Marinette stood by the moving tracks, waiting for her luggage to finally appear. When she finally saw her large, pink suitcase, coupled with few backpacks. She was moving her whole livelihood to Gotham, so of course there would be a lot to carry. Damian was first to reach for her things, always eager to be a gentleman. When Marinette moved to join, another hand grabbed one of the backpacks. She shot up, ready to claim her things back, only to be met with a familiar, smiling face. „Jon?“
„Nice to see you again, Marinette!“ he greeted.
„Jon, what the hell are you doing here?“ Damian groaned.
„I came to meet you guys! My bro returned from Paris after a year, of course I gotta see you,“ Jon explained, effortlessly gathering the luggage.
„You're supposed to wait at the checkout, not sneak in here,“ Damian reminded him, while the teen just shrugged.
„You know I get excited,“ Jon waved awkwardly, forgetting he was holding Marinette's backpack. Damian hurriedly pulled Marinette back, the two barely avoiding the swing. Jon jumped in panic. „Oh! I'm so sorry! I almost hurt you! I didn't know the bags were this heavy...“
„Jon, I got those knuckles. I will beat the crap out of you,“ Damian threatened, yet Jon, having heard it countless times before, was unaffected.
„So, uh, Marinette, can I talk to you real quick? Y'know, alone?“ ignoring his best friend, Jon turned to Marinette.
„No, you can't,“ Damian growled.
„Come on, man, you can't be so clingy. Give the girl some space! She'll get bored of you,“ Jon teased.
„I'm not clingy!“ Damian defended himself.
„I don't think I could ever get bored of him,“ Marinette giggled. „It's alright. You can talk to me. There's nothing to hide in front of Damian. I trust him.“
„Uh, yeah, that's nice. But it's kind of supposed to be a surprise...“ Jon tried to explain.
„You really don't know how to keep a secret, don't you?“ Marinette couldn't help but be amused. She decided to indulge him. „Okay. Can you wait a few moments, Dami?“
„I don't like surprises,“ Damian frowned.
„I'm sure it's something lovely. Don't worry, I won't let anything bad happen to you,“ Marinette assured, standing on her tiptoes to quickly peck him on the lips.
„That's my line,“ Damian smiled, pacified by the kiss. „Alright. You go plot with him. Just tell me the details later.“
Taking a few steps away from Damian as he hoarded the luggage, Jon leaned over with a panic on his face.
„Please, please, please don't tell him anything, he'll try to kill me,“ he hurriedly said.
„What's wrong?“ Marinette furrowed her brows.
„So, uh, I might've screwed the pooch. You know Teen Titans?“ Jon asked.
„I do. Damian mentioned he used to work with them, together with you,“ the pigtailed girl nodded. „Did you do something bad?“
„I mean, not really? I just wanted to boast about my bro finally getting a girlfriend, y'know? But I think they misunderstood me and now they think he's kidnapped you. They got the whole mission about saving you from the Waynes, and it's kind of my fault,“ Jon explained.
„They seriously think I'm being kidnapped? It's not a joke like usual?“ Marinette had hard time believing him.
„They're not very smart,“ Jon sighed. „In any case, could you help clear up the misunderstanding? Before it gets out of control and they do something stupid. Like raiding a Batcave or something.“
„Couldn't you have done that yourself?“ Marinette pointed out.
„I tried, but they wouldn't listen! These guys are super nice, but sometimes they take things too far, y'know?“
Marinette stared at the tall boy, her brows lifted. She was about to respond, when she heard several screams, and spotted what seemed to be a green rhinoceros charging through the airport. A black youth with mostly electronic body rode on his back, with two girls flying next to them, one with dark orange skin, flaming auburn hair, dressed in revealing warm purple outfit, while the other was shrouded by darkness.
„There he is! Get him!“ the robot guy pointed at Damian.
„Oh boy,“ Jon sucked in air. „Marinette, we should – no, wait, don't!“
Jon covered his mouth as he watched the petite girl run towards her boyfriend, currently in a fighting stance, and tackle him out of the way of the four heroes.
„Ow...“ Damian winced. He was bracing himself for the attack of Teen Titans, and didn't expect a small blur to knock him from the side.
Marinette quickly stood up, standing between him and the four heroes.
„Wait! Wait! Stop! There's been a misunderstanding!“ she said with her arms raised towards them.
„Oh, it's the cutie!“ the magnificent girl in warm purples gushed.
„Did she just... bum-rush Wayne?“ the green rhino spoke. Marinette didn't bat an eye, she's seen stranger things, though she did wonder how he was able to speak with a jaw like that.
„We're here to rescue you,“ the other girl dispersed the darkness, revealing the black cloak beneath.
„Jon! What did you do?!“ Damian roared, quickly standing up.
„I was just happy for you, bro!“ Jon defended, leaning over from behind the green rhino. The robot guy riding him was unable to speak, nearly falling off the back as he doubled over in laughter.
„How about everyone just calms down? We can calmly discuss this,“ Marinette tried to reason with the heroes.
The heroes exchanged looks. Jon hid from Damian's furious glare.
* * *
„So he didn't actually kidnap you?“ Starfire asked, before slurping her drink through a straw.
„No. I am here entirely out of my own will. Besides, it's not like he could kidnap me, even if he wanted to,“ Marinette laughed.
„That's true. I'd just annoyingly stay at your side at all times,“ Damian said with a proud smile, his arm hooked around her. The group blinked as they watched the warm expression he used to look at her.
„Bizarre,“ Raven couldn't help but comment.
„Oh, man, and here I thought we'd be breaking into his Ba – erm, mancave. I always wanted to see how it looked like,“ Beast Boy laughed.
„Same. Imagine that super computer...“ Cyborg sighed.
„Is that why you two came? It was supposed to be a rescue mission, not prancing around,“ Raven rolled her eyes.
„Wait, you guys know...“ Marinette leaned over and whispered.
„Yeah,“ Starfire nodded. „If you work with other superheroes as much as we do, you tend to figure out stuff like that. Some are obvious, others not so much. We only know members of the Justice League and their families, though.“
„Shouldn't they be more careful about that?“ Marinette couldn't help but sigh.
„It's useful in case of emergencies. Entirely different from the Paris situation,“ Damian reminded her. „It's alright, my angel. They're idiots, but they can be trusted.“
„Do you know their civilian identities as well?“ the pigtailed girl asked.
„Only I have one,“ Jon said quietly. „These guys don't bother. Teen Titans is a professional organisation.“
„Are you going to become a superhero too? Considering...“ Starfire nodded towards Damian. „I mean, you'd make a great one. You were really impressive at the airport, especially without powers.“
„I wish you'd stop doing that,“ Damian sighed. „You make me worry when you throw yourself into danger like that.“
„Not the first time?“ Cyborg lifted his human brow.
„Bro, let me tell you how she tackled Joker...“
* * *
„It was so nice meeting you, Marinette!“ Starfire pulled the girl into a warm hug. „You have to show me more of your work next time.“
„Of course. I'm glad that you liked it,“ Marinette smiled.
„Here,“ Raven gave Marinette a scrap of paper with her phone number. „If he ever bothers you, just call me. I'll unleash powers of hell on him.“
„That won't be neccessary,“ Marinette laughed, but still accepted the number.
Damian wasn't at all surprised at how quickly Marinette had charmed his old team. Starfire, the frendliest and oldest of the bunch, immediatelly took a liking to Marinette, the two firing off into fashion talk and later, defence tactics. Raven was usually hard to befriend, and while she was mostly silent, she had a soft smile whenever Marinette asked about her powers and assured her that she thought they were amazing.
„You're pretty cool,“ Beast Boy smiled, shaking the girl's hand. „Keep setting Damian straight, angel.“
„You don't get to call her that,“ Damian murmured in annoyance.
„Maybe do something about his possessiveness as well,“ Beast Boy said after some contemplation.
„Yeah, it's kind of weird, coming from him,“ Cyborg agreed. „Not that I don't get it. You're super cute. I bet you have to fight off bunch of other dudes for her hand. Eh, Wayne?“
Damian shuddered. It wasn't just the dudes he had to fight for her hand.
Finishing their goodbyes, Teen Titans waved away as they left the pair. Jon made sure he split before Damian could get his hands on him.
„They're really nice. You were part of such a great team,“ Marinette smiled, wrapping her arm around Damian's waist.
„They're a pain to deal with,“ he was exasparated.
Marinette giggled. Her first day back in Gotham sure was eventful. She got to meet Damian's old team. And while she was glad, she had wanted to ask about how he was in the past, but never got the chance. They were too excited and wanted to get to know her instead. Well, there was still chance later on.
* * *
A week passed since Marinette had arrived to Gotham. The Waynes decided to give her some time to rest from the trip and settle in properly, before starting the patrols. To hide her presence, she had created a shawl she would wear over her transformation, covering her dress and wings. Instead, she would use her yoyo to swing alongside the heroes, like she used to when she first got her miraculous.
Alfred enjoyed her company. While he was too old to become a wielder of the Peacock again, Marinette would often let him hang onto the miraculous, to simply talk with his old friend. Of course, she used that chance of distraction to sneak into the kitchen and try out recepies to treat the rest of the household with. Alfred was always protective of his kitchen, but even after he caught onto the teenager's tricks, he simply turned a blind eye to it. Sometimes, the two would cook together. He enjoyed her pastries.
Marinette loved patrolling Gotham. Unlike in Paris, she was never alone here, either in teams with Nightwing and Robin; Red Hood and Red Robin, the three being dubbed The Red Team by Jason; Black Bat and Batgirl; and sometimes, though rarely, with Batman.
The presence of the new hero, dubbed Ladybird, wasn't unnoticed, though she was considered mysterious. She rarely got up close, but when she did, the fight was always over quickly. She was less involved with small criminals, or at least she wasn't seen around, as far as the public knew, but she was always spotted fighting some of the more dangerous villains.
Another strange thing with appereance of Ladybird was disappereance of any damage or injuries that occured during the fights. Nobody could quite explain the phenomenon, and most didn't even link it with Ladybird at all. It was just a theory on forums that was often disregarded.
Marinette fell in love with Gotham, and she loved living with the Waynes, even if there was rarely a quiet moment.
* * *
„Trying out another recipe, Marinette?“ Alfred asked as he spotted Marinette kneading in the kitchen.
„Oh, no, I'm just baking some bread,“ Marinette shook her head.
„You add rice flour into it?“
„Yes, it's my father's recipe. Would you like to try it once it's finished?“
„Of course, I'm rather curious.“
Alfred gave her a glowing review and demanded the recipe for himself afterwards.
* * *
Marinette had found herself unable to sleep. She tossed and turned in bed, but the dreams would simply not come. She reached for her cellphone and looked at the clock. It was 3:43 AM.
„Are you alright, Marinette?“ Tikki asked.
„I'm fine. I just can't seem to fall asleep,“ Marinette sighed. It wasn't unusual. She had long been suffering from insomnia.
„How about you make yourself some hot chocolate? It usually helps,“ Tikki suggested.
Marinette hummed in response and got out of the bed, walking down the dark hallway. She noticed faint blue light coming off the hinges of one of the doors. It was Tim's room. Was he having trouble sleeping too?
She carefully approached, and knocked on the door. She heard shuffling from inside, and the door opened, with a very haggard looking Tim in front of her.
„Marinette? Why are you up so late?“
„I can't sleep. How about you? Is everything alright?“ Marinette asked.
„Same. Don't worry about it. I'm used to it,“ Tim gave her a weak smile.
„Fellow insomniac, huh?“ the black haired girl asked. Tim chuckled and shook his head.
„No. I just don't like to sleep. Nightmares, you know?“
„Oh. Yeah, I get it. I'm going to make myself some hot chocolate. Would you like some too?“
Tim contemplated for a moment, then nodded, following Marinette to the kitchen. He turned on the lights, and Marinette got herself busy.
„If you don't mind me asking...“ she started carefully. „What are your nightmares about? It could help if you talked about them.“
„It's no trouble talking about it, but it's always the same thing. It kind of gets redundant, always talking about the same thing,“ Tim explained.
„Is it always the same nightmare?“
„More or less,“ he nodded. „When I was still holding mantle of Robin, Joker kidnapped me. He, uh... really did a number on me. He turned me into Joker Jr.“
„Oh my god,“ Marinette gasped.
„I know. Crazy motherfucker, right? That was before he tortured Barbara. He drove me insane, but at least he left me able to walk. Whenever that psycho acts, it's always awful.“
„And it still haunts you,“ Marinette said, more of a statement than a question.
„It does. There's only so much medication can do. I remember that night every time I go to sleep, and barely get any sleep at all,“ Tim leaned back.
„I'm no stranger to nightmares,“ the teen sighed. „Even though Hawkmoth's been defeated, I still dream of him, sometimes. It doesn't help that he escaped prison, but at least he doesn't have a miraculous anymore.“
„I know the feeling. No matter how many times we lock Joker up, he always manages to escape eventually. I wish we could just put a bullet in him and be done with it, but it's not how we do things,“ Tim said bitterly. Marinette wasn't going to admonish him for his frustrations. She understood just how much the clowned villain has hurt the Bat Family.
„Maybe I could help? When I was still being trained as a Guardian, Master Fu had taught me a very potent potion for dreamless sleep. It helped me out more than once. I usually make it with hot chocolate to mask the bitter taste. But it can't be drank often, it causes a nasty addiction,“ Marinette offered.
„Think it will work?“ Tim asked, interested.
„Of course! I just need proper ingredients...“
It has been a long time since Tim has had a proper rest. The next day, he woke up feeling more refreshed than ever.
* * *
„So you put your hands up, like this...“
„Jason,“ Marinette tried to reach the enthusiastic brother. He really, really loved his guns, and was excited to share that love with her.
„Put on a stance, in case of a recoil, like this...“
„Aim like this, and then – boom! Shoot the fucker in the face,“ he said with a smile. He turned around to offer her a gun.
„Jason, I am not going to be using guns. Ever,“ Marinette sighed.
„It never hurts to know how to handle them at least,“ Jason replied.
„I'd much rather not know how to handle them,“ the girl frowned. „I don't have the stomack for it. Just the thought of killing someone makes me sick.“
Jason looked at the petite teenager in front of him, pondering at her words.
„True. You were always more of a healer,“ he nodded. „I hope you never have to do it.“
„You sound like you've killed people before,“ Marinette couldn't help but notice. Jason shrugged awkwardly.
„I have. It's... surprisingly easy. Question is if you can live with the guilt afterwards,“ he said somberly.
„I thought I could,“ his smile was bitter. „I tried to justify it to myself. They were just criminals, after all. They deserved to die. But...“
He couldn't quite find the words.
„But they were still people,“ Marinette finished for him.
„Yeah, I guess. I try not to think about it too much. There's no bringing them back.“
Marinette noticed Jason's usual cheerful exterior darkened. She bit her lip. She didn't mean to open up any old wounds. She took the gun from the counter.
„So, is this how you hold it?“ she asked, snapping him out of his thoughts.
„I thought you didn't want to know how to handle guns?“ he teased, bouncing right back.
„It's not like I'm going to use one,“ Marinette replied with a smile.
* * *
Nightwing crashed down from the roof, falling flat on his back onto the floor. The masked gang apprached the hole, aiming and trying to shoot. Ladybug, dressed in her shawl, dropped down and spun, her yoyo hooked on the rails, then spun above Nightwing, revealing the red skirt. The wings of the skirt seemed to harden as the bullets ricoched off, not one hitting the indended mark. She loosened her yoyo and landed next to Nightwing, helping him up with one hand while throwing her yoyo up with the other to knock the criminals away.
„Nice save, Ladybird!“ Nightwing praised.
„Thanks! Want to go up and teach them a lesson?“ Ladybird offered.
„You're going to throw me, aren't you?“ the older hero sighed.
„It's faster,“ the heroine with the shawl shrugged. Nightwing braced himself as Ladybird grabbed him by arm and collar, swung him around and threw him to the roof. With ease, he caught the edge and climbed back out, dodging the bullets that were shot at him the moment he was back in sight.
Ladybird appeared moments later, propelled by her yoyo, landing and knocking out one of the thugs, then swinging her yoyo to destroy the guns aimed at them. With each gun destroyed, Nightwing took a chance to knock the opponnent out.
„Is that all of them?“ Ladybug asked, accepting the zip ties from Nightwing and moving to restrain the criminals.
„There were two more, but Robin is dealing with them,“ Nightwing replied.
„Already dealt with,“ came the voice from the comms.
„Good job, Robin!“ Ladybird praised in a chipper tone, making Nightwing chuckle. He could already imagine his youngest brother blushing.
„You missed Ladybird using the Skirt Shield,“ Nightwing informed him.
„Ugh, damn,“ Red Hood groaned. The bats had only seen her do it a handful of times, and only twice before in Gotham. Red Hood was the one who dubbed it the Skirt Shield. Everyone, including Ladybird, loved that move.
Ladybird finished contacting the police, before the two met back with Robin and finished the last leg of their patrol.
„How are you holding up, Ladybird?“ Nightwing asked as the three were moving back to the Batcave.
„I'm good. Still can't get used to how much crime happens here. That was, what, third robbery our team stopped this night? I never had this much work in Paris.“
„Welcome to Gotham,“ Nightwing said bitterly. „The world capital of criminality.“
„Still. Despite everything, it really is a beautiful city,“ Ladybird said, looking away to observe the skyline. „It might not be as glamurous as Paris, but the architecture, the height, the lights... It all has it's charm.“
„You always find something good in everything, don't you?“ Robin laughed.
„Of course! There is always a spark of light in everyone,“ the hero with the shawl smiled.
„You're going to have to fix your shawl,“ Nightwing pointed out. „You got several bullet holes while you were protecting me.“
„Ugh, again?“ Ladybird frowned, and started inspecting. She found three at the front. „Guns are a menace.“
„Don't let Red Hood hear you,“ Nightwing said at the same moment as Red Hood exploded in a long-winded rant about coolness of the guns.
The heroes arrived back to the Batcave. While the rest went to change, Ladybird simply took off her shawl and with a soft: „Spots off“ her transformation became undone. Being a magical girl sure was convenient.
„Welcome back, Marinette,“ Alfred greeted her as she arrived to the living room. „Would you like me to prepare something?“
„Hot chocolate would be nice,“ Marinette smiled thankfully. She was exhausted and just collapsed onto the couch. Dick was the first to arrive and join her.
„Good job out there, Marinette,“ he said. „You really know how to handle yourself.“
„A lot of practice, I guess. Paris had other criminals, alongside Hawkmoth,“ Marinette nodded. „Just not this many.“
„You get used to it. One day, we might be able to clean up the streets,“ he said with hope. „It's better that we deal with them than the cops.“
„I know what you mean,“ Marinette agreed. „For the most part, they're just civilians wearing a uniform.“
„Well, they're supposed to be, at least. They've been getting more militarized lately. In Gotham, that might be fine, but I'm not sure how I feel about it on the whole,“ Dick closed his eyes. „Uh, don't tell Barbara I said that. Her dad's a cop and all.“
„Don't worry, my lips are sealed,“ the teenager replied with a laugh.
Soon, the rest of the family started joining in, arguing over which movie they should watch before going to bed. Damian immediatelly sat next to Marinette. She leaned onto him as he pulled her into his arms. At this point, the Waynes were already immune to their displays of affection.
They settled on Die Hard.