“Ah, Ladybug. How may I help you today?” Master Fu opened his door and gestured Marinette to come inside with a slightly raised eyebrow as he sensed that her spiritual energy was out of sync. Something was terribly wrong with the girl.
“Master Fu, I h-hate to bother you… but Tikki said that I should come because…I-I need your help.” An almost tearful Marinette answered. “I’ve been trying to deal with it myself, but I have to admit, I’ve… I’ve been compromised.”
It had been awhile since they had fought Puppeteer again at the wax museum, and Adrien’s oh so casual mention of the girl that he loves after Marinette’s embarrassing ‘accidental’ confession and the even more horrific kiss that was so bad, Adrien jumped away from her with such speed that he probably broke the sound barrier in shock and was that revulsion? With how hurt she was that he had tricked her and that she had fallen for it, confessed and kissed him accidentally, she couldn’t read how he felt about it. Except she now knew that he told her about the girl that he loves and had been keeping secret apparently at the first opportunity.
She had no idea who it was. Was it an excuse? Just to let her down easily? Adrien didn’t seem to be THAT close with Kagami, but maybe their relationship was a secret. Maybe that was the truth and it wasn’t a poor attempt to say that he wasn’t interested.
Part of her hoped so.
All she knew, was that for her part, she never thought that she’d feel like this after kissing Adrien Agreste.
Embarrassed. Stupid, small, unimportant and worst of all, broken.
Marinette tried to move past what happened, they did ‘discuss’ it right away and she tried to wish him happiness in her heart, but it was just so hard and it hurt. It hurt to think that she was ‘just a friend’ and that she would never be, no could never be, anything more.
I’m not good enough. Her self-doubts and worries ate her alive.
As she thought about it… it was like he pitied her. She was just an ordinary girl after all, of course he’d make fun of her crush. Had he just been tolerating it this whole time? Had he known? He’d told her he was in love with another girl and that was so hard to hear, but she wasn’t surprised.
Her thoughts as she went to sleep that first night, after pretending to not be as hurt after all that had happened, well, they weren’t good.
I’m an idiot.
I’ve seen him kissed on the cheek by Chloe, Lila and Kagami. Marinette thought. I’ve kissed him on the cheek before. He… he seemed to tolerate the one from Chloe and probably me too now that I know that I repulse him.
Of course, I would. I’m not pretty, I’m not rich. I’m just a poor baker’s daughter with a hopeless crush to tease.
Marinette tried to regulate her thoughts and breathe, she knew that she couldn’t be akumatized, but it was hard. It was hard not to let her worries and the pain consume her without giving in to it.
Adrien accepted the cheek kiss from Lila with more grace than mine because he was in front of a camera, I should have seen that. She mentally scolded herself, the only cheek kiss he seemed to enjoy was the one from Kagami. How could I have been so stupid as to not have noticed that?
Was it all in my mind?
It probably was.
He just wants to be my friend and I’ve acted terribly for a friend.
No wonder he teased and made fun of me.
I’m a horrible person.
Of course, he wouldn’t like me like that.
The thoughts that came after that were worse, but thankfully she hadn’t started crying quietly to herself, lost in her thoughts until after her kwami had gone to sleep.
I wish I could disappear and never have to see him again.
Thankfully she was lucky and no akumas showed up to haunt her and she eventually fell into a restless sleep.
The first few days were the hardest.
Thankfully the museum trip had been Friday and she wasn’t going to have to face -him- until Monday.
Marinette kept herself busy by doing her commissions and helping in the bakery over the weekend. She even managed to finish her homework for the week, but she hardly got any sleep because every time she tried, she would wind up crying and just attract another akuma.
She was beginning to drag, both mentally and physically.
After having attracted five akumas already, Marinette was starting to get a little paranoid, but she still refused to tell anyone about it, not really.
She told Tikki to please leave her alone about it, “I’m trying. Really I am!” Was her excuse every time.
Her mother and father picked up on her mood almost immediately, but she wanted her space and they wouldn’t press the issue, especially after they noticed that she removed all of Adrien’s professional photographs off of her walls and then hid most of them at the bottom of her closet, unable to toss them all just yet.
Besides her parents, the first to notice was Luka. He had come over to check the fit of his Kitty Section t-shirt Sunday afternoon. He had brought his guitar and of course gave her a look of concern before playing her a sad and haunted melody.
“Marinette, your melody, your harmony… well, it sounds like you’re in pain. Is there something wrong?”
She didn't mean to let him see her feelings, the dull ache of all her pains and doubts in herself that was now haunting her. “I- I may need a minute to calm down.”
He nodded as somehow, he understood that she didn’t want to talk about it, not really, but he wouldn’t push her to tell him more.
She wanted to deal with it, but she was only able to tell him honestly, “I’ve just been dealing with,” she swallowed, “something hard.” Then she picked up his Kitty Section shirt that she had just finished and handed it to him, “let’s get your fitting done first, you can take off your shirt and try this one on in the bathroom.” She tried to say calmly.
Luka had nodded once more, laid down his guitar on her chaise and took off his jacket and laid it beside it before turning to her, and gently putting his hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “I’m here whenever you need me Marinette.” Then he held up the shirt that she had just finished as he told her, “I want to help you whenever you’re ready. All that I ask is that you let me. No strings attached, I promise.” Then he gave her a quick wink and told her with a whisper, “I’ll be right back.” Then he walked to the bathroom to try on his new shirt.
Marinette took a deep breath and wondered why she had the bad luck to fall for such an oblivious guy like Adrien. The humiliation and embarrassment from the museum still stung. She had forced herself to interact with him with their friends on their group chat since then, but it wasn't easy.
She tried to exhale all the stress of knowing that being with Adrien just wasn’t to be. He loved another girl. Probably Kagami.
What does Kagami have that I don’t? Marinette wondered as her eyes grew wet. Besides being upper class like him, pretty, rich, poised, a fencer, strong and definitely not clumsy. Everything I’m not.
Marinette groaned a little.
No, I can’t think like that. Adrien is allowed to love whoever he wants to. Marinette reminded herself again mentally. That doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with me.
She kept trying not to think about Adrien, but it was hard to let go.
Luka returned, with his old Jagged Stone shirt in hand, before he tossed it on his jacket. Then he smiled at Marinette and raised his arms to turn around and show off her work. “Fits like a glove.” He commented with a grin, happy to wear one of her works.
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Marinette replied softly, causing Luka to chuckle as she approached and checked the seams. She pinched the seam on his left side and he laughed, “hey, that tickles!”
Marinette couldn’t help but smile sweetly, as she decided that they both could probably use the laugh as she tickled his sides. Luka’s laugh was a happy melody all of its own, like a rainbow that made the storm worthwhile.
So, she tickled him more.
“Hey!” Luka objected as he laughed again, before he turned on her and tickled her back. It wasn’t long until they were almost wrestling as they had a tickle fight that lasted several minutes, the trouble was, as Marinette’s eyes watered from laughing, she eventually began to genuinely cry. The happiness of spending time with Luka was short lived, unfortunately.
Why? Why couldn’t it have been me? Her doubts and fears resurfaced. Why am I not worthy? Will I always be alone?
Even Luka’s not interested in me enough to do something about it.
They were on the floor at that point and Luka quickly wrapped her up in his arms and held her, rocking her as he hummed a comforting song just for her as he gently rubbed her back and brushed her hair out of her face as she cried her eyes out.
Luka was a godsend. She was pretty certain that he was the reason why an akuma didn’t show up this time, because she was thankful that he was here.
Thank you, Luka.
Marinette had cried herself to sleep and Luka carefully carried her up to her bed and laid her down gently, tucking her in before going to her parents to ask them if they could call him if she needed him again. They thanked him for his help, they had heard that laughter from the tickle fight and had admitted that something had happened, but they weren’t at liberty to say.
Luka had shouldered his guitar and told them, “it’s okay. I don’t need to know what is bothering her, I don’t mind just being there for her, just, anything for Marinette. Please let her know that I want to help her. She is such an amazing girl.”
Sabine and Tom were grateful for his help and agreed to tell her.
Unfortunately, Luka’s mother needed him at home and he had to leave, but he left Marinette a note with his number asking her to call him whenever, and he also left the dock address of his family’s boat, just in case.
Marinette woke up for a late dinner, and her sadness was a bit muted, but managed to attract another akuma when she went back to bed that night.
Alya noticed on Monday morning that something was wrong, but she respected Marinette’s request to just leave it alone… for a while anyway.
“Gurl, whatever it is, I’m here for you and so are the rest of the girls.”
“Thanks Alya, but… but I’ll be fine. I just need some time, please.” Marinette cared enough about Adrien that she didn’t want Alya to be mad at him, so she didn’t explain.
“I’m here when you’re ready.” Alya had replied and then went to hang out with Nino for lunch.
Adrien looked like he wanted to talk with her when Nino left him too, but Marinette rushed off, she could always find something else to do.
Chat Noir noticed that there was something wrong with his lady during their Monday afternoon battle, but Ladybug didn’t want to tell him about her humiliation.
A part of her was afraid that he might be happy now that she was ‘free,’ although it was petty of her and she knew it. Chat Noir probably wouldn’t be like that.
It just didn’t feel like she was free, it felt like she was drowning, being unable to truly cry it out was hard because she had to keep an eye out for an akuma and she wasn’t about to tell Chat how many akumas she’s been attracting. She didn’t want him to worry either.
If she had told Chat, he might just want to know the name of the guy that had toyed with her so he could go and defend her somehow. That’s the last thing I need, Chat trying to hurt Adrien. Is it wrong of me that I’m the only one who wants to hurt? She wondered.
So, she told her partner nothing.
As time went by, with Marinette in a partial trance, she broke out of it enough to call Luka a few times since Sunday and he hummed a song for her or played her something to help her feel better each time. He offered to come over so that he could be there for her in person, but she made excuses for him to not show up each time.
I don’t want to be a burden, not to him, not to anyone. The thought echoed and in her darkest moments she thought, I’m not worth it.