Alya never thought she would live to see the day that akuma would be seen as less of a threat and more of an annoyance.
Like most sane human beings, the first akuma that terrorized Paris put the fear of God in her. Stoneheart actually kept Alya up that night, flashlight pointed at the window and an oversized rolling pin she stole from Marinette under one arm if Hawkmoth decided to step to her.
But at some point, the people of Paris had to adjust to the fact that, on occasion, their city would be besieged by otherworldly creatures.
It was a fact of life no one really questioned anymore. More often than not, rampaging akuma were met with eye-rolls and sighs of annoyance from Parisians who simply shuffled into the nearest building, and waited for Ladybug and Chat Noir to show up and put the creature down so they could go about their days. To be blunt, the sheen of living in a super-powered city had worn off, to the point that akuma attack were like random apartment fires; unfortunate, but nothing out of the ordinary.
And unfortunately, nothing to cancel school over.
BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
The klaxon blaring jerked Alya out of her pre-lunch stupor, knee banging on the desk as Miss Bustier just glared up at the newly installed Akuma Alarm.
“Alright, I suppose we’ll have to get to presentations after this superhero nonsense is settled,” Miss Bustier sighed, closing her textbook and pressing a button underneath the desk that lowered heavy iron bars over the classroom windows. It didn’t take long for Mayor Andre to update Chloe’s school’s security features, though Alya privately wondered what metal bars were supposed to do against supervillains. Alya figured it was some kind of political ploy to make it look like he had the situation in hand just in time for election season; she had to admit, the headline Mayor Andre Installs Security in Schools! read better than Mayor Andre’s Head Firmly Lodged Up His Own Rectum!
“Looks as though we’re all accounted for…except for the usual suspects,” Miss Bustier sighed, eyes falling on the seat next to Nino. “Does anyone know where Mr. Agreste and Ms. Dupain-Cheng are?”
“Have you checked the broom closet?” Nino suggested, ignoring the snicker from Kim and Chloe’s disgusted scoff. Alya glanced at the empty seat beside her with a small snort and roll of her eyes; ever since the akuma drills started, Marinette and Adrien had a supernatural talent for disappearing off to some quiet corner for some alone time, usually before the alarm even sounded. She didn’t know what part of being besieged by horrifying monsters prompted the urge to make out with her new boyfriend, but Alya was glad that Marinette’s love trials had finally born some fruit.
Frankly, Marinette’s romantic hysterics were beginning to grate on Alya, and she was glad that things had quieted down…which meant that Alya had more time to devote to her first and truest love.
“Psst,” Alya said, leaning back and glancing up at Nino. “Is the fight close by?”
“Across the street, according to Twitter” Nino muttered, glancing at his phone behind his textbook. “Been going on for a while; want a distraction?”
“As much as you can give me,” Alya said, sliding out of her seat and preparing to run. “Can you run Marinette’s bookbag to her on your way home? She left it behind when she went to go suck face with your boy.”
“Not a problem,” Nino chuckled, casually sliding his book closer and closer to the edge of the table.
As soon as Nino’s textbook hit the floor with an echoing slam, Alya was off like a shot, creeping out the door and down the hall as quickly and quietly as she could. She was sure Miss Bustier saw her, but her teacher had about as much respect for the sanctity of akuma drills as Paris had for Hawkmoth. As long as she caught the footage and got back before class started up again, Miss Bustier wasn’t going to bust her chops too badly; the fact that Adrien and Marinette got to use akuma as an excuse to suck face scot-free was a testament to that.
Jogging quickly down the hallway and ducking below any classroom windows, Alya made her way to the stairs leading to the roof, taking them two at a time as her eyes were glued to the Akuma tag livefeed. As Ladybug and Chat Noir got better at their jobs, keeping the Ladyblog stocked with content became harder and harder. Often times, she would arrive on the scene with just enough time to catch Ladybug cleaning up and the duo disappearing over the rooftops.
Surprisingly, pictures of Ladybug and Chat Noir’s fleeing backsides weren’t as much of a hit with the people of Paris as Alya thought they would be. She needed some quality footage of something other than blurry superhero butt before she lost Ladyblog followers to the slew of ham-and-egger fanblogs that were looking to dethrone Alya as the Peter Parker of Paris.
Bursting through the door to the roof, Alya blinked in the afternoon light, spinning around wildly for any sign of the commotion. For a moment, she thought the fight was still going on, then a wave of fluttering ladybugs washed over the roof, mending the patches as a single white butterfly floated away over the school building.
“Damn it!” Alya swore, kicking the air-conditioner with a resounding clang. Another fight and another missed opportunity to get some much needed Ladyblog content. At this rate, she would almost be better off reblogging low-res Twitter videos other people had captured; at least then the RSS feed would be filled with something more than whatever she managed to capture at the time.
Sighing dejectedly, Alya turned to head back down the stairs when a flash of red caught her eye. Freezing, she watched Ladybug swing up onto the roof, one arm wrapped around the waist of a frazzled and rattled looking Adrien.
“You okay?” Ladybug asked, setting Adrien down on the roof as gingerly as she could as Alya ducked behind the air conditioner, pulling her phone back out and zeroing in on the pair.
“Fine, fine,” Adrien said, dusting his pants off. “Got a little too close for comfort, that’s all.”
Hello front page content, Alya thought to herself, snapping a few quick shots before switching to video. Weeks of Ladyblog drought were about to be lifted with a video feed of Ladybug rescuing one of the biggest heartthrobs in Paris.
“More than a little close,” Ladybug said, brushing a strand of hair off Adrien’s shirt in an oddly familiar way. If she had known Adrien was such good friends with Ladybug, Alya might have hit him up for a more in depth interview or something. “Your butt nearly got singed by that fireball!”
“Well, something told me you’d save it before it got too crispy,” Adrien said, eyebrows waggling a little bit. “I know how much you like it~”
Ladybug laughed, and before Alya could guess what it was, Ladybugs hands snaked around the sides of Adrien’s jeans, firmly grasping the butt she apparently had saved from certain fiery destruction.
Alya blinked, throat drying and ears ringing as her camera caught her heroine openly groping Adrien Agreste’s backside, torn between a desire to run and a desire to rugby tackle Ladybug away from Adrien. How dare she make a pass at someone after saving their lives! It was…trashy! Not to mention creepy and so un-Ladybug that Alya’s skin crawled. Where did Ladybug get off groping civilians after pulling them out of harm’s way?
“I guess I do,” Ladybug said, and before Alya could vault the air-conditioning unit and crane kick Ladybug in the head, Adrien leaned in, cupping the sides of Ladybug’s face, and kissing her full on the mouth.
And just like that, Alya’s rage had a fresh target to sink its teeth into.
As soon as Ladybug’s figure disappeared from the rooftop, Adrien turned around and nearly had a heart attack as he came face to face with an exceptionally furious looking Alya.
“Ah!” Adrien squeaked, nearly jumping as he could practically feel the killing intent radiating off Alya. “A-Alya? Wh-when did you get h-”
“What…the…hell?!” Alya spat, brandishing her phone at Adrien screen first so he could see the still image of him kissing Ladybug blown up in horrifying high definition.
“I-I-I-I-I,” Adrien stammered, eyes darting between the photograph and Alya’s burning expression. “I-It’s not what it l-looks like! Sh-She totally kissed me! I didn’t-”
Adrien let out a squawk like a giraffe dying of esophageal cancer as Alya swiped right, showing a picture of Adrien hoisting Ladybug up off her feet, legs wrapped around his waist as he pressed her against the wall.
“Oh, my mistake,” Alya sneered. “I supposed this is just a picture of her ass grabbing your hand then!”
“I know…I know this looks bad,” Adrien said, taking a deep breath as his face threatened to overheat. “But-”
“I’m not interested in your half-assed excuses!” Alya said, jabbing her finger into Adrien’s chest. “Does Marinette know?”
“Well…th-that’s kind of a complicated story,” Adrien laughed anxiously, fidgeting as Alya pressed her finger harder into his chest.
“Un-complicate it,” Alya hissed, brandishing her phone as she turned towards the stairwell. “Today...because all of Paris is gonna find out about this tomorrow.”
Alya left him with that and a cold, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Oh god…I’m gonna get Gwen Stacy’d.”
Marinette hadn’t taken two steps out of the broom closet before Adrien cornered her, nearly collided with her, and gently guided her back into the chlorine scented confines where she had transformed a moment before.
“Whoa there, tiger,” Marinette chuckled, hands gripping Adrien’s lapels as he shut and locked the door behind him. “If you wanted a little more private time, all you had to do was ask~”
She leaned in to kiss him again, and instead met his fingertips as Adrien raised a hand to block her lips. His frazzled expression muffled the thrill of being tucked away in a broom cupboard with her boyfriend, and even in the dim light she could see that something was terribly wrong.
“Alya…is going…to kill me,” Adrien panted, hands gripping Marinette’s shoulders in terror.
“…you didn’t forget to do your part of the history project, did you?” Marinette sighed. “Because if you did-”
“She saw us,” Adrien said emphatically. “Kissing!”
“…gonna have to be a little bit more specific,” Marinette said, shaking her head. “Was that this morning? Or after first period? Or after lunch? Or after the-”
Marinette let out a pained squeak like a seal suffering from tonsillitis, hands covering her mouth as her eyes flew open. “Nooooooooooooooo,” she moaned. “Noooooo nonononononononono!”
“I know!” Adrien hissed.
“Tell me she didn’t document it,” Marinette pleaded.
“It’s Alya!” Adrien groaned. “She got live video and half an album of photos she’s gonna post on the Ladyblog tomorrow!”
“She’s gonna-” Marinette trailed off. “…did you see them?”
“What, the photos?”
“Yeah did we look…good at least?” Marinette asked, scratching the back of her neck.
“Yeah, our super-hot makeout session is going to be broadcasted on the internet for everyone, including Hawkmoth, to see!” Adrien whimpered, sliding down the door and burying his face in his knees.
“Okay, okay, relax,” Marinette sighed, tugging Adrien back to his feet. “I will talk to her and stop her from running those pictures.”
“How?” Adrien asked.
“I don’t know…maybe she’ll buy the fact that you’re dating both of us?” Marinette suggested.
“As…nice of an image that is, I think any excuses you give are gonna get chalked up as you covering for my flagrant indecency,” Adrien said, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Besides, Alya’s lifelong dream has always been to-”
“-expose a high ranking sociopolitical figure in a scathing journalistic expose,” Marinette sighed, shaking her head. “Well…maybe Ladybug can get through to her.”
“I’m pretty sure Ladybug is number two on her hit list after what happened today,” Adrien said.
“Well, what’s she gonna do; clobber me in the head with the cricket bat she keeps in her closet?” Marinette snorted, rapping her temple. “Supersuit, remember?”
Adrien chewed on his lip. “You know what you’re gonna do?”
“No, but when has that ever stopped me before?” Marinette chuckled, leaning in and pecking him on the lips. “My entire M.O. involves flying by the seat of my pants and hoping things turn out okay.”
“Good that you’re experienced then, because it’s the seat of my pants that’s on the line,” Adrien said, shaking his head. “I knew costumed-makeouts were going to bite us in the butt one of these days.”
“Heyheyhey, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here,” Marinette said, holding a hand out. “Costumed makeouts are a pillar of our relationship and we both know it.”
“You’re right,” Adrien sighed, scratching his cheek. “Couldn’t hurt to be more discreet about it.”
“I’ll remember that next time an alley cat lands on my balcony,” Marinette chuckled, tweaking Adrien’s nose. “I’ll take care of everything; promise.”
“I’m sure you will,” Adrien said with a small sigh as Marinette unlocked the door. “Wanna hang out tonight?”
“Can’t,” Marinette said, pausing as she turned to leave long enough to fix Adrien with a rosy-cheeked smile and a small wink. “I have to cat-sit for a friend.”
“Cat-sit?” Adrien said, watching her go for a long moment before letting out a soft, “Ohhhhh.”
Alya’s stomach churned unpleasantly on her walk home, darkly glowering at the sidewalk as she struggled to make sense of the waves of conflicting emotions that bubbled up inside her.
Angry? Check. Disgusted? Check. Indignant? Double-Check. Betrayed?
…maybe just a touch.
Much as Alya believed herself to be a realist, she was a romantic in so many ways; one didn’t found a superhero fan-blog on pure journalistic cynicism. Alya wouldn’t have been so heartbroken by Ladybug’s homewrecking if she hadn’t expected so much better of her. Ladybug was a superhero for the love of God; she should have been above trifling in other people’s relationships for a cheap thrill.
And then there was Adrien.
Part of Alya still didn’t want to believe that Adrien was capable of being such a selfish prig, even if she had the photographic evidence to back it up. He had been nothing but boyfriend-of-the-year material since he and Marinette had suddenly announced their relationship almost six months before, coincidentally coinciding with the first verified Ladynoir kiss just a few days earlier. Alya still had a hard time computing the possibility that someone who treated his girlfriend like the sun that lit up his heavens would go behind her back and apparently carry on with a superhero who was also in a relationship.
A small, petty part of Alya thought Adrien deserved whatever Chat Noir was going to do to him for putting hands on his lady.
Slamming the front door behind her, Alya barely said a word to her mother as she trudged up the stairs towards her room, phone heavy in her pocket as she mulled over what to do with her purloined pictures. Running them on the Ladyblog had been her immediate, gut reaction, but doing so would humiliate Marinette on a city-wide level. Marinette didn’t cry often, but when she did she was an ugly crier who burned through tissue boxes mopping up all the liquid that poured out of her face.
And then there was the problem of Ladybug’s partner; did Alya have a responsibility to let him know his girlfriend was sucking face with some rich little daddy’s boy? Even if Adrien never came clean, Chat Noir didn’t deserve the public shaming and disillusion of the only force keeping Hawkmoth from running roughshod over the city. Moreover, did Adrien cheating on Marinette warrant getting Cataclysm’d right in the face?
(It did, but Alya didn’t know if she could be responsible for it.)
With a frustrated grumble, Alya threw her door open, tossing her bookbag onto her bed-
-and pegging Ladybug square in the face with it.
Alya let out a startled yelp as Ladybug tumbled backwards, off the bed and out of sight of her mother who stuck her head in the door.
“Everything alright, honey?” Marlene said, craning her head into Alya’s room as she moved to block any part of Ladybug that might have been sticking out.
“Y-Yeah, everything’s fine!” Alya said with a small laugh. “I just saw a big disgusting bug on my bed, but I managed to take care of it, okaythanksloveyoubye!”
Alya closed the door in her mother’s face, locking it as she turned around in time to see Ladybug slowly getting to her feet, rubbing the spot where the bookbag collided with her head.
“Did that hurt?” Alya asked as Ladybug stood up.
“Not really,” Ladybug said. “J-Just kind of a reflex that doesn’t-”
“Just kidding; I don’t actually care,” Alya spat. “What the hell are you doing here?! How did you even get in?!”
“Wh-Who, me?” Ladybug chuckled. “W-Well, I was just in the neighborhood a-and I saw your window open, and I-I thought I’d stop in and check on my number one-”
“Okay, I know you saw me and A-Adrien being…intimate on the roof after the battle,” Ladybug said, pressing her fingers together. “But-”
“…how do you know I caught you and Adrien making out?” Alya said, crossing her arms. “That wasn’t more than an hour ago, and Adrien left school right after it happened.”
Ladybug paled, blinking owlishly as she appeared to be struggling to come up with an answer. “I…uh…th-the ladybugs told me!”
“The…ladybugs told you?” Alya said, squinting suspiciously. “You can…talk to ladybugs can you?”
“N-Not just ladybugs,” Ladybug said, crossing and uncrossing her legs. “Pillbugs…small beetles…I-I think I talked to an aphid once…which is weird because I think ladybugs eat-”
“Funny, I thought Adrien would have tattled to you after I threatened to expose your sad little charade for the whole city to see,” Alya snorted humorlessly.
“…yeah, should have gone with that,” Ladybug muttered under her breath.
“Look, the…the ladybugs clued me in about the talk you had with Adrien,” Ladybug said, standing up off her desk. “I know you’re planning on running that image on the Ladyblog, but-”
“Why? Don’t you want the world to know that you’re sucking face with Gabriel Agreste’s son?” Alya sneered. “Wouldn’t that just be killer for your reputation?”
“I know what we’re doing is…wrong,” Ladybug said with a wince. “But if you run that picture, Adrien’s going to be in serious, serious danger!”
Alya knew this, of course, and as much as she thirsted for Adrien’s blood for breaking Marinette’s heart like this, she also didn’t want to see him dead at the hands of Hawkmoth’s akuma…or Chat Noir’s jealous rage. No amount of infidelity was worth actually killing him over…but Alya didn’t much feel like telling Ladybug that.
“Adrien, Adrien, Adrien!” Alya hissed, stamping her foot. “That’s all anyone cares about! What about Marinette, huh? Do you even care you’re macking on her boyfriend or can your Lucky Charm patch up the homes you wreck too? And what about your own boyfriend?! Or was he just some kind of placeholder until you could snag what you really wanted?”
To Alya’s surprise, Ladybug had nothing to say in her own defense, opening and closing her mouth several times to no avail, so Alya filled the silence with a curt, “I don’t know why but…I thought you were better than this.”
Ladybug didn’t look nearly as abashed as Alya thought she should have; in fact, as she delivered what she thought was a pretty scathing burn, all Ladybug could seem to do was smile ever so slightly, almost…proudly?
“I’m sorry that I, uh, disappointed you,” Ladybug said, swallowing her smile as Alya glared at her. “I just…didn’t think you’d be so defensive about your friend.”
“Best friend,” Alya corrected with a small snort. “What, you thought I’d let this slide because I’ve staked my journalistic career on you?”
“Little bit,” Ladybug muttered. “Does…nothing I’ve done earn m-me a little credit?”
“…not where Marinette’s concerned,” Alya said quietly. “You may be number one in everyone else’s book…but you’re always going to be number two in mine.”
Alya expected Ladybug to do any number of things; beg, bribe, blackmail in an effort to keep the pictures of her kissing Adrien from leaking to the press…but she didn’t expect Ladybug to immediately burst into tears.
There were few situations more awkward than watching a superhero start sniffling in your room, knowing what was going to happen but being powerless to stop a full-blown superpowered blubber-fest that was unfurling before her. It was like finding out that she cared so much about Marinette was all it took to push her over the edge as tears slowly started to spill out of the corners of her eyes.
“Oh…oh God,” Alya groaned as Ladybug started sniffling, face crumpling and nose running as she tried to hold her tears back. “Are…you gonna be okay?”
“I-I’m f-fine,” Ladybug sniffled, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve. “It’s j-just…M-Marinette is l-lucky to have a f-friend who c-cares so m-much about her. Sh-she’s r-really…she’s really…”
Whatever shred of hero-worship Alya felt for Ladybug withered as she saw Paris’ greatest champion reduced to a blubbering wreck before her, crying like she was watching a compilation of animals waiting for their dead owners to come home. Casting about for something to offer her, Alya slid a tissue box across her desk with a small sigh.
“Are you sure?” Alya sighed, more exasperated than sympathetic as she reached out to pat Ladybug on the shoulder. “Because you’re leaking like a bargain bucket over…here…”
Something about Ladybug’s pathetic display of emotion struck a chord in Alya who, up until this point, had failed to see all the pieces laid out before her. She had struggled with the seemingly contradictory image of Ladybug and Adrien cheating on their respective partners, something about the whole situation irking her in a way she couldn’t quite explain. But Ladybug’s tears triggered something, and as Alya watched tissue after tissue soaked and wadded in the trash, she realized three fundamental truths at the exact same time;
1) Adrien was a good, good boy and someone who would never cheat on his girlfriend.
2) Ladybug, likewise, was a very, very good person, and likewise unlikely to cheat on her boyfriend.
3) The fact that Alya saw Adrien and Ladybug making out didn’t change the fact that neither of them were the kind of person to cheat on their partners.
Which could only mean that they weren’t actually cheating...which could only mean one thing.
Alya stumbled backwards a little, falling onto her bed with a small ooph as she stared wide-eyed at the girl before her. Ladybug paused her sniffling to glance up at Alya, taking in her best friend’s reaction with confusion that slowly gave way to mounting horror that seemed to cut through the waterworks.
And yet, in spite of the shock, Marinette supposed she always knew that Alya would be the first person to figure it out on her own.
“Oh…my…god,” Alya breathed, mouth hanging as her finger slowly extended in Ladybug’s direction before drifting over to a framed picture of Alya and Marinette.
“No!” Ladybug said quickly, shaking her head. “Nononononononononono!”
“Adrien wasn’t cheating, was he?” Alya said, smile slowly spreading across her face.
“No, h-he’s a super big cheater!” Ladybug stammered. “Total creep! So am I; tell the whole city about-”
The speed with which Alya crossed her bedroom and picked the babbling superheroine up in a stomach squeezing hug surprised Ladybug into silence. She could feel how big Alya’s grin was by how her cheeks strained against hers, but almost as soon as she realized her friend’s delight, Alya pulled back from the hug, ineffectually slapping Ladybug on the shoulder. “Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“I…” There was no point in lying anymore; to do so would be to insult Alya’s intelligence and strain their friendship even further. “…what gave it away?”
“Couple of things, but mostly the fact that no one blows through tissues like you do,” Alya snickered, poking her best friend in one of her stomach spots.
“Ugh, this is why I don’t cry in front of other people,” Marinette chuckled, rubbing her eyes with her palms. “I can’t be the only ugly crier in Paris, can I?”
“Well, no, but,” Alya trailed off with a small sigh. “Well…I guess I should have known Adrien wasn’t the cheating type.”
“I’m happy that you took my side over his anyway,” Marinette said, leaning against the desk. “Sorry for the waterworks…it’s just…”
Marinette trailed off with a bashful chuckle. “I guess…it’s nice to know there’s someone who likes me more than…Ladybug.”
“Uh…correct me if I’m wrong here, but aren’t you Ladybug?” Alya chuckled, bumping her hip against Marinette’s as she saddled up beside her.
“Yeah, but…you ever wonder if someone likes you for…you or just what you can do for them?” Marinette sighed, tilting her head back as she looked up at the ceiling.
“…you’re not worried about that with Adrien, are you?” Alya asked.
“No…it’s just…well, he fell in love with Ladybug-”
“Who is you,” Alya interjected.
“-so…bleghhh, it’s not something I think about all the time, you know,” Marinette sighed, scratching the back of her neck. “Just…nice to know for sure that there are people who prefer Marinette to Super Polkadotted Spandex Marinette.”
“Hey,” Alya said, turning to face her costumed best friend with a soft smile. “I liked Marinette a hell of a lot longer than I liked Ladybug. And even though I don’t have to pick between the two of you…I’d still choose you-you over super-you any day of the week.”
Alya never thought she’d be in a position to make Ladybug cry twice in one day, but the moment Marinette’s eyes welled up, Alya was quick with the last of her tissues. “Okay, okay, I’m out of paper, so unless you can conjure some more with your superpowers, you gotta stop crying in my room.”
“S-Sorry,” Marinette said, waving her hands in front of her face and hopping from foot to foot in a uniquely Marinette gesture. “It’s been kind of a day.”
“Yeah, I bet,” Alya said, pulling out her phone. “I’ll…delete the pictures of you and Adrien making out. I promise.”
“Well…” Marinette said, scuffing her foot on the bedroom floor. “Can you like…oh…I don’t know…”
“I sent you the pics,” Alya sighed, shaking her head with a small smirk. “You and Adrien photograph pretty well, even if I wanted to throttle you when I took them.”
“Thanks,” Marinette said, scratching her cheek with a small laugh. “I owe you one.”
“Funny you should mention that,” Alya said, pulling out a piece of paper with a toothy, vulpine smile. “What would you say to a personal interview?”