred?”

“Huh.. Those two might work. considering Hawkmoth powers those might be good classes to take. Should be able to get those ones so put A next to them please.” He hummed happily as he finished off the croissant and picked up a pain au chocolat.

“Sure!” She scribbled down M and A next to those. “Next is parkour, to help better our maneuverability over rooftops as well as landings and such instead of just relying on our instincts.”

“That one I believe is a sad pass. As much as I love the idea of free running, I don’t think father would appreciate me showing up at shoots achy and bruised.” Adrien muttered disheartened. The main thing that he enjoyed most from being Chat Noir was the freedom of running on the rooftops without care.

“Well If I take those classes, I could teach you later when we are suited? You won’t bruise as much when we got the magic protecting us?” Marinette mumurred as she chewed her pencil in thought.

“Owh!” Adrien brightened up, Marinette chuckled lightly at the thought of his chat ears perked up in excitement. “That’s brilliant!”

She smiled and brightened herself as a lightbulb thought popped into her head. “We could ask Chloe and Nino to join us in some classes! since you don’t have much friend time this could help you out with that too”

“Genius!” Adrien was bouncing in his seat with joy at the thought. “Could word it in a way that shows that I'm thinking of my social links for future since my connections are with a future fashion designer, music producer and Hotel heiress or style magazine editor.”

Marinette paused at first time hearing that. “I thought she was going for mayor of Paris like her dad?”

He waved his hand back and forth in a so-so manner. “She’s not fully settled on the idea yet. Seeking mother approval and all that ya know?”

“True..” She sighed at remembering the times that Chloe’s mother showed more affection towards herself and her family connections rather than her own daughter. It hurt their sibling bonding in the beginning after that first visit.

“Hey…” Adrien placed his hand on her shoulder causing her to look up into his calming eyes. “Chloe loves you as her little sister, don’t think too much on it alright?”

“Thanks Adrien.” She smiled and took his hand in her own. “She thinks the world of her little brother Adrikins too.”

Adrien scrunched his nose at that.

Buzz. Buzz.

“Speaking of annoyances.” Adrien sighed as he ruffled his hair and looked at his mobile. “That’s Gorilla. He’s waiting downstairs for me.”

“I’ll see you at school tomorrow?” Marinette picked up the dirty plate as the both of them stood up to leave.

“After lunch. Father has me doing a morning shoot and tomorrow apparently is a great day for it.” He finished the last crumb of pain au chocolat that he picked up earlier.

“I’ll take extra notes for you then and bring some macaroons for you.”

He grinned at the thought of those mouth watering macaroons. “You’re the best Marinette!”

“I try! and i’ll call Chloe and Nino later to see if they want to join us. I’ll let you know if they do or not.”

“Alright. Take it easy won’t you?”

She groaned. “Once I get this done i’ll make sure to relax.”

“Tikki, you make sure she does okay?” Tikki giggled from somewhere above their heads.

“Hey!” Marinette swatted at him but only met air as he danced out the way down stairs with a goodbye to her and her parents. She glanced up to see Tikki grinning down at her that she huffed with a smile.

-----

“Hey Alfred?”

Alfred turned from his cooking to see one of his charges setting at the kitchen island. “Yes Master Tim?”

Tim gaze thoughtfully as his fingers tapped the side of his coffee cup. “Do you think there is a way to get those coffee choux buns delivered monthly from that French place you got them from?”

The butler tilted his head. “Are the ones in the stores not to your satisfactory Master Tim?”

“No…. these ones you brought back where to die for.” Tim groaned in mourning. The pastries that Alfred had brought back with him had been the greatest thing he had tasted in awhile. Loved it just a bit more than his normal doughnut treats. Hawaiian Pizza was still his favoured comfort food along with potato chips.

“I’ll see if they are willing to part with the recipe as a compromise. Fresh is best after all.” Alfred smiled at the thought of talking to his granddaughter, Marinette, about her choux buns recommendation was a hit with the young coffee lover.

“You’re the best Alfred. If you need anything you name it!” Tim exclaimed happily.

Alfred turned thoughtfully back to his cooking to add some more ingredients to the dish. “Well there is something you can do for me Master Tim.”

Tim was surprised that there was actually something for him to do. As there was normally nothing that Alfred would allow any of the Wayne children to do. “Name it it’s yours. Anything for those pastries”

“If you could kindly go through our old detective equipment that is no longer in use, place them in boxes if they work or not respectfully, that would be most helpful Master Tim.”

“That… erm.” Time grimaced at the thought of how long certain things had been left to collect dust. However if it meant helping Alfred out for once then he would be more than happy to do so. “Yes I can do that for you.”

“Excellent, Thank you Master Tim, I will let you know when I have procured the recipe and you can get started then with the knowledge of those pastries are waiting for you when you are done.” Alfred nodded his head respectfully, pleased to know that Tim was willing to help.

There was a lull in silence as Alfred cooked and Tim simply enjoyed his coffee in peace for once. Until a presence broke it with childish glee. “Hey Alfred! Are there any more of those cereal mini croissants left?”

Alfred paused with a thought and turned his head to the person who was currently learning against the doorframe. “Are you willing to do something for them as well Master Dick?”

Dick was taken aback for a moment that he straightened at Alfred’s look. “Ah yeah sure! What do you want done?”

“Could you possibly work alongside Master Tim. He is going through the detective devices, could you go through the gadgets, smoke pellets and such, that we no longer use. Check to see if they work or not and put them into different boxes. I’ll have the croissants ready for you when it’s done.”

“Heck yeah, you got it Alfred!” Dick cheered and looked like he was about to drag Tim away then and there.

Alfred raised his hand to stop him. “You may take your time. I have to retrieve the Choux bun recipe first, i’ll let you know when I do and you can go ahead with the activity,”

“Right you are Alfred” He paused in his action but still walked towards his little brother. “Besides that. Tim I kinda need you down in the batcave. Having trouble with a case and could use your insight.”

Tim brightened at the idea of solving a case, he was in a bit of a slum lately. “Give me a moment to finish off my coffee then I'll be down.”

“Sure thing. See you down there.” He waved at Alfred as he went to walk back out the room. “I promise I won’t keep him past bedtime Alfred.”

“See that you don’t Master Dick. Wouldn’t want to decrease the number of mini croissants received now would we?” He raised an eyebrow.

Dick pouted at the idea of having less of something he had been craving since he had turned the mini croissants into a cereal. “... Nope, I’ll make sure he gets to bed on time for once.”

“See that you do.” He went back to his cooking satisfied.

“Guys…” Tim huffed and leaned onto the island countertop with a slump. “I’m right here…”

Chapter Text

Nathalie rubbed at the frown lines that she appeared to be getting more of nowadays. Babysitting Gabriel was really taking a toll on her skin care routine. Bad monologues, crying interns and misplaced tantrums. The medicine cabinet never seemed to remain full of painkillers for long.

Now she had ‘parent’ duties to Agreste Jr.

She walked prim and proper towards Adrien’s bedroom, trying to think of another excuse as to why his father wouldn’t be seeing him yet again. ‘Emillie.. give me strength.”

Nathalie knocked her signature three, waited for the come in, and opened the door. “Hello Adrien.”

“Hey Nathalie.” Adrien glanced up from his computer screen and sadly turned back towards it. “Guess my requested time was dismissed once again?”

She guessed something with her face must have given it away. Change of tactics it was then. She straightened out her jacket. “I’m here to listen actually.”

He was taken aback for a moment that he ended up spelling a word incorrectly. “Ah erm… I thought Piano wasn’t till tomorrow?”

“You would be correct.” She gestures towards his couch. “I’m here to listen to what you wanted to ask your father. If reasonable I may be able to enact it without troubling your father.”

“Really?”

“I figured I would be your better option but if you really wanted to go through your father…” She left the idea in the air.

Adrien scrambled with his arms in the air. “No no. If you can do it then that would be great! erm eh… just give me one sec to get my things gathered and i’ll meet you on the couch.”

“Very well.” A small smirk appeared on her face but disappeared just as quick. She settled herself down on the couch and amused herself by watching Adrien dash around in a hurry looking for something. The manic dash was Gabriel but the radiate beam of a smile that followed was all Emillie.

“ok ok. erm..” Adrien coughed and took a calming breath as he walked over and sat down proper on the couch.

“Take your time to gather your thoughts Adrien.” Nathalie spoke with slight amusement. The boy was much more energetic these days. She was glad to see that not all his smiles were modeled nowadays. “Something about change of classes?”

“Yes!.. erm.” Adrien nervously glanced at her and then down at the sheets of paper in his hands. He straightened his back and slightly imitated the way she sat, trying to be a bit more confident in what he wanted to get across. “Since Hawkmoth appeared, we have learned that he has been taking people over with negative emotions. Some of my classmates and myself were discussing what we could do ourselves in order to decrease our chances of succumbing to the possession.”

She raised her eyebrow curiously and waved her hand for him to continue.

He took another deep breath and felt a bit more confident as he spoke as he wasn’t dismissed right off. “We looked over the potential of Yoga and Tai Chi as a way to centre ourselves and I was hoping if my schedule allowed it or if I could drop a class. That I could possibly attend those classes and possibly have my soul connections to join me also.”

He handed over the papers he had and Nathalie guessed they were the benefits on why those classes would be helpful. She gave them a quick glance over and could see that he had some outside help in order to get the best outcome with his father. Helping his modeling career was one of the main focal points that she could see standing out.

Adrien waited as she skimmed and couldn't help but feel his nerves return. He pulled at his fingers a little in order to discrate himself but it seemed to catch Nathalie’s eyes.

“Your mother used to do that too.” She gave him a sideways glance and then went back to reading with the smallest of smiles on her face. “Play with her fingers before she went on to act out a scene.”

“Really?” Adrien’s eyebrows raised in surprise at that small tidbit of information. It had been at least a year since his mother’s disappearance. He had begun to think it was taboo to speak about her. Especially when he wanted to talk about it to his father, the cold shoulder always made him back off.

“Yes. She tried very hard to break the habit but it always snuck up on her before a big scene or something was really bothering her.” She tapped the papers together and placed them on her lap with her tablet and her hands on top to keep them in place. “There was an incomplete page about the benefits of Parkour. Misclick when you printed?”

“Ah..” Adrien ducked his head as he was through for a loop, jumping between subjects wasn’t his strong suit. “Marinette had mentioned that it seemed like a good way to relieve stress and was potentially going to take a class in it with others. I got curious”

Nathalie made a non-committal noise at that. She would look it up herself to double check. Group activities were both a bounding experience and a social exercise after all, it would be beneficial to learn. “What is Marinette’s contact information?”

He scrambled for his phone and Nathalie had to smile yet again to see four smiling faces appear on the screen. She knew one was at least the bourgeois girl, so the other two must be his soul connections. He swiped and it suddenly showed his mother smiling up at him before he swiped once more to go to his contacts. Adrien handed it over with a gentle smile. “Here you go.”

She took it from his hand and was surprised to feel a gentle warmth on her left arm. She ignored it for a moment as she took down Marinette’s number. She looked up to see that Adrien was staring at his arm in wonder. They had touched a number of times before so it did come as a shock for something like this to happen. This could mean trouble in future. “Which is it?”

“Family…” Adrien spoke in awe as he traced her red and purple colours. “I didn’t know that could happen.”

Nathlie licked her dry lips. Family. She felt a pit in her stomach but didn’t let the dread show on her face. “Relationships change over time. Some leave, Some stay, there are even some that you let go due to how bad they are towards you. Connections appear due to the belief that they are needed in that point of time.”

“Has something like that happened to you before?”

“Yes… but I rather not talk about it right now.” She inhaled sharply and let it go slowly. “Adrien… I need you to listen to what I ask of you next.”

“Is something wrong?” He asked wide eyed at the sudden seriousness of it all. All previous connections had been something of a joy so why did this one feel like a death sentence.

“Please hide your marks from now on.” She raised a hand in order to keep quiet as he looked ready to object. “I don’t want your father to think that i'm trying to replace your mother. He is in a deep depression over what has happened to your mother and I'm unsure what he would do if he found out. It would be in both our best interests that he doesn’t know.”

Adrien bit his lip at that thought. He really wasn’t sure what his father was capable of but if there was any possible danger, no matter how slim, He would want to keep Nathalie safe. “If you believe that to be best. I’ll keep quiet but what can I do to cover it and what do I do if he suddenly asks?”

“Since you are appearing in public more now it would be a good idea to hide it from your fans in order to stop your soul connections from being attacked. As far as the media is concerned, connections you have made in class are just friends and nothing more.” Nathalie sumnerised quickly without much difficulty as though she thought of this possibility before. “Thankfully your soul bands are close together so we should be able to cover it with a wrist warmer and decorate with bracelets if you're not opposed to that.?”

“That sounds doable. I have a bandana that Nino gifted me, I can wear it around my wrist now in the meantime.” He leaned over to his coffee table where his school bag was and pulled out an orange bandana that matched his converse. He folded it in a way he saw Nino do it and then tied it around his wrist. Tugging here and there he made sure none of his marks were showing. “How does that look?”

“At least it matched something of yours so it doesn’t fully look out of place.” She gently took his hand and turned it this way and that and nodded. “Looks good. I’ll suggest to your father to make some wrist coverings for you and give him the explanation that you want your connections to be private from now on until you are older.”

“Will he go for that?”

“Let me worry about it Adrien and you just keep your head down while in school and photoshoots. I see about rearranging your extra classes to spend some more time with your friends.”

“Thank you Nathalie!” He threw himself at him unexpectedly but quickly retracted himself when he realised what he had done. At Least he can share his embarrassment about that with Marinette later. “Sorry…”

She cleared her throat and lightly patted his hand in response. “Keep it to a minimum please.”

“I’ll try.” Adrien smiled shyly

“Right…” She stood up from the couch and nodded her head in his. “Make sure to finish up your homework and I’ll get back to you about your classes as soon as I can.”

“Thank you again Nathalie.” He smiled brightly at that. “I’ll make sure to be good too.”

“See that you do Adrien. I’ll come back for you at dinner time.” She walked away when he nodded that he understood. She moved quickly out the door and closed it swiftly.

The pit in her stomach was back with avenges. It was her fault that they were in this mess to begin with. Emillie in a snow white coma. Gabriel’s gradual retreat from the world only to fall down the rabbit hole. Now she was gifted with a connection to Adrien that she only felt more cursed in the grand scheme of things.

A wife, husband and son. She really wasn’t sure who would win in the end if she had to pick a side. A smile as gentle as the breeze and eyes of warmth came to mind and felt the calm wash over her. Seems like she chose long before she knew that she had.

She got to work.

-----

Marinette spun around in her desk chair, creative block being a pain in her backside today, she pursed her lips in annoyance. “Could you give me a bit of a spark Tikki?”

“Is it really that bad Marinette?” Tikki chewed her cookie from the safety in the bottom drawer of Marinette's desk. With a little bit of magic and craftyness they managed to make a secret drawer for housing the kwami so that she could rest peacefully without being found.

“Yes! All the akumas that we've been fighting recently has sucked out all of my creative juices. Sooo annoying~” Marinette whined as she spun once again before slumping against her desk.

Tikki was interrupted from having to answer by the ringing of Marinette’s phone. She picked it up after the second ring. “Hello?”

“Hello, am I speaking to Miss Marinette Dupain-Cheng?”

“This is she.”

There was a few rustling and clicking on the other side of the phone. “This is Nathalie Sancoeur, Gabriel’s Assistant, I’m calling on behalf of Adrien as he has spoken about taking extra classes with his soul connections. You being one of them.”

“Oh! Would that also include Nino and Chloe?”

“Yes indeed it does.”

“Great! Erm… just give me a second.” Marinette quickly went to her PDA to bring up the activities journal that she had started to keep of everyone. Yes she knew that she could have used her phone but she tried to keep some things like schedules and business activities separate. “I can give you their schedules as well if you like?”

“That would greatly save time if you have them.”

“Wouldn’t be a problem. If you can tell me your email address I can send you it electronically so it can be kept track of easier if that helps too?”

“That would be much appreciated Miss Dupain-Cheng. It’s good to know at least one of his friends is able to be organised. Now my email address is...”

Marinette typed the email out and reread it back to make sure she had it down correctly. She then proceeded to drop the three of the schedules down and an extra one that had the three all in the same graph so it was more obvious which days they had free. She clicked send. “That should be them forward to you now.”

“Excellent, thank you for your efficiency.” There were a few clicking on her end. “I see you save Wednesdays as a you day as does the other two. Any particular reason why?”

“We save it for our desired interest. Nino is looking to have a future in the music industry so he either produces music or listens to lectures on the subject. Chloe has recently taken on voice classes to help with public speaking. I use the day for Fashion design and taking some online business classes.” Marinette took a breath that she didn’t quite realise how much she needed it. “However once a month we get together on a wednesday to catch up and have some down time outwith our other classmates.”

“Interesting… Gymnastics for yourself and Chloe, The three of you are taking parkour classes on a saturday afternoon?”

“Alix and Kim are also joining us. We thought it best instead of relying on heroes to get us out of safety so that we would be able to do it ourselves. We thought about asking Adrien too but we weren’t too sure how his father would take to it.”

“Yes I suppose bruising and aches would be difficult to hide should he be needed for a shoot that night. So I hope you would try to keep them to a minimum if he was to join you in such classes.”

Marinette grasped at the small bit of hope from that sentence. “Ah yes of course we would have. Safety first and we would do the stunts first in order to make sure he would have had the form down correct before he even tried to do the stunt.”

“Good to know. Now there are two classes that Adrien wishes for the three of you to join him in. Yoga and Tai Chi, are those acceptable to you and the others.”

“Yes that is fully acceptable Miss Sancoeur.”

“Excellent. Now I will have private sessions booked for the four of you on sunday mornings and I ask you, Miss Dupain-Cheng, that you limit yourself to giving him one energy efficient pastry from your shop and we’ll keep it between us on matter yes?”

“Eh.. yes. Yes of course!”

“Good. Now i’m going to email you back with a renewed schedule. Please continue to be a good influence on Adrien, and have a nice day Miss Dupain-Cheng. Also please don’t say anything to Adrien, I would like for it to be a surprise.”

“Ah! Of course and to you as well Miss Sancoeur! Thank you and good day!”

Dial tone…

Marinette was stunned for a moment. “Did that just happen?”

Tikki giggled at her chosen as they quickly clicked refresh to see a new email had been received. Marinette clicked it eagerly and scrolled and scrolled and scrolled. There just before the bottom of the email was Adrien’s schedule and it showed something that she wasn’t expecting.

“It really happened…”

“Yes it really did.”

Marinette squealed and did a happy dance in her chair before getting up to dance around her room. There was a sudden stop however when she felt a spark and scrambled back to her desk to get out her sketchbook and pencils.

“Did creativity strike you Marinette?” Tikki giggled knowingly as she floated up to watch the creative process.

“Like you wouldn’t believe Tikki! This is going to be great!”

It would be really bad if an Akuma was to strike right about then…

Chapter Text

She really shouldn’t have jynxed herself. Ladybug huffed annoyed as she did the miraculous cure and swung away when she saw Chat Noir handled the victim with care. She tucked herself on one of the more covered rooftops and detransformed. She stretched “What is it with today, one surprise after another.”

Tikki peeked out from the purse and chewed on her cookie thoughtfully.

Chat Noir landed next to her and destransformed. He tossed Plagg’s stinky cheese for him to catch. Adrien grinned “What surprises have you been having today Princess?”

Marinette booped his nose with a cheeky smile. “Well my knight that had been in shining leather, you’ll find out later.”

Adrien did a happy wiggle. “Am I going to like it?”

“I would like to think so.” She giggled feeling a little bit more light hearted after the fight. “But could you send me your measurements? I wanna make sure it fits.”

“Do you one better, I got some free time this afternoon. I can check with Nathalie and say I met up with you during the attack and see if I can come over?” He tilted his head and tapped his chin. “What do you think?”

“That would be great!” She clapped her hands together as her thoughts went back to what she was designing earlier. “No snooping my design though.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it.” Which was a lie as his curiosity always got the better of him. He moved away to go talk to Nathalie privately behind one of the vents.

Marinette and Tikki shared a smile but froze when they heard a familiar shout of ladybug. She shooed Plagg away as she called on her transformation. She leaned over the rooftop to see Alya making her way up the fire escape. “Hey miss ladyblogger! Is there a problem?”

“Hi Ladybug! There is a problem! It's been a long time since our last interview!” Alya grinned brightly with determination. “Could I get another one?”

Ladybug blinked. It had only been a week. There was a slight uneasiness that settled within her gut. “As long it isn’t something personal then sure.”

There was a slight deflation of Alya’s shoulders before they straightened out more determined as she pulled out her phone.

Ladybug pursed her lips a little. “Erm, maybe just record instead of making it live? I rather not get swarmed before heading away”

“Oh yeah sure!” Ayla beamed as she recorded her opening before turning it upwards to Ladybug as she waved. There was a little back and forth where it seemed that Ayla was poking at the boundaries especially when it came to her last question. “Lastly people are wanting to know when did you and Chat Noir became a couple?”

“We aren’t.” There was a sigh of disappointment. “I told you not to ask personal questions.”

Ayla bit her lip and tried to act sheepishly. “Sorry Ladybug, but the people really wanted to know.”

“hmm…” Ladybug and decided it would best to leave. She glanced back to see Chat Noir giving him the thumbs up saying that he got the go ahead. She looked back to see Ayla trying to sneak closer. “Think it time I go! So Bug out!”

There was a squeak of surprise as Ladybug suddenly jumped off the roof and swung away with a flip. Ayla squealed as she followed with her phone camera. “That was Ladybug! and this is me signing off.”

Ladybug winced as she landed in an alley next to the bakery, followed quickly by Chat Noir, both detransformed. Marinette signed as she rubbed her left arm.

Adrien frowned as Plagg fazed into Marinette’s purse. “You okay?”

“I think so?” Marinette frowned also at the dull ache. “Let’s just head in and check.”

His frown lessened but was still there till they walked into the bakery. He smiled with all the charm he could as he saw Sabine cleaning the tabletops. “Hey Mrs Cheng!”

“Adrien hello! Here for pastry or here for company?” Sabine gave him a warm hug and ruffled his hair.

“Both?” Adrien beamed as he fixed his hair.

Sabine flicked him with a clean rag with a laugh then went to hug her daughter. “Finish cleaning the tables for me and I'll get a selection for the two of you.”

Marinette hugged her back with a grin. “Thanks maman.”

“You're the best!” Adrien happily took the rags n cleaner and went to town cleaning up the tables. They laughed good naturally at his enthusiasm.

They made quick of the tabletops that they went upstairs to wait for pastries. They collapsed on the couch together. Marinette shifted when she was comfortable but took off her blazer when she remembered her ache. Her family bond was fine but her plantic one was not. Alya’s colour was slightly tainted by a toxic green colour.

“What.. what’s that pose to mean?” Marinette looked up with worry in her eyes.

“I really don’t know… I haven’t seen anything like it or heard either.” Adrien leaned forward and lightly traced the change when he got a nod for permission. “Does it hurt?”

“It hurt earlier after talking with Ayla. It’s just a dull ache now.” She chewed her lip.

They were both staring at it when Sabine came into the room with the pastries. “Hey sweeties, something wrong?”

“There’s something wrong with Ayla’s colours.” Marinette turned enough so her maman could see when she sat on the coffee table.

Sabine placed the plate beside her on the table and gently took her daughter's arm with a sad expression. “Have you been having some difficulty with Ayla lately?”

“Erm.. sort of? She disregards my opinion sometimes when it isn’t the same as hers or when she tells instead of asking about babysitting the twins.” She tilted her head in thought and remembered sin if the ladybug interactions. Boundaries were always being pushed. “I didn’t think much of it as she has always been kind of an erm…”

“Pushy and sure about things.” Adrien piped in and Marinette smiled in thanks.

“Oh dear” Sabine sighed sadly as she let go. “Your connection is giving you a warning that her actions are starting to hurt the relationship. Getting toxic so to speak.”

“Marks tell you that?” Both of them were surprised.

Sabine nodded her head. “The bands, as you learn over time, act like a calculator. Giving you the highest percentage of soul connections that are compatible at the time. You have the choice to go with it or decide that it isn’t working out.”

Adrien seemed to have a lightbulb moment as he looked at his hidden marks. “So if you’ve known someone that you’ve known for years didn’t have a connection with, could suddenly be connected later?”

“That can happen, yes. It can even happen with platonics to heartmates.” Sabine looked at the both of them to see that they were hanging onto her words. “Some people decide to settle with a platonic only for it to change to a heartmate mark.”

“That can happen??”

Sabine giggled as they spoke together again. “The opposite can happen too where heartmates turn to platonic. Or their colours disappear altogether when things don’t work out. The Bands pretty much help to give you the strongest connection to help you out at that moment of life.”

“So… They’re not permanent?” Adrien saddened at the thought of not having a forever connection. His mother had always spoken of the connections like a fairytale that brought people together.

“Sweetie,” Sabine touched his hand to squeeze gently. “Connections are your choice in the end. So if you end up in an unhealthy relationship that doesn’t work, you won't be stuck to stay just cause a mark tells you too. Especially this one when it gives you warnings so you can decide whether you wish to fix it or let it go.”

He smiled a little at that and turned when Marinette touched him. “Yea?”

“I plan on sticking with you.” She smiled reassuringly

“Really?” He returned the smile when she nodded. “I’m sticking to you like glue.”

“Hope not too much, It would make getting into clothes a bit difficult.” They both chuckled at that.

Sabine smiled at the two of them “Am sorry to bring you two back to the subject but… Marinette, How do you feel about Ayla?”

“I don’t know? I want to make it work since she does have her good qualities, as well as being Nino’s heartmate. I would like to.” Marinette thought about all the times that Ayla supported her and helped a bit with her confidence. “For the friendship we have, I would like to try.”

Sabine stroked Marinette’s cheek and gave her a proud look. “I’m glad you are willing to try but know that if that mark gets sicker. It is okay to walk away, if Ayla doesn’t want to try and make it work, walk away. You tried your best.”

“Okay maman.” She welled up at that moment but managed to hold it together when her mother held her. “Thank you for telling me what it meant.”

“Thank you also Mrs Cheng.” Adrien joined in by gently stroking Marinette’s back. “Don’t think it would have ever crossed my fathers mind to tell me about Soulbands and the possibility of toxic marks.”

“I really worry about your father sometimes Adrien.” She pursed her lips but straightened them out into a smile when she kissed the top of his head. “If you need anything. Just let us know okay?”

“Will do.” Adrien chuckled as he was suddenly shved to the side. “Hey!”

Marinette laughed as she ran for the stairs to her bedroom. “Come on! Time to beat you at Mecha Strike Three!”

“You’re on!” Adrien jumped up and rushed forward only to rush back to get the pastries. “Thank you Mrs Cheng!”

Sabine laughed. “You’re welcome Adrien! Keep the loudness to a minimum please!”

“No promises!”

Chapter Text

“I seriously can’t believe that she turned out to be Ayla’s sibling connection! I just… I hope she hears me out but I worry that she’s gonna believe in her family connection more than a platonic one.”

Alfred looked at his, dubbed, granddaughter with concern. Marinette always came through cheery and full of smiles, maybe the occasional anxiety induced rant but rarely a bad rant about a person. He continued on with his bread dough as he listened to how this Lila person faked being a hero then akumatized into said hero.

“And then and theeenn Ayla had the gaul to say that I was jealous that Lila had a chance with Adrien since they have no connection and I will always be platonic to him!. Gah!”

Alfred was slightly amused by the dramatic actions that Marinette did. Similar to Dick in a way that they were always expressive. He placed his dough in a bowl, covered and put it in the proving draw. He turned to face his granddaughter on the tablet screen that he set up in the kitchen for them to talk. “That does sound like she isn’t truly listening to you and only hearing what she wants.”

Marinette leant into her hands, sulking “She seems to have forgotten that I have connections with Jagged Stone that Lila claimed to have. I worry for her future if she doesn’t fact check herself or doesn’t learn to be more open-minded.”

“It’ll be her choice in the end Little Bug.” Alfred smiled gently and turned slightly to see one of his charges standing in the doorway to the kitchen. He was actually surprised to see them. Not that he let that show. “Master Jason. Good morning.”

Jason shuffled slightly inwards but was a bit sheepish at having been caught. “Mornin’ Sorry for interrupting.”

“It’s quite alright Master Jason.” He turns back to the tablet and beckons Jason to be viewed on screen. “Marinette this is my third charge Jason, Jason this is my soul family connection Marinette.”

"Bonjour Jason!” Marinette leant forward on her desk with a wave. Her smile was bright at having the chance to speak to one of Akfred’s family members. “Alfred speaks of you fondly!”

Jason frowned having been surprised and touched that Alfred speaks of him considering what the family had just gone through. Trying to kill B pretty much put a strain on things. He smiled a little so as not to appear too unfriendly but could feel the strain. “Sorry, I haven’t heard much of you.”

“No worries! You are actually the first person Alfred has introduced me too.” She swayed in her chair still with a smile on her face. “We’ve kinda been keeping me an not so hidden secret? Did I get that right Grandpa Alfred?”

“Close.” Alfred chuckled slightly. “They family is aware of her but I have asked for privacy on the matter till Marinette feels ready to meet you all or when school is finished, whichever comes first.”

“And Tim actually agreed to that?” Jason raised an eyebrow at that. Tim stuck his nose in regardless, in the words of ‘protecting the family’.

“He’s had a few punishments when he has disregarded the request.” Alfred shook his head in disappointment. “hopefully he will be deterred in future.”

Jason snorted. “Unlikely.”

Marinette giggled at the interaction but frowned when she got a notification on her phone. She smiled sadly at her camera. “Sorry Grandpa, Jason, duty calls.”

“Take care Little Bug, I look forward to you next call.” Alfred smiled and waved a goodbye.

“Me too! and thanks for listening to me ramble.” She seemed bashful at that. “Oh and Jason you can get my details if you want them! Wouldn’t mind talking more! See you!”

“Laterz” Jason did a curt wave as the video call ended. He tilted his head in contemplation. “Well… She’s cute.”

Alfred gave him the stare as he tidied away the tablet into a special hidden drawer.

Jason shrank into himself that he couldn’t help but snap back. “What?”

He kept up the stare until he seemed satisfied with what he found. “I ask that you would be kind enough to keep information to yourself. Not lord it over your brothers or associates that you know something that they don’t and most important of all. Make sure Marinette feels welcomed.”

“Sure?” He paused at the uncertainty that he coughed to clear his throat. “Yea I can do that.”

There was a beat.

“Good.” Alfred made quick work of writing out Marinette’s details and handed it over to Jason. “Your eyes only. Burn it once done. Understood?”

“Loud and clear.” He nodded as he took the note and put it inside the inside pocket of his jacket. His eyes were down cast as to what Marinette had said earlier. “Do you.. really speak of me fondly? After everything I’ve done?”

Alfred took in a deep breath at that and looked at Jason with sorrow mixed with fondness as he placed a hand on his shoulder. “I know the goodness within your heart. I’m aware that there will be bad blood within the family for a while but this old man has hope for the future that the bonds will heal.”

Jason patted the hand and gave it a squeeze before letting go. “I can’t promise anything.”

“Baby steps.” Alfred took a step back and gestured to the kitchen. “Would you like to help me bake?”

He took a moment to think. Being in the manor was making him angsty but the kindness of Alfred won out. Placing the jacket on a hook he rolled up his sleeves and walked over to the sink to wash his hands. “I’ve got some time.”

Chapter Text

Marinette clapped her hands together as she looked at herself in her long length mirror. Her eyes lit up at how well her sport apparel turned out. She pulled a little on her long grey tank top that was opened at the sides exposing the sides of her neon pink racer back sports bra. She turned to make sure she got the neon pink stripes on her grey sweatpants straight.

Marinette did a happy dance when it looked like everything was perfect and even more pleased by the little logo that she came up with with the help of Tikki. A black cat chasing after a ladybug within a circle of the Paris skyline in the background. She had the logo embroidered on the left side of the tank top, same with the sports bra but on the right pocket of the sweatpants.

“you look very cute Marinette!” Tikki chirped happily as she spun around her holder. “Grey and pink really suit you! Just about as much as red and black does!”

Marinette giggled as she bounced happily on her feet already thinking of other ideas for the rest of those that were joining her for parkour lessons. “Well I figured a lighter palette would make it so it wasn’t so much on the nose.”

“Owh does that mean you’ll do grey and blue for Adrien if he ends up going too?”

She tapped a finger to her lip as she pondered. “I think I’ll keep with the grey and possibly go a light green? instead of a neon green or the blue. See how I feel when I get round to it.”

“I’m sure it will be great whatever you end up doing Marinette!” Tikki clapped her paws together, happy to see her holder fluttering around with life.

“Thanks Tikki!.” Marinette went over to her desk to check her mobile and saw that Nino messaged that he was outside waiting. She quickly picked up her small sports bag and placed in her spare clothes, water bottle, snacks, her mobile and cookies for Tikki. “Ready to go?”

Tikki twirled and doved into the bag in reply. Marinette smiled as she zipped it up and made her way down, put her shoes on then she left to meet up with Nino. She waved goodbye to her busy parents and pounced onto Nino when she got outside. “Hey Nino!”

Nino stumbled and laughed at almost being bowled over by such a small fry like Marinette. Again. “Hey dudette. You haven’t been this happy in an age. What’s up?”

“Nothing much. Been looking forward to this class since signed up for it. Also! Lookie lookie.” Marinette stepped back and did a twirl. “Ta da!”

Nino let out a long whistle. “Damn. You been making again? it looking sweeeet.”

“Why thank you, good sir.” She giggled as they started walking towards their destination. “I got struck by sudden inspiration that I just had to go with it. I’m hoping if things go well and the others are up to the idea. That I’ll make us all training outfits for these lessons? whatcha think?”

“I’m all for, my dudette.” He grinned as he tipped his cap. “Is the logo gonna be a trademark for our group? Gotta say it pretty cool too.”

“You think?” Marinette beamed, “Since Chat Noir and Ladybug are running about the rooftops, and we are learning parkour, figured the animals would be good mascots for us.”

“I dig it.” Nino smiled but then it dropped a little when he looked at Marinette’s bare arm. There was something funny about the colouring for Ayla. “Hey Mars?”

“Yeah Nin? What’s up?” Marinette slowed a little on her walk as the tone Nino used was serious.

“Has something been going wrong between you and Ayla?” He stopped and met her eyes. “She may be my Heartmate but you were my first connection, you can tell me.”

Marinette mouth o’ed and averted her eyes as she placed a hand over her Platonic band. “I… There might be a possibility. I’m hoping that we can work things out but we’ve been too busy lately to meet up outside of school to talk it out. I’ve messaged her but she says she is either with you or working on her blog.”

“Huh..” His eyebrow furrowed. “Do you know what it means?”

“Maman explained that the mark is warning me that the relationship I have with Ayla is going toxic. That her actions towards me are bad.” Marinette took a deep breath to keep herself calm. “Toxic green is a warning and you have yourself three choices. Try and talk it out or walk away if they don’t want to change or walk away without talking.”

Nino’s eyes widened a little at that. “I didn’t know that… What are you thinking of doing?”

“I’m going to wait it out a little.” Her smile was a little sad. “I’m hoping things will work out and that it's just a little hiccup. No worries though! If it gets worse, I will walk to her about it.”

“Okay…” They slowly started walking again and he gave her a side hug with a squeeze. “I’ll be there if you need me.”

“Thanks, it means alot.” She returned the side hug and her smile returned knowing that she had her oldest friends support. “I’ll be there too if you ever need it.”

“Awesome Dudette.” Nino squeezed once more before letting go. He felt a buzz go off in his pocket and pulled out his mobile. He chuckled, “Alix is already there with Chloe and Kim. Kim already got his ass handed to him by the instructor.”

“Owh gosh. How?” She spoke exasperated before even getting there.

Nino slid his finger over the screen and tapped on the video that Alix. He turned it so he could watch with Marinete. The video showed the instructor running the course without difficultly while Kim had fallen into the foam pit due to untied shoelaces.

Marinette snorted and tried to cover it with her hand though Nino just tilted his head back and let out the loudest laugh. “Dude doesn’t know the meaning of looking before you leap.”

She huffed out a laugh. “Guess we better get there before the instructor decides to end it before it begins.”

“Race you!” Nino laughed as he ran without waiting for confirmation. He didn’t notice a car drive up to Marinette or see her get in.

The next time he saw her was in front of the building with a familiar good looking blond. He slowed down and his chest heaved as he tried to get his breath back. “...How?”

Marinette giggled. “You ran as his car came up to us.”

“You certainly got a pair of legs on you Nino.” Adrien chuckled as they did their secret handshake and ended with a shoulder bump. “Glad to be here man!”

“Wait… you actually got permission to do this with us? Is your father well?” His jaw dropped.

Adrien made a so-so gesture with his hand and scrunched his face. “I have some restrictions but as long as I follow the safety instructions and keep bruises to a minimum, It all good!”

“Man oh man… This is gonna be great!” Nino chucked himself at his friends. He wrapped his arms over their shoulders. “Hardcore parkour!”

The other two laughed at his antics as they were dragged into the building for their first lesson.

-----

Even though things were going well in one part of the world, the other wasn’t doing as well.

Dick shifted around on the bed in a fitful sleep. His mind was conjuring up images of Jason’s mutilated body, the loss of family, the aftermath of the fallout. His own body, broken and beaten as he looked at the barrel of a gun being held by Arkham Knight.

A shot ran out that had him gasping for breath.

His hands immediately went to his forehead to check for the imaginary bullet. Then went to a tightened grip in his hair as his eyes moved frantically over the objects in his room to make sense. His breathing eased a little as he realised he was in his bedroom and not on the rooftop of his nightmare.

throwing the twisted covers off of himself he shakingly made his way to his en suite and dashed cold water over his sweaty face. He scrubbed with a face cloth as he stared into reflection. Eye bags were as noticeably as his obvious bed hair that he cringed. He ran his fingers more gently through his hair thinking that he might have to go on pills if he wanted to get some semblance of sleep if these nightmares were going to continue.

He left the en suite and picked up a nightshirt to slip it on as he left to check on the manors residents. Bruce was out with Tim as far as he was aware so that meant that Alfred was down in the bat cave as remote assistance currently. So Dick decided to go check on Jason. Even if the boy was at the center of his nightmares didn’t mean he was going to treat his soul brother badly.

Jason’s bedroom was a no go so the next option was the library.

Dick made a stop by the kitchen to get some milk for himself and for Jason just in case before making his way there. If the younger sibling was asleep, meant more milk for him, if awake then he could share. He used his foot to open the library door and went inside. It took a moment or two before finding Jason at one of the more hidden alcoves.

He waited a moment to be noticed though it seemed Jason was really into the book he was reading. “Hey?... Jaybird?”

Jason startled. He looked up and blinked a couple of times having been completely zoned out. “Owh Dick, Hi…”

“Good book?” Dick shifted on his feet before deciding he was a big boy and moved closer to sit by the alcove then he held up the second glass of milk.

“Thanks.” Jason took it gently and placed it beside him after taking a sip. “Just going over Shakespeare again. So same old same old.”

Dick hummed as he rested his head back. He could already feel himself relax a little. Seeing that Jason was alive beside him eased him even though the J scar was an ugly reminder of what happened in the past. Seven long years since the death of Jason Todd to now. He rubbed at the family band on his left wrist.

When the colours faded He had mourned the hardest out of everyone and hated Bruce for his actions. He tried his best and doubled his efforts when Tim came along to find that he was his second family bond. He was nearly crushed under the weight of it all when Tim became a Robin. He was even more confused when Jason’s colour came back to life that he went looking on his own to find him without Bruce’s help. It didn’t really work out well as he came face to face with Arkham Knight.

He shuddered heavily as his mind went back to a nightmare that was mixed with memories.

Jason paused mid second sip as he watched his elder sibling shudder. His eyes followed the movements and saw Dick’s hand on his wrist. His mind slowly connected the dots about what was going on. He frowned deeply. The past sucked.

With slight difficulty Jason shifted and settled himself down next to Dick. He pulled the blanket he had wrapped around him and pulled it so it covered the other as well.

Dick had froze when Jason had settled next to him at the thought something bad was going to happen but remembered that things were different now. The unease would be there for a while but they were slowly getting back to their level of what their bond used to be. It would just take time.

The soul brothers rested next to each other almost peacefully. Jason read his story out loud in a soft manner and Dick listened as he was lulled into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Things had been so good at the weekend that Marinette felt that she should have been more aware that something bad would happen to make up for it.

That something came in the form of Lila Rossi.

It had been so peaceful that morning when the girl came waltzing in with her fake pleasantries and even faker connections to famous people. Marinette thought it could have been possible considering her class but then the Liar spoke of Jagged Stone and Clara Nightingale that everything after was considered falsehood.

Lila also seemed to have formed a family bond with Ayla of all people! That really was a kick in the teeth when Marrinette had just managed to get a chance to talk to Ayla. Then was pushed aside for someone new and ‘interesting’. Marinette’s mark flared at that course of action.

And then! The girl had the gall to steal Adriens father’s book, trash it, then that she was a hero!

Marinette fumed internally as she stormed towards the supposed Guardians place. She had sent a text message to Adrien, about what she was up to and how proud she was of him of trying to calm the vixen’s advances and lie’s the best he could. She kept her fingers crossed that there would not be an akuma later.

Tikki peeped out a little behind her holder’s hair and pointed in the direction of an alternative remedies clinic.

She was a bit skeptical of the place at first glance but followed her kwami’s insenstance that it was the right place. Marinette ducked into the building and was glad to have calmed down enough to take in her surroundings. It reminded her of the one time she visited her family in china with the calming music in the background and gentle sounds of bells heard every so often.

She didn’t see a bell anywhere so she knocked on the desk in front of her. There was a moment then a yell from upstairs saying they would be down in a moment.

Tikki gently patted her cheek in reassurance which Marinette was grateful for as she poked back in thanks.

There was a light thumping of steps coming down the stairs to the left being followed by a more heavier step. The small elderly man thanked his customer for coming in and that he would see them next week. There was a gentle smile that was replaced with a thoughtful look and a stroke of the pointy beard. “Ah Ladybug… Have to say I wasn’t expecting you any time soon but I’m guessing Tikki deemed it urgent for you to come see me. I’m Wang Fu, Please follow me.”

Marinette’s face contorted into a grimace. After nearing a whole year on their own this guardian was still planning on being hands off with them. She was really glad to have that bond with Grandpa Alfred and Adrien. Otherwise she was really unsure how things would be playing out right now.

There was a buzz and she checked her phone to see a message from Adrien. Her eyes widened. “Oh no…”

Tikki swooped out of hiding since she was in a safe space. She looked at her holder worryingly. “What’s wrong?”

“Adrien’s being pulled out of School due to losing the book and it seems Lila managed to get akumatized into the hero she claimed she was. So we need to get the book back and take care of a faux fox.” Marinette chewed her lip as she quickened up the steps to discuss things over quickly with the guardian.

In the end it was decided that while she and Chat Noir were fighting Volpina that he would make a copy of the book. She was thankful that she was able to pass it off as worry for her soul friend, Adrien, rather than her partner. She was still feeling frustrated that they were being left to their own devices and that she wasn’t to share details with her partner.

She was pouting when Chat Noir came over to visit that night.

He tilted his head in a curious manner. “What happened?”

“Master Fu has requested that I not tell you what he looks like or where he lives. That he will eventually, whenever that is, come and visit you.” She huffed out then went about doing her breathing exercises that she learned from their yoga classes.

Chat Noir de transformed to Adrien and Plagg instantly swooped down onto the plate of tiny cheese pockets. He plopped one into his mouth with delight and spoke with his mouth full. “The Guardian is overly slow in his decision making since he started his journey on a rash decision.”

Tikki joined them and chipped in. “However we don’t know the full story, only that he is the last Guardian of our box.”

Adrien was giving Marinette soothing rubs on her back as he ate croissants and listened to the kwami’s natter. He looked down to see that Marinette still didn’t seem at ease. He was a little a hurt by Master Fu withholding information but he slightly understood the reasoning behind it. “That’s not what’s fully eating at you is it?”

Marinette stiffened slightly and looked up at him only to divert her attention away once more. She really hated today. “He made a suggestion of who Hawkmoth could be.”

“That’s a good thing isn’t it?” He knelt down so that she had to focus on him. “We could end it before things get really bad couldn’t we?”

“He… He,” She puffed her hair out of her face and took his hand into her hands. “He suggested that whoever had this book could potentially be Hawkmoth.”

Adrien froze at that and his grip tightened momentarily. “But… Why would… My father, why would he need them? It’s just his inspiration book.”

“Combining the black cat and ladybug grants the holder a wish. A wish that could have dire consequences.” Marinette rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand trying to sooth him. “Atlantis sank as a consequence of protection. Pompeii was preserved in lava due to someone asking for longevity. A plague was brought upon the world due to someone wishing the recovery of their loved ones.”

“Wow…” Adrien slowly got up to sit next to Marinette on the lounger. “That’s extreme… I..erm.”

Marinette kept a hold of his hand and waited to see what conclusion her partner would come too. Tikki and Plagg floated next to the plates of snacks as they eyed their chosen then each other silently.

“I haven’t seen him wear anything remotely like a butterfly. Other than his brand logo which he has had for years… Surely I or Plagg would have noticed my father being off or a Kwami floating around wouldn’t we?”

“Dark usage would mean that he would be able to assert his will over Nooroo and demand he stay out of sight. or he keeps him somewhere hidden, like a basement or something.” Tikki floated over and rested on her chosens shoulder. “Duusu’s peacock brooch is broken so i’m not even sure if she would be capable of coming out.”

“Peacock brooch?” Adrien stared wide eyed at remembering. “There was a peacock brooch in the safe with the book… Wasn’t there Plagg?”

Plagg floated over with droopy ears. “Yeah… There was, kid.”

“But why… Why would he need a wish? He already has… owh…” Adrien put a hand to his mouth in realisation. “Mom… He would wish for mom… He hasn’t been the same since her disappearance.”

Marinette looked at him with worried eyes as she rubbed his arm gently. “We can’t really know if he is or isn’t. However… to prove innocence or guilt… we could bug him to clear our conscious.”

“How would we go about doing that?” He looked at her curiously but still had a hand over his mouth in worry.

“Grandpa Alfred sent me a spy slash investigative care package. With a bunch of gadgets, I’m kinda guessing that the family he cares for does police work? Owh wait! His second ward is a detective? in the GCPD so it could be some of his stuff he doesn’t use anymore.”

“That's kinda cool… So there might be some gadgets that could help us essentially spy on my Father?” Adrien rolled the thought over in his head. One hand if not Hawkmoth then that eases their minds on that regard but if guilty it means the near end of Hawkmoth and just having to come up with a plan to get the miraculous from him.

“I actually didn’t delve too deep into the box, maman asked me to help out before I could.” Marinette rubbed her hands together to keep warm. “But since it’s late at night, we can raid it together when you next over for the study date?”

“Yea… I can work with that. That’s on Wednesday right?”

“Mm hmm. Then we were going to go and hang out with Chloe as she requested a spa session.” Marinette giggled at remembering Chloe’s childish demand for sibling bonding that was just the three of them. It had been too long apparently even though it had only been last week.

“Ah yeah.” He ran a hand over his chin and could feel the effects of puberty. “Been running behind on my skin care a bit so a spa day sounds good.”

Marinette giggled more at that and leaned into his side. “Can’t have you looking any less than your best.”

“I’m always at my best. Got no idea what you are talking about.” He nudged her lightly before snuggling in a little for comfort. “But yeah… I should head back. It’s getting late.”

She hmmed in reply but neither of them moved for another hour or so. The close contact and comfort from each other was needed after a day like today.

Chapter Text

Light instrumental was playing in the background as Alfred cleaned the dishes from that afternoon’s lunch. He made a note to send his thanks through Marinette to her friend Nino for the playlist. He placed the last of the dishes into the cupboard as a melodic tone that he had specifically for Marinette rang out. He closed the cupboard door and picked up his mobile from his inside breast pocket. “Hello Mar..”

“Grandpa….” There were a few sniffles that stopped Alfred from continuing. “I I… I messed up.”

His face moved to concern and worry as Marinette continued to cry quietly on the other end.

“There… There were so many bodies… floating…” Her voice shook as she tried to calm down whilst explaining. “So little survived… Why… Why does Hawkmoth have to be so cruel.”

Alfred took a seat at the island and covered his mouth in shock. None of the attacks before this had been so drastic.

“I managed, with the help of Adrien, and eventually with Master Fu…” She gasped loudly. “But god… there were so many bodies..”

“My dear…”

“The cure brought everything… Everyone back… but god… I feel like such a failure…” She whimpered and he could hear her curl up further into her blankets from the shift of materials.

“Why do you think that?”

“I… I should have been quicker… I should have realised something like that would happen.”

He hushed her gently for such thoughts. “My dear… Marinette. No one can truly know what could happen. We are only human and we make many mistakes. We can only learn from then on.”

“But.. I’m ladybug,”She sputtered. “People are relying on me, I am responsible for what happens.”

“No my dear. Hawkmoth is responsible for what happens. He has made the choice to do bad things. You just have the power to make up for his mistakes that you shouldn’t have had to do if he had made better life decisions.” Alfred paused to collect himself and he could hear Marinette do the same. “You are doing remarkable work for someone so young and I’m proud of you for doing so. However do not bite off more than you can chew and possibly bring a few more friends to help with the meal.”

Marinette snorted at that and laughed a little. “Yea… Suppose my eyes always appear to be bigger than the plate.”

Alfred smiled softly, thankfully diverting to something helpful. “Did you get my package?”

“Ah yes.. Adrien and I went through it and found some useful stuff… however.” She took in a deep breath and exhaled. “Is it possible that you could come and visit to show us how? We wish to use it sooner rather than later.”

“Oh… Do you have a suspect?”

“Yea… We really are hoping that we are wrong but want to check it out to clear our minds rather than linger on it.”

“Best course of action I see. Well then…” He turned his wrist to see the daten his wristwatch. “Your next day off is Sunday yes?”

“We have Yoga and Tai chi in the morning but we are free for the rest.”

“Very well. I’ll see to it that I come and see you on Sunday.” Alfred nodded to himself as he mentally went over what he could do the next two days to make sure everything ran smoothly without him being there. “I’m glad you talked with me about this.”

“Tikki suggested it would be best… I’m glad I followed her advice.” Marinette yawned. “i’m gonna check in with Adrien and see how he’s doing. Thank you for listening.”

“Anytime Little bug.” He chuckled lightly as Marinette let out a squeakish goodbye. “Goodnight.”

Once he hung up and placed the mobile back with his inside breast pocket he sighed heavily. Marinette coming to him instead of his old friend must mean that Fu wasn’t doing a good job of listening. He rubbed between his brows calculating how long he would need to be there and how long he could get away from the mansion.

After a moment or two of contemplation he made his way down into the cave that he knew Dick, Jason and Barbara were there.

Down in the cave Barbara was laying on her front on a medical bed as Jason finished fixing on the exoskeleton along the base of her spine. Dick was sitting beside her, nervously holding her hand. Despite not being Heartmates, she was glad to have a platonic friend such as him by her side. “Dick, you're more nervous than I am and I’m the one being experimented on.”

“Well to be honest, You don’t see what he’s setting you up with.” Dick chuckled as he gave her hand a squeeze though didn’t take his eyes off of what his younger brother was doing.

Jason rolled his eyes as he placed the last node in place then tripled checked that everything was secured. He hooked up some cables to a laptop beside him and brought up a programme. “Right I’m gonna check that things are working, before you sit up, so it's gonna be a little weird to begin with.”

“Go for it.” Barbara turned her head to look at the mointor that was set up so that she could view what was happening. It was a little weird to see her legs bend backwards and her feet flex without feeling it. “Wow…”

Jason felt smug for a moment as he ran it a bit longer to check over his findings. Happy that there didn’t appear anything wrong he set them back to neutral. “Okay Babs, you think it and make it happen.”

Barbara smiled and knew that her legs could do it; she just had to believe that she was capable of doing it herself. She took a shaky breath as she closed her eyes, in order not to see if she failed, and thought of lifting her leg back. There was a shouted yes! from her left that startled her out of her concentration that she openly glared at her friend. “Do you mind?”

“Sorry.” Dick hid into his shoulders as they hunched up sheepishly. “I was just happy to see you do it.”

She huffed and Jason laughed as he unplugged the exoskeleton from the laptop and went to roll her. “Let’s get you sitting up and we can see how well you can kick the idiot.”

“Delightful” Barbara giggled at the kicked puppy look Dick sent her. She rolled herself over and with the help of Jason she sat up. “Okay… let’s see how this goes.”

“Take it easy Babs.” Jason squeezed her shoulders then checked that things were still in place with her sitting up, he was pleased to see that it was fine. “We’ll see how well you are from a sitting position but we’ll save walking for a different day alright?”

“You’re the doc for this.” She petted him on the head and was happy to see his happy but disgruntled face. “Sorry. Engineer”

“With a dash of physio thrown in. Mostly Engineer though.” Jason had lost count of many books he had been reading to make sure he made the correct Exoskeleton for Barbara’s paraylises. “Right let’s get those legs kicking!”

She kept a smile on her face as the boys watched her expectantly that it was a bit nerve wracking. She took another breath as she thought of what she wanted her left leg to do and could see it slowly lift. She spotted Jason quickly cover his brother’s mouth to keep him from squealing. She really needed to think of a really good present to give Jason after all he’s done for her.

“You’re doing great Babs.” Jason cheered on quietly as he could see it working though could see that it still needed some collaborating to adjust for different positions. “How you feeling?”

Barbara chuckled breathless as little tears formed at the corner of her eyes. “Like I could eventually stand tall again.”

The brothers went over, hugged her tightly and she happily cried into their shoulders.

This was the scene that Alfred had walked in on and was glad to see that his family wasn’t as emotionally stunted as they appeared to be. “Is everything quite alright?”

“Yea things just fine.” Jason left the hug first to greet Alfred. “The Exoskeleton just needs a few little tweaks but seems to be fine so far. Babs is a real trooper.”

“That’s good news. Well done you two for getting this far.”

“It’s all Jason.” Barbara patted Jason’s arm as he ducked a little in embrassement. “You are doing wonderful work.”

“It’s half the work. You got the other half. Communicating with Exoskeleton in order for it to work proper.” He grinned down at her. “So don’t sell yourself short.”

She punched him in the arm for that, made him snicker and rub his arm.

Dick rolled his eyes as he pulled away from his friend to face Alfred with a jovial smile. “What can we do for you Alfred?”

“Not setting the mansion on fire would be one.” He smiled knowingly as Dick went a little bit red. “For the chandelier to remain intact would be intact as another.”

“It was one time…” Dick mummered until he got the eyebrow that he panicked waving his hands. “Okay it was four times! but the fourth time wasn’t my fault! Kori freaked me out with one of her pets and I jumped instinctively!”

“Hmm… Yes well I will be away for a short while come Sunday. One of my soul connections has requested my help and I would like to be there for them.”

Jason perked at this and turned away from his notepad. “The one in Paris?”

Alfred nodded.

“Great. I have something to be delivered there but haven’t managed to get round to it. If I get it packaged in time would you be okay to take it with you?” Jason looked a little hopefully and tried to ignore the curious looks of Dick and Barbara.

Alfred raises a curious eyebrow himself. He didn’t realise that Marinette and Jason were getting along that well. “It is packaged in time then yes it wouldn’t be any trouble.”

“I’ll make sure.” He gave a small smile at that and made his last note. He turned back to Barbara. “You good for today or you wanna try it out some more?”

“Think I had my fill today.” She picked up her own legs and laid herself back down on the bed that she had learned from years of practice. “All yours.”

Dick smiled happily at the two of them as he focused back on Alfred. They both decided to walk back up stairs to continue the conversation. “So you have a connection in Paris?”

“Two actually.” Afred fixed his cuffs as he walked. “Apologies that I don’t speak much of her but I rather she not be targeted at such a young age just yet.”

Dick waved his hand in understanding. “How did Jason find out about her though?”

“He walked in on a conversation accidentally. Nothing special” Alfred couldn’t help but chuckle at the slight jealousy he could feel radiate from the young man by him. “Do not worry Master Dick, you’ll meet her in some years.”

He shuffled sheepishly. “That transparent am I?”

“You have your moments.” Alfred patted his arm good naturedly. “I ask you to respect my privacy and not bug Jason about her. You have my word that she is good.”

“I wasn’t..” Dick stammered as he was given the eyebrow again. He sighed and made sure he was serious. “I promise to respect your privacy, not bug Jason and not look up the potential of who they could be.”

“Thank you.”

“So what do you need? other than what you said earlier.”

“I may be gone for a couple of days if not, at most, two weeks.” He pondered for a moment. “I’ll make sure you are stocked with meals and a trusted cleaning service is available unless you believe you and the others are up to cleaning?”

“I think we would be but leave it just in case.”

“Very well” Alfred went through his mental checklist. “I’ll leave all the necessary numbers just in case of emergencies but I’ll leave the other matters in your capable hands. Though it seems there isn’t too much happening currently with Batman and Robin as they are.”

“Yea B and Timbers seem to be doing rather well. I’ll keep an eye on them though so no problems there.” Dick answered confidently.

Alfred shook his head in mild amusement. The number of the repair guy for the chandelier shall be first on the list, next to the cleaners and many fire extinguishers shall be placed in obvious places before he left.

Chapter Text

Adrien dashed from his bedroom in a hurry to get to Nathalie before his father could. As he woke up this morning bright and early and noticed that he had a free wednesday for once. He was not going to let his father fill in it with shoots if he could help it. He took the stairs two at a time when he spotted Nathalie about to head in to see his father. He yelped “Nathalie!”

She paused before turning the handle and looked around to see Adrien disheveled. She quirked an eyebrow, “Is everything okay Adrien?”

Adrien sheepishly rubbed his neck as he got his breath back. “Things are okay but I was hoping to have a word with you before you saw Father?”

Stepping away from the door, Nathalie walked over to her desk to get comfortable. “Very well, What is on your mind?”

“Okay! erm… Marinette, Nino and Chloe are working on a business proposal project and I was kinda wondering, since I am free on the schedule, If you could fill it in as checking out business course prospects? or something so that i can hang out with them.” He shifted a little nervously. “I’m curious about their course too so technically not lying.”

Nathalie gave a miniscule smile as she turned to her computer and changed the schedule with a few simple key strokes. “He’ll be happy to know that you are starting to think of your future within business, so make sure to take notes in case he questions you about it later.”

“You’re the best Nat!” He gave her a quick unexpected hug before dashing back to his room to get ready to go out. “Thank you!”

Nathalie shook her head at the boys antics and couldn’t help the small warmth she got from being given a nickname. Though she made note to have a talk with him later about only using it when it was just the two of them.

-----

Marinette yawned from her position on the floor of Chloe’s room. She had previously been on the sofa but had been shoved off by both Nino and Chloe for taking up too much space. She chuckled to herself since the floor was now all hers. Bet they didn’t think of that when they shoved her off.

The heiress huffed as she maunvered over the mess that was Marinette and settled down on the sofa with her laptop. “You are petty.”

“Learned from the best.” Marinette beamed up at Chloe as she spread out more of her school supplies around.

Chole scoffed even though she felt a bit of pride at being called the best even if it was only implied.

Nino snickered as he picked at the food trays and sent back a message to Ayla that he was busy until late afternoon. There was a knock at the door at the door so he went to get it. He didn’t expect sunshine behind it. “Adrien! my dude! I didn’t expect to see you today! Whatcha doing here?”

Adrien laughed happily as they did their signature handshake and came in. “Managed to get to Nathalie before my father did.”

“Lucky.” Nino grinned as he walked his buddy to the girls. “Yo dudettes! looked what the cat brought in.”

Marinette looked up from her doodle of Queen Chloe and giggled when she saw Adrien then laughed a bit more at the wink sent her way. “Didn’t realise we were taking in strays.”

“Honestly Adrien! Who dressed you today?” Chole avoided Marinette’s land with ease and started fussing over Adrien’s apparence. “They hedge that you were dragged through properly better styled than you are now.”

“Chloeeee.” Adrien whined as he batted her hands away and shimmed away from her hands. “I hurried as quickly as I could to avoid my father, sorry if it isn’t the best look, I tried.”

She snorted at that and chased him around till he succumbed to her ministrations of fixing his outfit. “Shirt under a jumper? seriously? You’re not applying for a job nor are you in your sixties.”

“It’s comfortable.” Adrien pouted as the ones not being harassed just laughed at his misfortune.

She just rolled her eyes at him as she rolled his sleeves to his elbows and readjusted the bandana around his wrist. “There. That’s better. You are now fit to be in my presence.”

He half bowed and put on the best posh voice that he could. “Oh thank you, your graciousness. I would disappear into nothingness if I did not bask in your glow daily.”

“As a sunflower would.” Chole patted his bowed head with a playful smirk. “Now let’s get back to the project before we get distracted further. I would at least like a premise settled before the days out.”

“You guys haven’t started yet?” Adrien tilted his head curiously as he walked over to sit down on the floor by Marinette.

The designer adjusted her things so Adrien could see. “We couldn’t decide on seating arrangements.”

“Or snacks.” Nino popped a grape into his mouth as he carried plates over to the table. Chole took a honeyed cake, Adrien picked up cookies for him and passed one down to Marinette. “Serious business this is dude.”

“I can see that.” Adrien was amused by his friend’s antics. He glanced down to see the one sheet that Marinette hadn’t doodled on. “So what’s the brief you are working on?”

Marinette rubbed the crumbs from around her mouth and pointed at the words as she spoke. “Build a business around a common interest or hobby amongst your group. Your assigned position, discussed between group members, should reflect what you want to gain experience in. Success or failure will still make a grade, make sure you have it in your conclusion a reason for both.”

“That seems easy enough…” Adrien scratched his head in thought. “Couldn’t you do it on Parkour? It’s a hobby you all do.”

Marinette blinked as she shared a look with the others. “Could we?”

“Well you are already making ‘merch’ which is the field you want to work in technically. So it would be product management.” Chloe pointed out as the cogs began to work, she clicked open a couple of programmes as she spoke quickly. “I wish to gain experience in PR so I can create; instagram, twitter, and a web domain etc. Nino wants to gain experience with producing so the likes of a music video based on what we do in class would be straight up his alley.”

He clapped his hand together excitedly. “I just got a new video camera for decent grades last time and I’ve been dying to try it out! this could be it dudes!”

“Could use the logo I came up with for my sports wear as the logo for the business.” Marinette scribbled out information on her notebook and lightly rolled to nudge Adrien in thanks. “That was a very light bulb moment, fancy being more involved?”

“Would that be allowed? I’m not really in any of your classes.” He frowned a little.

“If we treat it like a real business, we can put you down as a consultant, they can’t really mark us down for that since businesses do it for real anyways.” She smiled and pondered for a moment. “Actually you can fake fund us the capital and be a sleeping partner? Did I get the term right Bee?”

“Sleeping, silent, or dormant partners provide capital and don't partake in any of the business; however, they are able to review financial statements and voice opinions concerning the nature or existence of partnership.” Chloe rattled off as she didn’t take her eyes off of her laptop. “He can have an active partnership if he wishes to have a say within the company though.”

“What she said.” She made a final dot into her book and manoeuvred into a sitting up position as it was starting to hurt her neck from looking up so often. She massaged her neck as she looked at Adrien. “We will be meeting every wednesday for the next seven weeks and if we get permission from Run Wild to take photos and videos, we’ll be doing some work there too.”

Nino scribbled onto his tablet on the things he would need for his role to work. “You could hop between the three of us and figure what suits you more? I’m sure it would all be beneficial if your dad is determined to pass his legacy to you. Though if he is a vampire you wouldn’t have to worry about it and do what you like!”

“Nino…”

“What? Barely see the guy out in the sunlight nowadays… it could happen.” Nino sulked at his theory being shut down once again.

Adrien shook his head fondly despite the sad feeling creeping up along the back of his neck at the daunting unknown if his father is Hawkmoth or not. He felt his shoulder being squeezed and turned to Marinette with a wry smile.

“Grandpa Alfred will be here on Sunday. We’ll figure things out okay?” Marinette reassured him gently.

He nodded in response. “Sounds like a plan. Your plans always work out one way or another.”

She smiled at the trust he had in her.

Chloe cleared her throat to interrupt the sap fest that was happening in her peripheral vision. Sad siblings were a no no. She would need to needle them later to see what’s up. “You three got any ideas for names?”

Nino started throwing out names with a few being tossed in by Marinette but nearly all were vetoed by Chloe as she held high standards.

Adrien closed his eyes in thought, blocking out the others, as he brought to mind the times he was Chat Noir. He felt the warm freeing feeling filling him as he would run the rooftops beside his friend and partner. Escaping the everyday norm of a gilded cage and ideas of others. A smile crept onto his face. “How about Freedom Runners?”

The other two looked to Chloe and waited for her judgement. Chloe was close to vetoing it as well but stopped when she fully took in the look that Adrien had on his face. A sense of relief and clarity that things were okay in that moment. She didn’t have the heart to say no to something that appeared to mean alot to her soul brother. She spoke in a heartfelt manner, “Yeah… We are Freedom Runners.”

He beamed at that statement. Then a moment later his face blanked into shock as an earlier moment came back to him. A feeling of dread filled him. “Owh crap I called Nathalie, Nat.”

Chole cackled at that as she had to hold her stomach from the sudden pain of laughter.

Nino and Marinette chuckled lightly when they made eye contact but it broke when they both received a message and both felt hesitant to look when their marks flared in warning.

Chapter Text

After working half the day away the group took a break from the project and broke into pairs. Chloe dug her manicured nails into Adrien and dragged him to her vanity. Explaining that she was going to style his hair like they did when they were younger, his hair had gotten longer so she was tempted to send pictures to Nathalie for approval if she could cut it.

Whilst Marinette and Nino dealt with Hurricane Alya behind closed doors in the bedroom.

Marinette rubbed her forehead in order to avoid the upcoming headache. Despite having told the girl that she was doing a group project with Nino, Chloe and Adrien, the latter just seemed to blank out after hearing Nino and nothing else. Somehow the sweet caring Marinette was a corrupt person that was trying to turn Nino against her and spreading rumours about Lila that Adrien avoids the italian. Marinette was the cause according to the budding reporter even though her information was false.

Nino seemed to mimic the action as he held the phone away from his ear. “Als… Chloe and Adrien are here with us. It’s not Just Marinette.”

Continued nonsense yelling.

“Look, if you don’t stop yelling, i’m hanging up.” Nino waited a moment but it didn’t seem to stop the tyraid. “Hanging up now.”

They both sighed at the sudden silence and decided to switch off both their phones before Alya could phone them again to continue.

He rested his face into his hands and groaned. “I really don’t know what’s happened to that girl.”

Marinette bit her lip as she really disliked seeing her oldest friend in distress. “If I said there is a possibility of magic being involved, would you believe me?”

“I would believe in anything at this point. I’ve seen what happens with supers and heroes, no doubt there some sort of magic out there.” He let out a long suffering sigh that turned into huffed laughter. “Alya spoke about the differences between our heroes and that of America at great length. Though why do you think it’s involved here?”

She took a deep breath as she was worried he would think less of her “The necklace Lila wears… I know she faked being a hero when she was akumatized saying that her necklace was the fox miraculous. But what if it’s a fake one with different illusory capabilities?”

He raised an eyebrow “I’m listening.”

“It’s just a theory I've been working on… sort of but anyways.” She waved “You remember how she said that she saved Jagged cat? Did you believe it?”

He thought back to Lila’s first day “That was a wild one. I wholeheartedly believed it but as soon as I left the group and started thinking about it more it didn’t make sense since he’s had Fang for ages and is allergic to cats.”

Marinette jumped in excitement as she pointed her finger “Right! So if she’s able to pull an outlandish story and people believe without problem doesn’t that seem like something is in play? especially if it was only after you left that you thought more clearly on the matter.”

“Okay.. that would explain why Alya is so gung ho about Lila since she has been practically by her side all the time.” He frowned “But why target you and Adrien?”

“Neither of us believed her to begin with. I saw her in the park with Adrien trying to pass off as a Hero. Like who does that? Chat Noir and Ladybug have both said that their identities are to be kept secret, multiple times.”

“So why would you tell someone you just met unless you are trying to win them over..” Nino scratched his chin before resting on his hand. “Thats messed up.”

“Thank you!” Marinette threw her arms out in exasperation. “Someone gets it!”

“Tried to tell Alya that huh?”

“Yes! but she just brushed me off saying I was jealous or whatever. What is there to be jealous of exactly? Every connection that Lila lies about, I actually have those connections! I just don’t gloat about it.”

He chuckled “Careful… you starting to steal Chloe’s fuzzy bee impression.”

“... shh. I did no such thing.” She mocked whispered with wide eyes. “Don’t tell the Queen.”

Nino continued to laugh and wheeze as Marinette started being dramatic in her begging of not telling Chloe. Even going so far as to lay back to back on top of him so he took her whole weight as she monologues about her death if he was to tattle. They settled after their giggle session and took comfort just sitting next to each other.

“So yeah…” Marinette cleared her throat as she sorted her thoughts. “If Lila has a power… There could be a possibility that she could have forced a connection with Alya but like be fake? maybe? Believe in something strong enough that it becomes real to the intended person.”

“Suppose… either way.” Nino sighed as he slumped. “It means bad things for us regardless. what are you gonna do?”

“I… If Alya continues, fake or not, she made a choice to believe someone before even considering my side. I don’t think I could willingly continue the bond.” She spoke sadly as it did hurt her heart to even consider doing something like that. For her sanity and for her heroic work she would let go. “You?”

“I want to try and save it… I want to save what we had. I hope you don’t think bad of me for that. I won’t let her get to you though. I will back you up when she’s in the wrong.” He seemed confident that he would be able to do that.

“I understand” Marinette reached out to squeeze his hand in reassurance. “You do you and I'll do me but still be there for eachother yeah?”

“You got it Dudette!” He squeezed back tightly. “Always.”

-----

The day was brutal after that but they were glad to have sorted out the premise for the project. Marinette was just glad that she could use the workout outfits that she had made for the six of them in the parkour class. She would have to check in with Kim and Alix to see if they were okay with their pictures being taken. She shuffled into the living room and slumped slowly face first onto the sofa.

Tom blinked at his daughter's antics, not expecting to see her so deflated. He slowly crept over from the kitchen. He was hesitant as he approached. “Marinette?”

Marinette blinked worryingly up at her not expecting him to be there. “Are you okay?”

He chuckled at that as he nervously rubbed his neck and sat down on the coffee table. “Feel like I should be asking you that dear.”

“Owh erm…” She sat up on the sofa to look him in the face. She placed her hands between her legs to keep them still. “Have you experienced a toxic relationship?”

“That is erm…” Tom gathered himself as he was uncomfortable discussing his feelings but was struggling to not get the name that would harm his daughter in such a way. “Normally this would be something your mother would handle but I will try my best.”

“You don’t have to!” She panicked enough to fall off the sofa if her father hadn’t caught her. “I can wait for maman.”

“No no it’s okay it’s okay. Your mother and I have been talking about me opening a bit more so give me this chance.” He smiled to put his daughter at ease. “It’ll just take me a moment.”

She nodded and smiled back. “You got this.”

He chuckled good naturally as he gathered up the courage to speak about his experience. “I was a teenager on the cusp of adulthood that fell fast and fell hard, but was extremely shy. Similar to your friend Ivan? anyways before your mother I did have a heartmate. She was really sweet at the beginning, trying her best to ease me into things that I wasn't really too comfortable doing to begin with. That’s when the toxic flares started happening. I didn’t think much of it at first and Father wasn’t the best person to talk about it and my maman was out traveling.”

He took the dish towel from his neck to twist it as he began to get anxious but wanted to push through. “I didn’t think to ask anyone else about it, I didn’t even think to ask my best friend at the time due to their mark flaring as well on my arm. I didn’t realise that they had been hooking up behind my back until My heartmate’s best friend came to me and told me what was happening. Apparently she was tired of working with me to be comfortable and hooked up with my friend because he was ‘hot’”

Marinette's face saddened at that but he just waved her off.

“It’s okay, well it isn’t but it doesn’t hurt as bad now and I met your mother, which has been the best thing to have happened to me. I have her, I have you and I share this life with the two of you. I couldn’t ask for more.” He took comfort when he took her tiny hands in his giant ones and squeezed gently. “They proceeded to spread lies about me saying that I was at fault for what happened. One of my other platonics believed them and didn’t even try to hear my side of the story. All three became so toxic that I decided to let them go in order to move on and heal. I did not deserve to be cheated on, betrayed, or unheard.”

“I would have understood if he was her secondary heartmate but he wasn’t.” He paused at Marinette's confused head tilt. “There are people out there that have the fortune of having a lot of love that they could end up with multiple heartmates over time. The most I've seen at one time has been five? The most common is two. They may not realise at first but it does happen, communication is required though just so you know.”

“Of course.” She smiled at that. Glad to have the communication between Nino and herself considering the situation and how it helped her be a better partner for Adrien and vice versa. Her eyes drooped at the thought of Alya. “What did you learn from the third?”

“About being unheard?” He received a nod. “Anybody who believes lies before hearing your side of the story. Was already looking for a way to be against you. It turned out that we were both trying to get into the same culinary course but there was limited space and I got in. They couldn’t understand how I got in when they didn’t and were mad about it.”

“that actually helps a bit…” Marinette stood up and tried to hug him as much as she could to show how she loved him. “Thank you for opening up to me and helping. I appreciate it.”

He teared up a little at that and hugged back the best he could. “Thank you for listening. I’m glad I could help for once.”

“You help in many ways! like helping me become champion on Mecha strike!” The both chuckled at that. She smiled and nudged him towards the tv. “Fancy helping me a bit more? feel a bit rusty in my gaming abilities.”

“Now that’s something I can do! Get ready to be taken down!” He happily went about getting the controls and game station sorted. Tom felt a bit proud about getting through an emotional talk with his daughter and being able to help out in a way he would normally avoid. It would take a while but working on once self was a long journey.

Marinette giggled as she sat beside her dad and looked forward to finishing the day with some relaxing time on Mecha Strike. Alya was a future Marinette problem for now.

Chapter Text

The next day Marinette felt groggy as she woke up with sleep in her eyes. Late night gaming with her dad was properly a bad idea but it wasn’t often that she got to enjoy his company due to the business.

“You okay Marinette?” Tikki floated near her chosen, in concern. “You’re awake earlier than normal.”

“Okay as can be Tikki.” Marinette smiled sleepily as she patted Tikki gently on the head and did a single poke on the tummy. “Could you sort my bag for me please while I wash up? I want to get there early to talk to Miss Bustier.”

“Can do!” The Kwami looped de looped down onto Marinette’s desk to get started. She had been steadily working on her own coordination to handle bigger objects and be steadily getting better at sorting Marinette’s purse for school.

Marinette giggled but turned into a yawn as she stretched out. She really wasn’t looking to see Alya today after what happened yesterday. She got off her bed, washed up and did a mental checklist of what she needed for the day. There was a lot of falling involved when putting on her clothes that her maman had to check in to make sure she was okay. She felt rather sheepish at having made her worried but she felt nervous for the day ahead.

“All done!” Tikki chirped from on top of the purse. “Managed to add your phone this time too!”

“Really getting the hang of things Tikki!” Marinette flourished a cookie from the special jar she had made just for her kwami, decorated in ladybirds and flowers. “Thank you for the help yet again.”

“You’re welcome!” Tikki nuzzled Marinette’s cheek happily. “Could we get some of that origami paper after school? Would like to practise some more on making the little lanterns for the house.”

“If there’s no Akuma's I should be able to do a quick run.” She opened her purse and double checked. “Owh you added my list too thank you!”

Tikki giggled happily as she swooped into the purse to get comfortable for the day ahead. Glad to have helped in a small way considering how stressful everything else was.

Marinette closed the purse with a grateful smile and felt ready for the day.

She did not feel ready for the day as she was getting closer to the school. There were already a few people in the courtyard as she made her way to the classroom and was glad to see that there wasn’t anyone from her in yet.

Miss Bustier was writing on the smartboard when she walked in. The teacher turned her head in surprise. “Oh! Marinette, Everything okay? You’re awfully early.”

“I was hoping to talk to you before everyone else got here.” She nervously reached into her purse for her list and felt a bit of a boost of confidence from Tikki’s reassurance. Marinette handed over the list as she cleared her throat. “I was wondering about the possibility of changing our seats? Considering all the conditions that Lila appears to have I figured that she might be better in the front near the window. So that she can see the board better. Near the window in order to get the sun to keep the SAD away and have Alya beside her as she seems to be most helpful with Lila’s conditions. Them sitting at the front would also mean you can keep an eye on them and make sure that you aren’t going too fast that Lila isn’t able to take things in.”

“That’s very thoughtful of you Marinette.” Miss Bustier smiled proudly as she looked over the list. “You and Adrien are closer to the door?”

“Well Adrien is never too sure when his shots are so I figured it would be best and wouldn’t disturb the class. And I’m the best in the mornings or during Akuma attacks so I don’t want to disturb the class with my rushing around.” Marinette chewed her lip.

“Nino, same desk, but switched with Adrien. Chloe and Sabrina behind you, Nathanial is now beside you. hmm Mylene and Ivan together at Nathianal’s old desk. You don’t believe that would be a distraction?”

“Mylene is most confident with Ivan by her side and Ivan speaks out a bit more with her by his side also.”

“Very well… Max is now by himself behind Alya and Lila, Kim and Alix behind him and Rose and Juleka are just the same.” Miss Bustier tilted her head pondering on the rotation. “Kim and Alix cause a ruckus whenever they are so why sit them beside each other?”

Marinette grinned at that. “They have been behaving better since we have been going to parkour together. It seems to get the challenges out of them enough but if they are together they can set quite challenges to get through the class and disturb the class less.”

“Glad to hear that teamwork is improving out with classroom activities.” She nodded cheerfully “I believe this change would be good. Thank you for your handwork.”

“Shall I go to my new seat now?” Marinette looked hopeful and cheered silently when she got a nodded response. “Thank you Miss Bustier!”

It took awhile before the rest of the class dribbled in. Juleka and Rose headed to the back like normal then Alix, Kim and Max came in only to be told of the new arrangements in seats.

“Sweet!” Kim low fived Alix and gave Max a pat on the back. “It was nice being seat buddies!”

“Hmm likewise.” Max nudged his glasses as he moved over to his new desk to tinker on Markov.

“Hey Kim! Alix! can I talk to you guys for a sec?”

“Sure.” Alix shoved Kim away from her and walked up the steps to sit beside Marinette “What’s up buttercup?”

Marinette smiled pleasantly. “I’ve got a Business project with Nino and Chloe due in several weeks. We are doing based on our Parkour classes and I was wondering if you two would be okay being models for the clothes I made you? And being in some videos demonstrating what we do?”

Kim flexed like a, mini, bodybuilder. “I would be more than willing to do so! Will we get paid though?”

Marinette giggled as Alix shoved the swimmer again. “Sorry no payment but we can talk things over. like a trade of sorts?”

Alix didn’t think much of it as she held out her hands showing off her holely wrist warmers. “I would take replacement warmers as payment.”

“Sure thing! I’ll retake your measurements when we are next at parkour class okay?”

Alix finger gunned. “Done deal.”

“Oh! If we’re going down that route could you make me something for Ondine? Her birthday is coming up and I’ve been struggling trying to come up with something for it.” Kim rubbed his neck shyly. “I was thinking of a shell bracelet but…”

“That sounds thoughtful Kim, I would be more than happy to make a shell bracelet, Her swim colours are still red, black and teal right?”

“Yeah!” Kim cheered and excitedly pumped his fist. “Though could you add some pearl-like beads to the bracelet? She likes the textures of the beads and possibly something pingy but strong? she has a tendency to ping a scrunchy on her wrist even though her hair is not long enough for one.”

Marinette took a moment to write that down in her spare notebook. She ended it with a smiley face for how thoughtful Kim was at noticing the tiny things. Even though the crush went right over his head. “I’ll try my best.”

“You’re the best Mari!” He leant over enough to get Marinette in a chokehold to give her a noogie.

“Stop iiiit!” She laughed as she pushed him away. “Alix take him away please!”

“Will do el capitan!” Alix saluted as she grabbed onto kim’s hoodie and dragged him over to their desk to start poking at Max for attention.

Marinette smiled and waved happily as Mylene and Ivan came in together and were redirected to the back of the room on her side. Chloe and Sabrina went straight to the table behind her after having received a text earlier from her.

“Right class I know we are about to start but I forgot something from the teacher’s lounge. I’ll be right back.” Miss Bustier left only to bump into Lila and Alya at the door. “Owh girls! There’s been rearrangement of seats and you are now sitting in Chloe and Sabrina’s old desk. Hope this makes things easier on you Lila and be sure to ask me for help if there’s any problems. okay?”

“Owh thank you Miss Bustier! My tinnitus had been acting up lately so would Adrien be able to help out today?” Lila asked prettily with a light touch to her necklace.

“No sorry. Though I am sure that Alya as your new deskmate would be more than happy to help you out! You sit next to the window Lila and Ayla on the inside” Miss Bustier passed them by with a wave and headed to get her things.

A slight frown marred Lila’s face but smoothed out when she turned to Alya. A sly smile appeared. “Did I tell you about what ladybug asked of me last night?”

“No girl!” A small hungry gleam appeared within Alya’s eye as she stalked closer. “What happened? there wasn’t an akuma I missed was there?”

Lila smiled in delight as she moved in cospiratoally. “No but shh you can’t tell anyone okay? but she said if there was more miraculous she would have me on her team.”

Marinette’s eye twitched at that comment as she was busy scribbling her ideas of Ondine’s bracelet and was getting opinions from Nathaniel when he had walked in earlier. She could see Adrien shake his head in disbelief and guessed he heard the same thing. They knew there was more and had been planning on adding people to their team but weren’t sure on who to trust.

As Lila continued her spectacular lie that moved through all her supposed heroics. Marinette looked around the class to see their reactions to the story telling. As she was curious to see how taken in the others were.

At first glance it seemed like Alya was the only one taken in by the faux fox but it wasn’t the case. Rose was a close second when it came to anything charity wise, Prince Ali or romance.

Mylene was smiling and encouraging when it came to the story telling but was hard to tell at times if she believed in them or it was her actress side taking notes and was taken in by that.

Ivan didn’t seem to have too much opinion on the matter kinda like Nino in a way. That they listen but think about it later to whether the information holds or not.

Kim, it didn’t seem to affect to much as he rode the hype of the story and forgot about it as it didn’t hold his attention for long.

Alix and Juleka appeared indifferent but would turn their noses every so often when the untrue bragging was getting to be a bit too much.

Sabrina seemed to take some interest into the stories but was stirred in the right direction when Chloe was around to redirect her attention.

Nathaniel was a different matter as he was quite a bit taken at that start but changed a day after to avoiding Lila interly. She was curious about what happened there but he didn’t seem up for talking about it.

And thankfully Adrien wasn’t affected by it at all from the start though seems to be coming to head when it concerned his father’s brand as Lila seemed to have wormed her way into his father’s ‘good’ graces.

So all in all Alya appeared to be the only one that was truly ensnared in whatever Lila had cast.

Marinette closed her book as her thoughts went to a bad place. There appeared to be two options on what was happening to Alya. That she was slowly being corrupted against her will by Lila, in order to do what, she wasn’t sure. Or worse that Alya had made the choice, subconsciously, and accepted Lila’s words as her truth.

Either way it didn’t look good for their soul connection or their friendship if this was to continue. If the gleam in Lila’s eye was to go by anything. It was going to get worse before getting better.

Chapter Text

Paris was a lot livelier than she had expected when she had been driven around to view the sights with her soul sister. Her mother had decided it would be a good bonding exercise for the two of them and then disappeared to do god knows what to do with her side business.

There were a few clings and clangs that she could hear from above their car but the driver didn’t appear to be too bothered as he continued to drive on and avoided most of the debris in the street. She frowned enough that the two sisters leaned slightly out of their windows to witness the cause of the destruction. They were both surprised to see heroes fighting in broad daylight.

Kagami analysed from what she could tell the heroes were trained in some fields but would still be considered something of the fledgling level and needed some more hands-on training in other areas. It would appear that her adopted sister, Cassandra, concurred with the analyses even when she didn’t say anything.

In the beginning they found it difficult being around each other considering that Cassandra had attempted to assassinate Kagami’s mother but ended up being adopted instead at the age of eight. All because Kagami had managed to lay a hand on the tiny assassin she had gained her first sibling mark.

It was an odd sensation having her colours dance across her forearm. The colours of her band reminded her of the beryl rocks that her mother hoarded in a giant glass cabinet in her study. The rarest red of the beryl stone swirling into the golden yellow variety. The Fa was neatly coloured in oil spill black and opal white, a reflected rainbow appeared whenever she shifted her arm in the light.

When Her mother touched her mark it fascinated her that the band and letters raised from her arm to accommodate for her mother’s blindness. From there her mother had taken the tiny assassin under her wing, adopted and made Cassandra Kagami’s bodyguard too. Since no one expected a child so young to throw down their life for another.

Kagami zoned back in when she felt the light touch of his sister on her shoulder. “Apologies, I was just thinking of our past.”

Cassandra hmmed in turn and resumed her sentinel position but allowed her body language to show that she was listening.

There were a few more clashes from above but it appeared that it was nearing the end of whatever fight was going on. There was a deafening clash that sound only returned when a loveliness of ladybugs came flying past.

She chewed the inside of her mouth as she closed her eyes, the magic within the air was starting to make her anxious, she breathed in deeply to familiar herself with it. When they opened there was a circle of amber like glow around her iris’ and it faded as she breathed out. She glanced at her sister “Could we stop at that bakery you had spotted earlier? See if they do hot chocolate?”

Cassandra nodded twice and typed out the address on her specialized device for the driver to see on his dashboard. She got a thumbs up in response. Luckily the roads were cleared by the ladybugs once the fight was over that the ride went more smoothly.

Kagami smiled a little, exploring areas with her sister was a pleasant experience as she wasn’t as frigid as her mother about hot chocolate.

The ride was quiet as they neared the corner boulangerie patisserie. They both got out of the car after saying to the driver that they’ll call him when they needed him again. Cassandra took a glance around and nodded her head when it was okay to proceed.

The sisters walked in sync to the door but Kagami entered first as the elder as Cassandra held the door open. Thankfully the shop wasn’t too busy as it was coming off from the midday rush. Cassandra took a courisy glance around before settling herself in the corner of the room, away from the stairs and facing towards the shop’s entrance.

Kagami was the one to approach the main counter with a nodded greeting to the hostess. “Hello, we’re new to the area and was wondering if you had any suggestions for us to try from your menu?”

“Of course dear! We have some petit fours varieties, do you have a preference for sweet or savoury?” The hostess greeted her sweetly.

She paused, “What would orange’s come under?”

“I suppose they would come under tangy.” The hostess chuckled pleasantly as she made notes on her pad. “Anything for your companion?”

“Sister.” Kagami instantly corrected out of habit, that had Cassandra tilt her head instinctively towards her. “Is there anything substantial?”

“We also do sandwiches, any particular filling?”

Kagami shook her head at that. “She isn’t picky.”

“Very well.” She smiled at that as she typed on the register. “So will that be petit fours and a Sandwich? any drinks?”

“Could you make those two sandwiches please?” She looked up to see the specials drinks board “And two chocolate chaud?”

The hostess corrected the till and added to it. “Would you like some croissants with it?”

“Please and thank you.” Kagami paused for a second. “Could we have some orange juice whilst we wait please?”

“Not a problem dear! I’ll bring it over when it’s ready.” She rang the till and they exchanged money. “I’ll be right over with your juice in a moment.”

Kagami bowed her head and went over to her sister. She had just sat down when they both straightened at the noise of the bell to shop dinged.

“Owh Marinette dear! you’re home early, did something happen at school?” The hostess called out worryingly.

“Yeah sorry for not phoning ahead maman.” The girl, Marinette waved her hands apologetically from what Cassandra could see. “The Akuma earlier traumatized most of the classes earlier so they deemed it best that they close early for the day.”

“The poor dears. You didn’t get caught up again did you?”

“I stayed as safe as I could, promise, though some of the retellings were a bit much to take.” Marinette shifted nervously. “I was gonna call Adrien to check in with him, Gorilla had taken him away before I could get the chance too.”

The mother held a hand to her heart “Give him our love won’t you? and remind him he has an open invite for dinner! He needs more meat on those bones of his.”

“I will! Though he would never leave if he did.” Marinette giggled as she ran away from her mother with a wave.

The hostess shook her head fondly as she brought over their juice. She tilted her head as it appeared to have remembered something. “You said you were new to the area, yes?”

Kagami nodded. “Mother was looking for adequate accommodation in the area, so I may continue my education here.”

“In that case, I recommend downloading the akuma app, one of the children in Marinette’s class helped the hero ladybug create it in order to protect the citizens from the majority of the attacks.” She spoke proudly.

“We’ll make sure to download it before we leave. thank you very much for the help.” Kagami smiled politely. She was thankful that she practised it enough that it didn't come off as a grimace.

“You’re very welcome dear.” The hostess smiled warmly. “If you need someone to show you the area I am sure that my daughter would be more than willing to help.”

“We’ll think about it thank you.” Kagami turned her head in such a way that meant that the conversation was over and was glad to see that the hostess walked away to gather their order.

Cassandra looked like she was working things out in her head even though to others it would appear she was just daydreaming.

So Kagami sipped her orange juice and waited for her sister to come to a conclusion on what happened as she thought over how she felt as well. She didn’t normally straighten like Cassandra did unless there was some form of magic involved. She narrowed her eyes as she remembered the feeling of the magic from earlier but duller. “Could she be?”

The ex assassin nodded her head when she zoned back in. Her voice was soft and unsure from a long time of unuse. “Ladybug.”

Chapter Text

“Well… today could have been better.” Ladybug huffed as she collapsed onto a relatively safe rooftop. Quickly followed in by Chat Noir who barrel rolled in.

“You’re telling me” He laughed as he rolled his shoulders and settled down next to her. “Meet you back at school?”

“hopefully they’ll cut it short. Today was just a little too much.” She sighed, a bit disappointed in herself for the battle lasting as long as it did.

He bumped shoulders. “If we get the rest of the day off, can you call me once you get home? I have a feeling Gorilla will be waiting for me once I get back to school.”

“Will do. Stay safe.” Ladybug saluted as he did and they jumped to go in seperate directions back to school. She managed to find a room to safely de transform and feed Tikki without interruptions.

“It might not seem like it, Marinette, but you did good today. So don’t feel too bad okay?” Tikki nuzzled her cheek.

Marinette just smiled in response, having Syren as the benchmark of how badly things could be that it really put the others in retrospect. With Tikki safely back into the purse she exited the room and bumped into her science teacher. She squeaked “Sorry Ms Mendeleiev.”

The teacher raised her eyebrow with disappointment. “The school had been let out ten minutes ago, what are you still doing here?”

She froze at that as she didn’t realise she spent that long in the classroom. She went to respond but she spotted brown to orange hair and instinctively hid behind Ms Mendeleiev’s tall stature.

Ms Mendeleiev turned her head to see what spooked her normally well behaved student to see the boisterous journalist wannabe with her arm around the crocodile tears student. She narrowed her eyes at Rossi as there was something about the italian that never sat well with her and the amount of stuff the kid tried to pull and got away with was disgusting. She turned her nose up and gently placed her hand on Marinette’s shoulder to guide the timid girl out without being noticed.

Marinette went with little resistance and had glanced up with a soft thank you when they got to the entrance before bolting off to the bakery.

Satisfied, Ms Mendeleiev kept an eye out as the girl got inside before turning it to the two more disruptive students. An investigation seemed to be in order, bullying was not tolerated and something needed to be done before things blow up further. With a scowl she went back into the school when the girls had left with their faux tears.

Marinette felt drained when she finally made it into her room after successfully dodging her mothers questions. Though she couldn’t quite settle as she had gotten a weird feeling from the two girls down in the bakery. Specifically the girl that had her back turned to her. She tried to wave the feeling off as she tried to do facetime with Adren but only got a dial tone. A frown settled on her face as her brain went through what felt like thousands of possibilities of why she couldn’t connect.

Knock knock.

She jolted out of her thoughts and put a hand to her chest to stop her heart from jumping out. She cleared her throat but it still came out squeaky. “It’s open.”

The trapdoor opened enough for Marinette to see a mop of midnight blue hair and the warmest cinnamon red eyes that she had ever seen. They blinked a couple of times and Marinette had to hide a giggle behind her hands when the image of a baby dragon peeping out of its cave sprang to her mind.

“Your mother said I could come up to greet you and possibly ask if you could guide my sister and I around the area for the afternoon?” They blinked and seemed to realise they forgot themselves as they opened the trapdoor more fully and entered the room. “Apologies, my name is Kagami, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Marinette chuckled nervously as she stood up and bowed politely. “I’m Marinette! Nice to meet you. Are you new to the area?”

“Yes. There’s possible relocation in future so I would like to know the area to be more comfortable.” Kagami spoke quickly as she didn’t like being away from her sister too long. “Once you’ve met my sister you can decide whether you would like to guide us or not.”

“Oh I don’t mind showing you guys around, I would be more than happy too!” She panicked waved “I can meet you two down stairs, I’m just going to wash up and change first if that’s okay? Spilt juice earlier and feel rather sticky.”

“That’s reasonable, gives my sister enough time to finish her food too.” She quickly calculated that she could properly have another orange juice as well. “Shall met you downstairs when ready then.”

As quick as Kagami came she was gone like the wind when she exited. Marinette breathed out heavily close quarters with the new girl left her nervous but also gave a warmth that felt right. Like a dragon huddled round one of their favoured treasures or when cuddled up with Adrien that he’s comfortable enough to purr like a cat.

Marinette squinted her eyes as a thought occurred to her, something that she had been during recently had been comparing her friends to certain animals. Chloe had been a fuzzy bee from the start. Nino was chill like a turtle on its favoured rock. She had even likened Alix to a bunny and Kim to a monkey the other day during parkour class. “Tikki?”

“Yes Marinette?” Tikki peeped out of her hiding place in the desk drawer.

“Other than the known five miraculous is there anymore? like a dragon for example.” She shrugged out of her clothes and swapped them for her light pink skater skirt, with shorts, and grey turtleneck.

Tikki floated up cheerfully. “There is! The Dragon miraculous is part of the chinese zodiac set. Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig! They are of the outer ring so aren’t as powerful as ours but still strong in their areas! The inner ring consists of the Turtle, Fox, Bee, Peacock, and Butterfly. And you’re aware of mine and Plaggs!”

“You mean we could have teammates after all this time? Why hasn’t he handed more out instead of just leaving it to me and Adrien to handle?” Marinette puffed her cheeks as another strike went against Fu’s name mentally. She sat on her chaise to pull up her long socks and flats back on. “Like I get he’s paranoid but come on! we could use the help here and there.”

“Sorry Marinette. Maybe try talking to him about it the next time you have time to visit?” She swooped down to get eye level with her chosen. “I know it has been hard on you two so am sorry for not suggesting it sooner.”

Marinette booped the tiny beings forehead. “Well you’ve told me now and that’s more than can be said about Master Fu.”

Tikki rolled in the air thoughtfully. “What made you ask if they were more miraculous?”

“I’ve been comparing my friends to animals lately and I was just curious if it was miraculous related.” Marinette shrugged her shoulders sheepishly as she picked up her purse and double checked she had her things. “But that can wait for later. Can’t keep the other two waiting!”

She opened the trap door and Tikki swooped back into the purse. Marinette smiled brightly as she made her way downstairs with a skip in her step. Which wasn’t the best of days when her feet got caught up in eachother and tripped down the last couple of steps.

There were a couple of scrapes and clattering of feet as the impending faceplant was incoming but it never came.

Marinette felt her body hover meer inches away from the floor and her center of gravity shifted as she was slowly eased back onto her feet. She could feel the heat of embarrassment race to her face that she covered her whole face with her hands and gave muffled apologies.

“Are you hurt?” Kagami voiced concern. The vigorous head shake that she got in turn made her chuckle lightly. “Glad we got you safely then.”

Marinette peeked from behind her fingers in embarrassment but felt warmth curl around her again at the laughter. She could feel a nudge like there was pose to be a connection being made but there wasn’t room for it to connect fully. It left a bit of disappointment gnawing at her that it couldn’t. She slowly eased her hands away from her face and smiled shyly. “Thank you for the help. I’m rather klumsy”

“Not a bother.” Kagami turned her hand politely towards her sister. “This is my sister Cassandra, Cassandra this is Marinette, she’s accepted to be our guide this afternoon.”

Cassandra smiled in amusement as they bowed in greeting. That she couldn’t quite stop herself from saying what was in her mind in that moment. “Princess.”

Marinette went bright red again and put her hands to her cheeks to hide it again. These sisters were going to be the death of her. She could not let them near Adrien, he would be double dead if that happened.

Chapter Text

It was one of the more difficult times that Bruce would find himself in the comfort of the less used drawing room at the far end of the manor. One of two rooms that he didn’t have the heart to re decorate His mother’s drawing room and the other his fathers study. For the evening he was seeking the comfort of his mother so he sat upon his mother’s beloved chair as he stared into the heart of the fireplace.

The cackling of burning wood was bittersweet with memories. A mothers warmth and a son’s death that should never have happened. His body tensed as the usual disappointment in himself washed over him at how he had failed Jason over and over again. With each anniversary of his death that Joker continued to live to spread his terror But Bruce held on strongly to the rule he made as Batman.

No killing.

He shuddered out a breath and wiggled his fingers slowly to get the feeling back in them from clenching them too tightly. He closed his eyes and tried to recall the image that he had captured of his ward and first son sleeping in the library together. From what he could tell, Dick was having night terrors again of what happened before and had to make sure that Jason was real. Bruce would not fault him for it as he’s had to seek them out many times before for the same reason.

He brought his, for once bare, left arm in front of him and traced the colourful letters that were in the inside of his arm with his thumb.

Selina, his heartmate of silver and cats-eye green, was off on a world tour to test her thief skills. Seemily people had been hiring her here and there to actually break in to test their security systems and she just couldn’t resist.

Clark and Diana blended together nicely from boy scout blue and brick red to clay red and straw yellow. He was glad to have them as platonics that he could count on as they’ve had his back more than he could count.

A scowl appeared on his face as the ic that had been getting better to show its colours of copper and sand was faintly edged with the toxic green once more. He would have to prepare himself and the boys for anything League of the Assassins related over the coming days if not months. He could only partially tell what that woman was up to most of the time.

His scowl softened a little when his thumb moved to Family and was comforted by the strong pulse he felt from Alfred’s colours of Ivory and purple. A father figure that he desperately needed as a child and was thankful for every day that it was another day more of him in his life. He was happy for the young girl in Paris to have such a connection with Alfred and that Alfred got to spend some time away to enjoy some time to himself. It was certainly like pulling teeth before the girl arrived to get Alfred to take a break.

Yes it was certainly a miracle to get him to do something like that.

A burning sensation seared up his arm that had him hissing in pain and grasp the offending appendage. He seethed through gritted teeth as he slowly held the arm back out to see the cause.

luminous toxic green stared back at him angrily.

Pain filled him as he held the mark up to his forehead like a prayer. The one that he couldn’t kill no matter how much hurt the person caused him. No matter how much he hurt and haunted the nightmares of his family. Tears gathered but they refused to fall. He breathed heavily as the mark flared once more at his stupidity for keeping the connection that gave him so much heartache. He just couldn’t let it go no matter how much it hurt to keep. He could not let Jack go.

Silently he cried as he rested his head back on the chair as the pain ebbed to it’s usual dull ache. The colour was no longer so eye burning but still tinted in the toxic green that marred his skin. The once grass green and deep mauve marks were starting to become a distant memory at this point. He continuously thought of what he could do to see those colours upon his skin again but he was starting to lose faith in himself that he could get it done.

He palmed his eyes in order to rid himself of unshed tears and gathered himself out of the chair. It was going to be a long evening ahead of him. He took one long final look into the hearth hoping that the warmth would give him some comfort before dousing the flames. He pulled on the heavy knitted cardigan, Dick got him for his birthday a while back, and left to seek out his family. Preferably Alfred.

He walked along the darkened hallways to ones more used. The slight grooves in the carpet was a tell. He wrapped his arms around himself as he neared his boys rooms and could hear the faint whispers of Dick and Tim. He instinctively softened his footsteps as he neared.

“So this is the case you are working now? It doesn’t seem to be too bad.” Tim clicked away on his computer as he looked over Dick’s police files. “This been going on for a while?”

Dick sighed from his spot on the bed. “Long enough to be a cause of concern but not long enough for full blow out investigation.”

“Huh… Is that why you brought it to me?” Tim tilted his head but didn’t really break contact with the screen.

“More or less. There appears to be some codes left at the crime scenes but I have been having a hard time deciphering them and since it is one of your strong suits. thought best ask than digging my own grave for it.”

The youngest snorted at that. “We wouldn’t want that now would we. Fair enough, might take me a day or two but I'll look it over.”

“Thanks baby bro.” Dick reached up lazily to ruffle Tim’s hair only for it to get swatted away before he could do damage. He groaned “I’m too tired… and no I don’t want one of your disgusting brews before you offer.”

“Wasn’t going too.” Tim slurped his so-called disgusting brew. With a loud happy satisfied sigh, “That’s the good stuff.”

Dick chuckled as he rested his left arm over his eyes to block out the light. The colours of Ox blood red and black, Jason, ink twirling into Coffee and cream, Tim, was plain to see on Dick's Family band with one place left to fill. “Wake me up before it’s time for patrol will you?”

“Sure, just don’t snore too loud otherwise I'll kick you.” He half threatened. He reached over his laptop to grab a blanket from the end of the bed and handed the blanket over for Dick to use.

“Thanks.” He yawned and turned over onto his side. He gave a tired wave over his shoulder as he yawned a bit more loudly. “Nap Nap.”

“Nap Nap Dick.” Tim patted his brother's head lightly before going back to typing on his laptop. The rythmic clicking soothed Dick to sleep quite easily.

Bruce carefully left his location and moved swiftly on towards the kitchen. He was glad to see Dick and Tim working together as he was slightly worried that there was an issue there. He would hate for something to disrupt that progress now.

He kept a look out for Alfred, though as he neared the kitchen of Alfred’s domain he grew confused that he didn’t hear the butler shuffling around but Jason instead talking to some girl. So he moved to a spot in the hallway to snoop, knowing full well if Alfred caught him he would get the rolling pin. He could see Jason from his vantage point but couldn’t see the girl. The possibility that Jason was on video call with a girl was high.

“Sounds like you had quite the day there Care Bear.” Jason cackled.

“Ugh kill me with a spork!” The girl came across as happily exasperated. “It got worse when Adrien showed up. It was like the poor boy was looking.. no wait.. begging to be stepped on. Seriously what is it about men that want to be stepped on by strong women?”

Jason choked on his tongue before bursting out laughing. “Ask me that again when you’re of adult age please or when twenty.”

“owh right sorry!” She squeaked and appeared to be bashful again. “You really think we are still talking after four years?”

“Well considering I believe Alfred to be immortal and you’re connected to him for however long. I don’t see why not. That and I’m kinda fond of ya so there’s that too it too” He picked up a bowl with a weird mixture in it and turned it to the camera. “Does this look right?”

“Hmm… taste it to make sure it tastes right, add to it if it doesn’t then whisk for another two minutes. should be good then.” She spoke cheerfully and returned back to their conversation a bit more seriously. “Grown fond of you too Jaybird. I have something for you and the others that I’m hoping Grandpa would be okay taking back with him. I hope you and the others like it!”

Jason was walking around the kitchen with a happy glow as he corrected the mixture and was finishing whisking it. “Funnily enough I have given Alfred a present for you too. I went around the stores to get what I could of the fashion magazines of Gotham. So i think there's about twenty? of them. Hopefully they’ll give you some inspiration.”

“Thank you!” There was some clapping on the other side. “Uncle Jagged was asking for some new stage jackets for his tour so they could really help me out.”

“Glad to be of service.” He smirked as he settled himself by leaning back against the island with his legs crossed slightly over. He rested the bowl against his lap and twisted his arm out to get off the tired ache. “How’s it looking now?”

“Great! now make sure to butter up the edges of the tins so they don’t stick or butter up greaseproof paper to do the same thing. Once done you just need to put a generous ice cream scoop into each then you are good to go!” There was a pause. “You did remember to preheat the oven right?”

Pause.

“Jaybird?”

“I may have… forgotten to do so.” Jason quickly placed the bowl onto the island counter and rushed over to the ovens to preheat.

“JAY! it's going to take even longer before they are going to be ready you know!”

He blew a raspberry. “Eh I'm sure it will be worth it in the end. I did make them with your royal guidance after all Princess.”

“Argh!” There was a flop.

Jason cackled in return.

Curiosity satisfied for now. Bruce turned from his hiding spot with a small smile and disappeared into the darkness like a bat in the night.

Chapter Text

“When you think of new accessories for your parkour line. Could you make something in mind for me next time? Something cute.” Chloe shook her ponytail to gain back its fluffiness as she side eyed Marinette fixing her own pigtails. Her eyes narrowed slightly.

“A scrunchie maybe?” Marinette tilted her head as she thought about it. “Or were you thinking of hair clips? owh or bags?”

“All of the above would do.” She picked up her brush and swatted Marinette’s hands away from her hair.

“Oi! I was almost done.” Marinette squeaked as her bobbles were taken out and her hair fell around her face. She pulled away the ones that fell into her mouth. “Bleh”

“You need to change things up a bit! You’ve had these pigtails since we met!” Chloe muttered as she parted Marinette's hair into sections and started to braid them upwards. “You saw what I managed to do for Adrikins, just trust me on this.”

Marinette pouted as her head was pushed forward not too gently. She admitted that Adrien’s new hair style was pretty cool. Faded at the sides but still fluffy on top. So begrudgingly went along with what Chloe had planned. To be honest it felt quite nice having her hair played with and Chloe’s nails just scratched the right places that it made it all the more pleasant.

With a few twists finished the backwards braids and topped it off with back combed space buns. She grinned happily at her creation as she turned Marinette around to fix the bangs and pull some hair to the front to frame the face. “There! Magnificent if I do say so myself.”

Marinette giggled as she looked up and into the mirror Chloe provided. “It’s certainly different.”

“It’s more than different, it’s good!” The elder booped her nose and wagged her finger. “Now you're to keep this style for a week. I’ll come to your house or mine before school starts. Well it's more likely I’ll come to yours since you are terrible in the mornings. I’ll style it, I’ll show you the video I used so you can learn it yourself or just do the basic buns but you are to have it for a week. If you end up not likely to, then we are going to try something else. No pigtails though. That’s Ladybug’s thing now.”

She snorted at that since she was Ladybug. “She doesn’t own the hairstyle Chloe.”

“It’s her trademark! Along with those spots of hers.” Chloe huffed as she folded her arms and tilted her hips. “She is a hero that can get away with it. You are not. Besides… You look much cuter this way.”

“You didn’t think I was cute?”

“I did, that’s why I said cuter. Keep up Dupain-Cheng.” She rolled her eyes. “Now come on, I’ve got a salon appointment to keep and I want to see the reactions of the boys before I leave.”

Marinette smiled as she fondly shook her head at her pseudo-sister. They picked up their bags and left the locker room to see the boys at the entrance waiting. “You okay boys?”

Nino was the first to notice and beamed. “Looking good there Dudette!”

Adrien whistled. “Looking cute, did Chloe get to you too?”

“You can say that!” She laughed as she went on her tiptoes to ruffle his hair.

He swatted her hands away and fluffed his hair back to the way he liked it, though he did it with a smile on his face. He heard Nino’s laughter and he smiled evilly. “Careful Nino, you could be next.”

Chloe inspected her nails with fake interest though could clearly see the glint in her eyes as she spoke.“I have been looking at some black hair tips too. Tell me… does your hair curl?”

“I’m out!” Nino backed away slowly as Chloe stalked towards him then turned to dash away before she could lay her claws on him but she gave chase.

The other two laughed as they watched their friend and sister run away, one of them screaming that they were no help. Adrien sobered up first even though his hand was still clutching at his chest. His smile died down as he gazed at Marinette.

She glanced at him as she wiped the small tears away from laughing too hard. “Something wrong?”

He grimaced. “I won’t be able to visit Master Fu with you today. One of the models had an accident and I was roped into it. I’m hoping, truly hoping I won’t have to work with Lila but I have a feeling my luck isn’t the best today. I’m gonna have to grin and bear it though cause it's been awhile since he’s alst used me and he’s been rather lax lately when i’ve been heading out to see you guys.”

“That’s troublesome.” Marinette scrunched her nose in disgust at the mention of Lila. She rubbed his arm trying to be comforting. “If things came to worse, have Plagg ring the fire alarm?”

There was a round of snickers from Adrien’s breast pocket. “You heard her! I have permission this time!”

“Hush Plagg.” He hissed down at the chaotic being even though it was half hearted. The last time Plagg had done that there was a lot of expensive clothes ruined. IT had done the trick of drenching Lila though that she stayed off school with a bad cold for the rest of the week. “Hopefully it won’t come to that. Sorry won't be able to join you though for the discussion.”

She shook her head. “No worries! We’re on the same page though? That if he says yes to this that we are bringing Nino and Chloe in to help?”

Adrien nodded and tilted his head with a loop-sided smile. “I know we’ve just met them but maybe Kagami and Cassandra too?”

“You just want to be stepped on by all the women in your life don’t you?” She narrowed her eyes at him playfully.

“I can think of worse ways to go.” He beamed though it disappeared once he spotted the Gorilla’s car and winced. “Looks like my rides here. Keep me updated won’t you?”

“You got it.” They shared a quick hug. “Take it easy won’t you?”

“I’ll try my best.” He gave a final squeeze before leaving and entered the car. “See you!”

Marinette waved her goodbye. She took a breath to steel herself for her upcoming decision with Master Fu and headed towards his clinic that wasn’t too far from the private studio. Tikki had flown out to cuddle into her neck whilst being hidden within the hood of the hoodie. With her confidence emboldened by Tikki’s silent support she entered the clinic. “Master Fu?”

“Flip the sign and lock the door before you come up please!”

Marinette blinked in slight confusion before doing what was asked. She made her way up curiously as she hadn’t been asked to lock up during one of their talks before. She tilted her head around the open doorway and squealed. “Grandpa Alfred! Hello!”

“Good noon Marinette.” The old butler smiled as he was slightly bowled over by the small sprite of a granddaughter. He hugged back a bit more gently. “You look more radiant in person my dear.”

She giggled happily as she gave a squeeze. “Thank you. I’m so happy to see you, I wasn’t too sure what time you would be here today.”

“Flew in last night, Fu here was kind enough to let me spend the night and we’ve been catching up since.” Alfred patted her head and she pulled away to kneel at the table beside him but across Master Fu. “I was going to head over to the bakery when Fu told me that you would be visiting for Miraculous business.”

“Ah yes.” She blushed bashfully at having lost her purpose for being there when seeing her grandpa. “Sorry Master Fu.”

“It’s quite alright Marinette. New souls connecting with old ones are nice to see in this day and age.” Master Fu politely poured green tea out for the three of them and filled up two tiny cups for Tikki and Wayzz as they came out of hiding. “I’m sure this is something more than a social visit. So what is on your mind?”

She glanced at Tikki who smiled at her encouragely. She shifted her kneeling so that her shoulders were back and she had a look like she was attempting to take down an akuma.

Master Fu raised his eyebrow at that.

“I would like to know the reasoning behind you keeping potential team mates from helping us?”

He glanced down to see Tikki looking unashamed. He took a sip of his tea. “At the time I didn’t want to potentially risk losing any more miraculouses. As time has moved on both Chat Noir and yourself looked to be handling things well and the thought of team mates hadn’t entered my mind. Have I been wrong to believe so?”

“Whether it is right or wrong. The strain on having to fight akuma’s by ourselves for so long has been taking a strain on our civilian lives, health and wellbeing.” Marinette furrowed her brows. “I believe if we were to have teammates we would be less stressed and less likely to be akumatized ourselves. I can’t say for Chat Noir but due to being Ladybug, the pressure of being the only one to cure and return things to what they once were has been hard on me mentally and coupled with what has been happening in my civilian life has made me susceptible to being akumatized. Several times in fact.”

Alfred hid a frown as this had not been the first time hearing about the akuma’s. He kept quiet since this wasn’t his business but would listen as a mediator in case things took a turn.

Master Fu tilted his head thoughtfully. “You must be very strong if you have managed to fight off the negative effects and not be akumatized.”

“I may be but that doesn’t mean I should have to be. Being strong can only last so long before it breaks too.” She sighed frustrated as she clenched her fists upon her thighs. “I’ve heard it too many times, Just be strong and all will be okay, well.. it isn’t. Having to go through this by ourselves isn’t okay. Just because it’s something you’ve had to deal with for however long doesn’t mean it should be something we have to do.”

“I suppose it doesn’t.” He stroked his pointed beard. He had been young, stupid and afraid when he become sole guardian and had been going through with only the basic of teachings. He was getting on in age despite the longevity that Wayzz had given him as his holder. Maybe it was time. “Out with the old and in with the new.”

Marinette blinked in confusion but widened a moment later. “If you are going to be passing on the guardianship onto me then I ask you not too.”

He smiled at that. “Your intuition is very astute. So why should I not consider you for the position?”

“Considering what I just said about the strain, it would be counter productive to why I came here. We need help to handle the strain, not add more to it. The only way I would consider possible guardianship is if you give me the team I require. That Chloe receives the Bee, Nino the Turtle, Kagami the Dragon and Cassandra the Fox. Once that has happened I consider the guardianship to be shared between me, Chat Noir, Chloe and Nino.”

“You’ve certainly thought things through.” He gently rubbed the Turtle Miraculous, the thought of parting from Wayzz made him ache. “And what is Chat Noir’s thoughts on the matter?”

“He agrees the same.” Marinette stated confidently. “Nino and Chloe have been taking the same classes as us and pretty much near our level minus the hero aspects. He was even the one to suggest Kagami and Cassandra. As he could sense that they are seasoned warriors that would be beneficial for helping against the Akumas and taking down Hawkmoth.”

“Same classes you say.” Master Fu raised an eyebrow at that. “You’ve been keeping things secret from me it seems.”

Tikki piped up at that. “They have their own lives to live, it just so happened that the both of them are platonic soulmates. Plagg and I agreed that knowing them wasn’t bad as they could rely on each other and build on their partnership. There are no secrets between them concerning the Miraculous.”

“So everything that I have asked to be kept between us, he knows as well.” He scowled at his warnings and disregarded them from the start.

“He is my partner, not my underling or sidekick. We are equals in what we do.” Marinette scowled right back. “You even said so yourself, that the black cat and ladybug are to be kept in balance otherwise things could go wrong. Should we have followed your warnings there would have been a massive discrepancy between the two of us that could have led to problems and us working poorly. We are in balance are we not?”

Alfred held back a snort of amusement at that as the verbal tennis went on.

Wayzz floated closely to his master and calmly spoke. “You have been keeping an eye on their balance and have witnessed the strength of their bond over these near two years. They are near in sync with each other. Trust in them like you had from the beginning Master.”

Master Fu glanced at his floating companion then at Alfred to see his oldest friend looking at him patiently. He sighed deeply as he looked back at Marinette who was looking at him intently and unmoving in her stance of the situation. “Very well.”

He got up, his old bones popping as he went, he walked on over to the gramophone and pressed in the secret code. The top opened up to show the sacred seven place holders. He retrieved the Fox and the Bee from their places. From there he pushes another sequence to open up the zodiac compartments to retrieve the Dragon. one final push made the compartments disappear and the gramophone close. “I shall honour your request.”

Marinette seemed to be happy with the choice but the feeling inside was nervous as she looked at the three boxes that were handed to her. She placed them instantly into her bag for now in order to not leave them behind.

“I will give Wayzz to you in due time. I wish to spend some time with him before renouncing for his new owner.” He held the kwami in question gently within his hands sadly.

“Of course. Take as long as you need.” Marinette reached out and lightly touched his hands in a comforting manner. “I know that this is hard but I’m glad that you have heard us out. We’ll help you as well. I believe Marianne was looking to get to know you again after so long apart.”

He chuckled lightly. “Yes.. I would like that...very much.”

Chapter Text

Chaos was certainly something that was thick in the air that night. Batman drove silently in the batmobile towards the docks. He had just turned the comms of a moment ago but he was already missing the banter from the others. Robin was paired with Nightwing for the night as Red Hood was doing his own business in the drug district. Spoiler was off spoiling whatever her father had planned and the whole lot of them was being watched over by Oracle. He breathed easier with that in mind.

He slowed to a stop when he arrived at the docks. The whole place was overrun by hidden assassins that he felt that he was taking part of an optical illusion test to see if he could find them all. Once counted he stalked the pier and jumped onto the boat called ‘beloved’ from there he was escorted to the lower deck. The mood lighting was a bit off putting once he was left alone. That coupled with the not so gentle pulsing of his platonic mark.

“What do you want Talia?”

A shadow shifted to his left and slowly revealed Talia al Ghul. She slinked forward with a pleased smile as she draped herself over Batman. “Hello beloved.”

He stayed statue still as he narrowed his masked eyes. His voice gruff as he repeated his question. “What do you want Talia?”

“Owh am hurt.” She playfully trailed her finger along his jawline as she leaned in closer. “Won’t you give me a proper hello?”

“What. Do. You. Want?” He growled out between clenched teeth. He instinctively inched his head away when she leant in to kiss him. He grabbed her wrist and squeezed tightly.

The only tell that he was hurting her was the twitch of her left eye. “Fine… Let go and I’ll tell you.”

Batman jerked her hand away and stepped back so that she wasn’t up in his space any more and waited.

Talia lightly rubbed her wrist as she turned away from him. “You can come out now.”

A beat past before coming out of the shadows dressed in the darkest of assassin's garb was a small boy. The garb disguised the boy’s features well other than the exposed green eyes. They were piercing and judgemental.

She stood next to the boy and pulled away the hood and nudged the mask down off of his chin. Once that was done she looked up at Batman as she ran her hand slowly through the boys dark hair. “Beloved, I would like you to meet our son, Damien Al Ghul Heir to the Demon Head.”

Batman took in the boy’s features and could see the features of his father, Thomas, from all those times that he stared at his old family photo. Though that piercing gaze was something that he has seen on more than one occasion when looking in the mirror. The boy wasn’t a carbon copy so he ruled out cloning, though he wouldn’t have put it past her to have done so at any point. He didn’t take his eyes off of the boy when speaking to her. “I’m sure you planned never to have told me about him. What’s changed?”

“I don’t know why you think so little of me.” Talia sighed dramatically as he stared at her. “I need you to father him for a while. There’s a possible uprising and I rather keep Damien away from that for now. That's better?”

“No but it’ll do.” Batman scowled as he thought over the implications of having an unknown son. The media would have a field day once word got out. He would need to ban the boys from twitter for a bit to make sure. He sighed inwardly as he remembered that Alfred was not at home to help with the awkwardness of the situation. “How long?”

A certain emotion seemed to cross the boy's face but disappeared just as quickly.

Talia hmmed thoughtfully. “Until the matter is dealt with.”

Batman turned and nodded his head towards the entrance. “If you’re coming, be quick about it.”

The mother and son glanced at each other for a moment till Talia pointed her hand for him to leave after his father. Damien jerked his head and caught up quickly to match Batman’s long stride back to the batmobile.

By the time they had settled themselves within the car, the hidden assassins had disappeared and the ‘beloved’ had left the dock. Batman clicked on his comms just to Oracle. “Oracle, I’m done with my situation and heading back to the cave. Could you let me know when the others are finished with patrol?”

“Shall do B. Drive safe.” Oracle tabbed back out leaving the two to their silence.

He turned on auto pilot to head back home so that he could concentrate on his thoughts. A blood son was not something he thought he would have and having to explain to Selina that it wasn’t constented would be another headache entirely. He glanced off to the side to see the boy staring directly ahead. “What’s your thoughts on the matter?”

“That mother should have trusted her teachings more and that I’m more than capable of slaying down the traitors that seek to harm us.” Damien spoke highly of himself as his voice dripped with superiority.

“While you are living with me and the others there will be no killing allowed.”

“Understood.” Damien nodded but appeared to be thinking things over.

“No killing.”

Damien nodded once again but remained silent this time.

Batman tightened his fists momentarily as the Batmobile drove into the cave. They exited the car silently and Batman was a little unnerved at how quickly Damien took to being his shadow. This would be nerve wrecking. “I see you have a satchel, are there any regular clothes or just garbs?”

“I have some regular clothes but it was presumed that your servant would be able to send out for more as required.”

“That would be a bit hard at the moment.” Batman took off his cowl and rubbed his forehead with his gloved hands. “I shall take you to your room for the time being and then we’ll go from there. Just let me change.”

Damien nodded and settled into a at ease stance as he waited for further instructions.

Bruce glanced at him before moving into the changing area to hand up his uniform and change into his comfier clothes. Tonight was going to be a long night once the boys arrived. He came back out to see the boy still standing where he left him. “Follow me.”

The boy shifted and instinctively shifted to be his father’s shadow once again. It didn’t take long to decide on a room. Two doors down from Dick’s old room was what they eventually agreed upon. There was a slight discussion on what dietary requirements he had and what would need to be ordered in. The boy's stomach growled and it took a little nudging to find that he had been a while since he last ate.

By the time they headed back down to go towards the kitchen his other boys were just entering the entrance hall. Damien was the first to spot them. He had taken his katana out of nowhere and jumped the banister to take a strike at Tim.

Jason was second to spot the newcomer and managed to block the blow only to redirect the assassin towards Dick.

Damien was quicker in recovery and managed to leap his way up onto the chandelier. Dick was close behind and with the extra weight, the chandelier swayed heavily and creaked enough to loosen. Damien and Dick took swings at each other before leaping off.

He went towards Tim again who was more prepared this time to spin kick him out the way in retaliation. Damien slid to the side and was put into a grapple hold by Jason. “Hell! Calm down kid!”

Bruce groaned deeply knowing that the boy would be troubled. “I thought I told you no killing.”

“You didn’t say anything about maiming or incapacitation.” Damien glared as he tried to get out of the hold. He hissed. “Let go of me Todd!”

“Like heck I will… wait…” Jason tightened his hold enough that he could see the kids face. “Demon Spawn? What the heck are you doing here?”

Damien growled as he shifted which was gradually exposing his left arm.

Bruce came down the stairs with his curiosity peaked. “Talia has left him with me as he is apparently my blood son. How do you know of him?”

“The fuzzy memories of the time at the league. I remember a small hellraiser that beat me up repeatedly. Actually… Can you take him Dick?” Jason let go and started rolling up his left sleeve.

Damien went to strike again only for his arm to be grabbed and his Katana taken off of him. He glared hard at his elder. Dick smiled with teeth though he was stunned later at a familiar feeling.

Jason turned his arm and looked surprised. “Huh? can’t tell if i’ve been upgraded or downgraded.”

Tim walked over and presented his own arm to compare. “Ah, so it is his colours.”

Damien grumbled. “What are you cretins talking about?”

Dick let go and held out his left arm. Showing the new addition of Burgundy and Emerald to Family. “Looks like you are one of us even as the blood son of Bruce.”

Damien frowned and rolled up his sleeve more. The platonic that he had back in the league that had once solely belonged to Jason had disappeared and been replaced by a full Family of colours that he could only presume belonged to the three in front of him. “Well… That changes matters.”

Before matters could be talked about further. There was a loud creak above my head and a snap. Jason covered Tim, Dick crouched over Damien and Bruce shielded himself as the chandelier came crashing down between the five of them. The shattering of glass was deafening as the faux crystals tinged across the ground.

Dick was first to recover. “It wasn’t just me this time!”

Chapter Text

There were many things that Marinette was looking forward to after school. Adrien got permission to stay over under the pretense that her Grandpa Alfred would talk about the British spy network during the war but really he was going to demonstrate the gadgets that he had sent over a while back. With a little bit of history thrown in just in case asked.

The one thing she didn’t expect to happen at the end of school was to be confronted by Alya in the classroom alone. Though she could hear Lila being ‘worried’ by the door and was trying to rope Nino into whatever scheme she was concocting.

She shifted nervously as Alya was glaring up at her since Marinette was on higher ground. “What did you want to talk about Alya?”

“I want you to stop bullying Lila, stop bad mouthing her to Adrien and to stop hanging out with Nino!” Alya growled out.

Marinette eyes widened in shock. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t even…”

“You have! Lila was telling me how you threatened her in the bathroom that she couldn’t have friends! How you pushed her down the stairs and stole her heirloom!” Alya shouted in frustration. “Apologize to her!”

“I’ve done no such things. She’s the one that’s lying! and...”

“God sake Mari, She hasn’t done anything wrong. she wants to be liked but you are stopping people from talking to her.” Alya hissed out. “You even stole Nino from me. He’s my heartmate not yours!”

“I haven’t stolen Nino from you and he was my First ever connection, I wouldn’t do that to him. would you just...” Marinette stuttered as she tried to get in edgeways.

“You practically hang over him! it’s disgusting! and you go sneaking off to god knows where and have Chloe and Adrien cover for you.” She snapped with a dangerous fire in her eyes. “I’ve seen it!”

“We haven’t…”

“You have!”

“Would you stop interrupting me!” Marinette shouted right back at her. Fed up with being accused for stuff she hadn’t done or been miskewed. “For once would you stop and listen to my side? I haven’t been near Lila since she came here cause all she spouts is lies! You would know this if you actually researched her stories! And Nino and I have classes together. You would know that if you actually listened to us for once in your life!”

Alya sputtered. “I listen...”

“No you don’t! Last wednesday Nino and me both explained that we have a business project together alongside Chloe and Adrien that day was helping us out. But you kept shouting that it was false. That isn’t listening Alya, that's toxic behaviour forcing your disillusioned ideals onto us.”

“You’re the toxic one for what you do to Lila! I hate that I’m connected to you!” Alya shouted out heatedly.

“Then break it! Break the connection between us! go on!” Tears formed in frustration but she refused to let them fall as she rubbed them away. Marinette sniffed as she rolled up her left sleeve to show that Alya’s colours were toxic green. “Break it if you hate me so much.”

Alya stared wide eyed at the toxic green and the information that connections could be broken. “You’re lying...”

Marinette gritted her teeth as a tear fell. She pressed her thumb against the toxic mark. She would have loved too tired to work things out but it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. “I no longer want to be connected to Alya.”

With a downward swoop the connection released and both girls gasped at the sudden loss. Alya brought up her arm to see that Marinette’s colours were no longer there and that the Platonic band was gone altogether. Water suddenly dropped onto her arm that she hadn’t realized that she began to cry. “Mari…”

“Don’t call me that. You’re not my friend anymore.” Marinette rolled her sleeve down frustrated and tried to get her emotions back under control. She was surprised that there hadn’t been a sighting of the dark butterfly earlier but she counted on small blessings. “Don’t come near me again. Do not speak to me ever.”

Alya felt like she was going to throw up from the look that Marinette sent her way as she left the classroom clutching her bag. The journalist clutched at her shirt as she knelt at the front of the classroom. She wasn’t too sure how long she was there to tell she felt someone arms around her to give comfort. she looked to the side to see Lila smiling at her sadly.

“Owh Alya I’m so sorry for what happened. I didn’t realise that was going to happen, I feel awful, I feel like it was my fault”

“Lila I…” Alya had automatically started patting Lila on the arms in comfort. “It wasn’t…”

“Leave Lila.” A male growled behind them that had both of them turning to see Nino gazing at them with a storm in his eyes. “You’ve done enough damage already. So leave.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about Nino, why are you being so mean to me, I haven’t done anything.” Lila faked sniffled as she huddled closer to Alya.

“I said leave” He growled out as he stepped closer.

“Nino why are you so angry at me. It was Marinette that...” Lila squeaked out.

“Shut up!” Nino raised his voice just enough to actually scare Lila for once that she tightened slightly around the speckled girl.

“I think you should go Lila.” Alya spoke soberly as she kept her eyes on her boyfriend. It wasn’t a side she saw often but it did mean that he had something to say that he could no longer hold back. “I’ll call you when I get home okay?”

“You sure?” Lila whispered worriedly even though internally she was thankful for the out, she just had to dig a bit. “He looks angry, are you sure you’ll be safe?”

“I’ll be fine, thank you for your concern though.” She smiled timidly as she gently nudged Lila’s arms off of her. “Head home okay?”

“Okay if you’re sure.” Lila gave a squeeze before leaving with her tail between her legs from the look that Nino sent her on her way out. She made a mental note to let hawkmoth know to hold off a bit longer so that she can dig her knife in a bit deeper. Out of sight she skipped happily on her way home.

Alya took off her glasses to rub at her eyes gently with her sleeve. Her sight was blurry when she looked at her boyfriend who had taken to sitting beside her. She felt slight comfort with him being near but she was still worried. “You heard us?”

“Yes.”

“Do you feel the same way?”

Nino glanced to the side as if debating something till he took off his bandana from his arm. The toxic green was a dull glow around her colours.

“I’m wrong?... I'm… I'm the one in the wrong?” Alya gasped as she held a hand to her mouth. “Nino… I’m sorry.. i’m so sorry.”

“Save it Alya.” Nino frowned as he glanced at her. “Can you even tell me what you are sorry for?”

“I…” She searched his face as she thought back on her past actions and only felt justified with what she had been told. “No…”

He sighed heavily and looked so disappointed. “Are you going to listen to my side?”

She chewed her lip nervously as she was sure that things were going to change. “Can I listen at home? I don’t want to do this here at school.”

Nino snorted at that when she didn’t consider doing the same thing for Marinette. He felt resigned as he nodded his head. “Let’s get you home.”

He stood up and held his hands out to pull her up too. He gently took her glasses from her hands and placed them lightly upon her face. She smiled sadly “Thank you...”

“It’s whatever.” Nino let go but stayed near as he could fully decide whether he should stay close or be further away. He fiddled with his bandana to put it back over his soul bands. “Shall we go?”

“Yeah…” Alya ducked her head as she nervously rubbed at her now bare arm and ended up wrapping her arms around herself in comfort. “Let’s go…”

The walk back to Alya’s was nerve wracking to say the least as Alya didn’t know what to say and Nino was being stubbornly silent. There was no indication that gave away what he was thinking that it left her a bit unnerved.

She worried her lip between her teeth and looked up to see that Ladybug was running up ahead of them. That usual butterfly of excitement that Alya felt within the pit of her stomach rose up at the thought of an Akuma nearby. She was just about to dash for it when she felt a hand on her shoulder. “Nino I…”

“Is following stories that more important than discussing what happened?” Nino glanced down at her. “Is getting the next big story all that you care about?”

“I… you know I want to be a journalist, Nino. I can’t just give that up just because of a hiccup… I”

“Marinette was a hiccup?” He dropped his hand like she burned him. “Your body was distraught when the connection broke with her! Am I just a hiccup to you too?”

“Nino no no that wasn’t what I meant!” She frantically tried to get a hold off him but he just side stepped out the way.

“It sure sounded like it! I’m all for chasing dreams Alya but you also have to look at what was in front of you too!” Nino gripped his headphones in distress. “You keep looking at the next shiny thing instead of what’s there already. Well not all that glitters is gold Alya!”

Alya stared at the sight of her boyfriend, how stressed and agitated he was becoming, she went to reach out to him in comfort but froze when a butterfly came into view. She kept her eye on it as it slowly came towards them. “Nino….”

“What! Aren’t you going to yell at me again?” Nino scowled as he paced but something seemed to click in his head as he suddenly stood stock still to take a calming breath. Then another.

The Butterfly slowed as well with each breath and didn’t seem to know what to do with itself with the emotion it was targeting was suddenly gone. There was a whizzing sound as Ladybug’s yoyo scooped it up and then it was out of sight a moment later.

Once Nino was calmed he tilted his head downwards. “I’m sorry Alya… I thought I would be strong enough to help you through this. I care for you deeply but the implications of what you said has hurt… I… want to work things out with you but i’m not sure you feel the same.”

Alya wrapped her arms around herself again as she really wasn’t sure of herself any longer. “I thought it was a done deal… that we would be together… always.”

“Relationships still need to be worked on though…” Nino winced as he turned his back towards her. “I’m gonna head home… I’ll message you when I am there but I think you need to work on yourself without any outside influences. Think things over yeah?”

He didn’t wait for an answer as he walked away.

She watched him go as she sniffled only to turn when he was out of sight only to realise that she was outside her house. She felt like she was ready to collapse as she walked towards the door, there was a buzz from her mobile so she picked up. she couldn't see the sadness in her voice. “oh… Hi Lila. Did you get home okay?”

Chapter Text

“Yes I did! Are you okay? I was really worried about leaving you there. Nino was really scary looking. I hated leaving you. are you okay? I'm so sorry…”

“No it’s okay don’t worry about it.” Alya closed the door behind her and dropped her keys in her key dish that the twins got her one holiday. She rubbed her forehead as the day was getting too much. “Think i’m going to nap and start fresh.”

“Oh that’s a good idea. Considering what you’ve had to deal with that awful Marinette. To think that she would be the one to cut ties! That is so shocking! You are an amazing friend!”

“Thanks Lila.” She sighed as she collapsed onto her computer desk chair. She switched her mobile to speaker phone so that she could listen to Lila’s narration on how she was feeling etc and type on her computer to find out about toxic marks. Something in her gut told her there was something wrong. She was just about to click a link when she zoned about back into Lila words about Jagged.

“Did you see the tweet Jagged said about me being his favourite honorary niece! I’ll make sure to get backstage passes for us the next time I see him since you are my bestie!”

“That sounds amazing Lila! Think you could get me an interview too?” Alya straightened in her chair as she changed her search information for Jagged Stone and Lila Rossi only to come up empty. She did the same for Marinette and she was named as the artist for his album covers and some outfits he used for tours. His favourite niece… M… Alya put a hand against her mouth as she searched for more stories of Lila when things clicked into place. She took a shuddering breath as though she had awoken from a living nightmare. “Lila…”

“The gourmet was just… owh yeah Alya? you okay? You don’t sound so good”

“What have you done?” Alya shakenily raised her left arm and looked for her bands. The Platonic was gone due to Marinette ending. The Heartmate band was still there hiding under her short sleeve but… the Family band… wasn’t there. Tears streamed down her face as she choked. “The band… the family… is gone.”

“Are you sure? I can see your colours as clear as day on mine. Look again?”

Alya stared at her arm as it seemed to pulse with the band only to fade away again. “No no no no… what did you do!? It’s not there! what did you do!?”

“... I only gave you what you wanted to see and hear.”

“What?... What are you talking about? What I wanted?”

“Well you wanted stories didn’t you? I gave you them. You wanted to see Marinette in a bad light didn’t you? I gave you flaws and you took them as you willed. She truly is a goody shoes so I can see why you would be jealous of her. Her and Nino are long standing soulmates no wonder you felt so inferior to such things.”

“No no… She was my friend why why…” Alya croaked as her hands shookly hid her face. “I didn’t want this.”

“Didn’t you? It wouldn’t have had such a hold on you if you didn’t. You fed the Illusion, it was what you wanted. Why you would damage things that you had… well I suppose people have always been fickle.”

“I didn’t… I didn’t…” Alya rocked on her chair as she cried. “I didn’t want this.”

“But you did… You did Alya. You wanted what she had and this is what you got in the end.” There was a sound of fluttering wings as it landed and seeped into her glasses that lila’s last words were muffled to Alya as darkness took over. “This was all you.”

-----

At two different sides of Paris, Ladybug felt a chill come over her as she was talking to Kagami and Cassandra about the rules for keeping the miraculous, she turned skyward after informing them to transform and follow but stay hidden. Chat Noir felt his hackles rise after watching Chloe dote on Pollen excitedly. He sent a message to Ladybug to where they would be and motioned for Chloe to transform and follow him to the rooftop to wait.

They didn’t have to wait long till Ladybug showed up with two others and hid themselves within the rooftop garden to coordinate. She spotted Chat Noir first “Did you feel that?”

“A disturbance in the force? Was hair-raising.” He stuck out his tongue when he managed to dodge her swipe. He waved his hand in direction of the new bee heroine. “Queen Bee is figuring out her visor. Apparently she is unique and can use Hive Mind which allows us to talk together without stopping to use our communicators. She is trying to figure out how to access it.”

Ladybug blinked. “That is convenient.”

He tilted his head as he laughed a little. “Isn’t it? That her secondary like power thing but her first is venom which paralyzes for five minutes, it would be more the longer she is bonded and what not.”

“Very handy!” She clapped a little excitedly as she turned to introduce the other two members who stepped forward as one. “This is Fox user Kitsunebi and Dragon user Ryuko. Kitsunebi is able to use Mirage but also may have a secondary as well but we aren’t sure just yet. Ryuko is able to use three elements; Lightning, Water and Air. With Kitsunbi’s help she will hide the three supports so as to not have Hawkmoth aware that we have help. If things go to plan that is.”

“Don’t they always.” He gave a charismatic smile as he saluted to the other heroines. “Salut ladies, glad to have you on board.”

They nodded their greeting in sync that slightly creeped Chat Noir out, would have been more if he didn’t know who was under the masks. He was glad to see that he wasn’t the only one with animal ears now as he took in Kitsunebi’s bat like fox ears. He was curious to know if they functioned, though the way they were swerving on her head it looked like they did.

“Hey dumb cat I…!” Queen Bee shut her mouth quickly when she realised that they weren’t alone and blushed heavily in Ladybug's presence. She suddenly got shy and quiet as she tapped her visor and held out her other hand that had little ear pieces. “I figure out how to get it to work. If you each take one we’ll be able to hear each other.”

“Thanks Queenie!” Ladybug beamed as she picked up the pieces and handed them out to the others. Oblivious to the effect she had on the Bee, She tilted her head towards the other two. “These two are Kitsunbi and Ryuko, You’ll be working with them as support until needed. Kitsunbi will cast her illusions to keep you and Ryuko hidden from sight. You and Ryuko are to provide back-up when needed. You two can fight but you must inform me or Chat when you are nearby okay? We won’t be able to see you once the illusion is cast.”

“Of course! Happy to be at service Ladybug!” Queen Bee beamed, though pouted when Chat Noir was chuckling to himself that she thumped him.

“You’ll fit right in.” She chuckled lightly at Chat Noir betrayed face. She turned to the other two and was serious once more. “You guys okay with the plan?”

Ryuko nodded her head as she gripped the handle of her sword. “I shall fight to protect. You can count on us.”

“Keep safe.” Kitsunebi held a closed fist to her chest and bowed her head. “Protect from far.”

Ladybug smiled gratefully then turned back to Queen Bee. “Please go with these two and Ryuko will fill you in okay?”

“Gotcha! I’ll be on my best Bee-haviour.” Queen Bee looked mortified as the puns flew out she rushed the two waiting heros and dragged them away from the main two while muttering ridiculous under her breath.

Chat Noir burst out laughing that he ended up falling backwards from laughing so hard. “Oh gosh! I knew it! I knew she liked puns like I did. Not letting her live this down!”

Ladybug rolled her eyes as she grabbed Chat’s tail and pulled him back up. “Mind on what happened earlier please.”

“Right right. Sorry.” He coughed into his hand as he settled. “Who do you think it is?”

Ladybug rubbed her chin with her fist as she thought. “I managed to save Nino from one earlier when I was on my way to see the sisters. I wouldn’t have thought Hawk Moth would be able to send out another so soon…. Might be.. Alya. She was slightly cracked up after what happened earlier but… hmm.”

“Let’s swing by the bakery first then just in case. Cause if it is Alya you could be the first target of her Ire if she got really choked up about it.” Chat Noir got up into a stretch and patted Ladybug on the shoulder gently. “You and me will have a talk later in front of bad movies and ice cream yea?”

“You’ve been watching too many chick flicks lately.” She giggled as she brushed his hand off and walked away intending to get the show on the road. “I would prefer beating your ass up on MS3”

He extended his baton and leaped away with a yell. “First to spot the akuma item wins the prize for what we do tonight!”

She flicked her yoyo out at that and pressed her ear piece on as she flew through the air. “Comms test, everyone good?”

“Hear you loud and clear Spots.” Chat Noir flipped through the air in front of her and dashed across the rooftops with ease. “Meowvelous ability Queenzy.”

“Chase a yarn, you hairball.” Queen Bee huffed.

“We can hear you too.” Ryuko chimed in before the Bee and Cat could get at it. “The Akuma appears to be able to fly. They were heading towards the east side by the school but not stopping. They appear to be looking for someone.”

“Heading there now.” Ladybug flew between buildings before catching up with Chat on the rooftops to race on them for a bit. They nodded towards each other before splitting off, Chat towards Nino and Ladybug towards the bakery. She landed on the balcony and was slightly startled to see Alfred waiting there. “Everything okay here?”

“Indeed.” Alfred paused as he was thinking about what information was needed. “The Akuma appears to be looking for you, Marinette, Nino and a girl named Lila? She says that she wishes to correct a wrong.”

Ladybug blinked confused till it clicked that he was also meaning that ladybug was being looked for as well as herself as Marinette. “She didn’t use any powers did she? and did you see her Item?”

“Flight seems to be the only one currently” He touched beside his eye “and I believe her glasses are her source.”

“Thank you! Keep safe okay!” She backflipped off with a wave and made her way in the direction of Lila’s, she both hoped and dreaded the thought of Lila lying about where she lived. She shook her head of thoughts as she took to the rooftops once more and slowed when she spotted the Akuma.

The akuma reminded her of the picture Alya showed her of the Heroine Starfire. She cringed at the thought of fighting a Tamaranean based akuma, she really hoped that there weren't any green beans or any of the other abilities for that matter. Akuma flew downwards and stalked towards a particular town house she screeched. “Come out and face me Lila! Face me!”

There was a beat or two but when no one was coming the akuma opened fire on the house and it slowly melted to the ground. The surrounding house wasn't affected but the people decided to flee for safety in case their house was next.

Ladybug looked on terrified as the building looked like molten green plastic when the attack was over. She heard a pained screech as the akuma hit the ground in agony.

“You coward! YOU COWARD! I should never have trusted you!” The akuma continued to screech and thump the ground in frustration. “I lost her because of you!”

“Guess what ever Lila had over her is gone.” Chat Noir whispered into the comm link.

“You saw everything?” Ladybug searched and found Chat Noir three rooftops over. “Nino safe?”

“I saw and he’s close but safe. Just stay away from the flower shop and we should be good.”

“Alright. Queeny are you nearby? Need you to tag her from behind if you can and willing.” Ladybug got ready to swing down when she got an affirmative. “Chat, keep out of sight and be ready to get me out if things go south. She was looking for me earlier so I’m going to play distraction for once.”

Once confirmed she yo-yoed down to the road a bit away from where the akuma was and slowly walked towards them. She kept her tone gentle and spoke loudly enough to be heard. “Alya?”

The Akuma flinched and turned swiftly towards Ladybug who stopped walking. “I’m Grievance currently… Ladybug…”

Ladybug stared at Grievance as their orange skin bubbled below the surface. The dark outfit was in tatters, distressed and torn. From behind the akumatized glasses was a mask of blue and trailed down their face like tear marks. She continued with a gentle tone as she held her hands out in front of her. “I’m here…”

“I messed up… I betrayed my friend for a lying fox! she she…. she brought out the worst of me.” Tears formed and trailed downward to heat the ground only to sizzle. Their hands clenched as their anger began to rise again. “I’m sorry.. I’m sorry… oh god I’ve ruined everything!”

“Alya…” Ladybug was starting to panic as she could see the steam rise from Grievance’s body.

“That storytelling witch!” Grievance screeched as they passed and stopped when she spotted the person in question hiding in an alleyway. “You! You pay for twisting my mind!”

Ladybug reacted quickly by flicking out her yoyo to circle around Lila’s middle and chucked her in Chat’s direction. Lila narrowly avoided being turned into green molten goop and Ladybug had to run out of the way of turning into it herself. “Melting her won’t help you!”

“She works for Hawkmoth!” Grievance shouted back angrily and took flight to follow the filthy liar. “She deserves worse than what I’m going to do to her!”

Ladybug stumbled in her chase when she heard that information. She had thought but she hadn’t been sure. Though if that truly was the case then they really needed to bug the girl and bug the manor. Sooner rather than later. She was about to be picked up by the chase when Grievance was smacked down out of the sky by a high wind.

“Ayla I know you’re hurting but this isn’t the way!” Ladybug rushed forward with her yo yo ready. “We can get Lila together but not like this.”

“Damnit!” Grievance growled as they pushed off the ground and looked ready to attack only to stop. “Nino…”

Nino stood in front of Ladybug with his arms stretched out in a way to protect Ladybug from being shot and to protect Alya from doing something stupid. “Curiosity got you good this time huh?”

Teardrops sizzled the ground as they started to cry once again as they heaved. “I didn’t… I didn’t…”

“I know you didn’t want this Alya… You also don’t want what’s happening now either.” Nino stalked forward slowly as Grievance edged away terrifiedly. “I got you Alys.”

“Nino…. I’m sorry…” Grievance attempted to shoot off a beam but was tackled into a hug and was venomed a moment later.

“I’ve got you…” Nino muttered and winced as a few drops of tears fell on top of his top. So much so that he didn’t notice that Grievance was frozen underneath him.

Queen bee whispered next to ladybug. “She’ll stay frozen until you release your bugs. sorry I didn’t see an opening till now.”

Ladybug gave a miniscule nod before walking over to pick up Alya’s glasses and break them. She quickly captured and released the butterfly and curing ladybugs. They swirled around the people, streets and houses there damaged and brought them back to near enough new. She turned to give the couple privacy when she was sure that Nino was okay to handle the care.

She glanced up to see Chat Noir standing on the rooftop and could feel Queen Bee follow upwards when she went up to join him. “Lila?”

He rubbed his chest and frowned deeply. “She managed to do some trickery and get away. Managed to bug track her though so if she stays in Paris should be able to locate her.”

Ladybug rubbed her forehead in frustration about the situation. “This sucks.”

Queen Bee fidgeted on the spot even though she couldn’t be seen, she felt nervous. “What now?”

Chat smiled reassuringly in the direction he heard her shuffle. “You and the other three will meet us at the top of the Eiffel tower in two weeks' time. I know it is a long time to wait but we have some things to set out before we bring you guys in fully. It’ll be worth the wait, promise.”

“Alright.” She bit her lip gingerly. “So me, Kitsunebi and Ryuko are on standby till then?”

Ladybug chipped in this time. “Same plan, stay out of sight and help from the shadows until otherwise said. I know civilian life is important so we will come find you if we need you.”

“Right right right…”

Ladybug giggled. “You did good today. Stay safe on your way back okay? Once you detranforms you should be seen by others again.”

“Oh thank god. This much fabulous needs to be seen. Cya when needed!”

The main heros laughed softly and Chat Noir indicated that she was gone. They then said good work to the sisters and that they would meet up later to discuss matters before signing off. His shoulders dropped as he sighed. “My father really needs bugged huh?”

“Sooner rather than later…”

“Damnit…”

-----

A sly faux fox winded through alleyways till she reached where her current mother was and touched her hand when she wasn’t noticed. The mother froze as her desire for children and memories of her daughter left her and took the form of a light ball that sunk into the foxtail necklace.

The girl smiled delighted as she moved away and found her next target in a gentleman that longed to see his grandchild. She hooked onto his arm and smiled with practised cheer as she could feel her magic take hold. “Come on Grandpa! Lets get some ice cream before we board the train.”

“Oh Delilah.. you scared me child!” He chuckled as he patted his youthful hand with his weathered one. “Yes, let’s get some ice cream before we get to London.”

Chapter Text

They took separate ways back to the bakery to keep up appearances but Chat Noir diverted last moment to head towards the seine. He wasn’t sure why but he had a feeling that he should head in that direction. He sent a message to Ladybug that he was checking something out and would meet up in a bit. He smiled when he got a ‘stay safe and bring back ice cream’ in return. He jumped down an alleyway and detransformed. “Oaft that was a hard one.”

“You’re telling me kid.” Plagg wisped around his head and took the offered cambert slice with gusto.

Adrien fluffed his hair so that his fringe was laying on his forehead before pulling up the hood of his cat hoodie. He messed with his fringe a bit more so that he could see. “Do you need another or do you want the mini cheese danishes Mari made?”

“Ooo the danishes.” Plagg cheered as he swooped into the front pocket and was soon joined by a small tin that housed the danishes.

He chuckled as he snuck out the alleyway and walked along the Seine slowly. It wasn’t often that he got to walk by himself, the looming presence of his bodyguard was a comfort but there were days that it was stifling. He breathed in the cold air and released the tension that he felt within slowly. There was a gentle warmth on his face from the setting sun turning the sky with shades of oranges and purples amongst the darkening blue sky.

There was gentle strumming that was fatly being played in the background that Adrien turned his head trying to locate where it was coming from. He noticed a boat in the distance and wondered if it was the one that belonged to Juleka but the notes weren’t playing from there. Somewhere closer. He tracked it as best he could and was happy as the notes grew louder and he worked out that it was at least an acoustic guitar.

He felt himself getting giddy the closer he got to the music as it seemed to pick up tempo and grow more wild. Free was what he felt when he heard the notes that he ended up running towards the sound that he ended up jumping over the railings to get to the lower level pathway and ended up startling the strummer that was on the bench in front of him. Adrien laughed breathless as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry…”

“It’s alright.” The guitarist smiled cooly as he plucked at the strings lightly that it sent tingles down Adrien’s spine. He tilted his head with an observant gaze. “I did wonder who this song belongs to. You’re Adrien right? I recognise you from Juleka’s photos”

Adrien had been worried for a moment there at being recognised but eased at the mention of Juleka. “Yeah, You know Juleka?”

He gave a light chuckle as he strummed a little more with a gentle smile but kept his eyes on Adrien. Once complete he held out his hand to shake, “I’m her older brother, Luka.”

“Nice to meet you.” He beamed as he reached out and as soon as his hand slipped into the others he felt a warmth in his heart and upon his arm. He stuttered in awe “I’m A A Adrien”

“Was previously established A A Adrien.” Luka teased with a spark in his eye. “Seems like we mean something to each other too.”

“Ah… yeah.” Adrien nervously pulled his hand back and stuffed it back into his front hoodie pocket. Plagg, in his rare moment of emotion, affectionately rubbed his head against his chosens hand in order to help settle his nerves. “Sorry i’m… i’m”

“A bit scared?” Luka enquired and the other nodded. “Understandable. I’m guessing having a guy for a heartmate hadn’t crossed your mind.”

“No.. Not really.” Adrien mumbled as he shuffled towards the bench and sat down when he got an okay. “I know that there are couples out there like that but it didn’t register that it would happen to me? It had been presumed that it would be a girl as that what father has always referred to my heartmate as. That is when he actually spends time with me that is.”

Luka hummed as he listened and lightly strummed out the music of the situation. “A select few then will know when you’re ready then?”

“You want to try? Really?” Adrien blinked surprised. Warmth brightened in his heart at the prospect of someone loving him for him. A love that his mother spoke of before her disappearance.

“The universe has connected our hearts together for a reason. I would like to find out, I won’t push you though.” Luka held out his guitar pick that had Jagged’s decal on it. “I’ll be here when you are ready.”

Adrien gingerly plucked the pick from the others hand with a shy smile. “How about we trade numbers? When I send the word bench by itself, would mean I would like to try and we can meet here to talk it out?”

“Can do that too.” Luka reached into his pocket, pulled out his mobile and handed it over with his contacts open.

He beamed as he took the mobile, typed his number and name here then handed it back. After a moment of Luka typing something in, Adrien felt his phone buzz twice and took it out to look. He smiled at the unknown number with the message of Luka Heartsong but squeaked when he saw the message from Marinette. “Ah! Sorry Luka! My friend is waiting on ice cream and I gotta hurry back.”

“It’s alright, stay safe heading back won’t you?” Luka stood up and kept his grip on his guitar. “Or do you want some company?”

“Ah I’ll be fine! You get back to your guitar, I really liked the melody you played earlier!” Adrien back tracked towards the stairs and jumped his way up before disappearing and reappearing when he forgot something. He had the biggest grin on his face as he looked down upon his heartmate. “Chat later Luka!”

Luka waved with a knowing smile as the sunshine boy disappeared again. He settled himself down on the bench and took up his guitar once again. With gentle strums of a new heartsong he looked up at the sky with warmth in his heart. “Chat later indeed.”

Chapter Text

Adrien managed to avoid talking about gaining a heartmate on his return as he had walked on Marinette and Alfred planning on bugging his house. It didn’t feel like a home in a while so he felt better calling it his house instead. He contributed with what he knew of the house layout between bites of ice cream and that his father and Nathalie were going away for two days without him from thursday. So they planned to plant them with Alfred coordinating from the side lines.

When they walked to school the next day it was a sober affair. Nino had greeted them with a tip of his cap and with the info that Alya wouldn’t be there for the rest of the week with the possibility of switching to homeschooling. Which was a surprise to the both of them. Marinette looked at Nino sadly “How is she?”

“She is okay as can be all things considering. Lila really did a trip on her mentally so she is waiting for counselling but she rather not be at school while she figures stuff out. She does want to apologise to you and the heros but it’ll be some time I think.” Nino sighed deeply as he shifted his weight to his other foot. “Step at a time as they say.”

Marinette chewed her lip in thought. “I might not be ready to see her myself either but could you come after school and we can create a care package for her?”

Nino smiled at the thoughtfulness. “Yeah I can do that, I’ll go by the shop to get some of those fancy face masks and stuff she likes to go with it.”

Adrien was about to add in when he was tapped on the shoulder. He glanced behind him to see Juleka. “Oh hey! How’s things?”

Juleka smiled briefly as she swiped her fringe to show both her eyes before it fell back in place again. “Things are fine… I was wondering if we could talk at lunch maybe?”

He nodded his head a few times “Sure! I’ll meet you here at the steps? Is it just the two of us or is Rose joining too?”

“Just the two of us.” Juleka tilted her head slightly. “I don’t think you want Rose to hear what we are going to talk about.”

“Oh?... Oh!” Adrien took a moment to realise what she meant and blushed shyly at that. “Yeah okay I get that. Okay just the two of us it is then.”

Juleka smiled at that and waved a goodbye as she went to catch up with Rose who was talking animatedly with Mylene and Ivan.

Adrien turned back to Nino and Marinette to hear that they moved onto their group business project. His ears perked at the hearing model. “You’re needing models?

Marinette squeaked as she turned as Adrien had been rather close to her ear. She rubbed her ear gently to get rid of the weird feeling. “I was hoping to be inclusive with the sports wear. So I need a variety of sizes of three male and three female. It means more work for me but I think it would also give us a better grade in that view point too. Maybe two others if want a more gender neutral as well but i’m not too sure on who to ask.”

“I’ll ask Nat if I'm able to help? and I think Juleka has said previously about modeling so I could ask her at lunch if you want?”

“That would be great actually!” Marinette clapped her hands and touched them to her lips as she thought some more. “I could possibly try and catch Mylene and Ivan too. That could work with the plus sizes, think Ivan was having some difficulty with his gym wear anyways so that could help him out also. erm… could just ask Kim and Alix as they wanted more gender switch clothes anyway which would make my work easier…”

Nino and Adrien glanced at each other with a smile as Marinette spiraled into her thoughts and pulled out her notebook to write them down before she forgot.

At lunchtime Adrien waved his friends away and went to join Juleka under the guise of discussing model work with her. He caught up with her at the steps and they decided to eat at the benches by the Seine to discuss things.

Once settled by the flowing river he turned to Juleka with an anxious look. “So… you wanted to talk about Luka?”

Juleka shifted her hair and decided to play with it to help with her own anxiety. “Yeah… He told me about meeting you last night and how unsure you were about it. Since Rose and I are Heartmates I figure that you could ask me how it feels? Sorta… Kinda… erm yeah…”

Adrien calmed at her Juleka’s thoughtfulness. “That could help… To be honest when you asked me to talk, I thought you were going to give me the shovel talk or something.”

Juleka semi smirked at that. “I still could if you prefer that instead?”

He chuckled nervously at that. “Thanks but no thanks. erm… Were you okay with your Heartmate… being well... a girl?”

“I wasn’t opposed by the idea of it really… My mother has always been open to the possibility so she wasn’t mad that I have a girlfriend. It doesn’t feel weird?...” Juleka frowned a little trying to gather her thoughts. Her fingers automatically started to braid her hair. “When the band appeared I felt warmth. A gentle flame that was all for me that burned bright when I was by her side. A love shared between the two of us and I thought that was more special than what people thought of us when we are of the same gender.”

“You think society would be more accepting huh.” Adrien murmured as he let what she said sink in.

“You would think but… people are… weird.” She started to undo and redo her braid. “It’s not frowned upon though, just not as discussed as the opposite gender couples. They are just.. Loud?”

He nodded with a chuckle. “That’s one way to describe them. More in your face kinda deal.”

“Exactly” She did a little happy wiggle at being understood. She tied off her braid and proceeded to puff it out till satisfied. Once done she faced Adrien. “Have you told Marinette or your dad?”

“Haven’t said to my dad yet as I’m not sure how he would react. Now that I’ve talked to you I might tell Marinette later… Maybe Nino and Chloe after… She would throw a fit if she didn’t know first though… ugh”

Juleka giggled lightly to herself at his groan. “Tough choice.”

“Tell me about it.” He groaned into his hand then a question from earlier popped into his mind. He removed his hand and grinned. “Change of topic but are you still wanting to model?”

She blinked a couple of times and answered unsure “... Yes?”

“Great!” He clapped his thighs and turned to her more eagerly. “Marinette needs models for her sport collection and I offered to ask you while she asks Mylene and Ivan. Would you be interested? I would be there to help out modeling wise so I can give tips and tricks too!”

“... That sounds like fun…” She smiled uneasily and fought with herself to not curl inwards as her anxiety started to creep up.

Adrien tilted his head slightly at Juleka’s sudden shift in mood. He slowly reached out to brush her fringe aside to see her nervous gaze. He lowered his voice a little to help soothe her worries. “You’ll do great Juleka. You look amazing and if you are worried about poses and what not, I’ll be there to guide you into your best photogenic self.”

“Thanks Adrien…” She ducked into her shoulders with a shy smile. She perked a little when she heard footsteps behind her and got even more interested when Adrien ducked his head a way. She turned and beamed when she saw her brother. “Luka, Hey!”

Luka gave two finger salute as he shifted his guitar bag further up on his shoulder. “Hey Jules, Hi Adrien.”

Adrien gave a light wave and a muffled hello. The warmth he felt was a little startling but comforting. His face warmed even further as he felt a hand upon his knee, he looked up slowly to see Luka’s smiling face as the older boy knelt on his hunches in front of him.

Luka shifted a little forward and placed his hand under Adriens chin to tilt his face up a little further. He smiled when the blush deepened against the blond's nose. “There you are Allegro*.”

“I feel more like Presto* right now.” Adrien squeaked out and felt his body tingle all over when he witnessed Luka’s eyes widen a fracture as they shined in amusement.

“Should I leave so it can go back down to Moderato*?” Luka teased slightly as he pulled his hand away slowly.

Adrien shook his head as he snatched Lukas hand into his own. “Think can get it to settle to Allegretto*

Juleka coughed to the side as she watched her brother musically flirt with her classmate with faint amusement. “How about we Andante* back to school? I would like to hang with Rose before we get back into class.”

“Sorry Juleka.” Adrien replied back sheepishly as he let go of Lukas hand and gathered up his lunch.

“If it’s alright with you two, can I accompany you two back to school?” Luka stood up and stepped away in order to not crowd them. “Ma wants some cakes from the bakery across from your school.”

“Ah the cakes from Marinette’s parents bakery are the best!” Adrien chripped happily at the thought of them as he pulled his back on over his shoulder. “Like I really love their croissants and pain au chocolat but you gotta try their cream puffs! Tom loves experimenting so they have a bunch of flavours to try!”

Adrien was so happy babbling on about his friends bakery that he didn’t see the doft look that Luka was gg him or the fact that Juleka had walked on ahead to get back to Rose. Essentially leaving the two alone to get to know each other a bit.

He was a bit nervous after that when he got back to the classroom and was getting curious looks from his soulmates. Thankfully they didn’t call him out on his behaviour whilst in the classroom though it was a near free for all at the end of the school day. He was saved a little when Nino had asked Chloe for her opinion on what spa stuff to get Ayla. The heiress had then proceeded to drag Nino and Sabrina to the hotel to speak with the spa staff about supplies. So Adrien only had to deal with Marinette’s curious gaze on the way to her house.

Marinette sat on her computer chair with both her arms and legs crossed to stare Adrien down.

Adrien sat on his hands on her chaise to stop himself from fidgeting but it only caused him to sway more in nervousness.

Marinette proceeded to tap her fingers on her arms as she waited for him to spill whatever it was. Her eyes narrowed as the seconds ticked by. The kwami’s had joined together in conversation at her desk in hushed murmurs as they caught up with each other. Tikki’s little squeals of delight and Plagg’s cackle of mischievousness as he looked back and forth between Adrien and Tikki that had Marinette really curious. She glanced back to Adrien. “Is something wrong?”

“No no no.” He shook his head as he chuckled nervously. “Nothing wrong.”

“Then what’s good that has you all nervous?” Marinette asked concerned, then giggled when Plagg flew over and whispered in her ear. The whispering was ticklish but the words said were exciting.

Her eyes widened excitedly, Adrien waited for the squeal but the disappearance of the kwamis made them both confused.

There was a thundering of steps and her trap door was tossed to the side violently as a determined Chloe came into view. Her eyes were set on Adrien as she climbed up and meanically started filing her nails as they held eye contact.

“A little help here guys?” Nino called up as he was pushing up a huge gift basket with spa supplies through the door opening.

Marinette dashed over quickly and pulled it the rest of the way through. She wished she was surprised by the size but since Chloe was involved she wasn’t that surprised. She whispered to Nino as he came up and over to her side. “Did she buy out their supplies?”

Nino snorted a laugh as he pushed the items around in the basket. “Just a near fifth of it. So what’s up with my broseph?”

“That’s something I would like to know.” Chloe raised her eyebrow as she watched her soul brother wiggle under her gaze. She brandished her nail file out like a weapon as she placed her other hand on her hip. “I haven’t seen you this ready to burst since we tried to hide the fact that we broke a vase at your house from your maman. How did her look go again?”

Arien shivered at remembering the look he received when he was little. He pulled his hands out from under his thighs and placed them on top of them instead. He chewed his lip as he thought things over.

Nino was the one to walk over and sit beside him on the chaise and placed a comforting arm around him. “Hey man, we got you, you can tell us.”

“I know it’s just that…” He looked up at Nino with a little bit of worry. “I erm… I met my Heartmate.”

“Dude! That’s awesome! Why worried though? Are they a douchebag? Cause I can sort them out if you want.” Nino rattled on as he hated to see his friend stressed.

“No no… He’s great! Patient even… but I just.” Adrien played with his ring as he fumbled with his words. “With how things are with Alya between you and Marinette. I wasn’t sure… It just didn’t feel right to bring it up.”

Marinette walked over and sat down by Adriens legs and smiled up at him gently. “Thank you for thinking of us Adrien. It’s appreciated.”

“Yeah man, I know things are rough right now but hearing you have a Heartmate is great.” Nino patted Adrien’s back with a grin then he nodded his head as he continued factually “Still rough them up though if needed.”

“No need for that. He’s really nice, you’d like him actually! He’s a musician!” Adrien beamed at that but tensed when Chloe joined on the chaise and started prodding him with her nail file that he had to keep swatting it away from his side. “Quit it!”

Chloe continued as she kept changing course of where she prodded. “You have yet to tell us a name!”

“It’s Luka! Luka, Luka, Luka!” Adrien started using both his hands to stop her prodding and ended up pushing Nino off the chaise on to Marinette in order to get away from the manic. He scampered away only to be chased by a determined Chloe who was buzzing excitedly.

Nino and Marinette were just giggling to themselves on the floor. Having been used to Chloe’s childish chases from their younger days and were happy to see it happen now to someone else.

Marinette hummed thoughtfully, gaining Nino’s attention. He spoke curiously “Something up?”

“Ah I have something to give you.” Marinette smiled at him. “Remind me before you leave? It something shiney and I rather Chloe not magpie it off of you.”

Nino chuckled. “Yea sure. I’ll remind you later.”

Once they calmed down enough to finish Ayla’s care package they left to get dinner one by one. Nino reminded Marinette and successfully left with a curious chinese sympoled box and a box of miniature green tea macarons.

Chapter Text

“You sure you’ll be alright?”

“Sure B, I’ll show the tiny terror base operations, the simple stuff.” Jason shrugged his shoulders as he watched Bruce set his cowl in place. It was interesting watching how a simple accessory managed to change a mouth from a resting bitch face to a scowl. “Nothing I haven’t done before.”

Bruce clicked in the reactive eye protection into his cowl before looking at Jason through them. His scowl deepened in a concerned manner. “Any closer to a new identity for yourself? Or should I just continue calling you the Mechanic?”

Jason snorted as he looked off to the side. “Mechanic still. Haven’t had inspiration for a new one just yet. That and well you know.”

Bruce nodded as he adjusted his cape. He sighed deeply and when he looked up he went into Batman mode. “Keep the coms clear and don’t torment Damian too much.”

“Ha, think I’m the one that’s going to be getting tormented.” Jason huffed out a laughed as the both of them walked out from the changing area and went to the Batcomputer. Robin sat at the computer setting up the night mission objectives all the while dodging Damian’s attempts of subtle sabotage.

Damian had decided instead of out right killing them like he had planned too. Someone had pointed out that Dick was a ward, Tim wasn’t officially adopted and Jason was presumed dead, that Damian was the only Wayne child and didn’t have to fight for the position of heir. Robin mantle was a different manner. Dick had Nightwing, Jason had outgrown the mantle and Tim had a bit more to learn as being Robin. So he planned to up Tim’s training by attacking him in a more constant manner. The only way Tim could avoid it was by sleeping (Dick was grateful since it meant Time slept more regularly).

Nightwing was sliding his escrima sticks into place on his back when he noticed the other two approach. He waved cheerfully “Good to go?”

Batman grunted in response as he stopped next to his son and narrowed his eyes in warning. “Behave tonight and listen to Jason.”

Damian placed his hands behind his back and slipped his flick knife back up his sleeve. “Yes Father.”

Batman stared at him for a moment before turning to Robin. “Everything set up Robin?”

“Just a moment.” Robin did a couple of clicks and then they were connected with Oracle at the watchtower. Her picture appeared in the top right corner where she gave a thumbs up. He returned it before getting up from the chair that was quickly filled by Jason. Robin rolled his eyes and double checked his belt before nodding up at Batman. “Good to go now.”

“Very well.” Batman nodded his head to the boys staying as the three vigilantes headed to the Batmobile and Wingcycle. He tossed a comment over his shoulder. “Be good.”

“Ha never.” Jason grinned as he put a hand to his mouth to call back. “Stay safe you three.”

The coms clicked to life and Nightwings' amused voice could be heard. “Take it easy you two.”

Damian scowled a little that had Jason snickering at how it resembled Bruce’s. Jason scrowled over the com options. “Silencing base coms so leaving you in Oracle's capable hands for the night, see you on the other side.”

“Affirmative.” The three vigilantes replied back and Oracle took over the main operations for the night.

Jason pressed for silence and changed the settings to flash warnings when their attention is needed. He then sorted their mission reports to the top screen so that he could set up the main screen for Damian’s lesson.

Damian watched what Jason was doing intensely. This was his first night allowed being in the batcave and he wanted to take everything in. The first night he was confined to his new bedroom. Then it was the manor as they did online shopping for his clothes, Dick and himself cleaned up the chandelier mess. Apparently their carer would not be pleased that it had been destroyed again.

“Alright tiny destroyer.” Jason leaned back and looked Damian up and down. “You can sit down, you know.”

He squinted his eyes a little before he went off to the side to roll over one of the spare chairs across to sit by his brother. He sat with a proper posture unlike the other who was reclined. “Before we start. I have a question for you.”

“Owh yeah? Sure, hit me with it.” Jason rested back even further in his chair so that he could bring his leg up to rest it on the other. His body turned in order to show he was paying attention to him.

“Your madness… how have you been coping?” Damian had been curious since the older boy had joined and had left the compound. Amount of times that he watched the boy be tossed into and survived with less sanity each time, garnered the boy’s respect that the next time they sparred, they had made a soul connection. Discovering soul connections made Damian curious and demanded Jason tell him about it when they were in private. Learning of Dick and Tim then had made him jealous and confused. Those emotions had made him more irritable afterwards. Though no matter how badly Damian had treated Jason at the time, the elder seemed to have understood and even sympathised.

“Well isn’t that a loaded question.” Jason looked up to the ceiling and took sudden interest in the stalactites. He counted a few drips as he considered his feelings and words. “The majority of it got out of my system during my stint as Arkham Knight. Terrorising B, Nightwing and Robin to near death reset my brain? It’s hard to describe… I know my mind is more damaged than most, that what was lost will remain lost…”

Damians natural frown softened at the admittance. His mother had explained that there was a consequence with each use of the pits, His grandfather always seemed to come back with little to no change. So seeing Jason being revived and instantly going on a bloodlust rampage had him questioning the sanity of his grandfather he kept those thoughts private. He stayed quiet as he observed Jason gather himself.

“I’m piecing myself back together… Do you know of Kintsugi? The japanese practice that beautifies broken pottery.” Jason looked at Damian with sad eyes and a smile of sorrow.

“I am aware of the method of gold splicing.” His eyes narrowed as he took in the way Jason furrowed his brow, the way his lip quirk just a small amount, and the way that the green shone brighter from unshed tears in his grey eyes. Damian’s eyes flicked to the horrible J like scar before seeking his eyes out again. “Mother had a favourite tea cup repaired that way.”

Jason chuckled deeply as he ruffled his own hair and with a sniffle continued “Well I came across it one night, once things died down and I was low. I… started imagining myself as broken pottery and mended myself slowly that way. On good days with people, I would imagine later on in bed, of them helping me mend another piece. It’s been a few years since then but I’m getting there.”

“Manifestation of your resilience.” Damian added quietly with a bowed head.

The elder cocked his head with a lopsided grin. “Yeah pretty much. Don’t tell the others about it though. I wouldn’t hear the end of it.”

He scowled uncertainty. “You’re closer to them than I. Why tell me this?”

“We’re not close yet.” Jason reached over to grip the younger's shoulder but thought better of it, when he saw him tense, by gripping his own leg instead. “Besides.. You would be the only one that has seen the Pit, sept B but emotions isn’t his strong suit anyways.”

The computer flashed to say they have received a message. Damian watched as Jason checked it out and turned on coms to Oracle. “Hey eyes in the sky, I’m gonna show D the silence protocol, is everything quiet?”

“Hey Mechanic! Nothing major going on so should be safe, how long do you think you are going to be?”

“Eh.. No more than thirty maybe forty minutes?” Jason glanced at the message again. “Yeah no more than forty.”

“Alright, I’ll let the others know, and incase of an unexpected emergency the keyword is Hussle got it?”

“Hussle, gotcha Oracle! Running silent protocol in three… two… one” He opened a cover and pressed the little grey button inside.

The lights dimmed to near non-existence along with the computer neutralizing its brightness. It powered down the extra 8 monitor screens and the two side keyboards. So the only thing that was available was the main screen and keyboard that was just bright enough to make out each other's features.

“Well Damian, it looks like you're gonna see Alfred before meeting him in person.” Jason replied back to the message saying that he was secure. “The one you really don’t want the disapproval of.”

He quirked an eyebrow at that. Mother had told him of Alfred in passing, that the old man was just a mere servant, but if Jason revered the old man then he had to sort out his thoughts again. Moving in with his father was certainly changing his views on things. It was exhausting.

The computer screen brightened a moment later when the webcam came on to start a video call. There was a rustle on the other end then Alfred’s tired face showed on screen. His whole face brightened when seeing Jason that Damian bit down on his tongue at the rare jealous rouse once again. “Good evening Master Jason, hope all is well?”

Jason glanced to the side and back again. “You could say that. How are you and yours?”

“That would be the main reason I’m calling you.” Alfred cleared his throat for a moment, early morning cotton mouth was a dreadful feeling. “But first introduce me to the young gent beside you. I’m sure there’s a story to tell.”

“Not much of a story other than Talia being a pain again.” Jason stated bitterly. He waved his hand to indicate that Damian was to come closer into frame. “This is Damian, biological son of Bruce and Talia. And if Talia has her way, Demon Head Heir and the next Robin to be.”

Alfred closed his eyes as he took a long drink of water with the clear idea that he would have preferred something stronger. Once the glass was placed back down on the table he gave Damian a look that made him feel unworthy for once. The eyes of a caring grandfather far different from those of a demented one. Alfred hummed having seen something of note. “I look forward to getting to know you more in future Master Damian. I do apologize that I wasn’t there to greet you and make your first night more welcoming.”

Damian looked taken a back and was suddenly very grateful that the butler wasn’t there the first night. His first impression wouldn’t have been the best. “Couldn’t be helped, Mother did drop me on Father rather unexpectedly, once you return I do believe we could talk over some…”

His sentence dropped off as he wasn’t sure where to go with it but thankfully Alred picked up on what he had intended. “Over afternoon tea would be lovely. I’ll make sure to make something we will both like, I’m sure Dick has asked you what you like to eat?”

“Yes.. He was kind enough to do that.”

“Sorry to butt in but we don’t have much time left till I have to check back in with Oracle.” Jason brought back the conversation to hand. “What is it that you need Alfred?”

“Quite right…” Alfred sat up straighter and started typing on his end. “This one I would like the family to keep an eye on.”

Jason clicked on the file that had been sent and several documents showed up with a picture of a female next to it. “Threat level?”

“Moderate. Her name is Lila Rossi, possibly an alias, she possesses strong magical talents in Illusion. She has caused quite a mess here and could be doing possible harm in future to others if not apprehended. Our best chance might be to forward the information to Zatanna.”

“Noted.” Jason glanced at the girl’s picture and instantly felt repulsed when a thought of dred filled him. “Did she…?”

Alfred frowned and nodded sullenly. “Unfortunately my granddaughter had been affected by the girls toxicness. She might open up to you later about it but it’s still fresh.”

“Alright… Give her a hug from me won’t you?” Jason asked a little dejected that he couldn’t do it himself.

“I’ll be sure to pass your sentiments along.” Alfred smiled to himself about Jason’s doting on Marinette. The smile was gone a moment later. “Rossi can be known by the family but the next file can only be known by the three of us and neither of you are to access it’s contents.”

“Life or death?” Jason asked seriously and a bit worried about what Alfred had gotten himself into. He received a nod in comformination that had his lips thinning in frustration. “Then I ask for a crisis code to be placed on it in case anything happens and you are unable to manage it yourself.”

Damian observed the interactions closely. Such worry for the others safety was pretty much a foreign concept to him that he had only experienced towards his mother. Even at that it was disregarded as something weak, something he was to get rid of.

Alfred stared at Jason wondering if the boy would back down but with one glance at the boy's scar gave him the answer he needed. Jason didn’t want what happened to him to be repeated in any shape or form. His gaze softened. “Very well. Crisis Prompt. One who rises to make bread.”

Jason ran a program to encrypt the second file with the prompt and only for it to be opened with the answer. His fingers froze above the keyboard as it took him a second to realise what it could be. He typed in her name and saved it then closed it down to run in the background as Alfred sent more files into that folder.

“I’m glad you’ll do what is needed to take care of her should something happen.” Alfred gently commented as he sent the final file. “Master Jason, Master Damian, take care of each other and I’ll see you in two days' time.”

Jason seemed to be lost in his own little world that Damian spoke up for him. “We’ll try. Take care Alfred.”

Alfred smiled pleased. “Make sure Master Dick replaces the chandelier before then please and thank you.”

Damian nodded and the screen went blank. The system slowly started to reboot itself out of silent protocol back to normal mission mode. Damian glanced to the side to see Jason frowning to himself. “May I ask who his granddaughter is?”

“Hm?” Jason automatically responded then registered what he was asked, He shook his head and gathered himself once more. “Marinette. She’s his last family soul connection. She is who he is visiting right now in Paris. I’m the only one that has spoken to her over video call, Dick is aware of her and now you are too, I think Bruce knows but I'm unsure about Tim. Due to her age we won’t be seeing her visit any time soon in order to protect her from the paps and what not.”

“You seem to be very protective of her.” Damian took note of the way Jason seemed to relax in his chair and the way his face softened at the mention of the girl. “Are you connected also?”

“Nah, She just has a way of lighting up the room even when not in it.” Jason caught himself as he almost fell from the chair from relaxing too much. He coughed and took a swat at Damian who was smirking at him but the tiny terror just rolled a bit away from him. So he just growled a little at his misfortune. He went back to typing at the computer. “Just to make sure. don’t say anything about Alfred alright? and only mention Rossi should you be asked about him.”

“Understood.” Damian rolled back over so he could see what Jason was doing. The thought of hiding something purposefully from his father didn’t sit too well with him as he had been told to do what he needed to gain his father approval. He’d do it though, since it was Jason that asked, for the mentor that cared even when Mad. “Jason?”

“What up D?” Jason focused on the updates that he received from Oracle whilst making sure that the files Alfred had sent were secured.

Damian came a bit closer as he felt slightly unsure of himself for once in his life. “Could we do some Kintsugi?”

Jason stopped clicking and turned slowly to Damian to make sure he heard right. “Do you have something broken that you want to mend?”

“I have nothing that I have chosen myself…” He shrunk a little but forced himself to straighten out. To not act so nervous.

“How about we make something then?” Jason suggested as he took out his phone and started looking at pottery craft and supplies. They have plenty of rooms so why not have one for pottery. “Make it to break it to then mend it again. Then it really would be something you chose.”

Damian looked at his hands briefly, he knew that he could break things but making? “By my own hands… I wish to learn something new.”

Chapter Text

“Yeah I understand, don’t like it but I understand where you are coming from.” Dick reclined in his chair in a defeated manner. He sighed heavily as his boss continued to speak dejectedly over the phone. “No really I get, no hard feelings, keep fighting the good fight alright? It was a pleasure working with you.”

He hung up before his now ex boss could continue the wallow train. Best Officer but unreliable too many times, sure that will look real swell on his resume. He rubbed his phone against his forehead in annoyance. He guessed moving back home would be the best thing to do right now. “Better than now than ever I suppose.”

Bruce had walked into the room at the moment and looked at his ward in concern. “What happened?”

Dick tensed then relaxed when his brain caught up with who walked in. He looked up briefly before looking away to put himself in a more relaxed position. “Just been fired. One too many absences.”

“Ah…” Bruce walked further into the room and settled into a chair across from him. He rested his elbows on his knees so that he could rest his chin upon clasped hands. He waited.

“Not sure what gotta tell Kori…” He tossed his phone and lazily caught it each time. “No reason to keep the bludhaven pad if there is no reason to stay there. Think she quite liked the place.”

Bruce didn’t even have to think about it. “I’ll pay for it.”

“What?” Dick nearly dropped his phone in surprise, he sat up straighter in his chair as he stared Bruce down. “No, Bruce, I can’t ask for you to do that.”

“Why not?” Bruce leaned back. “The money is just sitting there at the best of times. You just said Kori liked the place. So why wouldn’t I pay to help you be happy?”

Dick scrunched his nose. “It’s the principal.”

Bruce chuckled a little. “How about a compromise then?”

“...Keep talking.”

“The Teen Titans.” Bruce waited for a moment before continuing. “You go and help Kori oversee their training. You can come and go as you please and you wouldn’t have to worry too much about absences.”

Dick snorted at that. Full time vigilante wasn’t something he thought he would do as he didn’t want to lose himself completely to the job. Plus side he would get to see Kori more often. “Who's the teens?”

“You remember your old teammate Garfield?” Bruce paused and looked at Dick.

“Ah yea Beast Boy. He wonders around with doom patrol now doesn’t he?” Dick tilted his head confused.

“That would be correct. However during a mission his DNA was taken and a baby was born from his DNA. The baby had been fast tracked into teenage hood and thankfully was rescued before being further experimented on.” Bruce shuddered a tiny bit as he remembered Clark going through something similar with Conner. “Garfield has been looking after the boy for the past three years as his son Gar. He has passed on the title beast boy to him and adopted the name changeling for himself.”

Dick whistled to himself. “Man, party loving prankster turned dad… good for him. So the new Beast Boy part of the team?”

“Alongside Raven, Blue Beetle and possibly another.” Bruce leant on his hand as a wave of tiredness suddenly hit him. “Depending on how things go here… in a few years. Possibility of Damian going as a Robin.”

It was moments like these that Dick could see the more human side of Bruce. It was more obvious in the beginning years as Bruce made sure to take care of him just enough after his parents had fallen to their deaths. There was a slight bond between them when it concerned their orphan status. As time went on though he could see his guardian closing himself off and it just got worse after what happened with Jason. He would be forever indebted to Tim goading them when he did. But… He could always see the way that Bruce kept them at arm's length.

Dick rolled his head to stretch out his neck as he thought. Even as the blood son it didn’t really look like the boy would have much luck getting past the man’s armour and that sucked. “I’ll mentor Damian for a bit.”

Bruce blinked once and raised his brow in question.

“Tim isn’t there yet to hand down the title of Robin. So I’ll take care of Damian’s training till then.” Dick spoke confidently and stared his guardian in the eyes, unwavering. “But you need to be a Father to Damian.”

“I…” Bruce looked over to the side as a lost look entered his eyes for a moment. “I’ve been avoiding him haven’t I?”

“Yes.” He stated factually as he looked concerned and annoyed at the same time. “Don’t punish Damian for what she did to you.”

The lost look continued as Bruce continued to stare off to a far off place where Dick knew he wouldn’t be able to do anything more with the man.

With a heavy sigh Dick stood up and reached over to give Bruce a comforting squeeze on the shoulder before leaving. He decided it would be best to go down to the training arena in the batcave to vent out the woes before dinner.

As he went down into the batcave he could hear the telltale sounds of Jason working on Barbara’s exoskeleton. He wondered if Damian would be down there too as the boy seemed to have taken to following Jason like a scowling duckling whenever he wasn’t blindsiding Tim. He hoped the other was currently having a nap.

He glanced around to see Jason was wheeling around on his chair fixing wires together in his makeshift area that he claimed for himself. On the far side of the cave Dick spotted Damian possibly mediating at the training mats. He gave a wave to jason who returned it with one of his own before zoning back in on his work. So Dick decided to wander over to where Damian was.

Nothing indicated that there was any training happening as the boy didn’t look sweaty. The weapons were still in place on the side racks and there were any dust particles from the chalk to use the gym equipment. The only thing that stood out was the boy sat upon the mat with a katana across his lap and three lit candles in front of him.

So against his better judgement to intrude on someone's medatiation Dick strode across as quietly as he could and sat himself into a similar position to Damian. He could feel Jason’s eyes on the back of his head but ignored it as he closed his own eyes and exhaled breath.

Damian’s eyebrow twitched at the sudden intrusion upon his space. He had specifically told Jason that he wanted some space to calm himself. He placed a hand on the hilt ready to strike out when he opened his eyes. He stiffened when it was Grayson in front of him instead. He could feel himself coil up and snarl but managed to tamper it out to just an indignant scowl. “Grayson.”

Dick blinked his eyes open when he heard his name. He chuckled nervously at Damian’s look. “Hey little Wing.”

His eyes narrowed a little. “I don’t have wings.”

“I didn’t mean literally. I was just playing off of us being bats and birds.. but yea know forget I said it.” Dick rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Sorry for disturbing you.”

Damian wasn’t sure if he would forget or not. Jason referred to him by D which he tolerated since he heard him also refer to his father as B a few times and he liked the link. Little Wing however didn’t make sense to him as he was currently neither a bat nor a bird. Demon head heir, yes, but that was a title not a nickname. “Reason for disturbing?”

“Bonding?” He smiled unsure. With normal ten year olds he would have said to go get ice cream or watch movies. Though he felt a slight sense of deja vu about the situation when he first encountered Starfire. Showing her earthly fun had been interesting and fun. Maybe introducing Damian to the same things could work out well.

Damian wasn’t really sure what that would entail. His eyes trailed to Jason who had stopped his work to listen in. The older one nodded his head and gave a thumbs up so he took it to mean that bonding was a good thing. He looked back at Grayson with a studying gaze and made his decision. With a quick swipe of the Katana he put out the candles and sheathed the blade. “What do you have in mind?”

“Well there’s two things we could do.” Dick picked up the third candle and passed it to Damian when he held his hand out for it after balancing the other two. They got up and walked over to a table that had a box that held the candles. “We could train, which I figured would be something you are used to. Or we could order take out and watch some movies?”

Damian frowned as he placed the candles and closed the box. He looked up at Grayson curiously. “How do you bond over food and movies?”

Dick grinned at the curiosity and was glad to not have lost his touch in getting people to interact with him. “Well we order food that makes us happy but could leave us feeling icky afterwards if we eat too much of it but anyways! Then depending on the movie, we could be bonding over how good or bad it was. or how bad its graphics are, or how we would have handled the fight scenes.”

“That doesn’t sound… too horrible… Would the others be joining us?”

“Do you want them too?”

Damian gripped his arm where his family soulband was discreetly. He wasn’t too sure how to feel about it but it didn’t feel wrong. He nodded as he put his katana away. “If they don’t mind being in the same place as I then yes. I’ll even not attack Drake for the rest of the day.”

“Yea you might want to dial back on your attacks a bit.”

“But how else will his reflexes get better if I don’t do that?”

“Taking breaks isn't a bad thing, you need rest so your body can properly absorb what is being asked of it.” Dick ruffled his hair and Damian swatted his hand away. He looked at him with an easy grin. “Like you have a problem you can’t understand, you go to sleep and your brain is going over it as you sleep, then sometimes you wake up with the answer.”

Damian thought it over and his frown lessened enough that his forehead wasn’t as wrinkled. “Very well… So does that mean you have an answer to what to do about the chandelier?”

“Why would I need an answer for that?” he asked confused as he thought he had another week to get it sorted.

“As I recall Alfred is returning late morning after tomorrow has passed and there still is not a new one in place.”

Dick froze wide eyed and bit out a curse as he zeroed in on Jason. “Why didn’t you tell me you talked to him!? What I’m I going to do!?”

Jason held up his hands in surrender as he laughed. “I had told you after the debriefing yesterday. Not my fault you forgot.”

The eldest looked like he was going to rip his hair out as he started to pace as he mumbled. “What to do, what to do...”

Damian looked to Jason for guidance on the matter but only received a shrug and more laughter in return. He jumped, would deny it, when Dick exclaimed.

“Right I'm going to phone up the guy and hope he has kept the spare in case of emergencies and do a rush fitting.” He pointed to Jason and continued to delegate. “You go over the menus with Damian then do the same with Tim. Just get my usual won’t you?”

“Gotcha.” Jason looked at his watch with a grin. “You better run if you want to talk to the guy before closing time.”

Dick groaned and hurriedly made his leave to phone the guy. He shouted over his shoulder. “If I’m going down, you’re going down with me Damian!”

Damian frowned once again, bringing back the wrinkles. “Going down?”

Jason snickered into his hand. “Dickie bird was on his sixtieth last warning about damaging the chandeliers. I think he hopes to lessen his punishment since you are part of the reason.”

The ex assassin could see the logic in that.

Jason whipped out the takeaway menus and presented them grandly to the confused boy. “Let’s pick out your last meal shall we?”

Chapter Text

Damian mused about last night over his falafel and hummus. He knew that he awakened before the others as it had been ingrained into him to rise with the sun regardless if he had slept or not. To which he was thankful as it meant the others didn’t witness him having to use the stools to reach for higher cupboards and use the countertops more easily.

Last night wasn’t that… bad? He thought to himself as he dipped. Different certainly since it was his first time watching tv for fun. Not that he was going to tell them that. Grayson and Jason were most vocal about the movie inaccuracies, sometimes asking for his opinion so he felt a bit more included and mostly talked between themselves.

Drake had been off to the side eating the occasional doughnut between noodle bites. Staring intently at the movie screen that Damian wasn’t sure what to make of it. Next time he had looked at him, he was holding a doughnut out to him to have. He eyed it seriously before taking it and watched as Drake took a further bit from his own. Damian slowly nibbled away at his doughnut for the rest of the movie. It was alright.

“Hey Damian.” Tim yawned as he walked into the kitchen with his laptop.

Damian startled but hid it by rearranging himself on the stool. He didn’t realise how lost in his thoughts he was that he was managed to be surprised by another. Mother would be hounding him for flinching in such a manner. He scowled as he bit into his last falafel “Drake.”

“Erm…” Tim glanced away from the coffee maker to eye Damian waryingly. “Are we back to stabbing today?”

He sent a withering glare but the effectiveness was hindered by his hamster cheeks as he chewed his food. He swallowed and drank his orange juice as he thought about his answer.

Tim looked away with confusion and filled up his huge mug that Stephanie had got him one birthday. ‘I Bleed Coffee.’ He blew on it to cool it down as he waited for Damian’s response.

“No stabbing.” He could see Drake deflate in relief at the answer. “You have become expectate so it shall be a while before I do it again.”

“God that sounds so much worse.” Tim grumbled into his cup as he took a sip and walked over to sit across from him and booted up the laptop. “Any plans for today?”

“Training.” Damian tilted his head in slight curiosity at what Drake was doing.

Tim glanced at him for a second before bringing up emails and his calendar. Satisfied that he didn’t have to go into work today he replied to some of the more important emails and binned the non important ones. He closed it down and turned to Damian with a questioning look. “Do you wish to go exploring today?”

“Father declared it unsafe for me to be outside.” Damian sat up straight to attention. “Incase of enemies or the paparazzi’s.”

He glanced at his watch checking the time. “We’ll be fine, If we go to the park it’ll be just joggers and dog walkers. So there shouldn't be too many problems. We’ll just have to grab Jason or Dick to drive us out.”

“Why the park?” Damian got off the stool and followed Drake out of the kitchen and to the living quarters of Dick and Jason.

“Good place for people watching.” Tim knocked on his brother's doors and when he got none he headed towards the library. “That something you did with the league yeah? Watch people?”

“Assessed targets for the best possible way to eliminate.” He replied easily. “I had watched tapes of your fighting style in order to study the best way to annihilate you in combat. If you weren’t a soul bond, You would unlikely be standing here today.”

“Lucky me.” Tim sighed and realised that probably was why Damian attacked his left side more with his surprise attacks. He smirked a little as his left side was actually the stronger part and why he fought more right in order to strengthen that side. left was best but he down played it so that he could get the upper hand in fights should it be needed. Not that he was going to tell Damian that. “Bit cocky aren’t you?”

“I’m the correct level of confidence as I have the skills to back it up.” Damian scowled a little at possibly being underestimated. “I was trained to be a weapon, if i’m not then all that training and effort was useless.”

Tim sucked in his breath as he remembered what his own mother had put him through. Nothing like what Damian had gone through but it was a different kind of harshness that made him want to curl up in the cupboard to hide. He counted to three to let go of the feeling as he spotted the elder brothers cuddled in the alcove. He walked over and whispered as he shook them gently. “Dick? Jason? i need you to wake up.”

The brothers groaned in their sleep. Dick was first to blink his eyes awake and it took Jason to lose warmth to wake up bleary eyed. The eldest rubbed his eyes with a yawn. “Tim? What’s up?”

“Could either of you or both drive Damian and me to the park? We wish to people watch.” Tim stepped back from his knelt position so the other two had room to maneuver. “Since it is early enough that we shouldn’t be seen.”

Dick grunted as he got up and stretched with another yawn. “You’re paying for breakfast burritos.”

“Fair enough.” He sighed as he glanced at Jason’s zombie impression and grunt of acceptance. He glanced down to Damian. “Are you wanting a burrito too?”

“I have already eaten but thank you.” Damian was secretly pleased to be included once again. He was a little amused by his elder brother's zombie state of sleep. It reminded him of the more gentler times at the league with Jason attacking him in his sleep state. Those training sessions felt like a day off. He looked at Drake. “Shall we leave?”

“Let's go by my room first to grab you a hoodie and some sunglasses.” He nodded towards the entrance and called back to the others. “We’ll catch you back at the garage.”

“Sure!” Jason replied back sleepily and collapsed against Dick who struggled to keep him up.

Tim chuckled quietly to himself and he could tell that Damian was laughing on the inside by the way his lips quirked just slightly. Once at his room, Damian waited at the door as Tim went to his walk in wardrobe to get a couple of hoodies. It didn’t take him too long to find the ones he wanted. Satisfied he put on his ‘Coffee is my blood’ hoodie and tossed out the smallest hoodie he had to Damian.

He raised a brow as he caught it. It still looked like it was going to swamp him and hinder his movements. He fought his instinct to go pick something else out and put the hoodie on. He was correct in his assumption that it would swamp him but he was slightly comforted by that fact. He rolled up the sleeves enough to show his fingers and pushed them up his arms so that they would stay in place. He placed his hands within the Kangaroo pocket and grumbled when his vision darkened. He squinted enough to note that Drake had put sunglasses on him.

“Just in case, the sun can be quite blinding in the morning too ya know.” Tim ruffled Damian’s hair as he closed his door. “Let’s go pick a car out shall we?”

Damian grumbled as he followed. He wasn’t sure why the three of them kept ruffling his hair in such an affectionate manner. He had to stop himself from flinching each time they did it. He was used to hands grabbing, punching and pulling in order to try to kill him. He had to remind himself that his new ‘family’ weren’t going to try to do that, possibly in training sessions but not to kill him.

By the time he came back out of his thoughts he was sitting in the back of the car with Drake, Jason was in the passenger seat reclined back and Grayson was driving with his hair up in a lazy ponytail. Damian rubbed his forehead in frustration. He had only been with them for six days and he was already this lax with his training. He felt that he needed to correct himself after the excursion, get back to training more intensely.

Tim handed his black card over to Dick with his burrito order and nodded his head at Damian to follow him out the car. Jason had also joined them after giving Dick his burrito order too. Dick waved the card as a goodbye as he drove off to get breakfast for the three of them and a little something for Damian.

“I’ll catch you two at the usual tree Tim?” Jason asked as he pulled out his phone to message someone.

“Yeah, we’ll be at the bench by it.” Tim tugged on Damian’s sleeve so the boy followed him. “Half an hour?”

“Sounds good. Check in half an hour. “Jason beamed at them before taking a separate path, he brought the phone to his ear after one ring. “Hey care bear, haha yeah I know it’s early for once. Doing good? How’s lunch?”

Tim tilted his head curiously and glanced at Damian for a clue. Since the smaller one had been around Jason for most of the time with them recently. “Any ideas?”

“Possibly but i’m not at liberty to say if it is.”

“Huh, alright then.” He sipped from his travel mug that confused Damian on where he got it from. Tim pointed to where they were going, one of the more secluded trees but still seemed open to the park as people crossed its path frequently. “Let’s go people watch for a bit.”

They drudged along the path at a sedate pace, sparing glances ever so often in Jason’s direction to see him chatting happily on the phone like he hadn’t been a zombie state twenty minutes ago. Tim made a passing comment as he settled on his favoured bench. “He seems smitten with whoever it is.”

“You think him smitten?” Damian sat beside him with his legs crossed and his hands on his ankles to keep steady.

“I’ve seen it a few times. It didn’t end well the last few times, one used him to get back at her husband. That turned nasty.” He sipped some more coffee as he got comfy. “The way he is shifting and looking around like he wants to touch or hold something that isn’t there is an indicator.”

Damian looked closely to see what the other meant. “Couldn’t that be said the same about his guns?”

Tim waved his hand back and forth in a maybe manner. “He tends to have his trigger control practise action going on if that was the case.”

Damian hmmed slightly impressed by the subtle differences that could change the meaning of an action. “What are Grayson’s indicators?”

“They are easily spotted when he talks about his old teammate Kori.” Tim smiled a little at remembering his interactions with the Tamaranian. “They are Heartmates but it's been awhile since they last saw each other. You should ask him if you really wanna know, he tends to be an open book about that sort of stuff.”

“Possibly.” Damian wasn’t sure about the subject of love. Mother had love for him in a twisted way since he still lived despite how many times he was posed to have died. He suspected that his Father could grow to love him like the others but was too stunned at the moment to make the effort. His right hand hovered over his left arm above his elbow where his family band was. He was starting to understand the brother's affection between the other three and could see that they were attempting to show it towards himself. Love was such a funny thing.

He was cut out of his musings when he was shoved closer to Drakeand had an arm wrapped around him. He was about to bite the person when he realised it was Jason. Who had his phone facing them at an odd angle. He could see the lovely face of a blue eyed girl.

“Marinette this is Damian and Tim, my little brothers. Damian and Tim this is Marinette, Alfred’s soul granddaughter. say hi!” Jason grinned as he smooshed his two brothers into frame so that Marinette could see them.

Marinette giggled happily at seeing them as she gave a tiny wave. “It’s nice seeing you!”

Tim looked between Marinette and Jason and awed in his mind. Though before he voiced anything, he could feel Damian’s rage at being squished so shoved Jason to dislodge him from the small one. “Same to you.”

Damian grunted at the treatment but kept his comments to himself due to unknown company.

“Soo cute!” Marinette squeaked out before covering her mouth realising that she had said it out loud when she spotted Damian’s ears turn pink against his darker complexion.

“What’s cute?” Adrien came into frame and blinked confused at the sight of them. “Did someone just hit copy and paste here?”

“Adrien!” Marinette hissed in dismay though the elder brothers laughed at the comment. Marinette sighed in defeat as she introduced her friend. “Adrien these are Jason, Tim and Damian, the ones Grandpa works for. This is Adrien the pun loving menace.”

Adrien gave a thumbs up. “Love the hoodies.”

Tim smiled and lifted his cup to him. “Good taste.”

Marinette smiled sadly with a sigh. “Sorry for cutting introductions short but if he’s here it means gotta head back to school. It was really nice seeing you!”

Tim waved, Damian nodded and Jason got up to give her a more private goodbye. Damian tilted his head enough to see the screen and could vaguely see Marinette’s sunny smile as she said goodbye to Jason.

“What’s up you two?” Dick had managed to walk up to them quietly with one hand holding a tray with drinks and another with a brown paper bag. He held the bag out to Tim who rummaged around for their burrito.

“Nothing much.” Tim muttered as he brought out three burritos and pocketed his black card. He passed a smaller sized one to Damian who was surprised to get one when he said he hadn’t been hungry. Tim placed his own on his lap and held Jason’s in his hand. “Been pretty quiet but got to see Alfred’s granddaughter though.”

“What! Is she here?” Dick looked around and held the drinks with his other hand to keep it steady.

Tim snorted in amusement. “No. She was on a video call with Jason.”

Dick let out a strangled nose as he grabbed Jason’s burrito and flung it at the back of Jason's head which hit with a satisfying thwomp.

“Oi!” Jason looked around as he rubbed his head and picked his burrito off the ground. Thankfully still securely wrapped. “What was that for?”

Dick grumbled as he stalked on over to Jason to rant about be the last one not to see her.

“Feel like they perform more when out in public.” Tim observed off handley as he bit into his burrito while watching his brothers go at it.

“Hmm.” Damian grumbled a little more as he was still upset about being squished earlier. He eyed his burrito warily as it wasn’t something he tried before but Tim seemed to like iit so it didn’t seem so bad. He unwrapped it slowly and took a tentative bite. He chewed thoughtfully as he took another. Little bland but not the worst. He continued and both Tim and him watched the other two as they continued to argue animatedly.

Family wasn’t too bad.

Chapter Text

The room was dark. It had been in the dark since she was an Akuma. The light was only on when She put on a brave face for Nino, but once he left she slipped back into darkness. She had been surprised that she hadn’t been akumatized again but she supposed that her sadness wasn’t worth taking advantage of. She felt no anger, just acceptance with the bed she made and laid in.

Alya tapped away at her computer. She had taken down the ladyblog the night of her akumazation at the request of her parents but she had planned to rework it to put it back up at the weekend, which was tomorrow. She just had to correct her mistakes, take out incorrect information and anything related to the she-devil. She felt hollow as she looked at how enthusiastic she had been about those interviews and how blind she was to the comments.

People still came for the akuma fights so she hadn’t been too worried about her reputation waning. She glanced at the maintenance banner she had put in place on her website and winced. She truly hated having to do it but it was for the best if she wanted to be seen better than how she felt. She clicked the next link on her blog and started re coding to make it more accessible.

There was a big slaw of a door closing that made her jump. She cuddled more into her blanket afraid of what could follow such a noise next. It wasn’t an Akuma as her mother didn’t scream to hide.

“Nora! I thought you weren’t going to be home until next week what happened?” Her mother spoke shocked. “Is everything alright?”

“Is everything alright? is everything alright!?” Nora shouted back in anger. “I just found out what happened to Alya and you are asking me! if everything is alright? Where the hell is she?”

Alya could hear them scuffle just outside her door. She guessed that her mother was stopping her older sister from getting and for that she was glad.

“Calm down Nora. The last thing we need is for you to be akumatized in anger.”

There was a low growl and the walls revibrated from Nora punching the wall. “I’d love to see him try! I’ll kill him for taking advantage of my sister!”

“Nora! Calm down!” Another scuffle and a brash attempt at opening her door. “CALM!”

“I’ll show you calm once I’ve seen my sister!”

Alya shrank into her blanket and got out of her chair. She couldn’t have her family akumatized for her stupid mistakes. She shuffled over to her door reluctantly and creaked it open to see Nora had her mother in a chokehold. Her eyes widened in surprise at seeing such a thing, she gasped quietly. “Nora?”

“Alya!” Nora dropped her mother and rushed forward to get her hands on her sister but stopped when she saw her sister step back in fear. Nora froze further as Alya shrunk into herself as if waiting to be struck. “Alya?”

There was a moment of silence as she tried to collect herself. She flinched when Nora tried her name again. “Please… I don’t want you getting akumatized over me... Please don’t hurt mum.”

Nora flinched herself at having done such a thing as she glanced back to see her mum rubbing at her neck. “I didn’t mean…”

“We don’t mean a lot of things…” Alya directed her attention elsewhere as she delced back into old thoughts of the past week. “Doesn’t stop us from hurting people we care about though.”

Nora reached out uneasily but was dismissed as Alya ducked back into her room and closed her door once more. The kickboxer clenched her fists as she huffed out her anger. She glanced at her mum before getting frozen peas and a towel to ease the pain she had inflicted. She gave an apologetic look as she handed the items over.

Marlena frowned as she took the items. “I think you should best leave. Your way of living won’t be of help here.”

Nora bit her lip and partly understood what her mum meant. Strength wasn’t needed. Self reflection was. Not her strong suit in the long run. With one last look towards her little sister's room, she turned and left with disappointment in herself.

Back in her bedroom, Alya was back huddled into her computer chair trying not to let her emotions get the better of her. She felt horrible when her mum and sister fought, it was only when Nora got overly protective of her that violence was involved. She whimpered into her knees as she curled in tighter to herself. When did it always lead back into her. Why does the people she cares about always get hurt? Why is she always part of the reason?

There was a tap at her window that had her freezing at the sound. It had been so long since she heard that knock. She sniffled slightly as she got back up and slowly made it over to her window. The knock happened again so she knew it was real for sure. She edged the curtains aside to see Ladybug on the other side with a concerned smile.

Alya opened up the window and safely backed away to sit on her bed. She clenched her blanket tighter. She whispered as though if she talked louder that the heroine would leave “Ladybug…?”

“Hey Alya…” Ladybug spoke lightly as she eased herself in through the window. She leant against the wall next to it to keep herself out of sight. “How have you been managing?”

The blogger shifted on her bed unsure how best to respond. She didn’t want more people worrying about her. Her family, Nino and now one of the heros… she felt pathetic. “I’ve been better.”

Ladybug sighed deeply at that and thought on what to say next. Saying it’ll be okay, felt bad. Saying it’ll all work out, felt worse. Saying she’s been through worse things, felt insensitive. Empathy, she could work with that. She pointed to her own head “Same. They start getting repetitive don’t they?”

Alya blinked then it dawned on her on what her hero meant. Tears formed in her eyes that she took off her glasses to rub her tears away. “So… repetitive.”

The heroine moved swiftly over to the bed and wrapped her arms tightly around her ex friend. She started stroking Alya’s hair in rhythmic strokes and shushing motions for comfort. “I got you. shh shh. I got you.”

“Why?... why?” Alya shuddered as she tried to hold back her crying but it made her sound all choked up. “Why are you here for me?”

“You made a mistake, you have realised this.” Ladybug continued her comforting actions as Alya curled into her. “Doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on you. I’m not giving up on you Alya.”

Alya took another shuddering breath before letting go. Safe in the arms of her hero she let go of how she had been feeling from the past week as it broke through the hollow dam. She ended up crying for so long that she ended up falling asleep.

Ladybug allowed herself to let a few tears loose as she tucked Alya into her bed. It was a slight struggle as the girl hadn’t wanted to let go but she managed eventually. She tensed a little when she heard the door open.

Marlena opened the door to check on her daughter as she had been listening from outside the door in case she was needed. She sent a thankful look towards Ladybug as she entered the room. “Thank you for coming to see her.”

“Just doing what I can, Mrs Cesaire. Wish I could do more.” Ladybug spoke tentatively as she discreetly wiped her own tears away. She needed this as much as Alya did. “I should go now though.”

“Of course.” Marlena placed a kiss upon her daughter's forehead before getting up to guide Ladybug to the window since it closed from the inside. “Thank you again for all your hard work, same to Chat Noir as well. If you ever need anything just let me know alright?”

“Thank you Mrs Cesaire” Ladybug smiled kindly as she tossed her yo yo out the window to the rooftop that she knew Chat Noir was waiting for her. “Please, if you can, don’t let her give up her dream of being a jourlinast.”

“I won’t, I try to get her to think safer though.” Marlena shrugged with a fond look. “It’s in her blood. No matter what happens.”

Ladybug covered her face as she snorted, realising how true it is. “Take care.”

The Heroine swung out of the window and out of sight. Marlena sighed as she closed the window and the curtains, effectively plunging the room into darkness. She hoped that the visit would help her daughter towards healing instead of just putting a bandage on the problem.

Chapter Text

Adrien held Marinette’s hand tightly as they walked Alfred to the train station, after she had visited Alya as Ladybug, she was feeling rather fragile. Adrien made sure to give her comfort and when she became over stimulated she had pushed him away gently till she kept a hold of his hand. Just a small comfort in a time of need.

Alfred walked behind the two with his luggage rolling behind him whilst the other held a decorative box holding Marinette’s gifts for the family. She had scrambled to make something simple for Damian when she had seen him on the call with Jason yesterday. He smiled at the memory of the girl running around the fabric shop trying to find the perfect things she needed for an art bag. She had an inkling that Damian was creative and should be encouraged to take something artistic as a hobby.

Adrien had also made a passing comment that Jason and Damian had something lingering on them but couldn’t exactly pinpoint what it was over the phone.

Alfred had thanked them for their observations and assured them that he will do his best concerning those two. He both looked forward and not to these two meeting his family. Secrets would certainly be harder to keep when that were to happen. The trio walked into the station and looked for where Alfred had to go to get to England. Where he was going to to take one of the newly made Zeta tubes back home.

Marinette turned to her Grandpa with a tired but grateful smile. “Thank you for coming and helping us set things up.”

“It was a pleasure my dear” He held his arm open and she took the invitation to give him a warm hug. “Should anything pop up that is unsavory I shall let you know.”

Marinette felt herself sag in relief at having a bit of weight off her shoulders. She nuzzled into his chest with a muffled thank you.

Adrien stood anxiously off to the side. Heart twisted as he wasn’t sure if he wanted his father to be Hawkmoth or not. He kept distracting his mind whenever his thoughts strayed towards the idea. He couldn’t focus on it too much as it made him feel uneasy at home. He smiled gently as he felt Plagg vibrating at his neck, purring in comfort, he tilted his head slightly to nuzzle the little kwami in thanks.

“And you young sir.” Alfred gestured to Adrien and gave him the same invitation. Adrien walked into the hug and received a strong enough squeeze that he felt cared for. “Should you need anything. Be it a place to escape too or help with emancipation, just let me know and I’ll do what I can.”

“Thanks Alfred,” Adrien gave a gentle squeeze before stepping away with a grateful smile. “Really appreciate it.”

“Good good.” Alfred smiled. He looked up to see the time and noticed he should be boarding. “Looks like it’s time. You two keep an eye on each yes? and I’ll let you know when i’m home.”

“Will do Grandpa.” She gave him another hug as a goodbye.

Alfred chuckled. He missed when his boys would give hugs in their younger days when it was of no reason other than to give hugs. It was rare nowadays so he did savour them when they did happen. He was curious to find out if the new addition to the family would eventually be comfortable with hugs. “Take care you two.”

Marinette went back to standing with Adrien, wrapping her arms around his arm in comfort as they watched their grandfather figure leave for home.

After a four hour ride on the train to London, Alfred had thankfully called ahead in order to be escorted to the new building for the british heros to travel between areas. Some information was passed between Alfred and the teleport lead.

Lila Rossi was put on a danger/watch list.

With that deed done Alfred was taken to the zeta tube, he typed in the location of the Batcave and stepped in.

The teleport lead raised his hand with three fingers. three. two. one. He pushed the button and Alfred was teleported away with his luggage and parcel.

The Batcave lightened briefly as it’s zeta tube brightened then dulled as Alfred appeared in thankfully one piece. With a gentle hum Alfred walked out of the tube, the cave lightened up with his presence, He was sure that at least one of the boys would come down to check who had entered. If they were alert.

He logged onto the central computer to check where Jason and put his data and was glad to see that it was secure and a file was filling with transcriptions of what was happening within the Agreste Mansion. He brought up another programme to alert him should any keywords were to come up with in the transcript. Primarily Hawkmoth or Akuma but he typed in a couple more words that could be potentially helpful.

Alfred closed the programme once satisfied and logged out. He was surprised that none of his boys had come down to check on the cave so decided it would be best to go up into the manor. Grabbing his luggage and parcel he made his way up and with a quick look at the display monitor by the door he could see it was safe to exit.

In the foyer Dick was walking back and forth nervously as he watched the new chandelier being installed. The installer was taking their sweet time that Dick felt like strangling them for taking so long.

Jason and Time were leaning against the bannister at the top of the stairs and were snickering at Dick’s worrywort tendency. Damian was with them, wasn’t snickering but was watching them
and Dick intently. Schadenfreude was a concept that he was familiar with but he felt that it would be something he would come to understand more as he grew older. Laughter and any sort of joy in his life was near nonexistent as he tried his hardest to please his parental units. His happiness was few and very far between when he was praised seldomly. With this family he had a small hope that it would change.

“I wondered why no one was coming to greet me.” An older gentleman, that Damian guessed was Alfred, came up beside him. “I see this is why.”

Jason turned his head at the voice and beamed brightly at seeing the butler. “Hey! Alfred! Good to see you back!”

There was a small shriek from down below as Dick froze up at the mention of Alfred. He stiffly looked upwards and waved timidly.

Alfred looked down with a raised eyebrow. His face quirked a certain way that showed what he didn’t have to say. He was disappointed that the chandelier had been destroyed yet again. He looked to the side when he felt his sleeve being pulled. “Yes young master Damian?”

“It’s my fault that it had been destroyed in the first place.” Damian spoke nervously but made sure that he was heard. “If I hadn’t attacked, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

Alfred knelt to be eye level with Damian. His eyes were gentle as he placed his hands lightly upon Damian’s shoulders, the boy's eyes locked with his in determination though Alfred could see the nervousness that the boy felt. He smiled reassuringly. “I appreciate your honesty and accountability of the mistake. A true sign of character that is rare to see nowadays. Thank you.”

Damian blinked, confused. Having thought that he would be receiving punishment in Dick’s place and he was prepared for that. He wasn’t prepared for the look that Alfred was giving him, one of grandfatherly pride, something he didn’t think he would ever see. He startled when he felt a wrinkled thumb swipe gently at his cheek. He didn’t realise his eyes were leaking.

“It’s alright young master Damian.” Alfred pulled away but he left his hand out for the boy to take. “Do you wish to help me with afternoon tea?”

Damian didn’t trust his voice so just nodded as he rubbed stubbornly at his eyes. He couldn’t let the others see him cry. He took a hold of Alfred’s hand and let him guide him to the kitchen.

Jason and Tim looked at each other after they watched Damian go with Alfred. Jason rested his head on his folded arms on the bannister. “Better than our first impressions.”

Tim snorted into his mug. He spoke smugly “Speak for yourself. I was a delight.”

“Ha!” Jason laughed into his arms. Yes spilling a person's secrets to the person that had those secrets, certainly delightful.

Dick came up the stairs dejectedly after having thanked and sent the installer away. “How bad was it?”

Tim glanced at him with a lopsided smile. “Not bad. Damian took the hit for you. Alfred thanked him for his honesty and accountability.”

“Oh…” Dick stood unsure about what to do now. He had been fully ready to get the disappointed stare from Alfred. He was at a loss now. “Guess i'm off the hook?”

“For now.” Jason grinned from his position. “Just no more nesting in high places.”

Dick groaned as he threw up his arms in aggravation. “I don’t nest in high places!”

“You sure? I'm sure I saw you nesting high up in the cave the other day.” Tim jabbed teasingly.

Dick grumbled and tried to swipe at the younger two but they seemed to have synced up as the both of them jumped over the bannister to the lower levels and ran off in seperate directions. Tim had masterfully kept all the liquid in his cup. So Dick decided to follow Tim since he seemed to be at a disadvantage.

Alfred could hear the boys laughter throughout the manor as it turned into a game of keep away. He smiled pleasantly as he gazed down at the new addition to his household. As he had gathered the ingredients for the sandwiches he had given Damian Marinette’s parcel beforehand.

The boy had taken great care of unwrapping the parcel, seemily unused to receiving gifts that aren't for killing. He shifted the ombre grey pink tissue aside and revealed a messenger bag and a note. Damian cautiously picked up the note and spied pretty italic writing.

Hi Damian!
I wasn’t sure what to make you but you looked the artistic type to me. So I figured if you sketch, drew, or painted, this bag could hold your supplies or whatever you wish to use it for. Hope you like it!
Marinette <3

Damian blushed lightly as he placed the note down and picked up the messenger bag. His fingers ran over the detailed embroidery of a black cat with a ladybug on its nose. He smiled slightly at that as he eyed the pockets and secret compartments within the bag. He appreciated how versatile it was. He looked up at Alfred and asked quietly. “Could you thank Marinette for me?”

“Would be happy to young master Damian.” Alfred placed his food supplied on the chopping board. “Would you like to go out to the hobby shop tomorrow and get some art supplies?”

Damian thought for a moment as he figured that if he got a sketch book he could plan out what he wanted to potter out with Jason later in the week. “Please.”

“Delightful.” Alfred smiled to himself. Damian came off tentative and curious. That was something that Alfred could work with. He heard a crash somewhere in the manor and he shook his head as it was followed by a chorus of ‘you in trouble~’. He chuckled lightly, he was happy to be home with his boys.

Chapter Text

Adrien watched Nathalie quietly as she typed away on her computer. She had been looking more frail looking as the months have worn on. It reminded him of the months prior to his mothers disappearance. The just barely concealed blood stained tissue after a coughing fit did not ease his worries.

“Are you needing something Adrien?” Nathalie glanced at him briefly but continued her work.

he chewed his lip but stopped once he realised. The make up artist had been telling him of lately for how torn his lips had been recently. “Mother… I would like to talk about mother.”

Her eyes softened as she stopped working to face him. “I don’t think your father.”

Adrien raised his hand quickly to interrupt her. “Not with father but with you. I know… father has a hard time talking about her.”

“With me?” Nathalie froze for a second but attempted to appear relaxed the next.

His eyes narrowed at the slight change. Taking note of the way that Nathalie withdrew a little. He tried to keep his voice soft and demure in order to get information. “With you, if that’s okay? It’s just… hmm…”

Nathalie noticed the turndown expression and her chest clenched. She had the comfort of knowing where his mother was but he didn’t. “Do you want to continue in your room?”

“If that’s okay? I would really appreciate that.”

“Very well. How about I meet you up there? I just have to finish off this report before I join you.”

“Yeah okay, thank you Nat.” He gave her a smile and left swiftly so she couldn't second guess herself. He went quickly so that he could inform Plagg, He looked around as he called out questionably. “Plagg?”

The kwami rolled over at his sun spot near the window. He blinked sleepily and yawned. “Yes kid?”

Adrien sighed in relief as he gathered up Plagg’s comfort pillow and the tinned cheese Danishes. He climbed the stairs up to his library to place them out of view before rushing back down to speak directly with his Kwami. “Nathalie is going to be here soon so kinda need you to hide for me buddy.”

Plagg groaned as he was rather comfortable in his spot. “Yeah okay kid. Things okay?”

“Things are fine… Just worried about Nat is all.” He ran a finger over his ring as his thoughts spiralled a little. “She’s got similar symptoms to what happened to mother before she disappeared.”

Plagg scrunched his face, he might be more comforting lately but spoken words he still found difficult from time to time. “Dunno what to say… Do you want a witty quip?”

Adrien giggled at that as he shook his head. “Maybe later depending how things go.”

“Sure sure,” He gave Adrien a light nuzzle on the cheek before swirling upwards to his hidey hole. “Just call if you need me!”

“Thanks Plagg.” Adrien whispered to himself as he settled onto his couch. The weight of how he was feeling felt heavy on his shoulders that he sat hunched over to bare the load. “Why did life get so complicated.”

“I would put it down as trial and errors of adulthood.” Nathalie spoke concerned as she came in with a tray of drinks, snacks and a box of tissues. “Everything alright Adrien? Problems at school?”

Adrien stiffened at her voice; he hadn’t heard her knocking and entering. He relaxed when she came into view and gave a lazy smile. “Thanks Nat. Erm things alright, a little bit of teenage drama but doesn’t fully affect me in a sense?”

Nathalie placed the tray down on the coffee table, handed Adrien a glass of juice and picked up her own tea. She sat down on the couch and took a sip as she waited for him to explain.

He chuckled nervously as he sipped from the glass. He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “Alya had a connection with Nino and Marinette. There has been a fallout where Marinette has cut off her connection with Alya but things appear to be okay, just taking it a day at a time really.”

“Hmm the normal life experiences of teenagers, can’t say I miss it.” She gave a grimace at the thought but shook it away. “Are your connections still going strong?”

Adrien smiled brightly. “Yes, Chloe, Marinette and Nino are still strong. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet them. I don’t know where my head space would be if it wasn’t for them, school and group lessons.”

“It certainly has been nice seeing you smile more naturally around the place.” Nathalie added. Though his father didn’t seem to notice the difference between a real one and model. She frowned at that.

“Hey Nat?” He asked cautiously.

“Hmm? Yes Adrien?” She blinked curiously.

“Did you have a connection with my father?” He tilted his head in a curious manner as he spoke softly. “Or possibly with my mother?”

Nathalie tightened her grip slightly on her teacup. This wasn’t something she thought he would ask her despite his curious nature; he had always respected her privacy when concerning connections. She pursed her lips, though it did seem like a logical step to take when he talks about his openingly with her. Family connection withstanding. “Yes…”

“Really?” His eyes brightened at the thought. “I’ve never seen their colours, could you tell me? please?”

She paused for a moment. Natural progression of the conversation could lead him to asking her what the connections were. So to cut to the chase she placed her teacup and saucer back onto the tray. With a deep breath she unbuttoned her suit jacket and shrugged it off to reveal her sleeveless turtleneck.

Adrien sat on his hands in order from shifting to much in excitement at getting to know his parents colours. His father’s was always hidden under sleeves and jackets. His mother kept her arms covered out of habit from her days as a movie star and hiding from the paparazzi. He watched eagerly as Nathalie sat back down with her left arm towards him. His eyes widened in surprise at what he saw.

Three bands side by side near her shoulder. He recognised his colouring in the family but he didn’t know the rest. He was mostly taken aback that she had a heartmate as there had been indication of there being one.

Nathalie avoided looking at him as she pointed to her bands and started lightly tracing the snow white and icy blue mi in Family. “As you know these are your colours”

Adrien nodded so not to interrupt.

She moved up to Platonic and placed her finger by the ton. it was coloured in dark yellow and lavender. “These are your father’s colours. He was embarrassed with having yellow as one of his colours and apparently covered his arm since he first received a connection. So he has said in the past.”

Adrien chuckled slightly at the thought of his father being embarrassed about anything. The man was so stoic most of the time he saw him.

There was slight hesitation as Nathalie went to move her finger. Another deep breath later and her finger moved upward to the Heart, a heart filled with the colours of light turquoise and pink. A warm and tender look appeared to grace Nathalie’s face as she traced the heart delicately. “These are your mothers.”

His jaw went slack at that having not expected it. He sputtered confused. “Huh?”

Nathalie smiled slightly at the confusion as she put her suit jacket back on but left it unbuttoned. She found herself sighing again as she thought over how to best answer. “Your mother had your father and I as Heartmates but your father and I are only platonics. I’m sure this would be confusing to you as it’s not touched on as much.”

“A bit…” Adrien admitted. After he found out hisHeartmate was a guy, he looked up online the other types of heartmates combinations there were, out of curiosity. Straight, gay and lesbian heartmates were high on the list. A triad relationship was less common but it was mostly talking about the three being heartmates together. A Heartmate connected to two platonics was less talked about but had been noted. “A triad relationship?”

She raised her eyebrow at that as her lip quirked into a smile. “Your curiosity is boundless. I suppose you could call it that. As personal preference we had decided between us that your father would have the public relationship, where he could go on dates in a more public setting to maintain your mothers image and his. Whereas I would have dates with your mother at home pretty much behind closed doors. It worked well for us. Until well...”

Adrien smiled softly. “I’m glad that she has you Nat and that I get to be a part of your connections with them.”

“We’ll get her back one way or another Adrien. Have hope.” Nathalie reached out to clasp his hand gently in comfort. “I have.”

“Thank you.” Adrien shivered as though someone had just walked over his grave. He certainly didn’t like that feeling. especially as he concentrated on it enough the bad feeling seemed to radiate off of Nathalie. “Are you okay Nat?”

She took her hand away much quicker than expected at that question. she tried to cover it up with a cough and buttoned her suit jacket up. Her tone turned even “Of course Adrien, why wouldn’t I be?”

His eyes twitched at the attempted brush off. There was indeed something wrong but she was apparently not ready to let him in. He tried to soften his features so that she would think that he caught on to her hiding something. “You’ve been a little sick lately. I hope father hasn’t been running you ragged.”

“Not anymore than he normally does Adrien.” Nathalie added lightly as she stood up. “Though speaking of which I should head back to the reports.”

“Of course.” Adrien smiled sadly. “Thank you for sharing with me.”

Nathalie hummed to herself as she thought. “Next time I can share some stories?”

He’s eyes brightened at that and she knew she said the right thing. “I would love that.”

“I’ll go through your schedule and add a time to do that then.” Nathalie went to pick up the tray but decided against it when she saw that the snacks weren’t touched. “Is there anything else I can do for you Adrien?”

He shook his head and waved her off. “No no, I’m good, thank you again. You take it easy okay? Don’t want you coming down with a cold.”

“Thank you for your concern.” Nathalie turned to leave the room. “I’ll take it as easy as is allowed.Take care at your lessons later won’t you?”

“Will do! Take care Nat.” Adrien waved her goodbye as she left the room and he heard the door click. He frowned as he rested his hand on his lap. “I don’t like it.”

Plagg came flying down with a yawn and dropped one of his prized cheese danishes on his kids head. “What don’t you like, kid?”

Adrien scrunched his nose at having food dropped on his head but knew Plagg had meant well by it. He picked the food item from his hair as he spoke. “She’s hiding something health related… but it seems to be miraculous related? I can’t really tell though. It’s really… just a feeling.”

Plagg swallowed the danish whole when it was offered back to him as Adrien didn’t want it. “You sense of misfortune is still developing kid, don’t force it, let it come naturally.”

He huffed. “I know.. it’s just… frustration.”

“You’re doing great Adrien.” Plagg hoovered near his chosens face. “It’s not often this happens so just take it easy, like you said to her.”

“Right.” He smiled sheepishly. “Thanks for the pep talk Plagg.”

“Well I am awesome so you are very welcome.” He nuzzled Adrien’s cheek again. “Let’s have a nap in the sun, yeah? before you need to go to your lessons.”

“A nap sounds really good right now.” Adrien agreed as he stretched and felt himself yawn. “Let’s nap.”

Chapter Text

It wasn’t often Nino was caught off guard, but it seems to be a more regular occurrences since the Akumas had appeared near three years ago, He was certainly caught off guard now. A little green being hoovered in front of him in a polite bow. He found the little dudes turtle shell to be rather cute. He nervously wiggled his fingers in a little wave. “Hey little dude…”

“Hello new chosen one. I am Wayzz of the turtle miraculous, the kwami of protection.” Wayzz bowed again before landing gently on Nino’s outstretched hand. “Ladybug has requested your presence to meet her and the others upon the Eiffel Tower tonight.”

Nino blinked a little. “But… I’m not a hero? And I don’t know what the miraculous is dude.”

Wayzz blinked slowly and he sighed. “Ladybug had given you the bracelet that you wear on your wrist, that is the turtle miraculous. She requested that I not reveal myself to you till tonight where the meeting of the miraculous is to take place.”

“But I got this from…” Nino paused as a thought occurred to him and something clicked into place. He snorted in disbelief as he handed the little dude one of the mini green tea macarons for the tin. “Actually that would make a lot of sense.”

“You are very calm about this master.” Wayzz eyed him approvingly at the calm demeanour his new chosen wielder seemed to exude.

“Ah no master thing please little dude. I’m just Nino if you please.” Nino wagged his finger a little as he laughed. “And I’ve been going through a lot of things right now that this doesn’t seem to faze me currently. You are a pleasant surprise if anything.”

“Oh…” Wayzz got a little warm feeling from that. It was pleasant as the boy said. “Then I hope to be at service, to help guide, as you go through your journey Master Nino.”

“Master isn’t really necessary Wayzz, am okay with just Nino” He smiled a little. “Just Nino.”

“As you call me little dude, I would like to call you Master Nino. It is what I am comfortable with when talking with my holders.” Wayzz stated calmly so that his standpoint could be heard.

“Huh.. okay, and you are comfortable with me calling you little dude from time to time?”

“I do believe it will grow on me. It is not often that I receive a nickname from my holders.”

“Okay then little dude.” Nino grinned as he shook Wayzz's little flipper in agreement. “So… What do I need to know before the meeting?”

-----

“Owh Pollen! What am I going to do, what am I going to do?” Chloe paced back and forth in her hotel room. She had been trying very hard not to chew her newly manicured nails in worry so resorted to flicking her hair bobble against her wrist. “Am so nervous! Why am I so nervous? I feel like Mari! how can she live like this.”

Pollen giggled lightly at Chloe’s nervousness. Her beeness appeared to bring out Chloe’s more anxious side and overthinking that helped her think of what is needed to take care of her Hive. Since being with her chosen, two weeks ago, it has been an exciting bonding session one after another. She buzzed happily as she hoovered beside Chloe in her pacing. “Everything will be okay my Queen! Stop and smell the flowers and everything will be fine.”

“Right, right, right…” Chloe kept repeating the word over and over again till she was out on her balcony. She had requested better flower planters upon her balcony once she had received Pollen. Four planters were filed with wild flowers, daisys, nasturtiums, flowering thyme, marigolds and coneflowers. All of various shades of blues, purples and yellows as pollen had stated that they attracted bees best. Lavender had been a no no due to Sabrina being allergic to it.

She breathed in deeply as she drifted towards the flowers. She instantly felt relief as an invisible weight lifted from her shoulders. Pollen clapped her little paws at the little happy buzz Chloe gave off. “Feel better?”

“Much… Thank you.” Chloe sent a little smile Pollen's way as she went over to her lounger. She let herself relax as she reflected on the past two weeks.

Five more Akuma had risen throughout the two weeks following Grievance and she had to help out by using venom on at least two of them. Ryuko had been of assistance each time with their elemental ability and Kitsunebi had continued to make sure they stayed hidden within their illusion. Working beside them made her grateful that she had a secondary ability of Hivemind to feel more useful in battles.

“My Queen?” Pollen buzzed enquiring beside her.

She chewed her lip as she gazed up at her kwami with uncertainty. “I’m I doing okay as a hero Pollen?”

“You are doing beautifully my Queen.” Pollen happily reassured. “With each step you take, you are one step closer to greatness. Don’t be too hard on yourself okay? And don’t shy away from asking or receiving help. There is nothing wrong with that.”

“Okay Pollen.” Chloe relaxed as she allowed herself to let go of the uncertainty. With one deep breath she rolled her shoulders back, tilted her head up and she could feel her confidence come back to her as she eyed the Eiffel tower in the distance. “Time for a royal entrance.”

-----

Two near seasoned warriors stood upon mats as they awaited their mothers inspection.

Trixx and Longg were happily at the side practicing calligraphy art with their tails dipped in ink. The art that Longg’s created was thin, delicate and precise whereas Trixx’s was thick and swooshy. This activity is what they had to busy themselves over as the sister’s trained or preformed for their mother.

Tomoe entered statedly but purposeful as she made her way to the front of her daughters. She nodded satisfied that they held their position for as long as they had. She poked them with her bokken to sort their posture but was otherwise pleased with everything else. Once back in front of them she placed her hand upon her bokken in a steadfast position. She addressed her girls “Reiterate your vow.”

Kagami stood forward with her bokken display in front of her. “With my sword I defend those unable, with my being I protect those that stand for truth and justice. I, Kagami Tsurugi, swears to this vow. For as long as I hold the miraculous and thereafter.”

She stood back and Cassandra stood forward with her bokken presented in front of her. “From shadows… I defend… With my being… I protect my team. I, Cassandra Tsurugi, swears to… this vow. For as long as... I hold the miraculous... and thereafter.”

She stepped back and gave her throat a little rub. Kagami gave her a little nod and smile to show that she did good. Cassandra gave a smile back as she placed her hand back by her side.

“Good.” Tomoe nodded her head satisfied that her girls were doing great things. “Now hydrated before you head out to your meeting. Remember to take the parcel with you and I expect you both back at a reasonable time. No later than three, Do you understand?”

“Understood.” The sisters confirmed vocally and nodded their heads in tandem. Once dismissed they had ensured they had a drink and cleaned up their Kwamis as Trixx got a little ink happy and got them covered in it.

-----

Ladybug paced back and forth up the top of Eiffel Tower. She could feel Chat Noirs watch her with amusement but she couldn’t help it. Nino had sent her a turtle emoji before she had left and she really hoped that he wasn’t annoyed with it pretty much being dropped on him.

She was so nervous that she didn’t hear the sound of a hoverboard come up the side of the building and the person, front flipped a perfect dismount to land next to Chat Noir. They did a fancy twirl with the hoverboard and clipped it back onto their back like a shield. They took a moment of taking Chat Noir in before rolling their in disbelief. With a chuckle they raised their hand to fist bump.

Chat Noir beamed brightly at his friend recognising him and he fist bumped the turtle hero.
“Glad to have you here buddy.”

“Colour me surprised. Feel like I should have known it would be you two.” The turtle hero lead against the railing as Chat Noir did and settled to watch his other friend doing her mini freak out. “How long she been doing that for?”

“Eh… Before I got here so… awhile?” Chat Noir turned slightly to focus more on him. “You thought of a name for yourself?”

“Keep thinking of Ninja turtles ya know? So it was like should I go down a famous musical artist like Josquin or go down the simple route of Carapace,” He tried to scratch his head but ended up rubbing his hood instead. “What do you think?”

“As cultured as we are, we seem to be going with animal related names, so I think Carapace would be best?” The cat gero tilted his head thoughtfully.

“Carapace it is then.” He let out a breath as he folded his arms over to be comfortable. “that’s a load off.”

Chat Noir chuckled briefly when his ears started to swivel in separate directions. As he got his bearings the three other heroines leaped onto the platform. Ryuko and Kitsunebi nodded their heads in greeting but Queen Bee stared at Ladybug pacing, feeling something eerily familiar about it.

Her eyes widened as she mentally kicked herself for not noticing before. She raised a pointed finger towards Ladybug aquisingly “You!”

The spotted heroine paused in her pacing as she hadn’t realised that she had more company than Chat Noir, She turned her head and pouted to herself when it appeared that the other four had seen her like that, She pointed to herself. “Me?”

“You! How did I not notice it before!” Queen Bee huffed as she started berating herself in a similar manner that Ladybug had done previously. “My word, I should have known. You have always been stupidly creative when trying to get us out of areas that we shouldn’t be in. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.”

Ladybug blinked confused before realising what happened. She face palmed hard. “Idiot.”

“Excuse me!?” Queen Bee shrieked.

“Not you Queenie!” Ladybug waved her hands frantically in trying to placate her. “i meant me!”

Queen Bee huffed as she crossed her arms and turned away from them. A bit pouty over the situation.

Chat Noir coughed into his hand to get everyone's attention. They turned to him curiously having been a little surprised by Queen Bee’s outburst. He smiled at them reassuringly. “Thank you all for coming tonight. We are going to move to a different location from here in pairs of two. Once I have sent you the location, leave and take different routes to the destination okay?”

Ryuko raised her hand to ask a question. When she received a nod saying she could she asked. “Will this be a bonding meeting or will we be discussing what we will be doing about Hawkmoth and Mayura?”

“A bit of both. We want everyone to be on the same page as we are.” Chat Noir waited a moment to see if there were any more questions before slapping his own face when he looked at Carapace. “Also this is Carapace. Carapace these lovely ladies are Queen Bee, Ryuko and Kisunebi. They have been helping the past two weeks from the shadows.”

“Huh… I did wonder how the battles had been smoother lately.” Carapace shrugged, mildly impressed. “So why have me?”

“eh we’ll discuss that in a bit. Let’s head to the secondary location yeah?” He brought out his baton and typed in the location to be sent to the others. “Carapace you with me, Queenie with Ladybug, and Ryuko with Kitsunebi. See you guys roughly in ten to twenty minutes.”

Ryuko and Kitsunebi were the first to leave, then swiftly followed by Carapace on his hoverboard and Chat Noir as his passenger. Queen Bee poked Ladybugs' side and offered a truce for now. “Race you there?”

“You’re n Queenie.” Ladybug grinned happily. They synced up quite easily from having done gymnastic classes together. They did their signature flips off of the tower and swung their way to the location.

They were the last to arrive at the twenty mark. They felt rushed off their feet but were happily giggling to one another, though Queen Bee was slightly pouty at Ladybug winning. Ladybug was the first to recover and decided it was now rather later to drop transformation. She walked into the building to see her teammates sitting comfortably in the makeshift area. She plopped herself on the couch next to Chat Noir and called off her transformation. The pink faded to reveal a smiling Marinette. “Hey guys!”

Chat Noir followed suit in a flash of neon green revealing Adrien chilling beside Marinette. “Thanks for meeting with us.”

Queen Bee groaned as she eyerolled, a flash of yellow revealed an annoyed Chloe. “Should have guessed that you would be involved too. Guessing turtle boy is Nino.”

Light green faded and Nino tipped his cap to her. “Correctamundo Bee.”

“Wel at least I know it’s competent people that are protecting Paris I suppose.” She flicked her hair as she moved to sit beside Nino on the second couch. Once settled she flicked her hand out to the third couch where Ryuko and Kitsunebi were sitting.

With a flash of red and orange sat two unknown girls that neith Chloe or Nino had seen before. One gestured to herself. “I’m Kagami Tsurugi and this is my sister Cassandra.”

Cassandra signed out a hello and her sister translated. “She says hello, Cassandra shall be listening mostly tonight, her voice gave out earlier.”

Marinette looked concerned but guessed it was something that happened regularly since neither of the sisters seemed too worried about it. “That’s alright, Adrien and I were mostly going to talk to begin with so you guys were on the same page as us.”

The kwami’s were happily munching on their preferred treats at the table when they suddenly scattered out of sight, Plagg lagged a little behind as he tried to take more camembert with him. Tikki had to come back from him to tug him into hiding quicker.

“Ooo this is a cozy place for a secret meeting.” A voice echoed through the building that startled the six on the couches. “Could do with some extra chairs though.”

As if some command was given, three portals opened up and three comfy looking armchairs popped through before closing again.

Marinette seemed to blank in surprise and turned to see three figures walking towards them. Adrien turned his head too and was equally surprised. “Luka?”

Luka waved slowly. “Hello Adagio.”

Adrien blushed at that and ended up burying his face into his hands. Though the peaking of a smile showed that he was happy.

“Shift it music man. I wanna know what this is all about.” A mop of pink hair popped out behind Luka to reveal Alix who was strong-arming Kim along. “Not often I get to be part of a super secret club that I haven’t created myself.”

The other five looked confused at the intrusion. Marinette was the one to get up and greet them. “Not that it isn’t nice to see you guys but how did you know to come here?”

Alix looked at Marinette mischiefly as she handed over a note. “You tell my Ladybug.”

Marinette startled at being called that, that she swiped the note and turned her back on everyone as she read it.

Hey Minibug!
It’s me, Alix, or as you will come to know me, Bunnix! As things play out, I decided it would be in our parties best interest that we skip a part. So I got my miniself to pick up Luka and Kim to bring them to the meeting. No need to give them their miraculous right away but to make things easier as four of you go through guardian training these guys can help out. Chill out when you can Minibug, Lycee and Guardianship is gonna take alot outta you guys.
You got this.
Thee totally awesome Bunnix!

Marinette sighed after reading the note a couple of times. Bunnix had shown up once or twice during Akuma fights with good reason. So to receive a note now meant that she should stay the course but with some added help. She turned to address the others who were kindly introducing themselves to the new folk. A smile slipped onto her face at the thought of having so many friends as her teammates. The weight on her shoulders didn’t feel as heavy as it once did now.

Chapter Text

Cassandra watched the proceedings with a keen ear. The three newcomers didn’t have a miraculous magic trace on them. From what her sister had pointed out to her. So between them it had been surmised that there was another outer force that brought them here. By their body language it appeared that there was no ill intentions but she could never be too careful with things.

The punkish boy brightened the darkness away from Adrien. The light stroking of the older boy's hands through the blonds hair appeared to have a calming effect, the tension in his shoulders rolled off causing them to drop. it was interesting to see heartmate interactions happen, well it was interesting to Cassandra.

Her gaze swept over the heiress, chill guy and the roller skater punk. A light teasing was happening between the three. If the bright smiles, sneaking glances and gentle laughter was anything to go by. Friends before being chosen to join the team, soul or otherwise.

Her gaze continued to where Marinette stood with the letter but appeared to be at ease with the lumbering tall male. Her eyes squinted a little when she spied his swim bag and made note that he would probably be a lot faster once in a comfortable environment. Marinette’s reasuraning gestures seemed to confirm that he was uneasy.

She felt a light touch on her arm and turned towards Kagami. She nodded to say that she had her attention.

“Do you need one of the keyrings?” Kagami tilted her head curiously.

Cassandra smiled, grateful that her sister knew her so well at times like this. Association of safe space was something she needed over time so that she knew that it was okay to be not so on guard around others. She held out her hand between the two of them as she nodded her head again.

“Okay.” Kagami ruffled in her side bag and withdrew a small bag that seemed to hold a couple of fluff balls. “Which colour?”

Cassandra looked them over. A chocolate coloured one she would use to associate safe things relating to Kagami, she had been particular when scenting that one with vetiver, a comforting woody, leathery and smoky scent. The other two didn’t seem as important to her right now so she pointed to the one they had recently acquired after meeting Marinette at the bakery.

“That does look like a good choice. Considering circumstances.” Kagami opened the clear bag and pulled out another smaller one that held a midnight blue fluff ball. She opened the bag and held it out for her sister to take.

She put her hand in and gently took it out to hold in both her hands. She gently whispered out a thank you, closed her eyes and held the fluff to her nose. She inhaled gently and smelt vanilla with a slight hint of cinnamon which sent her back to her first meeting with Marinette and how comforting that had been. Holding that image in her mind she opened her eyes and allowed her eyes to take in the details of the people within the room. These people are her team, people she would protect and they would protect her, she was safe. She exhaled and lowered the fluff ball to just gently fiddle with it between her fingers.

Kagami watched her sister from a side glance as she put the bags away and was glad to see her sister ease. She was thankful that her mother had insisted on aromatherapy lessons for when they were younger since her mother relied quite a bit on her sense of smell and felt it would be important for her children to learn. It had been during these lessons that she had learned that Cassandra had associated her with vetiver and that the ex assassin felt safe with her. In turn Kagami allowed herself to ease around the girl and they became closer due to those lessons.

Cassandra continued to rythamcatially bring the fluff ball to her nose and then back down again to keep the safe association with Marinette and the team fresh in her mind. She stopped though once Marinette and her friend joined the group and held her hand up for attention.

“Sorry to interrupt the cheerful atmosphere but think it best that we get down to business.” She ducked into her shoulders nervously before rolling them back and standing taller in a show of confidence in her words. “Thank you for answering the call. This is the first meeting of Team Miraculous.”

Alix bounced excitedly in her chair and had accidentally slapped Chloe’s arm as she waved her arms around. “I knew it. Man this is going to be good! Team Miraculous is so on the nose thouuuugh, couldn’t we have a different name?”

At Alix’s whine, Marinette giggled. “I’m open to suggestions but it will do for now, until we all are on the same page okay?”

“Fine.” Alix huffed a little and yelped when she was shoved into the arm of her chair roughly by the heiress. “Oi!”

Chloe tutted as she fidgeted back into a comfortable sitting position and lightly rubbed the slapped mark on her arm. “Need you to cool it, jumping bean.”

“Ladies, both of you need to chill.” Adrien raised his hands in a placating manner. “I know you were evening stuff out Chloe but please chill too, pretty please?”

The girls huffed but agreed. Marinette coughed into her hand. “Also please try not to interrupt and we’ll answer questions after we explain what we can, understood?”

The other seven gave various forms of agreements. So Marinette and Adrien had a silent conversation about who should start first. Adrien chuckled as Marinette drooped in defeat.

With a sigh Marinette decided to walk amongst the group as she felt most comfortable talking when she manoeuvred around the space. “As most of you know, Hawkmoth appeared nearly three years ago. Through Ivan as Stoneheart, he manipulated requested that Ladybug, me, and Chat Noir, Adrien, would hand over the ladybug and cat miraculous’ over to him.”

Adrien shifted so that he was sitting on the back of the couch with his feet on the couch cushions. He rested his elbows on his knees as he made gestures with his hands. “We weren’t sure what he needed them for all we knew was that it would be bad for him to have them. So with the great speech of Ladybug, declared ourselves heroes of Paris and that we would stop him. So basically a big F you to him.”

“Hawkmoth wields the butterfly miraculous of transmission. He wields it in a negative manner which has turned what would have been champions into akumas and have near to no control over their actions other than what negative feeling they had been left with.” She looked over her friends with sympathy. “Some of you would be aware of what it felt like.”

Kim, Alix, Chloe and Nino shied away at the mention of it. Those moments had been rough and hard to recover from in the beginning; A broken heart, a treasured item smashed, family members dismissal, and a wronged friend. Hard situations to begin with, worsened by another person's greed.

Adrien clasped his hands together and continued on. “It wasn’t until a year or so that we found out why Hawkmoth wanted our miraculous in particular. With the ladybug and cat miraculous combined, it means the holder would gain the ability to make a wish, but it comes with dire consequences. A curing of one person's illness could bring a plague upon the rest. It would be really bad for Hawkmoth to get a wish.”

“And the stress of the situations have been difficult to handle. It was only recently that I have managed to get the Guardian to listen to Adrien and me about having more help.” She scoffed lightly at remembering the conversation with their Master. “Thankfully he has listened now and this is where you guys come in.”

Adrien cleared his throat nervously but felt like he would need to be the one to say it. He glanced to the side to see Luka offer his hand, With a slight smile Adrien grasped it and squeezed it gently in thanks. With a deep breath he pushed forward. “We have a potential suspect on who Hawkmoth is… We believe it to be my fath... Gabriel Agreste”

There was a few gasps around the room but they were respectful to the no asking rule, even though it looked like they were bursting to ask.

Marinette sent a look to Adrien to see if he wanted her to continue but he shook his head. With an unsteady breath he continued. “I believe he has a wish to do with my mother. She disappeared over three ago. There one day, gone the next. I can remember her being ill leading up to her disappearance. There is a strong possibility… possibility that Nathalie is going through the same illness… and I think it is related to the broken peacock miraculous.”

Marinette paused in her pacing, this part being the first time hearing it along with everyone else. It must have been a recent realisation cause the sorrow that she could see in her best friend's face was fresh compared to the grief that he had experienced the first time when thinking it could be his father.

Adrien took a couple of calming breaths to center himself and he was thankful that his friends, close or otherwise, were so patient with him. “Other than what I have knowledge of, there is no physical proof that they have been who we have been fighting. That is something that we truly need before even thinking of taking them out.”

It looked like Chloe was going to say something so Marinette jumped in quickly by adding. “We have already taken measures to gather information. My grandfather helped in setting up bugs within the manor and has a program running for keywords in order to determine if we are right or not. Either way we need to explore that avenue in order to give Adrien peace in mind that he is safe in his own home. Grandpa will let us know if or when he finds anything. In the mean time...”

“All of us will continue to do what we are doing.” Adrien chipped in once he had settled himself. He sent a grateful look towards Luka’s comforting presence. “And if possible. Luka, Kagami and Cassandra, would you care to join us in our parkour classes? We have found them to be really beneficial.”

Kagami had a silent conversation with her sister and seemed to agree. She answered for the both of them. “I’ll have to discuss it with our mother, so if you could send information about the class, where and when the class is held, that would be most helpful.”

Marinette whipped out her phone and efficiently sent off the needed information to the sisters. “Done and done.”

The group chuckled, good naturally at Marinette’s organisation skills.

Luka hummed a little and gained Adrien’s attention with a gentle tug of his hand. “I would love to join, send the details later kay?”

“Sure.” Adrien smiled and felt a little better about the situation. “I’ll send it once I get home.”

Kim raised his hand and spoke once Marinette acknowledged him. “This is alot to take in… but what exactly can I, Alix and eh Luka? be able to do? I’m grateful that you guys think we are capable of helping you out, but we don’t have miraculous”

Marinette clapped her hands together and stared intently at the three none wielders. Alix was giddy, Kim was nervous but hopeful and Luka came across as calm and intuitive to others needs. She pointed her hands as she listed who was getting what “Rabbit, monkey and the snake… I might be able to get the miraculous soon. Just don’t badger me about them okay? it kinda hit or miss but i’ll get them at some point for you guys to train with them and bond with the kwami.”

“Alright… cool cool.” Kim nodded and started thinking about what he could name himself and what he could do with a monkey tail.

Alix chilled back on her chair and rubbed her knuckle against her chest like she was buffing and apple. Slightly smug from already seeing her future self “Know I’m gonna be awesome. Might as well start acting upon it now.”

“I’ll do my best to help.” Luka added kindly. He listened closely to Adrien's heart and was glad to see that it was at ease and was filled with a gentle warmth. “Whenever you need me, Adagio, I’ll do what I can to be there.”

“Thank you.” Adrien whispered as he was a little overwhelmed with emotion that he didn’t want to scare the feeling the way, even if it was a bit silly thinking it would.

“Okay okaaay. enough of the lovey dovey stuff. It's cute but stop.” Chloe waved her hand in a royal manner. She was glad to see Adrien being loved and cared for but she was starting to get a little jealous and wanted to preempt it from souring the mood. “Nino and I are already doing the classes and we have our miraculous, so what else can we do to help?”

“Well actually…” Marinette rubbed her hands together nervously. “Adrien and I were hoping that you two would join us in guardianship training.”

Chloe and Nino blinked not having actually expected that. Nino was very new so he was even more confused by it. “Why us?”

“From what little understanding we have is that a guardian works best if you are the holder of the turtle miraculous.” Marinette racked her brain for what details Master Fu had been willing to give currently. “So that would be you, Nino. So you would hold the title of Guardian, the one that guards the miraculous and the kwami. There will be other things but will be a shared duty between the four of us.”

“That… doesn’t sound too bad.” Nino commented as he thought things over. He likes taking care of people, so he doesn’t think it would find it to transfer those feelings over to taking care of the kwami’s. Wayzz was a cool little guy, could be fun and interesting getting to know the others.

Adrien was the one to pipe in for Chloe. “And we would like you, Chloe, to hold the title of Protector. You would be tasked with ensuring that we don’t push beyond our limits. So kinda like protecting us from ourselves and outside influences. Nino has the kwami’s whereas you would have the chosen.”

“So basically am the mum friend…” Chloe raised her eyebrow and tapped her cheek thoughtfully. “You know what. I’m okay with that. You all can’t refuse spa days now.”

Nino groaned at having experienced the spa from when he went to get supplies for Ayla. “Guy! what have you dooooone”

The group chuckled at Nino’s dismay and he couldn’t help but chuckle along with them. Though he felt that he was forgetting something important that the other three newbies needed to know.

“Blaaaargh!” Two semi squeaky voices shouted from behind Kim which had him falling overself to get away from the scare. The cat and fox cackled as they floated in the air apparently they had been ignored for too long.

The rest of the meeting was filled with laughter as each of the active Kwami’s introduced themselves. It was very much a bonding experience between the team.

Chapter Text

Batman was having a rough night. First, Enigma had been testing him on his mental capabilities again and it had left him drained going through trivial trivia. Though it did tend to keep him sharp when things were going poorly. Second, Dick was getting on his case about bonding with Damian.

He knew it was the kid’s fault for what’s happened but.. He rubbed his cowled head in frustration. Missing out on his firstborns, firsts, certainly did a number on him that he didn’t realise how much he wanted to be there when Damian was a baby. He felt cheated and he was having a hard time getting over it.

A can clanked against the ground and rolled further into the alley he was standing in. His eyes narrowed as he backtracked the direction of where the can came from. Could be nothing but as Batman he couldn’t be too careful.

A slight whine could be heard beside the dumpster and it only got louder the closer he stepped towards it. He tapped his cowl to turn on the night vision lenses and could make out that it was a dog, even worse it was an abandoned pup. With a slight growl towards humanity, he knelt down to the box that the pup had hidden itself in.

The whining quietened for a moment but seemed that there was a problem. Batman inched a little bit closer and carefully peeled back the box and saw why the pup couldn’t move. His voice was gruff as he spoke to the injured pup. “You’ve had a rough start haven’t you.”

The image of Damian popped into his head and he sighed. He took off his glove so that he could put his hand into the box for the pup to scent him. “So has he… Let’s try and make it better for the both of you.”

The pup sniffed at his hand cautiously and licked when they felt safe to do so.

Satisfied that he had the pups trust to a degree. Batman took great care when picking the pup up, being mindful of their injured leg and partly wrapped them up in his cape. Once secured he lightly rubbed his cheek against the puppy’s and was rewarded with a tiny lick. He tapped his cowl again to connect with Oracle. “Single line Oracle.”

“Done. What do you need Batman?”

“I need puppy supplies. For a…” He looked at the pups face in better light and could make out that they had a bit of great dane and german shepard about them. He instantly thought of his old dog Ace and the happy times he had spent with him. He gave a slight chuckle at the universe giving him a sign. “For a Great Dane and German Shepard mix. Is there a store open? or do I have to wait till morning?”

Oracle’s line was quiet for a while but he could make out the clicking of her keyboard. “There is one but it’s out of your way, like rather far. However I can get a favour cashed in for you to get the supplies for when you get home. Any preference for a dog bed or anything?”

“Buy supplies with Damian in mind… if you can.” Batman walked over to his batmobile and carefully got himself in without harming the puppy further. “Not too much… just basic’s. Damian and I can go out later to retrieve more.”

“Alright. Eta fifteen minutes. I’ll keep it down low so you won’t get too many questions till the boys get home.” Oracle clicked off to keep an eye on the others before he could say thank you.

“Batmobile, Turn on automatic control to home.” Batman settled back in his seat as the car took off. He took a moment to look down to see that the pup was sleeping peacefully snuggled up against his stomach. He smiled sadly as he was yet again reminded of his pet companion. Ace would always bowled him over in greeting from a young age till he got old and ended up headbutting him in the stomach instead. Determined and strong till the end.

He received a message from Oracle that the package had been delivered and Alfred was currently setting up the items in one of the less used living areas. Bruce certainly had to do something for Alfred after all that's happened.

The waterfall separated as the batmobile entered and parked in its designated bay. The top opened and Batman slowly eased himself back out. The pup was still sound asleep to which he was grateful.

“Welcome back sir.” Alfred turned away from the computers and noticed the little bundle with Batman’s arms. “I’m guessing this is our special long term guest?”

Batman took off his cowl one handed, leaving just the eye mask in place, Jason had made the suggestion and it has been handy at times. “Yes… Though I forgot to mention that the pup has an injured leg. Could you possibly take a look at them for me while I change? Please.”

“I’ll try my best sir.” Alfred waited to him to unclip his cape before taking the precious bundle gently. Alfred was a little taken aback with de ja vu at seeing the pup in person. “Things certainly come full circle don’t they.”

Bruce chuckled lowly. “My sentiments exactly Alfred.”

“Go ahead Master Bruce and I'll take care of the little sir from here.” Alfred walked towards the medical table as Bruce changed out of his uniform.

“now let’s see what seems to be the problem.” Alfred gently unraveled the pup before laying the cape down on the table then placed the pup on top so they had a familiar scent.

The pup whined at the sudden loss of comfort. They sniffed around and found Alfred’s hand. It didn’t take long to gain their trust and Alfred found where the injury was on their hind leg.

He took a closer look and was glad to see that it was a shallow cut and would just need cleaned and bandaged. “Seems like good fortune smiles on you little sir.”

“They are a he?” Bruce came over in a more relaxed outfit, sweatpants and a hoodie that he would use for running. “Is he okay?”

“A shallow cut but still requires a bandage. Could you distract him sir while I clean the wound?”

Bruce nodded and brought his face level with the pup and wondered what name Damian would give him in the end… He hoped Damian didn’t have an aversion to dogs… To distract him from being a pessimist about what could potentially happen, he ran his hand over the pups head gently. “Whost the goodest of boys? hmm?”

The pup lapped up the attention if his little tail wagging was anything to go by. And nearly as quick as a flash Alfred had done what was needed with minimum fuss. Alfred stroked the pups back long and gentle. “One of the better patients I’ve had.”

“I have no idea what you mean Alfred.” Bruce smirked as he lifted the pup to his chest gently and he received little happy licks to his chin. “Which room did you set up?”

“I set up the old pet room sir, I believe that would be best to continue what little tradition that we have.” Alfred cleaned his hands off to the side and dried them off. “Do you wish for me to get young master Damian for you whilst you settle the pup?”

“If you could. Thank you.” Bruce nodded in further thanks as they both left the Batcave and separated at the entrance.

It didn’t take long for him to retrace his steps to the old pet room. He opened then closed the door behind him. The room was newly cleaned and organised so anything chewable was out of harm's way. Two futons, a dog bed and dog supplies were placed within the room. Puppy pads were dotted around the room also.

“So little guy…” He stroked the pups head as he placed him on the dog bed. “Hopefully this will be your new home for a bit. Till you get used to us.”

He watched as the pup scented the bed curiously and only turned his head when he heard the door open.

Damian opened the door and his eyes did a quick sweep for danger and only when deemed safe did he close the door behind him. “Alfred said you had something to show me?”

Bruce raised an eyebrow as he took in his blood son’s cautious stance. Other than brief explanations of the rules and what was to be expected, He hadn’t really spent much time with the boy. Possibly with this olive branch, he could work on that. He waved his hand indicating he wanted the boy closer. “He’s a little small so no quick movements okay?”

The boy curiously followed instruction and edged closer. His eyes widened at the sight of the weakened pup moving around on the lumpy bed. His fists tightened on reflex as unwanted memories were brought to the forefront. He choked on his words. “He’s really small.”

“If you have an aversion to dogs, we could try another pet, we would keep him here till we were able to find a new home for him though.” Bruce spoke kindly and softly as he slid down onto his belly and was laying level with the pup. Unwittingly ignoring the troubled panic his son was going through. “I just thought that you may like the company of a pet.”

“A… a pet?” Damian looked around more slowly to take in the items. To take care of the pet. He was being asked if he wished for a pet companion. Not what… Not what his grandfather… told him to do. He sat on the ground to steady himself and slow his breathing.

“I had an old companion, funnily enough the same breed mix, he was named Ace.” Bruce scrunched his nose as the pup decided to adventure outwith his bed and bumped into him. He gently guided the pup into an upright position again. “Ace was the goodest of boys, He certainly helped through my more.. darker times.”

Damian watched the pup as they stumbled around as they investigated the room. “Are we… caring for him together?”

“The pup will primarily be yours but I'm more than willing in helping you train and care for him.” Bruce shifted so he could actually see Damian’s reaction. “That’s if you would like to. He hasn’t been named either.”

Damian held his hand out when the pup came closer and lightly scratched behind a ear when accepted. “I would… I would like to.”

The pup decided that the scratches were so good that he climbed into Damian’s lap for more. even going so far as to put their front paws on his chest and lick attack any exposed skin. Damian laughed as the licks tickled and he kept turning his head away to escape the sweet torture. He kept on scratching the little pup so he wasn’t too mad about receiving attention.

“We can go out when his leg is healed.” Bruce tilted his head and his eyes softened at the sight. “Think of a name in the meantime though so we’re not stuck with pup or puppy.”

“Hmm…” Damian looked back down at the pup that was happily panting away. He thought of one of the books that he had been reading with Jason and a name came to mind. “Shall call you Titus.”

He was rewarded with more licks that he ended up on his back from surprise. He was laughing out right as the newly dubbed Titus kept attacking him with pup kisses and licks. He rolled this way and that but the pup just followed his movements with surprising vigor.

Bruce chuckled in amusement and didn’t seem all that bothered when he noticed that Alfred had snuck in to take some sentimental pictures. A boy and his doggy companion. It certainly a sight to see.

Chapter Text

“So how have things been going on your end?”

“Not too bad.. Started Lycee a year late and it has been kicking my butt but that’s school for you.” Marinette smiled as she watched Jason snuggle more into bed. “You don’t deal well with colds do you?”

“eh it’s kicking my butt for once.” Jason grumbled into the covers. “Think if I hallucinated, would I get to meet you quicker if you appeared in the room?”

“Don’t think that is how it works.” She giggled lightly and continued with her sewing. After recieving texts from Damian about Titus she set about making cute accessories for the pup to grow into with their name on it. “Just a couple years from now, think you could hold out till then?”

“If this cold doesn’t get me first. Sure.” Jason blew into an oversized handkerchief. He spoke with disgust and sarcasm “Ech… I feel so overly attractive right now.”

Marinette embroidery hoop up to cover her face to hide her giggling. Though her eyes were still visible so Jason could see how amused she was. “I can see the improvement from your zombie-like state. Actually some colour in those cheeks.”

“Hardie harr harr.” He genuinely laughed afterwards before choking on his own phlegm. He arched over the side of the bed away from the camera as he tried to settle the cough. “Kill me again… uuuugh”

She brought the hoop to her chest as she watched worriedly. “You good?”

“Peachy…” He flopped back down with a groan and gave Marinette a small smile. “Sorry for being such losey company but thank you for keeping me company during this hell.”

“I had the time to spare.” She placed her hoop down on her desk and picked up her phone to go through the messages. She smiled amused as she saw the ones from him. “You are quite attention seeking when sick.”

“Not my greatest quality I know…” Jason slumped and brought the duvet back up to his chin.

“It’s okay, I really don’t mind. I'm just sorry that I can’t be there in person to help out more.” She typed out a message before settling it back down on the desk. She learnt her elbows on the desk and placed her hands under her chin as she watched Jason on the screen.

His cheeks were feverish pink, which actually did make him more lively than normal, she wasn’t just saying that to tease him. She really wanted to run her hands through his hair and pat down his forehead with a damp cloth. She pouted because she really wanted to help her friend.

“Put the bottom lip away, care bear. I’ll eventually get over this.” Jason gave a crooked smile. It was nice being cared about but he really didn’t want her to worry. “I’ll be fine.”

The door to his room creaked open slowly with Damian coming in back first, turned to reveal him carrying a breakfast try. He huffed lightly as the items jiggled, he mumbled out an apology.

Jason was about to say it was okay until he heard the sound of scampering. He turned to lay on his side to spot Damian’s puppy, Titus, attempting to clamber onto his bed. He patted his bed which caught Titus’ attention. “Come ‘ere boy. Come ‘ere.”

Titus wiggled excitedly as it bounded over and was picked up by Jason. He happily started licking that had Jason scrunching his face away. Marinette was giggling again in the background.

Damian came over and placed the breakfast tray on the side desk. “Jason?”

“Yeah D?” Jason gently moved the puppy away from him but the pup didn’t stop licking.

“Tell Titus to sit. He’s still learning so you need to be firm. He’ll stop licking then.” Damian instructed from the side and pulled out a treat from the pups treat bag. “Then he can have one of these when he listens.”

“Alright.” Jason held his hand out for the treat as he shifted to sit up on the bed. With a treat in hand he gave Titus his full attention before saying sit firmly. He only had to say it twice before Titus sat and stopped licking. Jason smiled as he held out the treat for the pup to take. “Good boy.”

“So cute!” Marinette squealed into her hands at the sight of the tiny puppy sitting next to Jason. She waved when Damian noticed that he had an audience that wasn’t just his brother. “Good to see you Damian! Titus is adorable!”

“As you keep saying…” Damian muttered as Titus wandered over Jason’s body to get to his human. Damian petted him gently and gave another treat when he received just the one lick to his hand. He looked up to the screen and gave a wave back. “Hello Marinette.”

“Good to see you two getting cozy.” Jason gathered up the discarded tissue before the puppy could get at them. He tossed them in the little bucket that Alfred had got him earlier. He also put the homemade handkerchief into his pajamas pocket. “So how come you are making the delivery and not Alfred?”

“Alfred was called away by father. Think Tim needed to be picked up and Dick was away so that left Alfred. He had asked me to bring this up, to help you with your recovery.” Damian spoke frankly and gave Titus a chew toy to keep him occupied. He looked at Jason for the first time since entering the room and finally took in his brother’s state. “You look like crap.”

“I feel so loved.” Jason held a hand to his heart as he sighed. “So loved.”

Marinette kept snickering as she plittered in the background. Despite having Chloe as a soul sister, she still found the dynamics between siblings fascinating. “So what are you guys up too for the rest of the day?”

“More puppy training. Sit is going well so possibly going to be moving on to something else.” Damian handed Jason the breakfast tray and helped set it up on the bed. “Walk to heel seemed to be innate as he keeps following me around the house without telling him. Though I should probably give a command for that...”

“Are you going to continue training him in english or are you going to throw in some other languages as well?” Jason enquired as he buttered his toast before biting into it.

“Had possibly been thinking Arabic but then…” He scowled unsure, if anyone broke in he didn’t want someone to have command over Titus, can never be too sure.

“How about french?” Jason tilted his head in Marinette’s direction.

“Owh! If you don’t know french I could teach you.” Marinette brightened at the thought of being helpful. Over the years speaking with Alfred, Jason and sometimes Jagged, Adrien and Chloe in english helped her become more fluent over the years. Though she dimmed a little at realising that he may already know it since Jason already knows french and doubted they wouldn’t have taught Damian. “Though you probably already know french...”

Damian squinted in thought as he could see Marinette chew her lip from nervousness. He spoke slowly as went over his words. He didn’t want her upset. “I do know french however I'm a bit rusty as I don’t use it often. If you wish to help me train Titus in french I wouldn’t mind your assistance.”

Marinette beamed as she clapped her hands, “I would be happy too! I’ll look up the basic commands for dogs and we can work on them together yeah?”

“If you please.” Damian smiled a little at that. His hand was slightly chewed on that he looked down to see Titus getting his attention. “Ah I think it's time for us to leave. Apologies for interrupting.”

“It was welcomed. I had been starting to get light headed, so thank you for the food.” Jason tipped his glass slightly in a fake cheers and sipped the orange juice. “Hopefully won’t be in bed for much longer.”

“It was nice seeing you again Damian. Have fun training! I’ll let you know when I have the words done.” Marinette waved again with a happy smile.

“As you were.” Damian scooped up Titus into his arms and did a quick walk towards the door and sprinted once out the door.

“Guessing Titus needed to go potty.” Jason snickered but felt relief that the puppy didn’t relieve himself on his bed. “The pup has been good for him.”

“He certainly doesn’t seem as broody looking when first seen him.” Marinette poked her cheek in thought. “Looks more childish? but that’s like a good thing right? since he is like ten?”

“Yeah ten. He’ll be eleven in Feb.” Jason yawned into his hand. He moved the breakfast tray to the side so that he wouldn't accidentally throw it off when he snuggled back into bed. He blinked when he realised something. “Huh…”

“You okay Jay?”

“Yeah i’m fine…” Jason turned so that he was laying on his side with his hand under his face. He smiled at Marinette’s confused face. “Don’t think the kid has had a proper birthday before is all.”

Marinette’s eyes widened in horror. “That will not do!”

“Mar…” Jason wasn’t able to finish saying her name before she was moving around frantically in her room. He watched as she flitted between areas picking up random things and books before coming back to the desk. “You okay?”

“I just need to get this right… sorted!” Marinette scribbled on one of her organisation books that she had laying spare for occasions like this. “It’s months away but we gotta plan it now to ensure that he has the bestest first birthday ever. So tell me what you can about him!... erm please?”

He chuckled lightly and was grateful that he didn’t start coughing again. Looking at Marinette now, all determined and looking out for someone else’s joy, made him feel something that he couldn’t really put his finger on. It was nice and comforting. He smiled as he saw her poised to write down anything he said about Damian. “Where should I start?”

Chapter Text

Adrien checked around the corner nervously seeing that his father wasn’t there and that Nathalie was there just by herself. With silent relief he entered and called out quietly “Hey Nat?”

She gave a slight jump as she had been in the zone with her working. She glanced up from the computer to see Adrien there with an innocent smile and suppressed laughter. “What is it Adrien?”

“I have… mm…” Adrien shifted his feet as his planned speech from earlier flew from his mind. “You know what… nevermind. Sorry for disturbing you.”

Nathalie watched him start to walk away with a downtrodden face that had her curious. “Adrien.”

He stopped and turned back slowly at the sound of her call. “Yes?”

“What is it that you wanted to talk about?” Nathalie took her hands away from the keyboard to show that she was given him her full attention. Her normal blank business like stare softened the more she looked at Adrien.

Adrien looked nervously between Nathalie and his father’s office door. He wanted to trust her, he really did, but if she was Mayura and his father was Hawkmoth? Could he? He breathed in deeply as he looked a bit longer at the office door.

She gauge his reaction and figured the best course of action would be to take him away from the vicinity of his father’s location. “Do you wish to speak in your room?”

“To be honest… I don’t know.” He shifted again as he held his left wrist, covered wrapped in the bandana and many bangles from friends. He looked at Nathalie with a studying gaze that had her straighten up. He seemed to come to a near conclusion when he asked “Can I trust you?”

She blinked at the question having not expected to be asked. She automatically wanted to say no since she worked with his father. She always wanted to say yes, as she had made sure that Adrien could do as he wished within reason and spend time with his friends. She noticed that he had covered his marks so she thought over her answer as best she could and hoped it would satisfy him. “You can trust me with your connections and ensure you are able to spend time with them. You can trust that I try to do my best when it concerns your happiness. As long as things are within reason. Anything related to your father however… is a pinch of salt.”

“Okay.” Adrien tilted his head as he listened to Plagg as the kwami had discreetly hidden within his hood.

The chaotic being muttered “The answer was truthful as it gets and that it was up to you on what to do next. You got this kid.”

Adrien nodded seemingly to himself as far as Nathalie was concerned and walked over to her desk. He looked at her desk and picked up the notepad and pen. He scribbled on it before presenting it to her.

Nathalie picked it from his hands and her eyes widened a fraction at what she saw. A heartmate… He had a heartmate and he was sneaking out to go on their first date tonight. Since it wasn’t said she took it to mean that it was a person that his father wouldn’t potentially approve of but Adrien was happy with. Something she wouldn’t tell his father about. Her lips scrunched to the left as she tore up the note and did something unexpected. She tossed it into her mouth, chewed and swallowed.

Adrien gaped at the action and he could feel Plagg’s surprise too. Neither really expected it out of the professional.

She proceeded to look at him as if what she did was normal. She raised an eyebrow and talked calmly. “He has been working non stop on the christmas show line so he won’t be able to see you for the next two weeks.”

He titled his head at that, wondering why she was talking about father before something clicked and read between the lines. His father won’t notice for the next two weeks what he does. He coughed into his hand. “Thank you for checking. I’ll ensure what I do is done in a timely but safe fashion in order to not disturb his work.”

She took that to mean that he would be careful and be home at a reasonable time on the date and any future ones. Despite what his father thought of the matter, she knew that Adrien had a sensible head on his shoulders. “Very good. Is there anything else that you require?”

Shaking his head he smiled. “I’m good, thank you for your help Nathalie.”

“Very well.” Nathalie nodded her head and raised her hands above the keyboard to indicate that she was getting back to work. “Please ensure your homework is done before dinner, I’ll inform the kitchen that you require something light.”

“That would be great. See you at dinner time.” Adrien smiled brighter. He really hadn’t been sure what to do about dinner as Luka had said that he would make something for the two of them. Nathalie could be scarily perspective at times but he was glad to see that it was working for him instead of against him right now. He departed with a wave, “Take it easy Nat.”

Nathalie made a non committal sound as she got back to typing. Though stopped when she felt something drop on her arm. Confused, she swiped a finger over it and looked up to see that there were no leaks from the ceiling. When she looked back down she could feel dampness along her chin. With a tissue she dabbed her chin and followed the trail up her cheek to her eye. She guessed talking with Adrien then going back to typing up her emergency apology letter to him, had left her more emotional than she thought. If something were to happen to herself, she couldn’t leave him not knowing if the same thing happened to her as it did his mother. She couldn't do that to him.

-----

Chat Noir waited till the camera passed by his window before he leaped out of it when it was clear. He swooped away discreetly and bumped into Ladybug and Carapace on a nearby roof.

They had come to the decision that they would have two more visible members of the team so as not to wear out Kitsunebi magic too soon. Carapace and Queen bee had been chosen and so far the people of Paris had been quite receptive to the members. It also meant that there could be a rotation to parols also between the four of them.

He greeted them with a cheer, “Hey! How’s the evening been going?”

“Been going well man.” Carapace high fived him when he drew closer. “The parkour lessons have really been helping here, even though hoverboarding has been really fun too.”

Ladybug smiled amused. “I’m glad to hear that. It certainly has been a great help having that board of yours when feeling tired.”

Chat Noir patted his baton. “I’ll stick with this for now, though I could use a toss if you're up for it? I’m running a bit later than expected.”

“Oh yeah, let’s see your physical prowess here turtle boy.” Ladybug patted Carapace arm to check for muscles. “If you throw him over Ayla’s house I am sure it would brighten her night.”

“Thankfully it is in that direction.” Chat Noir stretched, so that he was prepared to land proper once thrown. “whenever you’re ready bud!”

Carapace rolled his arm back and forth to ensure he didn’t pull anything. He could see Ladybug calling someone in the background and guessed that she was making sure that Ayla was in position to see. He clapped his hands together when he finished his own stretches. “Alright dude!”

Chat noir waited for Carapace to put his shell on the ground and was surprised to see him stand on it. His friend just beamed as he held out his hand. So he shrugged and went with it when he took his hands. That's when the shell changed into hover mode and started to turn with the two of them. Though Chat Noir’s feet where still on the ground as it turned so he had to walk then run to keep up with the spinning. Carapace was laughing when Chat Noir’s feet started lifting. The turtle hero braced his legs on the shell and held on tightly Chat’s hand in Arm as the spinning went faster.

Chat screamed when Carapace finally let go of him and he went flying through the air.

Carapace laughed nervously as he stepped off his shell shakinly. “Too much?”

Whilst holding her compact up Ladybug whistled as she had filmed the whole thing. “Maybe just a little.”

“Whoops.” He scratched the back of his neck nervously as he sucked in his breath and picked up his shell with the other. “There’s going to be pay back isn’t there?”

“Maybe… but he did ask to be tossed.” Ladybug giggled as she watched Chat Noir give Alya a salute before landing someone where by the Seine. “So possibly a punch in the arm will suffice.”

“Owh I can live with that.” He placed his shell back on to his back and unexpectedly fell over from her punching him on the arm. “Ow! what was that for?”

Ladybug grinned as she sent the video forward to Chat Noir. “I didn’t say it would be delivered from him.”

-----

Chat Noir laughed as he watched the end of the video and sent a quick thank you to Ladybug before transforming back to Adrien. He cheerfully gave Plagg his beloved Camerbert which the kwami swallowed whole. He scrunched his nose though he said with a smile. “So gross.”

“Your palate still isn’t as refined as mine I see.” Plagg bleached happily and took in the sight of the alleyway. “We really got to stop meeting like this kid.”

Adrien snorted as this hadn’t been the first time Plagg had used that joke before but it still made him laugh. “Come on Plagg, got a houseboat to catch.”

“Bleh lovie dovie stuff.” Plagg flew into the bag that Adrien brought for the occasion so that the little chaotic being had stuff to do and not be bored out of his mind from the mushy stuff. “Have fun! No loud kissing! that is yuuuuck.”

Adrien blushed at the thought of kissing Luka but laughed it off. “Sure thing Plagg.”

“Should I start calling you alleycat?” Luka appeared at the entrance with an easy going smile. “I might have to rethink our dinner plans if you like staying in here.”

He clapped his hands over his face as it brightened further in embarrassment. He did a quick walk out of the place and stood next to Luka, he peeped through his fingers. “How did you find me?”

Luka tapped over his heart twice. “The song of your heart leads me to you.”

“Owh…” Adrien brought his hands down as he tried to listen inside himself. He felt the warmth of his bond with Luka but couldn’t sense a melody or song. He didn’t realise he had closed his eyes till he felt a tap on his nose from Luka.

“It’s a unique ability to me, my Allegro.” Luka said patiently as he watched Adrien turn curious. “I could sense the songs of others since I was born. Juleka likes to call it my heartsong ability. Once heard, unforgotten, well unless I intentionally forget it. Too many songs make for a headache.”

“That seems similar to Kagami’s. Think she explained that once she senses magic she can trail it and taste it?” Adrien tilted his head as he thought. He slipped into step with Luka as the older male led him away in the direction of where they were going for dinner tonight. “Tasting magic sounds horrible, especially when Plagg is concerned.”

Sass made his presence known by peeking out from Luka’s collar, his forked tongue poking out. “It’ss not sso bad. It’s like tasting rotten eggss.”

Adrien nearly blanched at that. “Oh gosh i’m so sorry.”

Luka laughed lightly as Sass scented the air. “It’ss alright, each to their own tastess.”

Luke smiled as he guided the other down the steps and opened his arm grandly towards a fairy lighted boat. “Marinette told me what you guys did one valentines as friends so I thought why not add a bit of romance to it this time around.”

“Don’t know about that, I was pretty romantic,” Adrien piped up confidently as he walked across the boarding plank. “So who's houseboat is this? Last I remember the Liberty was a bit bigger than this.”

“This is the baby sister to the Liberty.” Luka lightly spoke as he followed after Adrien. He was glad to see the younger one taking in the decorations; fairy lights, scattered rose petals, twinkling music coming from a hidden sound system. “This is Virtue. It’s Juleka and I’s practise boat though I’ve been using it a bit more often nowadays.”

Adrien gave an appreciative whistle as he ran his hands over the carved wood. “She’s pretty”

“Just like the boy I see in front of me.” Luka snuck up beside him and gave a light kiss to his forehead.

“You think I'm pretty?” Adrien asked stunned by the kiss that he didn’t realise he gave a memey response till he got a raised eyebrow from Luka. “Alright i’m pretty.”

“And don’t you ever doubt it.” He gave another light kiss as he took Adrien’s bag away. He moved it over to where he had set up Sass’ station for the night. He lifted up a hidden lid and Sass decided to come out of Luka’s hood to hover over the cubby hole. Luka then unzipped the bag to see the cat kwami. “Don’t eat up all the cheese in one go alright Plagg?”

“Ack you guys are no fun.” Plagg floated out the bag and twirled around Sass when the snake kwami came out in greeting. “Hey forky! Got any good games?”

“Battleshipss or card game perhapss? Luka wass kind enough to get a mini sset for me.” Sass floated around Plagg and showed the excited kwami to the cubby hole for the night’s activities.

“You decked a cubby hole for them? That’s so sweet.” Adrien commented as he watched Luka transfer Plagg’s treats from the bag into the Kwami’s hidden area. He saw a variety of creature comforts and the two kwami’s settled on teeny tiny beanbags. He felt slightly sad that he didn’t quite have a nice area for Plagg to hang out in at home.

Luka closed the lid over and reached out to Adrien. The other took his hand willingly so He held him close. He nuzzled the top of his head gently. “Stop. Plagg knows how much you care for him, you don’t have to worry too much.”

“How did you know what I was thinking?” Adrien chuckled nervously at people so easy to read.

“I’ve seen my sister have that look so many times when she feels like she’s messed up about something.” Luka guided Arien inside of the cabin. “You and her are not too dissimilar when it comes to your confidence levels when considering others.”

“huh…” Adrien slightly took in what Luka was saying. He had been looking up and was surprised to see that the roof was made of glass and that he could see the stars outside. He guessed that it was a one way glass cause on the outside he wasn’t able to see in. He looked down when there were a couple of steps leading into the dinning area and could see it was littered with comfy cushions, fake but cute tea lights and on the table was a glass teapot with a weird looking green bulb inside it, with two glasses beside it. “What are those?”

“Ah Kagami recommended it. It’s a jasmine green tea.” Luka indicated for Adrien to set as he picked up the kettle that he had boiled earlier. He brought it over slowly and lifted up the glass lid of the teapot. “Keep your eye on the bulb.”

Adrien did as was asked of him. So luka slowly poured the boiled water into the teapot and the bulb started to float a little within the water. A few seconds passed and it started unflurring a blossoming red flower and an arch of white blooms.

“This one is called sunset love.” Luka smiled as he watched Adrien watch the flower in wonder.

“Owh...Owh!” Adrien blinked as he realised something about the name and couldn’t believe how sentimental Luka already was. “We met as the sun was setting!”

Luka chuckled as he settled across from Adrien and continued smiling as Adrien blushed cutely and smiled brightly himself. “That we did.”

Adrien giggled then started rubbing his face with one hand as he felt suddenly unsettled, like he was just about having a meltdown. Luka was being so sweet and loving that it was a bit overwhelming. “I’m so sorry Luka, This is so lovely and everything but I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.”

“It’s okay Adrien.” Luka started pouring some of the flowering tea into their glasses. He kept his voice soothing as best as he could. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Adrien swallowed as he fought against the sudden onslaught of tears that threatened to spill over. He could feel that his face was smiling from how happy he felt being with Luka but it still was a bit too much after living in a not so loving household for nearly four years since his mother's disappearance. “I’m happy being here with you.. it’s just…”

Luka looked at him with knowing and understanding eyes. He had discreetly sent a message to Ladybug to do a pass over the seine for possible butterflies. He didn’t think Adrien’s father would be that heartless to use his son for an akuma but you could never be too careful. He reached over and took one of Adrien’s hands into his and did comforting circles with his thumbs. “What can I do for you?”

“Can…” Adrien choked slightly on his words. “Can we cuddle?”

Insteading of answering, Luka got up, didn’t let go of the other hand as he walked over to Adrien's side of the table and scooched in to be beside him.

Adrien shuddered as the years of feelings of what’s happened to him decided to release then and there as he was wrapped up in Luka’s arms. He tried to keep strong for so long in order to not cause too much trouble for Marinette but since the first thought of his father being Hawkmoth had been weighing him down, steadily eating away at his being. Random venting sessions with Plagg had helped in the beginning but it just hadn’t been enough as of late. “I’m sorry… I'm so so sorry.”

“Your feelings are valid Adrien.” Luka ran his fingers through Adrien’s hair in a soothing manner as he rocked the both of them back and forth slowly. “Breath with me and things will be fine.”

“Okay…” Adrien nuzzled in closer so that he had a better feeling of Luka’s breathing. He could feel the tears down his cheeks but as he focused he could feel himself settling into the same rhythm. He spoke softly as he allowed the safety of Luka blanket over him. “Okay…”

The two of them settled in silence. Luka had eventually started moving his fingers in a manner that was reminiscent of him playing his guitar that has Adrien smiling a little when he realised the movement. Luka shifted when he sensed another shift in emotion. “What’s funny Adagio?”

“Your’e playing with my hair like a guitar.” Adrien replied amused. “Do you want to play yours?”

“If that’s okay?” Luka shifted again so that he could look Arien in the face. “It’s sitting outside so I would have to move.”

“Yeah that’s okay.” Adrien slowly detached himself and pulled down his jumper sleeve to hold it in his hand then proceeded to dab away at his face to clear away the moisture. “I would like to hear you play if that’s okay?.”

“Be more than happy too.” He placed a light kiss to the top of Adrien’s head and gave a squeeze with his free hand before leaving.

Adrien sighed as he watched the other leave. He was a little disappointed that he could have potentially ruined the night with his emotions but Luka didn’t appear to be too bothered by it. He breathed in deeply to centre himself and could tell that he already felt lighter from having let go of so much. He hadn’t realised how much he had needed that.

By the time Luka came back with his guitar, he came back to Adrien sipping the flowered tea and was gazing upwards at the stars. He was really glad that he managed to convince Anarka to get half of the ceiling changed to one way glass. As he entered the room he turned off the light so the only source was the fake tea lights that he had turned on earlier and it allowed them to see the night sky better.

He startled when the light went out but relaxed when he saw Luka come in and settled across from him once more. He smiled behind his cup as Luka made sure the guitar was in tune. That was something that he found familiar himself when he tuned his piano. “What’s the melody for tonight Brio?”

Luka smiled at the nickname and started strumming his guitar lightly. The acoustic sound filled the air with what seemed like random notes but as Luka settled back in the seat with his guitar upon his legs he stared directly at Adrien as the notes turned familiar. “Just following our hearts lead.”

Chapter Text

Nino glanced at the man who was sitting across from him. “So… you were the guy that was Wayzz's partner?”

“Yes I indeed was.” Master Fu sipped his tea slowly as he judged the boy in front of him through narrowed eyes. Parting from Wayzz had slowly been doing a number on him as more grey hairs appeared along his hairline. His voice also seemed to have gained a small rasp to it when he spoke. “And you are his new partner.”

“I am. I would say it is nice meeting you but… I’m really not sure to be honest.” Nino tilted his head slightly as he studied the other. “I am however trying to see it from your perspective to why it has taken so long to give Ladybug and Chat Noir help.”

“As you should.” Master Fu held his cup close as if looking into the tea’s depth would give him the answer he sought. “I have made mistakes and have paid dearly for them. What has been deemed stubborn in ways is also hesitance in making more wrongs at the cost of something greater.”

“What made you change your mind?” Nino inquired genuinely. Understanding the need to do no more harm that one had done already but was a double edged sword as not reacting could lead to more harm also.

“Eventually Marinette and Adrien when they came forward… an old friend.” He held up his hand and could see more defined wrinkles. Though there was a faint colouring of his band at the wrist with a two toned heart. “And time. I do believe my love would not forgive me if I take much longer. It has all come to this moment to move on and change.”

Nino eyes softened a little and allowed himself to relax when he made eye contact with a sullen Wayzz. He sat up straighter on his knees and bowed his head in acceptance. “Then I’m ready to learn what it takes to take care of the kwami’s and the miraculous. I would be honored if you teach me.”

----

Nino had told Chloe of his experience with Master Fu and his teachings a couple of days later as she was next to see him for a lesson. He didn’t want her going in attacking the old man with harshness as it looked like a soft wind could blow him over.

So with those thoughts in mind, Chloe went in with a care package and promptly dropped it on the kitchen counter when she was let in. She poked the top of the box with a newly manicure nail, detailed with honeycomb, as she addressed him. “You are going to take better care of yourself, old man. I’ve had the chief prepare easy meals for you to chew on and keep you healthy. I also had the girls make you a skin routine set to bring back your more youthful look. Need you at your best when you reunite with your lady friend.”

Master Fu was stumped as he watched the heiress instruct him on how better to care for himself as she buzzed around his kitchen putting the meals away. He even gaped when she had started chucking out some of his more unhealthy snacks. “Young miss…”

The bee kwami took that moment to come out from Chloe’s purse and came over to him giggling as her Queen continued her reorganisation. “She’s doing what she can, Master Fu. Once the others had asked her to be Protector, or what she has taken on as being called the mum friend, She has taken it very seriously and looked up the best ways to help you out too.”

“I don’t…” His shoulders slumped as he held on tight to his walking stick to keep himself steady. Pollen gave him a look and knew that there was no way of getting out of it. He needed help just as much as the others did. “Very well…”

Pollen brightened and buzzed happily. She decided to help out by rejuvenating his house plants and making sure they were taken care of too.

Master Fu allowed himself a chuckle as he watched the pair bumble about the place making it more homely than he ever had. It was certainly an experience he wouldn’t be forgetting any time soon and there wouldn’t be much he could do to teach her. So his little note book of the effects the miraculous can do to the holders would have to do.

----

Both Marinette and Adrien walked in a week later to a newly redecorated room and were blinking in surprise to see Master Fu among a pile of pillows reading the newspaper and a funny face mask on. Marinette was the one to approach him cautiously. “Master Fu? Is everything okay?”

“Oh!” Master Fu smiled behind the mask as he sat up and placed the newspaper down. “Everything is just fine Marinette. Thank you for asking.”

Adrien waved his hand around his own face as he looked curious. “And the reason for the face mask?”

“Ah yes. It was so refreshing that I forgot about it.” He peeled it off slowly and did a gentle toss to the bin that was near the counter. He gave a light cheer when it went in. “Miss Chloe had recommended the face mask in order to revitalize my face and bring some life back into my complexion.”

The two of them looked at eachother and wondered if Chloe had slipped him something extra as this wasn’t something they expected. He was far more relaxed compared to the other times they had seen him. It was a little off putting to say the least. Adrien cleared his throat. “It certainly seems to be helping.”

“Thank you, some of my neighbours have been complimenting me on how youthful i’ve been looking nowadays.” Master Fu stood up with a bit of aid from his walking stick and went to the kitchenette. “Would you two like some tea before todays lesson?”

Marinette answered for the two of them as they sat down at the usual table. “Yes please, for the two of us.”

Whilst Adrien sent a rapid text off to Chloe asking what she had done to Master Fu. He groaned a laugh into his hand when he tilted his phone to Marinette to show Chloe’s reply.

“Chloe charms, my ass…” Marinette laughed at the situation but didn't complain that Chloe had got results. It had been the smoothest lesson they had in awhile.

-----

Kim grumbled as he carried Alix on his back, he had lost a bet, to go get ice cream. “Why are you so heavy!? you are like smaller than my leg.”

She dug her knees into his sides in retaliation. “It's all muscle! And I’m not that small, my growth spurt is just delayed that’s all. You saw future me! I’m gonna be hella tall.”

“Bet it was stilts.” He snorted and hiked her up further his back. “Doubt you can grow that tall in less than ten years.”

“Believe it buckoo.” Alix wiggled excitedly. “I’m gonna be so awesome!!”

He rolled his eyes at that cause he already believed her to be awesome as is but didn’t voice it out loud. He dropped her to the floor when he arrived at Andre’s and laughed at her squawking. “Gotta think faster next time.”

Taking off her cap she wacked him with it before getting up to stand on her skates. “What Odine sees in you I have no idea.”

“That’s a lie and you know it.” He threw a cheeky grin back at her and paid for their separate ice cream. He handed over hers when she was steady and started walking off again. “Can’t believe the platonic changed from that to Heartmate. I really wasn’t expecting it.”

Alix shrugged as she ate her ice cream. “Is what it is. Maybe giving that bracelet that you got Marinette to make was the key turning point. Isn’t it a good thing?”

“Don’t get me wrong! It is really good but it’s just…” Kim looked around as if trying to track his lost thought. He slumped when he couldn’t get it back.

She bumped into him lightly, her voice light and caring. “Hey don’t think too hard about it Kim okay? I understand it’s a big step but you have always been attentive to Odine, you’ll be fine.”

“It’s not that that i’m worried about.” He breathed out deeply as he rubbed his head frustratedly with his free hand. His voice was just a whisper. “Being a hero? That worries me.”

The two of them finished their ice cream in silence with the quiet thought in the air. Kim was safe in his knowledge that Alix would not judge him for his worries. Alix was safe to contemplate on what to say next knowing he wouldn’t interrupt her thought process.

“Time isn’t set in stone…” She started off slowly as she bladed next to him. “Whatever you decide to do wouldn’t be held against you. Just know that I have no doubt you would be a great hero and I would be so proud to have you fight by my side. However I know you would be the greatest support ever should you decide the hero business isn’t for you.”

Kim decided to give her the biggest side hug ever given when she finished. He even went as far to pick her up and spin around in happiness. “I couldn’t have asked for a better friend.”

“Don’t let Marinette and Nino hear you say that.” Alix laughed once she was put down. Their platonic bond humming happily in the background.

“Pff. They have each other. I got you and Max.” Kim spoke proudly as they went back to their walk. “To the bitter end yeah?”

“And beyond!” Alix added happily and pushed him to start a competition before speeding off with a cheer. “Race you to the bakery!”

“Oi! No cheating!” Kim ran after her with a massive grin on his face not at all bothered that she rolled ahead of him. “Get back here!”

Her laughter filled the air in return.

-----

Luka wasn’t really expecting much when he got permission to play for the crowds at the open market. He had just finished his first set and was chatting with a couple of people when he saw the sisters coming towards him. The group walked away as Kagami and Cassandra stopped in front of him. He smiled in greeting “Hi ladies. How’s your afternoon going?”

“It’s been going well, thank you.” Kagami answered politely as Cassandra looked over the crowd ensuring their safety. “I’ve come to ask you if I may touch you please?”

“Found something interesting as well have you?” He held out his hand as he leant over his guitar. He had sensed something since the night of the calling but was unsure how to go about it.

“You felt it too?” She tilted her head a little as she placed her hand in his. There was a moment that nothing happened and she grew a bit disappointed at that until something shifted. Her breath caught in her throat as a slither of warmth circled her arm then cooled. “A platonic, I was correct then.”

He chuckled as the warmth settled for him also. “That you were. It’s nice to meet you Kagami.”

“And you Luka. I do apologize but I felt it best to just be forward considering circumstances.” She implied their hero side business despite him not quite being one just yet. “I’ll be sure to check up on you once again when you aren’t so busy.”

“Not a problem, I look forward to knowing you better. However… just a bit of advice concerning Marinette.” He placed his hands over each other on his guitar and leant his head on them.

“I’m listening.” She frowned a little as she was going to head in the direction of the bakery next.

“I know you mean well but… Don’t force the bond till she’s ready. I could sense your heart trying to reach out to her but her’s is guarded due to what happened with a previous platonic.” His eyes grew sad at his own previous experience he had with a toxic person. “I suggest you talk to her so you two can be on the same page.”

She nodded slowly and felt herself be grounded when Cassandra slipped her hand into hers. “I’ll be sure to keep your advice in mind when I next see her.”

It was at that moment when the akuma alert went off.

“What timing huh?” Luka smiled amused and went about packing up in a sedate manner as other people started running to the Akuma shelters. “You two stay safe out there and good luck.”

“You also.” Kagami nodded to him and the two sisters ran off to safely transform without being noticed. “May battle be swift.”

“Want burgers.” Cassandra added with a short smile. Knowing that if she was hungry would ensure that Kagami would make the battle end quickly to ensure she was fed. It was the little things that mattered.

Chapter Text

Ladybug sighed when her feet met with solid ground again. The cure had made fast work of remaking everything damaged by the latest Akuma whole again. She held out her compact as the ladybugs returned back to her and disappeared inside.

A hushed whisper was close to her ear. “Ladybug, may we meet later?”

It took a moment to realise that it was Ryuko speaking to her but was still covered by Kitsunebi’s illusion. Ladybug gave a miniscule nod when she felt Ryuko shift beside her. “Personal or business?”

“Personal. It’s about our Soulbands.”

“Okay… Park by my place do?”

“That would be satisfactory. I’ll meet you there.” The whisper faded along with Ryuko’s presence.

Ladybug took a moment to see that the other three were handling things before leaving. She was glad to have the other there as it eased things off of her shoulders despite Hawkmoth upping his akuma’s to compensate for the more people he was fighting against.

Ladybug returned to her room and transformed back to Marinette in time for her mother to come in and check on her. Marinette smiled at her mother though she was screaming on the inside at nearly being caught. “Everything okay Maman?”

“Everything is fine dear. I was wondering if you had any plans for the rest of your day?” Sabine asked from the trap door. “Tom was thinking of a date night but we didn’t want to leave you out.”

“Owh! I actually got a message from Kagami if we could meet up now, I can go to Chloe’s after depending how long it takes. So it’s fine!”

“Would she be okay with you staying over too?” She casually asked. “Just incase…”

Marinette laughed at how teenage-like her mother was acting and just nodded her head as she giggled. “I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”

They talked for a few minutes longer till Marinette shooed her mother away in order to get ready to meet Kagami and sent a message to Chloe about staying over for the night. She held her bobbles in her mouth as she brushed her hair out into the space buns that Chloe had styled for her previously when she got a text back.

“Currently feeding Cassandra so just come with Kagami whenevers! We can do the spa ritual with them if they are up for it. Poor Cassandra not been looking after her skin and I need reason to help out, that isn’t just by strong arming her. She looks like she could spork me quite easily so kinda need back up on that regard. Kinda hot. not gonna lie <3”

Marinette accidentally slapped her forehead with her brush when she went to facepalm as well as laugh. “I’m in danger.”

She finished quickly and picked up her cardigan and purse for Tikki to be comfortable in. “Is everything okay Marinette?”

“Things are just fine Tikki, just meeting up with Kagami and then heading to Chloe’s to meet up with her and Cassandra for a spa day then probably a movie night.” She climbed down from the trapdoor and closed it behind her. “No doubt she’ll have something set up for you guys too.”

Tikki cheered “Oh Pollen is so good at taking care of us, I look forward to it.”

“Shh Tikki.” Marinette giggled as she closed her purse and slipped on her cardigan as she walked down into the bakery only to stop when her mother presented her with a box. “You didn’t have to maman!”

“It’s only polite! Have fun at Chloe’s.” They gave each other a comforting side hug “Behave! and we’ll see you at some point tomorrow.”

“I will, Have a good one maman!” Marinette quickly moved on and yelled back to her father too. “Bye Papa! Be good!”

She scurried out as quickly as she could with the pastry box ensuring that she wouldn’t drop it as she made her way to the park. A bright smile made its way onto her face when she spotted Kagami correct two kids' form, for their pretend sword fight with sticks. “Kagami! Sorry for keeping you!”

Kagami bid the kids goodbye with one final tip before walking over to meet Marinette half way. “It’s quite alright, was rather last minute in asking you to join me. Thank you for agreeing too.”

“Not a problem! Shall we go sit?” She gestured to the bench to their left and started walking to it when Kagami agreed. “I have to say I was surprised when you asked though, is there something wrong?”

“Nothing wrong per say…” They sat on the bench together and Kagami waited till Marinette settled the box down before continuing by a reveal of her left arm where her marks were. “Before the fight with the Akuma I had met with Luka and we are platonically bonded. I believe that you and I are also meant to be bonded but there was something stopping the connection. I do not mean to pressure you but I do wish to be on the same page as you as to why that is happening.”

Marinette felt like she could choke on her tongue with how dry her mouth was at that line of question. “So there is something wrong.”

“It is only wrong if you believe it to be.” Kagami stated with a raised eyebrow. “I do not believe it to be wrong just a matter of timing. Luka has said that your heart is guarded due to a previous relationship. I would like to understand as to why. Not to speed up our bonding process but to ensure that you feel safe and open to the prospect in future.”

She smiled softly at that as she clasped her hands together on her lap. “That means a lot to me… Thank you.”

Kagami tilted her head in such a manner that it brought Marinette to mind of a dragon studying a jewel. Curious bright eyes and interested to learn more about the subject. “Do you feel okay to explain the situation?”

“Yeah… Yeah I feel okay to do so.” Marinette rolled her shoulders back in effort to help herself relax. She had been fighting and planning as Ladybug that she forgot to check in with herself at times. Ladybug was on okay terms with Alya again but Marinette still felt hurt by her ex best friend. “It started off with little things…”

She went on to explain that there was a continuous build up of favours, tasks, and problems over time and it only got worse when Lila had joined their class. That Ayla’s passion for stories blinded her from reality at times and how Ayla would start expecting things to be done rather than having to ask and pay for it. It spiralled when Lila lied about Marinette’s bullying her that their relationship just broke from there.

“My mark grew toxic and eventually Ayla confronted me and said that she wished that she wasn’t soul bonded with me… I just broke it… I know now that Lila had some sort of power over her, truly now, but it doesn’t make the hurt any less…” Marinette played with the sleeves of her cardigan as a semi distraction. “I know it’s been awhile and I feel like I can not be friends in the same manner with her again… I don’t mean to guard you from me but I’m still healing in a sense. I know you mean well and you have been a great support to me and the others that I'm really grateful.”

“But you’re not quite ready for that level of commitment to me. I understand.” Kagami nodded to herself as she thought things over. “However I would still like to be friends with you regardless, I don’t particularly have any and I find myself enjoying my time with you despite how little of interactions we have had with each other out with… work.”

Marinette giggled at the way Kagami said work with a frown as if she disliked using that term for what they do. “I’d be more than happy to be friends with you, the bond would probably form more naturally if that’s the case as we got closer.”

“That settles that, Friends it is.” Kagami gave a weird smile as if it was something she didn’t do often and it changed back quickly to her normal sullen look. Though her eyes seemed to say she was happy with the outcome. “Hope you don’t mind me asking but what is in the box?”

“Oh!” Marinette shifted to pick the box up and opened for Kagami to see. “Maman gave me a selection to take to Chloe’s as I'm staying over tonight. You’re invited too! Chloe said she’s feeding Cassandra and wanted us to join her after we’ve done our thing.”

“Huh…” Kagami frowned as she looked around looking for something till she settled her eyes again. “Will you need to go back to yours to get a bag for it?”

“Owh no no no.” Marinette waved a free hand. “I’ve known Chloe for so long that she keeps clothes for me at hers for whenever I need to stay at hers for whatever reason.”

“That’s nice…” She seemed unsure if her mother would allow them. “I don’t know if my sister and I would be allowed to stay over though.”

“That’s okay, no harm in asking and Chloe can be rather persuasive when something intervenes with her trying to give people spa treatments. She’s erm… quirky? Like that.” Marinette seemed to take a moment before giggling again. “There is a reason that we asked her to be a protector, self-care is particularly her brand to those she cares about.”

“Very well. Would it be okay however that we go back to the market?” Kagami asked politely as the two of them left to head to the hotel. “The akuma had interrupted our time there and I would like to check in with Luka again if possible.”

“Sure! Let me just drop this off and we could see if the other two wish to join us.” She paused. “Or do you wish for it to just be the two of us?”

“I don’t mind either.” Kagami was just glad to spend time outside the compound and without servants. Coming to Paris and helping out with the hero business has certainly been opening many possibilities where her mother has been allowing them more freedom.

“That’s fair enough, Chloe not really one for the market place unless there’s something shiny involved.” Marinette skipped a bit in happiness but ended up stumbling over her feet. Things went in slow motion when she fell forward and didn’t stop herself as she held up the pasty box in the air.

Kagami was so surprised as for most interactions she had seen the graceful Ladybug land on her feet regardless of the situation. So for her to see Marinette land pretty much face first to the ground with the pastry box up safely in the air was pause worthy.

Marinette looked up slightly, exposing a slightly grazed nose and chin, with a groan. “Ow…”

“owh… Owh Mari…” Kagami pressed her lips tight together as her brows bunched up both in concern and currently contained laughter. Though it bubbled over as she continued to look at Marinette in wonder on how she tripped over feet and air.

Marinette smiled as she sat up as she listened to Kagami’s laughter even if it was at her expense at least it wasn’t out of malice but more out of surprise. Though she giggled to herself as it had been awhile that she had an incident like this, it was going to happen sooner or later, had just been a matter of time.