When she shut down the Ladybugblog due to the constant doubt from her viewers and the rampant flames from her haters, Alya Césaire never thought things would change.
When her best friend Lila returned from after a week of rehabilitation, Alya found herself in a new seating arrangement, taking the place of Alix at the back. She couldn't believe it. It must have been a mistake. Surely her best friend didn't plan this...
Surely, Lila isn't angry at her for allowing Adrien to pair up with the transfer student? It's been a week and for some reason, Alya found herself isolated from the group. She feels useless. That can't be right. Why is she feeling this way anyways?
'It must be because of Hawkmoth.' Alya decided internally, opening her phone to check the news. Hawkmoth is a villain who targets on emotions. It wouldn't surprise her if the moth-themed villain managed to affect the air with an unknown gas to bring the town into despair.
"Thank you for all the support everyone. I really couldn't do this without you..."
"Lila!" Alya looked up, hearing her friend Lila. Her classmates flock around Lila, ignoring her all together. Lila made eye contact, but decided to move the group back to the cafeteria. Lila told Alya to focus on a blog that everyone is interested in than the blogs only she finds interesting. Alya felt her stomach churn and she looks back at her phone for inspiration through the news. She can't face Lila yet. She has to prove to her that she's worth keeping as a friend. 'I'm trying. I'm really trying so why does it feel like you're pushing me away, Lila?'
'It's no good. I'm not original. I need something original and amazing!' Alya felt tears welling up at the corner of her eyes, wiping it with her finger as she searched for something. Ever since she shut down her beloved Ladybugblog, nothing stuck out. She feels less inclined to post or research. It's as if she erased one part of herself. There has to be something! Something no one else has ever done. 'But what?! I have to find it. I-I'
"Croissant?" Someone offered a pastry in front of her. The smell of bread brought Alya back from her dark mental block.
"O-oh.." Alya looked up and accepted the pastry, looking up at soft blue orbs. It was the new transfer student.
"Something wrong?" She wondered.
"Uh no! I'm fine." Alya gave a tight smile, taking a bite of the croissant. Marinette Dupain-Cheng. The latest transfer student who keeps secrets. Lila told them (the class) that Marinette is a parasite, acting nice to get things from them in the end... So they kept their distance and somehow everyone else in the upper and lower class knew about Marinette's terrible habit. It was only Chloé who stayed close to the female (and Adrien but he's the class' sunshine boy). Unfortunately, the mayor's daughter was never the best person to measure one's reputation. Alya always thought the duo's friendship was heavily based on the proverb: Birds of a feather flock together.
"You don't look fine." Marinette grabbed another croissant from a paper bag, sitting down beside her. "Is something wrong? Can I help?"
"I'm honest. I don't need any help." Alya eats the croissant, not sure what Marinette would want from her. Her grades aren't great, she isn't rich and certainly she has no connections unlike Chloé. 'Maybe Marinette wants to visit the zoo or try my mom's cooking?'
"I'm a great listener." Marinette hummed and Alya couldn't say NO to that. It's been a week and Alya couldn't talk to anyone properly, not even her sister. Sitting beside Marinette, Alya noticed something. This situation feels familiar, almost as if she's done this... That can't be right. Marinette finished her croissant, turning her head to face the contemplative journalist. "So?"
"Okay okay." Alya gave in. She's going to entertain her once and nothing more. She doesn't want to be one of this girl's victims after all. Alya looked around, making sure no one can see them together. If someone saw her with Marinette, Lila might see this as a betrayal and hate her. Alya would lose her best friend. "You remember how I closed the Ladybugblog right? (Marinette nodded.) Don't tell this to anyone, but I need to make a blog that's amazing and unique to move on from you-know-what. It also has to be trendy or the blog will go stale."
"You also have to enjoy updating it like your other blogs.. And I have to make sure you won't get obsessed over it." Marinette added and Alya smiled.
"I can't assure you on the latter part. If I don't enjoy writing it, who'll enjoy reading it?" Alya joked. "I'm also fine stalking people just so you know?"
"Didn't need to know that." Marinette teased and Alya laughed. From zodiac signs all the way to astronomy, the bluenette skimmed the blogs before returning the phone and complimenting. "They're all amazing. Easy to read and straight to the point."
"Ha! Buttering me up won't get you anything girl! (Alya liked the compliment though. She's rarely complimented.) So?" Alya looked at Marinette, hoping for dear god that Marinette would give input. It's bad enough none of her classmates want to give their honest opinion. "Any ideas?"
"Hmmm..." Marinette stood up and Alya hopes it's not going to relate to Adrien Agreste because there are so many fan sites of their classmate. Marinette turned to stare at her, giving a smile. "How about finding out the identity of Hawkmoth?"
"What?" Alya didn't see this coming. Wait. She did. Based on Marinette's conversations with Chloé which she overheard, the bluenette is obsessed with akuma and very updated with criminal activities. It's the same reason why Sabrina doesn't trust her (Sabrina's dad being a cop) because Marinette is more accurate than the news reporters. Alya scoffed, shaking her head. "No no no. That's the government's job-"
"The government isn't doing a good job." Marinette whispered, staring at the gates. "Previously akumatized victims are being ostracized by society. Everyone thinks they're walking time bombs ready to revert back and follow Hawkmoth's orders. (Alya flinched, recalling the fear in her mother's eyes when she returned to the house.) The people of Paris are lying to avoid hurting one another. False relationships are made and suicide rates have increased. (Marinette stressed.) Parents are afraid of putting their children out and the police will not hesitate to shoot a person showing signs of becoming an akuma. Heck! No one even takes the government's precaution seriously! If we learn the identity of Hawkmoth, all of this will stop."
"I... You're right." Alya bit her lower lip. She didn't think to analyzing her surroundings. She always was looking out for something beyond her reach. Something alien. She never thought her situation here at home is the most bizarre and downright controversial thing to research on. Alya pulls out her stylus, writing on her phone. "How about something smaller? I'm not so good in reaching out to people yet. Also something less obvious. I don't want Hawkmoth or the government to kidnap me haha."
"..." Marinette blinked, frozen blue returning back to a cool blue. Her supposed bold stance turns shy. Marinette scratched the back of her head, sheepishly replying. "I-I don't know... How about documenting the previous akumatized victims and find a pattern? Maybe you can find Hawkmoth's base through there?"
"Or I could research about the miraculous?!" Alya yelled in excitement.
"WHAT?! NO!" Marinette covered her mouth afterwards, afraid her voice caught anyone's attention. Alya looked at her and Marinette blushed. "I-I mean! I thought you don't want Hawkmoth to stalk you down or have the government kidnap you?"
"Your idea would land me to my grave. (Marinette covered her face, muttering apologies.) Relax. I know what to do." Alya was thankful Marinette's an open book. No need for niceties here. To research the most mystifying and alluring topic of all: The miraculouses. There are a ton of research and blogs, but no one is brave enough to compile them all and be up-to-date with the miraculous holders. What have I been doing in the past two years?! Ideas rush in journalist's head. She can make it out like a fanbase site, posting live footage of various heroes in action. Maybe get an interview to learn more about them! She can gain views because tons of people must be curious of these guys right? Along the way, she can catch footage on the villains who uses miraculous holders, hopefully hinting or spotting their weaknesses to help the government. Maybe she can use ciphers or codes to keep the miraculous in secret to avoid the government? If she gains enough support, she can make a forum and help the relationship between the akumatized victim and the victims of the attacks. "And maybe I'll get to befriend Ladybug!"
"?!" Marinette's eyes widen, stunned at the revelation. "You're a fan of Ladybug?"
"Who isn't? (Marinette still looks surprised.) This is gonna be big!" Alya stood up, a huge burden falling off her shoulders. "I can't thank you enough Marinette!"
"It's pretty dangerous..." Marinette muttered.
"As a future journalist, I have to take risks." Alya looked back at her notepad. "If I don't then who will?"
"Do you mind if I help you then?" Marinette offered and Alya shot her a glare. "I mean! I don't want you focusing on the blog more than your studies. Your mother might confiscate your phone and all that. (Marinette waves her hands.) You know, the usual parental interference we teenagers dislike haha?"
"Sur- (Alya changed her mind.) Surely not. I can handle just fine." Alya lied. She felt terrible. She knows she needs help on this. There are around five different superheroes and one of them can freaking teleport. Let's not forget the pesky police, villains and random akuma. Paris is huge. How is she going to catch all of them at the same time?! However, she still doesn't know if she could trust Marinette. Marinette could backstab her. Marinette could copy her blog down and outdo her. Marinette could...
"You don't trust me..." Marinette popped the silence, shoulders drooped and eyes stared down at the ground. "...Don't you?"
"It's not that..." Alya starts but the following words died somewhere. Marinette's right. No one trusts the new transfer student. Not a single one.
Marinette's entire history is kept a secret from them. Marinette was always getting into accidents. No one can be that of a klutz. Marinette always offered to help them for no reason. There must be ulterior motives to this. Marinette keeps being late and sometimes not even go to school at all. The bluenette gave no excuses, simply bowing her head and have her parents make one on her stead.
"I understand." Marinette sighed, smiling back at her. "If you need help, don't hesitate to ask!"
"I..." Alya watched Marinette walk away, feeling really bad. In the past few minutes she talked with the girl, Marinette has been nothing but nice to her. Sure. Marinette has some ideals that could get herself killed. Searching for Hawkmoth's lair? Really?! However, Alya has yet to sense a bit of arrogance or anything fake in Marinette's tone or expression. In fact, Marinette was an open book. Alya can immediately detect if the girl's uncomfortable or when Marinette's truly amazed at something. 'But what if it's all a ruse?'
"Wait!" Alya walked towards Marinette, placing a hand on her shoulder. 'There's only one way to find out.'
"Hm?" Marinette looked back.
"I don't trust you but" Alya gulped down her fears, hoping her classmate understands. "A good reporter always verifies her sources."
"?" Marinette scrunched her face, a bit hurt at the statement. "I don't understand."
"What I'm trying to say is..." Alya never doubted Lila, but Marinette never showed any interest on using her either. She has to try, even if she might be the bluenette's first victim. At least she has valid reasons to avoid her when it happens. Alya asks, "I want to get to know you better."
"You don't need to." Marinette comforted. "I don't mind helping others if this will make them happy."
"If you want me to trust you, I need to get to know you better." Alya explains. Alya lets go of Marinette's shoulder, holding her phone in her other hand. Marinette fiddles with the hem of her shirt, not sure what to say. Alya suggested, staring at the bits of bread littered all over Marinette's mouth. Like a kid. "How about a club?"
"A club to help your blog?" Marinette wondered and Alya wiped her mouth with a handkerchief.
"Something like that." Alya was actually gearing on having Marinette join the research club so she'll learn what Marinette is good at. She moves away, keeping her napkin.
"I remember the handbook saying we need three members." Marinette raised her hand, resting her cheek on her fingers. Suddenly, Marinette's eyes sparkled, her eyes shone like the ocean with the sun ready to take a day's rest. "How about we make a club specializing in researching each miraculous holder?! I think Alix would love that!"
"You're friends with Alix?" Alya didn't know that.
"We met while I was surveying my neighborhood." Marinette is too cheerful to see Alya's confused expression. "Then I bumped Alix and we decided to race. Don't worry Alya. Alix is really fast and she too is interested with the miraculous. She thinks she knows King Monkey but... (Marinette looked up, hoping some answer falls from the sky.) maybe she's wrong?"
"Her dad is a historian... That could make research easier for us." Alya reasoned out. Mr. Kubdel must have information about the history of the miraculouses. Alix must have read it and found King Monkey amazing. Alya looks at Marinette, smiling. "If we're going to do this, you have to be the leader."
"But no one likes me." Marinette's glow dimmed, back to her bashful nature. "I thought we need manpower to patrol the streets to video the heroes or something?"
"W-well. We need passionate members for this to work." Alya wanted to lie, but the more she thought about it, the more reasonable it sounded. They are going to research about the miraculouses. Each member will risk their lives against the government and supervillains just to get the truth of things. Alya can't have anyone backing out or ratting on them. Alya continued. "And I'm sure Miss Bustier and Principal Damocles wouldn't say NO if you proposed to be the President."
"All right." Marinette sighed. Alya felt a squeeze on her chest, finding the resigned expression all too familiar. Alya looked away, clenching her chest. Marinette didn't notice, asking. "What should the club name be?"
"Miraculous Club." Alya answered and Marinette vehemently shook her head. Alya raised an eyebrow, placing a hand on her waist. "And why not?"
"Too obvious." Marinette whined, clutching her earrings with both hands. "How about Papillon club?"
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you're a fan of Hawkmoth." Alya joked and yet Marinette never defends herself. 'She's hiding something.'
"How about Miracle club?" Marinette said with a hint of regret.
"A club dedicated to understanding the mysteries of the miracles created by each miraculous." Alya detailed and Marinette groaned. Alya laughs, "Perfect. As president, you have to ask for a room, schedule meet-ups and contact us for any announcement."
"Then you have to be my secretary. A president is never without their secretary." Marinette humored and Alya lightly pushed the bluenette.
"I know! I have to document our hardwork and make sure we don't slack off." Alya hears Marinette laugh. It made her smile. 'I can get used to this.'
"Friends?" Marinette turned around, offering her hand. Alya saw the cafeteria's doors open. Lila and the group are talking. Uh-oh. Alya looks at the group and then back at Marinette. Marinette called out, seeing Alya hesitate. "Alya?"
What will she lose?
"Friends." Alya shook her hand, pushing the excuses her brain is sprouting out when Lila calls her to explain. Right now, Alya cherished the warmth in her chest when she saw Marinette smile.
"Friends!" Marinette squealed, pulling Alya into a hug. Alya swore she heard a couple of shrill laughter between them.
"Yes yes!" Tikki and Trixx did a high-five, giggling crazy.