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The Bribe

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“Tikki oh my God. I can’t believe it.”

“Marinette! What are we supposed to do now, you know you’re not supposed to know Chat Noir’s secret Identity!”

“Well now I do!! And my Miraculous Ladybug didn’t reverse that I know now, so we just have to deal with this.”

“Like how?”

“Oh I don’t know! Adrien doesn’t know I know he’s Chat Noir!”

Just then Marinette got an alert on her phone and pulled it out to see a new post on the Ladyblog. For the lack of ideas on what to do about knowing Adrien’s secret, Marinette pressed play on the video. Too late she realized it was titled ‘cat pun hall of fame #73’. 

“You’ve been meow-y bad little lady!” 

Marinette groaned in annoyance at the same time that her counterpart in the video did.

“Really, Chat?”

“Tikki I know what we’re going to do,” Marinette said. 

“I don’t think I like that look in your eye,” Tikki replied nervously.


“Alya, I need your help!”

“What?”

“I’m trying to play a prank on Adrien, I’ll pay you five bucks to help me convince everyone in the class to make cat puns at him at every opportunity.” 

“...why?”

“Just because. Are you in?”

“For five bucks? Sure, I’ll help you with your weird prank.” 

“Yes!”


“And you want me to make cat puns at Adrien?” Nathaniel asked. 

“You got it!”

“Why?” Marc asked. 

“Just as a prank, it’ll be funny. If no one tells him what’s going on and everyone is just making cat puns he’ll be so confused and it’ll be great.”

“Um… okay?” Marinette handed each of them a five and moved along. 

“Now for Chloe,” she said to Alya.

“You can’t seriously think that she’s going to play along.”

“Of course not, but if she overhears us talking about how much Adrien loves cat puns she’ll start making them on her own to suck up to him. Easy peasy, and I don’t even have to pay her five bucks for it.” 

“Wow, Marinette, you’re really into this whole prank thing. Is this another weird plot to tell Adrien that you like him?”

“No, that’s taking a backburner for now.”

“Why is this so important to you?”

“It’s hard to explain, but just help me please? Chloe is the last person in the class!”

“Alright fine. I’ll do it, but only because I love you, not because I think this makes sense.”


Marinette was waiting for Adrien after his fencing class, which wasn’t unusual. The unusual thing is that she wasn’t hiding and she had every intention of talking to him today. She wanted to kick off the prank in just the right way so he would be just a little freaked out. 

He walked out of his fencing class, alone today, and Marinette called out to him, waving. Adrien smiled when he saw her and stopped to wait for her to reach him. 

“What’s up, Marinette?”

“Oh, I was just passing by when I saw you and I remembered I had something I wanted to ask you!”

“What is it?” 

“Well, recently I’ve been trying to break into jewelry design, and I’ve been having trouble designing rings, particularly ones for boys. Then I remembered that you wear one, so I was wondering if I could take a look at yours!” 

She saw the thinly veiled alarm in his face, as she grabbed his hand and pulled off his fencing glove and held his hand up to her face dramatically. 

It really was obvious. How had she not noticed sooner? She’d had plenty of good looks at his miraculous before. 

“Uh, yeah, sure, it’s fine,” Adrien said, nerves pitching his voice slightly upwards. Oh Chat, you really need to work on your poker face.

Oh I get it ,” Marinette said. “The band is thicker so it looks more masculine.”

“Yeah… it’s pretty nice. Oh look, my driver is right over-”

“You know what though?”

“Uh, what’s that?” He replied, eyes flitting towards his drivers car like he was desperate to escape this situation. 

“Did you know Chat Noir hangs out at my house sometimes?” Adrien’s expression, and his attempt to hide it were so hysterical Marinette almost lost it in that moment. When he spoke his voice was a full octave higher than normal. 

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah and if your ring were black it’d be a purrfect replica of his miraculous. What are the odds of that?” 

“UM,” He began, then paused when he realized his panic was showing. “I don’t know! I’ve never talked to him much. But, my drivers here and I really got to go now, Marinette. I’ll see you around!” Adrien practically ran to his car and leapt in, while Marinette waved merrily on the sidewalk, smiling like nothing was wrong. 

“Marinette I think you’re being a little mean to him,” Tikki said, peeking out of her purse. 

“Oh come on, Tikki, think of all the times he’s tortured me with puns during fights, it’s just a little payback. Besides, I only get to tell him I’m ladybug once.”


“Hey what’s up, Adrien, I hope you’re feline fine!” Nino greeted, patting him on the back when they met up before school in the morning. Adrien looked confused, but chuckled all the same. 

“That’s it, Adrien, enjoy it while you can,” Marinette murmured, peering around the door to the school. 

“You know you’re kind scary sometimes, right?” Alya asked at her shoulder. 

“Adri-kitty!” Chloe appeared out of nowhere and threw her arms around Adrien’s neck. He blinked in shock. 

“Adri-kitty?”

“That’s my new name for you, isn’t it cute?” 

“Uh, sure, but why?” 

“Because you’re so foxy!” 

Marinette slapped her forehead. Foxes aren’t cats, Chloe.  

“Um, right. Thanks.” Adrien left that encounter looking mildly shaken, but Marinette couldn’t tell if it was because of the puns or if he was understandably distressed after being called foxy

“Well that was certainly weird,” Alya said. “If your goal was to freak him out he is now.”

“Great, and it’s time to take advantage of that! Now’s your time to shine, Alya!”

“Okay, I still don’t know why this is so important to you but okay.” Adrien passed through the doors and Alya called out to him. “Hey Adrien, did you do the homework it was an ocelot to do!” 

“Yeah, I did, did you?” He quirked his head, grinning. “Nice pun, by the way.” 

“Thanks! I did the homework but the answer I got for number four wasn’t one of the paw -sibilites.” Marinete had to hide her smirk. 

“Don’t worry, Alya,” she said, “I fur gured it out!” Adrien nodded and turned away, shaking his head slightly. 

“Do you think a little confusion is really worth all this effort?” Alya asked. 

“Yes! For sure!” 

“Okay…”


“Plagg, do you think people have been acting weird?” Adrien asked, ducking into the boys restroom. Everyone had been making cat jokes at him all week. He was all in favor of more puns in everyday life, but something had to be up, right?

“Other than everyone seeming to adopt your terrible sense of humor, no.”

“That’s what I mean though! Everyone’s been making an unusual amount of cat jokes recently. And Monday Marinette was talking about my miraculous!”

“Relax, you're being purr inoid.” 

“Aw, Plagg! Not you too!”

“Sorry, I couldn’t resist.”

“You’re no help!”


She couldn’t have planned it better if she’d marched right up to Hawkmoth and handed him five dollars like the rest. This akumatized victim was a cat lover who was upset when their cat ran away. And they kept. Making. Cat puns. 

Everytime Chat Noir shot her a look like “can you believe this?” And she just shrugged. 

“I think this akuma is your soulmate, kitty.” 

“Everyone around me is making cat puns! I’m freaking out!”

“You’re probably just rubbing off on them!”

“I’m being serious!”

“I’m sure it’s not as bad as you pur ceive.” 

“NOT YOU TOO!” 

Ladybug hid her chuckle and thought that it was purr haps time to let him off the hook. Great, now she was doing it in her own mind.


The knock at her skylight startled her. She looked up from her sewing machine to see Chat crouching there, looking peeved. 

“Do you think I was too hard on him?” She asked, doing her best not to move her lips as she smiled at Chat.

“Yes!” Tikki said, without hesitation. 

Marinette shook her head and ascended the stairs and climbed out onto the roof. Chat stepped back and crossed his arms. 

“Chat Noir, what a pleasant surprise.” 

“I’m on to you!” Whoops.

“What do you mean?” Chat narrowed his eyes and leaned in, pointing a finger at her. 

“Be honest, you know who I am, don’t you?”

“Know who you- you mean your secret identity? Of course not! What gave you that idea?”

“Don’t lie to me, Marinette!” Marinette thought about denying it again, but decided against it. She’d been about to give it up anyway. Her lips split into a devilish grin and Chat made a sound of triumph. “I knew it!”

“Sorry for the torment, I just couldn’t help it.”

“How did you get the others to play along, you didn’t tell anyone, did you?” 

“Of course not! I paid them all five bucks and told them it was a prank. Well, except Chloe, I just told her you loved cat puns and she jumped at the chance to get on your good side.”

“I only have good sides,” Chat said instinctively. Marinette laughed. “Why? Why go through all this trouble just to mess with me? Why not just tell me you knew?”

Marinette took a step closer and wrapped her arms around his neck. “Consider it revenge for all the times you drove me crazy during a fight with all those puns, mon chaton .” 

His brow furrowed in confusion, then raised when his eyes widened with realization. 

“M-my lady ?”

“The one and only.” His jaw dropped, and he looked like he was going to ask how or say no way ! But suddenly his face softened and he chuckled. 

“I should have known.” He wrapped his hands around her, reciprocating her embrace. 

“You want to know something else crazy, kitty?”

“What?”

“The boy I’m in love with? The one I kept turning you down for?”

“...yeah?”

“Adrien Agreste.” His jaw dropped. 

“You’re kidding .” 

“Nope.”

“What… what bad luck .”

“Well, you are a black cat.” He huffed out a disbelieving chuckle, then looked at her with that adoring look he saved for special occasions. 

“Does that mean I can finally do this?” He leaned in to kiss her, but stopped just shy of her lips, waiting for permission. 

“Yes,” she said, but she didn’t wait for him to finish leaning in. She was finished waiting.