After her second outing as Queen B, Chloe was a changed person, that said it was still a really slow change. She would slide back into her old habits from time to time but would usually be reminded that as a hero she should probably not be bullying anyone. After a couple weeks a few people started to guilt trip her into taking a more responsible course of action with comments like, “that’s not very Queen B of you, Chloe,” a couple teachers would occasionally chime in with similar words but less sarcasm and Jean-whatever-his-full-name-was would always differ to what Mr. Cuddly would want from her. But Marinette, Marinette was always asking what ladybug would think of how she was acting, and not only when she slipped into her bullying habits to trip her up but also on her best days to make her feel proud about living up to what her idol would have wanted. The more she thought about it, however, the more she wondered why Marinette specifically would default to Ladybug. She didn’t seem to particularly be a fan of the hero, at least never to the extent of Adrien, or Alya, or even herself. The closest ties she could remember was this dolls she supposedly made that Puppeteer used as an akuma. She might have actually seen on of those, come to think of it, but the plush toy that she had picked off the ground that Marinette had insisted was hers didn’t look very much like a doll version of Ladybug? It had the red and the spots but everything else was wrong, in fact, she thought it looked a little more like Pollen...? It actually looked a lot like Pollen? And in and instant, Chloe knew that she’d stumbled across something she wasn’t supposed to know, and that school tomorrow was going to be an awkward nightmare.
She didn’t get too much sleep after that, thoughts kept her awake like; it just had to be the perfect little fashion designer her mother had wanted instead of her, or no wonder Ladybug never smiled for pictures with her and of course ladybug knew it wasn’t just Marinette’s fault her class didn’t like her video, heck she’s even seen Chloe’s Ladybug outfit. Oh god! Marinett had seen her dressed as ladybug. And a spiral of similar realizations kept her up late into the night. The next morning she was back into her swarm of thoughts; some worrying what Ladybug would do if she found out Chloe knew and if she should tell her, some just linking random memories and further confirming that Marinette was more than just her rival at school(and for her mom’s attention), but most were just her trying to figure out how she felt about either half because she had such different and now mixed opinions of both.
Regardless of how she felt she knew for certain she needed to at least start to smooth things over with Marinette. She decided would say something as soon as she got to school. Ok, so maybe not that soon because Marinette wasn’t exactly there yet... how was she always late? It’s like twelve steps from her door?.. Adrikins might know! He thought that they were friends, only friends, luckily?.. or not?.. was she supposed to be rooting for Marinette’s hopeless crush now too? Anyways, Chloe decided to go ask Adrien what he might know. “Oh, Adrikins..,” she said mustering her most innocent and melodious voice she could.
“Hey Chloe,” he said turning to face her, “What’s up?”
“Do you know where Dupain-Cheng is?”
“No, not at the m- wait? You’re not planning something are you? That wouldn’t-“
“-Wouldn’t be very ‘Queen B’ of me, I know, I’ve heard it! No, I had something I wanted to tell her. It was important.”
“I was just gonna say that it wouldn’t be nice but that works too, what did you need to tell her? I might be able to pass it on.”
“No, I think this need to be from me. Thanks though.”
“Yeah? Ok well she’s usually with Alya by the front door or by one of the benches if she’s here at all this early, do you want help finding her?”
“Yeah, she might actually stick around to hear me out if you’re there” They didn’t find find Marinette before class started and by then Sabrina had arrived and started following her like a lost puppy. But once class started and Marinette came bursting through the door sputtering out some quick excuses and shuffling to her desk the main thing on Chloe’s mind was keeping herself from blurting out anything in class. When the bell finally did ring she was thankful that Adrien had managed to hold his little group of friends near the door to wait for her. “Adrien said you had something for Marinette?” Alya asked somewhat sharply.
“Hey, at least hear her out,” Adrien defended,”Go ahead Chloe.”
“Alright so this was sorta on my mind for a while now but I recently decided it needed to be said. Marinette,” she waits to confirm that she has Marinette’s attention, “I came to realize that I should apologize for a lot of what I’ve done and said towards you in the past.. I know you weren’t the only person who I’ve hurt but you were the main one... and-“
She was beginning to ramble so Marinette interjected with, “Thank you Chloe, I’m sure Ladybug would be proud of you for taking responsibility”
“Wow? really! Is that what ‘Ladybug’ thinks?” Chloe snapped back with a hint of sarcasm.
“Hey-“ Adrien began to shout before Chloe could begin to apologize.
“-No, it’s alright, that was probably a lot for you to bring forward all at once. I’ve probably also responded to your actions poorly in the past as well so why don’t we both apologize and leave it at that for the time being”
“Thanks.. that’s very Ladybug of you,” replied Chloe, but noticing a small hint of shock from Marinette she hastily continued with, “You know? Like how people say I’m more like how people feel about Queen B when I’m responsible but I can’t say someone else is Queen B... because that’s me!”
“... well ok then? I’m gonna get to class but thanks for that Chloe.” Marinette says as she begins to leave, Adrien and the rest of them in tow.
“That was pretty nice of you Chloe” Sabrina said trying to be reassuring.
“I guess so..” The rest of the day for Chloe was mostly just going through the motions and trying not to call Ladybug anything except “Marinette”. Proud as she was that she had managed not to slip up or reveal her excitement about what she knew she didn’t want to try her luck with another long drawn out encounter like that last one, Ladybug would never forgive her if she let that secret get out to everyone. So she sat there all day, quietly reminding herself in her head to call Ladybug by Marinette, careful to never mix that up at school.
By the time she got home she had it pretty well drilled into her head not to call her Ladybug in school and so she had decided that for the rest of the night she’d just go on up and hang around her room and maybe rest if she could get her head to stop buzzing about all the situations of the past that now took on an entirely different context. Questions popping up like whether or not Ladybug actually wanted to save her all of those times or was she disappointed when she had to rely on Queen B for help. Things like that that had been popping in and out of her head all day but lingered now that she had the time to actually think about them. She was so lost in thought that she barely notices that her phone received an alert that Alya was live-streaming an akuma. She’d never admit it but she knew Alya was her best source if there was an akuma and historically that was always something Chloe had to look out for, presently too, but not always for the same reason. When she did check it she just made sure she wasn’t on the akuma’s hit list and set he phone aside to lose herself in thought again. And she did a pretty good job of drowning everything out, so much so that when she heard a knock at the door she didn’t even notice which door it had been she just yelled, “Come in..” And so Ladybug opened the balcony door and ran over to where Chloe was sitting to offer her the Miraculous of the Bee but before she could get a word out Chloe looked up from and greeted her saying, “Oh. Hey Marinette, what’s going on?”
It took Chloe almost a minute to figure out why Ladybug had responded to her greeting by screaming, mumbling “no” like forty times, and then locking herself in Chloe’s private bathroom. She recognized bits and pieces of what was going on from the little panic attacks she’d seen Marinette randomly have at school but never this severe. She began asking questions rather than just banging on the door when she realized what had happened.
“Marin- Ladybug? Do you need anything?” She heard Marinette reply with something but it was such a jumbled mess of stuttering, mumbling, and rambling that she couldn’t make out much more than her own name and maybe Adrien’s or Alya? “I haven’t told anyone yet?! I was sorta freaking out about this before you came in!” She shouted through the door to the response of an exasperated screech. At that, Chloe knew she wasn’t the person needed for this situation so she tried to remember how Marinette usually got through her little bouts of panic... “I’m gonna try to call Alya! Is that Ok!?” She waited a few seconds for a response and then she dialed the number but with no luck, she kept getting getting sent to voicemail so she quick went to check the Ladyblog on her phone to see if the livestream had any clues about what was happening and after loading the video feed and seeing the delay she heard Alya commenting; “hold up I’m getting a call... from?... CHLOE!? NOPE! BYE! Back to reporting” ... this led Chloe to the general conclusion that she would be unable to call Alya. She tried texting Adrien quick but no response there either so she figured he must be busy with something else. After thinking about it for a moment she collected herself and shouted through the door as calmly and as sternly as she could muster, “Ladybug! Listen to me, I’m gonna need you to slide the miraculous under the doorway so I can ask Pollen what I’m supposed to do. Because I don’t know either and I’ve been freaking out like you all morning”
“You knew this morning?!” She heard through the door.
“Last night, actually. Please give me Pollen! I have no idea how to get through this!”
“Give me a second...”
And as we head her miraculous begins to be nudged under the doorframe she touched it to bring out Pollen as soon as possible. So with a blinding flash of light Pollen arrived with a, “Hello my que-“
“No time for that!” Yelled Chloe, “I accidentally found out Marinette is Ladybug and I need help!”
“Don’t tell people!” She heard from the door.
“I’m not” she yelled back
“Who’s Marinette?” Asked Pollen
“She’s Ladybug” Chloe explained.
“She hasn’t met me yet! She doesn’t know why this is happening!” Ladybug replied, finally beginning to calm herself
“Isn’t there an akuma?” Pollen asks
“Oh my god! She’s right I abandoned Chat!” Ladybug screams throwing the door open and knocking Chloe over, “Look, we can sit down and talk this out later but we have somewhere we need to be!”
“Oh! Right! Pollen! Buzz On! ———————————————-
“Oh thank god! What took you two so long!?” Chat huffed, out of breath
“We just sorta got caught up in something before we could leave, it’s nothing you need to worry about but I might need to get back to that.” Ladybug explained quickly
“Alright. What did Chloe do?”
“Hey! None of your business. It was embarrassing anyways so drop it!” Queen B snapped
“I told you, don’t bother, let’s just be quick here and me and her can deal with that on our own.” —————————————————-
The battle was over pretty quickly once there were two more people involved and Ladybug left with Queen B for her to be able to detransform at home. “I guess you’ll be wanting this back then?” Chloe said reaching for her comb.
“No, leave it in, I mean I will need it back but for now I think Pollen should be here for whatever we have to say, I know I’m probably be asking Tikki some questions”, she says dropping her transformation,”This is Tikki by the way”
“Yeah... that’s sorta how I... found out?..”
“What do you me- oh wait!? Oh no... it was when Prince Ali was here wasn’t it?” Marinette whined, “You almost gave Tikki to charity!”
“I almost gave to charity?”Chloe tried to defend hastily to the unimpressed faces of two Kwamis and Marinette.
“It was ME! And the ‘almost’ doesn’t help!” Shouted Tikki.
“But you said you were too sick to do anything about it when that happened?” Pollen quietly added, not wanting to come off as rude,”and besides she didn’t know.”
“I know... look it was scary then and I’m hungry now!” Tikki whined.
“Oh, right! Pollen’s probably hungry too! Chloe do you have anything sweet for Tikki and.. um.. what does Pollen eat?” Asked Marinette.
“Oh, someone probably brought up dinner earlier. That probably has something they can eat in it? I don’t remember. You two just go and see.” Chloe said dismissively pointing towards the door where a tray sat, “let me know if you need anything different..”
“So much for having them guide us through this experience... I guess...? How- um, how are you, handling all of this?”
“Don’t what?! I-“
“Don’t start playing the hero here, you had a full on freak out in my bathroom! Whatever my reaction was yours was way more intense. We are talking about that first.”
“I...-“ she paused a few seconds, “I’m afraid...”
“That much was obvious, why do I scare you that much? Do you hate me? Was I THAT bad?!”
“Oh? I mean I try not to ‘hate’ you?... anymore? At least lately? That’s a mess, sorry. But that’s not the only reason I was so afraid. It was just, this was...” she began to trail off before collecting her thoughts, “NOBODY was supposed to know! Chat keeps asking and I can’t tell him! And then there’s all the work I’ve had to do because Alya keeps getting closer to finding out, and you just pieced it together out of the blue!”
“So I’m the only one who knows?”
“For now. But wh-“
“-BUT nothing, I’m not telling anyone.”
“You already told everyone that you were Queen B! And got akumatized while you were superpowered.”
“I won’t let that happen again. I wouldn’t do that to you Ladybug!”
“Ah! And you keep calling me by the wrong name too Chloe!”
“Ok! first time was because I spaced out! That was me trying to be helpful!”
“Well you’re not very good at helpful”
“Hey! I’m trying and anyways I tried calling Alya and Adrien earlier- OH NO?! I called Alya but I don’t remember what I texted Adrien!”
“You did what!?” Marinette asked almost on the verge of crying
“Hold on, I’m checking!” She said opening up her recent messages “It says ‘Help’ and then he responded by asking what I needed help with a few minutes later, like after the battle, and then also asking if Ladybug helped with whatever it was because he saw that I was Queen B after that happened.”
“Oh thank god you didn’t accidentally tell hi-“
“-And then he just sorta breaks into a short rant about you and how helpful you are.” Chloe said continuing to skim through his texts.
“WHAT?!” Shouted Marinette breaking Chloe’s focus from her reading.
“Well Ladybug but, you know. He’s a big fan from the looks of it... of course he would go from trying to help me to obsessing about you?”
“He didn’t, he-“
“Yeah. I know, but- Alright my turn to vent now! Is all of this out of pity or something!? Or did you just come back to me because after the first time you’re not allowed to let anyone else have the bee miraculous?”
“Pity? Why would it be pity?”
“Because my mother who can’t even get my name right shows up, decides you’re great and should get to go to New York then you come up here and give that chance to me and then Daddy gets akumatized over that and you not only give me that comb back but you get everyone to celebrate me when I know they wanted me gone.”
“Alright, that was a weird week but after you got the miraculous by mistake I did think that you could learn from having it for real after that. And part of me not going to New York with your mom was because I can’t leave here if I’m Ladybug and I saw how much you wanted her to pay attention when you got akumatized so as much as I want that future I didn’t have much of a choice and if I couldn’t...”
“- OK! I get it, I get it. You’re just too nice for your own good and that’s why you get all this attention from Jagged Stone, and Clara, and Gabriel, and everyone in class is just head over heals for you! I know we’ve been rivals and that you’ve won over almost everyone but then where does that- where- what do we do now?”
“... yeah, well I suppose your apology this morning was pretty awkward but a good start so we can say that was why things are awkward now but, I suppose we’ll just go from here and maybe build towards friendship but I can’t promise it’ll all be normal right away.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s fair. You should probably get going before it get too late, but I’ll keep working on mending whatever this is,” Chloe said gesturing wildly to the space between them, “Grab Pollen before you go. And see you tomorrow I suppose?” ———————————————
Walking into class the next day she was confronted by an especially annoyed looking Alya who confronted her with, “Did you try to call me last night just to tell me you were going be Queen B again!? It’s bad enough you already announced it to the world.”
“And what was your ‘help’ text about?” Adrien added overhearing the girls talking.
“I- I, um?-“ Chloe began, not expecting to be put on the spot.
“That was me!” Marinette shouted,”I was at the hotel dropping something off for Jagged Stone and I lost my phone. I asked Chloe to see if you guys had it.”
“And she did what you asked?” Said Alya in disbelief.
“Well she WAS having a panic attack!” Chloe argued.
“And what about when Ladybug showed up?” Asked Adrien.
“Oh! Well she found it and those two left.” Blurted out Marinette, “that’s what happened. It was embarrassing so do ask more!”