Panic struck Rena Rouge’s heart as she watched the latest of Hawkmoth’s many villains sneak up on her teammate and take a hold of one of her red and black earrings. The hazel-eyed girl felt her body freeze in place as Ladybug’s mask slowly started to dematerialise and her yoyo disappeared from her hand.
Just as the entirety of the mask faded away, Ladybug looked up and met Rena’s wide-eyed gaze. A gasp escaped Rena’s lips as recognition flashed in her mind. She knew Ladybug’s—or should she say, Marinette’s—secret identity now!
A loud bang shook her from her daze as a myriad of thoughts filtered through her head, a mix of bewilderment, anger and dysphoria showing in her expression. Chat Noir stood behind the akuma (staff in one hand, Ladybug’s earring in the other) who now lay unconscious on the hard concrete beneath them. He handed Marinette the earring, glancing away so that he wouldn’t catch a glimpse of her face. So he wouldn’t find out the same secret Rena now knew.
Marinette briskly fastened the earring back in place, her super-suit magically reappearing in a wave of magical sparkles and scintillating light. The girls’ gazes met again as Ladybug awkwardly smiled before picking up the item holding the evil butterfly and smashing it to the ground.
After de-evilising the butterfly, Ladybug and Chat Noir held out their fists, waiting for Rena Rouge to join them. She hesitantly paced over and—with a shout of “pound it!”—the three fistbumped before Chat jumped away, his ring beeping loudly.
“Rena, can you come with me?” Ladybug questioned, trying to hide the anxiety pooling within her. Rena nodded and the two jumped away.
As they landed on a very familiar balcony, Ladybug’s miraculous let out its final shrill sound of warning and, in the blink of an eye, she was Marinette again.
“So…” she began, taking a deep breath as she tried to figure out what to say. “You’ve probably got some questions, right?”
Rena Rouge nodded, an unreadable expression etched on her face. “Yeah. I’m sorry my illusion failed. If it hadn’t, we wouldn’t be in this situation right now.”
“I suppose so,” Marinette replied, clasping and unclasping her hands to try and remain calm. “But that’s in the past now. We need to deal with the present.”
“Yeah,” Rena mumbled, letting out a sigh. Her necklace let out a beep, catching her attention. Only two sections remained orange. “I honestly don’t know how to feel. On one hand, my best friend lied to me,” Marinette winced and sucked in a quick breath, “but on the other, she chose me to be a superhero—something that’s really changed my life for the better. The fact that you gave me it permanently straight away means the world to me. I’m so glad you see me as a trustworthy ally.”
As her final beep sounded and a flash of orange light overtook her, Alya surged forward and wrapped her arms around Marinette in a grateful hug. A smile blossomed on her face as Marinette hugged her back.
“Thank you,” Alya whispered, tears building in the corners of her eyes and she hugged her best friend even tighter. “Thank you so much.”
───── ⋆♡⋆ ─────
Throughout the course of the next few months, the girls’ bond strengthened. Every time Marinette had to disappear to be Ladybug when Rena Rouge was unneeded, Alya would cover for her—no matter how terrible the excuse was.
“She had to take her pet hamster to the vet?” Alya explained, her words sounding more like a question as she crumbled under Ms Mendeleev's scrutinising stare. A nervous giggle escaped her lips.
Ms Mendeleev only glared at Alya before slamming down the work Marinette had just missed on the wooden desk.
Alya sighed in relief before gathering up the sheets of paper and slotting them into a folder she’d made specifically for Marinette’s missed schoolwork. That way, Alya wouldn’t get it mixed up with her own homework.
As she left the building, Alya spotted a blur of red swing in through the window to Marinette’s bedroom, a quick flash of luminescent light following a few seconds after. That meant the akuma attack was over, and that Marinette would be home. A smile blossomed on the hazel-eyed girl’s face at the prospect of spending more time with her best friend, a weird tingle of nervousness joining her excitement.
She hurriedly sprinted across the road when there was a short break in traffic, causing a few cars to honk at her. Alya’s smile became more sheepish as she ignored the shout of a driver and opened the door to the bakery, saying hello to Tom and Sabine before heading upstairs to see Marinette.
The trapdoor was already open when Alya reached the stairs connecting Marinette’s room to the apartment. Trixx flew on ahead as Alya made her way up the stairs, her loud footsteps catching Tikki’s attention.
“The attack exhausted her,” Tikki began as they reached the top of the stairs. The ladybug kwami pointed at Marinette’s chaise where the blue-eyed teen lay stomach-down, her hand hanging off the edge. “She fell asleep just after arriving home so you’ll have to be quiet.
A fond smile blossomed on Alya’s lips at the sight of Marinette. She dropped her bag on the desk before pacing over to the chaise and kneeling down next to Marinette before pressing a faint kiss to the girl’s forehead. She stirred a little, rolling over so that she was now on her back.
“We should probably get her a blanket.” Alya whispered to the kwamis before walking up the steps to Marinette’s bed to fetch one. Carefully, she made her way back down, tiptoeing so that she didn’t make enough noise to wake her.
After draping the blanket over Marinette, Alya pressed another kiss to her forehead. “Sweet dreams,” she whispered, glancing over to the desk a second later.
Standing up from her crouch, she walked over to the desk and picked up a pen and a pack of post-it notes, leaving a short message to Marinette to let her know she’d give her the missed work at patrol so that Alya could properly explain it to her and let her copy some of her notes.
───── ⋆♡⋆ ─────
When Ladybug showed up for her and Rena’s patrol (Rena Rouge had sent a message to the other heroes on her flute a few hours prior to let them know she and Ladybug would be taking today’s shift), Rena took one look at her and started laughing.
“I only woke up five minutes ago,” Ladybug explained with a yawn, stretching out her arms. “I didn’t have enough time to clean up.”
“Yeah, no kidding,” Rena giggled, watching as Ladybug tried to brush her hair with her fingers. Strands stuck out in all directions and her pigtails were incredibly loose. That was only one part of it, though. “Your eyeliner is smudged all over your eyelid—probably in your eyebrows, too, but the mask covers that.”
“Dang it,” she angrily whispered, letting out a huge sigh of annoyance. “I’ll deal with it later. I need to get that schoolwork done before my parents find out I missed class again.”
About an hour later, the two girls sat side-by-side on the side of a rooftop, the folder of schoolwork behind them so it wouldn’t teeter off the edge.
“I honestly feel a little sorry for him,” Rena admitted, grimacing a little. “Nino’s crush on you is so obvious it hurts. I’ve never seen him so anxious.”
“Remember when he walked up to us this morning?”
Rena nodded, recalling the memory. Earlier on, Nino had attempted to talk to Marinette again, the end result being a spectacular fail. The poor boy had stumbled over his words until Adrien had walked over and dragged him away, stopping him from embarrassing himself and mouthing the word ‘sorry’ as he glanced back at them.
“I hope we can talk normally again soon,” Ladybug said, letting out a sigh. “He’s a nice guy, but I don’t like him that way and I’d hate to not be able to speak to him ever again.”
“Yeah,” she mumbled in response, remembering something else from that morning. Up until Nino had been dragged away by the arm, Alya had felt this strange feeling. She wasn’t quite sure what it was, but it certainly wasn’t positive.
But when Ladybug’s head rested upon her shoulder and Rena’s heart started to beat a mile a minute, it all suddenly clicked. She was falling in love with Marinette, and the emotion from earlier was jealousy.
Not quite sure what to make of the sudden epiphany, Rena stayed quiet. Thoughts tumbled through her head as she began to imagine scenarios, each one always having the same outcome: unrequited love. She let out a deep sigh, trying to push the thoughts away.
A minute or so later, a small yawn escaped Ladybug’s lips, her hand moving to cover her mouth. “It’s getting late. We should probably go home.”
Unsatisfied with the lack of contact as Ladybug stood up, Rena Rouge quickly shot up and wrapped her arms around her in a hug, the blue-eyed heroine returning the embrace.
“Goodnight.” Ladybug mumbled as she pulled away from the hug, her hand reached down to grab her yo-yo.
In a spur of the moment decision, Rena panicked and leaned in, kissing her on the cheek. Heat pooled in her cheeks as she realised what she’d just done, and butterflies fluttered in her stomach as an air of silence hung around them.
“G-goodnight!” Rena stuttered, surprised by her sudden action. Her eyes widened as she turned around and jumped away, sprinting home as fast as she can, mumbling a string of incoherent words under her breath.
Ladybug’s hand slowly reached up to touch the cheek Rena had just kissed, a smile blossoming on her face as heat pooled into her cheeks.
It seemed like her new crush wouldn’t be unrequited this time.