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Chocolate for Love, Chocolate for Hate

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When most people think of Valentine’s Day, what comes to mind is a sappily sweet occasion to watch awkward love blossom between cute amateurs, or else a sickeningly cheesy day that would be better off removed from the calendar. Kim would shudder and change the subject, and Alix would stick a finger down her throat and gag, while Rose would coo and Marinette would nervously approach Adrien, who would respond with a wholehearted hug and kiss. But some people would remember this one as something a little different...

Exactly a year since Dark Cupid humiliated the resident mean girl and six months from the day Le Grand Paris hotel shook with the wretched scream of a blonde heiress’ discovery that a foreign antique among her precious hair accessories was infested by a yellow chibi fuzzball, Hawk Moth - still bitter about the anniversary of another failure and the overall existence of the commemoration of a saint (better known as Valentine’s Day) - released his first power duo, a couple who were each thoroughly convinced of the other’s infidelity.

In any case, Chloe had never been particularly interested in Valentine’s Day. The concept that people had set aside a day to profess their affection for one another seemed farcical and generally beneath her (though she had on multiple occasions attempted to use the event to pursue her feelings for her childhood friend). All efforts proved fruitless as his heart smoothly slipped from her fingers to the clutches of the baker’s daughter, and hence Chloe had begun to despise the observance. So when she saw the news report on a pair of baddies storming the city, she considered ditching the whole operation and spending the blasted day alone in her suite with some choice romance DVDs, ignoring the annual horde of revoltingly pink cards specially addressed to her. Finally, she abandoned the 4’ screen and released herself from the hotel, hot on the woman’s trail after she left the hotel room’s windows in shards scattered all over the floor.

Queen Bee chased both villains to the Eiffel Tower, where Ladybug had finally realized that the akuma might be a bigger priority than her civilian boyfriend, and Chat Noir, too, soon discovered there wasn’t very much left for him to do. A fuming yellow-and-black-clad girl surrendered the violet butterfly that had surprisingly survived her death grip. Ladybug purified the akuma, thanked her female comrade and swooped away with a cheerful “Bug out!”
Later that night, surrounded by the woes of unrequited lovers and empty boxes of truffles, it finally occurred to Chloe that this was the first time she had been able to arrive at the scene of an attack without a certain purple pest meeting her there. An appropriate dose of triumph followed this realization that she had finally shaken off that ludicrous peacock, but at the same time, she felt off, slightly shaken by the unusual shift in the custom she had grown used to over the past half-year. Chloe decided she would care more about his absence later, electing to bask in the glory of finally having championed her adversary before admitting she felt affected by the lack of his presence and the pure fun of having a competitor.

Unfortunately for her, the victory was short-lived, as was revealed to her the very next day. The school day passed by with a great deal of annoyance on her classmates’ part - apparently that emo redhead had been taking free commissions for the special occasion, and Rose, Mylene and Marinette were gushing enthusiastically over theirs. Even Kim was thanking the artist, excitedly showing his picture to Alix and Max, who smiled appreciatively. Chloe dismissed them (internally, since Pollen would have her head if she insulted them at this point) and spent the rest of school tuning out the romantic tales everyone seemed to have to tell about the previous day. It was enough to make the blonde gag, and she couldn’t have been happier when the bell finally rang and she was free from more stories about cheesy dates and rejected crushes. Of course, since her day certainly wasn’t bad enough already, guess who was waiting for her as the city’s akuma alarms blared and citizens ran every which way in desperate panic. I’ll give you a hint, it wasn’t Ladybug.

“Well, well, well, if it isn’t her Royal Highness. How may I serve you, oh great Queen,” he gave a mock bow before hopping back up and flashing her a smile. “Miss me?”

“You wish,” Queen Bee rolled her eyes, squaring up. Paon however, was still leaning against the wall in a stereotypical flirty way. She resisted the urge to smack that cheeky grin off his face and put her hands on her hips. “Where were you, anyways?”

“Why do you ask? Wanted to spend the day with me instead? Can’t say I blame you,” he winked and the temptation to hit him intensified.

“Whatever. I was just wondering why you turned up the opportunity to get the miraculous. I’d have thought that two villains would be the perfect chance to grab them and give them to Hawk Moth. Isn’t that what you’re trying to do?”

“Well, partly, yeah. I mean, I can’t exactly keep my miraculous if I’m not following my master’s orders, can I?” he asked unconcernedly. “But also, Hawk Moth wasn’t really even trying last time.” He stepped away from the wall and closer to Chloe, blocking her view of the raging akuma behind him. “Apparently he really hates Valentine’s Day and just wanted to akumatize someone because he had nothing better to do. I was busy, anyways. Really, though, are you sure you didn’t miss me?”

“Please. I was celebrating,” she affirmed airily. “It’s so much easier being a superheroine when a moron isn’t there to distract me every single time.”

“But you were thinking about me, weren’t you,” Paon teased.

“Paon, see, Valentine’s Day is a day to spend with the people you love. So what on Earth makes you think that I’d waste it thinking about someone I hate? And what’s got you so cheery?” she asked as an afterthought. Paon was ubiquitously annoying, but he wasn’t usually this cheeky.

“Nah, I’m just really happy it’s finally over. What better way to spend the day after Valentine’s Day with your worst enemy?” he remarked.

“Uh, aren’t we supposed to be fighting right now?” Queen Bee questioned, gesturing to her combat-ready pose and fisted hands.

“I just thought I’d give you this,” he revealed a box of cheap chocolate. The discount store sticker was still stuck on the cover - a passive-aggressive way of expressing his regard for her. Well, the bee-themed superheroine decided, two can play at this game.

She snatched the box from his hands, tore it open, and selected the best truffle for herself. Paon raised an eyebrow, reaching for the second-best.

“Ah, ah, ah,” she chastised, wagging a finger in his face. “Mine.”

Paon chuckled and grabbed a handful, stuffing them into his mouth before Queen Bee held the box up high. He jumped for it, but she smiled smugly and raised herself to her tiptoes so the shorter couldn’t reach.

“I hate you so much,” he told her, still reaching for it.

“I hate you more,” she smirked as he gave up, crossing his arms and sticking out his tongue.

“Not as much as me,” he promised, punching her arm weakly.

She grinned at him through a mouthful of dark cherry cordial, and they commenced a chase from building to building for the sweets.

Ladybug and Chat Noir stood atop city hall where a de-corrupted civilian and a white butterfly had recently vacated the area, watching the chase.

“They’ll never change,” Chat smiled, before pulling out his own box of significantly more exquisite truffles, offering them to his Lady. She accepted, popping one into her mouth and leaning into his chest as they lowered to the platform. He wrapped an arm around her waist and she sighed contentedly.

“I love you, Kitty,” she whispered.

“I love you too Bugaboo,” he murmured, and the two sat together sharing their chocolate and watching another pair of lovebirds who were still in denial of their obvious attraction, racing across the rooftops of the City of Love.