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Seasonings

Chapter Text

One of the bunker doors swings open. The contents inside are empty. All of the resistance’s rooms seem sparse, you realize. But this one has been occupied up until not too long ago.

Still curious, you step inside.

There’s a book sitting on a desk. The cover is a plain brown. You skim through the pages and see someone’s handwriting.

It appears to be a diary.

Do you wish to continue reading?

...

March 26

Something… strange is happening around here.

All sorts of people have been contacting @nobodyfamousposts about joining the Hive. What was once a story has now become reality. And all sorts of people have been inducted into this cult.

Yeah, I don’t like this.

I don’t think I have much to worry about though. It’s not as if people are going to be directly targeting me. If I say nothing, I’d probably be nothing more than a ghost. Wouldn’t even register as a blip on the Hive’s radar.

…Maybe I should look for a bunker or something, just in case. Somewhere extreme and with uninviting weather.

March 27

I’ve managed to find some locations with pretty extreme weather conditions. Places like [redacted]. I also considered somewhere up in [redacted] but I hate the cold. Winter just ended and I just started pulling out my spring/summer clothes! I don’t want to have to take it all out again! Ugh, this is so inconvenient, but whatever. I’m still not a target and I could probably get away safely.

Still, I have a good variety of locations that the Hive will never touch. I hope. At the very least, it’d be a pain for them to reach. I don’t mind trekking through treacherous locations - I like the challenge!

It also seems some people are resisting the Hive.

Hm…

March 28

I had a change of heart.

At first, I was simply going to sit back and comment on the events unfolding around me, all from the safety of [redacted].

But upon hearing that @gale-of-the-nomads (or as I prefer to call him, Cult Penguin), cornered and captured Nemo, I decided then and there that I could no longer run away. Even when they were left alone, I decided to stand by my decision and declared boldly that the Resistance would win. My declaration did not go unnoticed by fellow resistance member @livanarose.

Something got me thinking though that the key to winning has to do with finding Adrien and subjecting him to bird feathers. We can’t just overwhelm the entire Hive with them, I guess, but can you really trust the word of a cult member?

It seems that the Hive lacks any sense of humor. Imagine living such a humorless, unimaginative life with all your privacy constantly invaded, 24/7.

Thank you, next!

March 29

@lenoreofraven has gone too far. Not only has their cult sullied the good name of pastries, but now puppies too!

INCONCEIVABLE!

Such a crime, will not go unpunished! Thankfully, my bold declaration and love for MCU movies seems to have gained me another ally in @apex-primus. I’m glad to have another comrade in arms!

Around day’s end, I ended up making a playlist to rally the troops. There is so much Hive propaganda, that it seems the voice of the Resistance is lost. Mostly, we respond to their lies. So I figured, it’s time to change that. And what’s a better way to get people pumped than listening to a lot of music that mostly makes you feel awesome or you should go pump iron at the gym? Some commentary on the tracks I included:

–> The other day, @jacquesthepigeon proved how effective trolling the Hive can be. What’s a better way to show appreciation than include the Jonas Brothers?

–> Along an anonymous “Owl”, Cult Penguin and Raven have formed a bird squad. “Swan Song” is my (my because I refuse to speak for the Resistance as a whole. We are individuals) response to that. A swan song usually refers to someone’s last performance before retirement. See the irony?

–> “Libera Me from Hell” - opera = the Hive, rap = the Resistance. Also, “Row, row fight the power!” is such an amazing thing to chant.

–> Soundtrack music from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Personally speaking, the movie has so many wonderful memories from what I first saw it. But one of the quotes I remember the best is: “The price of freedom is high. Always has been. It’s a price I’m willing to pay. And if I’m the only one, so be it. But I’m willing to bet I’m not.”

I don’t think everything on here represents everyone in the Resistance, so I’m open to people sending in suggestions. To have different genres, different bands and artists, different time periods on there would be great.

For now, though, it’s a start.

After that, I once again attempted to debunk more Hive propaganda. Raven has the audacity to speak of “peace”.

Um, newsflash? Brainwashing isn’t peace.

And if anyone actually thinks that the Hive will just stop after taking Marinette, they’re incredibly naive. Anyone that doesn’t follow the order of the Hive is seen as weird or a threat. Anyone who is scared is just to told that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Even if it was for a silly reason, I would never tell anyone how and when to feel afraid. They feel that way for a reason. They’re entitled to that. How they deal with that is what’s important.

And sure, we may be more violent than them, but there’s a reason for that.

Despite all this, livana suggested that we go along with a peace treaty, at least for now. I still think the situation is shady, and she agrees. Apex isn’t convinced either, but I suppose we’ll just play nice for now. We’re sitting tight for news on Monday, but of course, keeping our guards up.

March 30

Already, I’ve gotten some requests for the playlist! I mean, I’m pretty sure they’re all from the same person, but requests are still requests! And Apex’s comment really struck a chord with me. Damn, I’m such an emotional dork when it comes to that movie. Nobody also really seemed to like it too!

I’m still not so secretly taking joy in watching people rip into the Hive. Trying to induct more people into your cult? Ha! Have a face full of pillow instead!

March 31

The Hive has captured and brainwashed Marinette.

Fuck.

This is why we can never have peace with the Hive. Allow them whatever they want, and they will consume you whole. I have no doubts that their greed will grow and they will pursue everyone left to add to their little cult.

And the day seemed so promising when I saw another brave soul stepped up to the plate to tackle Hive propaganda. Thank you, @nerd-in-the-basement. Hopefully, you’re safe.

Our best option for now is to retreat to the backup bunkers.

Right now, the only solace I have is that somewhere out there, in the great wide universe, there is a timeline in which we have overcome the Hive. In another world, they are no longer a threat to humanity and individuality.

I can’t give up on making this timeline better though. There has to be a solution to overthrowing the Hive. We just need time to figure out what it is. Finding Adrien is key. Also, bird feathers. Lots of bird feathers.

For now, we play defense.

For now, we live in shadow.

To the Hive:

You might have Marinette, but you will never destroy our hope.

So continue to spread your lies. Continue to try and force people into your cult. Eventually, you will regret everything you’ve done.

I dare you to try and find me.

Because if you thought I was violent or scary before, you won’t like me now.

I’ll show you no mercy.

To fellow Resistance fighters that may stumble upon this:

I leave this account here for your sake. All the important information is blotted out, but I think you’ll know where to go. What to do.

It’s okay to be upset.

But do not despair.

There is still hope.

The Hive will not overtake us. They will not have our freedom, our individuality, our lives. Because they only know what it means to exist, not live. And we’ll make sure they know that.

If you wish to seek me out, I will be waiting for you in one of our locations. We can even train together to prepare for the inevitable.

Viva la Resistance! May it guide your path!

That was the latest entry. It seems you’ve reached the end of the diary.

You’re left pondering a question:

Should you seek out xxxsaltybugxxx?

Chapter Text

Marinette had just finished filming her latest video when she received the message from Alya.

Girl, I know you hate drama, but plz plz plz check out Wayhem’s latest Channel Patrol video! I swear you won’t regret it!

The message following her outburst has a link to a video, and Marinette already hesitates on hitting it. For all she knew, it was another makeup guru scandal involving scammed products or outrageous tour ticket prices. Still, if she didn’t at least check out the first minute or two of the video, Alya would be annoyed the next day, considering that she at least gave a disclaimer.

She caught a brief glimpse of the thumbnail as the video loads. It was formatted in typical Channel Patrol style; Wayhem dressed up like a cop, shooting a hard glare at his subject, in this case, Chloe, who merely looked shocked. Underneath her, “EXPOSED” was written in big, white text.

After a dramatic and lengthy intro, Wayhem settled into the middle of the shot and greeted the audience.

Hello everybody, and welcome back to another episode of CHANNEL PATROL. Today’s topic will focus on liars. I think we can all agree that no one likes liars. Mostly the ones that try to use lies for attention and fame. And that’s why today’s video… is not about Chloe Bourgeois.

“Yup. That’s right. I lied to you. I know, I’m a hypocrite and I’m sorry. But I didn’t really feel like today’s subject deserved the privilege of having her name in the title or her face in the thumbnail. So thanks, Chloe. You’ve proven to be a great scapegoat.

“No, today’s video stars infamous Beauty Guru Lila Rossi.”

Marinette couldn’t help but gape at the revelation. Rumors of Lila being truth-deprived had been running for a while, but no one’s ever managed to gather up enough receipts to speak on the topic. 

Wayhem being the one to do it though wasn’t a surprise. His last video exposing XY and his father, Bob Ross, went so incredibly viral, that their sales were still suffering in the backlash. Personally, Marinette couldn’t feel sorry for them considering what they did to Kitty Section, but she cringed just thinking how much the video hurt them.

She’s engrossed by every point and bit of drama that Wayhem hits throughout the video. Stealing Alya’s ideas, her shady behavior at her own tour, lying about her line of cosmetics. A lot of it isn’t terribly new…

And then she saw Adrien appear.

That was the biggest shock out of them all.

Following the incident with Onichan, the photo of Lila kissing Adrien on the cheek spread like wildfire, leading to people speculating that the two of them were dating. Neither one of them confirmed nor denied it, but when confronted by Alya and Nino, Adrien did admit that he was uncomfortable around her. Unfortunately, his father seemed to encourage the relationshipMarinette didn’t get to hear the rest of the story, but judging by his appearance here…

Well, Adrien. You told me off camera that you’re not quite used to releasing receipts, but you would make an exception in this case. Would you like to explain why?”

“Absolutely. Hey everyone, it’s Adrien. Rumors have been flying around about me and Lila dating ever since a couple of days ago. I’m used to having those sorts of rumors spread about me, so it didn’t bother me at first. I tried not to think about it. But, um, Lila wouldn’t really let it go. There were a couple of other things she did that upset me that I can’t disclose for privacy, but it was mostly making me uncomfortable. And I’ve got the messages on my phone to prove it.”

What followed was footage of Adrien opening his messanger app, pulling up Lila’s conversation with him, going as far back as reasonably needed, and showing the entirety of their conversations. Several instances of Adrien saying no, he was too busy, asking Lila to be nicer or less forceful, and asking her not to lie were made clear as day in his language. 

But there was the most important message of them all. This one they had to show a screenshot off to hide certain information, which Marinette recognized as the names of the people that worked for his family.

Hey Lila. Listen, I wanted to clarify to you about the other day. I didn’t mind that you wanted to hang out, but I found most of what you did that day really inappropriate. (retracted) and (retracted) could have seriously gotten in trouble because of you forcing your way into my room. We could have found another area of the house or hung out somewhere else. I also found that you kissing me in our selfie was not okay. I didn’t like it and I felt used by you. I apologize that I didn’t say anything earlier, but I was really caught off guard. I’m not used to having to confront people about these sort of things, but I’m telling you now because I respect your feelings. I only ask that you respect mine.

Marinette could not wait for school the next day.

Chapter Text

Nino doesn’t consider himself a confrontational person, but something about the photo “Adrien” sent yesterday rubs him the wrong way. He knows how hardcore his father can be about reputation and press, so there’s no way Adrien would be okay with letting Lila send out a picture of her kissing him on the cheek to everyone they knew. The masses would lose their minds, and that’s not something Mr. Agreste would be okay with right away, unless he orchestrated it behind the scenes.

He shudders upon remembering that he knows stuff like that.

He’s not an investigative journalist like Alya, but he decides to take the plunge.

Lila strolls into the class without a care in the world. Thankfully, no one else is there yet.

“Hey, Lila,” Nino greets, “Can I ask you something outside?”

“Oh, of course, Nino,” she says cheerfully, “Say, did you hear about that new Steven Spielberg that’s coming out? That’s actually based off an idea of mine. He told me I have natural artistic vision.”

“Oh, really?” he says, laughing nervously, escorting her out to the hall. There aren’t a lot of people around quite yet, so maybe this won’t end too badly. “Say, um, I’m not mad or anything, just trying to look out for my bro. But were you really telling the truth about not having a crush on Adrien?”

Her bubbly expression quickly transforms into a pout, nearly on the verge of tears. He’s a bit taken aback by how quickly her face contorts. Just what he was afraid of.

“You don’t believe me, Nino? You think I’m just as bad as those girls that cling to him?” she sniffles, wiping away at her eyes, “I was just trying to help Adrien with his homework.”

“Then what’s up with the picture you sent to everyone?” he asks, trying to keep his tone even, “You couldn’t have sent that without thinking someone would think that you liked him. You could have just said so from the start, instead of lying.”

If her face contorting to sadness scare him, this new one completely did. Her eyes had the power to stare him down for the rest of eternity with such cold contempt. It made him wish he had Wayzz so he could use Shellter to protect himself.

“I see you’ve caught on. Maybe you’re not as foolish as I thought.”

“Oh? Dropping your act so soon?” 

Nino’s heart is relieved when he hears Alya’s voice. She comes storming up to the two of them, easily rivaling the stare Lila has. Lila falters, before returning her expression.

“What’s with you?” Alya asks, walking over to them, “First you tell us you don’t have a thing for Adrien, but then you send that photo to everyone. And before you ask how I know, we were on a group date, and all four of us received it. I did some investigating, and it turns out every person in our class got your little photo,” she reaches the two of them, her arms crossed over her chest, “So let me ask this time. Why did you lie to us? We were working on getting Marinette to back off of you, but then you decided to antagonize her? That’s pretty suspicious.”

“Of course she antagonized Dupain-Cheng,” Chloe retorts from behind the two of them, walking so she stands right in front of Lila, photo in hand, “Do you really think that this photo makes you look that important to him? Even if he had the foolish sense to entertain a relationship with you, do you know how busy he is? Modeling, accompanying his dad to important events, fencing, and playing piano? He barely has time for his actual friends, let alone a fake like you.”

In a last ditch effort to save face (maybe because some other people were around), Lila starts crying crocodile tears again. “H-How could you say that about me, Chloe?”

“I can say it, because it’s the truth. Something you’re apparently allergic to, since all that comes from your mouth is garbage,” Chloe sighs, “Ugh, I may not like Tsurugi, but at least she stood her ground against me and didn’t have to pretend to get Adrikin’s attention,” she crinkles her nose  as she stares Lila down again, “Ugh, I’ve wasted enough time on you, and for that matter so has he. Don’t be trying to pull any more funny business on him anymore,” she says with a smirk, “We’ll bee keeping an eye on you.”

Chapter Text

Mondays are always his piano lessons, and Adrien never looks forward to that. But today is even worse than usual, because he keeps drowning in his own thoughts.

Sighing, he finishes up the piece and moves to his bed, collapsing. Against his better judgment he reaches for his phone and begins scrolling through his friends’ social media accounts.

That morning, everyone was buzzing with news about the album release party celebrating Kitty Section’s debut. There had been a live performance by the band, the debut of a music video, a guest appearance by Jagged Stone, and apparent drama that involved exposing Lila for the liar she was. And that was just the tip of the ice burg, apparently.

Man, dude,” Nino laughed, “You really missed out on a party.”

“Was it better than the party you threw for my birthday?”

He looked a bit sheepish at that, trying to avoid the question. “O-Of course not! Your party was off the hook! Still…”

He didn’t finish his thought, cut off by Alya showing him a video of Jagged Stone doing a duet with Luka Couffaine.

The first account he scrolls through is Nino’s and he comes face to face with the truth - that the release party was infinitely better than his birthday party. And not just because an akuma didn’t attack. All of the videos Nino has of the band performing either have him cheering or singing along with the rest of the crowd, clearly having the time of his life. There’s also a photo set involving the band; one of only Kitty Section, one with Kitty Section, Marinette and Alya, one with Nino and Luka, one with all four of the girls, one with Ivan and Mylene, and the last with Luka and Marinette.

Congratulations to the rad members of Kitty Section! Make sure to listen to their debut album, Catscratch, available now!

Adrien scrolls back to the one with Luka and Nino, and feels his heart sink a bit at the carefree laugh the two share. He can’t remember the last time he’s been able to hang out with Nino alone, since his father started pulling him away toward his activities and the family business, and Nino focused more on his relationship.

As far as Adrien knew, Luka and Nino only knew each other in passing. And yet, here, they looked as if they were best friends. He’s not even sure if he has a photo with him and Nino like this.

Checking some of the other photos over again, he squints as he tries to make out a familiar figure.

Is that…? No, it can’t be.

Rushing into his contacts, he immediately selects the number, and waits for her to pick up.

Adrien?”

Hi Kagami,” he greets nervously, “Hey, I had a question.”

Of course.”

Um,” he bites his lip, “Did you happen to go to the Kitty Section album release party?

“Yes, actually. Why do you ask?”

Oh,” he says, “I didn’t expect that from you. But I saw you in one of Nino’s posts.”

She says slowly, “I wasn’t there for too long. I only went to meet with Marinette, since she invited me and we wanted to make up after a bad first impression. I was surprised my mother even let me go for that long, but since I told her it would be an important ‘cultural exchange’ moment, and since Marinette designed for your father, she allowed it.”

“Oh,” he says again, “My dad didn’t let me go at all. How was it?”

He can sense her smile from behind the speaker. “It was actually pretty interesting. They were in the middle of a song when I arrived, and then Jagged Stone showed up. His duet with Luka Couffaine was impressive, if I do say so myself.”

There’s another pang in his heart at the sound of his name. He tries to shake the thought away. “I heard about that. How was he?”

I don’t think I need to go into detail of Jagged’s performance. The videos should explain it all. Luka, on the other hand,” she pauses for a second, “I left not too long after he started doing it, but after his duet, he did something rather fascinating. It’s hard to explain.”

What?”

He played people’s emotions. Er, I don’t think that’s quite right. I suppose, translated their feelings through music is more accurate. If I recall, he referred to it as the ‘Heart’s Song’ or something silly like that. But when he played Marinette’s, I have to admit, I was rather moved. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite that beautiful.”

Slowly, Adrien is starting to realize just how much lower his heart can sink. The thought of Marinette smiling at Luka’s music, and how even Kagami was moved by it…

He shakes his head again.

“I-I have to go now!” he says abruptly, “My father is expecting me to come down to dinner soon!”

But it’s not even five-”

“I know, it’s an early night here for the Agrestes!” he practically shouts, “Thanks for all the info! I’ll see you at fencing on Friday!”

Before she can even say goodbye, he hangs up the phone and tosses the phone away from himself, his head falling back and hitting the wall.

“What was that about?” Plagg asks, taking a bite of his cheese, “You get off the phone with your ‘girlfriend’ after a long argument?”

“Of course not,” he pouts, crossing his arms over his chest. Why does he feel this way? “I’m fine.”

“Oh really?” Plagg retorts, floating over to his phone and looking through his feeds. There’s a chorus of snickers as his gaze falls over a particular photo. “Well, well, look at this pair of lovebirds.”

Against his better judgment, Adrien takes the phone from Plagg and comes face to face with Marinette’s feed.

Everything inside of him goes completely still and cold.

“Is that…?”

The snickers erupt into full blown-laughter. Plagg is so amused by Adrien’s reaction, he almost chokes on his Camembert. “You should see your face, kid! You’re totally jealous!”

“What?” he asks, almost too loudly, “Why would I be jealous of-”

But he can’t finish his sentence, especially as his eyes fall back upon the image.

It’s a photo strip of Luka and Marinette, looking cute and having fun. The first one is pretty general, just sitting together with their arms around each other and smiling at the camera. The second has them giving each other bunny ears and laughing.

The third one causes him to grit his teeth just a little. She’s kissing Luka’s cheek, the two of them blushing, and Luka looking like he’s completely taken off-guard.

Seeing the fourth image makes him grip the phone so hard, he’s afraid it’ll break. Their faces are so close in the image, their noses touching and smiling at each other. Almost as if they considered kissing, but decided not to on camera.

For the cherry on top, the caption reads:

Spending the night with my favorite lead guitarist of my favorite band. Congrats on releasing your first album! I love you so much! <3

His vision starts to blur as he continues to stare at the screen.

“See? I told you. Jealous.”

As much as he doesn’t want it to, everything clicks into place. Of course he’s jealous of Luka. Luka, who got to start a rock band and enjoy the music he played, rather than study music his father forced him to learn. Luka, who had a younger sibling to share his company. Luka, who was free to pursue the activities he was interested in, rather than ones thrust upon him. 

Free to spend time with friends and have fun. Talented enough to impress a girl with high standards. Able to make Marinette feel at ease around him, and make her the happiest girl in the world.

He’s jealous of Luka Couffaine. And he hates himself for it.

Chapter Text

Adrien is the last one in school she deals with.

Bewitched spots him from the corner of her eye, trying to run away for help or hide in hopes that the storm would pass. Without uttering a single word, the newly familiarized Chloe catches him, putting him into an armlock. Satisfied, she fires up the red beam in her hand and approaches.

“M-Marinette?” he gasps, “Were you really akumatized because I rejected you?”

She uses her free hand to pinch the side of her nose. How vexing it is for this foolish boy to be so dense. But she mustn’t lose concentration. He would understand soon enough the error of his ways.

“Adrien Agreste,” she seethes, “You prioritize the feelings of everyone else over me, despite calling me your ‘good friend.’ It would have been one thing for you to reject me simply because you didn’t see me that way. But then you had to drag that liar Lila into this, and call me a bully. I’ve let many things slip with you, but that was your last mistake.”

“P-Please, Marinette, this is really uncomfortable for me-”

“Oh, uncomfortable for you? Do you expect me to cry because you don’t like the way Chloe is handling you? The same way you handled me yesterday?” she barks, “But don’t worry. If it’s hard for you to understand just what it is you put me through, I have just the trick for that.” 

The mark immediately appears on his head when she blasts him with the beam. At the sight of it, he looks horrified. He knows Chinese, and he knows exactly what the symbol means.

“I no longer have need for the emotions I once had as ‘Marinette’ because I am Bewitched now. No, instead, you can have them to drown out your own feelings. Think of it as a parting gift from an ex.”

Chloe releases the newly cursed Adrien, and he sinks into the floor stuck somewhere in between frozen with terror and on the verge of tears as the worst of her memories overtake him. 

Turning hotly on her heel, Bewitched steps out of the school and faces the rest of Paris, leaving Adrien to his prison of despair.

Chapter Text

Ever since his mom disappeared, Adrien had the occasional day where he just didn’t feel good. Days where he would just wake up, and feel that things were not going to be great, no matter how he cheered himself up. Still, he knew the day would pass, and the feelings would stop, and he would be okay. If he just smiled and pretended to be okay, he would be okay. 

But then, Lila just had to enter the picture.

He had been doing his best to just get through the day. There was no fencing, no modeling and no piano lessons. Just a day to relax, maybe hang out with Nino on video call and watch as he and Alya explore the city together. Or, if Hawkmoth felt like making an appearance, wait for an akuma to show up and have his day brightened up by seeing his beloved Ladybug again. 

“Hey, dude,” Nino greets him, giving him their custom handshake, “How’s it going?”

“It’s going good,” he forces himself to say, “I’ve got a pretty chill day off.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah. Actually I was thinking, would it be cool if I could come over to play Ultimate Mecha Strike III with you?”

“Aw, dude that would be so sick!” his face practically lights up for a moment. But then, there’s an awkward pause and he looks kind of sad, “But, um, actually, I can’t. Promised to help Alya with something.”

“Oh.”

“Uh, but I know someone else you can hang out with instead!” he insists, “Lila said she needed help with homework!”

And that was how he got roped into helping Lila. He made sure not to have an attitude about it or make Lila feel bad about needing help, but just for once, he wished he could have said no. Sure, he tried telling her that his dad wouldn’t approve of her coming over, but that didn’t stop her. She managed to lie to his assistant and get access to his room.

He envied Plagg, who avoided having attention be put on him. He could move about the room, so long as he wasn’t seen. Adrien, on the other hand, was subject to Lila making herself all too comfortable at home, touching all of his valuables, lying in his bed and rummaging through his photos. When Nathalie, mercifully, decided to end her visit, Lila just had to make things worse.

Taking her phone out, she got close next to him, kissed him on the cheek, and then ran out, sending it to all of her contacts.

He felt all the color drain out of his face.

People touching him, whether he liked it or not, wasn’t new to him. He was a model after all. He had to get touched up, dressed and evaluated. Girls, fans and friends alike, were prone to cling to him, wanting his affection. He tried his best not to make a scene so as to not embarrass his father, but all he ever wanted was to be able to tell some of them to back off.

Just smile and bare it, Adrien. You don’t want to get in trouble with the campaign managers, do you?”

And so, it was just secondhand nature to him at that point to just take it, even if he really didn’t want to. Besides, he couldn’t risk upsetting Lila - what if she got akumatized? He recalled her actions as Volpina and Chameleon, being some of the hardest akumas he had to fight to date. He didn’t want to risk going up against her again anytime soon.

But that leaves him trapped. He’s not allowed to fight back. He’s Adrien Agreste. Perfect model, perfect son, perfect, perfect, perfect perfect perfectperfectperfect-

Space Patrol. I am Hawkmoth. Are you tired of everyone picking and prodding at you? Too nice to get people to back off? I’m giving you the power to manipulate space and dimensions around you to your bidding. All you have to do is get me the miraculouses of Ladybug and Chat Noir? Do we have a deal?”

He knows it’s not right to take up the offer.

Still…

“I’m done with everyone taking advantage of me.”

Today was another victory for Lila Rossi. Not only did she get to see that pathetic Marinette land in the garbage for being such a pest (Lila felt merciful and did not take a picture), but she knew it burned her up to see that Lila got to kiss Adrien.

It was just another step towards her goal of making Adrien her boyfriend. He would be putty in her hands soon enough.

And of course, all of her “friends” at school would soon enough ask about the happy couple. If Nino asked about it? Then she would just have to explain that Adrien asked her to kiss himHe had feelings for her. It wouldn’t even be that difficult of a lie to pull off. A shame, because it was starting to get boring just how easy it was to dupe all of these people.

She goes to turn around the corner, but finds herself… frozen? The area around her starts to lose its shape, and she finds herself limited in her movement. She can’t move to her sides, only capable of moving back and forth. It feels like an old fashioned arcade game that she’s used to seeing everyone talk about and love online (she hasn’t played herself, though if asked, she is of course the National Champion in Italy). 

“What’s wrong, Lila? Don’t like it when someone takes control of your space?”

She doesn’t want to, but she’s able to turn around and come face to face with a familiar someone.

His outfit is completely tacky, and is something out of one of those silly Power Ranger-esque shows. He has a bright white suit, with the torso being black, trimming around the wrists and ankles being gold, and a white and gold helmet, the visor off to reveal his face. A gold badge sits on the right side of his torso, with the words SPACE PATROL printed on them. 

“A-Adrien? Is that you?”

“My proper title is Space Patrol. And Lila Rossi, you have committed the offense of disturbing my personal space. For that, I will confine you to a space to make you understand how you made me feel.”

With a snap of his fingers, a small hole opens up in the ground below her, and she drops down in the sewage system.

“Have fun getting home now, Lie-la.”

Chapter Text

Things were not going according to plan that day for Lila.

First, Adrien finally made plans to hang out with Alya, Marinette and Nino at the zoo. She oh so innocuously, overheard their conversation and asked if she could join in on their plans. They appeared to give a tentative yes, though she could tell that Nino, of all people, did not want her there for some reason, and so, she decided to follow them around. 

That was when she discovered that Nino wanted to confess his feelings to Marinette

Excellent, she thought to herself, if Marinette and him start going out, I won’t have to worry about competition for Adrien! After all, if she’s so in love with him, she wouldn’t mind giving up on her crush for her best friend, right?

After finding a way to cleverly insert herself into the conversation (”I happened to be passing by and overheard you guys talking! I’d like to help too!”) Adrien excitedly took her up on the offer, and the two hid behind a bush, while he was on the ear piece. And of course, she took full advantage of the view - curling up close to him without downright touching him, getting close to his ear to whisper suggestions for him to share with Nino, taking in that lovely scent of his…

It was perfect.

…Until Nino confessed to being in love with Alya.

Now, certainly, Lila could take advantage of Nino being with either Marinette or Alya, since it would get one of them out of her way. But Nino being with Marinette was the more optimal plan if she was going to land Adrien, and if Alya interferred, then Lila would have to wait for another guy interested in Marinette to show up.

But before she could even work out a plan to get things going, a bunch of animals escaped from their cages, chasing Kim and Max.

At first, she cursed her luck, before looking back over to Adrien and smirking.

“Oh, Adrien!” she sighed, “I’m so scared! This is just like the time in Africa with the rhino stampede-”

“We should get somewhere safe,”  he said, cutting her off, “Go to the cafeteria, I’ll meet you there!”

“But Adrien!”

And then he was off. The nerve of that guy to just abandon her like that! Well, no matter. Once she made him her boyfriend, she was going to make sure he knew who was the one wearing the pants in this relationship. 

Although it did give her more ammo for steering Marinette away from him. 

Once again, before she could start to plan how to tell Marinette of Adrien’s cowardice, she’s swooped off the ground by a familiar black-clad superhero.

“Chat Noir?”

“The one and only! It looks like I have purr-fect timing!”

She bit back a groan, not saying anything else until the two of them landed back in the ground. Still holding her, he carries her into an animal cage - it appeared to be for the elephant and it smelled horrendous. That wasn’t even getting into the fact that it had clearly been in the middle of getting cleaned before getting abandoned.

“Wait!” she yelled, as he closed the door, “You can’t leave me in here! I have severe claustrophobia and I could-”

“Sorry little lady,” he said with a quick wave behind, “But you’ll be much safer in here until everything is cleared up! You won’t even have enough time to be feline scared!”

Using his staff, he leaped away from her and toward the akuma. When he was clearly out of sight, Lila harumphed and crossed her arms over her chest. He had the audacity to leave her in such a disgusting cage, making her have to breathe through her nose so she couldn’t smell the waste?

The next time she saw Chat Noir, she was going to let him have it.

Chapter Text

Turning the faucet off and waiting for the rest of the steam to die off before leaving, Marinette finishes up her shower and retreats to her room, plopping herself at her desk chair with a sigh. 

Finally, the day had been over, and yet, Marinette can’t manage to quell her anxiety. The afternoon consisted of nothing but drama, mostly from the class arguing over where they wanted to go for their class field trip. As if that hadn’t been enough, Chloe decided to drop the bomb.

“I bet you’d be more willing to let us go to the TV Station if Adrien suggested it,” she taunted, making sure to look directly at him as she said, “After all, you do have a crush on him.”

Everyone in the room gasped, and Alya was immediately ready to go to war. Meanwhile, Marinette stood there, completely mortified, barely registering Adrien’s response. She was almost thankful when news of an akuma spread to the class, and Marinette wasted no time in finding a spot to transform.

Embarrassment heated her face to the point that she could feel steam coming out of her ears. How was she going to face Adrien tomorrow? Plans of shyly but honestly telling him her feelings were now dashed just because Chloe felt like being petty today. She didn’t even get the chance to talk to him about the incident, and see what he had to say. Not even so much as an apology was granted for the humiliation she suffered.

That’s when she notices the voicemail waiting for her on her phone. From Adrien. Hesitantly, she opens up her messages, but the voice she hears is not who she expects. 

Hello, Ms. Dupain-Cheng, this Nathalie Sancoeur, Adrien’s personal secretary. I regret to inform you that your personal feelings for Adrien, or a crush as he tells me, are not requited at this time. He says that he would like to remain friends and that he has no ill will towards you. Thank you, and have a good night.”

“Marinette?” Tikki asks, “What is it, what happened?” 

Some time passes before Marinette can even slightly recover from the shock of the message. She shakes and sniffles, trying to maintain a positive state of mind. She can’t allow Hawkmoth to get her, after all. Still, how cowardly was Adrien that he needed to resort to his personal secretary to handle rejecting her!? Weren’t they supposed to be friends?

“T-Tikki,” she says, on the verge of crying, “I-I can’t… I have to…”

Through white hot tears, she barely manages to text Alya.

Chapter Text

Maybe things were going a little too well for her.

When she wakes up on that sunny March day, her day, she wakes up excited and optimistic. Marinette always looked forward to her birthday, but this birthday in particular was going to be amazing. For starters, it was the weekend, so there was no school to interrupt. Second, a party had been planned for her by all of her friends. Granted, she wasn't supposed to know about it, but it was the thought that counted. And going hand in hand with that, she'd actually have people outside of her family to celebrate with for a change. When she arrives at the party, she's immediately handing out hugs like they're going out of style.

Kitty Section is up on stage, switching between covers of her favorite songs and playing their own stuff. They conclude with a song that they dedicate to her (she catches the slightest glimpse of Luka with pinkish cheeks, which grow pinker when he sends her the file on her phone, and Rose reveals it was him who wrote the song).

Nino takes over as the DJ afterwards and takes requests from everyone in the crowd. Of course, Marinette gets first pick of the night and everyone happily dances along to it.

Adrien pulls her aside and gives her a cute friendship charm he made to match the one she gave him. The colors even match the outfit she's wearing right now, and she can't help but be over the moon.

She doesn't want to open all of the gifts in front of everyone, just because it'd feel like bragging. However, Lila had been begging her all night to open her gift so she could see her reaction.

This had been the first time Lila was around to celebrate her birthday. Year after year, the most they could ever do was mail presents to each other, and most of the time, they wouldn't even receive them until months after the fact. 

"Please, Marinette," she begs, clasping her hands, "I won't be able to see your reaction otherwise!"

"Me too!" Rose squeals, "I want to capture every moment of you seeing my gift!"

Everybody else starts nodding along and agreeing. She's so busy regarding them, trying to figure out what to do, that she barely sees Lila's glance of annoyance. Thankfully, Alya is there to save the day.

"Looks like you're just going to have to open everyone's present," she says with a gentle pat, "Why don't you close your eyes and pick at random, that way you don't have to feel like you're playing favorites?"

She curls her lip inward. "You guys won't mind?"

"Of course not!" Alya insists, "Now go ahead, sit down and close your eyes. I'll shuffle everything up!"

About three minutes later, Marinette finds herself blindfolded as she reaches into a bag and pulls out something in a glass frame. It's a beautifully if eccentrically colored sketch of her wearing one of her own designs. She can tell from the handiwork that it's a collaboration between Alix and Nathaniel.

The next thing she pulls out is a large gift bag containing a customized teddy bear that played a Kitty Section song when the arm was pressed. She could quickly tell it was from Juleka and Rose, based on the outfits she was given - a pink tutu with a flowery headband and a black and purple witch's robe with a matching hat. 

The next package she pulls has rather plain looking wrapping, but a bold colored ribbon to stand out. Inside of a white box, is a rather nice, vintage, black denim jacket. She can tell it's from Mylene and Ivan, as they both shoot her a smile, recalling a conversation they had about getting jackets for Kitty Section and Marinette making an offhand comment that denim was her favorite material.

Kim and Max had splurged a bit and bought her the DLC pass for Ultimate Mecha Strike III. She feels a bit guilty about it, seeing as she hasn’t had enough time lately to pick up the game and play like she used to. Still, maybe when she had some spare time, she could use it as an incentive to relax.

The next thing she picks up is clearly a shoe box. She’s a bit nervous seeing as it’s from Alya and Nino, and she’s worried that they really might have dropped some money to get her something nice. It turns out though, to her relief, it’s a pair of really nice black boots she saw in a secondhand store, but didn’t have the money for at the time. With a bit of polish and handiwork, they would be a work of art.

Two objects remain in the bag, the first of which is a giant roll of silk. There’s no note to indicate who it came from, and when she looks about the crowd, no one in particular pops up to admit that it was them. Even looking to Alya, who smiles, but says nothing, doesn’t make things any clearer.

“Don’t you just love it, Marinette?” Lila asks, placing a hand on her shoulder, “I know you wanted some nicer material, so I had 5 meters imported all the way from Italy!”

“That’s not true ,” Alya interjects immediately, “I saw you come here to the party and you didn’t bring that roll of silk! Adrien did.” 

Everyone falls silent, trying to look everywhere but at them. Instead, they all seem content to gaze in Adrien’s direction, who is trying to make himself as scarce as possible.

“Ignore her, Marinette!” Lila insists, “She’s just jealous that I was able to get you such a nice gift! And isn’t it mean of you to ruin such an important event by being petty, Alya?”

“G-Guys, maybe we could-”

“Tell them, Adrien,” Alya insists, “Who is the present from?”

By now, there’s no way he can avoid the question. He still avoids everyone’s gaze, as he fumbles around for his words. “Um, it’s true that I brought it with me… but I wasn’t the one to give it to you, Marinette.”

“That’s right,” Lila interjects, “Adrien brought it here because I forgot it! Isn’t that so nice of him?”

With all of her heart, Marinette wants to believe Lila. Not for a single second does she want to believe that Lila would mislead her in anyway, and only cared about making her happy. 

There’s something about the way Lila smirks that always got to Marinette. The upper corners of her lips curled with a sense of confidence and poise as if to assure that everything was under control. Before, Marinette found it awfully cute, and daydreamed more about it than she wanted to admit.

Now looking at her “reassuring” smile, a pit forms in Marinette’s stomach. She feels like Lila has suddenly grown fifty feet and is leering down at her from above, trying to get her to submit to her will.

Looking to Alya, however, makes Lila’s spell die out, especially with such an intense, deathly stare. It’d be comforting, if everyone else around them hadn’t been watching. One thing for sure was that she’d certainly be cleaning up after an akuma after this confrontation.

“Answer the question, Adrien,” Alya repeats, “ Who bought that silk for Marinette?”

Adrien gulps, still averting his gaze. She's just barely able to make out his answer.

“It was Chloe.”

Chapter Text

The plan to ruin Marinette Dupain-Cheng’s reputation and credibility was well under way. And while there had been a bump in the road with Bustier undoing her seat switch plan at the end of the day, Lila still considered the day a victory. After all, she managed to sow the seeds of distrust, and the class managed to believe her over Marinette. She gave the baker girl maybe a month, tops, before everything came crashing down on her, and with no way to prove that Lila had anything to do with it.

 

Of course, there was still the issue of Adrien, but he was a pushover. All he wanted was to make friends ! He had no spine, and it would only be a matter of time before she had him twisted around her little finger.

 

That night, maybe an hour or so before retiring to bed, she hatches her next plan and hits up Alya with a text:

 

L: Hey, Alya? Could I have Marinette’s number? I’d like to work things out with her and maybe even get her opinion on some clothes??

 

Usually, for texts like these, she gets a pretty immediate response. She even gets the animation indicating that Alya is typing a message, only for it to stop and no message to be sent. Frowning, she places the phone down on her desk as she goes about browsing social media profiles of her classmates and the stars she’s supposedly schmoozed with, checking to see if there are any new updates. About thirty minutes pass when Alya finally responds, and Lila can’t help but roll her eyes at what might have possibly kept Alya for so long.

 

A: heyyy, i think it’s great u want to get along w Mari, but i think it’s better 2 give her some space after 2day. but if it’s an emergency, i can ask her 4 u!

 

Squinting her eyes, she gives the text a long, hard glance before realizing that it’s real. It has to be some sort of joke. There’s no real reason Alya should be hesitant in giving her something like this. 

 

L: I was worried about this. Marinette must really hate me if she doesn’t even want to give me her number!

 

A satisfied smirk spreads across her face as she waits for the inevitable anxious reply. Surely, Alya wouldn’t want her new friend to feel so left out and targeted, right? Once again, the texting animation is quickly evident, and she can practically hear Alya apologizing for making her feel so bad about it. 

 

A: i swear it’s not like that!!! just give her some time & she’ll warm up, i swear!! so how about those outfits!?

 

Scowling, she quickly responds with a half-hearted “never mind, I’ll ask Clara’s designer instead,” and tosses the phone across the room onto her bed with a sigh. Perhaps it’s just a fluke, and maybe tomorrow, when Lila comes face to face with Alya, she can corner her into giving up Marinette’s number. It’s not something she should be this worried about anyway, but if she’s going to forge fake messages, she needs to make it look like they had contact with each other.

 

For now, that idea is on hold. Still, there’s plenty of ways to shake things up the next morning.

---

While having a position of power made you respected, it also made you stress out over every other little thing, and put you in a position of criticism. Thankfully, Lila doesn’t have to contend with the responsibilities of Class Rep, and can instead content herself to push Marinette’s buttons instead.

 

“...And the class vs class picnic will be happening next Friday,” she says, finishing the morning announcements, “Please make sure to bring athletic attire to change into, because we will  be getting messy. Does anyone have any questions?”

 

Oh boy, does Lila ever. She meekly raises her hand, making sure at least one or two other classmates note the wary expression on her face. Biting back a sigh, Marinette points to her and asks, “Yes?”

 

“Um, well, I’m not sure I can handle anything outdoorsy,” she pouts, holding out her hand, “My wrist is busted and I can’t really throw anything.”

 

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about that,” Mylene interrupts, smiling cheerfully, “We made sure to include some non-athletic activities, like making friendship bracelets and writing nature haikus! If you don’t want to use pen and paper, you should be able to bring your tablet!”

 

With her lips curling inward, Lila has to bite back a dark glare. Something was definitely up. She’s not sure what, but Marinette must have told them something about the previous day. It’s difficult to tell because Marinette doesn’t have a very distinctive expression, but Lila would be a fool to believe otherwise.

 

And she would certainly not be that.

 

“That’s very nice of you to think of me,” she says, trying to bite back tears, “But, um, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to go that day, anyway. I’m supposed to be volunteering at a charity event to help reduce carbon emissions. Is it possible that we could have the picnic a day earlier? Or the next week?”

 

Some glances are exchanged in the rows before conversation breaks out. As she expects, Marinette’s face contorts with annoyance, and she opens her mouth to say something, but she’s cut off by Alya, who places a hand on her shoulder, and shakes her head. Turning to Lila, she says, “Actually, me and Mari spent a lot of time organizing this event with the other student reps, and it wouldn’t be fair to suddenly reschedule like that. But I assure you that we have some other events in the future that we’ll be more easily able to take your schedule into account, just as long as you tell us ahead of time, Lila.”

 

“Oh,” she pouts, blinking as rapidly as she can. “That’s too bad. I was really looking forward to going too…” she says with a sigh.

 

“Well,” Mylene offers, “We can always throw you a picnic another day. That way, Marinette and the other student reps don’t have to worry about all that rescheduling, and you can still have fun hanging out with us. Right, guys?”

 

The chattering, the annoying, annoying chattering grows more excited, as if they already have it planned in stone. As though they no longer have to give Lila anymore thought or concern. Of course, she’d have to be gracious and just accept it, right?

 

There’s still no sign from Marinette that she’s in on it, or that she’s satisfied with the turn out. For someone who hates lying so much, she must be pretty good at it. There’s no way she’s innocent.

 

Still, Lila has no choice but to playfully bat her eyes and practically coo at the suggestion. “You’re all just so wonderful! I would love that, of course!”

 

A pen snaps in her hands, and the ink covers the knee of her leggings. But her forced smile doesn’t falter for a second, lest she want to draw unwanted attention.

---

Marinette is naive to leave her backpack by itself, without a single eye to watch it. It seems that Chloe failed at her job at instilling fear in the school, if Marinette was going around carefree without any sort of protection. But that leaves Lila free to sneak into her bag and plant the answers for the test that they finished taking-

 

A sudden, squeakish voice interrupts, causing her to drop the paper.

 

“There you are, Lila!” Rose says cheerfully, “What are you doing?”

 

Jumping, it takes her a moment to realize she’s dropped the paper. She unfortunately can’t see where it landed, and she finds herself sputtering, sputtering, her response, “O-Oh, Rose! I-I was just… I found Marinette’s backpack!”

 

“Oh, she was looking for that!” Rose says, picking it up and hugging it to her chest, “That’s awfully nice of you, Lila! Marinette was looking for that.”

 

“It’s not a big deal! I just wanted to help out a friend, you know?”

 

“You really are a sweetheart, you know?” Rose says, patting her shoulder, “Still, I think we’re better off just telling Marinette it was in the lost or found.”

 

She blinks. “What? Why?” 

 

“Well, we don’t want to give Marinette the wrong idea,” Rose points out, “You might be trying to help her, but knowing her, she’ll probably think you tampered with her stuff.”

 

“I can’t believe she thinks so little of me,” Lila sniffs, “I’m only trying to help.”

 

“Oh, we know,” Rose says, patting her shoulder, “And someday she’ll be able to see that. But I think she’s really coming around. Just a little more time and she’ll see just how cool you really are!”

 

As they leave the area, Lila waits for a moment to sneak back into the backpack, but the opportunity never presents itself. Soon enough, Marinette is reunited with her backpack, and Lila knows from her narrowed leer, she’s bound to search through the bag to make sure it wasn’t tampered with.

 

--

There is no doubt in her mind that this is deliberate sabotage. Marinette said something to get these goons to follow her around and interrupt at the most opportune and least convenient moments. Plan after plan, ruined because they “don’t want Marinette getting the wrong impression of her!” 

 

Well, with any luck, that was going to stop today.

 

She is quick to follow Marinette into the bathroom and pin her against the walls.

 

“So, you think you’re so smart, huh? Getting your friends to keep an eye on me and keep you out of trouble?”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“Stop lying !” Lila shouts, “Playing stupid isn’t your forte! I know you said something about me to them to ruin my plans! Well, guess what? I have plenty of methods that’ll get you expelled.”

 

“Just what the hell do you think you’re doing, Lila?” Alya’s booming voice calls out, holding a phone in front of her. Behind her are Alix, Mylene, Rose and Juleka, who all share darkened expressions and are ready to voice their distaste. She has to think of something quick if she’s going to recover and get control of the situation again.

 

“A-Alya,” she stammers, trying to force a smile, “M-Marinette was just, um, she was bullying me! Can you believe it?”

 

“No, I can’t,” Alya retorts, “Because I just captured footage for the past few minutes of you attacking Marinette in the bathroom and threatening to get her expelled! And after everything we did for you, trying to help you get along with her, especially at Adrien’s suggestion!” She clicks her tongue. 

 

Blinking, she looks from Marinette back to Alya. Adrien ? Adrien was the one to calculate this plan? She supposed it would make some degree of sense - Adrien was hardly the type to get his hands dirty when he had assistants and money to do that for him. Still, there was no way the boy with the least amount of backbone in the entire school would go out of his way to sabotage her , especially not for Marinette .

 

“You’re a liar,” Lila hisses, before trying to smile again, “Adrien would never suggest something so diabolical.”

 

“Since when was trying to help people get along diabolical?” Alix points out, “If anyone is headed toward the realm of villainy and bullying, it’s you. Anything else you want to confess to?”

 

And for once, Lila’s out of stories to spin.