"Whoa." Alya hovered in front of him, bouncing excitedly on her toes , her phone shoved right into his face. Nino was pretty sure anyone watching her livestream now had a front-row view up his nose. "You're a new one. What's your name?"
Name. He needed a name. Nino glanced at Ladybug, who only nodded, like, 'Yeah, you need a cool superhero name now. It's part of the gig. Didn't I mention that?'
She most definitely had not. Nino wasn't prepared for this.
Alya was waiting, big brown eyes peering at him from behind her phone. Glowing with that slightly manic light that only superheroes and murder mysteries could bring out.
As if he wasn't having enough trouble thinking already. Nino scrambled his brain, grasping for words. A word. Any word at all. "...uh."
What should he say?
He couldn't blurt just anything. He wanted something cool and superhero-y. Something clever.
Shell...shell! He had a shell! He could use that!
"Sheldon!" Nino declared. Immediately, his face burned in horror. Oh, no. That was so much worse than Turtle Dude. And on live video. Chat Noir audibly choked on his laughter off to Nino's left. Behind the camera, Alya arched a brow. A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth.
Thanks for the support, babe.
Too late now, Nino decided. Might as well roll with it.
"Call me Sheldon!" he repeated. Hoping for dramatic effect, he placed a hand on his hip.
And then, before he could humiliate himself any further, Nino turned and took off.
Ladybug was grinning when she found him laying on a roof. Nino stared blankly at a passing cloud as she seated herself next to him in silence, scarlet feet dangling over the ledge.
"So," Ladybug mused. "Sheldon, huh?"
"I panicked, okay?" Nino defended. "You try thinking up a cool name while your girlfriend is staring at you like you're the genius who invented toast."
"Toast?" she asked. "Why toast?"
"Toast with honey is Alya's favorite food," he explained. It was borderline unhealthy how much bread the Césarie family went through in three days. The Pillsbury Doughboy himself would have run away screaming.
Wayzz nodded agreeably. "Toast is wonderful."
"Hmm." Ladybug clicked her heel on the brick wall beneath them, a humorous glint in her eye. An insistent beeping pierced the air, a single dot flashing in warning on her earring. Ladybug didn't seem particularly motivated to leave. She had time. "Well, Chat Noir loved it. Said it was 'a pun worthy of kings.'"
Nino let out a snort. "That's comforting." Chat Noir's caliber of humor was almost, if not equally, as cringe-inducing as Adrien's. And Nino was positive that Adrien would have loved it, which practically guaranteed that Alya thought Sheldon was a lame name. Not even for a superhero. Just as a name in general.
Good thing she would never find out.
"Well, you could have done worse. I almost told Chat Noir my actual name the first time he asked what to call me."
"That would have been a smooth move." Did a lot of people sit and chat with Ladybug after battles?Nino wasn't sure. He usually saw her swing off the second her miraculous started beeping. It had never occurred to him that maybe she did stuff after that. It felt kind of nice. Like talking to a friend. Except that that friend was wearing skintight magic spandex.
"Oh, I'm just made of smooth moves." Ladybug's voice dripped with sarcasm. Another warning beep, faster now. This time, Ladybug cleared her throat meaningfully. "Well, uh, this has been fun, but I'll need your miraculous back now, please. And then I'll take you back to your friends. I'm sure they're worried."
Nino nodded. Friendly chat or no, she had a timer and an identity. He crossed his eyes to look up at the little thing, Wayzz, perched on his forehead. What was he called again? A kwami? Wayzz lifted one tiny arm nub. "Until next time, Monsieur Lahiffe."
He wrinkled his nose. Ew. No. "Please don't call me that. It makes me sound gross and old." Wayzz chuckled as he disappeared into the bracelet. A tiny magic turtle guy who lived in a twine charm bracelet, he pondered. Weird. He didn't think he'd ever get used to that, if Ladybug ever called on his help again.
"Take this," Nino intoned, laying the miraculous in Ladybug's hand. "Never return it. It brings me only shame."
"Isn't your friend Adrien supposed to be the dramatic one?" Ladybug giggled.
Nino rolled his eyes back to look at the spotted heroine, eyebrows knitted suspiciously. "How would you know?" Adrien wasn't a dramatic idiot around just anybody, and certainly not Ladybug. He would have been more likely to melt into a puddle of goo on the sidewalk.
The blood drained from the heroine's face, mouth flapping in horror. She managed to compose herself enough to say, "I hear things."
Well, that didn't sound weird at all. She'd probably meant it to make her sound like some kind of all-knowing being, but all it conveyed was that Ladybug had let on more than she should have. Like she knew him.
Before Nino could voice this, Ladybug's earrings beeped again. Faster, panicky. She unhooked her yoyo and swung off, leaving Nino alone on the roof.