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A Cat, a Fox, and a Bee walk into a Bakery

Chapter Text

Her father was away on a business trip, and even if she should be used to it by now, Chloe still found the hotel to be far too quiet.

Sabrina was sick and doped up on medicine, and the last time she had tried to call her for something, anything to fill the silence, Chloe had to sit through a five-minute slurred commentary on why yellow was the worst color ever before she managed to interrupt her and order her friend to get some sleep.

It wasn’t her night for patrol, but at this point anything had to be better than sitting in the silence, so Chloe called for her transformation, taking a deep breath as sleek armor replaced her (fashionable, of course) clothing.

Chloe tended to avoid the very edge of her balcony under normal circumstances, but Queen Bee felt no fear diving headfirst over the railing, wings spreading and catching the night air as she shot down and out, turning her freefall into a glide over the shining lights of Paris below.

Before she had gained her Miraculous and wings, she had found anything to do with the weather, other than when rain was coming so that she could avoid it, absolutely boring. Afterwards, it had been a matter of self-preservation to learn about wind direction and speed, thermals, crosswinds, and what she could learn about the wind from cloud patterns.

To be fair, it had taken the fourth time being slammed into a building by a crosswind or downdraft for her to look the information up.

Now, though, she navigated the night winds as easily as the clothing racks at high end stores. This high up, she couldn’t smell the car exhaust, or heavy perfumes, or other scents of the city; just the sharp metallic scent of coming rain.

And suddenly, something sweet. Idly she identified it as the smell of pastries, and her stomach gave a sharp twinge, followed by a loud growl. Queen Bee frowned, scrunching her nose up in displeasure. Who knew that being a superhero would burn so many calories? And she couldn’t deviate from her usual diet without drawing attention to herself, not to mention her ingrained habit to watch her calorie intake.

Another whiff of pastries, and another sharp pang from her stomach had Queen Bee angling down, banking on a stronger gust of wind before she even realized it. In fact, she had touched down on a balcony before she even recognized where she was…

Or who was already there.

Queen Bee froze, eyes wide as they locked with the shocked gaze of one Marinette Dupain-Cheng.

If she had been Chloe at the time, things would absolutely have ended in a fight. However, Queen Bee had a reputation to keep as a hero, and that meant not picking fights with random civilians.

Even if she did find them extremely annoying.

Marinette was just opening her mouth, no doubt to tell her to get the hell off her roof, when Queen Bee’s stomach suddenly growled. Again. No doubt prompted by the plate of pastries that Marinette had sitting beside her, one with several bites taken out of it.

That, and the skies opened up with the rain they had been threatening.

Queen Bee reflexively yelped and ducked under the protective awning, glaring at the steadily increasing rain as if it were responsible for all of her life’s problems.

A soft laugh drew her attention, and she frowned irritably at Marinette covering her mouth to try (unsuccessfully) to hide her giggles.

“Come on. I can get you a towel, and you can share these with me until the rain stops.” Queen Bee’s mouth didn’t drop open in shock, but it was a close thing as Marinette picked up the plate and the textbook she had been reading, heading for the trap door that led down to her room.

Briefly, she considered just leaving, but a flash of lightning and the following rumble of thunder decided her. Flying in a thunderstorm was asking to get hurt.

Even if she was spending the evening with her least favorite person in the world besides Hawkmoth himself, it was better than braving the storm.

And at least it was guaranteed to not be quiet.

Decided, Queen Bee stepped after her unknowing classmate, jumping down the trap door into warmth and light.

Chapter Text

Three months.

It had been three months since a storm had first resulted in her taking refuge in Marinette’s room.

What Chloe, what Queen Bee had found, had been the exact opposite of what she was expecting.

To be fair, none of her interactions with Marinette had prepared her. Chloe would… reluctantly (and with Pollen’s rather insistent urging) admit that, sometimes… okay, more often than not… she was the instigator to their fights. Marinette was the only one that would really stand up against her and give her a challenge, and Chloe tried to ignore the thrill she got each time she butted heads with the tiny, fiery girl.

Pollen called it backhanded flirting. Pollen need to shut the heck up.

As Queen Bee, however, she saw a side of Marinette that Chloe never experienced. Queen Bee was the one who got a warm, fluffy towel and someone brushing her hair and honey-lemon pastries that practically melted on the tongue. Queen Bee was the one that Marinette folded her hands around hers while gripping a controller and guided her through a new combo or past a challenge in a video game (and wasn’t that a trip, Chloe had never actually played anything beyond a time-waster phone game).

It was Queen Bee, not Chloe, who got to rest her head in a warm lap, feeling slightly calloused fingers stroking through her hair as she confessed how cold and lonely her home was, whispering about how she missed her mom so much it hurt and her father’s throwing money at the problem instead of actually spending time with her.

Was it any wonder that she found herself coming back to her surprisingly warm-hearted classmate, time and time again? And if Marinette noticed that she was picking fights less and less at school as time went on, she never mentioned it.

In hindsight, she probably should have realized that Paris’s best kept secret would have attracted more than just her.

Vixen was the first to pick up her dropped jaw and recover from the shock of seeing two of her teammates arrive on the balcony at the same time. “What are you two doing here? Is there an akuma?”

“No.” Chat relaxed a bit, leaning back against the railing with a near boneless grace. “I was here to visit my Pr- a friend.” He hastily corrected.

“Marinette? How do you know her?” Queen Bee huffed, irritated that her planned session of swiping (freely given) pastries and venting about her day was being delayed.

“Ladybug had me protect her from an akuma once, before you two were around.” Chat’s eyes narrowed, and he shot the two of them wary looks. “For that matter, how do you two know her?”

“None of your business.” Queen Bee was bristling. “Now shoo, you mangy alley cat.”

“Hey now, no fighting.” With the lack of Ladybug, Vixen had clearly taken it upon herself to act as the peacemaker of the group.

“That goes for you too.” Queen Bee flipped a hand at her. “Go, run along.”

“Hey, Marinette is my friend, too! I have just as much right to be here as you do!” The orange-clad heroine snarled, tail lashing behind her.

“And I knew her first, so I have seniority!” Chat snapped.

Marinette opened her balcony trap door to an argument between the three heroes who had all been visiting her at night and groaned.

Honestly, she probably should have expected them to run into each other sooner or later.

Chapter Text

Queen Bee, Chat Noir, and Vixen were all sulking.

Well, and glaring from their respective spots, sitting as far from each other as they could in Marinette’s bedroom. That too.

Vixen was lounging on Marinette’s bed like she owned it, her broad orange and white tail dangling down off the edge of the loft. Queen Bee was sorely tempted to reach out and give it a yank from her spot occupying Marinette’s desk chair. Chat Noir was sprawled on the chaise, ears twitching in tune with Vixen’s as the two no doubt listened to Marinette moving around downstairs.

Only the fact that Marinette would no doubt boot her out into the night if she picked a fight helped Queen Bee keep her mouth shut. And as much as she wanted to stake her turf and chase the other two off, Marinette’s wrath was even scarier, as evidenced by how she had yanked them apart on the balcony, snapped at them to stop arguing like children, and had glared them inside before they woke up half the neighborhood.

She had then snapped to sit down, shut up, and behave until she got back.

Queen Bee was just opening her mouth to say something that would be unbelievably witty and snarky when the door to Marinette’s room opened and she clambered up the stairs, carrying a tray piled with sweets and four cups of liquid. Vixen and Chat ended up running into each other as they both dove to help, and Queen Bee smirked as she got there and lifted the tray easily, setting it on her desk.

“Knock it off!” Marinette huffed, standing there with her hands on her hips as she glared at the bickering pair. Chat and Vixen froze, attempting and completely failing to look innocent.

The black-haired girl sighed, rubbing at the bridge of her nose with two fingers before pointing at the three heroes. “Look. All of you are my friends. I am allowed to have more than one friend! And I am not going to put up with the three of you being possessive little shits and trying to drive the other two off!”

“Yes Marinette.” All three of them chorused sullenly.

“So! You are all still allowed here, provided you behave and you can treat each other civilly if you’re here with the others at the same time.” Marinette glared at the three heroes until they nodded, then beamed. “Good. Now that we’re all going to behave, I have some leftovers from the bakery today.”

All three heroes sat up eagerly, accepting the plates she handed them. Queen Bee noted idly that each plate seemed to have been made considering their preferences – her own had citrussy and honey pastries, Vixen’s plate was piled with cinnamon and caramel treats, and Chat Noir apparently loved chocolate, to judge by everything on his. Queen Bee took a bite of a pastry, then sipped at the hot tea in the mug that Marinette handed her, quickly turning her nose up at the mugs of milk she handed the other two.

While Marinette was busy getting her own plate and mug, Vixen leaned in and murmured lowly. “Of course you realize, this means war.”

“Of course.” Queen Bee grinned ferally, which was matched in turn by Chat and Vixen.

She had been spoiling for a good challenge, anyways, and with the prize of Marinette’s attentions on the line…

Her night was shaping up better and better.

Chapter Text

Keeping Marinette’s (rather terrifying, really) admonition to behave and stop fighting in mind, the first strike was subtle.

… Well, subtle to someone who was blind and deaf. And lived in a cave in the woods.

“I got you something!” Vixen grinned brightly, handing an envelope to the rather bemused Marinette.

The girl blinked, then shot a wary look at the hero, who waved her hands placatingly. “Don’t worry, nothing that could be used to figure out my identity.”

Apparently satisfied, Marinette tore the envelope open and let the contents slide out into her hand… whereupon she promptly squealed. “Oh my gosh, this is a gift card to-“

“To your favorite fabric store,” Vixen finished smugly, and noooo, she wasn’t smirking over Marinette’s shoulder at Chat and Queen Bee at aaallllll. “For fifty euros.”

“Oh my gosh, thank you!” Marinette sprang up and wrapped her arms tightly around the hero, who returned the hug warmly.

Chat and Queen Bee sulked.

*******************************

“Soooo, I may have picked something up for you, Princess,” Chat purred as he leaned in, trying and failing to hide the rather large gift wrapped box behind his back.

Marinette blinked, then gave Chat a wary look. “It’s not a dead animal, is it?”

“Princess! You wound me with your mistrust!” Chat placed a hand over his heart, then had to scramble to keep the box from dropping after he had let go of it. Flushing, he maneuvered it around and held it out.

Still looking wary, Marinette reached out and took the box, then yelped as the weight hit her. “The heck is in this thing, rocks?” She grumbled, setting it down and beginning to unwrap it.

Halfway through, she suddenly shrieked and reached over the box to haul Chat into a hug. “Thankyouthankyouthankyou! Oh my gosh, Chat, you shouldn’t have, this brand of sewing machine is expensive!”

“Nothing but the best for my Princess,” He answered warmly. “Consider it a thank you for all of the pastries.”

While still being hugged, he smirked over Marinette’s shoulder at Vixen and Queen Bee, then lifted one finger, licked it, and inscribed a mark in the air. Point to Chat Noir.

Both female heroes glared and mimed tossing him into a sack, then into the Seine. They were… scarily good at that.

******************************

“Queenie? What’s this?” Marinette asked, curiously poking the envelope with her name written carefully on the front that had been hung from her loft.

“It’s for you, of course,” Queen Bee said nonchalantly from where she was lounging on Marinette’s chaise, nibbling on a lemon tart and reading one of Marinette’s fashion magazines and very pointedly NOT caring about what Marinette thought of her gift.

Not that she was fooling anyone.

A little cautiously, Marinette took the envelope and opened it, pulling out two pieces of paper and reading them. “An… all expenses paid day at the spa for me and a friend?” Marinette beamed, diving onto the couch and hugging Queen Bee.

For her part, the superhero squawked and squirmed. “Okay, okay, you’re happy! I get it!” Again, she wasn’t fooling anyone, considering how she curled an arm around Marinette’s shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze in return. “You should take your best friend.”

“Ooo, right! I have to call Alya!” Marinette popped up and made a beeline for her phone.

“… I meant Chloe,” Queen Bee muttered under her breath, which was thankfully drowned out by Vixen’s sudden, hysterical laughter.

Queen Bee pouted. Even after all their gifts, none of them had drawn ahead of the others. It looked like it was time to step up their games.

Chapter Text

The three heroes quietly glared at each other behind Marinette’s back. When the girl had proposed a movie night (thinking that it would be a nice, quiet activity), each had independently decided to bring snacks.

Chat’s ears drooped knowing that he had lost this round, even if Marinette had kindly smiled when she took the covered platter of (extremely healthy and utterly tasteless) finger foods that his chefs had prepared.

Queen Bee and Vixen had fared better, with the former bringing a large box of expensive chocolates, and the latter carrying a bag with bags of chips and containers of dips.

“Oh, it’s okay Chaton. Here, you can pick out the movie.” Chat perked up as Marinette handed him her DVD case and began flicking through it, while Queen Bee and Vixen helped in the construction of a blanket fort big enough to hold all of them.

It was when the movie was starting up and all four of them were piling into the blanket fort when the problem started.

Marinette had barely sat down on the thick comforter before she practically had three heroes in her lap. Vixen got there first and actually plopped across Marinette’s legs, resting her head against her chest and tickling her cheek with her flicking ears. Grumbles ensued, but Chat flopped down and pressed against her left side, and Queen Bee her right.

Automatically, her hands buried themselves in Vixen’s and Chat’s hair, giving each a gentle rub and scratch behind the ears their Miraculouses granted them. Both heroes slumped against her, Chat giving a loud rumble of a purr and Vixen humming deep in her chest in her own approximation of a purr.

Thankfully she had more control over her fox vocalizations than when she had first gotten her Miraculous, the first time she had let out a fox scream, it had taken a full fifteen minutes to get Chat down from the tree he had ended up in.

And don’t get Marinette started on the ‘growling’, no living creature should be able to make a sound like that.

It took over five minutes for Queen Bee to finally take umbrage with the fact that Vixen and Chat were getting pets and she wasn’t (honestly, she lasted longer than the other two thought she would). Making an annoyed sound, she shoved her head under Marinette’s arm, making her laugh and remove her hand from Vixen’s ears to start stroking Queen Bee’s hair.

Vixen’s eyes narrowed, and she huffed before shoving her head up and under Marinette’s chin, ears pinning back and down. Marinette rolled her eyes and moved her hand from Chat’s head to begin petting Vixen again, which made the fox hero relax.

Chat hissed softly, and headbutted Marinette’s shoulder insistently, making her frown. “Seriously you three, I only have two hands. And Vixen, put your ears down, I can’t see the movie around them.”

Unfortunately, by then they weren’t listening to her, as evidenced by how Chat proceeded to shove Vixen out of Marinette’s lap and plop himself there, smirking as Vixen landed on Queen Bee.

Both female heroes squawked, then turned death glares on Chat, who had enough self-preservation to pin his ears and tuck his tail right before they tackled him.

They had approximately three seconds to tussle before a wash of fury made them all pause and look guiltily over at Marinette.

“What. Did. I. Say. About. Fighting.” She gritted out, making all three heroes squeak and shrink back in terror.

Thirty seconds later, they were sitting as far apart as they could get in the blanket fort, and Marinette was sitting apart from all of them, angrily crunching on a chip.

Chat hesitated, then glanced over at the other two. “… Sorry. For screwing things up.”

“… We probably could have all handled that better,” Vixen admitted. Queen Bee wasn’t one to admit when she had been in the wrong, so the fact that she gave a single nod of agreement meant a lot, coming from her.

Over the course of the movie, they all slowly drifted back in towards Marinette, although this time when they all pressed in against her, there was no fighting over positions. And if Queen Bee ended up in Vixen’s lap, and Vixen’s head on Chat’s shoulder while Marinette was cupped between them, well…

They would all claim that it was just more comfortable that way.

Chapter Text

A rumble and the ground vibrating under her feet was Marinette’s first clue that an akuma had appeared.

The second clue was the akuma herself appearing, landing halfway down the street and roaring at the sky.

“IF YOU’VE ALL BEEN RAISED IN A BARN, THEN ACT LIKE IT!” The… oddly farmer-looking akuma leveled a pitchfork at a pedestrian who was trying to run away. One ray of light later, and in the poor woman’s place was a very confused looking sheep.

Marinette winced in sympathy even as she broke into a run, looking around and trying to spot a sheltered alcove to hide in long enough to transform. The man who was running a few feet away yelped as another beam caught him, leaving behind a bull running in his place. Marinette tried to run faster, but heard the distinctive sound of the pitchfork firing again-

Suddenly strong arms wrapped around her and yanked and she was going straight up as the ray passed harmlessly below her. Looking up, she sighed in relief as Queen Bee smirked back at her.

The akuma snarled, raising the pitchfork and shooting another beam at the two.

“Vixy, heads up!” Queen Bee shouted, launching Marinette in the air and shooting off to avoid the ray. Marinette squeaked as she floated up, paused, then started back down-

Only to be caught by strong, brown and orange arms as Vixen leapt up to catch her, sliding on her landing to bleed off momentum.

Marinette had just enough time to look up and see Vixen’s intent, concentrating expression before the akuma shot another ray.

“Whoop! Your turn kitty-cat!” Vixen shouted, and Marinette once again found herself airborne.

As she was caught by the powerful arms of her unaware partner, Marinette mused that this was getting old fast.

It took about five more mid-air transfers before the other three heroes were able to work Marinette far enough away that the akuma lost interest. Queen Bee was the last one to catch her, arms cupping behind her back and her knees as she straightened out and shot over the rooftops, putting distance between them and the akuma while Chat and Vixen worked to keep her distracted.

Thirty seconds of flying later, and Queen Bee landed on a level roof, carefully setting Marinette down. “You okay?”

“I’m fine. Get back and help the others, I’ll get somewhere safe. And be careful.”

Queen Bee preened slightly. “Don’t worry, no akuma is too much for us.” With that, she took to the air, streaking back the way she had come.

Marinette waited until Queen Bee was well out of sight before popping open the clasp of her purse, letting Tikki float out. “I am so glad that I don’t get motion sick anymore, otherwise all three of them would have new additions to their suits.”

Tikki giggled in amusement. “They really care about you, you know.”

Marinette sighed, unwittingly giving a soft, fond smile. “I know. Even if they are big dorky brats.” She shook herself slightly, then grinned down at her kwami. “Best not to keep them waiting, then. Tikki, transform me.”

A few seconds later, Ladybug was swinging over the rooftops, wondering what she was going to do with her teammates.

The fact that she felt a warm rush of deep affection for all three when she thought about them, well… she wasn’t sure what to think about that.

Chapter Text

“Anyone know where Vixen is? She’s usually here by now?” Marinette asked, not looking up from where she was carefully running a seam through her new sewing machine.

Chat and Queen Bee shared a look, then shrugged. “She hasn’t called us,” Chat finally answered with a shrug. “I know she’s said she has little siblings, maybe she’s stuck babysitting?”

“It is raining, maybe she decided to be sensible and stay home,” Queen Bee added, flipping through one of Marinette’s magazines.

A loud thump from Marinette’s balcony made them all jump, and Marinette cursed as her seam went off-track, then frowned in confusion as her trap door was yanked open and a soaking wet Vixen dropped through.

She was normally never that loud…

The sense that something was wrong skyrocketed when Vixen heaved a sob, lifting her head and revealing red-rimmed eyes from crying.

All three were moving before they knew it, although Chat and Queen Bee had already reached Vixen by the time Marinette got to her ladder up to her loft.

“Were you attacked? Are you hurt?” Chat asked, hurriedly checking his teammate over for injuries.

“Tell me who did this, and I’ll make sure they never see the light of day again.” Queen Bee promised darkly, one hand twitching toward her weapon.

By then, Marinette had finished climbing her ladder, and she knelt in front of Vixen, reaching out to gently brush her wet hair back and away from her face. “Vixen? What’s wrong?”

The heroine let out another sob and dove forward, tackling Marinette to the floor and clinging tightly as she cried into her chest. Marinette winced, glancing up at Chat Noir and Queen Bee, then at her bed, before focusing her attention back on Vixen. Softly, she began running her fingers through wet hair, gently getting out the tangles from her run over.

Getting the hint, Chat and Queen Bee carefully lifted the two girls onto Marinette’s bed, then climbed in on either side, pressing their heads in close to their hurting partner’s. Chat let out his loudest, most comforting purr, and Queen Bee joined Marinette in gently running a hand through Vixen’s damp hair.

Finally, Vixen’s sobs died down enough for her to speak. “M-my… boyfriend… on and o-off thing… b-broke up with m-me.” Marinette shot Queen Bee a warning glare when the blonde heroine let out a buzzing growl of indignation, but Vixen didn’t seem to register it. “S-said he c-couldn’t take all the d-disappearances all the t-time.” Another sob, and Chat Noir and Queen Bee pressed closer, shooting each other sympathetic looks over Vixen’s head. Unfortunately, that was just one of the drawbacks that came with being a hero.

“It’s okay, Vixy,” Queen Bee soothed, voice surprisingly gentle for the normally prickly heroine.

“We’re here. You’ve got us. All of us. And Ladybug, too,” Chat added, pressing his cheek to hers.

“And we’re not going to let you go.” Marinette gave a small grin as Vixen sniffled hard and scrubbed at her eyes before hesitantly glancing up.

“R-really?”

“Yup. You’re stuck with us.” Chat grinned, impulsively leaning over and pressing a kiss to Vixen’s cheek. The sound she made was halfway between a laugh and a sob, which he considered at least progress.

Vixen laid her head back down on Marinette’s chest, sniffling a bit. “Thanks, you guys.”

“Now, of course, you must tell me who broke your heart so that I-“

“Queenie no.”

”Queenie yes."

Chapter Text

Marinette was staring in shock, and she quietly muttered to Tikki, who was hiding in the collar of her shirt (honestly just to see the chaos). “How the heck did this happen again?”

“Your parents spotted them,” Tikki giggled, covering her mouth with a tiny paw.

*****************************

It had been a typical start to a movie night, up until Chat and Queen Bee started to argue over what movie to watch.

“The Princess Bride is a classic!” Queen Bee hissed. “And I’m tired of your stupid anime!”

“You apologize to Hayao Miyazaki this instant!” Chat gave a far more animalistic hiss back, brandishing his copy of Princess Mononoke.

“Do we get a say in this?” Vixen asked from where her head was in Marinette’s lap, the girl’s fingers stroking through her hair.

“NO!” Both heroes yelled, then froze as the trap door to Marinette’s room opened, a bemused Tom and Sabine regarding the four, who at the moment were all doing admirable impressions of deer in headlights.

Everyone remained still for several seconds, until Vixen lazily raised a hand and waved. “Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Dupain-Cheng.”

Tom cracked up, and Sabine playfully nudged her husband with an elbow before smiling at the heroes in her daughter’s room. “If you wanted friends over, Marinette, you could have just asked. You don’t have to hide them up here.”

“If you’re having movie night, the TV in the living room is much bigger, and you can use the couch,” Tom added. “And of course, you’ll need snacks.”

Marinette probably shouldn’t have been surprised by how all three heroes perked up excitedly.

*****************************

Which led her to now. Marinette was trying to reconcile the sight of all three heroes in the rest of her house, interacting and actually getting along with her parents.

Chat was the one that was breaking her brain the most. Out of all of them, he was the one she least expected to know another language, but seeing him happily chatting away with her mother in Mandarin had her re-evaluating her Kitty a little bit. The big goofball had some depth to him, it seemed.

Vixen was helping her construct a blanket nest on the couch, while Queen Bee, of all people, was helping her father assemble a snack tray in the kitchen. The normally brash heroine seemed almost embarrassed at the warm attention and playful teasing from her dad, but also seemed to be soaking it up.

“Queenie told me once, her mom died when she was little and her dad doesn’t pay much attention to her,” Vixen whispered in her ear. “Let her have this.”

Marinette’s eyes widened, and she shot Vixen a slight smile. “I don’t mind sharing if Queenie doesn’t.”

“And that’s why we love you, girl.” Marinette yelped as Vixen playfully tackled her to the couch, hugging her.

“Cat pile! Come on, Queenie!” Chat was distracted from his conversation with Sabine, and soon joined the dog cat pile on Marinette on the couch, which did nothing to help Marinette’s giggles.

Queen Bee rolled her eyes, picking up the tray and using her wings to make a quick hop over the couch and set it down on the table. “What are all of you, five?”

“Get down here and let us hug you.” Chat grinned, a hand whipping out and hauling Queen Bee in, ignoring her yelp as he and Vixen bracketed her in with their arms.

“Just let them get it out of their systems, it’ll be over faster that way,” Marinette advised, voice serious but eyes twinkling in mirth.

“Ugh, you’re all so immature,” Queen Bee grumbled, sticking her nose up in the air and thus completely missing Vixen’s mischievous smirk.

She didn’t miss it when the fox heroine playfully kissed her cheek, though, and Vixen erupted into giggles as Queen Bee’s face burst into a furious blush, even if she tried to play it off.

Marinette laughed, then flushed when Vixen pressed a kiss to her cheek, only able to let out a squeak.

The sound of a movie trailer was their first clue that Chat had crept off while they were occupied, and Queen Bee squawked indignantly, squirming to free herself. “I said we were going to watch The Princess Bride!”

“Well, you were busy, Queenie, so I fur-gured that I’d go ahead and pop a movie in.” Chat smirked, and Marinette sighed as the argument resumed for round 2.

Marinette completely missed her mother leaning up to kiss her father’s cheek, then grinning at the foursome before murmuring to her husband. “I’m so glad Marinette’s getting along with her teammates.”

“They are all adorable, aren’t they? I get the feeling that Queen Bee doesn’t have a very good home life,” Tom whispered back as they headed into their room with a simple admonishment to try and keep the noise down a bit.

“I get the same from Chat Noir. We’ll have to make it clear that they’re welcome to come over any time,” Sabine murmured.

“Well, of course. They’re all good kids. I’m glad Marinette has them backing her up.”

Chapter Text

It didn’t take a genius to figure out that something was wrong with Queen Bee.

The blonde heroine was restless, flitting from Marinette’s loft to her chaise to poking through her magazines to playing UMS 3 against Chat (and losing badly).

It was Vixen who cracked first. When Queen Bee approached the chaise again, she flicked her tail up and curled it around her teammate, unable to use her hands due to the fact that she was holding some yarn for Marinette while she knitted (Chat had volunteered, but had been quickly shot down because he would just play with it. He refused to admit that Marinette was right). “Sit down, girl. What’s got your panties all in a twist?”

Queen Bee twitched and turned her nose up with a huff, but allowed Vixen to pull her in and sit her down so that they were hip to hip. Marinette and Chat did their best to pretend that they weren’t paying attention as Vixen just stayed quiet and studied her.

Finally, it became too much for Queen Bee. “My father is remarrying.”

Vixen raised a brow, taking note of how tense her teammate was and how tightly she was gripping her upper arms. “You’re not happy about it.”

“I didn’t even know he was dating!” She burst out, standing up and beginning to angrily pace. “I only see him a couple times a week as it is, but did he ever think to mention, ‘Hey, I’m dating someone’? No! And now he brings this… this woman into our home and she’s going to be my stepmother and I don’t want a stepmother!” She sneered, flipping her ponytail and kicking at Marinette’s desk chair.

“Hey, no breaking my stuff, Queenie.”

Queen Bee flinched slightly, but shot a brief, apologetic look at Marinette. Then she was off pacing again, her wings buzzing in her anger. “And she’s pretending to be all nice and saying we’re going to be friends and I told her off that we’re never going to be friends and then my father got all mad at me! Me! Like I don’t have a right to be angry that he’s pulling this shit on me!” Queen Bee stilled, her head drooping. “It’s like… he doesn’t even care about Mom at all.”

Vixen shot Marinette an apologetic look as she passed the yarn back. Marinette smiled reassuringly and busied herself putting everything away in her knitting basket.

“Hey. Queenie.” Queen Bee looked up from where she had been about to continue her rant, only to be pulled into a hug by Vixen. “You’re right. It absolutely sucks that he pulled that on you.”

Queen Bee tensed, then slowly relaxed into the hug, resting her head on Vixen’s shoulder. “… Thank you. I… really needed to hear that.”

Both heroines yelped as Chat scooped them up and headed for the chaise. “And we’re always here if you need to vent,” He murmured soothingly, dropping a kiss to the top of her head.

“I mean, it’s not like you’re stuck there forever, right?” Marinette added, scooting over to make room as the three heroes piled on with her (it was a testament to how well made her chaise was that it didn’t even groan under the weight). “Once you graduate, you can go do your own thing, right?”

Queen Bee huffed, burying her face into Marinette’s shirt. “My father is the one who will be paying for university, though.”

“Well, being polite towards someone and accepting them are two different things,” Chat pointed out. “I mean, so long as you’re reasonably polite towards this woman, then as soon as you’re up for university, you can be out and not have to deal with her anymore.”

“Yeah. What were you planning on doing, anyways?” Marinette asked, gently stroking her fingers through Queen Bee’s hair.

“I always figured I’d go into politics.” She shrugged.

Vixen raised an eyebrow. “Is that what you want to do?”

Queen Bee paused, then frowned slightly. “I… don’t know. I’ve never really thought about it.”

“Hey, if you want to go into politics, like actually want to, then go for it.” Chat grinned encouragingly. “You could do a lot of good. But if it isn’t want you want to do, then we’ll have your back while you figure that out.”

Queen Bee swallowed hard, then buried her face in Marinette’s shirt. “… Thank you.”

Chapter Text

They had just finished defeating an akuma, and Vixen waved down Chat and Queen Bee, even as Ladybug swung away.

“I can’t stay long, I’m running low on time,” Chat said, but stayed anyway.

“It won’t take long, don’t worry. I know tonight is Queenie’s night for patrol, but could we all meet up? I want to talk to both of you.”

“What about?” Queen Bee tilted her head, hovering a couple feet above the roof they were perched on.

“I’ll explain later, when we’re not on a time limit. I’ll see you two tonight, okay?” Vixen shifted, uncharacteristically nervous.

Chat blinked, tilted his head curiously, then shrugged. “Sure, I’ll be there.”

“I suppose you have my curiosity piqued, so I’ll track you down,” Queen Bee said flippantly, then took off, skimming low across the rooftops.

“See you tonight, Vixy.” Chat waved before leaping to the next roof over, dropping to all fours as he ran.

Vixen took a deep breath, then muttered to herself. “Trixx better be right, that little meddler.”

************************************

Vixen was fidgeting with her tail when Chat and Queen Bee showed up, gently stroking the strong cloth and running it through her fingers while idly marveling over the fact that she could distantly feel it, like an extension of her spine, although far more muted than a proper touch. Her fox ears were more sensitive, although still not on the level of her human ones.

Queen Bee crossed her arms and huffed a little as she touched down, several seconds after Chat leapt onto the roof. “Well, Vixy? What’s all this about?”

“I… wanted to talk to you. About our relationship, outside the team. With each other and with Marinette.” The fox heroine took a deep breath, then soldiered on. “Look, I… really like you guys. In a… more than friends way, if you get my meaning.”

“Oh thank the kwami someone said it.” Chat breathed out, then flushed and rubbed the back of his head with one hand. “I, um… I kinda really like you girls, too, but I didn’t want to come off as some creepy guy or anything.”

“Chat, you’re about as threatening as a three-week-old kitten,” Vixen teased gently. “Anyways, um… I’d really like to give dating you guys a try. And Marinette, too. If we could convince her of it.”

Chat hesitated, ears pinning briefly, then flicking rapidly as he thought. “I… yeah, I’d really like that.” He gave a hesitant, dorky smile. “It’s just… spending time with you girls and Marinette… it feels like home, you know?”

Both looked at Queen Bee, who was studying the pair of them intently. Finally, she huffed and flapped a hand at them. “Well, I suppose someone has to keep all of you out of trouble.”

Vixen gave a teasing smile. “Don’t lie, we know you’re a cuddle whore and you just want more excuses to cuddle without ruining your rep.”

“I do not!” Queen Bee protested indignantly, crossing her arms and turning her nose up.

“You liiiiiiiiiike uuuuuus.” Chat sing-songed, pacing over and trying to scoop Queen Bee up in a hug, only to laugh when she flitted out of his reach, moving closer to Vixen.

“At this point, I really can’t remember why,” she grumbled, then glanced at Vixen. “So, how are we going to convince Marinette?”

“She’s gonna be a little harder,” Vixen admitted. “I mean, she still has that crush on… someone.”

Chat tilted his head. “Really? Who?”

“That’s for Marinette to tell you guys, not me. Anyways, it’s up to Marinette in the end if she wants to date us.”

Chat gave a wide, toothy grin. “Doesn’t mean we can’t try to persuade her. Nicely, of course.”

Both heroines shot him a wary look. “What are you plotting, kitty-cat?”

“Simple. We romance the shit out of her. All three of us at once.”

Slowly, matching grins grew on Vixen and Queen Bee.

Chapter Text

Marinette felt that she had every right to be nervous.

The night had already started out strange. Instead of invading her bedroom and making a sizable dent in the leftover pastries from the bakery, like usual, all three heroes had tugged her out onto her balcony. There, they had laid out a soft blanket, and had an honest-to-kwami picnic basket sitting on it.

“We thought it might be nice to eat up here for tonight,” Vixen had said, her grin having just a little bit too much of a tinge of mischief for Marinette to really trust it.

“And we thought that we’d feed you for a change,” Chat added, yelping as he got distracted in the middle of lighting candles ranged all around the safety fence of her balcony and the match burned down and singed the tips of his claws. Grumbling, he stepped on the match to make sure it was out while shaking out his hand to cool it.

“Besides, it’s a nice night out,” Queen Bee said, her wings open and occasionally buzzing in the breeze, although not long enough or hard enough to lift off.

Marinette was waiting for the shoe to drop while not being particularly sure that it had even been let go.

And things got even weirder from there.

Look, as heroes they had all quickly dispensed with personal space bubbles with each other. When you were fighting an akuma, you couldn’t get nervous about picking up and throwing each other at the akuma touching each other in the middle of a fight where failure meant, at best, some shiny new bruises. Marinette had gotten used to them flopping all over each other for movie nights.

This, though, was something else. Queenie had never reached over and scritched behind Chat or Vixen’s ears before, and Marinette had to do a double take to make sure she was seeing it right.

Not just that. Chat nudging his nose against Vixen and Queen Bee’s necks, and Vixen draping herself completely over all of their laps, tail twitching in satisfaction. They were all being extra touchy-feely tonight.

She glanced suspiciously at her drink. She was fairly sure that they wouldn’t have added anything extra, but…

“So, um… We all kind of wanted to talk with you.” Vixen spoke up once the food had been demolished (put any amount of food in front of four teen superheroes who burn ungodly amounts of calories fighting akuma and it doesn’t last long).

‘There’s that shoe.’ Marinette thought, setting her drink down. “Go ahead.”

“All of us talked to each other, and we decided that, well…” Chat nervously rubbed the back of his head with a hand. “We decided that we all really like each other. In that way. So, we decided to try dating.”

Marinette took a second to process this. Well, that certainly explained why they were all apparently feeling extra cuddly. She was just opening her mouth to congratulate them when Queen Bee raised a hand.

“We’re not done.” The normally prickly heroine took a bracing breath. “We also all agreed that we like you.”

“And we wanted to ask you if you want to date us,” Vixen finished.

Marinette’s jaw dropped, and her face flushed hot. “I, buh… Chat, what about Ladybug?” She finally got out, latching onto the first thing that popped into her head.

The feline-themed hero grimaced. “I’m not going to lie, I’m still attracted to her… but Ladybug has made it really clear that she’s not interested in me that way. And I’m tired of being alone, and… I’m selfish, and I want to be happy,” He admitted lowly at the end, ears splayed to the side and looking down.

Marinette felt a flash of guilt, unaware of how she had been unintentionally hurting her Kitty. Still, her mind raced, and she blurted out “How would this even work?! I mean, you couldn’t exactly drag me along on dates while suited up.”

All three shuffled, and finally Vixen spoke up. “I, at least, was… kind of hoping that I could tell you guys who I am. Because I know you, outside of the suit, and-“

“Wait-wait-wait.” Chat broke in. “You know Marinette outside the suit too?”

Vixen and Chat gaped at each other, and were only distracted by Queen Bee’s head dropping into her hands.

“Queenie?”

“I know Marinette, too.” Came the muffled reply. “How much do you want to bet that whoever gave us these things planned that?”

Vixen blinked, then covered her mouth to try and hide her sudden giggles. “Oh gods… you mean we probably all know each other outside the masks?”

“Anyways…” Marinette raised her voice a little to try and get the conversation back on track. “One, it’s not safe for me to know your identities. And two, I already like someone.”

Vixen gave a small snort. “How long have you liked this person without doing anything about it?”

Marinette’s jaw dropped, and everyone missed Chat’s quiet ‘Seriously, who does she have a crush on?’ in the background as the girl crossed her arms and glared indignantly at Vixen. “I’m working on it!”

“Well...” Queen Bee smirked, and Marinette felt a flash of apprehension. It didn’t bode well for people when Queenie was smirking. “How about this? Since you’re not making any progress with that crush of yours, let us try and court you until you do.”

“It’s win-win for you,” Vixen added hurriedly when it looked like Marinette was about to shoot the idea down. “You get incentive to finally confess to your crush, and you get attention from the three most attractive heroes in Paris, bar Ladybug herself.” The fox heroine got up on all fours and crawled over, flopping down across Marinette’s lap and doing her best impression of puppy-dog eyes. “Give us a chance to convince you.”

Marinette hesitated, glancing at the other two. Chat was doing his own pitiful kitten face, and even Queen Bee looked more earnest than she had ever seen her.

“… Fine. But no revealing your identities, okay? It’s too dangerous.”

Chat and Vixen whooped as they happily tackled Marinette to the blanket, hugging her tightly. Queen Bee turned her nose up and scoffed, only to yelp when Vixen’s tail snaked up and around her waist to yank her into the hug pile.

Marinette wasn’t sure whether she was already regretting this.

Chapter Text

Chat could almost feel the stress of the day melting away as he bounded across the rooftops.

He had ended up missing the entire day of school, stuck in a photoshoot that felt like it would never end. His back ached from standing up straight or assuming weird positions that still looked good on camera, his feet felt like they were going to fall off, and all he wanted was to snuggle down with his amazing girlfriends and destress.

Unfortunately, black cats were rarely so lucky as to get what they wanted.

The light was on in Marinette’s room, so he didn’t bother to knock and just opened up the rooftop hatch, only to freeze as three baleful glares settled on him.

He wasn’t sure what he did, but whatever it was he never wanted to do it again if it made his girlfriends glare at him like that.

Thankfully the glaring didn’t last long, as all three of them settled back down in the massive nest of blankets and pillows that they were cuddling in. Carefully, Chat slipped into the room and shut the hatch behind him, taking in the empty pints of ice cream and the trio of heating pads that the three were pressing to their lower bellies. “Are you all okay?”

Queen Bee bristled, only to have the clearly brewing rant cut off when Vixen leaned over and kissed her cheek. She huffed and looked away, but all of them could clearly see the blush dusting her cheeks.

“It’s that time of the month,” Marinette groaned from where she was leaning against Vixen and using her (well-padded) chest as a pillow. And stealing her body heat, that too.

Chat blinked, then blinked again as a (strongly suppressed) memory hit him: his father ducking out of giving him The Talk and ordering Nathalie to do it, despite the woman’s icy protest that it wasn’t in her job description.

Well, she had given him a (very well informed) Talk, and had made sure to go into detail about what women went through every month.

He wasn’t sure what Nathalie had done to his father afterwards, but the man had practically tiptoed around his assistant for the next month and a half, and it had been a full six months before he had been back to normal. One thing he could agree with his father on, Nathalie was terrifying the rare times she got angry.

“Um… is there any way I can help?” Chat finally asked, unsure where to go from that point.

“Rip out our uteruses,” Queen Bee said darkly from where she was face down in some pillows.

“Yessssss.” Marinette sat bolt upright. “Well, not the ripping out organs thing. Store run, please Chaton. We’re out of painkillers and tampons and ice cream.”

“Store run. Yes. I can do that.” Chat breathed a sigh of relief, then tensed up again. “Um, what kind of-“

“We’ll make you a list,” Vixen promised. “Though if you could bring some paper and a pen, I don’t think any of us feel up to getting up right now.”

Fifteen minutes later (a good ten of which had been spent prodding a grumpy Queen Bee to ask what brand of tampons and what flavor of ice cream she wanted) Chat was making his way to the closest pharmacy by way of rooftop. Briefly he considered dropping the transformation and then going inside, but a combination of not having any cheese for Plagg and not wanting to listen to his father’s disappointed lecture if someone took a picture of Adrien Agreste buying tampons decided him against it.

“Plagg, can I have my wallet?” He asked the ring, then lightly tapped at one of his pockets. At the third tap, the pocket suddenly felt fuller, and he unzipped it and pulled out his wallet. “Thanks. I’ll get some cheese bread for you from the bakery before I leave tonight.”

That accomplished, he pulled several bills from his wallet before putting it away, then jumped down from the pharmacy’s roof to the ground and headed inside.

The painkillers were easy, and he tossed a couple bottles into the basket on his arm while trying to ignore the cashier taking pictures with his phone. Deciding to leave the ice cream for last so that it wouldn’t melt, he headed for the ‘feminine hygiene’ section.

His eyes widened, his ears splayed, and his tail drooped to drag limply on the ground as he saw the sheer range of different kinds of tampons and pads. Hurriedly, he scrabbled for the list and peered at it, sighing in relief that Vixen had the foresight to write detailed notes about exactly what kind of box to get, even including the color. It still took him a few minutes to track down the exact one, but it soon joined the painkillers in the basket.

The ice cream went faster, and he grabbed a fourth pint for himself before heading up to the counter. On the way, he passed a standing glass-door refrigerator filled with flowers, and on impulse opened the door and pulled out a yellow, an orange, and a pink one, carrying them up to the register.

The cashier took in the range of what Chat was buying, lingering on the tampons and flowers, and shot him a wry grin. “So, we’ll just say that if Hawkmoth knows what’s good for him, he won’t send out an akuma tonight?”

“Not if he has any self-preservation.” Chat gave a wry grin in return as the cashier scanned and bagged everything.

After paying, it only took him a few minutes to return to the bakery. His return was met with, if not shining smiles, at least sincere gratitude. Pulling the flowers out earned him a kiss on the cheek from each of the girls, which alone would have made the entire trip worth it.

Chat picked out a movie (The Princess Bride, which earned him another kiss on the cheek from Queen Bee) while the girls each made a quick trip to the bathroom, and soon all four of them were settled in the blanket nest with their ice cream. Chat felt himself finally relaxing, a low purr rumbling from his chest as he wiggled into the cuddle pile.

“Oh my gosh keep doing that,” Marinette said as she pressed close.

“Keep doing what?” Chat’s purr cut off in his confusion.

“The purring,” Queen Bee said shortly. To her credit, despite clearly being on edge, she was trying to keep her temper in check. “It helps with the pain.”

Chat blinked, then gave a slow smile. “Now that, I can do.” All three of his girlfriends pressed in close, and he ratcheted up his purr, not that it took much coaxing.

Now this, this was much better than any photoshoot.

Chapter Text

Nino had been down most of the day, his head pillowed in his arms. Any attempts by Adrien to find out why had been met with a “Later, dude.”

When they were let out for lunch, Adrien made sure to reach over and snag Nino’s elbow. “Here, lunch is on me today. My treat.”

It had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Adrien wanted to get Nino alone so he could talk to him. Really.

Okay, Adrien didn’t even believe himself.

He at least had the patience to wait until they were seated at a nearby café and had their drinks before talking. “Come on, Nino. Seriously, what’s wrong?”

Nino sighed and scrubbed at his face with one hand. “… Did I tell you that Alya and I broke up?”

Adrien’s jaw dropped. “No, you didn’t! When did that happen?!”

“A few weeks ago,” Nino admitted, staring at the bubbles floating to the top of his soda. “I just… she kept disappearing all the time with no warning, and every time I asked, she said she couldn’t tell me why, or gave some lame excuse like having to feed her hamster. She doesn’t even have a hamster, bro!” Nino took his hat off to run a hand distractedly through his hair, completely unaware of how still Adrien had gone. “So, I just… I couldn’t do it anymore, bro. I broke things off. We liked each other, but I felt like I couldn’t trust her, yannow?”

“I… yeah, I get it,” Adrien said after he forcibly kicked his brain in gear. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”

“Didn’t want to drag you into my relationship problems, bro. And I’d been handling it okay, just… this morning my mom asked after Alya and I had to talk to her about it, and it’s been on my mind a lot today.”

Adrien leaned across the table to lightly clap the Nino’s shoulder with one hand. “You know you can always talk to me if you need to. And I’m sorry things didn’t work out with Alya.”

Nino gave a slightly bitter laugh. “You’d think I’d be used to it, with how much you’re constantly disappearing on me, but I know you’ve got a bajillion things to do because of your old man.” He once again missed how still Adrien went. “Still, thanks bro. I might take you up on the talking thing later.”

Adrien’s brain was mostly on autopilot all through lunch and on the way back as conversation turned to the latest songs Nino was working on. However, as soon as they got back to the classroom, his attention shot to where Marinette and Alya were sitting. Alya was leaning on Marinette, chin over her shoulder and arm over the opposite shoulder as she examined something that the smaller girl was pointing out in her sketchbook.

He knew that they tended to drape themselves all over each other, but had Alya always pressed her cheek to Marinette’s like that?

Adrien’s eyes narrowed slightly as he sat down, suspicion steadily growing.

Chapter Text

Afternoon classes were sheer torture.

Now that Adrien was suspicious, it was so very hard to not turn around and study Alya, trying to see Vixen in her face.

Each time Alya spoke, though, a small thrill shot up his spine. He knew that voice.

His breath stuttered slightly as he took a deep breath. He couldn’t jump to conclusions before confronting Alya, even if it felt incredibly obvious now that he considered it.

Because holy crud if he was wrong, he’d be outing himself to the girl in charge of the Ladyblog.

Which, now that he thought about it, Alya hadn’t posted any videos she herself had made in a while, although she still posted fan-submitted videos about the heroes.

At this point his suspicion was steadily evolving into a near certainty, but he still had to be careful about this.

By the time the bell rang to signal the end of the day, he had what even he would consider a half-baked plan in mind, but at this point it was better than nothing.

Trying his hardest to seem casual, Adrien didn’t even look up from where he was putting things away in his bag when he spoke. “Hey Alya, if you have time could I talk to you about something?”

Out of the corner of his eye he could see her exchanging a slightly confused look with Marinette, then she shrugged. “Sure, I’m free right now, but I have to be home in an hour or so to watch my sisters.”

“Don’t worry, it shouldn’t take long,” Adrien assured her as he shouldered his bag, then led the way out of the classroom.

The lockers were too busy, what with everyone getting their things to head home, and Adrien wracked his brain for a quiet spot before eventually settling on a classroom that he knew to be empty for final period (having an encyclopedic knowledge of what rooms were empty for which period had come in handy for finding out of the way places to transform).

“Why are we in here?” Alya asked, her eyes narrowing slightly in suspicion.

“Just wanted a private place to talk, is all.” Adrien set his bag down on a desk, then heaved himself up slightly to sit on it. Ooooh, this so wasn’t going to work, he knew it, but it was his only shot. “So, I’ve been thinking about getting a pet, and I wanted to run some names by you.”

Alya raised a brow. “That’s… nice, but I don’t see why you’d come to me about it.”

“Well, your dad is a zookeeper, and I was thinking of getting a pet fox.” To Alya’s credit, she barely twitched at the last word. Now, what had Vixen said her kwami’s name was that one time… oh yeah. “I was thinking of picking the name Trixx.”

Alya froze, eyes going wide as Adrien stared her down, then suddenly rushed forward and slammed her hands to either side of him on the desk, leaning up and getting nose to nose with Adrien. “I don’t know how you figured it out, but you can’t tell anyone.” She groaned and rubbed at her forehead. “Oh fuck, Ladybug is going to kill me.”

Adrien couldn’t contain his steadily growing smile. “I’d be a huge hypocrite if I outed you, Vixy.”

Alya froze, then looked up to stare at Adrien in disbelief. Slowly, as if she couldn’t believe where her mind was going, she reached up and ruffled up Adrien’s hair.

As soon as she pulled her hand away, she jerked back. “Oh my gosh. You… you’re-“

“In my defense, I wasn’t completely certain until you reacted. And I only began to suspect you after Nino told me about you two breaking up.” Adrien couldn’t contain the Chat-grin on his face as he chuckled, then suddenly jerked and winced. “Oh gods, I’m dating Nino’s ex, I’m totally breaking the bro-code.”

“Wait. Wait-wait-wait. If you’re Chat… Adrien Agreste is Chat Noir… then that means…” Alya suddenly put her head down on what would have been the desk if Adrien’s lap wasn’t in the way and began to laugh.

And laugh.

Aaaaand continue laughing.

“Okay, there’s a joke I’m not getting here and that is completely unfair,” Adrien complained as he lifted a hand to gently stroke Alya’s hair even as she began to get the hiccups from laughing so hard.

It took a few more minutes for Alya to finally stop laughing long enough to talk. “You keep *hic* asking who Marinette h-*hic*-as a crush on.”

“Yeeeees?” Adrien tilted his head.

“I know I *hic* promised the girl I wouldn’t tell, but…” Alya lifted her head to give a wide, mischievous grin, though it was spoiled slightly as she hiccupped again. “Marinette has had a crush on *hic* you since your second day here. And is *hic* now dating you without even knowing it.”

Oh.

Oh.

Adrien’s jaw dropped, and Alya dropped her head back into his lap to start laughing again.

Chapter Text

“Just you today?” Marinette looked up as Queen Bee landed on her balcony, currently wrist deep in potting soil.

“Vixen texted, she has to watch her sisters, and Chat apparently has work. Both said they’ll be by later tonight.” Queen Bee tilted her head curiously. “What are you doing?”

“Well, spring is starting, so I’m getting my planting done.” Marinette tilted her head to indicate the pallet of assorted flowers and packets of seeds, as well as the mis-matched collection of pots. “Want to help?”

Queen Bee sniffed and turned her nose up. “And get dirty?”

Marinette smirked slightly. “Just admit that you don’t know how.”

The heroine gasped in outrage, then pouted and sat down beside Marinette. “Fine, pass me that tiny shovel-thing.”

Marinette giggled. “It’s called a spade, and you don’t need one right now. Get a pot and put some potting soil in it first.”

“Um…” Queen Bee looked between her suited up hands and the large bag of potting soil, prompting Marinette to sigh and pull her gloves off before passing them over. Sheepishly, Queen Bee pulled them on, then started to reach into the bag.

“Queenie, just use the old pot in there to scoop some in.” Marinette chuckled, showing her the small, battered plastic pot, then handing Queen Bee a long rectangular pot. “Scoop enough in to almost fill it, then tamp it down a bit with your hands.” Not minding the dirt, Marinette demonstrated with her own pot.

Trying to act like she knew exactly what she was doing, Queen Bee copied what her girlfriend did, sitting a little straighter once she had her pot filled. “Now what?”

“Now, pick out some flowers.” Marinette nudged the pallet closer to her, and Queen Bee picked out the brightest, yellowest flowers on it. “Then, use the spade to dig a little hole, tip the flower out of its pot, rough up the roots a little bit to encourage them to grow, and plant.” The young woman suited action to words, letting the heroine see as she carefully planted the flower she had chosen. “Then make sure the dirt is nice and secure around it. Once your pot is full, you can water it.”

Queen Bee beamed once she had finished copying Marinette. “I did it!” Realizing, she huffed and turned her nose up. “Told you I could.”

“Uh-huh.” Marinette tried and failed to hide her grin. “Want to finish up that long pot? For something like that, you’ll want to space the flowers here, here, and here.” She said, using the spade to make marks in the dirt. “Then you can hang it on the railing. Once we’re done with everything we’ll go around and water it all.”

They spent the rest of the cool spring afternoon filling up Marinette’s pots. When they were done, Marinette showed Queen Bee how to start the vegetable seeds she had bought in a seed starter tray.

Finally, the plants were all settled and watered, and Marinette looked up from where she was packing away her few gardening tools to see Queen Bee let out a long sigh and brush the back of one hand over her forehead, leaving behind a streak of dirt. She bit her lower lip to keep from laughing so as not to tip her off. “Thanks for helping with my gardening today.”

“… It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” Queen Bee admitted, which from her meant that she had really enjoyed it. “I wouldn’t mind learning more.”

“I’d be happy to show you more, though I’m not really great at gardening myself. I’m good enough to keep my plants from dying, anyways.” Marinette smiled and leaned over to kiss Queen Bee’s cheek. “I had fun doing this with you.”

As she went to pull back, Queen Bee quickly tugged off the borrowed gardening gloves and reached up to cup Marinette’s cheek with one hand, turning to press her lips to the other girl’s in a proper kiss. Marinette gasped softly, but didn’t pull away. Queen Bee was just wondering if she had moved too quickly and whether she should back off when Marinette’s lips slanted over hers, prompting a soft sigh as she closed her eyes and allowed herself to enjoy the kiss.

“Nice, Queenie.” The two girls broke the kiss with a start, blushing slightly as they registered Vixen and Chat standing on the roof and grinning widely. “Oh, don’t stop on our account,” Vixen chuckled, flicking her tail as she lightly hopped down onto the balcony. “I’m tempted to steal a kiss myself.”

“From which one?” Marinette countered, doing her best to recover after having been caught off guard.

“Either. Both. Both sounds good,” Vixen mused as she moved over to make room for Chat. With all of the gardening supplies that still needed to be put away, plus all of the new pots, it was getting a little cramped on the balcony.

Chat tilted his head. “Hey, Queenie, did you know you have dirt on your face?”

“What?!” Queen Bee screeched. “Marinette, I need your bathroom now!”

Marinette pouted at Chat as Queen Bee rushed past her and inside. “Dangit Chat, I wanted to see how long it would take for her to notice.”

Chapter Text

“Thanks for this, Marinette.” Nino shot the shorter girl a grateful smile as he dropped his bag in one of the chairs around the table. “I know you’re busy a lot, so-“

“Oh hush, you’re my friend, Nino. Of course I’m going to help out if you need it,” Marinette playfully scolded him as she started pulling out flour, sugar, and other ingredients. “Any idea what kind of cake you want to make?”

“Her favorites are lemon or spice. It’s spring, so lemon would probably be better for her birthday cake,” Nino mused aloud.

“Lemon it is. I don’t think we have any up here right now, but head downstairs and ask Papa if you can have a couple from the bakery’s stores.”

Marinette had the rest of the ingredients ready to go and the oven preheating by the time Nino got back. “You’re sure you don’t need a recipe card?” Nino blinked at Marinette’s amused giggle.

“Trust me, Nino, I’ve made enough lemon cake batter this past week alone that even if I didn’t already have it memorized, I would by now. Take the mixer and beat together two sticks of butter and a cup and a half of sugar while I work on the dry ingredients.”

Between the two of them, it didn’t take long to get the batter mixed and baking in the oven. Nino was fun to bake with, he had enough experience cooking that he only needed minor directions, and by the time Marinette straightened up from slipping the pans into the oven, Nino was already cleaning up and taking the dirty cookware to the sink. “What kind of frosting did you want to go with?”

“Mom likes vanilla or cream cheese, she says lemon on lemon gets to be too overpowering,” Nino said over his shoulder as he started to run water and scrub at the mixing bowls.

Marinette was just opening her mouth to ask which Nino would rather make when her trap door banged open and Chat jumped down, only tapping a couple steps to slow his descent before landing on the floor and crowing in delight. “Whoo! Work got canceled so I have the day… free… Princess…” Chat slowly trailed off as he registered Nino staring at him, jaw dropped, and Marinette groaning and hiding her face in her hands. “… Hi?”

“… Is… is this a normal thing? Chat Noir coming into your house?” Nino finally squeaked.

“Um…” Marinette was trying to think up an excuse when things suddenly got a lot harder, courtesy of Queen Bee sliding one of the outside windows up and flying in.

“Hide me! My father wants to take me out to dinner for ‘family bonding’ with my future stepmother!” Queen Bee hissed as she slammed the window back down, then jerked a little in shock when she, too, realized that Nino was there.

Marinette just sighed and considered tracking down some headache pills.

“… At this rate I’m almost expecting Vixen to show up-“ Nino barely managed to squeak out, but was cut off when the aforementioned heroine poked her head in upside down from the trap door to Marinette’s room.

“I heard my name, is-“ Vixen blinked, then snickered a bit. “Marinette, you should have told us you were having a friend over.”

“… Marinette. Explain. Please.” Nino ran his hands through his hair, completely forgetting that he had just been doing dishes and leaving behind some soap bubbles.

“Everyone, this is Nino. Nino, meet the moochers.” Marinette took no small amount of pleasure in the triple ‘HEY!’ they let out. That’s what they got for pulling this on her. “More seriously though, it turns out heroes are like stray cats, and if you feed them you never get rid of them.”

“That, and tonight is movie night, though normally we’re not all here this early,” Vixen added as she slipped properly into the room.

“You know them well enough to have movie nights?” Nino stared at Marinette in more than a little shock.

Finally one of them decided to take pity on her, with Chat striding forward to sling an arm across Nino’s shoulders. “Hey, you should join us.”

Queen Bee sniffed. “What I want to know is why he’s here.”

“Queenie, behave. Nino is a friend of mine and I’m helping him make a birthday cake for his mom. And no, Chat, you can’t taste test it.” The feline hero pouted, his ears and tail drooping. “And he is absolutely welcome to stay for movie night if he wants.”

The blonde heroine pouted, but knew there was little point in arguing the matter, not if she wanted cuddles from Marinette later. “Fine. But none of this gets out to the press, alright? We don’t want them getting wind of where we spend our free time and pestering Marinette.”

“I… yeah, of course I won’t tell.” Nino still looked a little shell-shocked, so Marinette poked Chat and pointed quietly at the table. Chat nodded and started guiding him over towards one of the chairs. After a moment, Queen Bee joined them, and Vixen came over to get to work on the dishes that Nino had forgotten.

Well, that could have certainly gone worse.

Chapter Text

Nino was still having trouble processing.

He had gotten a little up close and personal with a few of Paris’s resident heroes, mostly Ladybug that one time, but most of his information about them came from eyewitness or secondhand reports.

Those reports suggested that the heroes were (mostly) calm, collected, and professional, if clearly inexperienced being in front of cameras.

Whereas right now he was watching Chat Noir whine and reach for the bowl of popcorn, only to be held back by Queen Bee’s foot against his cheek as she smirked and tossed a few kernels into her mouth.

“Is… is this…”

“Yes,” Marinette said plainly, reaching over and stealing the bowl of popcorn to twin whines from the two heroes. She merely stuck her tongue out at them playfully even as she offered the bowl to Nino, where he took a small handful on autopilot.

“Chat and Queenie always bicker on movie nights,” Vixen clarified, somehow looking extremely comfortable where she was stretched across the back of the couch. It could only hold so many teenagers, after all, and as it was Nino was squished between the arm of the couch and Marinette thanks to Queen Bee and Chat’s playful roughhousing.

Because that was the thing. Now that the three were relaxed and not worried about cameras or akumas, they were so very clearly teenagers that Nino wondered how he had never seen it before. The playfulness, the massive appetites, even how they flopped all over each other, although they were far cuddlier with each other and Marinette than most friend groups he usually saw.

It was honestly making him a little uncomfortable, like he was an interloper.

He should probably leave. He didn’t belong here.

Nino was just shifting to get up when an orange and white tail composed of some strange fabric, stronger than leather but as pliable as silk, curled gently around his shoulders and chest. He blinked and looked back and up at Vixen, only to be met by serious, gently glowing golden eyes.

“Stay,” The heroine murmured softly. “We wouldn’t have asked you to join us if we didn’t want you to be here.”

“I need someone sane on my side to help out with these three,” Marinette added, shooting Nino a playful grin which he shyly returned.

“Awww, you know you love us,” Chat said, squirming around to lean over Queen Bee and press a kiss to Marinette’s lips, stealing the bowl of popcorn while she was distracted.

Oh.

Oh.

Nino felt his face heating up in a blush. Marinette and Chat Noir?

“Hey, don’t hog all the kisses,” Vixen grinned, bumping her cheek against Chat Noir’s playfully, and as soon as the kiss broke, she used one clawed hand to tug Marinette’s chin up slightly for her own kiss.

Nino’s brain was clearly trying to explode at this point, and he was sure that if he had a mirror, he could confirm that he was currently redder than Ladybug’s suit. The thought that maybe all of them were just dating Marinette went right out the window when Chat dragged Queen Bee into his lap and kissed her neck, grinning as she squeaked and lightly swatted his arm while complaining that he knows she’s ticklish and why does he keep doing that?!

Just as he made the decision to get up, because he didn’t want to intrude on the group’s private time (seriously, what would that make him, a fifth wheel?), Vixen’s tail tightened a little around him, and he found himself being seriously regarded by the heroine and Marinette. The fact that Vixen was half twisted around on the back of the couch made him blink, apparently whatever gave them their powers also added quite a bit of flexibility because spines shouldn’t bend like that.

“You don’t have to stay if you don’t want to, or if you’re honestly uncomfortable, but I’ll say it again. We want you here, Nino,” Vixen said seriously, backed up with a warm smile and a nod from Marinette.

“Aw, man, where are our manners?” Nino yelped as black-clad clawed hands suddenly lifted him up and draped him across three laps. All he could think to do was give an apologetic grin up at Queen Bee, even as Chat continued. “We’ve been leaving Nino out of cuddles.”

“Uh…” Anytime his brain wanted to reboot would be freaking fantastic at this point.

He could practically feel Marinette roll her eyes as she offered him a hand and helped him sit up. He tried not to think about how he was sitting on Chat Noir’s (surprisingly bony, if he hadn’t watched him inhale an entire plate of pastries he would worry whether he was eating) lap. He swallowed, then tried to get his brain to work well enough to form sentences. “I can go if you guys want-“

“We already told you, we want you here.” Vixen huffed as she slid down on Marinette’s other side, pulling the smaller girl into her lap and scooting over so that she was side by side with Chat. “Even Queenie doesn’t mind.”

“Trust me, you would know if I did,” the blonde heroine confirmed, somehow having ended up with the bowl of popcorn and delicately eating. “Though you all shouldn’t make a habit of this, I draw the limit here.”

Nino blinked. “Huh?”

Chat gave a sheepish grin. “We, ah… may or may not attend the same school as you and Marinette.”

“And trust us, half the student body would give their right arm to date you,” Vixen added.

Aaaaaand his brain was fried again. “Now you’re just messing with me.” His jaw dropped as the other three nodded in agreement with Vixen. Even Queen Bee looked completely serious instead of her usual disdainful mild glare. “You’re joking.”

“Nino, you’re the friendliest, kindest guy in school. You’re intelligent, creative, a great musician, and you’re so sweet that you’re probably the only person who has been akumatized because you were upset on someone else’s behalf.” Marinette crossed her arms and gave him a serious look. “And you’re not exactly hard on the eyes, either.”

Nino didn’t even need a mirror to know that his face was currently Ladybug-red.

“We’re not saying you have to do anything, but we’d be more than happy to have you spend time with us here,” Vixen finished. “Any time you want to join us and Marinette.” She leaned in to whisper. “But don’t be surprised if you get dragged into cuddle piles, they won’t admit it but Queenie and Chat are cuddle whores.”

“Look who’s talking.” Queen Bee sniffed haughtily, which was a little ruined by the fact that she had popcorn seasoning on her nose. “And we’re missing the movie.”

“Stay. Please?” Chat whispered against his cheek, and Nino was completely unprepared for a case of sad kitty eyes that could rival Adrien’s puppy-dog pout.

“… I guess.” From Chat’s wide grin and how the other guy’s arms tightened a little around his waist, it seemed like this was his new seat for the rest of the movie.

Well, it was for the next fifteen minutes, up until Chat and Queen Bee got into a fight over the popcorn bowl again, and Nino ended up getting dragged into the cuddle pile with Vixen and Marinette on the quieter side of the couch while they waited for the pair to sort it out.

At least they were sheepish enough afterwards to clean up the spilled popcorn.

Chapter Text

It was Queen Bee’s night for patrol. Thankfully the skies were clear and while the air was cool, there were no biting winds that somehow managed to cut straight through her suit that Pollen claimed was impervious.

Pollen was a damn liar is what she was.

Really, Queen Bee was actually in a pretty good mood. It was a nice night, she was getting in some good flying time, and she was looking forward to meeting up with the others at Marinette’s later. Vixen had texted her at the start of the patrol that Chat had a thing and would be late as well, while Marinette was kicking her and Nino’s asses at UMS.

Queen Bee landed on a high point of Notre Dame, leaning out over empty space without even a twinge of nervousness as to the huge drop below. A few people stopped and pulled out phones to take pictures, but by now a good portion of Paris was used to seeing their heroes out and about and most of those below went about their business as she scanned the city from her vantage point for any sign of trouble.

A flash of black out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, head whipping around to just catch what was clearly Chat Noir racing across a rooftop. What was odd was that he wasn’t heading in the direction of the bakery, and his movements weren’t the controlled lope he favored for patrols. Instead, he was running as if trying to get away from something, although she couldn’t see anything chasing him at the moment.

Queen Bee let go of her handhold, a little hop sending her away from the building’s edge as she started to fall, wings coming up and quickly changing it into a dive as she shot after Chat. She didn’t share his night vision, so she was grateful for his blonde mop of unruly hair that allowed her to track him from the sky.

Normally he would have picked up the drone of her wings as she drifted lower, but he didn’t seem to notice her as he made a long leap between buildings, then kept running. Queen Bee frowned, thrown off by his uncharacteristic behavior.

Then she heard a gut-wrenching sob.

She was moving before the rest of her had even caught up, and she had to dodge a reflexive, startled swipe of Chat’s claws as she scooped him up in her arms. “Easy, alley cat. It’s just me.”

Now that she could see his face, the twin trails of tears down his cheeks glinted in the city lights, and Queen Bee fought down a low buzz of a growl. No one was allowed to hurt what was Hers, and Chat counted as Hers (well, he belonged to the whole group, but then Queen Bee counted all of them as Hers).

Yes, she felt that the capital letter was justified.

“What’s got your tail all in a twist?” She asked, shifting down to land on a rooftop. She didn’t recognize this part of the city at first glance, but no matter. She’d just have to get up high enough and she could spot enough landmarks to orient herself.

Chat jerked a bit from where he had been clinging to her shoulders, and another ugly sob forced its way out.

Oh, whoever had reduced this goofy ball of sunshine to a sobbing mess was in for it.

Queen Bee shuffled awkwardly. She wasn’t the one who was good at comforting upset people, other people did that. But Marinette and Vixen weren’t here, and if Chat had wanted them to see him like this, he would have gone to the bakery.

At this point, one bit of roof was as good as any other, so Queen Bee sat down, arranging Chat so he was sitting in her lap with one arm around him. He whimpered and shoved his face into her neck, giving another low sob. Trying to think of what Marinette would do, she began to comb the fingers of one hand through his wild hair. At this point she didn’t trust herself not to make things worse, so she stayed quiet.

It took a while, and by then Queen Bee was honestly getting tired of being used as a tissue, but Chat’s sobs slowly died down to sniffles and soft whimpers, then to exhausted panting.

“Better?” She finally asked.

“… Yeah,” Chat whispered back, voice hoarse and shaky.

“So, who do I have to break for hurting you?”

“Queenie no.”

Queen Bee raised a brow, shooting Chat a serious look. Defeated, he slumped against her shoulder again. Really, it was kind of awkward, since Chat was so much bigger than her and all gangly limbs, but this wasn’t the time to complain.

“… I had a recital tonight. I asked my father to come over a month ago, and he promised. But tonight he… he didn’t show up. Didn’t even call to say he had to cancel or anything, I only found out afterwards that he went out of town after lunch today.” Chat took a deep, shuddering breath. “I know I should be used to it, he never shows up to things like this, but I thought for once…”

Queen Bee was seeing red. She wasn’t sure exactly how much extra strength her suit granted her, but she had grabbed a stray rock that was nearby in her free hand and was squeezing it to keep control, and rock dust was trailing down to the rooftop from her clenched fist.

Because she knew exactly how it felt, and the thought that Chat was going through the same thing she often went through with her own father had unkind thoughts of heights and loose grips flashing through her head.

“Your father is an ass,” She said bluntly, making Chat jerk and stare at her in shock. “Don’t act like I’m wrong. Only an asshole would do that to you over and over.”

“He’s really busy with his job,” Chat replied weakly.

“Not too busy to promise you something then not follow through. And you said it’s not the first time he’s pulled this shit. A good parent would make time for you once in a while.

“He tries-“

“Not hard enough.” Queen Bee sniffed haughtily. “If I ever get my hands on him, I’ll have some very choice words for him.” Preferably while several hundred meters in the air.

Queen Bee was vindictive and she knew it.

“Come on. I was about done with patrol anyways, we still have time to get to Marinette’s.” Queen Bee went to move Chat out of her lap, only to startle a little when a clawed hand cupped her cheek and warm lips pressed to hers. The kiss was, admittedly, salty from Chat’s tears (she refused to think of what else), but she still found herself melting into it.

“Thanks, Queenie. For being here,” Chat murmured against her lips.

Stupid alley cat, making her blush.

Still, she couldn’t help the tiny smile as she flew after him, and the pun he cracked when they were almost at the bakery assured her that he would be alright.

She was totally still going to kick his father’s ass someday, though.

Chapter Text

“We really need to do something about this whole identity thing,” Alya mumbled around a forkful of her lunch.

“I know,” Adrien agreed, sighing as he sipped at his water. Thankfully, since getting Nino to hang around, Marinette had someone to talk to about everything. That meant that the two of them were talking quietly, heads bowed close, and more importantly weren’t paying attention to his and Alya’s own quiet conversation.

It was a pleasantly warm spring day, and most of the class had taken their lunches to the park and were enjoying the sunshine and breeze after what had felt like the winter that would never end. Currently the four of them were sprawled out on the grass, with Marinette and Nino several feet away.

“Do you think we should find Queenie first? I mean, she said she goes to our school.” Alya reached out with her fork to snag a strawberry from Adrien’s packed lunch, and he retaliated by stealing a bite of her lunch, which seemed to be leftovers from dinner the night before.

“Heh, what are the chances she’s in our class?” Adrien chuckled, which slowly died down as he and Alya stared at each other.

“… You don’t think-“

“At this point I wouldn’t put it past whoever gave us these things,” Adrien huffed.

Alya twisted a little to poke lightly at her shirt pocket, voice dropping even lower. “Trixx, is the one who gave you to me likely to do that?”

The small lump in the pocket twitched and a sleepy voice answered. “He’d think it’s hilarious. So yes, he would if he found someone suitable. Now let me sleep, you’re wearing me out because you can’t scream at your mates outside of the suit like a normal person.”

Alya flushed as she hissed back. “Trixx, you know that fox noises terrify the crap out of everyone! Including Adrien and small children!”

“Not my fault they’re high strung.” Alya sighed and left her kwami alone, having had this argument several times before already. Adrien could relate, Trixx sounded just as stubborn as Plagg.

“I mean, even if Queenie isn’t in our class, I think she’s in the same year as us,” Adrien pointed out softly. “Last week she mentioned having issues with that year-wide project we’re doing.”

“So we can start with our class and then work our way through,” Alya finished with a slight grin. “At least narrow things down.”

Adrien matched her grin with one of his own Chat ones. “Okay. Blonde hair and blue eyes. So in our class, that narrows it down to…”

“Rose and Chloe.” Alya blinked, then looked over at where Rose was currently sitting in Juleka’s lap, the pair of them looking at something on Rose’s phone and talking excitedly as they pointed.

“Yeah, not Rose. Queenie is too… prickly, for it to be Rose.”

“That, and she’s basically dating Juleka in all but name, I can’t see her being interested in what we’ve got going on. Those two have been pining over each other for over a year, from what Marinette said,” Alya concluded.

“So that leaves…”

Alya raised a brow. “You seriously think Chloe is Queenie?”

“I mean… she’s gotten better. A lot better than she was. When was the last time she picked a fight with anyone in the class?” Adrien pointed out.

Alya huffed. “Last week, with Lila.”

Adrien shook his head. “Lila started that one when she messed with Sabrina. Chloe may not be perfect, but you don’t mess with her friends without facing the consequences.”

Alya’s frown turned thoughtful. “… Sounds a lot like someone we know.” She snorted in amusement. “Chloe definitely has Queenie’s attitude.”

Adrien stilled as something occurred to him, then suddenly began digging in his bag. “Wait, Chloe handed these out yesterday-“ With a satisfied trill in the back of his throat he pulled out a heavy piece of cardstock, elegantly printed and edged with gold leaf. The text proudly declared the impending marriage of the Mayor. “Queen Bee mentioned that her father is remarrying, and Chloe definitely didn’t look happy when she was handing these out.”

“You can’t be… oh gods now you’ve got me considering it.” Alya tried to study Chloe while looking like she wasn’t. The blonde was grumbling as Sabrina explained something from class that morning, and soon loudly declared that she had no idea why they were learning this, as it wasn’t something that any of them would ever need.

Adrien’s breath caught as the sun glinted off of the silvery comb that Chloe had taken to wearing constantly in her hair the past several months. “Alya,” he whispered, voice nearly catching in his throat. “Chloe’s comb. I never thought of it, but-“

“She’d normally never wear something that plain. And not every day. And it’s-“

“-in the same place as Queenie’s Miraculous,” Adrien finished, eyes going wide as the real, distinct possibility had something tingling up his spine, a mix of excitement and anticipation and anxiety.

They stayed quiet for a long moment, barely able to respond when Marinette asked them if they wanted anything from the bakery. They managed to respond on auto-pilot, and it was only after Marinette and Nino had walked off that Alya was able to speak.

“You do realize that if we’re right, that means we’re dating Chloe.”

Adrien put his head down against one knee and tried to suppress a laugh. “You realize that if we’re right, that means that Marinette is dating Chloe.”

“And that Chloe is okay with this. And has kissed her.” Alya buried her face against Adrien’s shoulder to muffle her own laughter.

“I mean, we still need to find out if we’re right. But if we are-“ Adrien felt another laugh bubbling up.

“Then we have teasing material for weeks.” Alya shook her head in amusement, then gave a very Vixen-like grin. “I think I may have an idea, too.”

Now they just had to get Chloe alone.

Chapter Text

“Look, all you have to do is ask Chloe to meet you for a coffee date or something, and we can confront her there.” It had proven harder than anticipated for them to get Chloe alone to talk with her, which was why Alya had come up with her (ingenious) plan. “Chloe’s not exactly going to say no to you.”

“True. Give me a second.” Adrien pulled out his phone and shot off a text, then set it down next to where Plagg and Trixx were quietly arguing over which was better: cheese or nuts. “Any ideas how to confront her? I mean, we could be wrong…”

“But we probably aren’t,” Alya replied confidently. “There’s too many things lining up.”

“Except… Chloe. Being nice. And cuddly,” Adrien pointed out.

“You said it yourself, she’s been less awful lately. Actually…” Alya tapped her chin thoughtfully with a finger. “Now that I think about it, she started acting nicer right around the time Queen Bee appeared.”

Adrien was about to reply when his phone buzzed, and he picked it up and unlocked it, tapping on the new text from Chloe. His jaw dropped in shock.

“What? What did she say?” Alya tilted her head, completely ignoring as Trixx and Plagg scuffled to try and shove cheese and almonds down each other’s respective throats.

“She said no.”

*********************

“Okay, maybe she just wasn’t in the mood for coffee,” Alya said from where she and Adrien were peering around a corner. Chloe was far enough away that they couldn’t hear what she was saying, but something Sabrina said had her covering her mouth to hide a smile, a move that she had seen Queen Bee do countless times (usually when Adrien as Chat had done something goofy).

“I’m pretty sure that Chloe would literally hook up a coffee IV if she could,” Adrien replied dryly.

“Whatever. Try asking for a lunch date, then.” Alya kept discreetly watching Chloe as Adrien pulled out his phone and typed out a text.

“Aaaand sent.” Adrien joined Alya in watching Chloe as she pulled out her phone, glanced at a text, then jumped and, oddly, looked mildly panicked. Hurriedly she texted back, then waved off Sabrina’s concern, quickly walking off with her friend trailing after her.

Adrien sighed as he checked the return text. “She said she can’t.”

“Okay, seriously, the heck is up with her?” Alya stomped a foot. “Before our Miraculouses we practically had to pry her off of you with a crowbar! Now she doesn’t want anything to do with you?”

Adrien frowned as he slowly nodded in agreement. “It’s almost like she’s trying to avoid me.”

Alya crossed her arms and smirked, and how he had never seen Vixen in her before when she looked like that made him question his own intelligence. “Well, time for the gloves to come off. We’ll get her after class.”

*********************

Class was just letting out, and Marinette was leaning over her desk to talk quietly with Nino about a new game he had picked up and wanted to bring over. The two of them were carefully not mentioning Marinette’s three visitors, not wanting to set Alya off. She had calmed down a lot about the Ladyblog, but neither of them wanted to see her reaction at the thought of getting an interview with three of Paris’s four superheroes.

Marinette dimly registered Adrien and Alya gathering their things and getting up, but what actually got her attention was Alya walking around to Adrien and whispering something in his ear. He nodded a few times as she talked, then they smirked at each other, turned at the same time, and picked Chloe up under her arms, one on each side. Calmly, as if this were completely normal, they began carrying her out of the classroom, completely ignoring both Chloe’s indignant yelling and the shocked looks of their classmates.

“… Marinette, was there anything funny in those pastries you brought back from lunch?” Nino finally asked.

“I saw it too, Nino.”

“Oh thank the gods, I thought I was going crazy.”

Chapter Text

If she wasn’t almost completely sure that Chloe was Queen Bee, Alya would have equated her to a furious cat, with the way she was bristled and nearly spitting with rage by the time she and Adrien got to an empty classroom.

“What is the meaning of this?!” Chloe hissed when they finally set her down. Alya rolled her eyes, completely unintimidated.

“We’ve been trying to get you alone to talk with you.” Alya crossed her arms, tapping a foot.

“You could have asked!” Chloe crossed her arms and glared at Alya.

“We did! What did you think those texts from Adrien were?!”

Chloe blinked. “Wait, those were… you were…” She huffed and looked away. “Well, it’s not my fault that you two can’t ask like normal people!”

“Please don’t fight, you two,” Adrien said, stepping between the two girls. “Chloe, we just wanted to talk with you about something really quick.”

“Then get it over with.” Chloe grimaced. “Daddy wants me to have dinner with him and his fiancée.”

Alya took a deep breath, and really hoped she wasn’t wrong about this. “We just wanted to know what movie you wanted for movie night tonight. And no more The Princess Bride, we’ve watched that twice in the past week.”

“The Princess Bride is a classic and you cannot convince me otherwise!” Chloe huffed, then froze and turned wary looks on the other two.

For a long moment, none of them spoke as they studied each other. Finally, a tiny voice squeaked from Chloe’s purse. “Oh, give it up, Chloe, they’ve figured you out.”

“Pollen!” Chloe hissed as the tiny bee Kwami phased through her purse and floated up. Clearly thinking to do damage control, she whirled on Adrien and Alya, mouth already opening to threaten them to keep their mouths shut-

Only to come up short as what were clearly Kwami shot out from Adrien’s shirt pocket and out of Alya’s hair, a tiny black cat and a grinning fox.

And then the implications of that hit and Chloe’s jaw dropped.

“Yeah, that was about our faces when we figured you out.” Alya grinned, nearly floating on the warm glow of having been right.

Adrien was the first one to move, hesitantly opening his arms. “Queenie?”

Chloe broke, almost falling into the offered hug and clinging tightly to Adrien, then stiffening briefly as she felt Alya press against her back before relaxing again. It took a moment for Alya to realize that she was shaking.

“Queenie?” Alya gently nudged the other girl. “Are you alright?”

“Fine. Perfectly fine.” Chloe sniffled a little from where her face was buried in Adrien’s chest.

“Uh-huh, and I’m Hawkmoth,” Adrien replied dryly. “Chloe… Queenie, talk to us.”

Chloe took a deep, shuddering breath to try and compose herself, and to her credit her voice was only a little shaky when she spoke. “When you two said that you go to the same school… I knew that you would know of me and my reputation. And I was… worried…”

‘Scared,’ Alya thought.

“That if you found out who I was, you would…” Chloe trailed off, allowing the implications to linger in the air.

Alya slowly rubbed a hand over Chloe’s back while they gave her time to finish collecting herself. Plus, it gave her a chance to gather her thoughts for what she wanted to say.

“Chloe, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You were a real bitch when we first met.” Chloe jerked a little, but Alya tightened the hug reflexively. “Easy, easy. Just let me finish.” She gave a slight smile. “Besides, I said ‘were’. You’ve gotten a lot better ever since… I’m guessing it was getting your Miraculous that prompted things?”

Chloe shook her head. “It was actually a little before that. Remember that big blowout I had with Marinette?” Her voice took a bitter turn. “Even I could admit that I went too far. So I… I thought long and hard, and I decided that I didn’t want to be the kind of person who keeps hurting others.” The blonde gave a tiny, self-deprecating smile. “Though I wasn’t doing the best job of learning to change before I got Pollen. She’s been… really great with her advice, most of the time. Don’t tell her I said that, though, or she won’t let me live it down.”

“Too late.” A smug little voice piped up, and the little bee Kwami was quickly hugging Chloe’s cheek. “I love you too, you little brat.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Chloe sniffed.

Alya rolled her eyes and gently nudged her. “Anyways, the point is that you’ve become a much better person. You’re not perfect, but you’re not cruel like you used to be.”

“I know Marinette will be able to see that, too,” Adrien added, voice slightly muffled from where his face was partly pressed in Chloe’s hair. “When we can all finally tell her.”

Alya snorted. “If only she would stop being so stubborn about not knowing, anyways.” A niggling thought finally grabbed her attention, and she pulled back to lightly poke Chloe’s nose. “By the way, why did you keep turning down Adrien? We thought for sure you’d jump at the chance.”

Chloe shot Alya a furious look as she lightly swatted her hand down as she hissed. “Because he was asking me on dates, and I may be a lot of things, but I do. Not. Cheat.” She pulled back from the hug and crossed her arms. “When I commit to someone… or several someones, in this case… I commit.”

“… Oh.” Alya and Adrien shot each other embarrassed looks. “Sorry, Queenie. We didn’t mean to doubt you.”

Chloe huffed, clearly trying to stay indignant, but wasn’t able to resist being pulled into another warm group hug. She grumbled, but eventually returned it. “... Okay, but I really do need to get going, before I make Daddy worry.”

“We’ll see you tonight,” Alya promised, leaning in to briefly kiss Chloe.

“And you can rant to your heart’s content then.” Adrien added, going in for his own kiss.

Chloe nearly buzzed with contentment, but forced herself to pull away and grab her purse, opening it up for Pollen. “Tonight, then.”

Chapter Text

Nino was walking Marinette through one of his Mama’s recipes, the three heroes lounging on the couch, when it happened.

“Wow, you guys are really good cooks,” Chat said, a little mesmerized as he watched the two dance easily around each other in the kitchen. “I’d love to learn how to cook.”

“You don’t know how?” Marinette looked back over her shoulder as she stirred something in a pan that Chat couldn’t quite identify, but smelled divine.

“I’m afraid not, Princess. Sadly, cooking was not one of the many things I was educated in.” He pouted, tail swaying behind him.

“I never learned, either,” Queen Bee murmured from where she was petting Vixen’s head and running her fingers through her hair. Vixen was nearly boneless and humming in contentment.

Chat perked up as an idea hit him. “One of you should give us lessons!”

Vixen jerked and shared a slightly panicked look with Marinette and Nino.

“Not it!”

“Not it!”

“Not- DANGIT.” Nino pouted and crossed his arms sulkily. Marinette laughed and playfully swung an arm over his shoulders, which had the side effect of making the taller boy bend down in range for her to gently muss up his hair.

“Vixen and I will help, don’t worry.”

“We will?” Vixen asked from her spot on the couch.

Marinette shot her a look. “Can you cook?”

“Well, yes. My mom is a chef, I was learning from her by the time I was big enough to stand on a step stool by the stove.”

“Then you’re helping. Everyone should know how to cook, and that includes Chat and Queenie. Besides, I’m assuming we all know how to cook different things. Specialties and all that.”

Nino shot a look between the heroes, then Marinette. “… This isn’t going to end well.”

“Well, not with that attitude it isn’t.”

***********************

“Okay, we’re going to start with something that’s really simple.” Nino finished setting the last of the ingredients on the counter and turned to his two students. Vixen and Marinette were sitting at the table, close enough to help but far enough to be out of the way.

Chat and Queen Bee weren’t sure whether to be insulted by the fact that Marinette was holding onto a fire extinguisher.

“Today, we’re going to be doing spaghetti and meatballs.” Nino tilted his head a little in confusion at Queen Bee’s frown. “What’s wrong?”

The heroine sniffed and poked at the jar of spaghetti sauce. “We’re not making everything from scratch?”

“How about we get you two beyond burning water before trying something that advanced,” Nino stated dryly. “This is about as simple as it gets, so it’s a good starting point for learning to cook.”

Queen Bee was just opening her mouth to protest when Chat nudged her side with an elbow. “We can always learn to make it from scratch later.”

“Exactly. Now, Chat, you fill up the pot partway with water and set it on the stove to heat, then turn the oven on to 220. Queenie, get a bowl and some measuring cups so I can show you two how to mix up the meatballs.”

Things proceeded well after that, meaning that nothing caught fire, at least. When it came time to form the meatballs, Queen Bee stated in no uncertain terms that she was not touching raw meat, so Nino had Chat handle it while he showed Queen Bee how to measure out noodles and make sure the water was ready.

While Chat was putting the (inconsistently sized) meatballs in the oven to cook, Nino lightly nudged Queen Bee with his elbow. “Hey, I have a question?”

“Yes?” She tilted her head as she regarded the dry noodles, trying to decide if that would be enough.

“Why doesn’t Ladybug also come? I mean, all of you heroes but her are here…”

Chat looked up from where he was washing his gloved hands. “We asked, once, but Ladybug said she wasn’t interested.”

“Yeah, she’s not much for hanging out outside of fights or patrol.” Vixen added from where she was cuddling Marinette in her lap and watching her draw over her shoulder, the fire extinguisher leaning against a table leg now that Marinette was fairly sure that they weren’t going to burn down her kitchen.

“We’d like to spend more time with her, but she’s the most private out of all of us, and the most concerned with concealing her identity.” Chat shrugged, moving to look over Queen Bee’s shoulder as he watched her double check to make sure she had enough noodles. “Granted, if we hadn’t started hanging out here, I doubt the three of us would have figured each other out.”

Marinette jerked a little, looking up at Chat. “Wait, you three know each other’s identities?”

“Mmhmm. Turns out we’re all in the same class, even. Weird, huh?” Vixen said, moving to brush her cheek over Marinette’s reassuringly.

Nino blinked. “Does that mean you’re in our class?”

Chat was just opening his mouth to respond when Queen Bee’s hand whipped out to shut it with an audible click! “Don’t answer that, Ladybug would have our hides if we let our identities slip.” She glanced at Nino. “No offense, while we may trust you two, that doesn’t mean Ladybug would. And us knowing each other’s identities is different from civilians knowing them.”

“Yeah, I get it. Should have known better than to ask anyways.” Nino shot Queen Bee a reassuring smile, then nudged her. “You can put the noodles in now.”

Once the meal was done, Queen Bee and Chat hesitantly took their first bites. Chat perked up and began to happily eat his food, while Queen Bee frowned at it.

“Something wrong, Queenie?” Vixen asked as she worked on her own plate.

“The sauce is off. I’m used to it being made from scratch.” The heroine pouted.

“We’ll teach you that later, don’t worry. For now, just be happy that you actually made something edible.” Vixen smiled reassuringly. “I’ve got a good recipe that my mom taught me that I can show you when you’re ready.”

“I suppose.” Mollified, Queen Bee began to slowly eat, and sat up a little straighter as the pride of having succeeded hit her.

Nino was the last one to sit down, and squeaked a bit as Chat pulled him into his lap. “There are enough chairs, you know.”

“I want cuddles.” Chat pouted.

“Can you even eat around me?”

“I am a cat of many talents, Nino.” Chat suited action to words.

Nino rolled his eyes, but made himself comfortable and took a bite of his food.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to do it this time,” Marinette said, squaring her shoulders.

“Uh-huh,” Alya hummed, not even bothering to look up from her phone.

“I mean it, Alya! I’m going to tell Adrien how I feel about him!”

Alya glanced up briefly, a tiny smirk tugging at the corner of her mouth. “Sure. Just like the past hundred times you’ve said that.”

“It has not been a hundred times!” Marinette huffed.

“You’re right.” Alya tapped a few things on her phone. “It’s been a hundred and seventeen. Well, eighteen now. My mistake.”

“… I am shaming you for the fact that you have been keeping track.”

Alya gave a full-blown smirk. “And I’m shaming you for the fact that you’re all talk and no action.”

Marinette’s jaw dropped, and she squawked indignantly. “Alya!”

“Just calling it like I see it, girl. Face it, you’re too chicken to actually confess.”

“Too… too…” Marinette threw her hands up in the air and huffed. “I’ll show you, I’ll tell him!”

“Uh-huh.” Alya was already looking back at her phone, and so completely missed as Marinette stomped off. It took a moment for the prodding from her hair to break through and prompt her to look up.

Alya blinked at seeing that her girlfriend was gone. “… Marinette?”

************************

“-And the woman has no taste! None! Her wedding colors are green and orange for crying out loud!” Chloe huffed as she paused in filing her nails to check her work, then went back to it.

Adrien blinked, then hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know, with the right shades it could probably work.”

Without saying a word, Chloe pulled out her phone, flicked through a few photos, then handed it to Adrien. “Those are her colors.”

Adrien immediately recoiled. “Ugh, I see what you mean. Is she colorblind?”

Nino blinked as he looked over Adrien’s shoulder. “I don’t see what’s so bad about them.”

Adrien and Chloe stared at Nino for a moment, then Adrien sighed and slung an arm around Nino’s shoulders. “It’s okay, Nino. We’ll make sure you aren’t a fashion disaster. Anyways, both of these colors are too bright and bold, that makes them clash with each other. Especially for a wedding, you’re going to want at least one of them to be a softer color, or darker. And definitely not colors that make people think of vomit.” Adrien grimaced as he handed Chloe’s phone back to her.

“And the less said about her dress, the better.” Chloe winced. “For once, I agree with the wedding planner. It makes her look like a walking pumpkin.” She snorted. “If she wants a fall theme then she should say it and go ahead with it, with the right colors and decorations it could be nice. But definitely not the way she’s doing things.”

Nino looked up as he heard footsteps, and lightly nudged Adrien with his elbow as he spotted Marinette walking up and stopping nearby. She looked more nervous than usual, standing there and fiddling with the small purse she always carried.

“Marinette? Is everything okay?” Adrien tilted his head a little in confusion, ignoring Chloe’s soft mutter of ‘stupid cats too adorable for their own good.’

“I… um… can I talk to you for a moment? Alone?”

Adrien blinked, then shrugged. “Yeah, sure. Be right back, guys,” He said as he got up to follow Marinette.

Nino was just wondering what that was about when Alya hurried up, looking worried. “Guys, we may have a problem.”

**************************

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Adrien asked as he leaned against a wall. While Marinette being nervous was adorable, it did have him a little worried.

“I just… I wanted to tell you…” Marinette fiddled with her purse, looking at the floor. She slid a few fingers into the purse, and a moment later relaxed and took a deep breath. Seeming to have found some form of courage, she lifted her head and met his eyes. “I wanted to tell you that I like you. A lot. And have for a while.”

Adrien froze, his brain blaring ABORT! ABORT! in large red letters. While he was certainly happy to hear that his girlfriend liked him, none of them had planned for what to do if Marinette actually acted on the crush she was harboring.

And outside of fights, he didn’t act well under pressure.

Which was probably he could be (mildly) forgiven for what came out of his mouth next.

“I’m sorry, I’m already dating someone…”

Marinette flinched, then plastered on a clearly fake smile. After spending so much time with her as Chat, he could easily tell the difference. “It’s… that’s okay. I just wanted to let you know.” She took a deep breath, smile wavering slightly before she steadied it. “I need to go. I’ll see you… around.”

Adrien knew he had fucked up, but had no idea how to fix it as Marinette turned and, for lack of a better word, fled. Belatedly, he reached after her, but she was well gone and turning the corner by then. A short moment later, and three heads poked around the door to the classroom as Nino, Alya, and Chloe all fixed him with unimpressed looks.

“Nice going, genius.”

*******************************

Afternoon classes were torture, especially knowing that Marinette was sitting behind him and hearing the occasional small sniffle. And then once class let out, Adrien had to endure being driven home, then wait until he was left alone in his room before being able to call on Plagg and transform.

If he hadn’t broken his fastest time in heading to Marinette’s, he certainly came close. As he landed on her balcony, his ears perked up at the sound of a soft sob, and Chat found he couldn’t get the hatch open fast enough.

Inside, Marinette was curled up on her chaise, and Vixen and Queen Bee were cuddled around her. Nino was sitting at the head of the chaise, gently stroking Marinette’s hair from where her head was pillowed in his lap.

Chat dimly registered Vixen and Queenie shooting him glares as he tumbled in through the hatch and nearly fell off the loft in his hurry to get to Marinette. He slowed as he approached, carefully climbing onto the chaise and butting his head up underneath her chin with a loud purr of comfort.

“I’m so sorry, Princess. So sorry.” His whispered voice vibrated with the force of his purr, even as he pressed his forehead to Marinette’s.

Marinette sobbed softly and hugged Chat close, burying her face against his shoulder. Chat felt another harsh stab of guilt. He had done this to her, him and that stupid need to keep his identity secret.

At this point, he’d take whatever lecture Ladybug could dish out if it meant stopping Marinette’s tears.

“I’m an idiot,” Chat murmured, closing his eyes and ducking his head to softly kiss Marinette.

And then he let his transformation drop.

Chapter Text

Marinette gasped and squeezed her eyes tightly shut, breaking the kiss and burying her face into Adrien’s chest. Nino gasped, eyes going wide, and was just opening his mouth to say something when a dark brown gloved finger gently pressed against his lips. Looking over, Vixen motioned for him to stay quiet for now.

“Princess, look at me. Please,” Adrien pleaded softly, gently nuzzling Marinette’s hair. “If only so you can yell at me for messing up earlier.”

Marinette twitched, curiosity warring with the need to try to keep Chat’s identity safe.

“Please,” Adrien whispered, voice breaking.

Marinette let out a long, shuddering sigh, then hesitantly lifted her head.

Where she immediately squeaked and jerked back into Queen Bee, eyes wide and hand covering her mouth.

“It’s okay,” Adrien whispered, reaching up to gently cup Marinette’s face. “It’s just me. And I’m so, so sorry.” When Marinette didn’t pull away, he ducked his head and gently pressed his forehead to hers. “I panicked and wasn’t thinking about what I was saying. I didn’t mean to hurt you, and I’m sorry I did.” He swallowed hard. “I’ll take whatever punishment you see fit.”

Marinette stayed quiet for a long moment, studying Adrien’s face, then carefully reached up to trail her fingers over Adrien’s face. “Kitty?”

Adrien gave a wry smile. “Paw-resent.”

Marinette groaned and dropped her head to his chest. “I can’t believe I thought you were cool.”

“Wait what.”

“Now I know you’re just a giant, pun-loving dork,” Marinette continued, ignoring Adrien’s surprise. Lightly, she poked his chest and looked up. “But you’re our giant, pun-loving dork.”

Adrien relaxed at seeing Marinette’s smile. Yeah, he’d probably pay for his blunder later, but she wasn’t mad at him, so he’d take what he had coming like a cat.

“Can I talk now?” Nino asked, and Adrien and Marinette looked up, Adrien belatedly realizing that they had been using his lap as a pillow. “Dude, you’re Chat Noir? For how long?!”

“Um… since the beginning? Well, of the current Chat Noir, I know there have been past ones. Anyways, since Stoneheart.”

“Wait…” Nino frowned, then his jaw dropped. “Didn’t Vixen say that all three of you are in the same class?”

“I did?” Vixen said guiltily, ears pinning as she remembered that she had, in fact, said that.

“So that means that Vixen and Queen Bee are in our class,” Nino concluded.

Marinette was just opening her mouth when Vixen leaned over Adrien and gently tapped at her lips. “Marinette, please. Let us tell you who we are. We want to be able to take you on real dates, out in public. We can’t do that in the suits.”

Queen Bee pressed her forehead against the back of Marinette’s neck. “I don’t know if this is a good idea.”

Vixen squirmed a bit, leaning over Adrien and Marinette to drop a kiss to Queen Bee’s cheek. “She’ll love you, Queenie. You know that.”

“Sounds fake, but okay,” Queen Bee muttered, and Marinette covered her mouth to stifle a laugh.

After a moment to collect herself, Marinette took a deep breath before looking up at Vixen. “You guys really feel that strongly about this?” ‘About me?’

“Mmhmm.” Vixen nodded, her tail curling elegantly behind her.

“… Queenie?”

Queen Bee took a deep breath. “… Don’t hate me. Please?”

Marinette rolled over and cupped Queen Bee’s cheek. “I don’t think I could if I tried.”

Queen Bee gave a slight, bitter smile and leaned in for a soft, brief kiss. “Let’s see if you still think that.” She murmured, and dropped her transformation.

Marinette blinked, and she looked even more shocked by the girl laying against her than she had by Chat’s identity. “Chloe?!”

Chloe flinched, eyes closing as she curled in on herself a little. It was how scared she looked at Marinette’s reaction that brought her out of her shock, and knowing she only had maybe a moment before Chloe bolted, she leaned in and gently kissed her. “I told you I wouldn’t hate you.”

Chloe’s eyes opened and she looked at Marinette hesitantly. “But… I… I was a bitch to you for so long. I was cruel, I hurt you so much.”

Marinette gave a slight shrug. “Yeah, you did. But you’ve been working on being a better person, lately. As Chloe and as Queen Bee. And I don’t think you’d be Queen Bee if you couldn’t be a good person.” Although Marinette privately vowed to have a long talk with Master Fu the next time she visited. “I’m willing to look past what you did in the past and give you another chance.”

Chloe looked for a long second like she was struggling to control herself, then let out a sob and clutched tightly to Marinette, burying her face in Marinette’s chest as she softly whispered “Thank you…”

Marinette hugged her back tightly, pressing a kiss to the top of Chloe’s head. Once her shivers had died down and Chloe pulled back a little, Marinette let her go and gave a reassuring smile. Chloe sniffed a bit. “Well, of course you’d like me. I’m amazing.” Marinette gave a slight laugh and decided not to call Chloe out on her obvious posturing. When she wasn’t using it to put others down, it was honestly cute.

A soft brush against her arm drew Marinette’s attention, and she turned over to find Vixen smiling softly at her. Gently, the fox hero leaned in and pressed a kiss to Marinette’s forehead. “Don’t be mad at me, okay?”

Just as Marinette was starting to worry, Vixen smiled and dropped her transformation.

“Alya?”

“Surprise?” Alya gave a slightly nervous grin. Marinette found herself putting her head down against Adrien’s chest to laugh.

“Okay, seriously, what’s so funny?”

Marinette shook her head, still giggling. “I can’t explain it very well.” She’d definitely have to have a talk with Master Fu, but the fact that the girl she tried to pawn off being Ladybug to had ended up with her own Miraculous was incredibly funny to her in that moment.

Alya frowned, then shelved that for later. “You’re not mad?”

Marinette blinked and looked up. “Why would I be?”

“I meant that we’ve been using our masks to date you,” Alya clarified.

Marinette paused, thinking for a moment, then shook her head. “No. You guys tried to tell me at the beginning, and I didn’t listen, so that’s on me.”

“Alya?!” Nino squeaked, and Alya flinched a bit, then turned a hesitant smile on him.

“Hey Nino…”

Nino was clearly still trying to process everything, from the way he ran a hand through his hair (knocking his hat off in the process). “So, all of those times you-“

“I had to go be Vixen.” Alya shifted a bit, nervous. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you before. I really did want to…”

“No, no, I get it.” Nino gave a lopsided grin. “I’ve read comic books, I know the whole secret identity thing. I’m sorry I doubted you.”

“I’d probably have thought the same if I were in your situation,” Alya admitted. “And… I’d like to give dating again a try, if Adrien, Marinette, and Chloe are okay with it.”

“Okay with it?” Adrien grinned, and there was so much of Chat in it that Marinette wondered how she had never seen it before. “Heck, I’d be next in line for dating Nino.”

Marinette shrugged. “Not going to lie, same.” When Nino gaped at her, she gave him a sheepish smile. “We’ve known each other since we were kids, and you’ve grown up into a good guy. We weren’t lying when we said that half our year would give their right arm to date you.”

As one, all four of them turned to Chloe, who huffed and crossed her arms. “Fiiiiiine. But I’m putting a limit, five of us is plenty.”

“Awww, and here I was hoping on getting Ladybug in on this.” Alya teased.

“… Okay, I’ll allow a Ladybug clause, but that’s it.” Chloe sniffed. “I’ll have enough on my plate keeping the three of you out of trouble, at least Nino can help with that.”

“Keeping us out of trouble?” Adrien leaned over Marinette to playfully poke at Chloe. “And who was the one that just last week tried to fight the akuma all by herself?”

“She insulted my hair, she had to die.”

Marinette shook her head as the familiar bickering started up, feeling a warm flush through her as Alya took her hand and pressed a kiss to her palm, and Nino’s hand went back to gently stroking her hair.

Honestly, she could get used to this.

Chapter Text

Marinette blushed a little, still unused to public displays of affection as Alya threaded her fingers through her own. Marinette gently squeezed Alya’s hand, then glanced past her girlfriend to where Nino was leaning against Alya’s other shoulder, gently running his fingers through her hair. Out of the entire group, Alya had the thickest and softest hair, and it was an absolute delight to run your hands through it, as they all had discovered.

Not that Alya minded, and in fact she was letting out a warm, content hum at the soft affection. Marinette chuckled as she lifted Alya’s hand and pressed a soft kiss to her palm. She had to admit, there were worse ways to pass the time waiting for Adrien and Chloe than cuddling on a bench.

“Is Adrien here yet?” Marinette looked up and gave Chloe a welcoming smile as she approached, tailed by one of her ever-present bodyguards that she had to put up with outside of school and being suited up. One of her main complaints during ‘bitch night’ was how much of a pain it was to ditch them during akuma attacks.

“Not yet.” Marinette obligingly leaned up for a kiss, and Chloe flushed and glanced around before giving her a swift peck.

“Hey, now, you can do better than that,” Alya purred, reaching up and tugging Chloe down for her own kiss.

Marinette smiled at seeing Chloe melt into the kiss, then tensed up at an unknown voice behind her.
“How about you throw one of those over here, sweet cheeks?”

The four all turned at the same time to find a group of six guys a couple years older than them standing there. A couple looked uncomfortable, but the rest were smirking lewdly.

“I wouldn’t mind getting some kisses from all three of them,” Another said, a different voice from the one that had started the taunting, pale and gangly with greasy brown hair. He smirked and pointed at Nino. “Hey bro, do they all go at you at once? Lucky son of a bitch.”

Nino’s jaw dropped, too shocked to respond. Chloe, on the other hand, had no such problems. “Why don’t you come over here and say that to Alejandro?”

Marinette glanced over to see that Chloe’s bodyguard had moved closer to the bench and was talking softly into his phone. With the sunglasses she couldn’t see his eyes, but his face was angled directly at the group.

“What, need your big bad bodyguard to protect you?” The first voice again, this one from a guy even bigger than the second, light haired and heavier than his gangly friend. Marinette had to join Alya in grabbing onto Chloe as the blonde balled her fists and looked the exact same way that Queen Bee did right before an akuma was tossed through a building. Not into, through. “I wonder if he joins in. I bet he’s done all of you girls befo-“

“That. Is. Enough.” A low voice growled behind the group. Marinette had been so focused on the guys that she hadn’t been paying attention to what was going on behind them, and was nearly as shocked as they were to spot the Gorilla looming over them all, cracking his knuckles.

Marinette wasn’t sure she had ever heard him speak before, but she had gone up against akuma that were less terrifying.

“Now. You are going to apologize to the young gentleman and the young ladies, and then you are going to explain to the nice policeman why you felt the need to harass them,” he snarled, somehow managing to loom even more.

“Shit, run!” One of them shouted. Right then Marinette found out what Alejandro had been up to, as the guys made it perhaps ten meters before running right into a pair of police officers, one of them Sabrina’s father.

Adrien used the distraction to come and hug all of them. “Are you all okay? When Alain and I saw what was going on, we hurried up, but…”

“We’re fine.” Alya reassured him, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Though Chloe was all ready to transform and fight all six of them.”

Chloe was still shaking, taking deep breaths and glaring at the group that was currently trying to protest against the two bodyguards and two police officers that it was all a misunderstanding. “If I ever see them being chased by an akuma, I’m not saving their asses.”

Adrien opened his mouth to argue, then thought better of it. “… Yeah, I don’t think I would, either.”

Marinette knew that she should probably argue that point, but right then she was a little too shaken up to feel up to it. “Let’s just give our report and catch our movie, okay guys?”

Giving all of their reports had taken longer than they thought it would, so they ended up missing the movie time they had planned. Since the next time wasn’t for over an hour, Nino led the way to a little mom-and-pop Moroccan diner he knew of, and they all crammed into a corner booth together to eat. Marinette was finally able to relax as she ended up between Adrien and Chloe on one side of the booth, Alya and Nino on the other as Nino coached Chloe through the pronunciation of the dishes and explained what was in each one. Still, it wasn’t until they were all safely in the movie theater, laughing at jokes and teaming up with Nino in trying to stop Adrien, Alya, and Chloe’s popcorn throwing contest that the last of the chill inside left.

Chapter Text

“Mom? Dad? Can I talk to you?” Marinette shuffled nervously, fidgeting with the hem of her shirt.

Tom and Sabine shared a look, then nodded as Sabine briefly washed her hands to clean up from where she had been assembling dumplings. “Of course, Marinette. You know you can talk with us about anything.”

“Well… um…” Marinette took a deep breath, unable to meet their eyes. “I may… kinda sorta… be dating Adrien.”

Tom was just opening his mouth when Marinette continued. “… And Alya. And Nino. And Chloe.”

Sabine blinked. “All at the same time?”

Marinette nodded, her throat closing up.

“And they’re all okay with it?” Tom asked.

“We’re kinda… all dating each other,” Marinette mumbled.

Tom and Sabine shared another look, then smiled as they both pulled their daughter into a warm hug.

“So long as you’re all happy, we’re happy for you,” Sabine reassured her daughter.

“We know it won’t be easy for the five of you, but we’ll always have your back. All of you,” Tom added.

Marinette relaxed into the hug, almost limp with relief. She squeaked as Sabine playfully poked her side, where she was ticklish.

“So… when is the wedding?” Sabine teased.

“Mom!”

***************

“Hey, Mama?” Nino didn’t look up from where he was chopping vegetables for dinner, his tone deliberately nonchalant.

Of course, that didn’t fool his Mama, as he had expected it wouldn’t. She frowned slightly as she looked up from the chicken she was in the middle of slicing. “What is it, Nino?”

Nino took a deep breath, held it a couple heartbeats, then let it out to calm himself. “I’m dating someone. Several someones. Four people from my class.”

His Mama slowly and deliberately put her knife down, washed her hands, dried them, then turned to Nino. “Do I know them?”

“Yeah. You’ve met Adrien, Alya, and Marinette. The only one you haven’t met is Chloe.”

“She the same one that bullied you and Marinette for years?”

Nino winced, but nodded. “Yeah, but she’s gotten a lot better lately, Mama. Really cleaned up her act.”

His mother sighed, rubbing at the bridge of her nose with two fingers. “I don’t approve of you cheating-“

“It’s not cheating!” Nino burst out, feeling a flush of anger. “We’re all dating each other!”

His Mama shot him a stern look, and Nino wilted slightly, abashed. “Sorry, Mama.”

Her expression softened, and she pulled him into a hug. With a small start, Nino realized that his last growth spurt had put him taller than her. He hadn’t noticed until now. “Oh, Nino. I just worry about you, habibi. I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I know, Mama.” He tightened his hug a little. “Just… trust that I know what I’m doing, and that I’m happy with them? Please?”

His Mama sighed. “I can’t approve right away, Nino, but I will reserve judgement. I hope, for your sake, that things work out.”

“Thank you, Mama.” That was about as good as he was going to get, so Nino would take it.

Chapter Text

“Pay up!” Alya’s mother crowed, holding a hand out to her husband.

“No, you didn’t get all of them!” He protested, crossing his arms.

“I was still the closest and you know it!” She retorted, putting her hands on her hips.

“… What.” It was pretty rare that Alya got thrown for a loop. The last time she had been left speechless like this had been when she met Trixx for the first time.

“Your mama is convinced she won the betting pool.” That… honestly didn’t help clear things up.

“What betting pool?” A sneaking suspicion niggled at the back of her mind. “Wait, were you two betting on my love life?”

“Oh, no sweetie.” Alya’s mother gave her a smile that was just a little too innocent. “The whole family is. Including your aunts, uncles, cousins-“

“I think your grandma is the only one who had a bet down on Chloe.” Her father added.

“And I’m the closest, since I bet that you would get together with Nino, Marinette, and Adrien.” Her mother finished with a bright grin. “I got really good odds on it.”

“I still don’t say you should have won, since you didn’t have Chloe in there as well.” Her father grumbled.

“I… think I need to go lie down.” Alya said weakly, turning and heading towards her room.

“Dinner will be ready in half an hour!” Her mother called after her. Once Alya’s door had shut, she turned to her husband with a grin. “Now to get the betting pool going for when they’ll announce an engagement.”

“You’re incorrigible.” He paused, then added, “… Put me down for after college, no official engagement, but a civil partnership between them all.”

***************

Adrien took a deep breath, trying to gather his courage, then stepped into his father’s office.

Gabriel didn’t look up from his work even as Adrien stood before his desk. Only after he had finished reading and signing the document before him, and placed it on top of a stack of others, did he acknowledge his son’s presence, although he still didn’t look up. “Yes, Adrien? I am very busy, so make it brief.”

Adrien winced, taking a small half-step back. A sudden press of a tiny, furred head against his neck, accompanied by a small vibration of a purr, paused him. He took another deep breath and stepped forward again. “Father, I felt that I need to inform you that I am dating someone.”

The scritching of Gabriel’s pen over the paper suddenly halted, and Adrien found himself confronted by a firm look. After a moment, he sat up and pulled off his glasses, pulling a cloth out of a drawer and beginning to clean them. “Do I know her?”

Adrien swallowed. “Them, and yes.”

“Them?” Adrien broke out in a cold sweat as his father fixed him with a sharp glare. How was the man more terrifying than any akuma he had ever faced?

“Y-yes. I’m dating four people from my class. You’ve met Nino and Chloe, and I’m also dating Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Alya Cesaire. Marinette won one of your competitions.” He added, proud of himself for only stuttering slightly. “We’re all dating each other, with full disclosure and communication.”

In all his life, Adrien had never seen his father struck speechless. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. “Absolutely not.”

“What?”

“I do not approve of this. Do you realize the damage this could do to the company’s reputation?”

Adrien bristled, anger flaring white-hot inside him. “So you care more about the company than my happiness?” Normally he would be appalled at his own behavior, but at this point he was too fired up.

“You are all teenagers; the relationship won’t even last a week.” His father stated dismissively.

“We’ve been dating for months, Father! And I’ve never been happier than I am with them!”

“That is enough, Adrien. You will break things off, and there will be no more talk of this.”

“No.” Adrien jerked a little, startled, and then realized that that had, indeed, come out of his mouth.

Gabriel went still, fixing his son with a hard glare. “What was that?”

“I said No, Father. I’m tired of you denying me everything that makes me happy. I’m not some employee or pet to be locked up in this stupid house and trotted out to show off! I’m your son! And maybe things won’t last, but I at least have to learn how to make my own mistakes and how to have a real relationship!”

“Adrien, if you do not cease this at once and obey my orders-“

“I told you, no!” A small part of Adrien was screaming at him to stop, but at this point Hawkmoth himself couldn’t have done the job. “Stop pretending you care about my well-being when you don’t show it in any way but to try to keep me locked away from everything! I can’t do this anymore, Father!”

Gabriel stilled, and Adrien could have sworn that the temperature of the room dropped several degrees as he stood there, panting.

“… Very well. You may do as you wish.” Adrien shivered. He thought his father had been cold towards him before, but his tone now could have frozen flowing lava in an instant. “I will not have it said that I am unkind. You shall be left your trust fund and all of your pay from the modeling contracts you have been a part of. However, on your eighteenth birthday, you will no longer be welcome in this house, nor will you be entitled to anything else under the Agreste name. You are no longer my son, Adrien.”

With that dismissal, Gabriel turned back to his paperwork. On autopilot, Adrien stumbled out of the office, catching himself on the opposite wall as the door shut behind him. His legs suddenly refused to hold him any longer, and he sank to the floor, drawing his knees up to his chest and wrapping his arms around them.

Barely registering Plagg’s tiny form nudging up under his chin, Adrien put his head down and sobbed.

Chapter Text

“It’s alright, Chloe. You’ve got this,” Pollen whispered in her Chosen’s ear, pressing a tiny kiss to her cheek before zooming up to hide in her ponytail.

Chloe huffed and turned her nose up. “Of course I do, Pollen. It will work out just fine.”

Pollen wasn’t convinced. Chloe was constantly fidgeting with her purse, her shirt, and her hair. She wasn’t saying it in so many words, but the girl was freaked.

Pollen gently tugged at a lock of hair in reassurance. While Chloe would have to do this on her own, that didn’t mean she couldn’t offer moral support.

“… Thanks, Pollen,” Chloe whispered. The girl took a deep breath, schooled her expression, and pushed open the door.

Her father and her future stepmother looked up from where they were bent over something on her father’s desk, heads close in discussion.

“Daddy, I need to tell you something.” By now Chloe was doing everything she could to channel her inner Queen Bee, the same part of herself who stared down dangerous akuma and whose first thought was ‘I’m going to kick their ass.’ “I’m now officially dating.”

“That’s wonderful, baby girl! Do I know him?”

Chloe wasn’t able to completely repress a wince. “… Yes? Sort of?” She took a deep breath to brace herself. “I’m dating four people. They’re all classmates of mine.”

To be fair, there were few things that could strike the mayor of a city that regularly dealt with the results of a supervillain targeting someone’s bad day speechless. Chloe’s announcement was one of those things, it seemed.

Why was this so much scarier than fighting akuma? Oh, right, because it was generally considered a bad thing to beat up all of your problems outside of supervillains.

Akuma were a lot easier to deal with in that regard.

“You’ve met Adrien, of course. The other three are Nino Lahiffe, Alya Cesaire, and Marinette Dupain-Cheng. We have already been on a few dates-“ Honestly, mostly movie nights and cuddles, but Chloe was learning that they certainly had their place in a relationship. Still, it was very nice to be able to show off all of her loves to the world. “-and I felt that you deserved to know, Daddy.”

Her father finally found his voice. “Absolutely not, Chloe! It would be one thing if you were just dating another girl, that’s fairly accepted these days, but several people?! Did you ever think about what this would do to your reputation? My reputation? I’d never get re-elected if this got out! No, you’ll simply have to break it off.”

“She will not, Andre.” Chloe started, having forgotten the presence of her future stepmother.

The woman was standing there, arms crossed and one foot tapping. Elizabeth, or Beth as she preferred to be called, was American, and while her French was steadily improving from being immersed in it, she still wasn’t fluent yet. The woman was tall, even slightly taller than Chloe’s father, with long blonde hair that she usually kept pulled back in a ponytail.

In truth, Chloe had no idea how the two had met, or what her father saw in a woman who regularly wore flannel shirts and jeans. Ever since their introduction, she had been doing her best to avoid Beth.

“Chloe is you daughter, Andre.” Beth still had trouble with tenses sometimes, that Chloe knew, and apparently she hadn’t gotten past it yet. The tall woman prodded a finger into Chloe’s father’s chest. “Is you… job? Is that the right word?”

“I think you meant ‘responsibility’,” Chloe said faintly, more than a little stunned.

“Yes, thank you Chloe.” She turned back to Andre and continued her tongue lashing. “Is you responsibility to look after and support her! No matter what!”

“But… Beth… sweetie…”

“No ‘sweetie’ me! You support Chloe, or wedding is off!”

“I…” Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Andre caved. “… Yes dear.”

“Be happy for Chloe. She found people who make her happy, let her enjoy that.” Beth’s phone dinged, and she pulled it out to glance at the time. “Lunch break over, back to work. We talk more later.”

“I… yes.” Still a little stunned, Andre turned and left.

Beth let out a long sigh and turned to Chloe. “I know you do not like me. I do not blame you, I would not either. But know that I have you back.”

Chloe looked away, then jumped slightly as she felt a small tug on her hair from Pollen. “I… maybe we could… spend more time together?” She said hesitantly.

Beth gave her a bright smile. “I would like that.”

****************************

“It went better than I thought it would,” Chloe said as she continued to run the brush through Alya’s thick hair, gathered it into one hand, then began sectioning it. “Daddy freaked out, but then his fiancée, of all people, chewed him out for it.”

Marinette raised a brow, but carefully didn’t move from where Nino was brushing her own hair out. They had a little time before school started, so they were passing the time waiting for Adrien to join them by playing with each other’s hair on the school steps. “Really?”

“Yes.” Chloe flushed a little, even as she began braiding Alya’s hair. “We’re going shopping Thursday, actually.” She sniffed a bit, turning her nose up slightly. “The woman has no fashion sense whatsoever, so obviously I’ll have to help her out. Maybe I can convince her to rethink some of the wedding plans to something less tacky.”

“I’m glad it worked out okay for you. My parents teased me a little, but they were really supportive.” Marinette leaned back against Nino, giving a content hum at the feel of the brush running through her hair, and unable to hide a small blush as Nino ducked his head and pressed a kiss to her cheek.

“My family was betting on my love life.” Alya huffed, crossing her arms to sulk. Chloe poked her in retaliation as she ended up pulling her half-finished braid out of her hands, forcing Chloe to restart it. “Apparently my mom got closest, she got everyone but Chloe right. The only one who did bet on Chloe was my grandmother, who apparently liked the 99 to 1 odds.”

“My Mama doesn’t really approve, so she’s taking a wait and see approach,” Nino chimed in. “She just worries about me getting hurt.”

“Well, if we have anything to say about it, that won’t happen,” Marinette said, twisting a little and tilting her head up. Nino chuckled and obligingly leaned down to kiss her.

Alya was turning to look indulgently back at her boyfriend and girlfriend, when something caught her eye. She stilled, then tapped Chloe’s ankle where it was beside her hip. “Chloe? Is that… Adrien, walking to school?”

Chloe looked up from where she had been putting an elastic on the end of Alya’s braid, frowning in concern. “Yes. Which is-“

“Weird, because normally his dad insists on the limo,” Alya finished, frowning as well. “And he looks…”

“Something’s wrong. Really wrong,” Marinette murmured, just loud enough for the rest of them to hear it.

Later, none of them could have said who moved first, but a beat later all four of them were up and running towards their boyfriend.

Adrien looked up at the sudden sound of footsteps, took one look at the four, and his face crumpled.

Marinette was the first to reach him, just as his knees gave out, and she grunted as she caught the brunt of his weight. Nino was there a heartbeat later, helping her hold Adrien up as he started to sob into her shoulder. Then Alya and Chloe were there, and the four pressed in around Adrien, holding him from each side as his chest heaved with his sobbing.

“Shh… shh… we’ve got you, babe,” Nino murmured into Adrien’s hair.

It seemed an eternity before Adrien’s sobs died down, and Marinette wasn’t sure exactly how damp her shirt was other than ‘very’ by the end, but finally the blond sniffled and pulled back a little, going to wipe his face on his sleeve and being intercepted by a handkerchief that Chloe shoved at him. “S-sorry.”

“Hey, no, don’t apologize. If something had you reacting that way, it must be serious,” Alya said softly.

Adrien’s face fell, but he seemed to be all cried out for the moment. “My father… didn’t take it well. He told me I had to break things off.”

Chloe was just clearly winding up when Adrien held out a hand to stop her. “I told him no. And he… he…”

Marinette’s eyes widened as a chill settled into her chest. “Adrien, what did he do?”

Adrien gave a bitter, choking laugh. “He disowned me. Said I’d still get my trust fund and the money I made from modeling, but I’m no longer his son. He said I have to be out of the house the day I turn eighteen.”

All four of them were stunned speechless. Chloe recovered the fastest, and in all her years Marinette had never seen the girl that angry.

“He’s dead.”

“Chloe no, we’re not posting your bail,” Alya said automatically. Her expression had darkened just as much as the blonde’s, but her eyes were far more calculating.

“No one will know it was me if Queen Bee drops his ass off of-“

“No.” Alya cut her off. She was squeezing her phone so hard that Marinette could almost hear it creaking. “We’re not going to kill him. We’re going to ruin him.”

Honestly, Marinette had been half in favor of Chloe’s plan (no one hurt her Kitty like this), but Alya’s declaration got her attention. “What?”

Alya smirked, and there was a fox’s cruelty behind it. “We are going to ruin him and the entire Gabriel brand. We will beat him down until he is left with nothing, and we will leave him alive, because there is no point of beating an opponent like him unless he knows, every day for the rest of his life, that he lost.”

Slowly, a cruel grin grew on Chloe’s face. “I like the way you think, my dear.”

“And how are we going to do that?” Nino pointed out from where he was cuddling Adrien into his chest, soothingly running his fingers through his boyfriend’s hair. “We’re kinda still teenagers in school.”

“Oh, something like this will take a while.” Alya rubbed her hands together gleefully. “And we beat him at his own game. Between the five of us, we could totally build our own fashion empire and crush his.”

“… What,” Marinette said flatly.

“Look, Marinette is a good designer, and she’ll just get better with more practice. Adrien can model and give insight to the fashion world. Chloe knows business and politics inside and out. And Nino and I can handle advertising, social media, and any tech issues.” Alya was now angrily tapping at her phone as she made notes.

“You guys would… seriously…” Adrien stared at Alya, at a smirking Chloe, at Marinette who had a slowly growing grin.

“No one hurts you, babe.” Nino nuzzled Adrien’s ear, making him shiver. “If we have to create an entire fashion empire to get revenge on the jerk who did, then, well…”

Adrien gave a choked laugh. “You guys are ridiculous.”

“We’re your ridiculous.” Marinette grinned at him. “You in?”

“I… yeah. I’m in.” Adrien sniffled a little as the three girls dragged him and Nino into another group hug, and buried his face against Alya’s shoulder. Really, he didn’t know what he did to deserve these four, but whatever it was, he was one lucky cat.

Chapter Text

Marinette sighed and stretched, wincing a little as her back muscles twinged in protest. “At least that’s the last of them,” She said softly to Tikki.

“That was a lot of deliveries. It’s starting to get dark,” Tikki glanced up at the sky, one side taking on an indigo cast, the other still streaked with sunset’s glory.

“Yeah. Hopefully I’m not late for movie night. Come on, we need to get back.” With that, Marinette hefted her purse a little higher on her hip and turned to start back to the bakery.

Marinette had been Ladybug long enough that she had started to develop a ‘sixth sense’ for danger and being watched. Which was why, halfway back to the bakery, she didn’t dismiss the hairs suddenly standing up on the back of her neck as an overactive imagination brought on by lengthening shadows.

She didn’t stop, but did glance over her shoulder, only to find three guys in hoodies trailing after her.

Marinette swallowed hard and began to walk faster.

The guys picked up the pace.

Cold fear flashed through her chest, and Marinette faced forward again while breaking into a trot. It was wall to wall apartment buildings in this part of the city, no storefronts to find safety inside. If she could find an alley or something, she could duck in there and transform-

Marinette rounded a corner, broke into a run, then skidded to a halt. At the other end of the narrow street, the only outlet, three more guys were waiting. Her breath caught, and she glanced back, only to have her retreat cut off as the original three rounded the corner. Few windows, high up and none open, offered no hope of help.

Swallowing hard, heart thrumming in her chest like a bird frantically trying to escape, Marinette began backing towards a pile of assorted recycling on one side of the street, head whipping back and forth to try to keep the six in her sight as they began to close in.

A low chuckle made her start, and her hand automatically reached for her side, only to find just her purse, not a yoyo that could have served as protection and escape.

She couldn’t transform, couldn’t escape, no weapon-

Her groping left hand felt something solid and wooden, she gripped it and yanked-

A broken broom handle came free from the recycling pile, the end jagged and pointed. Marinette had little experience with a staff, but that didn’t stop her from swinging the makeshift weapon forward, cracking one of the guys over the hand and making him jump back with a snarled curse.

“Stay back!”

“Stay baaaaack.” One of the others mocked, and laughter broke out. Now that they were closer, she recognized them as the same group that had harassed them outside the movie theater.

“Look what we have here, boys. One of those sluts, all alone. Wonder what we should do with her.” A cold chill went up Marinette’s back, breath starting to come fast and hard in terror.

“Betcha she’s good with her mouth. Probably gets plenty of practice,” Another smirked, teeth glinting in the fading light.

“I say we find out, boys. Plus see if she’s not too used up to be a good, tight-“

“Bro…” One of the guys, the one that had been hesitant last time, was looking up at something above and behind Marinette’s head, face steadily going pale. Marinette couldn’t spare the attention to look.

“Oh what now-“

Something dark-purple-glittery shot past Marinette’s shoulder and sank into the broom handle, spreading like spilled ink.

I am Hawkmoth… sounded through Marinette’s head, all encompassing as her fear-terror-rage surged, washing out everything else. Her vision blurred slightly, edged by glowing purple.

“Shit! Run!”

Marinette barely registered pounding footsteps as she fell to her knees, then all fours, gasping for air. She closed her eyes as she heard Tikki fly out of her purse, fuzzily thinking that she couldn’t let Hawkmoth see the kwami through her eyes.

“Marinette-“

In return for the Miraculouses, I will give you the power to bring justice down upon those who would prey upon the weak. The voice was buttery smooth, dark like the finest chocolate, and even more tempting. Yes, vengeance, justice, clearly the police couldn’t do anything if jerks like those were free to roam around preying on young girls-

“NO!” Marinette shouted, twisting and jerking as she tried to fight off the control. A sudden shock of pain went through her, and Marinette barely realized she was screaming.

You WILL do this. Think of the vengeance you can wreak on those who tried to hurt you…

“I don’t… don’t want to… to hurt…” Marinette screamed again as another electric shock surged through, and collapsed against the concrete.

You WILL, Valkyrie. Rain down your justice over all of Paris, wipe out the corruption that stains the city!

Desperately, Marinette scrabbled at her earrings, managing to get the first off but nicking her ear, then the second. Dimly, she threw the bloodied Miraculous in Tikki’s direction. “Take to… take to…”

“But Marinette!”

Hawkmoth couldn’t get the Ladybug Miraculous, he couldn’t have her hand it over to him on a silver platter. “Get to… others… tell… tell them…”

SUBMIT, VALKYRIE!

“Tell them not to let me hurt anyone!” Marinette screamed as Hawkmoth’s corruption spread up her arm and washed over her.

Shaking, Tikki swooped down, scooped up the earrings, glanced at Marinette’s writhing form, then shot off in the direction of the bakery.

A long moment after Tikki cleared a roof, the corruption fell away, and the figure on the ground picked itself up. The last of the dying light glinted off of a winged helm, flowing cape, gleaming armor, and the cruel edge of a spear point brushing the ground.

“Vengeance…” Valkyrie whispered, then leapt into the air.

A sharp, hard laugh echoed over Paris and pursued Tikki into the night.

Chapter Text

“Man, what’s taking Marinette so long?” Alya huffed as she sprawled bonelessly upside down across one of the couch arms.

Nino winced. “Doesn’t that hurt your back?”

“Nope!” Alya grinned at him, still upside down. “The things that give us our powers have some side effects, for good or bad. One of the better ones for mine is I’m a lot more flexible.”

A long pause as the other three processed this.

“Okay, minds out of the gutter.” Alya huffed and crossed her arms, still upside down.

“Too late,” Chloe muttered, a faint blush dusting her cheeks.

Suddenly three phones went off simultaneously, and Adrien, Chloe, and Alya all said some words that would have gotten their mouths washed out with soap by Sabine if she hadn’t been downstairs in the bakery right then.

Alya sighed as she pulled out her phone and confirmed their suspicions. “Yup, Akuma alert. Nearby, too.”

“Stay safe, I’ll be waiting here until you guys get done.” Nino waved them off as the three heroes headed for the trap door to Marinette’s room, transforming as they went.

“We’ll see ya later, Nino.” Chat paused to give his boyfriend a swift peck before darting after Vixen and Queen Bee.

**********************

It didn’t take them long to find the akuma, at least.

“Ugh, I hate the flying ones.” Chat sighed as he leapt up onto a chimney, surveying the akuma floating in the air. A blood red cape with tattered edges whipped in the air behind her, complementing the gold and leather armor. A sharp spear rested almost lazily at the akuma’s side, and a winged helm obscured her face, other than a blue glow coming from the eyeslits.

“Not me. Gives me a chance to stretch my wings.” Queen Bee hovered in the air beside him. “Doesn’t look like this one is doing anything yet.”

“I wouldn’t say that, she seems to be looking for something on the ground,” Vixen replied as she slunk up next to Chat on the chimney.

“Well, so long as it’s not attacking people, I say we leave it be until Ladybug gets here. No point in picking a fight if we can’t purify the akuma.”

“Bets on where the akuma is?”

“Nothing really seems out of place. Maybe the cape?” Queen Bee shrugged. “Ladybug is better at figuring that stuff.”

Chat yelped as something suddenly slammed into his head, reflexively reaching up and feeling something small and wiggling and alive in his hair.

“A bird?” He blinked as he carefully gripped it and brought it down to see.

And then nearly dropped the tiny figure as what was clearly a kwami panted up at him, shaking and tired.

“Chat Noir! Thank goodness!” Queen Bee and Vixen crowded in, and the little kwami spotted them. “And Queen Bee and Vixen! I’ve been trying to find you!”

Chat froze, nose twitching as the scent of blood came to him, and a horrible realization set in.

The kwami was a deep red, with black spots. Exactly like a ladybug.

Furthermore, she was desperately clutching two earrings to her chest, blood smeared on them.

“Are you… Ladybug’s…”

“I am. My name is Tikki.” The kwami answered, big blue eyes dead serious.

“What happened to Ladybug?” Vixen whispered, and Chat knew that they were all sharing that same, horrifying feeling in their chest.

“She’s the akuma! She was attacked and Hawkmoth got to her because she was scared and angry!”

“Oh gods…” Vixen covered her mouth, and her next words came out muffled. “What could be so bad that it would get Ladybug akumatized?”

“That is for her to tell.” Tikki swallowed hard. “That’s not all.”

“There’s more? How can there be more?!” Queen Bee hissed, but there was no fight to it.

Not with the realization that it was their leader and friend floating in the air above the city.

“Ladybug… it’s Marinette.”

Chat really did drop Tikki in his shock this time, but thankfully Vixen got her tail underneath and caught the tired kwami.

“Wait. Wait wait wait.” Vixen brought her tail up to look Tikki in the eyes. “Marinette is Ladybug?!”

“… And she didn’t tell us?” Of the three of them, it was Queen Bee’s voice who broke first.

“I told her not to! I stressed on her from the beginning to keep her identity a secret!” Tikki took a deep breath. “I’ve lost too many Ladybugs who were careless with their identities. I didn’t want to lose one more. But never, never think that she didn’t want to tell you. She’s wanted to tell you since it was just her and Chat. Believe me when I say this. She has always wanted you three to know.”

Chat took a deep breath. “Thank you for telling us, Tikki. We’re still going to have to have a long talk with…”

All three paused, then turned as one towards the hovering akuma.

“… Guys? How are we supposed to save her if we can’t purify the akuma?” Vixen whispered.

“… Emergency times call for emergency measures.” Chat reached out and scooped up Tikki, carefully cupping her and the Miraculous she was holding against his chest for protection. “Vixen, Queen Bee. Keep her distracted if she starts attacking people.”

“Got it.” The two saluted, then turned back to watching the akuma as Chat bounded off.

“Where are we going?” Tikki asked, peeking through his fingers.

“To find a temporary Ladybug.”

******************

Nino yelped and fell off of the chair he had been lounging in as Chat burst through the trapdoor, panting hard.

“Nino! We need your help!”

He stared up at his superhero boyfriend, then at the tiny red and black thing that floated out from behind his hand to hover in the air.

“… What?!”

Chapter Text

“… Chat? What’s going on? And what the heck is that?!” Nino pointed shakily at the floating Tikki, still on the floor from where he had fallen off of his chair.

He jerked back as the little red and black thing floated closer. “I’m a kwami. My name is Tikki. Every Miraculous has a kwami bound to it, we’re the source of the powers they hold.”

Nino swallowed hard, then looked at Chat for confirmation.

Chat nodded. “It’s true. The kwami are fairly shy around non-Miraculous Holders, which is why you haven’t met ours. We try not to press the issue with beings who are literally thousands of years old and basically tiny gods.”

“… I’m talking to a god. Who is, like, six centimeters tall.” Nino muttered, rubbing at his face.

Tikki sniffed. “Six and a half.”

“Anyways, this is an emergency.”

Nino paused, then slowly lowered his hand. “… So, these kwami… I’m guessing they look a little like the animals you guys are themed after?”

Chat and Tikki nodded in unison.

“… So you’re the Ladybug?” Another nod from Tikki. Nino swallowed hard. “And if you’re here, that means that…”

“Ladybug was akumatized. She barely managed to get her Miraculous off and to tell me to go get help before Hawkmoth took her over,” Tikki whispered, drooping a little lower in the air.

“Nino, none of us can purify akuma. We can’t rescue her without a Ladybug. You’re the only one we trust to do it,” Chat added, ears splayed and tail tucked between his legs.

“Why me? Why not Marinette?! At least she has her ears pierced!”

Chat and Tikki shared a Look. “… About that…” Chat said slowly.

“Marinette is Ladybug.” When Nino’s jaw dropped, Tikki floated up in front of his face. “Before you say anything, I’m the one who told her not to tell any of you. None of the others knew, either.” Nino shot a look at Chat, and he nodded sadly. “I take responsibility for that. But right now, Marinette is scared and hurting and being controlled by Hawkmoth, and we need to save her.”

“But… I… I’m not a hero!”

Tikki gave a tiny smile. “Marinette said the same thing, at first. But right now she needs us, all of us, to be her heroes.”

“I don’t even have my ears pierced!”

They all paused, then Chat slowly looked at his hands. Specifically, the needle-sharp claws tipping his fingers. “Nino, do you trust me?”

“… I feel like if I say yes, then I’m going to be in a lot of pain.”

“We’re kinda out of options here.”

Nino winced, a sinking feeling in his gut confirming it. “… Just make it quick, okay?”

*************************

“I AM NEVER LETTING YOU NEAR A SHARP OBJECT AGAIN.”

“Tikki said I did just fine!” Chat protested, leading the way over the rooftops.

“Other than the fact that it hurt like a bitch and I am still bleeding.” Nino hissed back, the red and black of the Ladybug Miraculous glinting at the tops of his ears.

“You’re the one who said that if you had to get a piercing then it might as well be somewhere cool!”

“Uuuuugh what was I thinking, my mom is going to kill me.” Nino muttered, jumping after Chat across a gap and hoping that he’d be able to make it. He didn’t trust himself to try swinging around on the yoyo like Marinette usually did.

“Look, when we get there just hang back, okay? Vixen, Queenie, and I will do all of the fighting, we just need you to purify the akuma at the end. We don’t need a Stoneheart repeat.”

“Trust me, I am more than okay with letting you guys handle that stuff. Um… how do I…” Nino shot an uncertain look at Chat.

“Swing the yoyo at the butterfly, the yoyo will do the rest. Ladybug said once that she tries not to overthink it, as it would just mess her up.” Chat snagged Nino against his side and extended his staff to vault across a large gap. “And if anyone asks about you, we’ll say that Ladybug is out of town dealing with family stuff or something and you’re just filling in for her. You need a name, by the way.”

“Um…” Nino wracked his brain, trying to dredge up what little he knew about ladybugs. “Maybe just Scarabee?”

“Beetle? I guess it’ll work for a one-time name.” Chat shrugged.

“This coming from the guy who calls himself Black Cat,” Scarabee muttered as Chat set him down and they took off again.

“Hey, Ladybug asked and it was the first thing that popped into my head. By the time I could think of something cooler it had already stuck.” Chat leapt another gap, Scarabee hot on his heels. “I left them right… here…”

The two boys stopped, eyeing the decidedly empty roof and the distinct lack of akuma in the air.

“Where…” Scarabee shut up as screaming sounded from several blocks away.

“Bet you a kiss that’s where they are.” Chat shot him a wide, toothy grin before taking off in that direction.

Scarabee couldn’t help but laugh, nerves and adrenaline singing in his veins as he raced after. “You’re on, dude.”

Chapter Text

“… Wonder what she’s looking for,” Vixen mused, tail swaying idly behind her as she watched akuma-Marinette turn slowly in place in mid-air, gaze… well, probably focused downward, it was hard to tell with the helm obscuring everything.

Queen Bee wasn’t sure whether not being able to see Marinette’s face was better or worse.

“Probably whatever caused her to be akumatized in the first place, seems to be the usual motive for about half the akuma we go up against.” Queen Bee shrugged, trying not to be distracted by Vixen’s constantly moving tail, or a little further up for that matter.

Hey, it wasn’t her fault that her boyfriends and girlfriends were all so attractive. It was totally unfair, especially when they had to be professional and keep their hands to themselves.

Which had been made ten times harder lately whenever they ended up running around in skintight suits.

Totally unfair.

“Oh kwami,” Queen Bee swore as a thought occurred to her.

“What?” Vixen didn’t budge from watching akuma-Marinette, but she did swivel an ear in Queen Bee’s direction.

“You do realize that this means that it’s been Marinette under Ladybug’s outfit all this time.”

The two girls paused as they considered this, and Vixen made a low whine deep in her throat. “It is not fair that the girl is so ripped.”

“I know!”

Suddenly akuma-Marinette floated slightly higher, then arched down into a dive towards a street forward and to their left.

“Shit! She’s on the move!” Vixen darted over the roof’s peak, launching herself in a scramble to the next roof along, then yelping as warm arms wrapped around her waist and Queen Bee hauled the slightly taller girl back against her chest.

“I’m faster. Hold on.” Trying to ignore how Vixen was squirming in her arms, claws glancing off her suit as she tried to find a hold, Queen Bee flared her wings out wide and pushed them as fast as they would go to try and catch up with their quarry.

Queen Bee initially overshot the street and had to arc back around, in time to see akuma-Marinette cutting off a group of civilians that were trying to escape. Oddly, she seemed uninterested in other fleeing people, hyper focused on a group of young men.

Vixen stiffened in Queen Bee’s arms. “Those guys look familiar…”

Queen Bee took in a harsh breath as she registered the identities of the six men as the same ones who had harassed them all outside of the theater. “Think she’s still mad about that one time?”

“You who would prey upon lone girls wishing to walk the streets unafraid have brought judgement down upon your heads!” Akuma-Marinette’s voice rang out, echoing off the buildings with the undertones of power and rage.

A shock of cold shot straight through Queen Bee’s heart, and she gasped and had to set herself and Vixen down on the roof before they dropped straight out of the sky. In her arms, Vixen was stiff and vibrating with a barely heard growl. “Do you think…”

“… I think we’ve found the reason she was akumatized. And suddenly any sympathy I had for them is gone.” Vixen snarled, showing the fangs that her transformation granted her.

“… Want to watch her kick their asses?”

“By the kwami yes.”

Irresponsible and an abuse of their powers and vows to use them wisely? Probably.

But sometimes, Queen Bee mused as the screaming started (honestly, akuma-Marinette hadn’t even touched them yet), it took something a little more violent to teach a lesson than the law was willing to bring to bear.

“Now, feel the wrath of Valkyrie!”

Chapter Text

“Vixy? Queenie? What are…” Chat paused, staring at his teammates, who were sitting on a rooftop and cheering Akuma-Marinette on.

“Hey Chat.” Vixen glanced over, and grinned at the red and black-spotted figure with him. “Hey Nino, you look good.”

“It’s Scarabee right now,” He replied, glancing nervously at where Akuma-Marinette had tied up six civilian males and was hanging them upside down from a lamp post. She appeared to be talking, the tip of her spear slowly moving back and forth a foot or so in front of their faces as she circled them.

Oddly, she had two large ravens sitting on her shoulder, which were eyeing the men hungrily.

“She’s calling herself Valkyrie, so I’m thinking a Norse theme. She used a couple bolts from the spear to turn two pigeons into the ravens, which she’s calling Huginn and Muninn. Which, those are supposed to be Odin’s thing, not a valkyrie’s, but…” Vixen trailed off with a shrug.

“But Hawkmoth doesn’t really know his mythology that well,” Chat finished. “Which we learned from The Pharaoh.” He sighed. “And just great, more birds.”

“It also means that we should probably expect basically anything Norse-themed to be thrown our way,” Vixen added. “And I for one don’t want to be fighting The Midgard Serpent or a giant wolf or three tonight.”

“Tikki said before Nino transformed that the akuma is in her spear, so at least we know that. So, why, um…” Chat gestured at the six civilians being menaced by Valkyrie.

“Recognize them? You should, they’re the ones that were harassing us on that one date,” Queen Bee growled.

Chat started, taking a closer look. Yeah, that was them.

“… We think that they attacked Marinette and that’s what got her akumatized,” Vixen added solemnly. “At least from what Valkyrie said earlier.”

“So, we’re not exactly in a hurry to help,” Queen Bee finished. “She’s mostly just lecturing them anyways.”

“Um, guys?” Scarabee squeaked, gesturing at Valkyrie, who had just pointed her spear at something and shot a beam at it.

Chat guessed that maybe it had been a rat originally, but the rapidly growing creature quickly shed fur and limbs, turning long and sleek and scaled.

And big.

The giant snake reared up, dwarfing even the ancient Titanoboa as it loomed, scales dark under the street lamps as it flickered its tongue in and out, easily twenty-five meters long, if not more.

“Jormungandr, show them what happens to those who prey on the defenseless!” Valkyrie ordered.

“Okay, Vixen, you are no longer allowed to potentially give her ideas!” Chat gasped, gripping his staff as the giant serpent opened its maw and hissed, revealing rows of long, needle-sharp teeth, the front fangs dripping pale venom. “Queenie, distract Valkyrie! Vixen, see if you can confuse the snake! Scarabee, stay here. I’m going to try to get that spear.”

His teammates nodded, Vixen pulling out her flute as Queen Bee spread her wings, taking off and shooting straight at Valkyrie, orange smoke trailing after her as Vixen began to play.

Chat swallowed hard, gave Scarabee’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze, then bounded off after Valkyrie, who had just taken off chasing Queen Bee.

‘Please, Marinette. Please be okay in there. We’re coming to help you.’

Chapter Text

Scarabee was frozen, breath caught in a throat made tight by fear as he watched his boyfriend and two of his girlfriends leap into battle like they did it on a daily basis.

… Well, okay, they practically did, but that did nothing to help his nerves!

Chat gave a wild yowl as he leapt off the roof of a building, staff held over his head, and brought it down directly on the snout of the giant serpent looming over the tied-up civilians.

Okay, he knew it was petty, but he had been kinda hoping the snake would get to bite the assholes first. Even it if was irresponsible to sit back and let civilians get hurt.

Scarabee tensed up as the snake shook its head and hissed in pain, then turned and struck at Chat. The blonde was grinning, wide and toothy, and easily leapt out of the way, earning another pained hiss as the snake hurt its snout on the stone wall Chat had been standing in front of.

Satisfied that Chat had the serpent handled, he looked up in time to see Queen Bee flash by overhead, Valkyrie on her heels. He tensed as Queenie dodged a swipe of the spear, then paled as Valkyrie used the momentum of the swing to shoot a beam at something cowering in an alley.

“Fenrir, handle these pests for me!”

“Oh, crap baskets,” Scarabee swore under his breath as Valkyrie shot off after Queen Bee again, a flash of orange rushing by as Vixen went to help her teammate, already lifting her flute to her lips.

“Try to distract the giant wolf, and don’t get eaten!” She called over her shoulder.

Scarabee whimpered under his breath as whatever Valkyrie had hit continued to grow, stumbling out of the alley as it grew too large to fit, whines filling the air as a thick coat covered a surprisingly lanky frame.

Weird, Scarabee had always pictured wolves as being bulkier than that.

“Oh no…” He winced as the giant canine stopped growing, back level with the roof of the three-story building that Scarabee was currently perched on. A head lifted, yellow eyes opened and glowed in the night, and pale fangs gleamed as the wolf snarled.

And it was staring directly at where Chat was currently trying to get the serpent to tie itself into a knot from chasing him.

‘Change of plans, Nino! You’re going to have to help out after all!’ Scarabee jumped as Tikki’s voice suddenly sounded in his mind, swearing as he hit his head on the outcropping of stonework he had been hiding under.

“But-“

‘Well, if you WANT Chat to have to deal with both at once…’

“Okay, okay, I get it. What do I…”

‘Use your yo-yo. Don’t overthink it, just run on instinct. I’ll handle the rest.’

He took a deep breath, unhooking the yoyo and letting it swing down. It stopped automatically a few inches from the roof, and when he twitched his wrist, it began to spin in a circle and glow.

“… Okay, that’s pretty awesome.” Taking another deep breath, he focused on the wolf, which was beginning to growl, head low and teeth bared as it took one massive step forward.

Another flick of the wrist sent the yoyo sailing out, hooking around the wolf’s muzzle and taking several turns around before the end wrapped around the rest of the string, effectively binding it shut. He took a deep breath, then ran forward and leapt onto the confused wolf’s head, immediately starting to rub behind an ear bigger than he was. “It’s okay, big guy. Come on, no need to get into any fights today. How about we just sit down and relax?”

Apparently the wolf wasn’t in a listening mood, as it tossed its head, making Scarabee yelp and take handfuls of thick fur, then started to rub a paw over its face, trying to scrape the yoyo string off. Scarabee hissed as he held on tight, refusing to let it budge.

“Calm down! Easy! Easy! It’s not hurting you!” A small note of panic had entered his tone, he knew it, but Scarabee kept rubbing behind one of the giant ears. Another toss of the head had his grip slipping, and he yelped as he sailed up into the air, only to be jerked back by the yoyo string and land sprawled across the giant wolf’s muzzle.

Dazed on his side and confused on the wolf’s, they eyed each other warily. Scarabee swallowed hard, but reached out and rubbed a gloved hand over the spot between the giant wolf’s eyes, making it cross them to try and see. “Easy, big dude. Easy. See, no one’s hurting you. That’s a good boy.”

Scarabee guessed that the wolf used to be a stray dog, as slowly, the giant tail began to wag.

Grinning widely, he carefully sat up, straddling the giant nose as he kept rubbing between Fenrir’s eyes. “See, that’s my good boy! Such a good boy! Yes you are! Yes you are!”

The giant wolf’s tail was wagging so hard now that it was slamming into the buildings on either side of the street, and he was beginning to wiggle in glee, giant whines filling the air.

“Good boy! Can you sit, good boy? Siiiiiit.” Another whine, and then the massive hindquarters slowly lowered to the ground. The wagging tail began sweeping cars out of the way, but at least the buildings weren’t being damaged anymore. “Good booooy! Such a good boy!”

“Hey, so the snake is all tied up now and… Scarabee, what are you doing?”

Scarabee looked over at the nearby roof and couldn’t help a wide, sheepish grin at how utterly poleaxed Chat looked. “Can I keep him?”

“… They do not make pooper scoopers big enough.”

“That’s what dump trucks are for, bro. Or… wait, no, that kind of construction equipment with the big shovel on the front. Whatever it’s called.” Cautiously, Scarabee loosened his grip on the yoyo string, putting some slack into what was wrapped around the wolf’s muzzle, then a reflexive flick had it unwinding and the yoyo itself snapping into his hand.

The only change was that the wolf’s jaw dropped and he began to pant happily, eyes nearly shut in bliss as Scarabee kept petting him.

“Okay, you’re officially magic. Between Chloe and a giant wolf, I think we can all just say that you’re a beast master or something.”

A distant “I heard that!” came, and Scarabee snickered as Chat paled and tucked his tail between his legs.

“Well, I’m screwed as soon as she gets ahold of me. And not in the good way.”

“Take her shopping, dude. You know she forgives easy if you just know which buttons to push.”

A moment later, Queen Bee arrived, Valkyrie conspicuously no longer chasing her. “Vixen’s got her chasing illusions of me. We can’t just keep reacting to her, we have to go on the offensive and get that spear away from her.”

“Um, guys…” Vixen crept out of the shadows, wincing. “I don’t think my illusions are going to keep her busy long.”

“You’d be correct.” Scarabee went cold as Valkyrie floated down, panting a little but expression unseen under the helm.

All four of them froze, eyeing the akumatized Marinette warily.

Suddenly the akuma’s slight frown deepened, and she sounded confused when she spoke again. “… I know you. I know… I know…”

“… Mari?” Chat’s voice was small, and tight, and scared. “Mari, are you in there? It’s us. You know us.”

“I… I…” Valkyrie’s voice turned soft. “I know you.”

“That’s right, baby. It’s us, Mari. We’re here to help you.” Vixen spoke next, creeping forward a little.

“Vixie…” Valkyrie whispered, then jerked back slightly as Hawkmoth’s sign flashed purple before the glow of her eyes coming from the helm. Scarabee couldn’t hear what Hawkmoth said, but Valkyrie frowned and shook her head. “No. I won’t hurt them!”

A sudden crackle of what looked like purple electricity flashed across Valkyrie’s body, and she screamed as she dropped out of the sky.

Queen Bee yelped, diving forward and catching Valkyrie, lowering her to the street carefully. The rest of them leaned in, Fenrir even lowering his head to sniff worriedly at the akuma.

Valkyrie jerked away from Queen Bee, but didn’t attack, instead heaving and clawing at her own armor with a hiss. “No! I will not hurt them for you! Not them! Never them!”

“She’s fighting him,” Scarabee whispered, then flinched back as another crackle came, accompanied by another shriek of pain.

Valkyrie lay on the ground panting, Hawkmoth’s sigil glowing and pulsing angrily in front of her helm. Slowly, Chat approached and knelt beside her, hesitantly resting a hand on her shoulder. “Mari. Mari, listen. I know you’re in there. We want to help you. We need your spear.”

The purple glowed brighter, and Valkyrie shook her head in confusion, gasping as another shock ran through her, making Chat yank his hand back with a curse and a wince.

“Mari. Mari, please. Please. Come back to us,” Chat whispered, pleadingly. “Come back to us, princess.”

Slowly, fighting another shock that tore another scream from her throat, Valkyrie loosened her grip on the spear and lifted it, placing it in Chat’s hands.

“That’s our girl.” Chat gently squeezed Valkyrie’s shoulder, then lifted the spear and tossed it to Scarabee. “Do your thing!”

Scarabee caught the spear and broke it over his knee, grabbing the yoyo as he had seen Ladybug do several times as a dark butterfly fluttered out of one of the spear halves, swinging it out and catching it.

A flash of energy went up his arm as he reeled the yoyo back in and caught it, settling into the weapon. Curiously, he tapped the top and it popped open, releasing a pure white butterfly that began to fly off.

‘Now just throw the yoyo into the sky and call for Miraculous Ladybug. I’ll do the rest.’ Tikki told him.

Scarabee nodded and did so, smiling as several streams of ladybugs shot out and began racing to fix the damage.

He then yelped as the giant wolf he had been standing on disappeared, leaving him to drop to the ground next to a dirty, ragged stray dog, who panted up at him adoringly with a doggy grin.

The last thing to be fixed was Valkyrie herself, and his breath caught as the ladybugs swirled around her, leaving behind an exhausted Marinette.

With a groan, she pushed herself up enough to sit, then looked up as they gathered around and winced. “I’m sorry.”

Chat was the first to move, kneeling beside Marinette and scooping her up. “Don’t be. Come on, let’s get you home. We’ll talk there.”

Scarabee took a step after, prepared to follow, when a whine brought his attention down to the stray dog. His heart twinged, and he sighed. “Sorry guys, I can’t just leave him. He fought off the control too.”

Scooping up the (admittedly big) dog like he weighed nothing and holding him up so that he was dangling from his arms, Nino leapt after the others as they all took to the rooftops. “My mom is going to kill me, but he deserves a home for being such a good boy.”

“Well, I do know one thing.” Vixen shot him an amused grin. “Your ‘he’ is a ‘she’.”

Chapter Text

By the time they made it to Marinette’s balcony, she was beginning to shake and sniffle in Chat’s arms. Vixen glanced between all of them, then gave a decisive nod.

“Chat. You and Queenie comfort Marinette. Scarabee and I will get the dog settled up here, we can’t bring her into the house until she’s been washed and de-fleaed, especially not with the bakery on the first floor.” She shot Scarabee a reassuring look. “She’ll be fine up here, don’t worry. We’ll get her some blankets and food and water, and she can sleep under the awning in case it rains. You stay up here with her, I’ll go grab what she needs.”

The other three nodded, and Scarabee set the dog down, sitting in one of Marinette’s chairs and ruffling her ears to keep her occupied. Vixen opened up the hatch to Marinette’s room, slipping down the ladder easily and registering Chat jumping down carefully after as she headed for the trap door to the rest of the house.

Her worry about where to find old blankets and having to hunt for them was appeased when she spotted Marinette’s parents bustling around the kitchen, making dinner. Sabine looked up and shot her a warm smile.

“How did the fight go, Alya?”

Vixen started, tail lashing in her shock. “Uh…”

“Oh, don’t be surprised. You three weren’t being very subtle when you suddenly stopped coming around in costume and started dating Marinette normally.”

“… Please don’t tell anyone,” Vixen squeaked.

“Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us,” Tom said, wiping his hands clean and moving to give Vixen a one-armed hug, then a reassuring pat to the shoulder. “All of you.”

“Besides, someone has to look after all of you. I don’t know how you got these abilities, but giving them to teenagers and expecting them to go out and fight with no support system in place for between fights?” Sabine gave a very unladylike snort. “I’d like to give them a piece of my mind.”

“Ladybug’s mentioned a Guardian before…” Vixen said weakly, then winced, ears laying back and tail tucking between her legs. “Actually, um… here’s the thing… Marinette was tonight’s akuma, so…”

Now Tom and Sabine looked genuinely alarmed. “What could have happened to her to cause her to be akumatized?”

“We’re… not entirely sure yet. Chat and Queenie are with her upstairs right now.”

Tom and Sabine shared a look. “… How did you purify the akuma without Marinette as…”

Vixen winced. “Nino stepped in to do that. I think he’ll be glad to give Marinette back her… powers,” she said carefully, not sure how much was safe to tell them.

Having adults who knew what you were up to as a superhero was going to take some getting used to.

Speaking of Nino... “Um, that’s part of why I’m down here. Nino kind of… picked up a stray dog that got dragged into the fight. We don’t want to bring her inside because of the bakery, that and she could really use a good bath and flea treatment, so we were just going to get her settled on the balcony with some food and water and a couple blankets.”

“Thank you for thinking ahead. Tom, can you help her find the old blankets? I’ll put some leftovers in a bowl that the dog can have. All of you are staying for dinner, right? Don’t bother coming down, we’ll bring up plates for the five of you so that Marinette doesn’t have to get up.” Sabine started rummaging through the refrigerator. “Just make sure to call your parents if you plan to spend the night. We trust you kids to not get up to anything, or at least to use proper protection if you do.”

“Mrs. Cheng!” Vixen squawked, tail lashing in agitation, and tried to ignore the sudden howling laughter in her head, courtesy of Trixx.

“What?” The small woman looked far too innocent as she dumped some rice, steamed vegetables, and chicken in broth into a bowl, another filling up with water in the sink. “I’m not ready to be a grandmother just yet, so it’s important to practice safe-“

“Okay it’s been great talking to you thanks for being so understanding but I have to get back to the others!” Vixen yelped out hurriedly as she snatched up the blankets Tom had just pulled out of a closet and two bowls, juggling them for a brief second before darting up the stairs to Marinette’s room as fast as she could.

Tom and Sabine shared an amused look, then broke down into laughter. “No need to scare them off, sweetie!”

“Come on, what’s the fun of Marinette having four boy- and girlfriends if we can’t tease them all?” Sabine shot her husband a wicked grin full of mischief before pulling out more ingredients for dinner.

Five hungry teens ate a lot, especially when four of them were superheroes.

************************

Vixen glanced at the trio on Marinette’s bed on her way back up, and her ears pinned to see that Marinette had her face buried in Chat’s chest, soft sobs shaking her body. Chat and Queen Bee were pressed as close to their girlfriend as they could get, and Queenie was hissing softly into her burner phone she kept for use as Queen Bee, clearly angry but not willing to yell in case she upset Marinette further.

The fox-themed hero flicked an ear in Chat’s direction, and he looked up to murmur softly. “Delayed reaction hit once she came out of shock. Queenie’s on the phone with the police, she’s pulling every string she has to get those guys in lockup.”

Probably just the word of one girl wouldn’t be enough in most places, but at this point Paris had a special dispensation for akuma-victims, and any akuma that was furious enough to go right after the reason for their akumatization instead of the local heroes were more likely to be believed.

That, and as heroes they were used to giving reports to the police for more serious akumatization reasons.

Sad as it was, Marinette wasn’t their first victim who had been akumatized because they were attacked, and those akuma always, always went after the ones who wronged them first.

“I’ll check the submission for the Ladyblog later and write up an article then, if there’s any video of Scarabee I’ll put that the official story is Ladybug was out of town and needed someone to fill in for her,” Vixen replied, then leapt up through the roof hatch onto Marinette’s balcony.

It didn’t take them long to get the dog settled, although they had to hand feed her because she wanted to scarf down all of the food at once, and neither of them wanted her getting sick because she ate too fast.

“What are you calling her?” Vixen asked as she finished tucking a blanket around the dog with Scarabee.

“Marinette already named her,” he chuckled, ruffling the dog’s ears before following her to the hatch. “Fenrir works just fine. Besides, she doesn’t know it’s a boy name.”

“Fair enough.” Vixen shrugged, carefully climbing down the hatch and waiting for Scarabee to finish closing it behind him before worming her way into the pile on the bed. Scarabee hesitated, and she snorted before using her tail to yank him after.

Queen Bee tapped ‘end’ on her phone call and huffed. “Okay, we’ll have to give our statements tomorrow suited up, but the police will be on the lookout for the assholes. Thankfully they already have profiles from the last incident, so they know who they’re looking for.” With a tired sigh, she handed the phone to Chat, who set it on Marinette’s nightstand, then dropped her transformation.

Vixen and Chat did the same, and Alya looked over at Scarabee. “It’s easy, just want the transformation to end.”

He nodded, and one wash of red sparkles later, a tiny red and black figure shot over to Marinette, smacking into her cheek hard enough to make an audible sound. The girl jumped, pulling back from Adrien’s chest, then brought both hands up to cup Tikki and bring her around, where the kwami leaned in and rested both tiny hands on the end of Marinette’s nose.

“I’m sorry…” Marinette whispered, then swallowed and repeated it a little louder, voice hoarse. “I’m so, so sorry, guys. I wanted to tell you, but-“ She stopped as Tikki laid a tiny hand gently between her eyes, then leaned in to press forehead to forehead with her Chosen.

“I already explained that it was me who kept urging you to keep your identity secret,” Tikki said. The little kwami took a shuddering breath, then continued. “I was wrong. Maybe if I hadn’t been so insistent, tonight wouldn’t have happened.”

“Mari?” Adrien reached out to gently tuck a loose lock of hair behind her ear. “What exactly happened? For you to be…” He trailed off, unable to finish.

Marinette cupped Tikki a little closer and closed her eyes, taking slow and deep breaths to steady herself. “I was on my way back after my last delivery. They cornered me in a street where I had no way out, and nowhere to duck into so I could transform.”

Alya hated, hated to ask, but she had to. “Did they…”

“They didn’t get to me.” Marinette gave a wry look. “I hate to say it, but Hawkmoth… actually saved me. They ran as soon as the akuma showed up.” She shook her head. “I tried to fight the possession, but all I could do was get my Miraculous off and send Tikki to go find you guys. After that… it’s kind of a blur.” She swallowed. “Did I… Did I hurt anyone?”

Chloe wrapped her arms around Marinette, pulling her over a little so that she could spoon her girlfriend’s side. “No. You scared the crap out of those guys, and we had to deal with a couple of giant animals, but you didn’t hurt anyone.”

“Actually…” Nino moved up to press a kiss to Marinette’s cheek. “It was you who defeated… well, you.”

Marinette blinked, confused. “What?”

Alya smiled, pillowing her head against Marinette’s belly. It was a little awkward, arranging five people on Marinette’s bed, and Nino had to wrap an arm around Adrien to steady him so he didn’t fall off, but all of them felt the need to be close to her. “When you came up against all of us… you stopped. You recognized us, and you told Hawkmoth that you wouldn’t hurt us for him.”

“You handed over your akumatized item yourself,” Adrien finished, lifting a hand to gently stroke Marinette’s hair. “I’ve never seen an akuma fight off Hawkmoth’s control like that.”

“You’re amazing,” Nino murmured, then frowned a bit and scooted down slightly so that Adrien was less in danger of falling off, as his arm was aching already from the awkward angle it was in. That put him next to Alya, both of their lower legs hanging off of the bed, and let Adrien scoot up a little further to curl around Marinette’s upper body. “Okay, if we’re going to do five-person cuddles, we seriously need something bigger.”

“We can use my room or Adrien’s,” Chloe said, burying her face in Marinette’s hair and voice a little muffled. “One of us can carry you up, Nino.”

“Stairs are a thing, guys,” Nino said dryly.

“Kind of hard to sneak you into my room through the house itself,” Adrien pointed out.

“Guys…” Marinette sighed, tension slowly leaving her at being surrounded by her boyfriends and girlfriends. “Back on topic.”

“Yes, My Lady,” Adrien purred, joining Chloe in nuzzling into Marinette’s hair, and thus missing her blush at the endearment.

Alya nuzzled into Marinette’s stomach. “I’m not going to lie, I at least am a little upset that you kept your identity from us… but I understand why you did it. I just wish we didn’t have to find out in the way we did.”

Marinette swallowed hard, throat scratchy from her earlier crying, then stroked Alya’s hair. “I’m sorry. I really did want to tell all of you, but…”

“I’ll take the blame for that,” Tikki said, floating up to rest on Marinette’s temple. “Now, if you don’t mind, Nino? No offense, you’re a wonderful boy, but Marinette is my Chosen.”

“Oh, right.” Carefully, Nino took off the earrings and passed them back to Marinette. Confused, he paused and then fingered the small holes at the top of his ears. “Hey, they’re healed up.”

“Consider it a thank you,” Tikki said. “To save you the grief of waiting for them to heal on their own, since you only got the piercings because of the situation.”

A small voice piped up from Adrien’s shirt. “Since the ladybug is out of the bag, can the rest of us come out now?”

Tikki sighed and rolled her eyes. “Oh, fine.”

Suddenly, three blurs shot out, one from Adrien’s shirt and the other two from Alya and Chloe’s hair. All three tackled Tikki at once, knocking her off of Marinette’s head and onto her cat pillow, the lump of which resolved into four kwami having one big group hug, with Tikki at the center.

Nino blinked. “Wait, all of you have little buddies?”

“They’re bonded to the Miraculouses,” Adrien explained. “The little black cat is Plagg. Honestly, he’s a little shit who likes the stinkiest cheese he can find, but…” He shrugged and grinned, reaching out to run a fingertip over the top of Plagg’s head.

“Trixx is the fox. She likes playing pranks, so don’t be surprised if she pulls a few on you. They’re harmless ones, at least,” Alya said.

“Pollen is my kwami. Horrible at telling the truth, but…” Chloe shrugged and gave a wry grin.

Marinette blinked. “Huh, Tikki’s always been sweet and helpful with me, if pretty cautious.”

“Ugh, you are the lucky Ladybug, you’re the only one who has a kwami who isn’t a jerk,” Alya huffed.

All five teenagers burst into laughter, the last of the tension and adrenaline from the fight fading away.

Marinette’s laughing was interrupted by a large yawn, and she buried her face into Adrien’s chest with a sleepy hum, unable to tell whose hand began stroking her hair but not caring. “Thank you. All of you. For being there for me.”

“We’ve all got each other’s back,” Nino said softly. “It’s why we all work so well together.” He yawned as well, and shifted to better pillow his head on Marinette’s stomach, next to Alya.

“Gotta love the adrenaline crash,” Alya mumbled.

Chloe gestured for her phone, and Adrien passed it to her. She muffled her own yawn as she tapped at the screen a few times. “I set an alarm, we can all take a short nap before dinner. Marinette’s parents will wake us up if it’s ready before then.”

“Sounds good,” Adrien said as he set the phone back on the nightstand, then pressed in closer.

Yeah, they’d probably have more things to talk about after dinner, but they were finally, finally all on the same page.

Half an hour later, Tom opened the hatch to Marinette’s room, and smiled at the sight of five out cold teens piled onto Marinette’s bed.

At least he managed to get a picture before he had to wake them all up.

Chapter Text

The weather was trending towards summer, and the sun was beginning to hold a little of that beating heat that it would blast Paris with in just a month or so, but up on her balcony there was a nice breeze keeping things a pleasant temperature. All of the windows in the house below were open to enjoy the nice day, and Marinette could hear the sounds of Alya and Adrien puttering around in the kitchen. From the occasional smells that drifted past, it looked like Adrien’s current cooking lesson was going well.

“Can you pass me the spade?” Chloe asked. Marinette found it next to her knee and handed it over. Her girlfriend frowned, tip of her tongue sticking out the side of her mouth in concentration as she dug up a flower that had died, then widened the hole to plant a replacement.

Marinette had just decided that Chloe was too damn adorable when she did that and was leaning in to kiss her when her phone went off. She sighed and looked up, seeing a tiny red and black form separate from the kwami cuddle puddle on a cushion on her chair. Tikki lazily floated over to where her phone was sitting on the table next to the chair and checked the caller ID.

“It’s Nino. Want me to answer it for you?”

“That would be great,” Marinette answered, continuing to repot the plant she was working on.

Tikki swiped to answer, then tapped to put Nino on speakerphone.

“Mari! Please tell me you’re alone!” Nino squawked through the phone, stress making his voice squeak slightly.

Marinette couldn’t completely hide her smirk, although she did her best to keep it to herself. “Just me, Chloe, and the little buddies.”

“Marinette there is a tiny floating talking turtle in my room what do I do?!”

Marinette’s smirk widened as four small heads perked up, and a chorus of “Hi Wayzz!” came from the kwami.

“Hi everyone! He’s freaking out a lot for someone who has met kwami before,” Wayzz’s voice came from the phone.

“It could be worse, Marinette threw everything in reach at me when we first met,” Tikki sympathized.

“Marinette why is there a kwami in my room?!”

Chloe was shooting Marinette a suspicious look, which wasn’t helped when the girl’s smirk widened yet again.

“The Guardian felt you did a good job of being Ladybug for a day.” Well, after Marinette had a long talk with him, anyways. “Enough to make it a full-time thing.”

“Marinette, I’m not a hero like you guys!”

Marinette snorted softly. “I felt the same thing at first. I even tried to slip the earrings into Alya’s bag. If I can be a hero, so can you. You’ve already more than proved you’re up to it.”

“I… I…” Nino stuttered, lost for words.

Marinette hummed thoughtfully. “Patrol with us tonight. See what it’s like when we’re not in a fight.” She paused, then went on. “Nino, we’d love to have you with us. And this way, the five of us… we’re all in this together. In every way.”

“… Alright. I’ll patrol with you guys, then decide.”

“For what it’s worth, Nino…” Chloe piped up. “You’ll be a great hero.”

“… Thanks, Chloe. I’ll see you guys soon.” A few seconds later, the call ended, and Chloe immediately shot Marinette an amused look.

“You had something to do with that.”

“Of course I did, but Nino can’t prove that.” Marinette grinned. “The Guardian was ready to retire, anyways.”

Chloe laughed, leaning in to kiss her.