Chapter 1: Landing
Broadly speaking, she was cursed.
Although not in the sense that most people thought of when they heard the word “Cursed.” ‘Oh, my hair just won’t cooperate! I must be cursed!’ ‘My TV is flickering, it must be cursed!’
No, she really was cursed. If the talon-like nails, the head that swiveled three hundred and sixty degrees, and a host of other little abnormalities were anything to go off of, then probably cursed by the spirit of an owl. Or maybe she was possessed by an owl spirit? Honestly she had never been too clear on how it all worked despite living with it since middle school. It’s not like she’d been given a handbook or introductory pamphlet to help her through those first few rough months. Or the rough years that followed.
The ‘owl horns’ in her hair could be held down by her bow and the talons just looked like well manicured nails, but the red eyes and orange marking around her eyes like a mask were a dead give away. Not to mention the mossy green hair. At twenty two years old, it hadn’t been a long life so far, but it had certainly been full of struggle.
But that was who she was to the people who just saw her curse and decided not to look any further.
More specifically, she was Eerie. Eerie Escamilla, top of her class out of law school, junior detective and intern at the Cursed Special Unit, filled with people with a similar… background to her. A snore drew her attention to her left, toward one such person.
Connor MacThomas was cursed, like her, but with a raccoon rather than an owl. They hadn’t let him bring his favorite pillow with him into their first class seating, but he managed with his soft and bushy tail. She had to bite her lip to keep from aw’ing at the way his little raccoon ears twitched ever so slightly in his sleep. It wouldn’t do to be cooing at someone who was debatably her boss but unquestionably the more experienced detective between them.
Evidently, he could feel her eyes on him since he chose that moment to wake up. He yawned and stretched, his gloved hands grasping at the roof of the airplane. His hands were his greatest strength and his glaring weakness - so sensitive he could read the mood of a person by touch, which also made them so vulnerable he kept them in sturdy leather gloves worn thin by constant use.
His eyes, with their light blue sclera, opened up as he blinked at her, a bleary smile on his lips. Those eyes stood out all the more for the black mask, so similar to her own orange one, surrounding them. Another person might have thought that his crumbled, messy appearance was because he’d just spent the last five hours sleeping curled up on himself. But Eerie knew that was just how he always looked.
He adjusted himself, pulling down his shirt since it had ridden up a little. Her eyes followed the movement and she felt her cheeks heat up. Her heart fluttered and she quickly looked away, towards the window. A bad idea, given her fear of heights and suddenly her heart was fluttering for a different reason entirely. Her eyes widened and her breathing started to come in short bursts.
“Eerie?” Connor seemed to pick up on her panic quickly, if the concern in his voice was any indication. “Eerie. Boss. Look at me.” With a force of effort, she tore her eyes away from the window. “I didn’t pay much attention to the briefing. Why don’t you tell me about this mission?”
That was a blatant lie, but she was too grateful to call him out on it. She took a deep breath and gladly switched into lecture mode.
“We’ve been on this guy’s tail for the last couple months, picking apart his forgery operation back home.”
Connor grinned and stretched his hands. “Most of which was spent convincing rich people to let me get my paws all over their fancy but fake statues and busts.”
“And the rest of it was me doing meticulous art research,” Eerie said, rolling her eyes with a smirk.
“Of course, boss.” Connor didn’t break eye contact as he reached behind him to close the window with one hand. “And then what?”
“Well, I noticed that all the pieces had one thing in common - all the authentic ones are currently housed in the Louvre. And considering a lot of them aren’t even on display for the public-”
“Explaining why the fancy art people didn’t know they were being had.”
“-that means that the guy we’ve been after is in Paris, France and likely works at the Louvre. The local authorities have it up to their necks just trying to handle some crazy stuff happening in the French capital, so when the Chief offered to send the detectives already on the case...”
“...They were more than happy to accept,” Connor finished. “And luckily, we both know French, so this works out à la perfection.”
Eerie made a disapproving sound. “About that last part…”
“Yeah, boss?” A stewardess handed him a package of peanuts which he quickly tore into.
“I learned French because it was the only foreign language they offered in high school and I thought being bilingual would be good for a resume.” Eerie propped her elbow up on their armrest and put her chin on her hand, staring at Connor. “But you never seemed the type to care about stuff like that. Why did you learn French?”
To her surprise, he blushed. “It’s, uh… it’s not important.”
“Really?” Eerie blinked innocently at him. “So you wouldn’t mind telling me then. Right?”
Connor stuck out his tongue at her. “Nosey.”
“Comes with the detective territory, boss. Spill.”
After watching her for a long moment, he slumped his shoulders and groaned. “I did it to impress a girl, alright?”
Eerie’s eyebrows flew up. “Wow, really?”
“It was middle school okay?” Connor crossed his arms as his tail twitched in irritation behind him. “It didn’t work either, obviously. That was, uh, just before the whole curse thing happened. But I stuck with it!” Connor paused. “Well, mostly.”
“What do you mean, ‘mostly’?”
“Well, I’m conversational at least…”
“Connor! You said you were fluent!”
“No,” he replied. “I said I can speak it.”
“That-” Eerie stopped herself and pinched the bridge of her nose. It was a complication, but if anyone could manage to get by without knowing the native language, it was Connor. He was more resourceful than he looked. “Okay, fine.”
Their conversation was cut short as the pilot announced that they would be landing soon. They glanced at each other, Eerie locked eyes with him as he began eating the package the peanuts came in. Both of them reached the same conclusion. With more people waking up around them, it wasn’t as safe to talk about their assignment. It would have to wait until the hotel.
Connor's hand hesitated at the door to their shared hotel room. Knowing their mission designer, he’d half expected her to get them a room with only one bed. Jemina was great and all, but sometimes she was even more pushy about his relationship with Eerie than his own mother was. He opened the door and breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully, this room did have two beds. With some big business event happening in Paris at the moment, two rooms was out of the question.
“As much as I appreciate being stuck staring at your fluffy butt, can you get a move on?” Eerie’s voice brought him back into the moment. “This stuff is heavy.”
“Right, sorry.” He stood still for another moment and looked behind him. “...So you like what you see back there, huh?” His tail swished back and forth happily.
She rolled her eyes and pushed him with her foot. Snickering, he stepped forward set to work turning the bed into something almost like home. Before long, he heard her speak up again.
“...How did you manage to pack your giant banana pillow?”
“Very carefully,” Connor said in what he hoped was a cool and mysterious way. “I figured you wouldn’t let me build a nest of pillows and blankets-”
“Accurate. I don’t want to get the house keepers annoyed with us. We’ll be here for the next few weeks after all.”
“-so this is the next best thing. Thankfully for me, Nanners here is a cuddlebug.” To prove his point, Connor laid down on his bed and spooned the person-sized banana. He opened one eye to see Eerie hiding a smile with her hand. His heart melted at how cute she was in this moment.
His eyes widened at the thought. She’s your intern, he mentally chastised himself, get ahold of yourself. He quickly sat up and put his legs over the side of his bed, facing Eerie.
“So now we’re in Paris. You remember the next part?”
“Yup, some of us pay attention to the mission briefing.” Eerie rolled her eyes, but a smirk still played at her lips. “Tomorrow, we’ll be setting up our covers. Chief managed to get us some part time jobs. Apparently I’m going to be doing deliveries for a local bakery.”
Connor frowned. “That sounds delicious. Is it too late to switch?” He asked with a hopeful lilt to his voice.
“Way too late. But hey,” she said, squeezing his shoulder. “You’re going to be an English tutor for some rich kid, I’m sure they’ll keep you well fed.” She pursed her lips. “With actual people food. So no digging around in the garbage.”
Connor feigned a gasp. “Boss, this is Paris! They have the finest, most gourmet trash in the whole world. How can you ask me not to try the local cuisine?”
“It’s not- No! We’re going to actual restaurants, I’m not letting you dumpster dive while we’re here. We’re supposed to be undercover, remember? And that’s exactly the sort of thing that will draw unwanted attention.”
“You’re just using that as an excuse ‘cuz you don’t want me eating garbage.” He waggled his finger right below her nose. She gently pushed it aside, but even with that brief touch he could a vague feeling of her emotions - a mix of exasperation and amusement.
“You’re exactly right. Is it working?”
His tail flicked back and forth irritatedly behind him. “...Maybe,” he grumbled.
“Good,” she said with far too much pep for his liking. “Now, it’s been a long day and we don’t start our new jobs until tomorrow. I’m going to take a nap.”
Connor yawned. “I think I’ll do the same.”
“You slept for most of the trip here!”
“And that was very exhausting!”
Eerie stared at the ceiling for a few long moments before laughing and soon enough he joined her.
“Good night, boss.”
Chapter 2: Revealed
Eerie took a deep breath as she stepped out of her car, fighting down a whirlwind of emotions. Some of them were from just trying to drive around in this city - maybe she would have been better off applying as a bike delivery person. But it was too late to worry about that now. No, she had much bigger things to stress over.
Like mentally steeling herself for whatever reaction these little bakers would have to her curse. It was always the most humiliating part of meeting new people - having that part of herself that she didn’t like always exposed for the world to see. At best, people generally just gave her weird looks, as if she opened up a bottle of hair dye labeled ‘mossy green’ and just went to town. At worst, well… she made it through.
The door to the bakery rang and Eerie stepped inside. She quickly had to make a mental adjustment - two of the bakers were little just like she thought, but the other one was a giant of a man built more like a gorilla than a person. If it weren’t for the fact she had never heard of a gorilla-cursed man before, she would have thought that he was one of them.
Two of them looked toward her with a speed that could have only been reflexive, bright and honest smiles already on their lips as they began sounding out a greeting. A greeting that sputtered out quickly when their eyes landed on her, widening in surprise. Their smiles remained plastered on, but there was uncertainty behind them.
There was an awkward pause which seemed to catch the attention of the third person in the room, who paused in her sweeping. She glanced between Eerie and the older bakers, then walked over to Eerie. Eerie sucked in a deep breath, expecting the worst, but the girl stopped a respectful distance and gave her a smile.
“Hello! My name is Marinette. You must be the American exchange student helping out for the next couple weeks, right?”
Eerie switched seamlessly into the role she had made for herself. Returning the smile, she gave a polite nod. “Yes! I’m excited to see Paris. Delivery felt like the best way to do that.”
“Now, normally we kiss cheeks here, but I’ve heard you might be more comfortable with this?” Marinette held out her hand and Eerie cautiously took it.
“Oh, and my name is Eerie.”
“I’m thrilled to meet you, Eerie! Let me show you around the bakery. It won’t take long - we might be the best bakery in Paris, but we aren’t the biggest!” Marinette laughed and Eerie couldn’t help but laugh too. “Maybe we can even let you try some of our stock? What do you say, papa?” She asked, looked at the giant of a man in the back.
The man jolted. “Oh! Yes, definitely.” Earnestness returned to his grin. “And welcome aboard, Eerie! I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from each other.”
As she was guided into the back of the bakery by her newest friend, she already felt affection blooming for the younger girl.
Connor’s tail itched, which made sense given that it was strapped to his leg under his baggiest pants.
Despite what his dear partner and intern might say, he was pretty good at cleaning up. At the moment, he looked every bit the part of the foreign tutor brought in from out of the country to give lessons to a wealthy child. Provided that the foreign tutor was a little rumpled and smelled faintly like garbage from a dumpster dive on the walk over to the mansion. Turns out the instincts of his curse weren’t as easy to hide as his raccoon ears, which had only taken a half decent hat to conceal.
Stopping in front of a giant gate, he double checked that he got the address right before pressing a button right beside the gate. He jumped when a camera on a stick leapt out of the wall and a female voice came from nowhere.
“Yes? What is your business here?”
“Uh…” Connor took a moment to mentally translate what she had said and form his own answer. “Teaching English.”
“I see. Right on time. Go inside and up the grand stairs, first door on the right.”
Before he could ask anything, the camera retracted into the wall and the gate rumbled open. His hands idly passed over the space where the camera had gone through. Even with his well-honed sense of touch he could barely feel the depression in the stone. What kind of person puts that kind of serious money into gadgets that wouldn’t look out of place in a cheesy spy movie?
Then Connor walked into the mansion itself and saw a giant painting of a stern looking man and the most depressed child he had ever seen staring into the distance. Understanding began to dawn on him. He took a rambling path to the stairs, stopping to run his hands over the various objects and surfaces in the room. If there was a secret space for a camera, who knows what else they were hiding in here?
Just as he was reaching for the big bummer of a painting, Connor heard a door to his right open. He froze, hand halfway toward the artwork as he locked eyes with a blonde boy staring back at him. After a few seconds Connor realized the kid had said something but it went completely over his head.
“I said, ‘I wouldn’t touch that if I were you.’ My father doesn’t appreciate people messing with his things.”
“Maybe but not here is he?”
“I… guess? Are you supposed to be my English tutor?”
“Yes.” Connor followed him into the room he came out of. “How know?”
“Because your French is, um…” The kid rubbed the back of his neck. “Not the best, let’s say.” He switched languages and said, “Would you prefer we talk in English?”
“Yeah that’d probably be for the best,” Connor said as nonchalantly as he could but on the inside he breathed a huge sigh of relief. He whistled as he entered the room. The bedroom was bigger than his entire apartment and most of it was just empty space. “You’ve got a decent set up here…?”
“Adrien. Adrien Agreste.”
“Connor MacThomas." His eyes locked onto the giant television against one wall and the Ultimate Mecha Strike game sitting just in front of it. “Say, kid, your English sounds fine as is, but I think it could use some work in certain areas. Specifically with trash talking. How about a few rounds of that?” He pointed at the television
Adrien’s eyes widened as he looked between the television and Connor, clearly torn. “This… this isn’t a test or something, right?”
“Of course it’s a test,” Connor said as he rolled over the back of the couch. “It’s a test to see how fast I can whoop your butt in Mecha Strike.” He took the controller in his hands, idly mashing buttons while he waited.
After a moment’s hesitation, Adrien sat down next to him, eyes locked on a spot above Connor’s eyes. While there was surprise, it mostly just seemed to be an innocent curiosity. It was then that Connor noticed that his hat was on the ground in front of him.
“Dang. Well, raccoon’s out of the bag then.” Connor reached into his pants leg.
“Um, what are you-” He cut himself off when Connor freed his tail from its prison. “Oh, cool! Tails are awesome!” Adrien coughed. “Or, uh, so I’ve heard. Anyway! Mecha Strike?”
“-Needless to say, after that whole thing with the glitter glue I try not to ask too many questions about what Connor keeps in his desk.” The two girls laughed.
“So…” Marinette began, a knowing smirk on her lips. “You talk about this Connor guy a lot.”
“Well yeah. He isn’t just my sorta boss. He’s definitely my friend. It takes a while to get used to him-”
“Because he eats things that definitely aren’t food?”
“-but he’s also good guy and a great partner. I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.”
“Reminds me of someone I know…” Marinette said wistfully. She didn’t explain and Eerie didn’t press.
It was two hours into her first delivery shift and Eerie was actually having a lot of fun. Chatting with Marinette felt a lot like what she imagined having a younger sister would be like. If she thought she was attached to Marinette when they first met, she was absolutely protective of her now.
So when a giant monster in a business suit stomped into view down the street, Eerie’s first reaction was to make sure Marinette was safe. To her horror, she was unbuckling her seatbelt and jumping out of the car.
“MARINETTE!” Eerie screeched at her retreating back.
The girl in question froze and glanced back at her before a roar drew her attention back to the monster. “Sorry! We’ll meet up after the akuma is beaten. Find somewhere to hide!”
And just like that, she rushed off.
Surprise gave way to determination. She was not about to let this child run off on her own into a battlefield. Flexing her talons, Eerie reflected that at least her curse gave her some means of protecting herself - and Marinette, if it came to that.
Without another thought, Eerie followed.
When the first roar shook the glass of the room, Connor didn’t think much of it as he beat up Adrien’s suddenly-motionless character. A cheap victory is, after all, still a victory. As he got to work racking up his next win, Adrien took his controller out of his hands.
“Hey!” Connor frowned at Adrien.
“Sorry! Akuma attack,” Adrien said, as if that explained anything. “You should probably head home. Or to your hotel? Wherever you’re staying that’s safe.”
At the moment, Connor didn’t feel like going much of anywhere. They’d ordered pizza not too long after he got there and when they ran out of that he’d gnawed his way through the cardboard it had come in. Much to Adrien’s starstruck awe - it was always nice to find someone who appreciated the true benefits of Connor’s curse.
All that to say Connor was feeling fat and content and not in the mood for this attempt to push him out the door.
“Shouldn’t I stay here, then? Must be all sorts of defenses here, right?”
“Uhhh…” Adrien swallowed heavily. “Well, um… I need to take a shower! Yeah, akuma attacks always make me nervous and a nice warm shower is just what I need to calm down!” Adrien laughed with a hint of hysteria on the edge of his voice.
“Right… I’ll just… go then…?”
Connor took a few hesitant steps out of the room, Adrien watching him while casting nervous glances out the window. When the door closed, it was quickly locked behind him. Curiosity overcame him and he pressed his raccoon ears to the door while his hands floated over the knob of the door. As he listened, he pulled a bobby pin from inside his coat cuff.
“Come on, Plagg! Ladybug is sure to need our help for this one.”
“Uhhh kid, you sure you don’t want to wait just a little-”
Connor strained to hear more, but there was only silence. When he got the door unlocked, he saw that the window was opened. He rushed over to check below and caught a glimpse of a figure in black rushing towards the commotion.
The gears in his head began turning as he pulled out his phone and sent a few rapid fire texts.
Connor: We got a situation? My rich baby ran off.
Connor: He jumped out the window
Eerie’s reply came up just as he sent his second text.
Boss: Mine 2. Big monster? Meet up w/ me
GET HIM BACK
YOU CAN’T GET FIRED
Connor: DONT WORRY I WONT GET FIRED
OUR FAMILY WON’T GO HUNGRY
Just come find me.
We can look together.
Connor put away his phone and poked his head out the window. Good handholds, not very far to the ground… Piece of cake. His climbing technique might not have been graceful, but he made it down in record time. Breaking into a brisk jog, Connor felt pretty hopeful. After all, how far could Adrien have gotten?
Eerie sent the message, shoved the phone back into her pocket and turned into the alley she was sure she had seen Marinette go down. Sure enough, she heard Marinette’s voice just ahead… as well as one other. Her gut instinct prompted her to duck behind a dumpster and listen in. She pulled a hand mirror out from her purse to look around the corner.
“Are you sure she’ll be okay, Marinette? She’s new to Paris and this is probably her first akuma attack.” She frowned as she tried to track the source of the voice, but all she could spot out of the ordinary was a red shape on Marinette’s shoulder.
“Trust me, Tikki - Paris needs Ladybug and Eerie will be fine if I can beat this akuma as quick as possible. Spots on!”
Eerie’s jaw dropped as she watched a red energy transform Marinette into a spotted red hero. She was vaguely aware of the superheroes of Paris - their sudden appearance a year ago had hit the headlines even back in America for a couple weeks before the next big news hit. But Eerie’s daily life dealt with the paranormal, so she hadn’t given it much thought.
Until now, at least.
Marinette - or, more accurately now, Ladybug - turned around, hand pulling the yoyo off her hip when her gaze settled onto Eerie’s mirror. She pulled her hand back, but the damage was done - they’d locked eyes.
“H-hello? Who’s over there?”
Taking a deep breath, Eerie stood up. She was halfway to waving before awkwardly giving up halfway and putting one hand on her arm. “Hey, Marinette.”
“Oh no…” Ladybug paled, but she set her jaw and took on a commanding stance. Her eyes were pleading as she asked, “Please, for the sake of Paris, you can’t tell anyone what you saw. If Hawkmoth were to find out…”
Eerie nodded and couldn’t help but smirk. “Trust me, I know a thing or two about undercover work.” At Ladybug’s confused look, she added, “I’ll tell you about it tomorrow, okay? It’ll make us even. Just go beat up that bad… thing? Whatever it is.”
Slowly, Ladybug nodded. “Alright. Can you stay here? I’ll come back after I purify the akuma.”
“I-” Eerie stopped herself. She really wanted to catch up with Connor, but that would have to wait. “Sure. Stay safe out there, kid.”
Ladybug smiled and for a moment, the confident mask fell away and Eerie could see the sweet bakery girl underneath.
“I will.” She gave a two finger salute and threw her yoyo. “Bug out!”
Eerie stared at the brick walls of the alley around her for a long moment, wondering how exactly her life had brought her to this point. Once again, she pulled out her phone and sent a text to Connor.
The buzzing of his phone prompted Connor to pull it out, pausing part way through his clambering up the wall of a house.
Boss: Stuck in an alley. Safe but can’t move. Meet up later?
Connor: Sure boss. Still trying to catch the kid, but I’ll stay away from the fighting. Raccoon’s honor.
Boss: That doesn’t reassure me
Raccoons are very honorable creatures
Boss: If you say so.
Just stay safe. Please?
Connor: You got it boss
As it turned out, it wasn’t that much of a problem. The battle didn’t last long and the commotion was already dying down when he got close to the scene of the crime. Connor watched from the rooftops as two figures in what seemed to be spandex and leather fist bumped. The red spandex one he recognized from Adrien’s computer screen. The black leather guy he was struggling to place.
The two of them split up and before he realized it, Connor was tailing the black leather guy. His animal instincts weren’t wrong often and he’d long since gotten used to following them without question.
Years of stealthily tailing people paid off and he managed to follow behind the guy without alerting him. Connor poked his head over the side of the roof and watched as he looked behind him and hid himself behind a dumpster. A flash of green light and where the superhero was a moment ago, his rich kid was now.
A tiny floating cat stretched its tiny arms and was about to say something when it noticed a shadow in front of it. Looking back, Connor locked eyes with it.
“Ah geez. Looks like we got company kid.”
Connor clambered down to ground level, where he was immediately grabbed by both of his shoulders by a desperate looking Adrien.
“You have to promise not to tell anyone! Please, I can’t lose my miraculous!”
The panic in Adrien’s eyes stabbed Connor in the heart.
“Woah, buddy. Don’t worry. Deep breaths now, okay?” He brushed Adrien’s hands off and pulled him into a one armed hug as Adrien started to calm down. “I can keep a secret with the best of them, trust me. That’s kinda why I’m here, but we can get into that later.”
“So… you won’t tell? Not even my father?”
Connor thought back to the mysterious woman in the speaker, the absent father, the home built like a fortress. Was it to keep people out or to keep someone in? His eyes set in determination.
“Especially not your father.” He let go of Adrien and began walking. “Let’s go. We need to get you back home and I need to get back to my partner.”
“I’ll tell you later. First things first, I need to keep this cover job and that means getting you back before anyone notices you were gone.”
“I… okay. Let’s go.”
As Connor lead the way back to the Agreste mansion, he wondered how he was going to break the news that he discovered a superhero’s identity by accident. Or could he even tell her?
Chapter 3: Cats and Raccoons
Connor struggles under the weight of the secret and spends quality time with Adrien.
The sun was only just starting to dip below the horizon, but you wouldn’t know it sitting inside Connor and Eerie’s hotel room. The black curtains were drawn shut and the lights turned out except for a bedside lamp. A crime show was playing on the television and Connor watched it with narrowed eyes. His attention was divided between the show, brushing his tail with a vintage silver brush, and worrying about his recent discovery.
“You figure out who the murderer is yet?”
Eerie glanced up from her book with pursed lips. “I’m trying to read here.”
“I saw you peeking at the TV. So what’s your guess, boss?”
“Well, boss,” she said as she closed the book. “It’s pretty obviously the old man at the lighthouse.”
“They aren’t even subtle about it.”
They fell silent again. Neither of them were particularly tired, but this was going to be their only chance to get some sleep before the stake out tonight.
But would he be able to get any rest if he didn’t get this off his chest? Eerie was the most dependable person he knew. If he couldn’t trust her of all people to share this secret with him, who could he trust? Deciding to put his faith in her, he started talking before he could chicken out.
“Hey, can I-”
“I need to-”
They cut each other off and Connor snorted while Eerie concealed her smirk behind one well-manicured hand. Maybe they’d gotten too in sync with each other.
He motioned to her. “Go ahead, Eerie. I can wait an extra minute or two.”
“Thanks.” She smiled gratefully before a serious expression settled over her face. “Do you know about the situation in Paris? With the superheroes and everything?”
“More than you might think,” Connor said, raising an eyebrow. “Why?”
“I meet Ladybug.”
“Oh wow, that’s-”
“I know who Ladybug is,” Eerie added in a low voice, as if there were people listening in. Whatever reaction she was expecting, Connor busting out laughing didn’t seem to be among them. She pouted, her hair poofing out like an owl’s feathers as she got up to loom over him. “This is serious, Connor!” She smacked him with a pillow.
“Trust me, I know. After all, I found out who Chat Noir is, so I understand the kind of pressure you’re probably under”
“Oh, good.” After a moment’s processing, her eyes widened. “Wait, what?” She sat down on the edge of his bed.
The next half hour was spent catching each other up on their adventures earlier that day.
“I guess we’re better detectives than we thought, huh?”
“And that’s saying something, given how much you talk yourself up.” Eerie rolled her eyes with a smile. “God, this was a crazy day.”
“No argument from me.” Connor stretched, tiredness starting to creep up on him. “So what are we going to do about it?”
“What do you mean?” She got off his bed and walked toward hers. “Doesn’t sound like we need to get involved, does it?”
“Well… I was just thinking… Chat seems pretty fond of Ladybug…”
“Connor,” she said, her tone reminiscent of all the times she’d found him digging through dumpsters or rifling through trash cans. “We are here to catch bad guys. Not play matchmakers for two fifteen year olds.”
“But you have to admit that they’re cute together!”
“I’m not having this conversation.” She turned off the lamp. It was purely a symbolic gesture since they both had night vision.
“...Fine. Good night.”
“Night,” she said as she rolled over onto her stomach.
“Mhm,” she hummed into her pillow.
“Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
“Connor. Go to sleep.”
“You’re right. Nothing to worry about, really. This is Paris after all. It’d be the fanciest bed bugs of them all. You’d thank them for biting you.”
“Sleep. Now.” She did her best to put on the Boss Voice, but he could hear the undercurrent of amusement just below the words. He smiled contently as he rolled over to cuddle his banana body pillow.
Connor suppressed a yawn as he tried to focus on the game in front of him. The night was both incredibly brief because he got to spend it mostly goofing off with Eerie as they poked around for clues, but also unbearably long as night turned to morning.
His character was soundly thrashed, the irritation being just about the only thing getting through how fuzzy his brain was at the moment. Adrien turned toward him, a smug grin on his perfectly punchable model face.
The smirk vanished when he saw Connor’s expression, replaced by a look of concern. “You okay, Mr MacThomas? You seem a little, um… Tired.”
“You don’t need to sugar coat it, I know I’m not at my absolute most handsome today. I just didn’t get a lot of sleep last night since I had to do some detectiving.” Explaining Connor’s real reason for being in Paris hadn’t taken that long. He stretched, reaching his hands high above his head and flexed his fingers. “Not all of us get to jump straight into the beating up bad guys part of the whole fighting for justice gig.”
“It’s hard to believe you’re here undercover…”
“What? Just because I’m cursed that means I’m somehow less qualified for stealthy missions?”
Adrien’s eyes widened and he raised his hands in a placating gesture. “Wh-what?! No, I didn’t-”
“Relax,” Connor said, punching Adrien’s arm. “I’m messing with you. And hey, it wasn’t easy coming to grips with you being a super- MMH!” Connor glared at Adrien as the latter covered his mouth with both hands.
“Sorry! Sorry. I just - can we talk about something else? It’s really weird talking about that with anyone but my kwami, especially here at home.” Once Connor nodded, Adrien returned to his side of the couch.
“Why don’t you tell me about your friends, then?”
“Well, I don’t have a whole lot of them…”
“Oh come on. You’re a sweet kid and not half bad at video games, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of folks beating down the door to be your bud.”
Adrien smiled. “Thanks. I guess you could say I’m friends with most of my classmates, but there are only three that I hang out with much.”
While Adrien was staring off into space thinking about those friends, Connor’s fingers inched ever so slowly toward the unopened bag of cheetos nearby. “Sounds like you really care about them. What are their names?”
“Well, my best bro is Nino. He was one of my very first real friends when I started public school. I couldn’t ask for a better friend - he even got akumatized because he got so mad for my sake once.”
“Uh huh,” Connor said, quietly opening the cheetos. He still wasn’t super clear on what akumatization meant, but it sounded bad. “Sounds like someone who always has your back.”
“Definitely. Although we don’t hang out as much as I’d like - I’ve got my schedule, and he has a girlfriend. Who is another of my friends, actually. Alya, she likes superheroes and journalism. It’s been… interesting being her friend while being Chat.”
“That leaves one person. Best for last or is this the one you aren’t as close with?”
Adrien smiled nervously and rubbed the back of his neck. “Kind of both? She’s absolutely amazing, but I think she mostly hangs out with me because she is Alya’s best friend. I wish we were closer.”
“Well, well, loverboy,” Connor said while nudging Adrien with his elbow. “It looks like you’ve got a crush. What’s the lucky girl’s name?”
“It’s not like that!” Adrien sounded a little exasperated, like he’d had this argument before. “She’s wonderful and cute and all that, but my heart belongs to Ladybug.” He sighed. “Marinette is just a good friend is all.”
Connor’s eyes bugged out and he sputtered in surprise, but with his mouth stuffed full of cheetos, he ended up doubled over into a coughing fit.
“Um… Mr MacThomas, are you okay?”
“Water,” Connor managed to croak out between coughs. In the minute that Adrien was gone, Connor’s mind whirred as it came to grips with this revelation. If he weren’t busy choking to death on snacks, he’d have laughed. What were the odds that they’d both go to the same school, let alone the same class?
Probably pretty good, now that he thought of it. They were probably picked by the same guy after all.
Adrien returned with the water and Connor eagerly gulped it down.
“Connor, by the way.”
“Mr MacThomas is way too formal, kid. Just Connor is fine.”
“Anyway, I think we were talking about your future girlfriend, Marinette.”
Adrien sighed patiently. “I told you, I’m in love with-”
“Ladybug, yeah, got that part. But you realize you can have a crush on multiple people, right?” True, just not in this case. “Just because you have feelings for the Bug doesn’t mean you can’t feel something for Marinette.” Adrien seemed about to say something, but Connor covered his mouth with his hand. “And I notice you didn’t deny having feelings for this Marinette girl.”
Whatever Adrien was trying to say was muffled by Connor’s hand over his face. His attempts to pull it off were to no avail.
“Yes, yes, I know you are madly in love with her, it’s very obvious. But we have to stay on track.” Connor felt something wet on his palm and raised an eyebrow. “Wow, you really are an only child.” At Adrien’s confused look, he added, “I’ve got a bunch of brothers and sisters - this is far from the only time this exact thing has happened.” Connor leaned back, letting Adrien’s face go free and wiped the spit off his glove onto the couch.
“I’m not in love with Marinette.” When Connor scoffed loudly, he folded his arms and pouted. “What? I’m not!”
“Really?” Connor smirked and settled into a relaxed slouch. “You care about her a lot, right?”
“Well, yeah, but-”
“Do you look for excuses to be closer to her?”
“Of course! She’s my friend-”
“Uh-huh. And how often do you think about hugging this ‘friend’ or wanting to hold her hand? And remember,” Connor added, waggling his finger in front of Adrien’s face. “You might be able to lie to yourself, but I get paid the big bucks to know when you’re not telling the truth.”
He was quiet for a few long heart beats. “So… you’re saying… that’s not normal for friendships?”
“Not usually, no.” Connor ignored the treacherous part of his mind that was thinking of Eerie. “I’ve seen a lot of cases of love sickness in my time and buddy, let me tell you - you’ve got it bad.”
“How bad is it?” Adrien squirmed worriedly in his spot.
“Bad.” Connor scooted closer and put an arm around his shoulders. “But hey! Don’t worry, I’m here to help.”
Adrien eyes widened and he stared at Connor as if he had all the answers in the world. “Really? You must have tons of romantic experience, right?”
Connor flashed back to his last romantic experience, a kiss in middle school from before he was cursed.
Chapter 4: Ladybugs and Owls
Eerie and Marinette have some girl time, followed swiftly by some detective work with Eerie and Connor.
Eerie watched the rain coming down hard outside, turning the City of Lights into a depressing grey. The only people out right now were those who absolutely had to be. Which meant the bakery wasn’t getting any customers and most people weren’t thinking of getting big orders of pastries delivered if they were just going to end up soaking wet by the time it reached their doorstep.
With a sigh, she stood up and went for her coat. This caught the attention of Marinette, who was leaning on the front counter in boredom.
“Where are you going, Eerie?” Marinette called after her. “Is there something wrong?”
“I’m not going to be doing any deliveries today and with your parents doing that catering gig today there isn’t much else for me to do here either.” She slipped on her coat and frowned. It didn’t have a hood and it wasn’t going to do much to keep the rain off her. “So I’m just going to head back to the hotel.”
“But your partner isn’t going to be there. You’ll just be sitting there all alone.”
Thinking back to the long university years of being an outcast, Eerie shrugged and slapped on a fake smile. “I’ll be fine, Marinette. I usually am.”
Just as her hand reached the door handle, Marinette said, “Wait! Why don’t you just hang out here for a bit? At least until the rain lets up.” Her voice became more hopeful and energetic as her confidence built up. “I could close up shop early! We could play some games, talk, all sorts of stuff while we wait!”
Eerie stared at the handle for a few long moments. It was flattering, really. Most people didn’t want anything to do with the cursed. Even those who did usually had some kind of weird curiosity about them - probing questions that made Eerie feel more like a carnival attraction than anything else.
But not Marinette. She was just so… earnest, even from the first moment that they met. When Eerie turned around her smile was smaller but more genuine.
“You know what? That actually sounds pretty nice. Let’s do it.”
As it turns out, Eerie wasn’t as good at games as she thought she was. Or maybe it was just that Marinette was in a league of her own. Given just how quickly she got trounced, maybe it was the second option.
“Do you want to do something else?” Being very aware of how easily she could accidentally crush the controller in her hands, Eerie gently set it on the table in front of her. “I think I’ve reached my limit for this.”
“Oh! Sure.” Marinette’s eyes settled on Eerie’s hands. “Could you do my nails like yours? They look really pretty.” Eerie looked at her hand, with the perfectly manicured red nails that came to a point. They didn’t look all that sharp, but looks could be deceiving.
“Thank you! But I can only take credit for the paint.” She flexed her fingers. “These are more talons than nails. Really tough and my hands are super strong too.”
“Is that part of your curse?”
“Mhm,” Eerie hummed. “It means that I’m the one opening pickle jars for Connor rather than the other way around.”
Marinette giggled. “You’ve mentioned him before. What’s he like? Is he… like you?”
“If by ‘like you’ you mean cursed, then yeah. Other than that we’re as different as it gets. He’s really embraced his curse, he’s messy, and he’s way too relaxed about a lot of things.”
“Do you not like your curse?” Marinette winced. “Sorry, stupid question. It’s a curse of course you wouldn’t like it.”
“Don’t worry, it’s fine. I guess I just… I never liked how it set me apart from people? But Connor… he revels in it. It’s just a part of who he is, same as his stubbornness and weird eating habits.” She rubbed her temples before sighing. “Still, he’s been a great partner. The first person to actually encourage me to use my curse rather than ignore it. Which can be frustrating at times, but it’s better than what I was dealing with before.”
“Me and Chat Noir are pretty different too,” Marinette said with a nod. “But I think that actually makes us better at our job. Between the two of us, there’s not much we can’t do. And, even when things are at their worst, I always know he’s in my corner. You know?”
Eerie smiled. “Yeah, I get it.”
They kept chatting as Eerie started to paint Marinette’s nails a lime green color. Slowly, she was starting to realize how much Marinette reminded her of herself at that age - before she got cursed. Driven, sweet, but very insecure about certain things. And that insecurity was plainly written on Marinette’s face as she clearly struggled with what she was about to say. Eerie simply smirked to herself as she worked, more than willing to let Marinette ask at her own pace.
“Could you… give me some advice? Boy advice?”
Eerie froze. Of all the things she had expected, that wasn’t among them. She mentally chastised herself - obviously it was going to come up after they spent all that time talking about their partners.
“Sure!” Eerie said with a false sweetness, hoping Marinette wouldn’t notice her panicking. When was the last time she had any sort of romantic relationship? Definitely before college.
“Well… there's this boy that I really like, but I can’t-” She pressed her hands against her face. “I just can’t be normal around him!”
Suddenly Eerie could very much relate, though probably not for the same reasons.
“Why don’t you tell me about him? Maybe we can figure out a plan of attack.”
Slowly, Marinette nodded. “Alright. Well… he’s a super sweet, really handsome guy.” She giggled. “You've probably seen him around, actually. His face is everywhere.”
It suddenly clicked for Eerie. The similar ages. How they were paired up as superheroes.
“You’re in love with Adrien Agreste,” Eerie blurted out, only barely refraining from adding ‘who is your partner that is constantly hitting on you.’ Besides her promise to Connor, that would only freak the poor girl out.
“Yup! That’s the one.”
For the next hour, Eerie did her best to help Marinette with her boy troubles without letting it show how much she was thinking about this critical new evidence. It was so frustrating seeing how into each other they were without realizing it.
Maybe Connor was onto something.
Eerie thanked the guard and waved Connor over. He settled into an easy pace beside her, slowing his gait to stay by her side. The people working there knew that there would be inspectors working on a case, but only the curator knew what they were really there for. The less people who suspected they were onto the forgery ring, the better. Although that meant they had to be a little… underhanded in how they went about getting their clues.
“Ready to take in some French culture like you wanted?” She said with a smirk.
“I was hoping more for some culture I could eat, but this is a decent second best,” he replied. His eyes roamed the empty corridors of the Louvre. Visiting hours ended hours ago and most of the lights were out. Even if they didn’t have their flashlights on them, it wouldn’t matter much. The benefits to being cursed with nocturnal animals, she supposed. “It’s pretty eerie in here, huh Eerie?”
She snorted. “And you better not forget it. We’re in my territory, raccoon boy.”
“Whatever you say, boss.” He trained his flashlight on one of the paintings. “I think these ones are clear.”
“Just like we thought then,” she said in a low whisper right next to his ear. She wasn’t sure, but she almost thought she could see a shiver run down his spine. “Let’s see if we can get to the vault and check out the pieces there.”
He cleared his throat. “You got it. Let’s stick to the dark hallways - less likely for a guard to find us.”
The route they decided to take through the massive museum was winding, all the better for staying out of view and taking in all the art pieces. After a few minutes of walking in silence, she struck up a conversation.
“Remember the bakery girl I was telling you about? Marinette?”
“The one with the big secret you found?” Connor peered into a trash can and pulled out of it in a huff when he discovered it was empty. “How could I forget?”
“Well, I found out something else. She’s got a crush.”
“Dang.” Connor frowned. “Adrien might take that hard. And after all that time I spent convincing him...”
“Don’t worry, your hard work wasn’t in vain.” Eerie nudged his arm and smirked at him. “He is her crush.”
Connor whistled. “That’s perfect.”
There was a pause between them for a few heartbeats.
“What’s the odds of them actually figuring that out and dating?”
“You’d make a lot of money betting against it, let’s say,” Eerie deadpanned. “Which is why I suggest we should get involved.”
“Really? I could’ve sworn someone made that exact same suggestion a couple days ago.” He tapped at his chin, pretending to be deep in thought. “If only I could remember what handsome, smart detective it was…”
“The world may never know. But for now, it’s this handsome and smart detective.” Eerie pointed at herself.
Connor chuckled. “So what changed, boss?”
“Now I know first hand that they are hopeless.” She stopped to peer around a corner. When she saw nothing, she kept talking. “Besides, I want to see them get together before we leave.”
“You’re not alone there.” He pouted at her when she caught his wrist to keep him from idly touching one of the statues. “What’s the plan, then?”
“Why do you assume that I have a plan? Can’t you come up with one?”
“The whole point of me hiring you as an intern was that I wouldn’t have to do any of that pesky big picture thinking stuff any more.”
“...You outsourced your plotting to me?”
Connor shrugged. “It’s worked so far! Your plans are pretty great.”
“Thanks.” Eerie ignored the way her heart fluttered at the compliment and focused on the task at hand. “I mean… we could try to set them up on a date, I guess?”
“I dunno. Those two are pretty dense. What if they think of that as just something friends do?”
“We could chaperone. Make sure things stay suitably romantic.”
“That might throw off the feel of the date, though.”
“We could chaperone from a distance. Close enough to put things on the right track if it comes it that, but far enough away that they won’t notice us.”
“I get the feeling that them noticing us won’t be a problem. Once they’re together, all they’ll be able to do is make heart eyes at each other.”
A reply died in Eerie’s throat when they wandered into a brighter section of the museum and an employee bumped into Connor in the halls.
The man glared at both of them and mumbled something that sounded an awful lot like ‘rude, nosy Americans’ to her. She looked back to Connor to see him sticking his tongue out at the man’s retreating back.
“We’re almost to the vault. Think you’ll be able to get us in?”
“Maybe we won’t need to,” Connor replied, thumbing through an unfamiliar wallet.
“Sorry, boss. I didn’t mean to take it, but in my defense, if he didn’t want his wallet palmed, he should have taken more care about where he was going. Besides,” he said as he pulled out a red business card. “I get the feeling that guy is guilty of more than just being a rude dude.”
Eerie took the card, her look of curiosity turning into a predatory smile as she recognized the pen name of the forger. That at least proves the forger is here. She grabbed Connor’s hand and pulled him along, excited to be on the trail again.
“C’mon, boss,” Eerie said, the thrill of the hunt making her heart pound. “One calling card isn’t enough to nail this guy to the wall.”
Behind her, she was oblivious to the way Connor’s face reddened at the hand to hand contact.
Chapter 5: A Date with Chouette
After some trial and error, our heroes finally get Adrien and Marinette on the right track.
“You can do this,” Connor said from behind Adrien, hands resting on his shoulders in what he hoped was an encouraging way.
“I can do this,” Adrien replied much less confidently, hands busy fiddling with the ring on his finger. They both watched from their spot behind the bushes at the park as Marinette sat with Eerie. Both of the girls were deeply engrossed in their conversation, whatever it was about.
“You’re gonna march over there.”
“Uh-huh.” Adrien nodded.
“And you’re gonna ask her out. Just say, ‘hey, I like you. Wanna go out on a date?’”
“But I can’t just say that!”
“Then,” Connor rubbed his forehead as he wracked his brain for an answer. How long had it been since he had done this whole flirting thing? The closest he got was hanging out with Eerie. “Maybe start off by giving her a compliment or something. Like say that her dress is pretty. Then move into the date stuff. Got that?”
“Good. Now go show ‘em everything I’ve taught you, kid!” Connor gave Adrien a shove toward the girls, pushing him out from their cover. While he watched, he pulled some leaves off the bush to munch on as a side show snack.
Stiffly, Adrien walked toward them. Marinette and Eerie had their backs to him and wouldn’t notice him until he was already there. Or, at least, that was how it was supposed to go. Instead, just when Adrien was a couple feet away, Marinette burst out laughing. To Connor’s surprise, this caused Adrien to sprint away.
Adrien passed Connor’s hiding spot, letting him see just how red his face had gotten, all while mumbling to himself, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this.” Connor sighed.
“Wow… teenagers.” He stepped out from cover and went to go find Adrien. Heaven knows he wasn’t about to let Adrien go through this alone. All he needed was another pep talk and they could try again.
He spared a look toward his partner just in time to see her smile. For a moment, he forgot what he was doing before shaking himself out of it and went looking for Adrien.
“Do you remember the plan?” Eerie watched Marinette, trying to get a read on her thoughts. Marinette nodded, but from the way she was biting her lower lip and shifting her weight between her feet, Eerie wasn’t so sure. “Walk me through it then.”
“I walk up to… to Adrien,” Marinette said, her eyes still locked on the boy in question. “And then I give him this.” She held up the pink, heart-shaped note. Eerie worried that Marinette was going to tear it apart from how hard she was holding onto it.
“Right,” Eerie said, squeezing Marinette’s arm comfortingly. She eased up with her stranglehold on the note. “That’s all you need to do. Just follow the plan and you’ll be alright.”
“Just follow the plan…” Marinette pursed her lips and nodded. “Okay, I’m doing it.”
They both stood in place.
“...Are you sure you can’t do it for me?”
“I’m not going to be handing teenagers love letters today, thank you.” Eerie smiled sadly at her. “This is all up to you, sweetie. Just don’t overthink it.”
Marinette gave her a determined nod. “Don’t… overthink it. Right right right. I can do that. Definitely not overthinking this, no ma’am. I am not going to think about how I could trip and knock him over into the dirt, ruining his designer shirt.” She rushed forward, hugging Eerie and wailing into her sternum. Hesitantly, she returned the hug. While she wasn’t much for touching, she could tell the girl needed it. “I’m overthinking it, Eerie!”
“Take a few deep breaths with me, okay?” The next minute was spent just breathing in and out until Marinette had calmed down a little. “Feel better? Good. Now you listen to me.” Eerie put her hands on her hips. “You are going to go over there and give the love of your life this adorable little note and I promise he will be over the moon about it. Got it?” Marinette bobbed her head quickly. “Good, now go!”
Brimming with confidence, Marinette turned around on her heel and practically dashed toward her crush… only to charge head first into an open trash can. Eerie’s eyes widened as she covered her mouth with her hands. Naturally, Adrien began walking away at just that moment, being none the wiser that they had ever even been there.
Shaking her head, Eerie walked over to help Marinette out of the trash can. This was going to be harder than she thought.
It turned out to be surprisingly easy, if a little underhanded. Not that Connor minded that much, of course. After you’ve picked locks and pockets in the name of justice, what was a little deception to get two kids together? And really, what was so bad about a little text to each of their kids saying to meet in a certain spot? It was all worth it in the end, and Adrien had even forgiven Connor for the ruse, even if he had to let Adrien win a few matches of Ultimate Mecha Strike to help the process along.
Fast forward to a few days later and the date had arrived. Naturally, Connor and Eerie would be keeping an eye on things from a distance.
Of course, keeping an eye on them was proving harder than he had expected. Not because of anything that they were doing - Marinette and Adrien were essentially just staring into each others eyes and giggling their way through a conversation over dinner at the moment. No, it was because of his ever so wonderful partner.
Connor had long accepted that Eerie was pretty in much the same way that he had accepted the sky was generally blue and pine cones were a delicious after dinner snack. That is, it was just something that was and it wasn’t worth thinking too hard about it. But the restaurant they were at was just a touch fancy (or maybe it was just because it was French?). Which meant that they needed to dress up a little.
While they waited for their food in a mostly comfortable silence, Connor agonized if he should say anything about it. Would it be awkward if he told her she was looking especially pretty today? For reasons he tried not to dwell on, the very thought of it twisted his gut into knots. They were partners, coworkers. She was his boss and he was hers. It would be a weird thing to say.
Thankfully the food arrived and set his mind at ease like magic. Food was something he could wrap his head around. It didn’t give him complicated feelings. He was halfway towards shoveling the first forkful into his mouth when he looked across the table at Eerie.
His gut was upset for an entirely different reason when he saw her carving up a steak so rare he could practically still hear it mooing. She happened to glance up at him at that moment and saw the expression on his face, matching it with an exasperated look.
“Really? This again?” She put her elbow on the table and pointed an accusatory finger at him. “You’re the one that’s always saying I should indulge my curse more. Well, owls are predators.”
“Still… how can you eat something like that?” Connor shivered and looked down at his own plate, taking a few tentative bites.
“What- Are you- Are you serious?” She leaned closer to him and dropped her voice to a whisper. “I’ve seen you eat candle wax before and you’re lecturing me about a rare steak?!”
“Well, yeah.” Connor rolled his eyes. “Candle wax is good.”
“No! It isn’t! It’s not even human food!”
“You’ve never even tried it before!”
“Because it isn’t edible!”
“That’s just quitter talk.”
Eerie closed her eyes and sighed, but Connor could see the hint of a smile playing at her lips. “Just… eat your salad. We need to be ready to leave as soon as the kids do.”
Reaching to her side, Eerie cautiously put a hand in the bag of popcorn sitting on Connor’s lap. Although he had promised he would only put normal things in it, one too many times of sharing food with him had taught her to always be on guard. Thankfully, all she found was popcorn - perfectly salted and buttered.
They were seated way in the back, practically against the wall. The stereotypical place for teenagers to hide and make out, and where she had been afraid Adrien and Marinette would gravitate towards. Thankfully, they were far too innocent of beans and ended up in the middle of the theater. With her night vision, it was easy to pick them out in the crowd. It might not have been Eerie’s choice for a first date, but they at least seemed to be enjoying themselves. She relaxed in her seat.
As Eerie reached for some more, she saw his hand moving something toward the bag. She snared his wrist and glared at him in the dark.
“‘s just some m&ms…” He mumbled, like a child with his hand caught in the cookie jar.
“A likely story. Put it back.” She let him go and he slowly dropped his hand to his side, sulking in his spot for the next few minutes.
Connor perked up and nudged her, pointing at the kids. Adrien was stretching his hands above his head, only to set one arm down behind Marinette. If she hadn’t just watched it play out in front of her, Eerie would have called it too cliche to have happened.
“I taught him that,” he whispered to her proudly.
“You taught him a move from a cheesy romantic comedy?” She whispered back.
“Yup! And it worked like a charm.”
Eerie had to admit that it did. At first, Marinette had tensed up a little, but she soon relaxed into his touch. The two of them were huddled a little closer together. Every now and again, Marinette would shake, almost as if she was suppressing a laugh.
Watching them interact was almost cuter than the movie itself, but soon enough the movie ended. Eerie and Connor almost lost them there, the sudden return of the lights making them blink in stupor.
They spotted them quickly and tailed them out of the theater, with neither of the kids any the wiser.
The last part of the date ended up being a walk in the park. Not in the figurative sense, but in a very literal one. As pretty as the public gardens were in the light of the sunset, there wasn’t much to hold Connor’s attention in the same way that the previous two locations had. Which meant that he couldn’t be blamed for how he got his entertainment.
Sadly, Eerie didn’t see it that way.
“Are you eating grass?” There was a hint of disgust to her voice that he had come to fondly recognize.
He swallowed the grass he had been eating. “No.”
“Can’t you at least… take in the sights or something? There is so much beauty here! It’s a Parisian garden - this is the stuff that romance is made out of!”
Connor slowly looked around. Admittedly, the scene was rather pretty, but it almost felt like it was aimed at a different audience than him. His eyes landed on a red flower that had escaped the confines of one of the garden beds. He glanced at Eerie. Seeing that her attention was in the opposite direction, he scampered over and snagged it before returning to their spot.
“What are you doing?” Eerie asked as he began putting it in her hair.
Which is precisely the moment Connor realized there wasn’t a good answer to that question. He shrugged and replied, “I thought it would look nice.” He gestured lamely at her head. “It matches your bow and your eyes.”
Connor rubbed the back of his neck, feeling embarrassed. At least, until Eerie took the flower from his hand. He looked back in surprise as she put it in her hair, much more securely than he would have been able to. She gave him a brief, shy smile.
“Thanks. I like it.”
He was about to respond when he looked past her and cursed. “We lost the kids!”
Eerie’s head whipped around and huffed. “They can’t have gotten fair.” They stood up and started walking towards the exit. Eerie tapped at her chin. “Hm… which one is closer, Marinette’s home or Adrien’s?”
“I think so. C’mon!”
Running might have seemed suspicious, but the power walk they settled for wasn’t exactly sparing them from curious stares either. They ultimately arrived at the bakery just as the two were saying their goodbyes to each other. Presumably, at least. They weren’t close enough to make out any words over the ambient noise of the city.
Although, speaking of make outs, Connor’s eyes widened when he saw Marinette rock forward on her toes and give Adrien a quick peck on the cheek before vanishing behind the door to her home. Even as far as they were, they could make out her shouted, “GOOD NIGHT ADRIEN I LOVE YOU.”
For his part, Adrien simply reached up to touch his cheek where she had kissed him. How he was still standing when it was clear that he should have melted into a puddle was anyone’s guess. Somehow he managed to walk away, a dopey smile still on his face.
Connor and Eerie, on the other hand, struggled with what they had just witnessed. They pointedly avoided looking at each other, scarlet red blushes covering most of their faces.
“It’s probably just, um… Just a French thing?” Connor said, the statement more a question than anything.
“Yeah… Yeah! The French give each other cheek kisses all the time. They’re very… very…”
“Yes- No!” Eerie shook her head. “Very touchy feely I mean.”
“Ha. A lot like me then.” Connor waggled his fingers in front of him, drawing a giggle out of Eerie.
“A little, I suppose.” She sighed. “Mission successful. Let’s go back to the hotel, okay?”
“You got it, boss.”
Chapter 6: Case Closed
All four of our heroes hang out together, just before Eerie and Connor head back to the United States.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“You know what? I think that’s enough English practice for today,” Connor said, throwing his controller onto the couch.
“Wow! Ten minutes and you’re already sick of losing,” Adrien replied with fake sweetness. “That has to be a new record!”
Connor slowly turned toward Adrien and narrowed his eyes. Wrestling the model boy to the ground as pay back was out of the question. Not just because Adrien was a lot more nimble than Connor, but also because Connor had already eaten an entire pizza and the box it came in. Sudden exertion right now wasn’t much of an option. Instead, he settled for glaring at his student.
“Can’t believe I fell for that sweet kid routine when I first met you.” Connor crossed his arms and shook his head. “You’re a little butt when you want to be.”
Adrien stuck his tongue out at Connor, leading the grown man to stick his tongue out right back, with even more vitriol. The next couple minutes were spent just trying to one up each other in an arms race of similar acts of maturity.
Eventually, Adrien asked, “Okay, as fun as this is, what are we actually going to do now? We still have a couple hours that we’re supposed to doing practices.”
“Hm…” Connor stared out the window for a moment. “Wanna go visit the girls?”
“I’d love to!” Adrien’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow! Does this mean I’ll finally get to meet Eerie too?”
“Huh? Oh, right. I guess you haven’t met her yet, huh?” Connor checked the time on his phone. “Yeah, her shift is still going. Although… shoot.”
“She might be doing deliveries. Well, let’s head over anyway. Miss Eerie won’t stop talking about how good their pastries are and I want to get at least one… what are they called? ‘Pain au chocolat’?”
Adrien’s face lit up. “Hey, you got it right! Good job!”
Coming from anyone else, Connor might have glared at them for being sarcastic, but Adrien was nothing if not sincere. Occasional teasing aside.
“Of course I did. Now come on, let’s head out.”
The trip to the bakery only took them about ten minutes, enough time for Connor’s stomach to quiet down as he breathed in the scent of baked goods. After saying a few parting words to the Gorilla, Adrien joined him, practically vibrating with excitement. It brought a smirk to Connor’s face. Ah, to be young and in love…
Connor opened the door to the bakery and the first thing he saw was Eerie leaning on the counter. His smirk blossomed into a full-blown grin as she turned toward the sound of the bells above the door. A smile to mirror his own appeared on her face when she recognized him.
“Connor! I wasn’t expecting to see you until later. What’s up?”
“We finished early and wanted to celebrate with something tasty.” He stuck a thumb at Adrien, who was trying to catch a peek through the door that lead into the house part of the business. “This guy wouldn’t stop talking about his girlfriend though, so I thought we’d kill two birds with one stone.”
It was at that moment that Marinette appeared, cheeks flushed as she caught the tail end of their conversation. Her eyes flickered to Adrien, whose face was beet red.
“Connor!” Adrien whined.
The man in question simply shrugged. “What? It’s true.”
While Adrien sputtered indignantly, Eerie smacked Connor’s arm.
“Leave the poor boy alone! I think it’s cute.”
“I never said it wasn’t,” Connor grumbled as he stacked a few pain au chocolats onto the counter in front of a confused giant of a man. The man said something in French to Eerie that Connor couldn’t follow. She replied and a knowing smile crossed his face. He added an extra croissant to Connor’s order, free of charge.
“...What did you say to him?”
“He asked who you were, I said that you’re my partner.”
Marinette quipped something from behind Eerie and all of them laughed. Connor’s tail flicked back and forth - the only thing he caught that time was ‘petit dechat’.
“Don’t worry,” Adrien said, his laughter dying down. “It’s, um, it’s just a French term of endearment.”
“Yeah? ‘Little trash cat’ is a common expression, huh?” Connor crossed his arms and pouted. Before Adrien could respond, Connor asked, “I was kinda expecting you to be working, boss. What gives?”
“The Dupain-Chengs gave me the day off to explore Paris as a thank you for a job well done,” Eerie said proudly.
“Well, we don’t want to disappoint.” Connor smiled. “What does Paris have to offer us, then?”
Marinette perked up and started talking animatedly. The gist he was getting of the conversation was that she had a lot of places that she’d love to show them. After Eerie exchanged some cheek kisses with the two bakers, the four of them left to explore the city.
“...With her hair fluffed out like that, she scared the daylights out of those teens.” Connor smirked over his coffee. The cafe was one of Marinette’s favorites and Adrien could easily see why as he took a sip of his own beverage. “But after the first time, it’s actually pretty cute.” Nudging his blushing partner, he added, “Wouldn’t you say so, mon petite chouette?”
Eerie was covering her face in embarrassment. “Do you really need to tell them that story?”
“It was a great use of your powers! Why wouldn’t I?”
As the two began to playfully argue, Adrien grabbed his chin and narrowed his eyes in thought.
“Something up, Adrien?” Marinette asked in their native French.
“You don’t think… No it can’t be.” He dropped his voice to a whisper so only she could hear him. “They are dating, right?”
Marinette blinked up at him. “Well… yeah? Of course. They have to be. It seems pretty obvious.”
“Maybe we should ask, just to be sure.”
“Good idea, just try to be discreet about it. You don’t want to put them on the spot if they aren’t.”
“You got it.” Switching to English, Adrien asked, “Hey!” Connor and Eerie looked back at him, eyes still full of laughter from their banter. “You two are dating, right?”
Their pupils shrunk to pinpricks as they gaped at Adrien before glancing at each other, a furious blush mirrored on both of their faces.
“She’s my intern!”
“We’re not like- No!”
“I mean I guess we’re close but-”
“Just because we’re good friends doesn’t mean-”
Adrien held up his hands. “Sorry, sorry! I just wanted to be sure that's all.”
Hesitantly, the two went back to chatting between themselves and Adrien relayed what they said to Marinette.
Marinette winced. “Yeah, I heard the ‘good friends’ part.”
“Huh? You understood that?”
“Of course. After all this time, I can understand ‘good friend’ in four or five languages.”
“Wow! Why’s that?”
Marinette gave him a long, hard look, seemed like she was going to say something, thought the better of it and just gave him a quick peck on the cheek.
“Don’t worry about it, sweetie. And don’t worry about them either - something tells me things will work out for them just fine.”
Eerie followed behind Connor and shakily took her spot beside him. Just like before, he had taken the window seat. It might not have been much to anyone else, but she was touched at how he did everything he could to make this seven hour flight bearable for her.
Like last night, when he tried his best to keep them both awake for as long as possible. By his reasoning, it was harder to panic at the flight when you were out cold. Unfortunately, the long hours they’d spent putting the pieces of the puzzle together had left her exhausted. They might have had the evidence to nail their forger to the wall, but she was fast asleep shamefully early because of it.
A creaking noise made her painfully aware of her talons and how they were starting to crush the armrests. It was enough to wake Connor up from his nap. While she had failed to stay up, he’d had no such problems, binging whole movies. Waking her up hadn’t done much beyond making her grouchy, but she was wishing now she’d given it more effort.
Blearily, Connor’s eyes moved from the armrest to her face. He yawned and held out his hand to her. It took a few moments of staring before she realized he was waiting for her to take it. In any other circumstances, she might have hesitated, but she was willing to take any scrap of comfort she could get ahold of. Literally in this case.
His gloved fingers intertwined with hers, his thumb circling the back of her hand in a calming motion. She wouldn’t say she was feeling good about the whole flying thing now, but she was at least feeling better.
Better enough that she was suddenly aware of how intimate the gesture was. Eerie had found out early on that the sensitivity of his hands made stuff like this very… personal. After that question from Adrien, she couldn’t help but ask herself if this was just comforting a friend or something more. She sat with eyes locked forward, biting her lip worriedly and wondering if she was looking too much into this.
Building up her courage, she looked over to Connor to ask him, only to see that he’d fallen asleep. His tail was cuddled up close to him as he drooled into it. Despite that, he still held onto her - gently but firmly. Enough to let her know he was still there. Her worries melted away as she looked into his serene sleeping face.
She was leaning forward before she knew it, but she stopped herself just short of kissing his forehead. She quickly pulled back, shoving an errant lock of hair behind her ear. What was she thinking?
Then she took another look at him, her heart softening as she watched him breath the slow and steady rhythm of those deep in slumber. She reached out her right hand, felt the fur of his raccoon ears under her fingers as she rubbed them. His blank expression turned into a blissful smile.
Pulling away, Eerie settled in for the long flight ahead, feeling more at peace than she ever had on a plane before.
Thank you so much for reading this story! It means a lot to see other fans of Chouette, and even more that you enjoyed this love letter to these characters. And, if I was your introduction to Chouette - please, let me know in the comments! I would love nothing more than to hear it.
You may have noticed I added this to a series. I'm not entirely certain yet, and it'll be a while if I ever get to it, but I'm hoping to write more in this universe. So, if you would like to see it whenever I can get it written, please subscribe to that series!
And, naturally, go give Ladyblargh a follow on tumblr or instagram. Heaven knows she deserves it!
As always - thank you for reading, and I hope to see you in my next stories! :D