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La Magie Noire

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It starts like a normal day.

Well, a normal day for you, a high school superhero who turns half-cat and saves Paris from destruction on a regular basis.

It’s one of those days, the kind where an ordinary field trip to the history museum turns into mayhem, courtesy of Hawk Moth and some archeologist who wasn’t getting her boss’s respect.

It’s routine, which, as you slip behind a display of vases to transform, gives you a moment of pause. How did this become routine? Is this pattern of villains and fighting ever going to change?

Are you?

Then there’s a scream and a cacophony of shattered glass, and you’re Chat Noir, running toward the chaos as your classmates flee.

It’s not like it’s the first time you’ve wondered. You’ve been fighting in the same endless loop for years, and no matter how close you get to finally defeating Hawk Moth, or learning Ladybug’s identity, or telling her how you feel, somehow you always fall just short. You’ve gotten used to it. You figure it’s part of the superhero deal.

Ladybug arrives at the scene just seconds after you do, and you work in tandem to trap the archaeologist-turned-mummy in a corner of an exhibit.

You think you’ve got her when suddenly she lunges at you, sending another row of glass cases shattering.

“Chat Noir, look out!” Ladybug yells.

You leap out of the way just in time and roll to safety in a pile of glass shards.

“Distract her!” Ladybug calls. “I’m going for the akuma!”

There’s something sparkling and egg-shaped near your foot, and you pick it up to throw at the mummy. You know you should be afraid of what this villain could do if Ladybug doesn’t capture the akuma, but you’ve done this so many times by now that that threat doesn’t even seem real. Hawk Moth is never going to win, but you’re never going to beat him, either. You’re just tired—tired of your secret identity, tired of your hopeless crush on Ladybug, tired of this endless fighting. You just wish you could be free of all of it.

“Chat Noir, now!”

You hurl the object—a gem, you realize, as it flies out of your hand—and hit the mummy in the head.

Ladybug grabs the akumatized pendant, and it’s all pretty much over from there.

Routine. Another day in the life.

*

The next day, though, is anything but routine.

He’s standing outside your school, and when you notice him your first thought is that you’re seeing things.

You’re exhausted from the previous day’s fight, and fencing practice, and the calculus test you hadn’t studied for. You haven’t been sleeping well.

You look again.

He’s across the street, leaning against a lamp post at an angle that seems to evoke the haughty confidence of a cat. He’s wearing a leather jacket and shiny green sneakers. He seems to be waiting for something, and when his eyes finally catch on you, his quick grin tells you what it is.

Your second thought is copycat.

You yelp and barely manage to spout off an excuse to Nino before you dash back up the steps and through the front gates of your school.

*

You chase his trail for six blocks before you finally find him leaning casually on a railing of a rooftop terrace overlooking the Seine.

“Hold it right there!”

He turns, and your stomach twists.

The copycat you fought once looked just like you, but at this distance you realize that this imposter doesn’t quite. He’s a little taller, but mostly broader, his shoulders square under the seams of his leather jacket. His face is a little different, too; something about the angles that you can’t quite figure out.

He’s you, definitely, but he’s… wrong. You push down a spike of nausea and lift your chin, claw back the confidence of Chat Noir.

“Wait, you call that a copy? I’m disappointed! You don’t look anything like—him!”

You catch yourself from saying me, but you could swear the copy’s eyes gleam in recognition.

“Not quite,” he says, “but wouldn’t you say I’m an improvement?”

A half-formed retort dies on your tongue as he cocks his head. He’s not wrong; he’s better-looking than you.

You force a laugh. “What does it matter? You’re just an imposter, and not a good one.”

“Do you really think anyone would care?”

Another wave of nausea hits as you wonder if anyone but you even be able to tell the difference. Your friends ought to—but then again, your mask is enough to confuse them. And who would object to a version of you that’s just a little better than they remember?

“Who are you?” you gasp.

“I’m exactly who I look like.” He steps closer, his green eyes gleaming in the sunlight. He smiles. “I’m you.”

*

You run, and you’re not proud of it.

It could be Hawk Moth, it could be danger, and you could be letting everyone down.

But whatever it is, it’s not something you know how to face. He was you, the real you, and he knew who you were. If Hawk Moth already knows your real identity…

Well, you’re actually not sure what would happen, but it wouldn’t be good.

So you run, and you don’t stop until you’re back at the mansion, safe inside your home.

But when you open the door to your bedroom, he’s there, leaning against your windowsill and looking like he’s expecting you.

You yelp in shock. For a moment you want to call for help, but you force that instinct away and slam the door shut behind you instead. This is your problem, and you’re going to deal with it alone.

“What are you?” you demand.

He frowns. “I already told you who I am.”

“Are you a shapeshifter? Or, like… Some kind of evil alter-ego?”

“Evil? Why does magic have to mean evil? And I’m not another copycat, if that’s what you’re thinking.”

You pause. “...You know about that?”

“I was there. I told you, I’m you. I remember everything you remember.”

“But that’s—impossible! I’m me!” For a cold moment, you wonder if he’s telling the truth—if somehow you could have split in two, both halves believing they’re the original. You think you read about that in a science fiction story once, and you wish you could remember how it ended. You wonder if you’d be able to fight him, and if you’d win.

Suddenly he smiles. “You’re freaking out now, aren’t you? Sorry, I forget how he explained it. I’m you, but I’m from the future. I won’t be here long.”

You swallow hard. “The future? You mean—”

“I’m not just you,” he says. “I’m what you’re going to be.”

*

He tells you that he’s not sure how he got here, but his best guess is that it had something to do with the gem you picked up in the museum—it’s magic, he says, he researched it. He tells you that it grants wishes, which you think is stupid at first because you would have remembered wishing for a tall doppelganger making himself comfortable on your bedroom floor.

The only thing you can remember wishing is that you could catch a break from the demands of being Chat Noir, that maybe someday things might change—

And then it clicks, and you let out a horrified laugh. “You’re what I want to be.”

He shrugs. “I guess time travel’s easier magic than creating a person from scratch. Or something like that.”

“So you’re—”

“Free from Hawk Moth, dating Ladybug, done keeping secrets,” he says, grinning as he ticks them off on his fingers. “Lucky, aren’t you?”

“But I didn’t want—” You laugh again; you feel almost hysterical. “I want that for me.”

“Well, you’ll just have to wait.”

You hesitate. Then: “How long?”

“That would be giving away an awful lot, wouldn’t it?”

“But what if…” What if I mess it up? you think, and he smiles.

“That’s why I can’t tell you,” he says, as if you’d spoken out loud. “I don’t know what makes a difference or not, but he didn’t, the last time. I’d rather not take any chances.”

It takes you a second to realize what he’s saying, and when you do, your cheeks start to burn. You’re used to your own head being a safe place for secrets, but how can it be, when he’s been there, too?

“...How long does it last?”

He shrugs. “Not too long.”

*

Not too long is all he’ll say, which you’re hoping means a few hours at the most. But he’s still there when you come back from dinner, and while you do your homework, and when you come back from your shower to get ready for bed, you find him pulling the sleeping bag from out of your closet.

“You’re—sleeping here?”

“Where else would I go?”

You have half a mind to tell him to leave and find a hotel, but no matter how much he weirds you out, you think that keeping him out of sight is the smart thing. Plus, if he’s telling the truth, then it’s going to be you in his position someday.

You think this ought to make you feel hospitable, but it just makes you feel sick.

“Well… that doesn’t mean you have to sleep on the floor. Don’t you know we’ve got guest rooms?”

“We wouldn’t want the housekeepers to get suspicious, would we?”

You’re pretty sure you could cover your tracks hiding one doppelganger in a mostly-empty mansion, but he insists, and you don’t bother arguing. It’s probably one more thing that he’d tell you has to happen because it’s already happened, which seems like twisted logic, but you don’t know how to argue. Maybe he was just a pushover, too, the last time.

When the lights are off and his breath has settled into something quiet, you finally ask, “So is there anything you can tell me?”

He doesn’t answer, and for a second you think he’s asleep, and then for another second you think that maybe he’s gone, or that he was never here.

But then: “What else do you want to know?”

You exhale slowly and sift through your options. There’s so much you want to know, so many practical questions that you know you should be taking the opportunity to ask. If he really went through this, too, then maybe it’s important that you think of the right question in order to get where he is. Maybe there’s some critical information he needs to give you to make sure you defeat Hawk Moth, or survive one of his villains.

You try to figure out how to phrase the question, but thinking about fighting Hawk Moth pulls your mind over to Ladybug.

You wonder if he’s telling the truth about dating her—and If he is, does that mean she already likes you, now? When are you supposed to tell her how you feel? And once you’re together, once you’ve been with her however long he has, does that mean… Has he—?

He clears his throat, and your face turns hot. You scramble to come up with something to say, but of course it doesn’t matter. The shared knowledge of what you were thinking stretches thickly between you in the dark.

“It’s fine,” you blurt. “I don’t need to know anything.”

“You sure about that?”

You turn over and pull your pillow over your head, but you can hear him starting to laugh.

You hope he’ll be gone in the morning.

*

Even when villains aren’t threatening the city, your life can be a lot to handle. You’ve gotten used to juggling identities, but keeping up with all of their demands has gotten harder and harder. You’re working 5 days a week at your father’s agency, learning the ropes of the business on top of modeling, but he’s refused to let you drop either fencing club or your Chinese lessons to compensate. You’ve got more homework as a lycéen than you did at Collège Françoise Dupont, and you’ve got the baccalauréat to worry about if you’re going to get into a good university.

And on top of all of that, today you had to go and find out that one of your best friends, Marinette, has apparently had a crush on you for years.

“I don’t know what to do,” you find yourself telling the other Adrien, who, disappointingly, was still in your room when you got home. “She’s great, you know? I mean, of course you know, but she’s—she’s Marinette. And she hasn’t even said anything, so it’s not like I can turn her down now, right? But it sounded like she was planning something elaborate, and if I let her go to all that trouble…”

You look over to see your older self sitting on your bed, stuffing a piece of baguette into his mouth.

You glare at him. It’s his fault you were at the bakery at all—you felt guilty that he hadn’t had anything to eat, so you stopped by after school to get him something. You were checking out when you heard Marinette come into the back room. You weren’t sure who she was talking to, but it was painfully clear who she was talking about.

“Can’t you give me a hint or something? You care about her too, don’t you?”

He chews for longer than seems necessary. Finally he swallows. “Of course.”

“So what am I supposed to do when she makes this big declaration and asks me out?”

He tears off another hunk of bread, but he pauses when you frown at him. “Have you thought about saying yes?”

You freeze. You want to deny it, but there’s no point.

He pops the piece of baguette into his mouth. “I mean, you’re almost a university student,” he says, around it. “You’re popular, you know you’re good-looking. Don’t you think it’s sad that you’ve never even kissed anyone?”

“I’ve been—busy.”

He smiles. “Well, yeah. That’s not the only reason, though, is it?”

You sit down cross-legged on the floor and press your face into your palm. “You know who I like,” you say. “You’re dating who I like. How could I lead Marinette along now that I know I end up with Ladybug?”

“But if Ladybug didn’t exist, then you’d say yes?”

“I guess so. Maybe?” You exhale and throw up your hands. “I don’t know!” It’s hard to imagine your life without Ladybug. You wouldn’t even be alive, without her. That kind of bond isn’t something you could just replicate with someone else.

And yet…

“Well, Marinette’s always been nice to me,” you say. “She’s sweet, and she’s funny, and she’s really good at fashion design and video games and all kinds of stuff. And she’s… I mean, I guess I’d say she’s kind of…”

“You remember I’ve been in your head, right?”

“She’s pretty!” You cover your face again. “She’s really, really—um. Pretty.”

“Uh-huh.” He’s abandoned the baguette and is sitting on the edge of your bed now, elbows on his knees. “Plus, she actually likes you.”

“But… Ladybug will like me. Right?”

He steeples his fingers in front of his chin. “Mmm.”

“But she doesn’t already?”

He shrugs suddenly and pushes himself back, stretching out on his side with his head propped on his hand. “You’ll have to figure that out yourself. I’m just saying, don’t count Marinette out too soon. She might be better for you than you think.”

You frown and look him over. You’re still not sure when he’s from, but he must have a couple of years on you, maybe more. You wonder how long he had to wait before Ladybug returned his feelings. You wonder if Ladybug was his first kiss.

“So… you’re saying I should go out with her, even though we’re not going to end up together?”

“I’m not telling you what to do.”

“But you’re saying I could.”

“Of course you could. It’s called dating. It doesn’t have to last forever.”

“But… Why would I do that?”

“Do you really need me to tell you?”

And you don’t. You’re pretty sure it’s normal at your age to be plagued with thoughts of sex, but you wonder if they’re so unbearable for your friends who are actually having sex. You’re afraid that one of these days Paris is going to be destroyed because you pop a boner at the wrong moment, fighting next to Ladybug in her skintight suit.

“She’s a sophisticated woman,” he says. “Don’t you want to know what you’re doing once you get the chance with her?” It takes you a second to realize he’s talking about Ladybug, and you blush. It’s too easy to imagine her laughing when she realizes how inexperienced you are. She’s always been the more competent one, at everything.

But then you think about what it would mean to do what he’s suggesting, and you shake your head hard. “No,” you say, “I couldn’t do that to Marinette. Just using her as… practice, when I don’t like her that way? That’s horrible.”

He shrugs. “Suit yourself.”

You narrow your eyes at him. “Hold on. There’s no way I’m going to do it, so that means you didn’t, either.”

He laughs and looks pleased. “You got me.”

“Then why are you even making me think about it?”

“It’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?” He shrugs again. “Just because I know what you’ll do doesn’t mean there isn’t anything I might have done differently.”

You frown at that. Would he even be able to convince you to do something different from what he did, or would he have been convinced the same way? Do you even have a choice, if he already knows what you’ll do?

It makes your head hurt to think about, and it won’t change your mind anyhow.

“I’ll guess I'll just have to figure something out," you say.

*

You spend the whole next day at school bracing yourself for Marinette’s confession, but all you get for your trouble are stiff shoulders.

“You could have told me she wasn’t going to do it today,” you say, when you get home.

The other Adrien is sitting on your couch, reading one of your manga volumes. “She’s liked you since the day you met,” he says. “Do you really think this is the first time she’s had a plan to tell you?”

You narrow your eyes at him. “How do you even know that?”

He grins. “I know a lot of things. Like, that you brought me something to eat.”

You couldn’t risk the bakery again, so you’ve brought him a doner kebab from your favorite shop, along with a bag of granola bars and bottled water for tomorrow. His eyes light up when he sees the sandwich. “This place gets shut down, you know,” he says, unwrapping it. “Enjoy it while you can.”

“Oh no. Really?”

He closes his eyes happily as he bites into it. “Would I lie to you?”

You sit down on your bed and lace your fingers together, palms up. “There is something else I wanted to ask you.”

“Go for it.”

“When you said you were done keeping secrets… Does that mean you're not Chat Noir anymore?”

He shakes his head and lifts his hand, and you can see your own miraculous there on his finger.

“But… Does Ladybug know your identity?”

“Of course she does. You think I’d be hanging out at home in ears and a tail?”

“You live with her?”

“Whoops.” He laughs. “Guess I forgot I knew about that.”

“But isn’t that… dangerous?”

“Living with Ladybug? Well, she’s a little clumsy, but—”

“Your identity! We were never supposed to reveal it!”

“Oh, that.” He rubs at the back of his head. “I didn’t exactly reveal it on purpose. But everything works out, you’ll see.”

You can’t believe he sounds so nonchalant. You’ve protected your identity for years, had more close calls than you care to think about, and after all that, you just… slip up? And it’s fine?

“So then… you know Ladybug’s identity, too.”

“Yup.” He winks. “But that you’ll have to wait to find out.” Then he smiles. “I’ll tell you this, though—she’s even prettier without the mask.”

A shiver runs up your spine.

Then, without warning, he comes to sit next to you on the bed. Up close, you can catalogue the subtle differences between his face and yours. His face seems thinner, and his eyes are more deeply set.

“Remember what I said about getting practice?”

You gulp. “Yeah?”

“Well, there’s one other way you can get it.”

There’s no way he’s suggesting what you’re thinking about. Why would he even want to, when he’s got Ladybug? You’re reading this situation all wrong, and it’s not like you’re actually tempted by the idea. It’s just that you’re not used to having someone this close to you, close enough that you can feel his breath. You’re just confused; your dick is just confused. It’s not the first time you’ve been turned on by something completely ridiculous, and you’re sure it will pass—all you have to do is keep calm before he realizes…

And then you realize. You feel your eyes go wide and your heart seize, but before you can even think to pull away, he leans in, and then he’s kissing you.

You gasp. It’s different from how you imagined—but then, you’ve only imagined kissing Ladybug. You’re not sure how that would go, either, but you’ve figured you’d be taller, and wearing the Chat Noir mask. You’ve imagined you’d feel in control.

But this—you’re frozen; you’re not breathing, and you’re only distantly aware that he’s touching your neck, tilting your head so that your faces fit together as he presses his lips to yours again.

This time you shudder, and a helpless noise rises from your throat. His other hand presses to your side, and his hand on your neck slides into your hair, fingernails sharp points on your scalp.

If you could think at all about what you’re doing, you’re pretty sure you would be horrified. But your head feels light and far away, and all you can seem to hold onto is sensation—the warmth of his tongue in your mouth, the twinge of pain when he pulls your head back by your hair, the shocking, abject arousal that rises as he starts to bite and lick down your neck. You moan, and he pushes you until your back hits the bed.

You’re not sure when you closed your eyes, but opening them is like surfacing from a dream.

“What—?” you gasp.

He’s leaning over, practically on top of you, his arms caging your head. His face is very, very close.

“It’s fun from this angle, too,” he muses. You’re suddenly, coldly aware that he knows what’s about to happen, and you don’t.

“You can’t,” you blurt. “What about Ladybug?”

He laughs, warm against your  lips. “She’s just sorry she can’t be here.”

You feel your face turn horribly red. “You mean—you told her?”

“Oh, in great detail.” He grins. “She can’t wait to hear the other half when I get back.”

You can’t imagine in a million years wanting to tell anyone, much less Ladybug, that your first kiss happened this way. You wonder what it’s like, being so close to her that you can tell her anything, and a fresh wave of jealousy washes through you. You can’t even tell her your name.

“You’ll get to all of that,” he says, and you jump, startled again by his knowledge of your thoughts.

“What’s it like?” you ask, without thinking.

He smiles crookedly. “Which part?”

A jumble of answers surfaces at once: Not being scared, not keeping secrets, having someone who loves you back.

He must remember, but he just smiles wider and places his hand on your chest, trails it down to your stomach and then lower. His fingers trace a line to the apex of where your pants are tenting, and you shudder, curl forward.

“You mean this?”

You make a soft, pitiful noise, and all you can make yourself do is nod.

“Well, it’s a lot better than it is by yourself.” He’s running his knuckles up and down the line of your dick, now, and there’s a sharp shock of pleasure every time he changes direction at the tip. “You don’t even know what you’re into yet, but Ladybug figures it out pretty fast.” He smiles. “You don’t really have to worry about knowing what you’re doing. It’ll be awkward the first few times, but it’ll get good once she stops letting you try to take the lead. You’ll get better at that eventually, but when it comes down to it, this is really what you want, isn’t it?”

You can’t really follow what he’s saying, but when he rubs a circle at the tip of your erection with his final question, you gasp out, “Yes.”

He grins and puts a hand on your chest, presses you down flat on the mattress, and you feel like a limp doll, unwilling to resist. You hear more than feel him release your belt and unzip your pants, but the sensation of your erection meeting cool air finally has you pushing yourself onto one elbow, trying desperately to regain your thoughts.

“Wh-what are you doing?”

He’s settled in between your legs, his hands curled around your thighs and his mouth terrifyingly close to your exposed dick. “What does it look like?”

There are too many questions beating around inside your head to pick the right one. The only thing you can think to say is, “How is this practice?

He laughs, and your dick jumps, aching for more of the warmth his breath promises. “It’s not,” he says. “You just really need to get laid.” Then his mouth closes over you, and you cry out as you fall flat on your back.

You can’t think for a while. You’re not sure if it’s wrong to be letting this happen, but if it is, you don’t know how to care; it’s too good. Dimly, within a haze of pleasure, you become aware that that his fingers are clenching tight around your legs. You’re starting to push up into his mouth without meaning to, but he doesn’t seem to mind; in fact he adjusts his position to give you better access, and when you take advantage of it he moans throatily and sprawls his knees out, presses his hips into the bed.

He’s enjoying this. The realization hits you cleanly, and in its wake follows a flood of questions you know you’ll never ask. Has he done this before? Has it been with you, or with someone else? And is this the last time, or when he said Ladybug would have wanted to join, did he mean—? Would she really—?

A strange tangle of arousal twists inside you, and he uses your sudden stillness to shift his grip and pin you to the bed. He holds you there as he brings you to the limit of what you can bear, and by the time you realize that limit is behind you, he’s already wrapping a hand around your dick, licking flat stripes under the head of it as your body seizes up and releases in a rush. You come onto your stomach and chest, and when a little hits your chin your dick gives a final spasm you weren’t expecting.

When you stop gasping and shaking, you open your eyes to the sight of his grinning face.

You stare at him dumbly for a long beat, and then he laughs and leans down, licks the come off your face.

“Oh god,” you croak.

“That was fun,” he says, as you gape at him. “Don’t worry, it’s not the last time.”

*

You don’t really believe him, because after a sleepless night, you’re pretty sure you’re never going to look him or any other human being in the face again.

But you guess you should know better than to doubt him, because the next day your plans to hide out in the library to catch up on schoolwork in private are thwarted by another supervillain intent on tearing apart the city.

The fight takes longer than usual, and by the time Ladybug has captured the akuma, you’re boneless with exhaustion.

“What’s wrong, kitty cat?” she asks, twirling her yo-yo. “You’re not slowing down, are you?”

You wonder what would happen if you told her the truth, now. Maybe that’s the trick; maybe now that you know what happens, you can make it happen.

Or maybe you’d fall into a paradox, and you’d get trapped in some alternate timeline, dying with your only sexual experience having been with yourself.

You keep your mouth shut, and you forget not to go home.

This time, you don’t resist when he kisses you. You’re too tired, too frustrated, and some part of you knows it’s already happened. He presses you against the wall and palms your dick through the confines of your Cat Noir costume until your miraculous runs out of time, and then he drops to his knees and unzips your jeans to suck you off.

You didn’t even consider reciprocating the first time, but this time after you’ve collapsed on your bed, you wonder if you’ll regret it in the future.

“Hey,” you say. “Um.”

But he grins at you. “Sorry,” he says. “I won’t be here long enough for that.”

“You mean—you’re going back?” you ask, and you’re surprised to find that you’re disappointed. “But what am I supposed to do? What if…” What if I don’t turn into you? you think.

“I’ll give you one last piece of advice,” he says, and you lean forward intently. “When Marinette tells you she likes you, tell her the truth.”

“...That I don’t like her back?”

“Not quite.”

“That I like someone else?”

“Close.”

“You mean… tell her I like Ladybug?” you ask, and then you blink.

He’s gone.

You’re not sure what his advice is supposed to do, but he seemed confident you’d make it to where he was.

You hope he’s right.