Marinette was sitting slumped over – her hands cupping her cheeks, eyelids heavy – on the stairs of the courtyard leading to the classrooms, Adrien sitting next to her in the same exact pose. And any other time, she would be a blubbering, trembling mess, tumbling over her words like she would her feet, but right now she could not find it within herself to give half a fuck, let alone a whole one.
It’d been a long ass week. A whole damn week of nonstop akumas, each one more ridiculous than the last and each costume ghastlier even than Bulleur on her poor designer eyes that she was seriously thinking of having the fashion police called up alongside the actual police to every akuma.
She could even see the blots of garish color behind her eyelids. She needed bleach for her brain. She needed it, like last year.
She suppressed the swear words rolling on her tongue like a barrel, but that didn’t stop her groan from letting the world know how dead she was, Adrien answering in kind. He might have no free time to breathe because of his ass of a father, but she didn’t have the mental capacities to wonder why he sounded as roadkilled as her.
School hadn’t been easier on her either. Exams. Homework. Class President duties. Lila.
Adrien’s high road approach had been a steep incline that not even her superpowered endurance could take. And Lila had been running her mouth for so long now, she could have sprinted to Mars and back.
“Oh, yes I was essential for President Macron’s victory—”
Speak of the devil.
It was a tremendous effort to crack open her lids – and she’d been lifting cars as a pass time since getting her earrings – but she saw that little liar in the center of the courtyard, surrounded by her loyal dancing buffoons who were hanging on to her every word.
Marinette took back any inkling that her classmates had brains.
She wasn’t at her full mental capacities, but even that didn’t stop her from mumbling loud enough for Adrien to hear, “For fuck’s sake, why in the name of Papillon’s soiled underpants would a French presidential candidate take advice from a fourteen-year-old Italian girl that hasn’t been in the country for, like a second.”
Adrien didn’t seem to be able to muster the energy to be righteous on behalf of bullies. He only cracked open his eye, looked at her sideways and muttered, “Gross. And yeah, she’s been getting even worse at this.”
“Was she ever even good at this? Like seriously, best friends with Ladybug.”
“It could happen,” he weakly defended.
“Yeah. If she had a death wish and wanted Papillon after her and her family.”
Adrien lifted his head from his palms, frowning a little. “Huh, guess I didn’t think of that.” When Marinette only hummed a little in response, he turned to her. “How’d you even know about Ladybug?”
“I saw her yelling at her in the park, right after Lila threw your book on heroes in the trash.” This was one secret she was tired of keeping, and she was not taking the fall for that ungrateful piece of shit.
“Wait, what!” He whipped his head to her so fast it was a wonder he didn’t break it, his voice attracting everyone’s attention, especially a pair of narrowed olive eyes that she really wanted to never see again.
Marinette only flapped her hand at him. “Don’t worry, I got it back to your father.”
That didn’t seem to placate him as he continued gaping at her. But as she wasn’t looking at him and was clearly done with the topic, he slumped over giving her a pout and glaring at her of all things. “We’ll be talking about this later.”
She just listlessly shrugged.
The students seemed to have stopped paying them any attention, while Lila kept an eye on them even when she was regaling her loyal subjects with grand tales of her excellent bullshit, so she just changed the subject none too subtly. “Anyway, do you think she has an off-switch?”
She didn’t have to clarify who, so Adrien only gave a tired sigh. “Probably not.”
“I can make her one,” Marinette muttered darkly.
“What do you mean? Like killing her?” Adrien let out a laugh that only seemed to choke in his throat when he saw how utterly serious she looked. He stared at her for a horrified minute, as though seeing her for the first time, before he seemed ready to yell at her, remembering himself at the last second and hissing at her, “Marinette! You can’t do that!”
But if he was hoping to convince her, he went about it completely the wrong way, as Marinette came alive, throwing a deadly look like she was ready to kill him, and seeming to focus on the wrong word. “Oh, I can’t? Trust me, Adrien, I am fully capable of offing her and getting rid of the body without anyone knowing it was me.”
He stared at her, half scared out of his mind
and half turned on of all things. That seemed to encourage her to elaborate even though it was the last thing he wanted her to do.
“I have different approaches and really they all depend on my mood, if I want it to be quick, painful, without any clue.”
Despite himself, Adrien found himself morbidly curious, exhaustion taking a back seat in his mind as he focused on his cute-and-from-the-looks-of-things-murderous friend. “How?”
Marinette gave him a sideways glance, barely stopping her lips from curving as she saw the curiosity peeking like a nervous rabbit from beneath his horror. She straightened a bit, slapping her hands on her thighs and turning to face him head on.
She might have given this train of thought some frankly inappropriate deliberation, that Tikki who’d seen some nasty things in her lifetime gave her the same look Adrien was giving her, but she came around, seeing as it made her less stressed. Even now she could feel Tikki giving her a half-admonishing, half-amused nudge through her purse, probably mumbling about how Plagg would approve.
She was a bit more energized, so with a clearing of her throat, she stuck up her index finger, making sure to keep her voice low, lest the vultures come swooping down to defend poor defenseless Lila. “Okay, number one. I finally crack and get akumatized like I almost was about two times already and go after her.”
That seemed to surge Adrien forward as he clutched her shoulders in a tight grip, brow furrowed and worry across his face. “You were almost akumatized? When?”
“When she came back to school.”
“How’d you escape that!”
“Because I’m Marinette.” She puffed out her chest a bit, sticking up her chin proudly.
Adrien regarded her with a fond, thoughtful smile. “I can believe that.” She felt the traitorous fluttering in her stomach that she’d been trying to quell ever since she resolved to get over him. “But then wouldn’t that be undone by Miraculous Ladybug?”
“Well, I don’t think Ladybug would wholly disapprove considering how much trouble she’s been giving her. But anyway, that was a plan that I was never going to use, because I wasn’t going to give either her or Papillon the satisfaction.”
Now the horror completely receded, replaced by awe and he couldn’t stop himself from wanting to know more, curious how her brain worked. “Well is that the only one?”
Marinette stared at him for a second, before she rolled her eyes in a strangely familiar way. “Pfft, the only one. I number my plans, because the alphabet’s too short for them.” No seriously, that confidence was familiar and appealing in equal measures. “Anyway, seeing as magic is real, there’s nothing stopping me from getting an untraceable poison or potion.”
“Wouldn’t you need to search practically the whole world for that?”
“I know a guy.”
“You- you- what? Marinette, who have you been talking to?” No really, it seemed he didn’t know his friend at all and instead of being disgusted, this was making him want to know her more than anything.
Again with the hand flap. “Oh, don’t worry, he wouldn’t approve either.”
Leaning closer to her, he flashed her a teasing smile. “So you’re basically telling me useless plans.”
She was too tired to freak out, and something about this was weirdly familiar, so she only shook her head. “Nope. They could all work if I’m stubborn enough, and believe me, I am. But I’m giving you a lot of my plans, so you know exactly how likely I am to succeed.”
“Hmm, I don’t believe that, but I’m learning I shouldn’t underestimate you.”
“Damn right. Okay, number three, during lunch I could go to her house, introduce myself to her mother as a friend from school, giving her a different name in case Lila’s brought her shit home and I’ll swipe one of her kitchen knives, wear a complete disguise, then accost her on her way back home, or I could wait to see if she ever has plans after dark.”
Adrien rubbed his chin, really getting into it now. “But you might be a prime suspect, with your animosity and last visit to her mother. They’d search your house and find your disguise.”
Marinette tapped her nose, giving him a wink. “Ah, but I was planning to burn my clothes over the Seine.”
“You’d still be a primary suspect. And why steal the knife from them?”
“Because it’s from their house, it could be classified as a suicide. I could even wait a month maybe, so the visit doesn’t even seem relevant.”
“Okay, but the name you give, it might bring you some time, but her mother would still be able to give a description of you.”
“I’m a fashion designer, I could change my hair, my clothes, my height, my face and no one would recognize me.”
Adrien nodded, because he knew what a really talented designer was capable of. He hummed and started counting on his fingers. “So, lets recap with this plan. It needs two disguises, a knife from her house, burning the disguises and an attack in broad daylight. You forget you need an alibi, and this is needlessly complicated.”
Nothing the Fox miraculous wouldn’t give me. I could be caught on camera on the other side of town. Plus, I don’t think they’ll really consider that a fourteen-year-old could kill anyone.
“I could actually fix all the kinks in that plan, but it would be more complicated, and it would look like number four!”
Adrien gestured at her to continue and with a smirk she did. “This one is completely at night, also with a disguise that I will dispose of and glasses to obscure my eyes. She has a window in her bedroom, so I scale to it—” she was interrupted by Adrien’s laugh, so she gave him the stink eye. “What?”
He continued to laugh, bringing some people’s attention to them. “I’m sorry Marinette, but I find it hard to believe you could scale a two-story window.”
She crossed her arms. “And why not?”
He rubbed the back of his neck as he finally realized that he might have hit a nerve. “Well, it’s just, that you’re clumsy, that would make sneaking into her room, a bit… hard.”
“Justice gives you wings. And trust me, Adrien, you don’t know everything I’m capable of.” She glared at him, tightening her arms around her chest.
Adrien opened his mouth to argue, but he paused, taking in her posture, his eyes widening and cheeks flushing at the straining fabric of her jacket contouring her arms. He looked away, clearing his throat and silently willing the color to recede from his face. “Guess not.”
Marinette relaxed her arms, giving him a curious look, obviously seeing the color in his face but thankfully not seeming to know its cause. With a wave of his hand she resumed detailing how lucky they all were that she was a good person. “Okay, once in her room, I lock her door and then smother her with a pillow. As I’m in disguise, I leave no fingerprints. No blood. No weapon.”
Adrien nodded, humming in thought, before he snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “And if you leave behind a footprint or a hair?”
“Hairnet. Plus, I’m already wearing a face mask.”
“And the footprint?”
“What would I have even been stepping on anyway?”
“Maybe she has mud under her window.”
“Assuming I wouldn’t avoid stepping on it,” she shot him a look to which he only nodded, “well I’d wear very thick socks, get those things dirty, tie the clean boots around my neck, then when I made it to the window sill I’d wear them.”
“You could still leave a trace on the carpet.”
“I’ll get boots from the men’s section. All the police would be left with is the size of the shoe.”
“Won’t they slip off?”
“I would stuff them with carton.”
“I think someone would remember a girl buying guy shoes.”
“And why wouldn’t they assume it was a gift?”
“Good point. What if her mother heard her muffled screams.”
Marinette cupped her chin, then gave him a chilling smile. “I could either turn up some music at a low volume, or I could be prepared with a remixed track in her voice saying she was having a nightmare and needed to be alone.”
“Needlessly complicated again, but it still feels like you could be caught.”
She gave him an irritatingly familiar smirk. “Aw, worried about me? Alright, number five is a modification of number four. I could borrow Chat Noir’s miraculous, get rid of the bedding and ash, make it look like there was a struggle and poof, no proof.”
Adrien instinctively cupped his right hand, hiding his ring and drawing Marinette’s curious gaze. He desperately tried to distract her so the cat would stay in the bag. “That one seems simple after all the others.”
“Sometimes simple works.”
“I have the feeling he won’t be giving up his ring.”
“Oh, he wouldn’t. But I have some tricks up my sleeve and Ladybug does too. Plus, that was only number five.”
“You’ve put way too much thought into this.” And damnit he couldn’t hide how morbidly impressed he was. Still. “Marinette, you aren’t an Everyday Ladybug, you’re a criminal.”
Marinette put her hand to her chest in offense, though considering this whole conversation, she couldn’t exactly fault him that.
They were so engrossed in their conversation they didn’t notice the lull of the courtyard and the approaching students.
“Plus, I don’t think you should implicate revered heroes if you have so many complicated ways to kill her.”
Before Marinette could argue the merit of the heroes turning into mercenaries, they were interrupted.
“Marinette? Adrien? What the hell?”
They turned to face one very horrified Alya, face reminiscent of Adrien’s at the start of the conversation.
“Marinette? Kill? Who?”
It was only after they shared a look that they both realized they hadn’t used a single name during their whole conversation.
Marinette turned back to Alya, whom everyone seemed to be using as a shield, as multiple pale faces stared at them. Even Lila seemed too surprised to take advantage of this situation and start a pity party about how Marinette was plotting her murder. Even though it would be the only time she would be telling the truth.
So she heaved herself to her feet, giving them a sickly sweet smile that made everyone take a step back, holding out her hand to Adrien who stared at her for a bit before clasping her hand.
With immense ease she hauled him to his feet in a way that must have caused a headrush, if the way he was red and staring at her was anything to go by.
So with a cheery, “Class is about to start” that seemed to unnerve everyone, Marinette pulled Adrien up the stairs.
Feeling a little too much like his alter ego, Adrien said in a casual voice, “Maybe you should be plotting Papillon’s demise.”
Marinette’s bright, “I have!” was just the topping on this extremely weird sunday, as just about everyone seemed to flinch.
“Maybe you should have been planning ways to expose her rather than kill her,” Adrien whispered to her with a quiet voice that didn’t carry even in the oppressive silence.
So she responded in kind. “Oh, that list is even bigger. And it’s even underway.”
They weren’t even at the top of the stairs before a voice disrupted the quiet with an almost audible crack. “Mlle. Rossi. My office,” M. Damocles yelled from the railing over to the courtyard.
That seemed to jolt Lila from her stupor. “But—”
As Lila started to slowly climb the stairs, Adrien turned to Marinette, admonishing her without any real heat. “Marinette.”
She only smiled back at him innocently. “What? I just seemed to have met Mme. Rossi on the high road. As a concerned Class President, I went to her house to be more accommodating of a student’s disabilities and it seemed Mme. Rossi was under the impression that the school has been closed for months, the duration of their stay in Paris. Where they weren’t traveling.”
Adrien opened his mouth to protest, then remembered the book and how Lila almost cost him his freedom, and closed it. “Well, I think she’s got whatever happens next coming,” he muttered.
As they approached their class, he didn’t stop himself from voicing one last thought. “It’s a really good thing you’re not a villain.”
Marinette only beamed at him, hands clasped behind her back.
“Kid, I really like your princess.”
“Marinette, don’t you think you might have spooked your classmates. Especially Adrien.”
“Sleep. Now. Freak. Later.”