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Shadows Of Paris

Chapter Text

“Some first training trip to the TV World for Kanji, you dumb bear!” Yosuke yelled angrily. “You got us lost!”

“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Teddie sobbed, cowering on the floor, “I thought I was following the right scent!”

“Note to self…” Chie grumbled irritatedly, “Never do trips to the TV World after bringing Teddie food.”

“Damnit!” Kanji growled, almost as irritated as Yosuke, “Even if we never find the sauna, how are we gonna get back?”

At this Teddie perked up. Hopping back up, the walking costume slowly said, “Well… I could bring up that stack of TVs here.”

“You can do that?” Yu asked. “Why haven’t you done that when we’re lost in any of those Dungeons?”

“It doesn’t work in Dungeons!” Teddie explained hastily, “And there is a downside if I just pull one up now.”

“And that would be…?” Yukiko asked hesitantly.

“They would take us somewhere else,” Teddie said ominously, “I’m not sure where we’ll end up…”

A few seconds of silence followed, the Investigation Team unsure of what to say.

“We could go back into the TVs and find our way back later, right?” Yu was the first to speak, tone contemplative.

“Of course!” Teddie nodded eagerly. “I’ll stay here and wait until you’re back.”

“But what if we get back to Inaba on our own?” Yukiko pondered. “How will you find us?”

“Well, I have your scents memorized,” Teddie answered, “If I pick up you guys’ scents, I’ll just follow the smell.”

“Are we seriously pondering this, partner?” Yosuke gawked.

“Do you want to try retracing our steps?” Yu pointed out. “At worst, we’ve racked up enough money for plane tickets through fighting Shadows.”

Yosuke looked like he had doubts, but he eventually sighed and nodded at Teddie. The bear nodded determinedly.

He then jumped up a little and did something like a Ground-Pound from Super Mario. In a puff of smoke, the red stack of TVs popped up. It took a little squeezing for everyone to get in, but they went through.

“Lucky Charm!” Ladybug cried. In a flash of pink light, a monkey wrench fell into her hands. She’d been getting instances to grab extra Miraculouses for almost a week now, but she had no clue who to give it to. She’d already given Miraculouses to Kagami and Luka, swapping their previous Miraculouses with each other; now Kagami used the Snake as Hebi and Luka used the Dragon as Wyvern.

So lost in thought was she over who to bring in that she was almost fried alive by the akuma of the day. Prime Queen had made her return, and she now had the ability to shoot electricity from her hands. Thankfully, Wyvern had tackled her out of the way.

“Go, Ladybug!” Hebi cried out.

“We’ll keep them busy!” Chat declared. Wyvern helped her up and nodded.

“But-” Ladybug began, but another burst of electricity from Prime Queen forced her to stop and dodge it. Not wasting any more time, she took off.

Knowing she was on a timer, she stopped within the nearest vacant store in the mall where they had been fighting. It was an electronics repair store owned by Nino’s mother, and the only TV in there wasn’t working; thus, Prime Queen couldn’t teleport through it even if she knew where Ladybug was.

Deciding to hide and think it over, the superheroine jumped over the counter and detransformed with a sigh of, “Tikki, Spots Off.”

When an exhausted Tikki reappeared, Marinette gave her a cookie to recharge on while she thought. She didn’t really trust any of the other previous heroes right now given that Lila had deceived them, and she couldn’t think of anyone who she trusted to help her.

Suddenly, the broken TV’s screen lit up with a spiraling black and white pattern. Marinette and Tikki paused, Tikki swallowing the piece of cookie she was chewing on, to look at it confusedly. Wasn’t that TV broken?

As if to further confuse them, the light emanating from the TV grew greater and harsher until the duo had to look away. 


“Woah!” Was this the work of Prime Queen or another akuma? No, that couldn’t be right. 

Then again, how else do you explain five people coming out from a television, let alone one that wasn’t even working? She could only stare at the five older teens as they just seemed to notice Marinette and Tikki, both in a state of shock with the younger’s breathing starting to pick up. Oh crap, others had seen Tikki! Marinette’s mind began racing, barely able to hear Tikki’s voice trying to calm her. 

One of them - a sporty girl with light-brown short hair wearing green clothes - yelped something out in a language that Marinette didn’t know while pointing frantically at Tikki. She knew French and English, but whatever language they spoke, she didn’t know it.

“Um…” Marinette began in French, “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”

The eyes of a silver-haired boy among the group widened in understanding. He stepped forward and knelt down, making himself almost eye level with Marinette, and asked, “Where are we?” in slow, hesitant French.

“...Paris, France?” Marinette said awkwardly. “Anyways, how did you come from the-”

Another explosion rocked the building, causing the newcomers to yelp. A boy who looked like he could have been the first girl’s brother to yelp loudest of all of them. This caused Marinette to glance at the entrance, muttering a curse. She had forgotten about Prime Queen! 

“Look,” she began, “we’ll have to talk later. For now, you need to-”

A thought occurred to her, then. She looked down at the monkey wrench in her hand. 

At last, a light went off in her head.

“Actually, stay here!” she ordered the quintet. Quickly turning to Tikki, she saw that the kwami had finished eating the cookie. 

“Tikki, Spots On!” she cried, transforming and making a beeline for her home, where the Miracle Box was hidden in her room. After grabbing the needed Miraculous, Marinette began making her way back to the store.

Still stunned, it was Yukiko who finally spoke first. “Yu, where are we? How did that girl change clothes so quickly? Is she some sort of-"

“I don’t know,” Yu interrupted, trying to calm her down, “I don’t know how she did those things or where that explosion came from, but I do know we’re in Paris.”

“Wait, like in France?” Kanji gasped, his mouth wide open.

“Seems so,” Yu replied, “I don’t think that girl would lie to u-”

Suddenly, the girl from earlier - still clad in that superheroine suit - appeared again, running up to meet them. 

Turning to Yu, she pointed to Yosuke and asked, “What’s his name?”

“Yosuke Hanamura,” Yu said, his ability to be calm under any situation kicking in, “If you need, I can translate for you.”

“Of course,” the girl said. Pulling out her yo-yo, she somehow pulled a small box out of it and extended it to Yosuke.

“Yosuke Hanamura,” she said, Yu explaining what she said with every sentence, “this is the Monkey Miraculous, which grants the power of Jubilation. If you are willing, you will use it for the greater good, and when you’re done, you’ll return it to me. Are you willing to become a hero today?”

“Seriously? I get to be some kind of hero?” Yosuke gawked in Japanese, his eyes sparkling. “Even if it’s temporary, I totally accept!”

With that, he opened the box eagerly and was promptly greeted by a light-brown flash of light, causing him and the others to recoil. When it faded, a small monkey-thing was floating in front of him, while there was a beautiful circlet inside of the box.

“Hiya!” the monkey-thing greeted, “Name’s Xuppu!”

“It talks?!” Kanji gasped, “Damn, that’s cool!”

“You do it too, nitwit!” Xuppu snapped at him. The fact that Xuppu understood was a bit of a surprise, but it shouldn’t have been unexpected.

“At least it understands Japanese,” Yu noted.

“Ooh, Japanese,” Xuppu grinned, “How’d you get people all the way from Japan here, Ladybug?”

“Japan?!” Ladybug gawked. Before she could dwell on that any longer, another explosion rocked the room, louder than before.

“Crap!” Yosuke yelped. Turning to Xuppu, he asked, “How do I become a superhero?”


“You can’t run forever, Chat Noir!” Prime Queen giggled, “Now that I’ve dealt with my brat, you’re all that’s left! Give me your Miraculous, or prepare for the shock of a lifetime!”

From behind cover, Chat opened his mouth to make a remark to himself but was interrupted by a cry of “Uproar!”

Before anyone could react, a sock-monkey flew from an unseen angle, bouncing off of Prime Queen’s head.

“Show’s over, Prime Queen!” Ladybug’s voice rang out.

“Oh, yeah?” the akuma questioned, whipping around to see the superheroine standing behind her. “You think you’re gonna stop me with a sock-monkey?”

She prepared to shoot out her new power at Ladybug, only to end up zapping herself as the electricity poorly conducted itself back to her. With a groan of pain, Prime Queen collapsed to the floor, completely unconscious.

Quickly, Ladybug rushed over, removed the smart watch her akuma was hidden in and broke it, releasing the akuma.

From their hiding points, Yosuke - clad in a light-brown outfit and wearing the Monkey circlet - and his friends watched in awe as the swarm of ladybugs swept through the city and fixed all the damages.

Once it was done, Chie whispered out, “That was so cool!”

Chat Noir, Wyvern & Hebi, being on timers themselves, made their escapes back to their homes while Ladybug went back to where Yosuke and his friends were once she was sure nobody was around.

“Thank you very much for your help today… what should I call you with the Miraculous on?”

After Yu translated for her, Yosuke said, “I’ll be Langur.”

Yu let Ladybug know of this name choice. She smiled at them as she took the Miraculous back, but once it was in her hands again, her look turned serious.

“Look,” she said sternly, “You can’t tell anyone about this. It’s too dangerous!” 

She didn’t hear the muttered “Not like he would,” from Kanji, who was promptly jabbed in his side by Chie.

“Of course,” Yu answered for them, “We can keep all of this secret. By any chance, is there a… Miraculous, I think you called it… that can move people places quickly and discreetly?”

“Of course!” Ladybug said, “It sounds like you guys ended up here on accident. Yosuke, you helped me out, so this is the least I could do for you all!”

“If you need our help again,” Yu said as Marinette - who had since introduced herself, as had the rest of them - exchanged phone numbers with him, “Just text or call us first. We’ll let you know if we’re able to help you out that day.”

“Thank you so much,” she said, before transforming with Kaalki into the alias she called Mare. With a cry of Voyage, she opened a portal to an alley near the Junes in Inaba.

“This was pretty cool, all in all!” Chie grinned, “Nobody would believe this story if we told ‘em! Not that we’ll tell anyone, anyways…”

Mare simply smiled and held out a small box for each teenager. “As another thank-you, please take these home and enjoy,” she said gratefully. “They’re what in my personal opinion are the best pastries in Paris!”

“Aw, yeah!” Kanji cheered as he took his box.  With that, the quintet of older teens made their way through the portal. 

Once all five had made their way over, Mare breathed a sigh of relief before murmuring, “Kaalki, Dismount.”

After Kaalki was returned to the Miracle Box, Marinette’s look turned contemplative.

“How do you think they came out of that TV?” she asked Tikki.

“I have no idea,” Tikki said honestly, “Do you think we should ask them next time we see them?”

“Who knows if we’ll see them again?” Marinette sighed. Her eyes then lit up with another idea. 

Looking over to her calendar, she saw it was Friday night. Sneaking downstairs, she crept to their TV and put her hand to its surface. Just like with the entrance of her new allies, the TV glowed, the black-and-white spirals appearing on it. 

Hesitantly, she slowly entered. However, her clumsiness kicked in and she fell into the TV’s portal.

Chapter Text

Marinette glanced around her surroundings yet she could barely see anything beyond a thick fog. Thankfully Tikki was still with her. 

"Tikki are...are we really inside the TV? No that's a dumb question, of course we're in the TV." Marinette clutched the sides of her head. "We really fell into the TV..."

She tried to find something, anything, that could help her get out of her situation. “Should...should we stay put or try to...walk around?”

"All right, time for take two!" Chie shouted as she stretched her legs, "this time we'll definitely get to the sauna! Although I do have to admit to that the detour to Paris was fun! Seeing real life heroes was so cool!" 

Playfully she gave Yosuke's arm a punch. "And this guy even got the chance to be one for a little bit!" 

"Yeah, that was definitely cool!" Yosuke rubbed his arm, wincing a little as the punch had been a little harder than Chie had probably been expecting. A thought hit him. "But, think about it, Paris has heroes and we didn't even know about it! How messed up is that! You'd think that something like that would be known world wide!"

"Yeah you would think that! Why haven't we heard about this? This is definitely big!"

Yukiko glanced over to her girlfriend, hand under her chin with a concerned expression, remaining quiet as a thought came to her.  "That was something that I had thought of last night, but what concerns me more is that the heroes seem to be younger than us if we are to use Marinette as an example. She is clearly younger than us. It almost feels like the weight of Paris possibly rests on her's and the other heroes' shoulders."

That caused the others to pause and think over what Yukiko had said, letting the thoughts sink in for the others, everyone's expressions varying.

"We should try to talk to Marinette about this later, see what is goi-" Yu had been caught off by a frantic cry from an all-too-familiar bear. 

"Sensei! Sensei, everyone!” Teddie seemed to try to stop so as not to run past the group though he was unsuccessful as he skidded past the team. Once he recovered, he started babbling, “We have a problem! A huge problem!"

Avoiding the frantic waving of Teddie’s arms, Yu managed to get the bear to calm down enough to explain what was going on. 

“There’s a new scent! A new scent is here! It showed up recently!” Teddie grabbed Yu’s hand, proceeding to pull on the limb. “Come on we, gotta go! We have to save them!” 

“Are you sure?” Yukiko gasped. “Any info you have about them?”

“Don’t have any… but seriously, c’mon! They might be in danger!”

Not needing any other reasoning, the team followed the bear to wherever this person was.

It took some time but the group managed to get to the dungeon and this one seemed different…. Granted they’ve only really been to two but this one had a different feeling than the others. For one, instead of being a building, this was a….mountain area? Or was it just multiple mountains made to look like one? And there was something else in the air… something that felt familiar? Yet, no one could place their finger on what this feeling was.

“They’re here! I can barely catch their scent, so they must be a distance away still! I think I saw a flying red dot, but it was too far away, my eyes may be playing tricks on me.” 

Flying red dot? It couldn’t be… could it? The group glanced around, thinking the exact same thing. A sense of foreboding fell over the humans of the Investigation Team.

“I think we know who that is, Teddie…” Yosuke began uneasily.


“If it really is Marinette…” Yukiko whispered to Chie, “What if another of those villains attacks Paris and she isn’t there? Akumas, was it?”

“We’d better get this done today,” Chie whispered back.

“Alright then, Teddie,” Yu said, having just finished telling Teddie some of the details on who they were saving. “We’ll save Marinette.”

“Great!” Teddie cheered, “It’s not like anyone else is in the TV right now, anyway!”

“Yeah… imagine if we had multiple people to save right now,” Chie shuddered at the thought.She didn’t hear Yosuke muttering about how he and Yu had to save her before Yukiko, and perhaps, for his sake... that was for the best.

Just as the team was about to step through the archway to enter, the previously mentioned speck came flying out, crashing into Yu’s face. Once he’d recovered, he saw that it was indeed Tikki as predicted, which meant Marinette truly was here.

“Oh, it’s you! Thank goodness you’re here!” Tikki said relievedly, “After she took you back, Marinette inspected the TV as we were curious about how you guys were able to travel through it, but we both fell in! We tried to find a way to escape, but Marinette can’t seem to see in this fog. I offered to scout ahead to try and find something that could help yet when I returned Marinette was nowhere to be found! How could I lose her this fast in this place?!” 

Tears filled Tikki’s eyes as she tried to wipe them away in frustration. Teddie walked up to Tikki and pulled her into an awkward hug.

“Don’t worry! We’ll save Marinette!” he reassured her. Tikki embraced the hug, but looked a little confused when it was over.

“Thank you… wait, who are you? I didn’t see you yesterday!”

“I’m Teddie!” he greeted. “It’s beary nice to meet you!”

Tikki smiled softly at him. He was like a happier Plagg!

“Nice to meet you too, Teddie. Did you bring everyone here?” At Teddie’s affirmation, Tikki gave a grateful smile. “Thank you so much, Teddie, you have no idea how indebted I am to you for this.”

She gave one last hug to the bear before flying up to Yu. “I can guide you to where I last saw Marinette. You all seem able to see in this fog, so that should make things easier. With this many eyes searching, I hope we find Marinette before it’s too late.”

“Yeah… especially if her Shadow Self is here…” Chie mumbled. 

She hadn’t said it quietly enough, it seemed, as Tikki turned to her. “Shadow… Self?” she asked, tilting her head in confusion.

“Think of it like….a doppelganger,” Yosuke explained, “they look like the real self but they’re, like… a repressed version of the person they look like. They’re that nasty part of us we hide from everyone. Oh, and rejecting them isn’t a good idea. It usually makes the Shadow Self too angry to be denied; it transforms and goes berserk.”

Tikki hummed as she heard the explanation, clearly thinking as she took residence atop Teddie’s fur for now. “And what if the Shadow Self isn’t rejected? What if they are accepted?” This question caused the others to pause and look at one another, no one seemed to have an answer for that. 

Before anyone could give her an answer, a Shadow popped up in front of them. Yu pulled out his sword, rushed forward and struck the Shadow. With an unworldly screech, the Shadow transformed into a trio of diminutive, kingly creatures in deep green robes that were flame-patterned. 

Chie, Kanji, Yosuke & Yukiko rushed forward to aid Yu in battle, and just in time, too - one of them waved its staff and cast a spell on their leader, covering him in a bluish-purple light that dropped his defense.

“Sensei! Your defense has been lowered!” Teddie was a safe distance away, but still able to see the fight and be heard easily. Tikki glanced at the bear and then the group; frowning, she took off, flying around Yu and clearing out the light from him. 

“Save your stamina! I can help with any healing, you five just focus on attacking!” Tikki said, her expression similar to Marinette when she was Ladybug.  

When she was back in a hidden spot, Tikki watched in awe as a card floated down seemingly from out of nowhere. 

“You wanted to see what those who accept their Shadow Selves can do, right?” he said. When it was close enough for Yu to grab, he crushed the card in his palm, releasing a powerful blue energy that reformed into Izanagi. 

The all-too-familiar figure - to the team, granted; he was new to Tikki - rained down lightning on one of the Draconic Kings, doing a little damage. Tikki thought she would have felt some static of the Zio spell, but was surprised to feel nothing of the sort.

“My turn!” Kanji declared, crushing another card that appeared from the sky, “Persona!”

The muscular form of Take-Mikazuchi appeared, ready for commands. Tikki gasped in awe.

“Kill Rush!” Kanji cried. The Persona obeyed, bringing down its lightning-bolt weapon on the weakened Draconic King and breaking it into dark material that dissipated into thin air almost immediately. 

“Nice job, Kanji! Two Shadows remaining!” Teddie encouraged him from his hiding spot. 

“Jiraiya!” Yosuke called, summoning his own Persona. “Magaru!”

The Wind spell ripped into the remaining Draconic Kings, knocking them onto their behinds.

Seeing that all foes were knocked down, Yosuke turned to Yu and asked, “Wanna get ‘em, partner?”

“Yeah,” Yu said, extending a merciless hand towards the downed Shadows. The team rushed them, and in a flurry of attacks, the Shadows were destroyed.

“C’mon, let’s keep moving!” Chie said. Nodding, the team dashed forward through the mountain.

Marinette’s eyes were really starting to hurt from the strain of trying to see in this fog, causing a headache to form just behind her eyes. She felt it was similar to when she stared at her computer screen for too long, yet at the same time the pain behind her eyes was more intense. She really should have waited for Tikki earlier but she thought she saw a silhouette of someone in the fog and had gone to chase after them.

Suddenly, a female voice cried, “You’re our hero, Ladybug!”

Marinette jumped. Looking around, she didn’t see who said it.

Another voice - a more masculine one - said, “You’re invincible! You can do anything!”

“Not really…” Marinette mumbled quietly.

I’m surprised we agree on anything, let alone that…” a semi-familiar voice rang out. Marinette tried to place it, but couldn’t quite figure out who that sounded like. She didn’t get to ponder on it too long, however, as the fog partially cleared, letting her see who had said that.

“What the…”

It’s so nice to meet you in person… my other self.

It had taken some time but the group had finally gotten to where Marinette and Tikki had been separated. The area had a cavern and multiple paths branching off into various directions. Tikki explained that the two had used the cave to rest. 

The group were debating on which path to take, each one trying to justify their chosen path. The only ones not really debating were Yu, Tikki and Teddie. Although it seemed that Teddie was pacing between the related paths, trying to find any hint of where Marinette had gone.

“Huh?” Teddie stopped for a moment to sniff the air. “I smell Marinette!” 

This got Tikki’s attention as she flew out of Yu’s pocket to fly in front of the bear, her expression a mix of relief and desperation. 

“Really? Are you sure?” Tikki flew closer to Teddie’s face with each word, her voice tinged with concern. “How far is she? Is she close?” 

Teddie continued to sniff the air, concentrating as he shifted between the different paths to try and find the correct path. He seemed so focused on finding where the scent was coming from that he didn’t seem to hear Tikki’s voice. 

“Here? No… here? No… ah!” Finally stopping, Teddie’s nose was twitching like mad. He was on his toes to be as high in the air as he could get. 

Pointing to a higher area just up ahead on one of the paths, he declared, “This way!” Without delay, he took off.

“Teddie, wait!” Yosuke called out, but he received no response from the living costume.

Having no other choice the group followed behind Teddie. The bear skidded to a halt when a vine struck out to hit Teddie, who just barely avoided the attack. Yu used the distraction from Teddie as an opening, following the path of the vine to strike at the Shadow. 

The Shadow melted away, only to reform as a tree with various looking faces… or maybe they were masks… inside of the leaves. 

“That’s new,” Yosuke muttered, clearly looking creeped out. He then noticed Teddie was still a little too close to the fight.

“Shoot!” he said, quickly pulling the bear out of the way. “Go, hide!” Yosuke urged before heading back to the fight.

“Since it’s a tree, try fire!” Chie shouted as she dodged another vine lash from the Lashing Nyogo, just barely jumping over a second one trying to trip her up.

“Got it! Come, Konohana Sakuya!” Yukiko slashed at the card with her fan, the summoned Persona casting an Agilao to burn the Lashing Nyogo, whose branches flopped over in pain.

“That was easy enough!” Chie remarked, “Ready, everyone?”

With a nod from the rest of the team, they and Chie tore into the Lashing Nyogo with an All-Out Attack.

“Let’s go, then,” Yukiko said. With that, they headed off down the path.

Marinette slowly followed behind this duplicate of her, noticing as she seemed to struggle with her burden. To Marinette, it looked similar to a massive glowing orb.there were times she seemed to notice images coming close to the surface. There were times she swore she heard voices coming from the orb, but that seemed impossible. 

Every time it looked as though something would drop or fall out of the orb, Marinette would try to pick up said object only for the lookalike to get to it first, claiming that it was her responsibility. She continued to stare at the other Marinette. She had so many questions.

Was she really like this? Did she really try to shoulder so much at once? Did she refuse help when it was offered, or did she just never notice it? Did she not try to ask for help? Was she really this hard on herself?

Marinette observed her, noticing now that the other was mumbling to herself. Yet she couldn’t understand what was being said, or...maybe she could, but wasn’t listening? She sighed; it was a bit jarring to see just how much to see she forced upon herself, intentionally or unintentionally.

Eventually, they came to the top of the peak of the mountain they were on.The fog seemed strangely thicker up here than down at the bottom… or was that the eye-strain talking? It seemed like now the lookalike finally relieved herself of the orb, placing it down on a stump that seemed to act like a kind of pedestal? No, not a pedestal. Whatever it was, it seemed to be the holder of the orb.

Instead of taking a break, Marinette watched as the lookalike began to pull out some items and do...something? Moving closer to this golden-eyed version of her, she saw that this task involved sewing. Was she perhaps fixing an outfit or creating one?

“It’s for the school drama club,” her duplicate answered as if she had asked the question out loud. “You know, the play they do at the end of the school year?”

“But...but that’s months away!” Marinette protested, her expression rather shocked. She carefully scheduled her time so that all events and commissions would be done in a timely manner, but still, this was too early! “I still don’t know what the play even is yet!” 

Her doppelganger shrugged as if unconcerned and continued her work. Once done, she pulled yet another task out; this time it was what looked like a large tome. 

“This one has to do with my Guardian duties; it’s a spellbook,” the duplicate said simply.

“Just who are you?” Marinette finally shouted.

“You know darn well who I am,” her duplicate smiled nonchalantly, “I’m you.”

Beginning to pace, this lookalike said, “It’s so hard to bear all of these burdens, isn’t it? You take on all of these projects for your friends, you agree to hide the truth for that brat Lila, you drop whatever you’re doing to go fight akumas…”

“They’re my friends!” Marinette shouted. “Who else is going to deal with those akumas? And I may not like Lila at all, but it’s better to take the h-”

“Shut it, me,” the duplicate shrugged, “If I have to hear that ‘high road’ shit one more kwami-damned time, I’m gonna scream… oh, wait, that would attract bad attention, would it? Guess I’ll bury those feelings down again and just be what everyone needs me to be.”

“That’s not what I do!” Marinette said, tears beginning to form on her face. Vaguely, she heard footsteps approaching from behind her.

“Finally found you, Marinette!” Kanji’s voice called out relievedly. The smile on his face fell, however, when he saw her Shadow Self.

“Oh, shit…” Yosuke breathed out.

Tikki’s eyes widened at the sight of two Marinettes. Remembering what the Investigation Team had warned her about, she turned to Yu and said, “Is that her Shadow Self?”

“Looks like it…” Yu said sorrowfully, his grip on his sword tightening.

Marinette glanced back at the team then again to her doppelganger, noticing the worried looks on their faces. Quickly, Tikki flew to Marinette and tried unsuccessfully to pull her away from her Shadow.

“What do you want?” Marinette inquired, forcing her Ladybug tone.

“Accept me,” Shadow Marinette said nonchalantly, “You know that all of this is true. I know it too - after all…”

Shadow Marinette took upon a crazed grin. 

“...I’m you, and you’re me!”

Marinette stood silently. A part of her wanted to reject those words, but at the same time she felt the truth in them. She could sense that this was her frustration manifested; the frustration of being “the Everyday Ladybug” in her classmates’ and teacher’s eyes, of being the “perfect” friend, of not being a burden to her parents. She had the burden of being the Guardian of the Miraculous on her shoulders as well as being Ladybug to save Paris from a magical terrorist who seemingly wanted to destroy the balance of the world. It was becoming too much! She was only fifteen!

“Yeah…” Marinette sighed, “You’re right. There’s no way - was never any way - I could have handled all of this on my own…”

The Shadow Self’s eyes widened; it seems she hadn’t expected Marinette to accept her.

“I should have reached out and asked for help, but...I never did. That is all on me. Now I see that I need help… no, I do have help, I just never really bothered to look.”

Marinette glanced to Tikki; eyes filling with tears of happiness, she turned back to her Shadow. “ we will grow from this and move forward. I'll ask for help and even set some boundaries for myself. I won’t close myself off or allow myself to become this overworked again.” 

With these words, Marinette seemed to surprise not only herself and her duplicate, but the other teens as well. She moved forward to hug her Shadow, literally embracing the side she was suppressing. 

Both Marinette and Shadow Marinette seemed to be smiling with tears still streaming down their cheeks as a bright light surrounded the duplicate. The light seemed to burst before going to Tikki, the kwami absorbing the light without even meaning to or knowing how she did. 

“I...I feel weird…” Tikki mumbled before she began to glow. Like a Pokemon evolving, her shape changed, growing bigger and changing. When the glow died down, Tikki looked very different.

Tikki looked more humanoid in shape and size, but was quite obviously still a ladybug. Like a ladybug, she had two eyes that were covered by a scarlet-black pattern akin to Ladybug’s mask. In the upper two of her four arms were spiked mace flails, and her antennae were shaped like the top of a music note. Her shoes were also slightly spiky on the bottom. All in all, she reminded Marinette of a partially humanized version of the Pokemon Ledian.

“Ooh…” Tikki said excitedly, “I feel so powerful!

“Great…” said Marinette wearily, “That’s super cool, Tikki!”

Suddenly, she fell to her knees.

“Marinette!” Yukiko gasped, and she and the team rushed forward to help her.

“I’m alright…” Marinette mumbled before falling asleep.

“We’d best get out of here,” Yu decided.

“Yeah,” said Tikki, who had somehow transformed back into her previous kwami form, “Those other Shadows we fought… we’ve certainly attracted a lot of attention.”

Nodding among themselves, the team began carrying Marinette back to the entrance, completely oblivious to just what she was dreaming about…

Chapter Text

Marinette jolted awake, a brief thought of wondering when she had fallen asleep, before shifting to where was she? She remembered meeting her… Shadow Self, Yu and his friends called it? Was that the term used? Glancing around she tried to find Tikki but all she saw was blue. 

Blue seats, blue windows, blue floorboard and ceiling… 

"Welcome to the Velvet Room," an odd voice greeted her. Marinette's gaze shifted across from her before her eyes widened. How long were they there for and why didn't she sense them?

"Who...who are you two? Where is Tikki? Where am I?" Marinette continued to glance around. "What even is the Velvet Room?"

"Calm yourself, we mean you no harm." This voice was different from the first; she noticed how the first had been masculine while this one was feminine. "As my Master had stated, this is the Velvet Room. Consider this a place between dreams and reality. You are safe here."

Marinette forced herself to calm down but to remain vigilant and on guard. Taking the time she studied the other occupants. The one directly across from her was a frail-looking male in a suit with a distinctively long nose. A part of her wondered if the eyes looking bugged out and a bit bloodshot was natural; it honestly kind of creeped her out. Yet, she felt nothing malevolent from this man. A strong part of her was telling that this man was more distinguished and powerful than he looked.

To the male's left sat a woman who wore a blue dress. Was her hair both in a ponytail while being in a headband? She definitely made Marinette think of a model with her looks. The older woman held what looked like a large book… or maybe it was a tome? A part of her wanted to ask but felt it wasn't the time.

"I am Igor and this is my assistant, Margaret. Once again, welcome to the Velvet Room." Igor's arms rested on a table that Marinette never seemed to notice until now. "It seems we have yet another Wild Card, truly a rare event."

"Wild… Card?" Marinette's fists clenched over her thighs. The words sounded very ominous. "What exactly is that?"

That seemed to make the man chuckle as he rested his chin on the back of one of his hands, the other waving over the table. A bunch of cards now laid face-down on the table; he gestured for Marinette to pick one up to examine, who seemed curious over what was printed on the cards.

“Ah, the reversed Hanged Man…” Igor remarked as he stared at the card. “You have been given a heavy burden to bear, have you not?”

Marinette blanched. Did he know she was Ladybug?

“There is no need to worry,” Margaret reassured her. “Our business with our guests is kept at the utmost discretion.” 

Marinette scrutinized her face for any signs of deception; finding none, she nodded and turned the next card over. 

“The upright Magician…” Igor noted. “It is clear our other guest has befriended you, has he not?”

“Other guest?” Marinette asked, confused. After going over that sentence in her head again, she snapped up in realization. “Do you mean Yosuke, Kanji or Yu?”

“It would be Yu who is our other guest,” Margaret answered, “We will explain our purpose now, if you are ready.”

Hesitantly, Marinette nodded.

“Our purpose is to aid you in the completion of your journey,” Igor began, “With your Persona - the kwami Tikki given power - your heart has been strengthened. Look inside yourself - you can feel her power, can you not?”

Now that Marinette thought about it, Igor was right - she could feel Tikki’s presence inside her mind somehow. Said feeling was stronger than that of the magic Tikki provided to her as Ladybug.

“There are many things we need to discuss, young Marinette,” Margaret, “Fortunately for you, little time passes for us in the Velvet Room, so we have plenty of time.”

“You’re here to help me, right?” Marinette answered, “If so, I can listen.”

Igor & Margaret hadn’t been kidding. Upcoming ruin, Personas, fusion, the strength of her bonds… boy, this was a lot to take in.

“So there’s some sort of upcoming ruin, Tikki serves as a fighter for me while in the TV, I can come here to create stronger Personas, and I need to cultivate my bonds with other people… did I get all of that right?”

“Impressively done, Miss Marinette,” Igor lauded, “never do I recall having a guest who picked up on everything so quickly.”

Marinette blushed appreciatively. “Thank you…” she said.

“With our introductions concluded, you should be on your way for now,” Margaret then said. “We will see you again…”

All Marinette did was blink once; she then found herself in an unfamiliar yellow realm, with Teddie and the IT standing over her. She felt like she’d woken up from a long slumber… though given what she could recall from before she woke up in the Velvet Room, it seemed she actually had.

“You’re awake!” Yukiko said. “Thank goodness!”

Snapping back to attention, Marinette shot up from her spot on the floor. “How long was I out?”

“Not too long,” Yosuke answered, “We just took you back to our meeting spot in th-”

His eyes bugged out. “Wait, you can understand me?”

“Yeah… I guess I can,” Marinette realized, eyes wide, “and you can understand me, too… can't you?”

“Yeah,” Chie said, “I think it’s an effect of being in the TV World.”

“That’s useful,” Yu agreed, “but does that mean we can understand you from outside the TV?”

“I think you should be able to understand each other,” Teddie piped up, “but you won’t understand the languages you each speak overall…”

“So we don’t just know French, and Marinette doesn’t magically get Japanese,” Kanji asked Teddie, “Am I gettin’ that right?”

Teddie nodded, a smile on his face. He then reached into somewhere on his side, bringing out a pair of glasses. The pink frames reminded her of whenever she put on Kaalki’s Miraculous.

“These are for you, Marinette!” he said kindly. Confused, Marinette put them on; when she did, all of the fog instantly cleared out.

“Woah…” she said in awe, “It’s like the fog was never there!”

“That’s our Ted!” Kanji laughed. The rest of them soon joined in on the laughter.

“Okay, okay…” Marinette said, “Anyways, I have some questions about this world. You guys mind answering them?”

“Sure,” Yu answered, “What do you want to know?”

“Why were you guys in here in the first place?”

The team told her about the kidnappings and murders that had been going on in the small town of Inaba, about the strange fog and the bodies strung up on telephone wires that followed, and about Shadow Selves and what could have happened if Marinette had rejected hers.

“Oh, my…” Marinette gasped when they were finished, “and Yukiko & Kanji were supposed to be some of this jerk’s victims?”

“Yeah…” Yukiko admitted, “But my… girlfriend, Yu and Yosuke saved me, and we saved Kanji a few weeks later.”

“You and Chie, huh?” Marinette said, a smile appearing on her face. “You look like a cute couple!”

Chie and Yukiko blushed.

“Is now a bad time to say that me and Yosuke are dating too?” Yu asked.

“I didn’t know about this!” Kanji gawked. Teddie just stared at them all, confused, but decided to keep his mouth shut for now and ask later.

“Well, Yosuke does call him ‘partner,’” Chie pointed out. “At any rate, I’m glad you’re pro-LGBTQ+!”

“It would be hypocritical of me to be otherwise, given that I’m pansexual,” Marinette informed them.

“Bisexual over here! Up top, Marinette!” Kanji said, his hand meeting Marinette’s in a high-five.

Suddenly, Tikki appeared in front of her face. 

“Oh, Marinette!” she cried, nuzzling up with Marinette’s cheek. “You’re awake! I’m so happy!”

“Tikki…” Marinette said softly, before turning to the group. “You guys mind if I help you catch the killer?”

“Of course we don’t,” Yu smiled, “We’ll text you with information about potential victims and other meetings.”

“That would be great!” Marinette beamed. Just then, a voice in her mind whispered:

You feel a bond of camaraderie with the Investigation Team… 

Completion Rank 1!

Before Marinette could question what had happened, there was a brief flash and a small popping sound.

“And there we go,” Tikki said, pointing over to two stacks of TVs, “I used my powers to create the red set of TVs. It’ll take you back to Paris!”

“Good work, Tikki!” Marinette smiled at her, “Well, I think we should go our separate ways for now, guys. Keep in touch!”

The team smiled at her as she and Tikki squeezed themselves inside the red set of TVs. 

“None of Marinette’s friends have seen her since Friday,” Tom reported to Sabine as he walked through their front door, worry clear in his tone as his hands wrung together. She’d been gone all weekend, without a trace, and they’d closed the bakery temporarily out of worry. Sabine had theorized that she was akumatized at first, but then she would have been seen rampaging across Paris in a garish costume… right?

“Oh, dear…” Sabine said, quickly walking to grab her phone. “We should have called the police from the st-”

Suddenly, a loud THUD interrupted her, followed by two voices - one of them Marinette’s! - groaning in pain. 

The two parents exchanged looks at each other before dashing into the TV room. Sure enough, there laid Marinette. Interestingly enough, a tiny red creature laid sprawled out atop her back.

The creature got up first; when it saw the elder Dupain-Chengs, its over-sized eyes widened. Frantically, it prepared to make a run for it, only to freeze up when Marinette got up dazedly.

“Ugh… we need to check where we’re landing next time, Ti-” It was only then that she saw her parents and the worried looks on their faces.

A few seconds of silence passed. It felt like the air was growing thicker with tension by the second.

“Uh… I can expl-”

Before she could finish her sentence, Tom and Sabine wrapped her up in a bone-crushing hug. And just like that, the tension seemed to dissipate.

“That can wait a little, Marinette,” Sabine said, “We were so worried that something had happened to you!”

“ long was I out?” Marinette asked.

“Your weekend’s shot, unfortunately,” Tom answered, “But next time, please let us know before you go anywhere for a long time!”

After a while more of hugging, Marinette sighed. “I should explain where I was, shouldn’t I?”

“That would be correct, honey,” Sabine said.

Marinette sighed, before turning to the red creature from earlier. It slowly nodded at her.

“Mom, Dad…” she said, the creature flying up to perch itself atop her shoulder, “This is Tikki. She… she transforms me into Ladybug.”

Chapter Text

The family sat in the living room together with Tikki by Marinette's side, the kwami surrounded by various sweets to regain her strength after not only using her magic, but also from becoming a Persona. After exiting the TV, her first order was to quickly check on the other Kwami and bring them down to meet her parents. Like her parents, all of them had been worried over Marinette.

It was then that the little fact that she hadn’t eaten in two days came back to remind her of the lack of nourishment. As she ate, Marinette explained her situation.

“Along with being Ladybug, I am also the Guardian of the Kwamis and the Miracle Box. I became the Guardian after Miracle Queen.”

When Tom and Sabine only stared in confusion at the name, Marinette explained what Chloe had done. They were understandably angry to hear this, but kept their emotions down so they didn’t attract any akumas. Some Kwami kept watch just in case, but all were impressed with how the two kept control over their emotions. 

“Recently it seems that I can somehow enter the TV,” Marinette then explained, “Have you guys heard of the town of Inaba, Japan?”

When they shook their heads, Marinette told them about her friends (leaving out their Miraculous involvement, just in case) and their quest to solve what she called “a deadly mystery;” she didn’t go into too much detail about it in order to better her chances of preventing akumas from being attracted to her parents.

A thought occurred to Sabine once her daughter had finished. “Are we the only ones who know?” she asked. 

Marinette wanted to say there were more people, but it had only been her, Fu and Tikki, and now even Fu wasn’t applicable anymore… Tikki had moved to allow her parents to sit beside Marinette, both wrapping their arms around her.

“Just me, the kwamis, and you…”

“This is a heavy burden you’re bearing, cupcake,” Tom eventually said, “but we’re proud of you for stepping up. We won’t tell a soul…” 

Marinette only smiled gratefully at her father, willing away tears of happiness and relief.

“This explains all those disappearances you’ve made, doesn’t it?”

“Somebody has to fight the akumas,” Marinette answered simply, the smile going away. A thought occurred to Tom, then.

“Wait… if you’re Ladybug, then Chat Noir…” 

“If it’s alright, Papa,” Marinette said, blushing furiously, “I’m gonna stop you there. He doesn’t know any hero’s identity but his own, and I don’t know his. If he did, then he might have stopped by my balcony to flirt or something, and I think you would have heard him.”

“We’ve never seen or heard you transform into Ladybug, honey,” Sabine pointed out, causing her daughter to only groan.

Marinette then remembered the promise she’d made her other self. She had promised to get herself a better support system. What better start than her own parents?

You feel Mama & Papa’s love for you…

Physician Rank 1!

“Any other questions?” she said, getting up from her chair.

Tom and Sabine glanced at each other, having a wordless conversation with each other..

“Just two…” Sabine said. “One - is there anything we can do to help?”

After a bit of thought, Marinette answered, “You can cover for me if the situation allows it, and make a few extra chocolate-chip cookies every so often - they’re Tikki’s favorite, and she recharges my Miraculous by eating.”

“We’ll do our best, cupcake,” Tom said understandingly, “Two - where are you going now? I assume you want to sleep whatever happened on the other end of the TV off?”

“Not yet,” Marinette replied. “I still have a few more things to do.”

Tikki seemed to pick up on what Marinette needed to do and flew over to Marinette, the teen glancing to her parents before heading up the stairs to her balcony. “Can I ask you to watch over the Kwami for a moment?” 

“Of course,” Sabine assured, “but where are you going?” She and Tom watched as their little girl transformed into one of Paris’s beloved heroes.

 “I’m going to start getting a proper support system. I’ve learned now that I am taking too much responsibility on my own and that there are others who would help me if I asked.” With that Ladybug left through her balcony, heading for the Eiffel Tower, the usual place for the heroes to meet up.

Once at the tower, she pulled out her yo-yo to call for a meeting; while it wasn’t an emergency, she stated, it was still important for them all to meet up.

Luckily it seems she didn’t have to wait too long for her team; Wyvern was the first to arrive, and both Chat Noir and Hebi arrived at nearly the same time afterwards. There were looks of concerns from the three over the sudden meeting, but all of them waited until Ladybug made whatever announcement she needed to make.

“I’ve had some time to think about how things have been going for me… and I’ve come to a realization.”

Beginning to pace, she continued. “We are all taking on such a large responsibility yet none of us seem to have a support system or have a proper one it seems if we do. Chat, you have indicated many times that your home life isn’t ideal and you’re possibly under too many restrictions.” She watched as Chat flinched and glanced off to the side, his ears flattening with unease. “Wyvern and Hebi, you both have or currently are wielding the Snake Miraculous. The resets might very well be causing a strain on your mental state.”

Both users glanced off to the side, Hebi’s eyes seemed more guarded while Wyvern’s seemed to be more unreadable. It looks like Ladybug hit the mark, and a part of her felt guilty for never noticing the strain before. 

“That is why,” she continued, “I propose that we become each other’s support system. We have each other’s backs both outside of the mask and with them on.”

“My Lady…” Chat gasped, “are you saying…?”

Instead of openly answered, Ladybug merely stated, “Tikki, Spots Off.”

Marinette glanced around at her team to gauge their reactions; while Hebi and Chat Noir both seemed more than surprised, Wyvern… did not. Then again, he could hear her heart’s melody - perhaps he knew all along?

“Longg, Open Sky.” Following Marinette’s example, Luka now stood in his civilian form. Chat looked surprised, but Hebi didn’t seem all that shocked - if she was chosen once more, it was logical that Luka could have been, too.

The two remaining heroes soon followed suit, dropping their transformations as well.

“Plagg, Claws In.”

“Sass, Scales Rest.”

It was Adrien. It had always been Adrien. Tears began to well up in her eyes, and every interaction she’d had with M. Agreste was now reexamined. She felt something clench inside of her at the realization that Adrien was going through that in his home life. No wonder school was practically a safe haven for him, with the exception of one certain individual that attended… 

Perhaps she should find some way to build a case to help get Adrien away from M. Agreste. However, that would be for another time - it was time to focus on the here and now.

“I guess your animosity towards Lila makes more sense now,” Adrien muttered, though it seemed more to himself. Quickly he shifted his attention to Luka & Kagami and said, “I’m glad to know that my allies were you two, and that our ‘everyday Ladybug’ really is Ladybug after all.” 

“It does make sense once you think about it,” Kagami stated, “All your disappearing acts, you and both you and Ladybug’s kindness…”

A light blush spread across Marinette’s cheeks from both Kagami and Adrien’s words. She cleared her throat to regain her composure.

“I believe this will help us in the long run; we are under so much pressure with saving Paris from a magical terrorist while also maintaining our civilian lives. I also think we should take some time to process this information and get to know one another now that we know the truth.”

Turning to Chat Noir - her partner - she gave a great sigh.

“Adrien… I love you.”

The blond gasped. Marinette could see his mind looking over every awkward interaction the two’d had.

“I know you love me back, chaton. I want to date you so bad, but I can’t trust it right now. It was already a great enough risk revealing all of our identities. Until Hawkmoth, our love will have to wait-”

Adrien stopped her with the second bone-crushing hug of her day.

“It’s okay, my Lady, I can wait.” Marinette could feel tears soaking her shirt as he spoke. “I’ve waited this long - I can wait a little more. Thank you for this, thank you so much for trusting me with this!” 

Luka and Kagami seemed to be standing back to give the two their space, using the time to interact with their previous kwamis once again. It looked as though Marinette and Adrien needed this moment together. Surprisingly enough there were no akumas; then again, there weren’t really any negative emotions being released. 

Once the two pulled away, only then did Kagami and Luka step forward, although it was more just to check in on the other two and provide comfort as well..

“I think we should take a day or so then get together again to try and plan our next course of action, we should also try to strategize ways to help with our teamwork.” Marinette wiped away at her eyes to get rid of any extra tears while looking over her teammates. “I have a feeling that the akumas are only going to get stronger from here on out, so let’s also be cautious.” 

The Miraculous Team’s bonds can only improve from here… right?

Madman Rank 1!

There was a round of hugs with everyone before the team transformed, each member making their way home. 

After entering through his open window, Adrien detransformed before collapsing on the couch, his hands rubbing over his face. A heavy sad sigh filled the room.

Plagg looked over from his recently reacquired cheese in sadness. Plagg may love his cheese, but make no mistake that he loved his Chosens, too. 

Well, the good ones, anyways, Plagg mused. Edward had been a nasty man, using his powers to intimidate, plunder and slaughter… and that was the beginning of the list.

“You okay, kid? I mean, you found out Pigtails and Ladybug are the same person; don’t tell me you’re upset that ya gotta wait longer?”

“I’ve waited for over a year and a half, Plagg,” Adrien said sadly. “I can wait for as long as my Lady needs or wants me to.”

“Then what’s the problem? You learned her identity - are you disappointed it’s Pigtails or something?”

“Hell no! It’s just that there’s no way Father will approve of her…” he explained, sounding utterly heartbroken.

Plagg growled, angry at the grasp Gabriel had over Adrien. Finally losing his patience over the sins of Adrien’s father, he threw his beloved Camembert to the side, flew in front of Adrien’s face and grabbed what he could. 

“Listen here, Adrien! You need to start living for yourself and not for your shit dad or his shit brand! You are your own person and not some… some fucking toy for your father to use!” 

“But Plagg, I have to obey! If I don’t I’ll be pulled from school again! I’ll be in isolation once more! You know it’ll be hard to be Chat Noir once that happens!”

Groaning in frustration, the Kwami flew over to Adrien’s school bag and pulled out the teen’s cell phone. He carried it over to where Adrien sat and dropped it on the cushion beside Adrien.

“Well, guess what? I’ve been doing some digging around on your father’s business - by the way he definitely should have used stronger passwords, they were all too easy to figure out - on some laws, you know what I found out? You, Adrien, are a victim of child labor!” 

The Kwami seemed to also mutter, “Not to mention a victim of emotional and mental abuse, but we’ll get there in a moment…” but Adrien didn’t seem to hear him. The boy was too busy staring at the page Plagg had left open on his phone.

“I can’t do anything about it.”

“Oh come on Adrien! Think about it! The way-too-small calorie intake with every meal, working random hours, working late at night or early morning… you have to move past your old man’s brainwashing!”

That gave Adrien a moment to pause, but his mind seemed to remind him of the power Gabriel had over him. 

“No, Plagg, I can’t risk it! There’s too much at stake now!” He got up from the couch, pacing and ignoring his fuming Kwami. Adrien picked up the remote to turn on his TV and hopefully calm down and just escape reality for a bit with something random on the screen. .

“Ugh, it’s all smudged!” Adrien leaned in to wipe it off, inwards and inwards, before the unthinkable happened - he fell inside the screen!

Plagg dropped his Camembert.

Chapter Text

"Pigtails! Pigtails! Marinette! MARINETTE!"

Plagg had phased in through Marinette's window, distraught and panicked. His distressed yelling woke up the other kwamis in the early morning. He flew over to the teen's bed, poking desperately at her cheek and when that didn't seem to wake her, tugged on her hair. "Wake up Marinette! Wake up, wake up! WAKE UP! EMERGENCY!"

Marinette's eyes blinked open, mind still a little blurry from the few hours of sleep she had gotten, before shooting out of bed as she finally realized whose voice she was hearing. 

"Huh? Plagg, what are you doing here? Where's Adrien?" No way would her partner be without his kwami!

"He’s gone! Not dead or anything, to what I know, but he somehow fell into the TV last night after he got back! I looked all over Paris to find him but I can't sense him anywhere!" 

One of the other kwamis came over, trying to urge the cat to calm down. Plagg growled and glared at Wayzz, swiping at the turtle; thankfully, he hadn't activated his Cataclysm in his desperate state.

"Calm down? CALM DOWN? My Chosen is missing and you want me to CALM DOWN?" While it was known among the kwamis that Tikki was protective of all of her Chosens, she knew it was Plagg who was truly overprotective of his kittens. He seemed to rarely have any good chosens, but for the few he would get, Plagg seemed to treasure and protect beyond his abilities. 

Marinette pulled the two kwami away from each other, no doubt to prevent the destruction if they were to come to blows with each other. She set Plagg on her pillow while Wayzz flew away to give him space. 

"Plagg, I'm going to get you something to eat. You said you've been flying around all night so no doubt you need to recharge. When I come, you can tell me the full story, okay? Take this moment for a breather and compose your thoughts," Marinette said as she tried to comfort the kwami. 

Quickly she threw off the comforter and made her way downstairs, she winced at seeing the early hours of 4 am on the clock and noticed her parents were just getting up. Thankfully they hadn't seen her yet, but she was going to have to tell them what was going on in a bit.

Making her way down to the bakery, she grabbed as many cheese baked goods as she could hold and rushed back up to her room. After setting the food on her desk, she brought Plagg down to eat. 

She listened to Plagg explain about getting back to the Agreste mansion and how he tried to get Adrien to break away from his bastard father's control, yet Adrien wouldn't listen. When he spoke of Adrien touching the TV to try and clean it, then falling into the TV, Marinette's mind finally caught on to Plagg's earlier comment. It sounded exactly like what had happened to her! 

"Don't worry, Plagg! I know what to do, and who we can call for help. We'll save Adrien!" Quickly she pulled out her phone to contact Yu, shooting a text that she needed him to call as soon as he was available, if it was after 4 am here in Paris then it had to be close to noon in Inaba. Yu responded that he would be able to call in about ten minutes and reassured her that the team would help with whatever Marinette needed.

While waiting for his call, Marinette contacted both Luka and Kagami; the first she had woken up but thankfully Luka was coherent while hearing Adrien was missing. With it being Anarka's birthday that day, it seemed he couldn't leave without rousing suspicion from both his mother and sister as he was expected to be with them all day. Kagami was awake when Marinette called, she was getting ready for an early morning training session and was about to head to breakfast. Thankfully, she was available today after training, and even with Adrien missing, Kagami would have made sure that her day was free.

Taking a moment to breathe and calm her mind, Marinette waited for the incoming call to Yu. She wondered yet if Gabriel would notice right away that Adrien was missing or if it would take some time. Gorilla seemed to be the only one in that house who actually cared about Adrien. 

Once she heard the ringtone she had programmed for Yu going off, Marinette answered the phone, putting it on speaker phone to allow Plagg and Tikki to hear.

"What's the problem, Marinette?" Yu asked. She could hear the other members in the background. Even though she could understand them thanks to the TV World, maybe she should ask Kagami for Japanese lessons sometime… 

She shook her head. It was time to focus on the here and now.

"Adrien is missing, you briefly saw him as Chat Noir the last time you were here. According to his kwami, he fell into the TV last night and has been in there a few hours now. We need to get him out, but I have to ask first: is he safe for now?" She could hear the voices on the other side talking, most likely amongst themselves but Tikki and Plagg seemed to understand what she was saying. Tikki was taking the time to take notes for Marinette to try and help explain what they were saying.

"He most likely is," Yu stated, "but can you answer me if it is raining or will be raining any time soon?" 

Marinette paused. Why would he ask about the rain? Nonetheless, she pulled up the weather report on her computer and reported that there was no rain indicated for the time being. That brought out multiple sighs of relief on the other end.

"Rain is usually our time limit of when we need to rush over here, when it rains in reality, the TV world becomes even more dangerous. We weren't sure if the same would still apply over there. We'll explain more later. Don't worry, we'll be over there after school." There was a brief pause for a moment and it seemed like the voices on the other side were talking again. 

This time, each of the other members did their best to apologize to Marinette and offer comfort. The gestures touched her heart. 

"Thank you! I'll be bringing someone to help, we'll meet you there!" The group said their goodbyes before Marinette hung up. She sighed softly to take a moment to collect herself before calling Kagami to inform her of the plan and to be ready in a few hours. There was another call to inform Luka about what was going on, the older teen once again offering his apologies to not be there.

Standing up, she got dressed before heading downstairs to talk to her parents. They needed to know about this.

Marinette guided Kagami up to the family room, no doubt confusing the other teen when they had made plans to rescue Adrien. 

“How is this going to help?” Kagami asked worriedly. 

“I’m calling in some experts,” Marinette reassured the other, “Just watch.”

Raising her hand, Marinette touched the TV screen in demonstration. Sure enough, the black and white vortex showed up.

“What the-” Kagami gasped, looking in shock at the TV portal. From their positions, Tom and Sabine stared at it as well. The bakers managed to collect themselves, as they were in front of customers. The door was closed to the customers, so they couldn’t see it, but Tom and Sabine could through a window.

"This is how we're going to rescue Adrien." Marinette gathered the bag her parents had helped pack for her. It contained not only a few medical supplies but also food and water if needed. Sabine had even surprised her by giving Marinette a weapon!

For this, Kagami and Luka had switched their Miraculous back temporarily as Longg was more offensive and could possibly help Kagami. At her side was a nodachi sword. 

"Let's go," Marinette helped Kagami enter the TV, the two going feet first for a better landing. Marinette learned from her last visit that going in feet was safer than going in head first, and she had warned her friend of such. 

Now in the familiar yellow room, Marinette noticed that the others hadn’t arrived yet, but she figured they’d be there soon.

“Where are we, Marinette?” Kagami asked her.

“We’re inside the TV. This is a parallel reality… or at least that was how it was explained to me.” 

Plagg and Tikki slipped out of the bag, the Ladybug kwami holding up a pair of white and red glasses and handing them over to Kagami. “You’re going to need these to see clearly in this place,” Tikki said to her.

Kagami raised an eyebrow but shrugged and put the glasses on. Her eyes widened at how the fog had instantly cleared up.

“Woah! Thank you, Tikki!” The kwami giggled slightly at Kagami’s amazed tone and replied that it was no problem at all. 

Suddenly, a voice called out, “Hey, Marinette!”

Kagami’s mouth dropped wide open as Teddie’s silhouette appeared, and it was coming fast. She readied her sword, but Marinette placed a hand in front of her.

“Easy, Kagami. This one’s good.”

When Teddie got close enough, he blinked at the sight of Kagami.

“Mari-chan, who’s this?”

“This is Kagami Tsurugi,” Marinette responded, “Did you pick up the scent of anyone while we were gone? We think someone f-”

There was a weird, static-y noise before the other stack of TV screens glowed; the Investigation Team had finally arrived. Kagami could only stare as the older teens collected themselves.

“We’re here, Marinette!” Kanji said when he saw her. When his eyes landed on Kagami, he asked, “Who’s this chick?”

“Tact, Kanji,” Yukiko admonished. “But he does raise a good question. Who is this, Marinette?”

“I am Tsurugi Kagami, an ally of hers,” Kagami replied in Japanese. “Are you the ‘experts’ Marinette talked about?”

“Yeah,” Yosuke responded, “and we’re flattered she thinks of us so highly.”

“Praise from Marinette never fails to make one feel good, doesn’t it?” Kagami said, causing Marinette to blush.

Marinette cleared her throat, trying to rid herself of the blush. It felt like her teammates could bring out a blush so easily since their reveal last night. 

Plagg flew in front of the group, looking rather impatient. Flying in front of Yu’s face, he cried, “Never mind that! Where’s Adrien? He fell into his TV last night! Where is he?” 

Understanding his pain, both Longg and Tikki flew over to comfort the distressed kwami. Tikki offered an apology but it was understandable given his stress. 

“That’s right,” Marinette said, before looking to Teddie. “Can you sense another person here? And how far would he be?” 

Teddie was quiet for a moment as if concentrating, before he began sniffing the air. “I think I may need you to tell me about your friend first… I can’t get a proper hold of his scent.” 

Marinette had to think fast and catch Plagg before he charged at Teddie, the Black Cat kwami seemingly swearing at the bear in another language. 

“I can provide information about him, Plagg,” Marinette said to him sternly, “You need to calm down, though. I understand you’re scared and hurting, but you’re acting rashly right now.”

Plagg looked like he wanted to object, but he knew the Guardian was right. He sighed and backed off, flying onto Marinette’s shoulder next to Tikki, nuzzling his counterpart like his life - and sanity - depended on it.

“So here’s what I can give you about Adrien…” Marinette began, “He’s kind, but he can be self-sacrificial...”

When Marinette was done, she felt a sense of catharsis wash over her. She’d known Chat Noir was in a bad family for a long time, but had never been able to tell anyone without potentially revealing herself. Learning it was Adrien made things so much worse. She’d respected Gabriel Agreste - idolized him, practically - but to learn who the man behind Chat Noir’s pain was had been a nasty shock to the system. Perhaps it was time to find new role models in the fashion industry.

“Hm… I have a better understanding of your friend now. Give me a moment, I’ll find him this time!” Teddie was charged up and determined to help find this lost soul. Once again, he stuck his nose in the air, sniffing for Adrien. He seemed to possibly have a trace of something as he focused on one particular area. 

“Kanji, can you give me a boost? I think I smell something over this way, but it feels out of reach.” His request seemed to surprise everyone; regardless, Kanji gave him the needed height. 

It seemed like Teddie’s sniffing picked up with the added altitude. “This way! I smell your friend this way!” 

Following the direction, the group headed off at a brisk pace; while they may not have the rain to worry about, time was still of the essence. 


A while of following Teddie later, they stopped in front of a dark, gloomy fortress-like building.

A logo of glitzy, drastically unbefitting colors sat atop the front. It read FAMISA PRISON.

“Does anyone else have objections about me Cataclysming Gabriel?” Plagg muttered to Kagami and Marinette. “Pigtails, we have to raise a case against my kitten’s old man. Did I show you the stuff about the child labor?”

Child labor?!” Kagami and Chie gasped in unison.

“My apologies, but who’s Gabriel?” Yu asked.

Marinette, Kagami, and Plagg filled the Investigation Team in on Gabriel’s wrongdoings. They revulsed in horror as the information was told.

“Well, I could always have a ‘talk’ with that deadbeat,” Kanji offered, cracking his knuckles. “It doesn’t even sound like he was a father to this kid. Sure, mine ain’t around, either but he’s dead!”

Yosuke then asked an innocent question. “What about his mom? Is she worse than this jackass or something?”

“We have no idea,” Kagami answered, “Nobody seems to have seen her since she went missing a few years ago. We think Gabriel’s… bad behavior, if you will, stemmed from her disappearance.”

“I hope she saw how bad he could be and left,” Plagg grumbled, “although I would have preferred that Emilie take Adrien with her…”

“Then again,” Marinette pointed out, “if that was true, then Adrien would never have met you.”

Plagg froze up at the thought of never meeting Adrien. “Fair,” he admitted, “Even so, we’ll have to deal with Gabriel once we’ve saved Adrien!”

“Don’t worry, Plagg,” Marinette’s voice took on a tone none of the kwami nor Kagami had ever heard, “we will definitely take care of Gabriel after this. Make no mistake about that - now that I know the full extent of his crimes, he will pay the consequences for everything he has put Adrien through.”

By now, they were already a fair ways into the Dungeon. Yu suddenly stopped them.

“Shadow ahead,” he said, pointing at a mass of black goop with a masked face and creepy hands. Rushing forward, he swung his sword at it, forcing it to transform into a quartet of large, black-feathered birds with red masks and spiky plumes around their necks.

Marinette pulled out the weapon her parents had given her. Swinging around her chained hook to fully test the weight and adjust her grip, she glanced over to her kwami who looked just as determined as she felt. 

“Ready, Tikki?” She couldn’t help the grin that seemed to form, no doubt this was perfect for releasing some much needed frustrations after everything she’d learned today.

“Of course, Marinette!” Tikki cheered. “I’ve never gotten to fight in person before - let’s see what happens!”

“All right, then,” Marinette said, extending a hand at one of the Mars Eagles. A card appeared before her; on instinct, Marinette crushed the card between her hands with a clapping sound. 

“Let’s go, Tikki!” She cried, watching as her kwami shifted into her Persona form, sending a Maragi towards the Mars Eagles. The Shadows screeched in obvious pain, but they did not fall down.

Yosuke grinned as he ran past Marinette, ruffling her hair without stopping. 

“Nice job, kid! Now it’s my turn!” He slashed at a card with one of his kunai, summoning his own Persona. “Jiraiya, Garula!” 

With a swing of its wings, however, the Mars Eagle Yosuke attacked swept the Wind spell away.

“Great, it nullifies that!” Yosuke groaned.

“Sensei!” Teddie cried from his hiding spot, “Use Electric spells! Most of the other bird Shadows we’ve met were weak to that, remember?”

“Nice idea, Teddie!” Yu praised. His hand crushed a card with a woman and a lion on it, summoning a large centipede with a long, blood-red tongue. 

“Ōmukade,” he commanded, “Mazio!”

As Teddie hypothesized, the Electric spells did the trick. Three of the Mars Eagles flopped to the ground, and one of them was killed, disappearing into dark material.

“They’re all down!” Marinette called out, “How do we finish this?”

“Follow our lead!” Chie said, and with a cry of All-Out Attack!, the Investigation Team charged the Shadows, Marinette and Kagami following them soon after. Their attacks ripped into the Mars Eagles until there was nothing left.

Once they’d cooled down, a female voice rang out from above them. It was slightly fuzzy, as if coming from an intercom… which made sense, if one thought about it.

Oh, darling prisoner… I’d free you if I could… 

“W-what the…?” Kagami gasped. “What was that?”

“Usually, Shadow Selves’ voices can be heard through the entire dungeon,” Yukiko explained. “But that doesn’t sound like an Adrien to me…”

“Maybe it’s someone else?” Chie pointed out. “I mean, Yukiko’s Dungeon had both her Shadow Self and mine!”

“But we never heard your voice before you got Tomoe,” Yu recalled, “Teddie, is it possible for that to have been someone else?”

“Yeah, it is!” Teddie answered. “I think Chie’s wasn’t heard back in Yukiko’s Castle because her distortion wasn’t all that strong…”

“Thanks, I think…” Chie murmured.

“Oh, yeah, that reminds me!” Marinette said as they’d kept on walking. She pulled out the medicine, food and water her parents had given her - she’d kept them in a small backpack - and gave them to Yu.

“You’re pretty much the IT’s leader, right?” she said, “You should hold onto these.”

“Can do,” Yu said, putting the items in his jacket’s inside pockets.

“Hey, partner!” Yosuke suddenly called, “Shadow up ahead!”

Sure enough, there was a Shadow a fair way in front of them, though it had yet to notice them. Marinette threw out her chain hook, striking the Shadow from long-distance and beginning another battle.

Instead of the avian Shadows from before, there was a trio of Shadows who came in headless duos, one holding a fencing saber and the other holding a masked heart-balloon. The more stereotypically-masculine ones were in black tuxes, while the feminine ones were in red dresses.

“Where have I seen that color scheme before…?” Kagami mused from her hiding spot with Teddie. While they’d been walking earlier, the bear had advised her to stay back with her due to her lack of a Persona.

Two of the Dragon Dancers swept forward, attempting to stab Yosuke. He dodged it easily, though, and retaliated with a few swings of his kunai. They took decent damage, but ultimately stayed up and ready, sidestepping back to their original positions.

Marinette glanced down at the end of her hook chain, her mind trying to come up with a plan. She wasn’t sure about what she came up with; could this idea work? It felt like such a basic technique, and what if she missed? 

Ultimately, she decided it was worth a shot.

“Yu, I’m going to try and trip them up. Can you back me up if this doesn’t work?” Marinette began mentally working out the angle she would need for this to work. Maneuvering herself towards the Dragon Dancers that Yosuke had damaged, she changed her stance so that she was lower to the ground before throwing the hook. 

Maybe it was blind luck, or maybe Tikki was somehow helping the odds, but Marinette managed to catch the leg of the masculine Dragon Dancer; as it (he?) fell over, he brought his partner down with him. It had worked! 

Marinette gave a sigh of relief. So relieved was she that she didn’t notice another duo of Dragon Dancers dashing at her, saber aimed at her heart.
“Marinette!” Kagami cried out, catching her attention.

Suddenly, a vision played out in Marinette’s head. She was in the Velvet Room, though only Margaret was there.

“Like that of Yu, my dear guest, you possess the power of the Wild Card, which allows you to use multiple Personas.”

A new card fell in front of Marinette. It had four pictures on the front - a flowing chalice, a dove, a square and a triangle.

Right before she crushed the card, she shouted, “Daitengu!”

A winged humanoid in something akin to a plague mask and ornate robes appeared in front of her.

“Bufu!” she declared, and the ice that flowed from Daitengu froze the Dragon Dancers in their tracks; when the ice burst, it ripped up the Shadow duo as well.

“Wait, what?!” Kanji said, shocked, “You got multiple Personas, too?!”

Marinette blushed a little. “I-I guess so,” she smiled. Then she saw Yu looking directly at her. It was a calculating frown, like Lila’s true frown but without any ensuing malevolence.

“Can we talk about this later?” Yu asked her. Marinette nodded her assent. With that, they turned to the remaining four Dragon Dancers.

“We know they’re weak to Ice, so…” Chie said, crushing another card and summoning Tomoe, “Mabufu!”

The Ice spell shattered the knocked-down Dragon Dancers and knocked down the more energized duo.

“Ready for another All-Out Attack?” Yukiko asked the group. They all nodded, and walloped the Shadow with everything they had. The Dragon Dancers were soundly defeated.

Not long after they’d started walking again, another voice rang out over the intercom.

Adrien… why couldn’t I have you? Why, why, WHY?

“Just who was that?” Yosuke wondered.

“If we go past this door, I think we’re gonna find out!” Teddie said, pointing to a huge, dark-gray door in front of them. “My nose tells me there’s someone behind here!”

Looking around, the team realized the only other way was back - if they wanted to proceed, they’d have to go through this door.

“Well… everyone ready?” Yu asked the gang. Nobody had objections, so they walked through the door.

It was a large room, where a dark-haired figure stood alone. She was facing away from the IT, but they could tell she was in prisoner’s garb.

“Wait… that’s not Marinette, is it?” Yukiko gasped upon seeing the stranger. “I thought you dealt with your Shadow Self.”

“That’s because it’s not her Shadow Self…” a timid voice came from behind them.

Eyes wide with shock and slight fear, Kagami whispered, “...she’s mine.”

“Wait, what?” Kanji glanced back and forth between Kagami and the Shadow, trying to notice any similarities, but with the figure still facing away, it was difficult.

She’s quite right,” the stranger’s voice smirked as she turned around, “I am Kagami Tsurugi.

Slowly, Kagami stepped in front of them and declared, “Who are you, really? I would never wear this… outlandish costume!”

Dear God, you sound just like Mother when she’s angry,” Shadow Kagami groaned, reminiscent of a bratty teenager. 

Marinette realized something then - or didn’t realize it, in a sense of the words. What kind of distortion would Kagami have? She was a very truthful person, often to the point of bluntness. 

“Kagami…” she whispered sadly.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what my other self has hidden from you, aren’t you?” Shadow Kagami giggled. “Well, let me tell you…

Her grin turned almost sadistic. “I wanted Adrien for myself!

“How dare you!” Kagami snarled, readying her sword. Longg flew to her side, a glare on her tiny little face.

Yeah, I’m happy for Marinette, ” Shadow Kagami admitted, “ We’re friends, after all, and thanks to rotten old Mom, those have been few and far between.

Shadow Kagami sighed. “But I wanted him to love me so badly… Sass, the poor darling, he had to eliminate a few akumas.

Longg looked away sadly. 

Anger filling up in her, Kagami clenched her fist, biting down on her lip. She glared up at her Shadow with a venomous gaze. If looks alone could kill, there was no doubt this impostor would be buried six feet under. 

Subconsciously, Kagami reached up to where her heart was; having her secrets spilled was reminding her of the pain she felt most nights. Nights she honestly wanted to forget… 

I suppose I would know better than anyone, wouldn’t I?” Kagami was snapped out of her thoughts as she stared back up at Shadow Kagami.

Because I’m you… and you are so incredibly, truly, perfectly me.

“N-no!” Kagami shouted, finally finding her voice.

“Oh, shit,” Yosuke whispered. “Don’t say it-”

“We are nothing alike! You’re not me at all!”

A feral grin took over Shadow Kagami’s face. “Oh, is that so? ” she cackled, slowly being enveloped in a dark energy that grew bigger and bigger. “Well, I beg to differ!” 

The ball of dark energy grew outwards, forming sharp angles as it branched out. In a burst of energy, Shadow Kagami reappeared in a brand-new form.

She was a being made of blades, spikes, and all sorts of other sharp and pointy things, with the sole exception being the dragon’s head atop her. With the exception of her limbs, all the blades pointed inwards, making her look like she’d been stabbed from all sides. The only non-pointy part was the giant red hole in her chest.

I AM A SHADOW… OF YOUR TRUE, INNER SELF… ” Shadow Kagami growled out, the sound of steel jangling around as she shook with wild rage echoing through the room, “MOTHER HAS NO NEED FOR FOOLS AND LIARS… I WILL ELIMINATE YOU ON HER BEHALF!

With a swing of her sword-hand, Shadow Kagami shot out a sharp shockwave at Kagami. Marinette tackled her out of the way just in time, saving her life.


“Marinette… I’m so sorry…”

Turning to the original members of the IT, she asked, “What do we do?”

“First, we attack the Shadow Self until it reverts to its Shadow Self,” Yu responded, before crushing his Persona card. “Izanagi!”

Yu’s Persona swung his blade at Shadow Kagami, but she blocked it with her other arm.

“She nullifies Physical attacks!” Yukiko realized, “Konohana Sakuya, Agilao!”

The Shadow Self screeched in pain before falling to a knee.

“Nicely done, Yuki!” Chie cheered. “Let’s get ‘em!”

Despite the strength of the All-Out Attack, Shadow Kagami survived. She rose up from her position, looking incredibly angry. 

SO, YOU THINK YOU CAN RISE ABOVE ME? WELL, NOW YOU’RE GONNA GET IT!” she shrieked, sending out a Magarula that would do quite the bit of damage to the team, most of all to Marinette, Kanji & Yu.

Right before it could strike Kagami, however, Marinette leaped in front of Kagami to take the blow. The blow didn’t knock her out, but she did go flying off, landing with a painful-sounding thud on the ground.

“I… I won’t let you keep hurting yourself, Kagami,” Marinette grunted. She’d managed to pull herself up on one arm but it was clear that she was in immense pain. Her arms shook with the strain of pulling and trying to keep herself up. “I know that this is really difficult, Kagami… but you can’t reject this part of yourself. You have to accept all of your sides - the good, the bad and even the ugly parts.”

“And for what it’s worth, about your jealousy?” she said, rising to her feet and staring Kagami in the eyes, “I understand. And I forgive you.”

“Marinette…” Kagami whispered, before the look of steely resolve Marinette liked about Kagami appeared on her face.

…wait, liked? Didn’t she like Adrien?

No, that could wait. Marinette turned to Shadow Kagami, watching her recoil in pain as a look of self-understanding overtook Kagami’s face.

“I understand now… my feelings are my feelings. Even if I don’t get to be with Adrien, he’s still my friend-”

“Why don’t you guys just all date each other?”

Gawking, Marinette and Kagami turned to Kanji, who shrugged and continued, “It’s clear you guys got a bond with each other, and even if you don’t love each other, you can share him!” That got both girls to jump a bit, the two glancing at each other before looking away with almost-bashful blushes.

“Really?” Chie cried out before she and Tomoe deflected another shockwave, “dating advice during a fight?”

“Fights against Shadow Selves got you two together, remember?” Yosuke pointed out.

“Shuddit, Yosuke!” 


“Of course I am,” Kagami shrugged, “If you are me, and I am you, shouldn’t you be happy about this?”

“To be fair,” Yosuke explained, “your other self’s emotions have gone berserk. This is why we have to beat sense into her right now!”

“That makes sense…” Marinette said slowly. Crushing her Persona card, she summoned Tikki and called out, “Agilao!” Once again, the Fire spell brought Shadow Kagami down to her knees. 

“Shall we finish this, guys?” Marinette called to her friends. They gave her nods of approval, and Kagami and Teddie watched as the team collectively swung their weapons at Shadow Kagami, finishing her off once and for all.

Slowly, dazedly, Shadow Kagami got up. When she could properly see, she saw that her other self was right in front of her. 

“You were right that I liked Adrien. I was jealous of Marinette, who had gotten the guy… I see it now. I am you, and you are me.”

“E-eh?!” Longg suddenly began to glow from her hiding spot with Teddie. Like Tikki before her, she transformed.

The Persona form of Longg was a giant, slender dragon colored red and black. Around her body were three orbs - one green, one blue and one yellow. The orbs seemed almost active with their corresponding elements inside  as the elements seemingly beat against the material. A gentle ethereal kind of wind seemed to flow around Longg as she lovingly nudged her muzzle against Kagami’s cheek.

Kagami stroked at Longg’s muzzle, amazed to see the transformation of her kwami. Feeling the strain from exploring the TV world as well as the stress of dealing with her Shadow, Kagami’s legs seemed to collapse under her. Her kwami-turned-Persona was the only thing really keeping her standing.

“I think we should stop for the day,” Teddie suggested, now out of his hiding spot. “Kagami-chan has been through enough for today. We can return here again after everyone is out of school tomorrow.”

Everyone agreed, taking note of how exhausted Kagami looked.

“Here, Kagami,” Marinette offered as she turned her back towards the other, “I can carry you on my back, you look ready to pass out at any moment now.” There was a light blush over both girls’ cheeks, yet Marinette refused to falter. She would help her friend - and maybe something more - to the bitter end, if need be.

With Kanji and Marinette carrying her, Kagami and the IT left the TV World not long after.

Chapter Text

Marinette and Yu watched as Yosuke, Kanji, Longg, Plagg, Chie, Yukiko & a recovering Kagami headed back through their respective TVs. Yu had promised to catch up with them, but he had something to talk about with Marinette first, and Teddie… well, Teddie lived here. He had promised not to listen in before heading off on his own, saying he was going to think about where he’d come from.

Once the two Wild Cards were on their own, Yu turned to Marinette with a serious look on his face.

“Did you go to the Velvet Room?” he asked right off the bat.

“Uh, yeah…?” Marinette asked, a little intimidated by Yu’s sudden seriousness.

“When did this happen?” 

“While you guys were carrying me back here after Tikki became a Persona… they mentioned you, now that I think about it.”

“Interesting…” Yu murmured. “You also possess the potential of the Wild Card… I thought it was just me.”

“Maybe in another life,” Marinette shrugged, “or something like that…”

“Listen,” Yu then said, pointing to a floating blue door on one of the corners of the platform they stood on, “You see that door, right?”


Yu explained, “That will take you to the Velvet Room, where you’ll be able to fuse Personas and bring back previous ones. They make you pay money for those, however, but I’m willing to share the money the Shadows drop.” 

His expression turned a little hopeful. “I do, however, request that we go together whenever the need arises. Is that okay with you?”

“That would be great!” Marinette smiled at him, “You can guide me through the process!”

Relieved, Yu smiled back. “I wouldn’t mind that.”

You feel a sense of camaraderie from the other Wild Card...

Completion Rank 2!

With that, the Wild Cards headed home through their respective TVs.

The next day, in the deepest recesses of Famisa Prison… 


As Adrien opened his eyes, he groaned. After a few seconds, he sat up hastily, scrambling to his feet.

This wasn’t his room.

“Plagg, where are we?” he grumbled to himself, trying to recall what had happened. When it came to him, he realized Plagg wouldn’t be responding to him any time soon.

“...Plagg? Plagg!” he called out desperately. “Where are you, buddy?”

But nobody was there.

Looking around at the dark, foggy, and fortress-like room he was stuck in, Adrien couldn’t help but wonder if this was the work of some sort of akuma.

“Maybe Father was akumatized again…?” Adrien muttered out.

Oh, that would be fucking fantastic , wouldn’t it?” a distorted yet semi-familiar voice groaned sarcastically. “Last time that he was akumatized, he lost his temper at everyone and blamed you… though he never has any patience for anyone, so I guess it’s not much different from usual.

Looking in the direction of the voice, Adrien managed to see a silhouette of someone, though he couldn’t pick out any other details. The silhouette chuckled, before beginning to make his way through the fog, the sounds of both something heavy being dragged across the ground and chains clinking accompanying him.

But it’s not like you’re allowed to care, right? The old man just won’t listen to reason, will he?

“W-what would you know about my Father?” Adrien shot back, anger filling up at the insults thrown out at his father. He then froze up, his ‘instinct’ of not talking back when he wasn’t Chat Noir kicking in.

I’d know quite a lot about Father” the figure said, speaking the name as if it were poison on his tongue. Broken out of his thoughts as the silhouette finally came into full sight, Adrien’s eyes widened in shock.

...seeing as I’m you, and you’re me.


Staring down the duo of chained-up panthers, Kagami slashed her nodachi through her Persona card, transforming Longg into her Persona form.

“Zionga!” she ordered. The lightning bolt ripped into one of the Infortunium Beasts, leaving it on its last legs. 

“Excellent,” Kagami said, a smirk on her face. “Do it again!”

This time, Zionga zapped the other Infortunium Beast, knocking it down as well.

“Way to go, Kagami!” Marinette cheered, “Let’s get ‘em!”

With that, the team tore the Infortunium Beasts to pieces.

“That reminds me, Kagami,” Marinette said as the Investigation Team started running through the Dungeon again, “I know we can understand these guys, but would you mind teaching me Japanese?”

Kagami smiled. “Of course, Mari. That would be useful, especially if we must go to… Inaba, you said they were from?”

“Yeah,” Marinette nodded, “thanks, Kagami!”

You feel Kagami’s rocksteady trust in you…

Nurture Rank 1!

I know you all too well…” Adrien’s lookalike - scantily clad in a green and white prisoner’s uniform and slowed down with weighted chains around his hands and feet - smirked. “You think you’re some kinda Good Samaritan, bearing the burdens for all of the people who hurt you in the hopes they’ll get better… but they won’t. You know that.

“W-what are you talking about?” Adrien stuttered.

I think who is the better question,” the doppelganger sneered, “ I’m talking about Chloe the haughty brat, I’m talking about Lila the mendacious bitch… and I’m definitely talking about Gabriel the absent abuser.

“They can improve themselves!” Adrien shot back. “They just have to try!”

But they haven’t, have they, now? Of course they don’t. They don’t want to - they see no reason to!

“Chloe and Lila are my friends! And Father is… well, my father! If you really are me, you would know that!”

Oh, really? Is that what friends do? Do friends dangle you over everyone else like a piece of meat? Do friends hang all over you like you’re a fucking jungle gym, invading your personal space?

The golden-eyed Adrien grinned triumphantly.

Does a father treat his child like a slave, only good for propelling himself higher and higher?

“Mudo!” Yukiko cried. Konohana Sakuya encased the muscular form of a Superstar Gigas in dark energy that killed it in one shot.

Another rushed forward, attempting to catch her in a lariat, only for Marinette’s chain-hook to catch his hand, holding him back. While the wrestler-themed Shadow was busy with that, Tikki charged him, smashing him with her mace flails.

As the Superstar Gigas recoiled, the chain-hook ripped off his hand, causing him to bleed black. Kanji put him out of his misery with a Kill Rush from Take-Mikazuchi.

The last of them attempted to get payback on Marinette with a Cruel Attack, but Chie summoned Tomoe and took him out with a Rampage before he could get the chance.

Adrien cringed, looking down. This lookalike had him pegged… 

If that’s friendship, I don’t want any of it! But there’s nothing that can be done, I suppose… Chloe and Gabriel are stinking rich, and while Lila’s on that shitbag’s payroll…” 


But what? Do you want to keep suffering under the thumbs of those who mistreat you? Is that what you want? Nah…

“How far are we from Adrien?” Kagami asked as the IT dashed through the prison halls.

“We’re almost there!” Teddie affirmed, “I can smell your friend not too far from h- oh, no!”

Another Shadow was in front of them. Groaning, Marinette struck it with her hook before it could notice them. The Shadow formed into a quintet of giant, masked boulders.

“Magaru!” Yosuke cried, summoning a new Persona which Marinette had not seen on him yesterday.

“I didn’t know you could wield multiple Personas, Yosuke!” Marinette gasped as the Wind spell knocked all five down.

“Well, I can’t,” Yosuke replied as he, Marinette and the others charged the Slothful Basalt. “I was hanging out with Yu after school, and after talking about some problems I’ve been going through involving the murders, my Persona transformed into Susano-o!”

No further words were spoken as the team defeated the Slothful Basalts with the All-Out Attack; once the stony Shadows were gone, the team rushed off.

Eventually, they came to another giant door with the words MAXIMUM SECURITY on it. It seemed to be locked.

The team looked at each other, before summoning their Personas.

...that’s not what you want.

“W-what would you know?” Adrien shot back.

The doppelganger opened his mouth to answer, only to be interrupted when the wall on their left burst down with a BLAM , temporarily ceasing their argument.

Through the ensuing dust and pre-existent fog, Adrien caught a few silhouettes and quick but temporary flashes of blue light. Even more to his shock, among the figures making their way out as the dust cleared were Marinette, Kagami, and… 

“Plagg!” he cried relievedly. His kwami zoomed over to him, and the two hugged each other.

A small victory for my other self… things don’t usually go our way, do they?

Everyone’s attention turned to Shadow Adrien. Yosuke gulped in recognition, while Yukiko shuddered at his lack of covering.

You wanted to know what I’d know? I’d know everything you’d know - there’s no hiding anything from me.

Shadow Adrien grinned.

After all… you’re me, and I’m you.

Fed up, Adrien shouted, “No way!”

“Adrien, no!” Marinette cried out.

“I’m not you! I can’t be you!”

As with Kagami’s Shadow, a dark aura began to flow from Shadow Adrien. He chuckled evilly.

Wrong answer!” were the last two wards Shadow Adrien said before dark energy enveloped him. Once he had finished his transformation, he revealed his new form in a burst of energy.

A gargantuan, feral, slit-eyed panther floated just above the floor. Shadow Adrien would have been on the ground, but he was held up by the neck by marionette strings carried by a pair of purple lepidopteran wings. At the sight of them, Marinette did a double-take before squinting, before remembering the logo of Gabriel’s brand was a butterfly and shrugging it off with a slight sigh of relief.  


The large feline shadow launched at Adrien, only for Marinette to push him out of the way. Meanwhile, Kagami pushed Shadow Adrien back with a swing of her nodachi, giving Marinette time to take Adrien to Teddie’s hiding spot. Growling as his target was removed, the Shadow’s glare shifted to the ones responsible.

WHY ARE YOU INTERFERING? MY GRUDGE IS AGAINST HIM!” he roared, releasing a Mazionga on the party. Some of them - thankfully including Yosuke - managed to dodge, but others were not able to dodge the electricity, sending them staggering back.

Shaking off her part of the Mazionga, Kagami summoned her Persona card - one with a leafy pattern and crown on it - and slashed it in two with her nodachi.

“Longg,” she cried, pointing the blade at the foe, “Zionga!”

Shadow Adrien hissed in pain as the Electric attack coursed through him, but ultimately shrugged it off. The strings holding him up loosened slightly, allowing him to land on the ground and swipe his paw at Kagami; fortunately, she dodged the attack, but not long after, the strings tightened once more and pulled him back up.

WHY?” The Shadow demanded as he released yet another attack, focusing more on Marinette and Kagami than the other members of the team. “WHY MUST YOU DEFEND HIM AFTER ALL OF THE SHIT HE’S PUT YOU THROUGH? CAN’T YOU SEE THAT HE’S NOT WORTH THIS EFFORT!

“That’s where you’re wrong!” Marinette switched Tikki for Daitengu, before using Assault Dive on the Shadow, focusing on the strings. Perhaps the right strategy was to get Shadow Adrien on the ground. It seemed Kagami and Yu had a similar idea as they used this opportunity to sneak up behind for an attack. 

“Sure, Adrien has made some mistakes and done a few things I disagree with, but a lot of it’s based on his old man’s abuse! Furthermore, he’s always putting every little bit of effort he can into making his friends happy! He has so much love to give and sometimes he just doesn’t know how to show it!”

The Shadow paused at hearing that, and from his hiding spot, so did Adrien. How could Marinette still think so highly of him after all he has done? Adrien watched as Kagami and the grey-haired teen sliced at his Shadow. The feline yowled in pain before once again the strings dragged him up into the air.


Marinette was silent as she stared at the ground, fists tightened around her weapon before she glared at the Shadow. It was clear she was getting frustrated with how Shadow Adrien seemed so hellbent on painting Adrien in a bad light. Was this Shadow trying to air out Adrien’s guilt as well?

“So what if he did? That just proves my point! He put himself in her warpath to try and protect me! While it wasn’t the best decision, I understand why he’d do it!”

Knowing Adrien’s widened eyes were on her, she smiled. “He cares so much that he’s willing to suffer for those he cares about. That’s just one of the reasons I love him.”

“The same applies here.”

Adrien gasped, his head whipping over to Kagami.

“But we’ll talk about that later. For now, you should be prepared to accept your Shadow.”

Accept this part of him? Adrien’s instincts immediately told him to be loyal to his father, to the Agreste brand, and to be there for Chloe and Lila as their friend.

But the small voice that told him to do the right thing - even if it hurt - told him to do it, and this time, Adrien couldn’t help but listen. The bear held him back briefly when the teen tried to approach, stating that they had to defeat his Shadow first before he could accept the part he initially had denied.

He watched as the pattern of knocking down his Shadow from the air followed by attacks dealt before the strings pulled him back up; the Shadow continued to try and sway both Kagami and Marinette from their loyalty to Adrien. Time and time again, they rejected the insults. Adrien felt himself blushing at their praise, his heart fluttering as every negative comment was negated by a positive statement. True, he had been praised by fans and others at school, but this… this felt so different. He just couldn’t properly put his thoughts into words at the moment.

He was struck from his thoughts when a combined move from both Kagami and Marinette’s weapons seemed to finish off the Shadow, causing him to finally fall to the ground for good. The wings and strings faded away the Shadow once again reverted back to the more human-like form. 

This time Teddie allowed Adrien to step forward, following right behind him. With Plagg by his side, the blond quietly stared at his Shadow. Nervously, Adrien rubbed his upper arm. No more denying the way things were; now it was time to finally admit to the truth. His truth.

“You… you were right before… both of you,” he shifted his gaze from his Shadow to Plagg, then back again. “I just didn’t want to admit it… no, I was afraid to. My father is all I have left, but he’s a complete monster! I don’t even know if he really loves or cares about me! Hell, he barely seems to acknowledge my existence!” 

Adrien finally admitting his frustrations seemed to please both his Shadow and Plagg. “For so long, I thought my work hours were normal! I thought it was always weird that I was never being paid the way others were, but I just told myself it was because I’m the face of Gabriel. Or at least, those were Father’s words.” 

The way he spat out the last two words brought a proud look to Plagg’s face. 

“Well, no more, dammit! I’m done with being his goddamn puppet! Done with being the obedient, perfect son! I want to live my life the way I want to, not the way he tells me to!”

“Attaboy!” Plagg cheered. Meanwhile, his Shadow nodded approvingly before beginning to glow and disappearing into light altogether. Adrien and the IT watched as the glowing energy seemed to transfer to Plagg and make the kwami seemingly shift into a brand-new form.

This new form of Plagg was a pantherine anthropomorph. Floating midair as if frozen mid-pounce - but with no strings or wings holding him up - he wore a dark-green masquerade mask and a pointed musketeer hat with a green feather in it. His claws were also incredibly long and sharp, and Plagg examined them slightly before smirking and returning to his kwami form.

“Hah… I did it… that felt really good.”

“Not bad, kid!” Yosuke flashed him a thumbs-up.

“Thank you…?”

“Yosuke,” the Junes Prince introduced himself. One by one, the other Inabans followed. 

“You guys… I owe you all so much.” Adrien thanked them. He hadn’t felt this loved in a long time.

“For the ones we love, just about anything,” Kagami smiled lovingly.

“Are you… are you flirting with me?” Adrien asked. “Sorry, but while I really do like you, I thought you knew I’m with M-”

“I can share,” Marinette shrugged, “Kanji explained a little something called polyamory to us, and if you’re willing…”

“I could… I could be in a relationship with both of you?” Adrien whispered, eyes and jaw wide open.

“Maybe Luka, too,” Kagami pondered, “He’s rather charming, and I think I could learn to love him, too…”

"Not to mention I know you've eyed him as Viperion a few times," Plagg teased his Chosen, laughing as he avoided Adrien's attempt to catch and silence him.

“Since when were you guys talking?” Marinette asked “N-nothing bad! I think I always liked him a little, too, but my love for Adrien took precedence.”

“With the exception of Chloe, we ‘revealed’ heroes created a meeting group just for us after Miracle Queen happened; we still go, to keep up appearances,” Kagami said, frowning at the memory of Chloe Bourgeois. “I think it was Nino’s idea…”

“You’ll have to introduce us later,” Yu said, “I think it would be best to get Adrien home for now.”

“Yeah…” Adrien said, “But where am I gonna… gonna…”

Suddenly, Adrien groaned and fell flat on his face. He was out cold.

“Adrien!” Marinette and Kagami cried out, rushing to his side.

“The TV World’s got an energy-draining effect on humans,” Teddie explained. “I’d imagine getting a Persona doesn’t help…”

“That explains how quickly I fell asleep last night…” Kagami mused. “How long will he be out?”

“With me, you and Chie as exceptions,” Yosuke said, “They usually finish recovering after the fog lifts. We have a bit of downtime!”

“Fog?” Marinette asked. “Oh, yeah, you mentioned we had to save him before the fog showed up!”

“So the fog has something to do with this world?” Kagami raised an eyebrow. “I thought it was funny that it was foggy at this time of year…”

As the team headed out of the Famisa Prison for what would hopefully be the last time, Yosuke filling Kagami in on how things worked, Yu whispered to Marinette, “You have Social Links, don’t you?”

“You mean the voice in my head who talks about love, trust and rankings?” Marinette whispered back.

“Yeah,” Yu answered, “I’d advise that you work on the ones you have and form new ones until your boyfriend recovers.”

Nodding along, Marinette mentally steeled herself once again for the battles ahead. However, she had more confidence about them than she’d ever had before.

Chapter Text

It had taken some proper maneuvering for Marinette and Kagami to get Adrien out of the TV, both girls struggling to get the unconscious teenager out without injuring him. Thankfully, it seemed that the bakery was closed - Tom and Sabine were waiting for them - as Marinette’s parents helped them pull Adrien out. The elder Dupain-Chengs had near-instantly begun fretting over the three teenagers, noticing the exhausted looks also etched upon Marinette and Kagami’s faces.

Even the kwamis came down to help with their fellow friends, grabbing food to let Plagg, Tikki and Longg recharge. The Black Cat kwami looked to be the most exhausted of the three. Yet there was a look of… something new on his face that the other kwamis couldn’t really decipher. Perhaps it was pride?

“Thank goodness that you finally found Adrien!” Sabine sighed as she and Tom brought the girls some food. “With all that time you spent inside the TV, we were beginning to worry!” 

As luck - or was it really luck? - would have it, Adrien’s name came on the TV as if in a news conference. No, it wasn’t a news conference; not if Gabriel was in his home office. Both parents noticed scowls appear on both teens’ faces. 

“What’s wrong?” Tom asked with slight confusion. He had always thought Marinette looked up to Gabriel. 

Ignoring the mogul on the TV, both girls began to fill in Tom and Sabine on what they had learned in the TV world - of the emotional and mental abuse Adrien went through under his father and the child labor laws Gabriel was breaking when it came to Adrien. To say that the two of them were not pleased at the news was an incredible understatement.

 Some of the kwamis began to look out for Akumas just to be safe.

“Are you intending to bring up a case about it?” Tom asked Marinette and Kagami once they were finished. 

“That’s the plan,” Marinette responded succinctly. “We’re not gonna let Gabriel hurt our guy any more than he already has.”

“Your guy?” Sabine said slowly.

Both girls blushed, seemingly catching on to what Marinette had said a moment ago. They forgot to mention that it seems.

“Well...uh, you see…” Marinette stammered out. Kagami put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, getting her to calm down slightly.

“Me, Adrien and your daughter - as well as Luka Couffaine, Juleka’s sister - would all like to date each other, if you will permit it.”

Tom and Sabine looked at each other, having a wordless conversation only so many partners can have, before nodding at each other and turning back to their daughter and one of her suitors.

“If it makes her happy, and you treat her right…” Tom began.

“...we approve.” Sabine finished.

Mama and Papa’s unwavering love for you is strong… 

Physician Rank 2!

Marinette grinned as she got up to hug her parents with all of her strength, causing Tom to laugh and tease Marinette that she got said strength from him. Not leaving Kagami out, Sabine gave her a hug as well before whispering something into Kagami’s ear; it was most likely something she didn’t want Marinette to know, or at least not to know yet.

Kagami nearly teared up a little, not able to help but wonder if this was what motherly affection was supposed to feel like. She got it from Tomoe occasionally, but her mother was usually very busy, especially since the beginning of her partnership with Gabriel. 

The moment was sadly broken with the arrival of Tomoe’s driver, announcing that she was requested at home. Kagami sadly said her goodbyes to Marinette’s parents, but before she went, she quietly told Marinette, “I’ll talk to Mother about our relationship.”

Watching her and Longg go, Marinette could only nod. Deciding not to dwell on anything much this late, Marinette and her parents went to sleep not long after.

The next morning, Marinette awoke to find a morning text from Kagami, causing a smile to form on Marinette’s face. She quickly sent a reply back before going to check on Adrien; her parents had put him in the spare bedroom last night. Like the previous night when they had arrived from the TV, he was still out cold. Plagg was curled up into a tiny black ball on Adrien’s chest but opened an eye to acknowledge Marinette’s presence before closing it once again. 

Before heading out the door, she grabbed some pastries from the bakery for herself, Kagami, and Luka in case she saw him as well. It looked like there was a bit more a morning rush than usual, so at best she could only say goodbye to her parents.

Although dodging Lila may have cost her some time, Marinette managed to find Kagami well before class began. As she handed over the bag of pastries - Marinette having offered her the first pick - Sass peeked his head out and waved slightly to Marinette, informing her Longg and Sass had re-swapped. 

“Adrien was still sleeping when I left, and Plagg seems to officially be on guard duty. I saw him open one of his eyes when I entered the room. I’m pretty sure that nothing - and probably nobody - will get close to Adrien with Plagg around.” Marinette snickered at just how protective Plagg was; it was honestly sort of cute…  although she may not ever say that out loud around him. “It’s too bad the kwami don’t show up on cameras or else I’d have taken a picture to show you.”

“I wish I could have seen it,” Kagami smiled as she took a bite of her pastry. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed movement and not wanting Marinette to notice, Kagami subtly shifted so that a certain someone either didn’t see Marinette or Marinette didn’t see them. “Mother said that I have the afternoon off, and she seemed accepting enough of our potential relationship, but she’d like to meet you soon. Would you like to come over today, or would tomorrow work better?”

Marinette was quiet as she thought through her schedule. She remembered that Yu had advised she strengthen her bonds with people, as it would result in making her stronger as well, but the thought of meeting Tomoe Tsurugi as a potential partner to Kagami kind of intimidated her. Don’t get Marinette wrong, she had faced not only her but worse as Ladybug, but the thought of messing up in front of Tomoe for Kagami was a bit unnerving. 

“I think tomorrow may work better for me, I kind of want to keep a close eye on Adrien for today. Just to make sure he eats when he gets up and can move around okay. We may need to get him some clothes too… I can make outfits but they take time… Do you think we should ask Luka if he can lend some to Adrien or ask if he can help us? If we’re going to be each other's support group, I don’t want to leave anyone out of anything.”

“Good idea. If we are to also have a relationship with him, it would be good to update him first.” Kagami’s comment reminded Marinette that she had forgotten to at least contact Luka that they had found Adrien. 

“I’m going to let him know of our well as let him know we have Adrien,” Marinette pulled out her phone, “I kind of forgot about that last night. I think I was so focused on starting to plan a case against Gabriel, it sorta slipped my mind to tell Luka.” Quickly she sent the text to Luka, informing him about Adrien and asking if he wanted to hang out later to help Kagami and her out.

In almost no time at all, Luka responded that he’d be happy to not only come along but also help as well; he sent another message a few minutes later that he had a few old spare sets of sweats he could give to Adrien. 

“He’s on board with the plans,” Marinette glanced up from her phone, and seemingly paused as she stared at Kagami. Quickly shaking her head, Marinette offered a smile to the other teen. “Want to come over to the bakery for lunch? We can both keep watch over Adrien and see if he’ll awaken.”

“I’d like that,” Kagami smiled back.  

The bell rang, indicating it was time for classes to start for the day; thus, the two girls went their separate ways after saying their goodbyes. 

Once Marinette was in her classroom she noticed a tense atmosphere in the air. Everyone in the class seemed to be talking about Adrien’s disappearance, with Nino looking the most distraught out of all of them. Marinette hoped they didn’t attract any akumas.

Thankfully, Ms. Bustier showed up and managed to collect the class before beginning their usual happiness exercises and going through the day. By the time school ended, even so, it seemed like the whole school was abuzz with the news. Marinette counted her blessings that there had been no akumas as a result; she wasn’t too sure if the public would notice if there was no Chat Noir around the same time that Adrien was missing. There may be some who would make the connection - possibly Hawkmoth among them - and that was something she wanted to avoid.

Classes went by, and Marinette made her way to the Liberty, where Kagami and Luka were already talking.

The two greeted her with big smiles on their face, which only widened further when Marinette dropped a new box of pastries she’d stopped to grab during lunch break in front of them.

“Not only are we blessed with Marinette’s presence but also her family’s pastries? Truly, we are in the midst of a goddess!” Marinette blushed from Luka’s teasing, but found herself unable and unwilling to stop the grin on her face.

“If you’re gonna consider me a goddess, I’d like to one day discuss my shrine and tributes,” Marinette gave the box to Kagami. With a smirk, she added on, “I shall be a merciful goddess, and share my bounty with my temple priest and priestess. After all, I’ve had the chance to learn from the best!” As if on cue, Tikki flew out of her hiding spot with a giggle.

“I checked in on Adrien before coming over, he still seems to be asleep, or rather back to sleeping,” Tikki updated them. “Plagg told me that Adrien had gotten up a bit to eat at Plagg’s insistence before almost immediately falling asleep again.”

“My parents have also been keeping an eye on him as well,” Marinette continued, “Mama made Adrien some soup as she thinks it would be easier on his stomach, especially with the lighter diet Gabriel had him on.”

“Speaking of Adrien…” Luka spoke up, his voice more hesitant than Marinette or Kagami had heard from him before (although that didn’t say a lot). “I can definitely see myself with you two right now, but not really with him.”

Marinette and Kagami looked panicked, but Luka’s next words had them breathing sighs of relief.

“I think I could learn, however. It would take some time, and yet…”

“Even if it doesn’t work between you two, I looked up some more info on polyamory, and found something about a ‘metamour.’” Kagami suddenly said, “It’s described as ‘someone who is a polyamorous partner's partner that they have no romantic relationship with’.”

Luka raised an eyebrow, gesturing for Kagami to go on.

“So in that case, you would be dating me and Marinette but not Adrien, and vice versa; you and Adrien aren’t in a relationship, but you’re sharing us willingly. The wording isn’t great, but…”

“You are willing, right?” Marinette asked nervously

“Of course,” Luka said, smiling serenely at the two girls. “I’m pansexual, you’re both great, and so is Adrien. I just don’t know him well enough to date the guy right now… does that make any sense?”

“Don’t worry, we understand.” Marinette offered a smile as she reached for Luka’s hand and gave it a squeeze.

You feel your relationship with the other Miraculous wielders blossoming…

Madman Rank 2!

“Since that’s handled…” Kagami noted, “Tatsu will be arriving to take us to that meeting with Mother any second now.”

“Good luck, guys,” Luka said, getting up to return to his guitar.

“What do you mean, ‘good luck’?” Marinette asked. “Aren’t you coming with us?”

Luka blinked, before laughing slightly. “Ah, yeah… forgot about that somehow.”

A honk sounded out from a small ways away, indicating that Tatsu and the car were here. The trio nodded at each other before making their way to Tatsu’s car and being driven to the Tsurugi residence.

Tatsu had taken them to Tomoe straight away. After making his leave, Marinette and Luka introduced themselves to Tomoe and made conversation, Kagami mostly sitting out of the conversation to let Tomoe learn more about the two.

It seemed that Marinette was easily making a positive impression on Tomoe right off the bat with her quick wit, charm and honest answers to the matriarch’s questions. Luka was also able to charm Tomoe with his more calming demeanor, despite being more quiet than Marinette. 

“One last question I had…” Tomoe said once she’d given approval of Marinette and Luka, “Kagami mentioned Adrien would be part of your group. Was he not able to make it?”

Marinette and company filled her in on Gabriel’s misdeeds. They also explained about Adrien, saying Adrien had run away from the house and injured himself in some sort of accident, and while it was nothing life-threatening or anything of the sort, he would be out cold for a little while.

Tomoe sighed once they were done. “Kagami, I… I’m sorry.”

A nervous pit formed in Kagami’s stomach. “W-what for?”

“I realize now that I have allowed Gabriel’s overly strict parenting style to poison mine. I’ve been a bit harsh on you these past few months… you are young Kagami, and you’ve been uprooted from what you knew many times. I am sorry for not doing right by you as I should have.”

“I… I forgive you, Mother.” Happy tears were beginning to form in Kagami’s eyes, but she wiped them away quickly.

A thought then occurred to Tomoe. “I’m going to have to rip up that marriage contract, aren’t I?”

“N-not to tell you what to do or anything, but I’d advise that you wait on that, Mme. Tsurugi,” Marinette said, having been filled in about said deal by Kagami earlier. “If Gabriel learns you’re not happy with him, it’ll draw suspicion about the case we’re building on him. You should definitely rip it up, but… after he’s dealt with would be better.”

“Not bad, Kagami… it seems you have inherited my head for strategy,” Tomoe nodded approvingly, getting up and offering Kagami a hug with the hand not holding her bokken. “If you or your… partners, I think the word might be, need any help with this or anything else, you can come to me.”

To say that Kagami was shocked would be an understatement; not in a long time had she heard her mother say something like that. It warmed her heart so much hearing those words of support.

“Thank you, Mother!” Kagami looked a little unsure, but with some nudging from Marinette, she stood up to hug her mother. “It… it means a lot to have your support.” The hug may have looked awkward from an outside perspective, but it definitely looked like a step in the right direction for the two.

Marinette, Kagami & Luka said their respective goodbyes, promising to meet up again soon.

It was getting late, so Marinette decided to start walking home. She’d been walking through the park when she tripped over something, falling onto the ground.

After getting up, she looked back to see what she’d tripped on. It seemed to be some sort of orange leather-bound notebook. The shade of orange reminded Marinette of Lila, causing her to shudder slightly. 

“We should see if we can get this to whoever it belongs to, Marinette,” Tikki advised as she opened the lock holding it down.

Marinette wanted to agree, but then she saw the name on the cover.

Lila Rossi’s Diary


Reading those words, Marinette and Tikki looked at each other. 

“Marinette, I changed my mind,” Tikki said, “Let’s burn it, instead.”

“No, Tikki, we’re not burning this,” Marinette said, “That could get us in legal trouble. But you make a point in keeping it…”

When Tikki tilted her head in confusion, Marinette grinned, “If Lila wants to be my enemy, that’s fine. It would be best to get to know my enemy, wouldn’t it?”
“Normally I’d be against this,” Tikki admitted, “but Lila’s really had a nasty effect on you. I wonder if she’s all bad under those lies and whatnot…”

“Plagg’s been influencing you…” Marinette teased.

After making her way home, greeting her parents and going upstairs, Marinette opened the diary. The first entry seemed to be dated from a few years ago - long before her and Marinette’s paths had crossed. It was in Italian, but thanks to Marinette’s upbringing, she knew it decently well. Pulling up a translation website just in case, Marinette began reading.

Dear Diary,

I’m starting my first day at a new school… again! I wish Mamma would have to stop moving all the time… 

At least I’ll make some friends… although I’ll probably never see them again after a few months, most likely. Diary, I have the habit of distancing myself from my old schools’ classmates.

Wish me luck,

Lila Rossi

Marinette and Tikki looked at each other once she’d finished reading.

“Tikki… I had no idea…” Marinette said, shocked and saddened. She’d never really thought that Lila was suffering, too. She’d always been angry at Lila for lying, threatening her and starting to turn her friends against her, but this… this just made her feel bad.

“Maybe I was… too harsh on her,” Marinette muttered to herself as she bit on her nail. This passage seemed to paint Lila in a more innocent light despite how short it was. “Maybe Adrien was right on Lila just wanting friends?” A part of her wanted to read another passage, but at the same time she just wanted to stop; this little bit of information seemed to cause Marinette to begin questioning Lila’s actions from the beginning. 

“Do you think I should keep reading, Tikki?” She glanced over at her kwami who looked conflicted. 

“I… I don’t know Marinette,” the kwami answered honestly. “This new information is mind-boggling, to say the least.”

“I don’t want to use this knowledge to defeat her,” Marinette said, and she meant it. “But… I do want to understand Lila better. Since she’s so mad at me, I don’t think I’ll get much chance to really know her good side. I’m gonna read through this… eventually.”

You are beginning to feel understanding and sympathy for Lila…

Adjustment Rank 1!

Marinette and Tikki were broken out of their thoughts when a knock sounded from the trapdoor. Night had fallen upon Paris, so Marinette assumed it was one of her parents. 

So given that, imagine her surprise when a few familiar tufts of spiky hair popped up first. Kim practically charged into her room with what looked to be a crazed look in his eyes. No, not crazed. It was more… desperate than crazy.

“Marinette, please, I need your help! Please help me! You’re my only chance!” Kim wrapped his arms around Marinette, pleading for her help. Awkwardly, she patted a broad shoulder, looking to her side inconspicuously to check that Tikki was hidden.

“Kim, what’s going on? Usually, you’re not this unconfident - what happened?”

Kim finally pulled back, that desperate look still in his eyes.

“It’s my grades! If I don’t raise them, not only will I be kicked off the swimming team, but I’ll be held back a year!” He wrapped his arm around Marinette’s shoulders this time as the other seemed to swing around. “Just imagine the horror! I won’t be in the same grade as Alix or Max! You, me and Nino will be separated for the first time!” Once again, he grasped at Marinette’s petite shoulders.

“Please Marinette! Save me! I don’t want to be by myself while you guys advance to the next grade without me!”

Marinette blinked as she processed his words. She never heard anything about this; perhaps Kim just learned today? After a quick glance, she breathed a sigh of relief at the lack of a moth. 

“Don’t worry Kim, I’ll help you. But I have to ask, why not Max? Usually you go to him first…”

“He’s busy with something; I think he said it was an upcoming contest. He felt bad about it, but I told him I had it handled. I don’t got this, Marinette! I have no idea where to start!”

“Okay, first you should calm down a little. We don’t want to attract any akumas.”

Freezing up at that, Kim took a few deep breaths before sighing. The look he gave Marinette reminded her of King Monkey, somewhat.

“What do you need help with?”

Everything! Well, my French is close to passing, and my Health classes are more than fine,” he said, scratching the back of his head, “It’ll be tough, but I think I can do it!”

“I think so, Kim,” Marinette said, “I’ll help you until Max can take over.”

“Mari, you’re a lifesaver!” Kim wrapped her up in a crushing hug.

“But let’s make this fast tonight. I’d like to get some sleep, and I have a lot on my plate. If I’m too busy, can I trust you to respect it?”

Kim nodded frantically.

“Alright, let’s see where you are…”

Kim hadn’t been kidding when he said he was struggling. Of the classes he needed to raise his grades in, History was the best of his subjects, followed by English and Math and then Science at the back of the pack.

Marinette, who was struggling most in Science herself, told Kim he’d have to get Max’s help with most of it. He agreed, stating he’d already imposed on her enough with the suddenness of everything.

“-3x + 5 = 98. What is X?”

Kim just stared at her like she’d grown a second head.

“You remember how polynomials work, right?”


“So what do we do first?”

“...we subtract the 5?”

“Excellent! What does that give us?”

After tapping the air in a counting motion, Kim answered with 93. Marinette nodded approvingly.

“So then we…”

“Divide it by -3?”

“Yes! Kim, you’re getting it! What does that give us?”

“...negative 31?”


A few seconds passed in silence before Kim asked, “T-that’s it? Those are the sort of problems to expect?”

“Those are the sheets the counselor gave you, aren’t they?”

Nodding shakily, Kim mumbled, “I-I don’t understand. I always feel like I’m struggling with math when Max talks about it with me.” He sounded like his life had been flipped upside-down.

“To be fair, Max knows way more about math than both of us.”

Kim laughed. “You’re not wrong there!”

A thought occurred to Marinette. “You know… nothing against Max or anything, but I’m wondering if he’s part of the reason you’re struggling.”

“W-what? I don’t follow.”

“Max is super smart, but he would probably explain things in a way that’s too hard for you to understand right now, right?”


“I think you’re used to math, science and all those other subjects as difficult because you only get the tougher stuff when you hear them through Max’ eyes… no offense or anything.”

“I think I understand-”

“Exactly! You do understand! Kim, I think you’re really smart! I just think you need to learn how to use that brainpower!”

“You… you really think that?” Kim looked like everything he’d ever known turned out to be untrue, but it was much better than before.



You feel a touched Kim's appreciation for his em gái…

Force Rank 1!

“Now, I’m getting tired. Do you mind if we call it a day?”

“Yeah. I’ll head home. Thank you so much, Marinette!”

With that, Kim headed back down the ladder and soon out the door.

Marinette and Tikki joined most of the other kwami in sleep not long after, not noticing the bittersweet smile on one of the kwami’s faces.

Chapter Text

Both the sounds of car alarms and her phone ringing with an akuma alert broke Marinette from her sleep.

Grumbling words that shouldn’t be repeated around children, Marinette managed to get up and look at her alarm clock. It read 5:07 A.M, and class wasn’t supposed to begin for about another three and a half hours or so!

“Hawkmoth has some fucking nerve,” she mumbled, “This early?” There would come a day when Marinette would personally make Hawkmoth pay for every single early morning and late night akuma.

Looking at the alarm, she saw that the akuma was called Speedster, and his power was essentially to go fast - really fast. Such was evidenced by the cars strewn around by him blowing by.

Nodding at an also-awake Tikki, she beelined for the Miracle Box. Which one would be best…? 

After quickly mulling it over, she pulled out the Miraculous she had planned. Now, to figure out who to give it to… 

She couldn’t just let Max have it again; Pegasus was retired for a reason, unfortunately… 

Suddenly, her mind flashed back to the IT and Yosuke’s short but stellar performance as Langur. Deciding her plan might benefit from the Monkey as well, she pulled out the Monkey circlet before grabbing her phone.

Thankfully, Yosuke picked up. “Marinette, what’s going on?”

“Another akuma attack. I need Langur and a new ally to help me with my plan. If you’re in, let me know where you guys are and go get…”

“Chie! Chie!”

“What is it, Yosuke?” Chie asked. “You’re lucky we’re on lunch break…”

Yosuke looked around to make sure no one else was there on the rooftop where Chie usually hung out during break; lowering his voice to a whisper after confirming it was good, he said, “Remember when you said that my powers as Langur were super cool and all?”

“That Miraculous form of yours? Yeah, they were - why do you ask?”

“It’s your turn, now. She needs both of us, actually.”

“R-really?” Chie gasped, mouth wide. “How are we gonna get to Paris?”

As if on cue, a portal opened next to the chimney, not seeable from inside or outside the school. From the other end, Marinette’s voice called out, “Come on! We don’t have much time!”

Chie gawked, before looking at Yosuke hesitantly. He just nodded at her, a smirk on his face, before hopping into the portal. Snapping out of her reluctance, a determined Chie followed him.

On the other end, Yosuke and Chie found Marinette - clad as Ladybug - waiting on the other end. They were atop a building overlooking the chaos-stricken Paris.

“Hebi & Wyvern should be there already,” Ladybug explained.

“What about Chat Noir?” Chie asked innocently. Ladybug’s look grew pained; leaning into Chie’s ear, she whispered, “Adrien’s out of commission, remember?”

The two’s eyes bulged at that.

“Yeah, I get why you want our help now!” Yosuke exclaimed. “What can I do?”

After Ladybug handed Yosuke the Monkey circlet, Yosuke said, “Xuppu, Showtime!” With that, Yosuke transformed once more into Langur.

His hair grew slightly wilder, and a scarf like that of Jiraiya’s - except more yellow-orange than red - wrapped around his neck. The shirt part of his suit was a mild brown, and his pants were a bright orange. Finally, the legendary staff Ruyi Jingu Bang appeared in his hands.

Looking behind her, Ladybug asked, “Sorry to rush you, but have you finished eating?”

Chie was about to question what Ladybug was talking about, but someone from behind beat her to it. 

“Yes, Madame Guardian,” the elegant voice responded. Whipping around, Chie laid her eyes on a small figure colored white and gray.

“I am Kaalki,” the kwami said, zipping up to Chie, “Who are you?”

“Chie Satonaka,” Chie greeted, “You ready to get this done?”

Kaalki fixed her with a scrutinizing look. “...well, you seem passionate, and time is of the essence. Very well, I will allow you to use my Miraculous.”

To herself, Kaalki could not help but think that Chie reminded her of Ginchiyo. Meanwhile, Ladybug gave Chie a new pair of glasses.

“So many pairs of glasses this year…” Chie laughed as she put them on, “I don’t even need them normally! Now then, how do I turn this thing on?”

“Hahahahahahah!” Speedster cackled, “For superheroes, you’re all so slow!”

Wyvern & Hebi had been beaten up by Hawkmoth’s gray-haired goon. They were sprawled out on the pavement, lacking the energy to rise up and continue the fight.

“I’ll finish you off and take your Miraculouses, find and beat up Chat Noir & Ladybug, and then go handle that other thing Hawkmoth wants me to do.”

“Other… mission?” Wyvern groaned, confused.

“Like I’ll give you the chance to find out!” Speedster sneered. “Now, let’s make this quick!”

He zoomed towards the duo, only to stop when a voice cried out, “Voyage!”

The next thing he knew, he was being sucked into a portal right in front of him. It didn’t take him that far; on the other end, he was almost immediately greeted by a punch that made a squeaking sound.

Wait. Squeaking?

Reorienting himself, his eyes fell upon Ladybug and two new heroes.

From his lair, Hawkmoth realized that the Monkey-themed one must have been the reason that the Prime Queen lost again a few days ago. Shrugging it off, he commanded, “Be careful, Speedster. The Monkey must have disrupted your powers!”

“I’ll be alright, Hawkmoth! What’s the worst that could-”

The words nobody should say were interrupted when he tripped over his own two feet, falling flat on his face. His shoes felt incredibly heavy, like they’d been severely weighed down or almost glued to the building he now stood on.

Sensing her chance, Ladybug took the headband off of Speedster’s head while the other new heroine took his shoes off. Both destroyed the items they were holding, but the akuma flew out of the headband.

“Told you it was in that headband!” the Monkey hero cheered. That was the last thing Hawkmoth heard before Ladybug caught his akuma, cutting the connection out.

“Two new heroes… so soon…? Curses! How did Ladybug find new allies already?” he raged.

“Careful, sir,” Nathalie said, a small smirk on her face, “You might akumatize yourself.”

“Funny, Nathalie,” he growled, “very funny.”

As the window closed, Gabriel detransformed, swearing, “But contrary to what Ladybug seems to think, I will prove myself to be no mere joke!”

Dawn was beginning to break over Paris as Ladybug fixed up the city and returned the victim - an elderly man named Edgar having trouble with his technology - to his home.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Wyvern asked Langur and the new heroine. Langur nodded along. 

“What do you think, Horseshoe?” Hebi asked the other newbie.

“It is!” Horseshoe exclaimed. “I can see why you guys like this place so much!”

She was in a smoky-gray, spandex-esque suit with green stripes running through it. A patch saying 正義の足 rested on the back of her leathery jacket, almost resembling a saddle. On her face was a visor similar to that of those Featherman things Hebi liked to watch every so often.

“Well,” Ladybug yawned, “You guys have classes soon, and we need to get some sleep.”

Horseshoe and Langur nodded just as their transformations ran out, reverting them to Chie & Yosuke. Thankfully, they were out of sight from any civilians as they gave Marinette the circlet and glasses back.

“I… don’t know you guys…” Wyvern admitted.

“It was an accident how we met, but these two and their friends have helped me out so much!” Ladybug said. “It was sort of with their help that I decided to start working on that support system I have now.”

You feel a strong bond with Chie & Yosuke…

Madman Rank 3!

“I’m Yosuke Hanamura, and this is Chie Satonaka,” Yosuke attempted to introduce them. When Wyvern’s face only grew more confused, Hebi translated for him. 

“Nice to meet you,” Wyvern said kindly, Hebi translating for him as well.

“Ladybug, you can update him later, right?” Chie asked. “We really need to go!”

Right on time, Kaalki finished eating and zipped over to the group. Unifying her with Tikki, Lady Mare got the two back home with one last Voyage, enabling them to get to class just in time. Thankfully, they only had classes with Mr. Morooka in the morning, so they didn’t have to deal with an earful from him for being close.

Yu and Yukiko gave them quizzical looks, but ultimately decided not to question it.

Back in Paris, Wyvern breathed a sigh of relief. “Marinette,” he asked to the now-detransformed leader, “when did you learn Japanese?”

“Technically speaking, I didn’t,” Marinette said sheepishly. “We should explain the TV World to him, shouldn’t we, Kagami?”

“TV World?” Wyvern tilted his head. Marinette & Kagami - who had detransformed as well - filled him in. 

When they were done, Luka let out an incredulous bark of laughter. “Man, and I thought this Miraculous stuff was mind-boggling as is! You’re one in 7 million, aren’t you, Marinette?”

“Haha! I suppose I am…” Marinette laughed, blushing slightly.

“That reminds me…” Kagami snapped up, remembering something. “Speedster mentioned something about another thing Hawkmoth was trying to do before we beat him…”

“Did he say what?” Marinette asked.

“No, unfortunately,” Luka answered, “he was rather secretive about it…”

“You don’t think he’s looking for Adrien, is he?” Kagami wondered, slight panic beginning to overtake her features.

“What reason would a grown-ass man have to look for Adrien?” Marinette pointed out. “The only adults who might be looking for Adrien are Gabriel & Nathalie, and the former of them was an akuma. Don’t you think he would have been akumatized by now?”

“...we should discuss this more later,” Kagami said, checking her phone. “School’s starting soon. Shame - I was hoping to get some more sleep…”

“Welcome to the club,” Marinette laughed tiredly, “we have shirts and jackets. You guys should go. I’ll see you later!”

Soon after her two conscious partners left, a tired Marinette managed to get through her morning routine, said goodbye to her folks and got to school on time herself. As she went, a large to-go thermos of the bakery’s strongest batch of coffee was in one of her hands as she drank from another cup in her other hand. 


Marinette had a feeling it was just going to be one of those days.

Marinette was not sure how she had managed to survive through the morning, especially since she had lived off the coffee thermos for all of her morning classes. No one really dared to question why she was so tired with how often she drank from it. There was a moment where Marinette managed to make a statement about it being her lifeblood and nothing else. 

Before Marinette could leave for lunch, Mme. Bustier called her back, stating that she needed to talk with Marinette about something important. The teen had to stifle a groan. Why now? Why not after class? Her caffeine reserves were on empty and she desperately needed a refuel. And with how much coffee she had consumed, Marinette was feeling her limbs twitching slightly, needing some food to absorb the caffeine. 

“Mme. Bustier, with all due respect, I really need to eat something right now, it’s been a while since I’ve eaten and all I’ve really had is coffee. Can I please go get s ome food before we have our discussion?”

“Of course, Marinette,” Mme. Bustier cheerfully replied, oblivious to Marinette’s tone. “Please return after getting your lunch. You can eat while we discuss what we need to discuss.”

Marinette held her grumbling and agreed to the implied conditions. Hopefully this discussion didn’t take too long, but something told her that this was going to be otherwise. 

Ten minutes later, Marinette was back in the classroom with her food. As she saw Mme. Bustier pull out a few thick manila folders, what could only be described as a metal ball in Marinette’s stomach began to form. The ball seemed to grow as she listened to her teacher explain that Mme. Bustier had to start up some program, going into great details on how it was for students considered to be “gifted” by their teachers, and Marinette was one of those “fortunate” students. 

Marinette felt ice claw in her heart and belly as she listened to how she was going to essentially become Mme. Bustier’s personal teaching assistant. She would start small by being forced to grade papers, escalating to possibly teaching younger students and help Bustier with planning lessons. There was no way she could do all of this! She didn’t have this kind of time! Not with her commissions, her own homework, helping out at the bakery, helping the IT, being Ladybug and Guardian! It was too much!

“I’m sorry, Mme. Bustier, but I just can’t do all of that. I am already too busy as it is.” Marinette forced her tone to be polite as her fists clenched over her thighs. No way was she going to overwhelm herself, this would be going back on her promise to her Shadow in a way. “I know I should feel honored and grateful, but I just can't accept this. My schedule is too packed at the moment.”

“Oh, but Marinette, you must. I’ve already put in the paperwork and everything has been finalized,” Mme. Bustier smiled as if she was doing Marinette a favor, “you will thank me in the long run. It will look good for all your college applications!” The teacher clapped her hands, her smile never faltering once. “You’ll start this Friday.”

Forcing herself to take calming breaths, Marinette closed her eyes to try and center herself. There was no point in letting this of all things upset her enough to akumatize her. A thought then hit her.

“Why did you pick me? You could have picked anyone else. Max is smarter than me, and everyone seems to just love Lila…”

Mme. Bustier tilted her head to the side. “I thought you knew Lila was lying.”

“I do, but - wait… you know she’s lying?” Marinette’s eyes widened, staring at the teacher incredulously. She tried to say a few words just to get anything out but all she could do was gawk, utterly flabbergasted.

“Is something wrong, Marinette?”

“Yes!” Marinette stood up. Feeling her innermost self nodding approvingly, she decided she had more than earned this bit of rebellion. “You know Lila was lying, and you’ve done nothing! You allowed Lila to all but take control of this classroom! Can’t you see that your students are suffering?” Her thoughts briefly went back to Lila’s diary, but ultimately shrugged it off; it wasn’t her focus now. “Why aren’t you doing anything about this?!” 

It seemed like Mme. Bustier was now the one at a loss for words as she stared at her student, looking conflicted. Before she could say anything, however, the bell rang to indicate that classes were starting soon.

Mme. Bustier sighed. “...we’ll talk about this Friday, if you’d like.”

Marinette begrudgingly agreed.

You feel like you’re getting somewhere with Mme. Bustier…

Fate Rank 1!

After taking a breath to calm herself down, Marinette nodded her head. She didn’t trust herself to talk at the moment. Quickly, Marinette threw out her forgotten trash and returned to her seat. There was no point arguing now. 

The rest of the school day seemed to pass by faster than the morning had, no one noticing the tension between Marinette and Mme. Bustier.

Marinette had just finished texting Luka about Mme. Bustier in the hopes she could release her anger healthily when a thought occurred to her. Going to her chat with Kagami, she sent her a text asking if she was free to teach her Japanese today.

“I’m open,” a voice breathed silkily into Marinette’s neck, making her not only jump a little, but also a small shiver running up her spine. Whipping around, she saw a chuckling Kagami, changed out of her fencing outfit. “You left yourself open, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity,” the other teen teased Marinette.

Pouting lightly, Marinette reached out her hand, offering her hand to Kagami. It took a moment of Kagami staring before she reached out and grasped the offered hand to pull her up from her seat on the steps. Their fingers linked together, causing both teens to blush, but neither looked away. 

“Where would you like to start your lessons?” The two made their way out of the school, not noticing that as they passed Aurore and Mireille, Mireille held out a hand for a grumbling Aurore to pull out a few bills to put in the other’s waiting palm.

“Well, why don’t we take advantage of the nice weather and start at the park? I brought an extra notebook since I didn’t know where to actually start with any sort of books.” 

The two found an area that would allow them privacy and peace. It seemed like many others also seemed to have a similar idea, causing the park to be more crowded than usual, but the two made do. 

“Where would you like to start? We can start with actually speaking or reading,” Kagami offered to Marinette. Since it was Marinette who wanted to learn, the choice was up to her.

“Well, could we start with the actual speaking? I feel like that would be the most beneficial at the moment.” Sure, going into the TV broke the language barrier, but that was only for the IT. Marinette admittedly had plans to visit Inaba at some point; if she was going to help the IT with their investigation she wanted to actually go where the crimes had happened. 

“That is fine, we’ll start with the basics. I can also recommend some books if you want to learn on your own in between meetups.” Kagami began with a few basic phrases, translating them to French and having Marinette repeat them back in Japanese as she had demonstrated. Once Marinette seemed to catch on, Kagami tried a few more advanced phrases. There were a few slip ups but Marinete was both eager and determined. 

The two would continue this for a few hours, with Kagami stating something and having Marinette repeating it. During this, Kagami would even write down the phrases in the notebook she’d brought, writing how to say the phrase as well as how the kanji were written in hiragana & katakana. She warned Marinette that she was going to be quizzing Marinette on these at some point or another and expected Marinette to reply in Japanese to the best of her ability. It would be tough, Kagami had said, but I have faith in you, Marinette.

You feel Kagami’s faith in you…

Nurture Rank 2!

Eventually, Kagami and Marinette said their goodbyes before making their respective ways home.

Later that evening, after checking in with Plagg about Adrien, Marinette received a call notification from Luka. Her instincts were telling her that something was wrong, so with a tap on the green button, she held the phone to her ear.

“Luka? Everything okay?” The other end was silent, but Marinette did hear another voice on a separate end of the line. 

“Luka, what’s wrong?” Wait. That was Kagami! Was she with Luka? 

No, Marinette mused, if she were then she wouldn’t sound static-y like Luka did. 

“S-sorry, guys…” At last, she heard Luka’s voice. He sounded more quiet and negative than Marinette had ever heard of him. “I’m trying to fend off moths right now.”

Alarm bells went off in Marinette’s head when she heard that.

“What happened?” Kagami asked, immediately in protection-mode.

“It… It’s been a bad day all around…” Luka groaned, “My boss was extra pissy today, I nearly got fired for a simple mistake, and the last delivery took me… to my father.” Both girls seemed to notice how Luka spat out the last word.

Marinette glanced at her phone before putting it back to her ear. She’d never heard much about him and Juleka’s missing father figure, but from what she’d picked up, he’d all but ditched them and Anarka for some other chick.

“I’m on my way,” Marinette stated while grabbing her wallet and house keys - just in case - and slipping on the purse Tikki had slipped into. 

We’re on our way,” Kagami declared. It sounded like she too was getting her things. “Stay on the line, we’ll get there as soon as we can. Keep talking though, try telling us some positive stuff; there must have been one good thing that happened today…”

Luka seemed quiet for a moment, no doubt thinking over his day. “Well… I guess I kind of finished a possible song. No, not exactly finished… but I guess the concept of the song is finished?”

“That’s good, Luka,” Marinette praised as she was running out of the bakery; she had left a note for her parents just to be safe. “Do you want to tell us what it’s about? Or if not, if it’s more for Kitty Section or a personal project kind of deal?”

Again more silence but it sounded like there were papers being moved about. 

“I guess it could be both… No, it’s more personal… Gah! I’m not too sure at the moment.”

“That’s okay, I see the Liberty now; I’m almost there, Luka.” Marinette saw a few akumas around the house boat, it looks like she would have to purify some akuma first. “Kagami, can you stay on the line? I see some akuma that need handling first.” 

After slipping to an alleyway and making sure the coast was clear, Ladybug emerged and quickly purified the akumas. Making sure no one was around and that neither Juleka nor Anarka were inside, Ladybug slipped into the window of Luka and Juleka’s bedroom before dropping her transformation.

“Luka?” she called out quietly.

“Mari…!” he called back, directing her to him. She found him huddled on his bed with his guitar in his lap, a blanket loosely wrapped around his shoulders. Longg seemed to be curled up next to Luka’s neck, offering a type of comfort as she purred slowly and deeply. Judging by the almost glassy look in his eyes, it was clear that the morning akuma and the stress of the day had taken quite the toll on him. 

“Oh, Luka,” Marinette gathered the taller teen in her arms, offering her own comfort as well. Fingers gently ran through the dual-colored hair, untangling any knots that were no doubt from Luka grabbing his own hair throughout the day.

“Can you talk about it? Or do you need some more time?” Kagami asked, having transformed into Hebi and snuck in through the same entrance as Ladybug before also detransforming. Like Marinette, Kagami also wrapped her arms around Luka as Sass came out to rest on Luka’s other shoulder to offer comfort.

A humorless chuckle came from the oldest teen, though it seemed like he was finally calming down. “Where do I even begin? Like I said before, my boss was extra pissy today. I wasn’t even late for work, but did he seem to think that? No! I may as well have been an hour late! It felt like any minor mistake that any of us made was treated worse than actually what it was.” 

Idly, Luka strummed his guitar strings, the action helping to soothe him. “I grabbed the wrong order after reading one of the tickets wrong, luckily I caught it before I actually made it to the customer’s house. A simple mistake, right? Nope, not to my boss. It was like I stole something in his eyes! Pretty sure if the assistant manager wasn’t there that I’d have been fired.” 

“If he sent you on that delivery to your father…” Kagami pondered, a displeased scowl on her face.

Her answer was silence, but it was still all too telling. The only question would be how would Luka’s boss have known? It may have been a coincidence… in fact, it most likely was. 

“I don’t think he knew that the customer was my father, but he did send me out on a large and rather difficult order… most likely on purpose.”

“If he gets akumatized, I’m decking him,” Kagami and Marinette said in near-unison. 

The two girls glanced at each other. “Rock, paper, scissors for first dibs?” Marinette offered.

“Deal.” The two teens shook on it to finalize their decision, causing Luka to laugh heartily.

“ I can’t help but wonder just how lucky I got to get two girlfriends who are willing to throw hands with my boss.” He seemed to set aside his guitar so that he could wrap both arms around his girlfriends. “I can never thank you two enough…”

“We promised to be each other’s support system,” Marinette reminded him, “but I think we’d be lousy girlfriends - never mind friends or allies - if we didn’t give a damn about your troubles.”

“You’re one in a million, Marinette,” Luka smiled appreciatively at her, “May I kiss you both?”

Marinette & Kagami did.

You feel Luka’s love and gratitude…

Rebel Rank 1!

Chapter Text

During her history class, Marinette mused over the previous night. After returning from Luka’s place and once again checking in on Adrien, Marinette had noticed a text from Kagami, suggesting the two take turns with looking after both Adrien and Luka. One would make sure Luka would eat and keep an eye on him, while the other would sit with Adrien and talk to him. The two used an app to flip a coin so that it was fair, today Marinette would go to Luka while Kagami visited Adrien.

Hopefully, she wouldn’t make Luka too suspicious; at the same time, however, the boy needed some pampering! It was a miracle that she got up earlier than usual, but she took the time to make lunch for the kwami and her conscious partners. Kagami had assured Marinette that she would make sure the kwamis ate and that certain kwamis would share the food. Marinette was admittedly a little worried about Plagg, since it seemed like he wasn’t really eating; he’d even turned away his precious camembert! 

When lunchtime finally hit, Marinette was out of the door, not really paying attention to if someone needed her or not. Her focus was on Luka. After sending a text to see where her boyfriend was, she waited by the entrance. Huffing when she didn’t get a reply, the teen suddenly squealed as two hands covered her eyes.

“I’m right here, Ma-Ma-Marinette,” the owner of the hands said, sliding away so arms could loosely wrap around Marinette’s shoulders. A chuckle was muffled in Marinette’s hair.

“Jerk.” Cheeks red and puffed out, Marinette gave a light-hearted mock-glare as her arms crossed over her torso. Neither of the two were really paying attention to their surroundings and seemed to be enjoying the moment. Marinette mentally sighed with relief; at least Luka was doing better. “Come on, let’s go to the park for lunch. Unless you want to eat somewhere else...?” she tried to offer, just in case Luka had another place in mind.

“I’m good wherever.” Luka offered a grin as he slid down his hand to grasp at Marinette’s now free one.

“Well then, the park it is!” Marinette led the way as she tugged on her boyfriend’s hand. Like the day before, she led Luka to where she and Kagami had sat the other day and pulled out the food. 

“I made lunch for us!” If a majority of the food just so happened to be Luka’s favorites, well… no one could say that Marinette wasn’t attentive. This was only further proved by the loving look on Marinette’s face as she watched Luka eat.

“So… what’s the occasion?” Marinette jumped slightly at Luka’s question. “Is it because of yesterday?”

Marinette was quiet for a moment. It didn’t sound like Luka was upset so that was a good thing. Best to tell the truth, she decided. 

“Part of the answer to your question is yes, but the other part is because I genuinely wanted to also hang out. We haven’t really hung out in a while, so I figured this was as good a time as any.” She leaned in against Luka’s side and bit her lip to stop a squeal when she felt Luka’s arm wrap around her shoulder.

Luka smiled gratefully. “Thanks, Marinette.” He then scratched the back of his head with his other hand and admitted, “I don’t know what to say that’ll show how much I appreciate and love you…”

“You said you loved me…” Marinette said, bringing him in for a kiss, “...that more than does it.”

You sense Luka’s appreciation for your love and kindness…

Rebel Rank 2!

Luka’s phone broke the moment by ringing. Looking at it, Luka sighed as he removed his arm. Was he seriously being called in to work earlier than his schedule shift? 

“I’ve gotta go. Looks like someone called in so I’m needed earlier than normal.”

Marinette noticed the shadow in Luka’s eyes, her expression shifting to a concerned frown. She leaned in to press a chaste kiss to Luka’s lips, offering up an encouraging smile. 

“Don’t let that ass get you akumatized today, you’re probably stronger than he is.”

The taller teen chuckled as he pressed a kiss into Marinette’s hair. 

“Thanks, Marinette,” he paused before smirking. “I got some time, why don’t I help you at least take these back to your place on my way in?” When Marinette tried to protest, Luka silenced her with a smile and a finger over her lips. “It’s not out of my way so it’s no problem at all. Besides, the old family rule is ‘They who cook, don’t clean.’ It’s the least I could do for you.” 

Once she saw it was a losing battle, Marinette mentally sighed and offered a smile with a quick thanks as the two gathered up the dishes and trash. While walking to the bakery, the two continued to talk and occasionally teased each other. It may have been cut short, but lunch was still fun.

The rest of the afternoon seemed to go by in a blur for Marinette as she made herself focus on her lessons, though a part of her still was worried about Luka. Maybe she should bring it up with Juleka since she was his sister or Anarka instead? And maybe Kagami as well since they were all partners? Another part of her brain reminded her that her parents would be there to listen and help… that little thought reminded Marinette that she needed to tell her parents still about Mme. Bustier’s new “program.”

When she entered her room after school, Marinette noticed Plagg sat at her desk, an almost unreadable expression on his face. After setting down her stuff, she made her way over to the kwami.

“Plagg? What’s wrong?” When Plagg glanced up, Marinette’s heart nearly broke at how lost the normally confidant kwami looked. 

“I’m really worried about Adrien, he’s barely woken up much since we got out of the TV world. When he does get up, he barely even eats! What if we should have taken him to a hospital? What if his health is worse now? I shouldn’t have tried to force him to stand up to Gabriel when he was stressed! He wouldn’t have ended up in the TV world!”

Marinette blinked at the rambling black cat and picked him up to pull him into a hug to offer comfort. 

“Oh Plagg, it’s okay. Adrien is just recovering is all. Yu told me how it was similar for two of his teammates. You’re not at fault for what happened. And just think, if Adrien hadn’t gone into the TV, then he still would be lying to himself about the abuse he goes through at his father’s hand.”

“No! It’s not just that!” Plagg flew out of Marinette’s grasp, floating off to the side. “I failed as a kwami! I never gave him proper guidance like Tikki did for you! I never thought to take him to Master Fu! I let him goof off and get hurt so many times!”

“Hey, now,” Marinette said sternly. “This is your stress talking, Plagg.” Marinette once again took hold of Plagg, cupping him in her hands while Tikki flew over to nuzzle her other half. “You allowed Adrien to have his freedom as Chat Noir, you saw he needed to be himself and gave him that chance. You never failed.” She began to stroke the top of Plagg’s head. “True, you could have brought him to Master Fu, but you give guidance in your own way. You showed him that you cared in your own way. But please remember, you never failed.” 

When the little black cat continued to try and protest, Marinette tried a different angle. 

“Remember, you sought out help when you couldn’t find Adrien. If you were a bad kwami, I bet you wouldn’t have even cared. I saw how stressed you were after losing Adrien, you barely ate when we weren’t in the TV world. And you may not have realized it, but when it came to Gabriel, you were ready to go for his throat. You care enough to possibly commit murder against Adrien’s father, although I highly doubt you can call Gabriel that.”

Plagg still looked doubtful but it looked like Marinette might finally be getting through to him.

“And since we came out of the TV world,” Tikki began as she also offered comfort, “you have rarely - if ever, really - left Adrien’s side Plagg. You’re continuing to protect him, especially since he is so vulnerable.”

You have Plagg & Tikki’s respect… 

Magus Rank 1!

Marinette pulled the two kwamis closer to nuzzled them against her cheek before pressing a kiss to the top of their heads. 

The sound of frantic footsteps coming towards the room had all three freezing up. Luckily, Tikki regained her senses and pulled Plagg to hide before whoever was approaching entered. And at the nick of time too; just as the two hid, the trap door seemed to fly open.

“Marinette! Dudette! I got huge news!” Nino had the biggest grin on his face as he entered Marinette’s room. “I did it!”

“Huh? Did what?”

“I got a huge gig! This is so big! This will be my chance to get my name known!”

“Okay…? Congratulations, but uh...what’s the gig?” she asked, still trying to wrap her head around what Nino was telling her. He was being so vague in all of his excitement. 

This time Nino looked confused for a moment; then he realized he didn’t tell her what this huge gig actually was.

“I won a contest to design a soundtrack for a film scene some up-and-coming director is doing! I’m gonna get to intern this coming summer with them!”

“That is great, Nino!” Marinette hugged her friend, wheezing slightly when he seemed to not realize his strength with all of his excitement. “Uh, Nino? Choking… not breathing…”

At that moment, Nino finally seemed to realize just how tightly he was squeezing Marinette.

“Oh, uh… sorry…” He finally let go, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. “Didn’t mean to cause any pain. I’m just so happy!” 

His eyes then widened as he seemed to realize something. “Oh, man, I have to start planning how I’m gonna do all of this! There are so many ideas in my head right now!” 

Marinette grasped the taller teen’s shoulder to regain his attention. “Nino, calm down and breathe before you accidentally hyperventilate. I’m guessing that you just found out today, so you likely still have time to plan. Just take things at a steady pace, okay? Just breathe first and bask in this moment. You deserve a moment to celebrate; why don’t I get some food from the bakery and you can tell me more about this in greater detail? Sound good?” 

Marinette offered her friend a smile, pleased to see that Nino was finally breathing normally.

“Deal!” Nino said eagerly, his grin back in place. “Oh, man, I’m just so excited about this!” 

Marinette giggled softly as she left the room, letting her parents know that she and Nino were going to have a little mini celebration as he had gotten some good news. She further let them know that she would let them know more once she knows herself. 

Returning with quite a few of Nino’s favorites, Marinette prompted her friend to start from the beginning. Nino seemed all too excited to share with one of his close friends. He pulled up the email on his phone and passed it over to Marinette, allowing her to read the information herself. 

As she read, Marinette kept an eye on Nino’s reaction, partially wondering just how he could contain his excitement. Apparently - if she was reading this right - some director had found one of Nino’s YouTube videos where he’d composed alternative music for one of their movies’ scenes, and had been impressed enough to offer him an internship that coming summer.

“Are you going to need to fly out somewhere?” Marinette asked. “You’ll have to make sure to say goodbye to all of us…”

“... I would have to, wouldn’t I?” Nino said, before taking on a sad countenance. “I’ll be alright. It’s just… man, if only Adrien were here to see this…”

Marinette cringed inwardly. Adrien was still out of commission since the TV World, but she had the feeling that he would still awaken in time to learn of Nino’s internship. Regardless, Nino couldn’t know of Adrien’s whereabouts until the blond was awake. 

“Well….maybe we’ll be fortunate and he'll turn up before then?” Marinette offered a tentative smile to Nino.  

“Yeah…” All of the excitement from before seemed to have gone from his face. 

“Hmm…”  Marinette tried to figure out how to go forward. On one hand, she wanted to continue Nino’s excitement but on the other hand, she was one of the few who knew where Adrien was; trying to pull away any concern seemed almost heartless.

It seemed like Nino was the first to break this awkwardness first. Standing up, he grabbed his bag and phone; he glanced back at Marinette with an awkward smile. 

“I… I should probably get going. I still need to tell Alya and my moms about this. Can I come to you if I need advice or just need to bounce ideas off of you?”

“When it comes to this stuff, I can only help you so much. With just about everything else, you’re more than welcome… just choose wisely about the time of day.”

Nino gulped. A cranky Marinette was not a fun Marinette for anyone, least of all Marinette herself.

“G-got it, Mari! Catch ya later, dudette!”

You feel Nino’s appreciation…

Innocence Rank 1!

The two waved goodbye with Marinette making sure Nino took any remaining baked goods home with him. Should anyone be upset that he told her first, the baked goods could help Nino get back into whoever was angry’s good graces… hopefully.

It felt like she didn’t have much time to herself - she spent about half of it sleeping and half of it getting almost all of her schoolwork done - before Kim knocked on her door that evening, surprising her with the various books that he was carrying. 

“Evening, Marinette! Can you help me study?” Kim then paused, as he remembered that Marinette usually had a very busy schedule. “Wait, are you free tonight?” He looked guilty,  realizing that he may be interrupting Marinette during something important. 

Smiling as she sighed softly, Marinette offered the other chair at her desk. How could she say no to the sad-puppy look that Kim was giving?

Kim’s shoulders sagged as he released a breath he probably didn’t know he was holding before making his way to the chair. The books - once she managed to see what they were - looked to be a few guides on studying and a few books that reminded her of simple lesson plans explanations. 

“Kim… what are these? And why do you have them?”

“Huh? Oh! I thought maybe these could help me study!” Kim’s grin seemed so pleased and innocent. “I took what you said to heart and have been trying to find better ways to study. “ He shifted his glance to the side and muttered, “though I haven’t been successful...I think.” 

Marinette patted a shoulder that had hunched up, mostly a natural defense reaction, with an understanding look in her eyes.

“That’s okay, Kim. It’s only been a day. Really, I’m not expecting instant change, and neither should you. It will take time to figure out what methods work best for you.” 

Still Kim continued to pout. No doubt he wanted to magically have the change happen now so he could get instant A’s...or at least B’s. After giving another pat on Kim’s shoulder, Marinette pulled out her school-books so they could do their homework. 

“Tell you what - why don’t we focus on our schoolwork for now and continue to try various studying methods later on? Maybe we’ll see if there are any specific methods while doing the work.”

“Good idea, Mari!” Kim nodded eagerly.

Kim is impressed at your resourcefulness, wisdom and quick thinking…

Force Rank 2!

The two continued for a few hours before Kim had to go home. Marinette glanced at her calendar and mentally groaned. Tomorrow was Friday; that meant it was also her forced program with Bustier. 

Sighing, she finished her nighttime routine and went to bed. She missed Tikki comforting two kwamis.

Chapter Text

Friday morning had come. 

While Marinette was dreading the coming afternoon, she was looking forward to spending her lunch break with both Luka and Kagami. The three had agreed to hang out today, as Luka & Kagami would sadly be busy during the weekend. 

Marinette had finished warming up the food as she heard her phone going off, a bit surprised, she was even more surprised to see Kanji’s name on the screen. Usually it was her that was contacting the IT, and even then it was mainly done with Yu.

“Kanji? Is something the matter?”

“No, nothing bad’s happening now. Just was wondering about a favor…” 

“Favor? What is it you were hoping for?”

“I’m working on a new sewing project, and I think my final idea would work better with some fabrics I can’t get to Inaba for a while. I was wondering-”

“Wait, you sew?”

“Y-yeah!” Kanji responded, his tone slightly apprehensive. “Got a problem with that?”

“What? Heck no!”

A relieved sigh was heard on the other end.

“I’m just happy to know another seamstress… well, seamster , in your case.” The idea of fabric shopping with a fellow designer sounded like the perfect break! “Anyways, what were you wondering about?” 

“Uh… could you take me to Paris and go fabric shopping with me? Actually, you don’t have to go; you could just recommend a place and I’ll-” 

“I’d love to go with you, Kanji! Besides, the vendors might not understand Japanese… anyways, I can’t go now; school is starting soon for me. How about we go this weekend?” Oh, man, was she going to enjoy talking shop with Kanji. Maybe they could also show designs and bounce ideas off of each other.

“Thanks, Mari! That sounds good to me! But I have school on Saturday, so if we go then instead of Sunday, we’ll have to do it after school for me.”

“Let’s do Sunday, then.” Marinette then remembered a part of her plan to take down Gabriel. “Oh, and one other thing. When we confront Gabriel - Adrien’s dad - I’d like the whole IT’s help… well, minus Teddie, but you know. Can he even leave the TV World?”

“I’d love to be of help there…” Kanji’s malicious grin was audible from the other side of the screen. “...but I dunno if Teddie can leave the TV World. The bear’s got nothing inside that suit, so it’s probably for the best that he stays there.”

“Thank you so much! See you on Sunday!” After hearing Kanji’s simple Later, Marinette hung up her phone with a smile and began humming. 

“What made you so chipper this morning?” Marinette jumped at Plagg’s voice. It seemed he’d decided to come down to retrieve a cheese danish. He sounded like Marinette when she was woken up and not able to have coffee. Oh well; at least he was finally starting to eat.

“Kind of, but it’s more about Sunday. I’m gonna be hanging out with Kanji on Sunday and we’re gonna go fabric shopping. It will feel so nice to talk shop with someone else who understands.”

 “That’s great, Marinette,” Tikki chirped as she munched on an eclair. “Maybe he can show you around his place!”

“We’ll probably save that for another day, but I can ask when the time comes.” A quick glance at the clock had Marinette yelping as she ran up to her room. “I woke up early so I wouldn’t be late! How did I lose track of that much time!” Thankfully, most of everything was packed for her, so that was a bit of a timesaver. Still, she had to run to school to make it in time. 

The first set of classes went by quickly; being wide awake, Marinette was on fire with her notes and work. Not even the pop quiz in Science seemed to throw her off of her stride! 

When it came time for lunch, Marinette had to find an empty room to also allow the kwami out. She had made a few items specifically for the kwamis, as they also deserved to be treated. Plus she kind of wanted to check in with Sass and Longg on how both Kagami and Luka were, to see if there was anyone giving her partners a hard time. 

There was a music room that no one seemed to be using that would not only allow the three to enjoy their lunch but let their kwamis freely roam and eat as well. Marinette sent a text to let her partners know where she would be instead of the park. 

The first to arrive was Kagami, who grasped Marinette’s hand to press a kiss to her knuckles. Kagami seemed to smirk when Marinette went bright red.

“I’ve always wondered if that worked in real life,” Kagami chuckled, “I think I see why they do that now…”

Marinette pouted, causing Kagami to laugh once more and poke one of Marinette’s red cheeks. 

“I will get you back one day,” Marinette warned teasingly, “just you wait!”

“I look forward to you trying.” Never one to back down from a challenge, Kagami gave a confident grin. “By telling me of your plan, I now know to stay on guard. Thank you for the heads up.”

It was about then that Luka came in, the musician noticing both of his girlfriends and walking over, the usual serene smile on his face. One hand wrapped around both teens shoulders as he pressed a kiss to both of their cheeks.

“Dare I ask what you two are doing? Your songs seem to sound a little... mischievous right now.”

“Oh, just Marinette declaring a challenge. That’s all.”

“Yeah, after you made me flustered!” This time it was Marinette who poked Kagami’s cheek.

“Now now, as much fun and as easy as it is to tease Marinette,” Luka snickered as Marinette squawked in protest, “we should probably save it for now. Give her a break to calm down before we tease her again.”


“Hm, agreed.”

Once again, Marinette pouted as she stuck out her tongue to her partners. Oh, she was so going to get her revenge on these two! 

“Why don’t we eat? I can smell Marinette’s cooking, and it would be a shame to let it all go to waste.” Luka led the other two to the table where Marinette after making sure the blinds over the door were covered so that the kwami could come out. 

After passing out food and drinks, the three began to talk for a bit. Luka shared a few stories about the music club he occasionally attended when he was free, while Kagami told her about how these two idiots on the fencing team were pining after each other but too afraid to talk to each other.

“Boy, if that isn’t familiar…” Marinette groaned.

“Oh yes, isn’t that how you and your friend Adrien were like?” It seemed Longg seemed interested as she looked up from her tea. “You both seemed to like each other yet never did anything. Why is that?” Her tone seemed curious.

“For me, it was more based on getting dragged into situations and I would just stumble over my words. Then after the double date at the ice rink, I wanted to try to respect the fact that Adrien liked someone else. I didn’t want to ruin that.” 

Marinette began to remember all the times she was dragged into a Confess to Adrien plan… as well as how they always seemed to go south, either because she stumbled on her own words or circumstances. She also remembered all the times she’d turned down Chat Noir for Adrien.

“I was an idiot…”

“None of that!” Longg seemed to hiss in annoyance at that. “It sounds like you made mistakes, but you shouldn’t put yourself down like that!”

“I agree with my fellow kwami, Guardian.” Sass levitated forward to nudge at Marinette’s cheek. “You are young and allowed to make missstakesss; that isss how you learn. The important thing isss you own up to your missstakessss and alwaysss try to make thingsss right.”

“Aw, thanks…” Marinette stroked Longg's head and cupped Sass to her cheek.

"Should you ever need wordsss of wisssdom or sssomeone to…'vent to’, asss I've heard Luka ssssay, we kwamisss will be more than happy to assssissst you."

Marinette seemed a little surprised to hear that, but was touched all the same. 

"Thank you so much, Sass. You too, Longg."

You can look to the Snake & Dragon kwamis for guidance… 

Magus Rank 2!

"Now go, spend your time with your partners. It is time for you three to relax." Longg gestured over to where Luka was attempting - and failing, for the most part - to teach Kagami how to play his guitar. Marinette giggled at how Kagami seemed eager to try something more advanced on the guitar and how she got frustrated with how Luka insisted on her learning the basics first. Knowing that she was going to play mediator in some way, she quickly made her way over to her two partners.

Thankfully, lunch passed without anyone getting hurt - although finding out where both her partners were ticklish was quite useful pieces of information she stored away for now - and she rattled off every question her teachers threw at her. Unfortunately for her, the time for Mme. Bustier’s new ‘program’ arrived at last.

At this Marinette sighed. Welp; no use putting this off anymore.

She gathered her items to return to Mme. Bustier’s classroom. As expected, her teacher sat at her own desk, waiting for Marinette to enter.

“Good afternoon, Marinette!” Mme. Bustier’s chipper tone did nothing to really to ameliorate the bitterness that Marinette still felt from when she found out that her teacher knew of Lila’s lying and did nothing to help or aid Marinette.  

“Afternoon, Mme. Bustier.” The lack of what Mme. Bustier illogically expected - cheer - made the woman pause for a moment. “What do I need to do? You mentioned something about how I’m going to start grading papers?” 

While Marinette wanted to continue the Lila discussion, she knew that she didn’t want to hear it at this moment. She knew she might have to walk out, as a large part of her still felt betrayed. “Do I need a key or guide? I’m still a student.”

Marinette was trying to keep her tone civil and avoid hostility; really, she was. But being around her teacher was bringing back unpleasant memories of high expectations and the heavy burden she’d been forced to bear often. 

“Well…. Yes there is a key, but why don’t we do some breathing exercises first. You look frustrated, yet you were okay before lunch. Did something happen?” It sounded like what a caring and concerned teacher would ask, but with how Mme. Bustier could be at times it sounded almost condescending. Why did it sound like that? Was it her own bias starting to show or was this just the bitterness rearing its head? 

“No, lunch was good. I just really have a lot to do at home and want to get this done as soon as I can.” Marinette’s answer seemed to surprise the elder woman. “Please, can I have the key and you just tell me what I need to do or look for?”

Still surprised with how Marinette was acting, Mme. Bustier wordlessly handed over the key and quickly showed her student her part of the papers to be graded. Silently she observed Marinette grade the papers, looking at the key then back to the papers as she efficiently worked away. It was clear that she was avoiding looking at the other. A few times Mme. Bustier tried to make small talk only to be given curt answers, again, showing that Marinette was not interested in talking. 

Around the end of Marinette’s stint, Mme. Bustier gave in to her curiosity. “You seem a bit angry, Marinette. Is something the matter?”

It could be said that something in Marinette broke.

“‘Is something the matter’? ‘Is something the matter?’” There was a tinge of what could only be described as hysteria in the teen’s tone. “Yes, yes, there is! And a lot of it starts with you!” Marinette’s outburst made Mme. Bustier’s eyes widen, her jaw dropping wide open. “Do you not realize the damage you have done? Or how you have broken my trust? You have allowed bullying in your classroom and have even blamed the victims for defending themselves! You put high expectations on your students, and if they don’t meet them, you blame them! Can you not read a room? Can you not see the tension in here?” Tears were falling from Marinette’s eyes, but she couldn’t bring herself to care. She needed this and if any akumas appeared, then they could go find another host because Marinette was not in the mood!

“You knew of Lila lying and yet you have said nothing! You let her manipulate and control this classroom when it’s supposed to be you in charge. You even ignored the sexual harassment that Adrien’s suffered at Chloe and Lila’s hands! Did you ever notice how they would claw at him and cling to him or how uncomfortable it made him feel? And do not give me that hooey about Lila’s mom being an ambassador or Chloe’s father being the mayor; that doesn’t play any sort of role! Mme. Mendeleiev keeps us in line; she doesn’t let us control her, why can’t you?”

An akumatized moth appeared in her peripheral vision. Just as it aimed for her earrings, Marinette snatched it out of the air and crushed it in her hand. 

As the connection cut out from Hawkmoth’s view, he heard her snarl, “Not today Hawkmoth. I am not in the mood to deal with you.” In his hideout, the magical terrorist raised an eyebrow at her tone. 

“Mlle. Dupain-Cheng would have made for a great and powerful akuma. If only we could get to her somehow…” Hawkmoth noted. 

As he transformed into Gabriel and made his way to the elevator, he sighed. “Very well, Miss Marinette. You win for today.”

Back with Marinette and Caline…  

Marinette stood with her fists now clenched at her sides. While she wasn’t panting, per se, it looked like she was breathing heavily through her nose. The teen stared at her teacher, refusing to look away and almost expected an answer of some kind to her outburst. Yet none came. Mme. Bustier sat silently with widened eyes and unable to speak. She truly hadn't realized how she had been one of the causes for Marinette to break. 

Marinette wanted to leave, and hell, she probably should for her own mental state, but she needed to hear something, anything from her teacher. She needed to hear any sort of confirmation from Mme. Bustier. 

Five minutes passed of silence, ten minutes then passed, yet nothing. 

“I don’t know why I expected something different,” Marinette turned to pick up her stuff. “I didn’t want to peg you as a coward, but you have proven to me that you are one.” She had told herself that if Mme. Bustier showed any sort of positive change, she would attempt to give her teacher one last chance before her pa-

“I’m so sorry, Marinette.”

This made Marinette pause on her way to the door, turning back to Mme. Bustier. A part of her wasn’t surprised to see the older woman looking down at her desk, her shoulders shaking with barely constrained emotion.

“You’re right. I’ve been putting a lot of stress on you in the few years I’ve gotten to know you… too much strain on your well-being and mental state..”

“I don’t know how I was… was obtuse enough to not notice you were suffering,” Bustier continued. “When the faculty figured out Lila was lying, we debated about whether to expose her or not. It would be the right thing to do to tell the truth, but if the students find out, they could be akumatized!”

“Well, what about those that find out anyways?” Marinette shot back. “Are they - are we just going to have to keep quiet? Your job as a teacher should be to do what is right and be a role model - you know, teach the students?”

“What would you suggest I do?” Mme. Bustier asked. “There are probably a lot of students who would go overboard, so we haven’t considered asking them. I c-”

Marinette cut her off. “That’s not my job. It never was.” Pointing a finger at the degree on the classroom wall, she said, “You should know how to handle misbehaving students; you went to university and got your degree in this field, right?”

“When something doesn’t work, you find something better.” Marinette gave Mme. Bustier a disapproving scowl worthy of Kagami. Oh how she owed her girlfriend a big thanks for that kind of expression.

“I’m willing to show up and help you with grading, and I’ll hear you out if you come up with ideas to deal with Lila,” Marinette relented somewhat. “But I get to choose the days where I do the former, and if you’re willing to take my advice about your ideas, that would be appreciated too. I think you’ll do that just fine.”

“After all…” Marinette said as she opened the door to leave, “you’re supposed to be a good teacher, right?”

You have given Mme. Bustier a lot to think about…

Fate Rank 2!

With that, Marinette left Mme. Bustier’s room, leaving her to think about what she had done wrong.

After the bakery closed that night, Marinette told her parents what had transpired that afternoon, from her breakdown to the akuma to how she’d finally gotten through to her teacher. Needless to say, she did have to hold back her parents from storming the school - especially since it was closed from now through the weekend - to give Mme. Bustier a piece of their minds. Thanks to her emphasizing the part of finally getting through, however, there was no need to charge the school with a two-person mob armed with baking supplies.

Marinette sighed as she practically collapsed on her desk chair, the teen resting her head on her folded arms. It had been a good day until the stressful afternoon, but… she really needed it. She finally got to vent out her frustrations at her teacher from issues past and current. Now that she looked back, Marinette realized that she had gotten really lucky on avoiding any akumatization earlier that day. Foresight was 20/20… man, Adrien would laugh at that.

Hoping to get some drawing done to help her relax, she opened a drawer to see Lila’s diary practically staring back at her. Marinette thought that if she could get through to Mme. Bustier, maybe she should try harder to understand Lila. The first entry had shown a different side to the transfer student; what else could the diary tell her?

Dear Diary,

Guess what? I made a new friend today! Her name is Giosetta Marchesi, and she said I can call her Gigi! She is super nice, really pretty, and she’s all sorts of cool things she’s done! She said something about taking me under her wing, how she would help me make ‘real’ friends. 

A weird thing did happen afterwards, though. There was a girl who found me and told me to stay away from Gigi, that Gigi was dangerous or something like that. I didn’t pay much attention, really; why would I listen to her over my new best friend?

Of course, I told Gigi about this and she warned me that that was Francesca, a girl who was a known liar throughout the school. She advised me not to believe a word she says. A lot of Gigi’s other friends confirmed this, so it has to be true!

A few other times Francesca tried to talk to me again, but thankfully, Gigi and her friends stopped her. Could this girl just leave me alone and stop harassing me? Can’t she see that my new best friend is absolutely amazing?

Well, I should be getting some sleep. Talk (is that the right word here? I dunno) to you again, diary!

Marinette didn’t like this one bit. She had a bad feeling about this ‘Gigi’ girl; rubbing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she flipped through another few entries. Thankfully for her sleep schedule, it seemed to be a short one.

Dear Diary,

Today was another great day! Gigi brought me a friendship necklace today! It’s super cute! It’s two cats that link together and say ‘Best Amigattos!’ How cute is that ? I am so lucky to have her!

I wanted to show Mama but she’s busy at the embassy… again !  It’s not fair! I can’t tell her about my new best friend! Oh well, at least I can tell you, Diary.

Gigi asked if I wanted to hang out tomorrow since it’s the weekend. Of course I said yes; why would I say no to hanging out with my bestie? She mentioned something about a makeover and how we’re going to revamp my wardrobe! I can't wait!

I’m going to bed now; don’t want any eyebags around my bestie! Ciao, Diary!

Marinette blinked and reread the page. This one felt out of sorts in some way, but she couldn’t figure out how. Was it Lila’s innocence? Or how fast Lila and this Gigi became friends? Perhaps it was because Lila’s mother seemed so absent in the few entries she read.

“I feel like I’m on the verge of something, Tikki, yet I have no idea what that could be.”

“I don’t know what’s next either, Marinette,” Tikki admitted. “I’ve got a premonition about it too, though.”

“I wonder if I should look into Lila’s past schools,” Marinette mused to herself. “No, that might be illegal…” 

There was another sigh, but Marinette made herself put away the diary. If only she could have met past Lila… 

You feel a bit of worry for Past Lila…

Adjustment Rank 2!

“Eh, there’s no sense dwelling on it now, Pigtails,” Plagg piped up; he’d zipped over when he’d learned about Marinette having Lila’s diary. “It’s gettin’ late - you should get some sleep in.”

“Good call, Plagg. I’ll sleep on it.”

Marinette went to sleep not long after, dreaming of a just teacher, her friends, and a girl in orange she knew so little about.

Chapter Text

Saturday mornings were normally mornings for sleeping in, but when one lived above a bakery, that wasn’t really an option. For Marinette, weekends were for helping out her parents; it allowed for her to spend more time with them while also helping the shop. After becoming a Guardian, it also allowed her to make pastries for the kwamis; usually she would make various types to fit the kwami’s varied preferences.

Still a bit groggy from her dreams, Marinette downed her coffee in hopes of waking up faster. Normally, her parents asked her to be up in time for opening, but she wanted to get some baking done for her charges and woke up before sunrise with her parents. It had been a shock for the two adults yet they shook it off and welcomed this, as a result the three had breakfast together. 

Marinette worked fast on making the kwamis their baked goods, getting the idea of whatever remained as a sort of special for the morning; that is, if the kwamis left any behind. Her parents had even left out various beverages for the tiny gods in the upstairs living area if they wanted any. 

“Thanks for helping me with them.” It was still a surprise to see the kwamis around the house and interacting with her parents. However, she did have to admit it was rather cute at the same time. 

Usually she could find Xuppu, Stompp or Barkk around her Papa trying to help or just enjoying his jokes, and she’d usually find Ziggy, Wayzz or Pollen around her Mama. The rest of the kwamis would vary between herself and her parents, a good chunk of them often staying with Adrien to keep Plagg company.

“It’s no trouble at all,” Tom folded a bit of dough, with some of the kwami throwing bits of fruit into the dough. “They are creative little fellows, aren’t they?” Finishing up the dough, he put it in one of the ovens. “If this is popular enough, I think we could make this a common item. Too bad we can’t call it ‘Kwami Bread.’”

“Maybe something similar to disguise it?” Sabine suggested. “Kami is the Japanese word for Deity, if memory serves.”

“But then how are we going to explain the name?” Marinette held out a double chocolate chunk cookie for Tikki to take. “We could try Miracle Bread!”

“Why not have your customers vote on a name?” Tikki suggested, practically inhaling the cooking. “Tell them it’s a new item and that you would like customer input?” 

“Hold on for a moment.” Marinette ran back upstairs for a few minutes to retrieve an empty box and a small notepad, she could decorate it before they opened. “We can do it this way. If we tried to tally when customers come in and order, it’s possible that we could forget to mark it down or mark it incorrectly. If we have them write the name they like or have them choose options like A, B or C, I think it would be easier to tally.” 

“Good idea, Marinette; now, let’s get working on the merchandise! Thankfully, we don’t have any specific orders today, so we’ll have plenty of time.” 

The team of bakers continued to create various baked goods with the kwami helping out, throwing ingredients into mixes, carrying whatever objects they could or notifying them food was done resting and ready to bake. A few times the kwami had to gently nudge the humans about timers, and sometimes the humans would need to remind the kwami that baking at faster temperatures did not mean that things would bake faster successfully. 

Time seemed to fly by for the family of three and the fifteen kwami; even Plagg helped for a bit, although that was mostly so he could snag a bunch of cheese danishes fresh from the oven. 

Sadly, once it was time to open, the kwami had to retreat back upstairs. They had had so much fun baking that they wanted to stay. It was just too risky; someone could spot them if they stayed downstairs. Marinette carried up the kwamis’ share of the baked goods in a basket, allowing them to enjoy the results of their hard work. 

Your teamwork with Mama & Papa is amazing as usual…

Physician Rank 3!

The work day had gone on for a while when Kagami walked through the door. Marinette recognized the look on her face as her I-have-a-mission-and-God-himself-will-not-stop-me-from-seeing-it-through look.

“Morning, Kagami!” Marinette greeted. She then pulled Kagami a little closer to whisper, “Are you here to see our black cat?”

“No, but I can visit him later. For now, I have come to see you. I wish to not only help you with the bakery but also continue our lessons. Have you been studying?” Kagami’s question had Marinette freezing and paling; she forgot about studying Japanese on her own time! “Judging by your expression, you have not. Very well, we will start the lesson now.”

With that, Kagami took Marinette’s hand and semi-forcibly dragged Marinette up to her room.

“We overheard you, Kagami, and we’d love to have your help!” Sabine called out as they went up the stairs. 

“I guess we’ll be down after a while, Mama!” Marinette managed to call out before she yelped as her girlfriend continued to tug her. Fortunately for her (pun not intended), she didn’t trip on her way up the stairs. 

Plagg popped out of Adrien’s room for a moment to see what all the commotion was about, but when he noticed how Kagami seemed determined about something, he quickly phased back through the door. No way was he going to get involved; Pigtails was on her own with whatever made Kagami like this.

“I did warn you I was going to be sporadic with my teachings. We will start here and continue on in the bakery, though we’ll begin with a review.”

“Yes, sorry Kagami, I forgot all about studying on my own.” Marinette lowered her head into her shoulders apologetically. “It feels like suddenly so many people need me nowadays…” Marinette recalled Yu telling her to work on her Social Links, but she had no idea there were so many! It was like she wasn’t allowed any time to herself.

Seeing how Marinette was sorry, Kagami sighed softly through her nose and patted the top of Marinette’s head. 

“You are once again taking on too much. Remember that many of us are here to help.” Kagami rested her head on Marinette’s. “My apologies - I should have been more considerate with your situation.” 

Marinette’s hand grasped her girlfriend’s to link their fingers together, she squeezed Kagami’s hand and seemed to smile when she felt a squeeze in response. The two took a moment, just standing there as if to give Marinette a moment to just breath. True, this morning had been fun, but the past week had felt like a roller coaster and she needed this moment. 

“I’m good now, thanks. And again, I’m really sorry I forgot about studying on my own. It really just slipped my mind.” She felt Kagami squeeze her hand once more and stroked her hair. “So….why were you on the warpath?” Marinette felt the hand stop and caught the other teen’s confused expression.

“Warpath….? Was… did I give you that impression?” Seeing Marinette’s nod had Kagami blushing a bit in embarrassment. “That… was not my intention. I had some free time and wanted to spend it with you, I wished to learn about the bakery. I’m sorry for confusing you.”

This caused Marinette to giggle as she gave Kagami’s hand a squeeze before tugging her to her desk. 

“Let’s review for a few minutes then we can go down to the bakery. I know my parents will appreciate your assistance and will happily welcome you to the team. Or, well… maybe not a team since it’s just us three, so let’s just say family!” 

After ten minutes of reviewing material, the two moved down to the bakery where Sabine had already left out a name tag for Kagami. Sabine asked if everything was okay, to which both teens gave an affirmative answer. Pleased, Sabine began to show Kagami some of what to do in the store, ranging from taking orders and working the register, to getting beverages and how to package the baked goods for the customers. Naturally, Kagami listened intently, trying to absorb as much information as she could, even despite the fact that should she make a mistake, everything will be okay. 

Kagami was still a little awkward with some of the customers, even though she was channeling the part of her that was used to social gatherings, this was still something very different. She was a bit too formal yet was polite, she felt a little uncomfortable with making small talk with the customers. Thankfully, it was easier whenever Sabine or Marinette joined in. 

At some point, Marinette suggested they also use this time as a kind of mini-lesson. Whenever she pointed out a pastry and stated what it was called, Kagama repeated but in Japanese. Then Marinette would repeat the Japanese word. Sometimes Kagami would accidentally get a customer involved by telling them to ‘have a good day’ or ‘thank you for your patronage’ in Japanese and quickly repeated it again in French; the customers seemed to enjoy this and would happily parrot the phrase or ask for more.

When Kagami eventually saw her mother’s car pulling in front of the bakery, Kagami sighed and bid Marinette’s parents goodbye before kissing her girlfriend’s cheek. To her surprise, Tom and Sabine gave her a hug which warmed the teen’s heart. And of course she didn’t leave empty handed, she had not only a box of baked goods but also a few bags. One of the bags was for her mother’s driver, and the rest was for the Tsurugi household to share. Marinette had even added some of the remaining baked goods the kwami had helped make as well as some pastries for Sass as well.

Tom and Sabine invited her to come over any time to visit or help out if she was interested, and even offered to teach her how to bake some simple pastries should Kagami ever be interested. Thanking the two, Kagami left the bakery with the goods. Perhaps she should suggest to her mother to stop here just for the pastries some time. 

You can tell Kagami is very happy… 

Nurture Rank 3!

It was an hour after Kagami had left when Marinette was free to head back upstairs, they finished up the lingering lunch crowd. The teen stretched her arms as she made her way upstairs, stopping by Adrien’s room on her way. She stopped short when she saw Adrien sitting up, wiping at his eyes before taking a glance around the room. Plagg and Tikki along with a few other kwami fixed the pillows so that he could sit up easier. 

“You’re up!” Marinette surged forward to wrap her arms around Adrien’s shoulders, practically tackling the blond-haired teen. Tears blinded her vision, but she couldn’t bring herself to care at the moment. Adrien was finally awake! 

She then realized what she did and pulled back slightly. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to tackle you! Are you hurt? Did I make you hit your head?” 

“No, no, I’m good,” Adrien said as he shifted on the bed. He was a bit sore from mostly sleeping since coming back from the TV world. “Any pain I’m feeling is my muscles protesting about not being used in a while.”

Still a bit skeptical, Marinette hugged Adrien again but far gentler this time. A part inside of her squealed when she felt the hug being reciprocated and for once she didn’t feel like she was going to stumble over her words. It was definitely a step in the right direction.

“I’m so glad you’re awake now! We were all so worried about you!”


“Me, Kagami, the kwami and Luka, remember? Heck, even my parents were worried! They have been checking in on you along with the kwami! Plagg here wouldn’t really even eat, he was so worried!”

Said kwami hid in Adrien’s hair, he half-heartedly glared at Marinette and muttered something about how she was a nothing but a big-mouthed traitor; despite that, he nuzzled the top of his Chosen’s head with a purr. The two teens both laughed as Adrien reached up to pluck his kwami from his head before nuzzling Plagg lovingly.

 “Thanks for taking care of me while I was out,” Adrien said gratefully. “So… what did I miss?”

By now, it had gotten late, and the bakery had closed for the night. Marinette let him know about how things had been in his supposed disappearance - how Nino had been near-inconsolable, how he’d found a chance to make it big, how Mme. Bustier had known about Lila lying, how Kim was working hard to improve his grades, and more.

She didn’t mention Lila’s diary or what was in it. She didn’t like Lila - and that was putting it lightly - but Lila didn’t deserve her whole backstory being aired out for everyone to hear… yet, anyway.

“There’s also something else you should know…” Marinette then told him, “While you were asleep, we - Kagami, Luka and I, that is - decided we would all give having a relationship a try, and we want you to join as well. Kagami found more stuff on poly relationships, and if you don’t want to date Luka, you could form something called a metamour”

“I remember the idea of it being thrown out,” Adrien finally replied, “and I’d love to. Though… do you have any idea of what that place we were in was? I think you mentioned something about that lookalike… a Shadow Self, you called it?”

“That’s right, it was basically the true, nastier side of yourself that we repress and tend to reject.” She paused for a moment as if thinking. “Well, that’s how it was explained to me. All I can say is that outright denying and rejecting your Shadow Self is a bad thing. Those guys me and Kagami were with told me that they believe that the Shadows killed some people.” Marinette recalled this conversation, she had had a nightmare at some point before they saved Adrien where all of their Shadows had killed them. In a panic, she called Yu to ask if this was possible. The call had gone to voicemail, but he called back later to give her an answer. The answer had renewed the panic when Yu had said that yes, it was possible for Shadows to kill. However, he’d said some of his Personas and Konohana Sakuya had decent revival spells. 

“I’m sure after a few trips to the Velvet Room, you will too,” Marinette recalled the silver-haired teen saying. In honesty, she was surprised that she’d forgotten that little memory; perhaps she had subconsciously tried to forget it as a result of her fear?

Then another thought occurred to her; whipping out her phone, she texted Kagami and Luka and informed them Adrien had awoken. The two were ecstatic to hear the news, if their responses were any indicator. Bringing up her camera app, she quickly took a picture with Adrien to send to her, or rather their partners, confirming Adrien was part of the relationship as well.

“Come on, you probably want to walk around after resting for so long, why don’t we take you to the kitchen to get some food? No one from school should be coming over any time soon.” Even with Marinette’s help, it took a moment to get Adrien on his feet, the blond falling back on the bed a few times as his legs almost seemed to protest being used.

Between using both Marinette and the walls, Adrien managed to get to the kitchen before his legs finally gave out.

“Looks like we’re gonna have to work on getting your strength back,” Marinette commented as she began to try to figure out what to have while looking over random ingredients. Since Adrien just woke up after resting for almost a week, it was probably a bad idea to give him anything heavy… that said, he also had a very light diet before; maybe he was also just hungry in general? Sighing, Marinette glanced back at the blond as she noticed that Plagg was mother-henning all over Adrien, asking if he was too cold or hot, if he needed a drink or maybe a blanket?

Suddenly, Marinette and her parents - who had heard Adrien talking with Marinette and let out quiet sighs of relief - heard a knock at the door. They left a We’re Closed sign, so it couldn’t be a customer… right?

Tom seemed to take initiative by attempting to take Adrien out of sight of the door, but it was too late. The Gorilla merely raised an eyebrow.

Sighing, Marinette mouthed, “You’re not taking him back to Gabriel.” through the door, hoping he could understand what she was saying.

To the Dupain-Chengs’ shock, Gorilla then mouthed back, “I have no intentions of doing that, as I no longer work for him.”

“WHAT?!” Adrien struggled to get out of Tom’s grasp; once he was on his feet, he did his best to rush over to his now-former bodyguard. He opened the door, using it as support as he stared at Gorilla with widened eyes. “What happened?” Adrien pulled the man’s hand to get him inside, his legs threatening to collapse under him. 

The teen was lifted up and carried over to a chair, but that didn’t fully stop him as he leaned as far over as he could without falling over.

“Did you get fired or something?” Adrien asked once everyone had sat down in the living room and the Gorilla was munching on a macaron. “Did my Father finally do something to push you to quit?” 

To placate Gorilla, Marinette had spitballed a story of finding Adrien collapsed in the alley near the bakery, saying he’d told her that he’d had enough of Gabriel and had snuck out only to fend off a mugger, leading to where he had been. 

“... He pushed me to my limits long ago,” the Gorilla slowly rasped, his deep, thick Russian accent explaining to Adrien why he didn’t speak much, “but I stuck around for your sake. Once you were gone, I had no reason not to resign.”

“Me and the Tsurugis are planning to get him arrested for everything he’s done to Adrien,” Marinette piped up, “But he’ll need to stay hidden so as not to arouse suspicion.” None of the adults missed how the two teens’ hands were linked together. “I apologize if this is too much to ask, but it would also help if you could also testify. Any bit of information that will help us get that… that monster where he belongs.” 

“Behind bars?” Gorilla smirked.

“Behind bars,” Adrien nodded.

“Then I am willing,” Gorilla said simply. 

“As good as all of this is, it creates another problem,” Tom said. “Where are you going to stay after his arrest? I doubt that the courts will allow you to stay here if you’re dating Marinette.”

“I have an apartment in this city,” Gorilla suggested. “Is it possible for him to live with me? Doing so would make it a matter of convincing a judge of my innocence and little else.”

“I’d be okay with that, Gorilla!” Adrien said happily, tears pricking at his eyes. It always felt like Gorilla was more of a father figure to him than Gabriel.

“If it pleases you, child…” Gorilla smiled softly, “You may call me Igor as well. Igor Simonov.”

“But for now,” the bulky man said as he got up from his seat, “I should go. Please keep me updated on the situation, Dupain-Chengs.”

“Of course, and please, come back any time.” Sabine offered to the former bodyguard. “I’m sure Adrien would be happy if you visited him.” 

Adrien reached out to grasp Igor’s sleeve, giving him puppy-eyes. “Are you sure you can’t stay to eat?”

“It is quite late, Adrien,” Igor pointed out, “and if things go right, we will see each other plenty soon enough.”

While disappointed, Adrien nodded in acceptance.

“I will keep your location hidden from Gabriel and company,” Igor said as he made his way out into the streets of Paris. “See you soon, molodoy kotenok.” 

Once he was out of sight, Adrien sighed sadly. “We’re really doing this, aren’t we?”

“You gonna give in again, kid?” Plagg admonished, flying over to his chosen.

The teen shifted his gaze to his kwami, and felt the presence of his other self also scolding him, reminding him of the promise he’d made in the TV world. 

“No, no I’m not.” Adrien said softly, “but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.”

“Oh, Adrien…” Plagg sighed softly and flew over to nuzzle Adrien’s cheek. “You’ve got all of us here for you. I want to say don’t waste your tears on that jackass, but I don’t think that will help much. Just know you’re not alone in this.”

“He’s right, ya know,” Marinette said kindly. “You can talk to any of us about anything, especially something as important as this. Once we defeat Hawkmoth, you can grieve properly.”

With a grateful yet sorrowful smile, the blond leaned into Marinette. 

“Thanks Marinette,” Adrien looked up at Marinette, “I’m truly grateful to have you as a friend, supporter and girlfriend in one.”

You feel Adrien’s trust & gratitude… 

Lust Rank 1!

“As cute as you two are,” Sabine interrupted, “you should be off to bed. I know you’ve just woken up, Adrien, but sleep is one of the best medicines. You can go get back up to speed tomorrow.”

“You’re right,” Adrien nodded as he and Marinette made their ways up to their respective rooms. “Good night, Marinette.”

“‘Night, Adrien.”

Marinette had peaceful dreams that night.

Chapter Text

The sun shined on another day in Paris. 

Marinette had been peacefully laying in bed, only to whip her head up as her phone began ringing. Blindly reaching out for the device, she had to sit up just to actually get the phone. 

“I need to find a place to put this to get it easier…”  Marinette hit the answer button, yawning as she dragged herself out of bed. “Hello?”

“Hey, Marinette!” Kanji greeted cheerfully. He then paused for a moment. “Uh… did I wake you up or something?”

“No, no,” Marinette semi-mumbled, “I was awake, I’m just not coherent in the morning. Crap, what time is it...?” Taking a glance at her alarm clock, her eyes bugged out at the time. 

“10:37?!” she gasped. That was almost 5:40 P.M. in Inaba! “Shoot, Kanji, my bad! Give me a few minutes and a location to meet you at, and I’ll send a Voyage your way!”

“No problem at all! See you in a few.” He told Marinette about a shrine near his place that was pretty much barren of people so it would be the perfect spot for a portal without getting noticed.

Marinette hung up and quickly got dressed and whatnot. She was allowed to have a day off from the bakery since she had made these plans in advance; the kwami had let her know that they would keep Adrien company and protect him from anyone seeing him (that last part was from Trixx, who planned to cast an illusion to make him unnoticeable). 

Once she was ready, she grabbed the Horse miraculous; one Voyage later, she was going through a portal to what was indeed behind a shrine. Thankfully, the area was fenced in, so no one could see her from behind the building. 

“Hey, Marinette, over here!” Slipping his phone into his pocket, Kanji casually waved at her. The two slipped back through the portal and ended up back in Marinette's room. “Your room is really… uh… pink.”

Marinette rolled her eyes and gave Kanji a moment to inspect her work area before leading him down through the apartment and into the bakery. Adrien gave the two a wave while wishing them to have fun; he and a few kwamis seemed to be playing a video game.

“My parents already know about today and what’s going on, so don’t worry. A lot of my friends usually go through the bakery anyway to get to my place anyway.” Marinette quickly introduced Kanji to her parents. The older teen awkwardly greeted them in English only to have his greeting returned with a hug. Maybe she should introduce the I.T. to her parents; she had a feeling that her newest friends would like her parents and vice versa. After grabbing a few baked goods for the two of them, the two seamsters were out the door and heading for the fabric shops Marinette frequented.

“Your folks are real affectionate,” Kanji said awkwardly, scratching the back of his head. “Is that normal or just for your friends?” 

“Mainly with my friends, but they’re welcoming to almost everyone.” Marinette noticed how Kanji seemed a little uncomfortable with the positive attention. “Did they overstep a boundary or make you uncomfortable? They didn’t mean to do that; I can ask them to not do it next time.”

“No, it’s not that,” Kanji shook his head. “I’m just used to adults seeing me as a good-for-nothing hooligan and putting me down. My ma is the only adult who’s really had my back… well, my dad did, too, but as I think I’ve told you…”

Marinette recalled that he’d mentioned his father had passed on. No wonder he felt awkward about dad hugs. “Oh, Kanji…” 

“Whoah, I’m not looking for pity!” 

“It’s not pity, Kanji!” Marinette chastised him, “Your feelings are important and there for a reason, you know? I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a parent.” 

“T-thanks, Marinette,” Kanji sadly smiled at her. “I appreciate that. I really do…”

Looking around discreetly, Marinette saw no akumatized moths in sight. As they entered a fabric store, Marinette internally breathed out a sigh of relief. She did not want Hawkmoth to ruin this day.

The two skimmed over the fabrics as Kanji picked up a few to inspect before setting them down with a shake of his head. Sometimes she heard him muttering about it being the wrong shade or having the wrong pattern, drawing out her curiosity. Holding a few of her own fabrics, she had plans to make something for everyone in the I.T. at some point, as well as some things for her partners involving their kwamis. The teen went over to where Kanji seemed to finally have found a roll he liked.

“Can I ask what your project is or what you’re specifically looking for? Maybe I can help you find it!” Marinette offered. Her question seemed to pull Kanji from wherever he was mentally.

“Huh? Oh, uh…” His cheeks turned red as the older teen pulled out a pocket-sized plush rabbit on a key-chain. 

“I think I forgot to mention I’m not as much of a designer like you, Marinette,” he laughed awkwardly. “I mostly do arts and crafts… sorry?”

Marinette blinked twice before beaming, the younger of the two standing on her toes in her excitement.

“You mean like knitting or making stuffed animals?” Marinette’s reaction was clearly not what he had expected, but Kanji still nodded his head. “Then let’s go! I’ll show you where the yarn is! Oh, and the crocheting needles, too! There’s a sale this week for anything involving knitting or crocheting!”

With that, she dragged Kanji over to where the mentioned section was. If it weren’t for the differences in hair color, there would be no doubt it looked like a younger sister dragging their older brother places.

A thought occurred to Kanji then. “Shit! I can’t pay with yen, can I?”

Marinette froze up at that. “It’s cool, Kanji,” Marinette shrugged, “I can spot you this time, and we’ll go to an ATM or something.” At Kanji’s continued protests, she kept insisting that she had this handled.

“If you really want to pay me back, then you can return the favor for me whenever I come to Inaba,” she suggested. “Call me crazy, but I have a feeling my money won’t fly in Japan.”

It seemed like that finally worked; Kanji sighed and agreed. The two began to look through the yarn once more as Marinette continued to ask about Kanji’s project. This time, he told her about how he sometimes knitted mittens, crocheted dolls and other things of the like to sell at his mother’s shop. This little tidbit caused Marinette to squeal slightly as she began to ask about the shop. At some point, Marinette had given Kanji the idea to create little sprite dolls based - albeit not strictly - on the kwami.

Eventually, they went over and paid for the purchases. The cashier mentioned how Marinette seemed more excited than normal, causing her to laugh and just say that she was happy to have someone to shop with. 

You feel yourself getting closer to the Investigation Team…

The second the two stepped out of the store, their stomachs growled in near-unison. It made sense - it was about lunchtime in Paris and a little past the average dinner-time in Japan.

Looking at Kanji, Marinette asked, “Anything you want to try while in Paris?” 

“I’m not gonna make you pay for something expensive here, so…” Kanji looked around before pointing to a Five Guys. “How about that?”

Rather than argue about it not being a problem once again, Marinette simply led Kanji over to the building. They quickly made their orders and waited. After eating, they decided to go back to Marinette’s room and take Kanji home.

They hadn’t made it that far outside the door when Marinette’s phone buzzed. Pulling out, Marinette groaned at the sight of an akuma alert. 

“What’s going on?” Kanji took a glance at the app and flinched at the words on the screen.

“I have to go fight the akuma,” Marinette whispered to Kanji, pulling him into an alley. “Stay safe; I’ll be back soon enough.” Marinette quickly transformed and was soon swinging away from the alleyway in the direction of the akuma her communicator provided.

Kanji sighed as he took the time to download the app onto his phone, sending a text to the others to do the same. Since Marinette was a part of the team, it was only fair that they do what they can to help her.

It wasn’t long before Ladybug found Wyvern & Hebi watching the akuma from atop a building. The akuma - an older woman, it seemed - was in an elegant dress and held an ornate scepter in her hand. Atop her head was a glistening crown.

“She calls herself Playfright,” Hebi filled Ladybug in. “We think the akuma’s in that crown of hers.”

“You sure it’s not the scepter?” Ladybug questioned. “Usually akumatized villains with things like that have the akuma in there, don’t they?”

“The crown glows whenever she shoots out a blast from that scepter,” Wyvern explained. “She saw Bob Roth and gave him a donkey head. I’ll admit that I laughed at that.”

“He’s never made more of an ass of himself, has he?” Ladybug snickered.

“More like when isn’t he?” Wyvern snarked. “So what’s the plan?”

“Besides avoid the beam? I have a feeling that attacking from either a distance or up close will both be disadvantages… if we make it look like we’re grabbing the scepter instead of the crown, that could possibly be a good distraction.” 

“It’s a shame we can’t deflect the blasts,” Wyvern noted, “Someone blocked themselves with a trashcan, and it transformed both of them.”

“So it can affect both people and inanimate objects…” Hebi sighed with annoyance. “It looks like the range might have no limit either as I saw her nail someone from.nearly a block away. If only Chat Noir could help… I’m not too sure if we’re enough.” 

“Hmm…” Ladybug thought. It might be a good time to bring in another Miraculous; in fact, chances were she might have to keep doing this until Chat Noir was fully ready to go. The question that rose from that plan was what Miraculous and what person?

She almost felt like an idiot when she thought about who would be best for the Miraculous. Kanji was practically waiting in the wings! Now, which one to give him…?

Kanji had been passing the time on his phone when Ladybug dropped back into the alley in front of him. She had a determined look on her face, but her hands were sweetly held behind her back.

“Oh, heya,” Kanji greeted. “You take care of the akuma?”

“Not yet,” Ladybug replied. “Want to help me speed up the process?”

Reaching behind her back, she brought out an ornate box in front of Kanji.

“Kanji Tatsumi, this is the Ox Miraculous,” Ladybug said, the box held as if offered to him, “it grants you the power of Strength. Should you choose to use the Miraculous, you will return it to me after the Akuma has been defeated. Do you accept?”

“Hell yeah!” There was no hesitation in his answer before taking the box. 

A little blue sprite flew out of the box once opened, Kanji noticed the large horns and tail as the kwami seemed to be almost judging him. Whatever the kwami saw seemed to please him.

“I like this one, he has a strong resolve! The name’s Stompp!” The kwami picked up his Miraculous. “Put this on and my powers are yours to use. Just say Charge Ahead to transform and Hold Back to detransform. You also call Fortify to activate your powers, but be warned - you’ll only have five minutes before you de-transform!”

Kanji took the Miraculous to connect it to his nose. Having a nose piercing already made it a little awkward, but he made it work. 

“Alright Stompp, let’s do this! Charge Ahead!”

A dark blue light washed over Kanji, turning his shirt into a tight suit that showed his abs and muscles rather well. The jacket he wore turned into a fluffy-ended navy-blue cape that covered his back (it was easily removable, as if not to upset Edna Mode), and on the outer side of it were the words GET BENT in English. A skeletal horned mask formed on his face, and heavy gauntlets formed around his hands and arms.

“Not bad there,” Ladybug whistled, “What’re you gonna call yourself?”

“Uh…” the newly transformed Kanji stammered, “maybe… Bullfighter?”

“Matador sounds too off for an Ox, anyways,” Ladybug quipped. “Let's put an end to this play…”

By the time the two found Hebi and Wyvern, the two had been forced to take shelter as the beams were focused on them. Ladybug quickly introduced everyone before getting the lowdown on what had happened while she was gone. Hebi quickly apologized as her Miraculous began to beep - she had needed to reset a few times - before heading off to recharge.

 “So what’s the plan now?” Wyvern asked right before his hiding spot got turned into a cart of tennis balls. “Dammit, not again,” he said as he leapt out of the way of another scepter blast.

“I’m guessing this is where I come in?” Bullfighter asked. “I can avoid changing if hit by the beam if I say the magic words, right?”

“Yup!” Ladybug answered. “But wait on my cue to do so. If we charge her blindly, we’ll lose!”

“Got it.”

“You errant, ill-nurtured miscreants!” the voice of Playfright was heard as she floated through the streets. “Thou cannot expect to run forever! Thy Miraculouses shall be mine!”

The team exchanged looks at each other and nodded. Wyvern left his new hiding spot as Ladybug left her own, Wyvern dodging Playfright as Ladybug leaped to the building on the other side of the street and distracted her fire. Meanwhile, Hebi returned and stayed in a hidden spot outside of Playfright’s vision, ready to call Second Chance if need be.

So torn was the akuma over which Miraculous wielder she should attack that she didn’t notice Bullfighter land behind her.

“Fortify!” he called out, garnering Playfright’s attention. Sneering, she whipped around and shot a blast at the Ox wielder…

…only for it to be easily deflected with a swipe of his arm. 

“What?!” the akuma gawked. Returning her former sneer with one of his own, Bullfighter charged towards Playfright and punched her in the gut; as the akuma recoiled, Bullfighter took the advantage to deck her in the face. The beautiful punch sent her careening back, losing the crown and scepter in the process. Ladybug & Wyvern took the opportunity to break both items.

As Wyvern predicted, an akumatized moth flew out of the crown. Ladybug snatched it up with her yo-yo. and after calling a Lucky Charm - a feathered quill - set the city back to normal. Even though Bullfighter had seen this before, it still amazed him to see all damage get reversed by magical… ladybugs? 

Hanging back, Bullfighter watched as Ladybug, Hebi and Wyvern comforted the victim - a theater teacher at a different collège named Sasha Allard. Even if he knew what to say, there was no way the lady would understand him, so he felt it was best to just let the others offer comfort. 

A microphone was suddenly shoved into his face, causing Bullfighter to curse as he jumped back. It didn’t help he had no idea what any of the reporters were even saying! He still didn’t feel too comfortable with reporters even after he had been taken. Thankfully his Miraculous beeped, causing Ladybug to save him from those who he was internally calling bloodthirsty demons. 

“Sorry, but we don’t have the time for an interview,” Ladybug said sternly, her own Miraculous beeping. With that, she and Bullfighter made their way back to the alley they’d started this whole thing at, both heroes’ transformations running out just in time as they landed in said alley.

“You did good, kid,” Kanji lauded as he ruffled Marinette’s hair with a grin. 

We did good, Kanji,” Marinette pointed out, though she had a big smile nonetheless. A part of her warmed at the praise; was this what it was like to have an older sibling praising you? “Can I call on Bullfighter again?”

“Of course! I’ve got your back, kiddo!”

“Thanks,” Marinette picked up their bags, which had thankfully not been taken since they left. “Come on, I need to feed Stompp, wash the nose ring and get you back home. I’m pretty sure it’s late in Japan, and you have school in the morning.”

“So do you,” Kanji nudged the younger with a playful smirk as he removed the nose-ring. “Ya know, I never really had a kouhai. Sure, we don’t attend the same school, but you’re like the little sister I never had!”

“Well…” Marinette said as she took the nose-ring carefully, “you might as well have one now.”

You have gained an older brother figure in Kanji…

Completion Rank 3!

The two made their way back to the bakery where Marinette reintroduced Kanji as her newly adopted older brother to her parents, letting her parents know to ease up a little as Kanji wasn’t used to anything positive from an adult besides his own mother. Kanji was a bit surprised, yet grateful for this as the adults seemed to understand he needed a little space. He couldn’t help but smile when Tom - thanks to Marinette translating - offered for him to come back to the bakery and help out with any baking if he wanted. How Tom knew that Kanji liked cooking and baking, the teen would never know. 

Before he had to leave, Kanji was allowed to take a few of any of their pastries home. He chose a few that he thought his mother would like as well as some flavors that he liked. The two made their way back up the stairs. On the way, Adrien gave a quick congrats to Kanji on the good job that Bullfighter did, as well as well-wishings for a safe trip home. 

Kanji offered to introduce Marinette to his mother but the younger shook her head; it would be late for him, and with how Kanji talked about his mother, she was most likely in bed or getting ready for bed. Marinette’s introduction could wait for another time.

Stepping through the portal, Kanji called, “See ya, Marinette!” 

“Toodles… bro,” Marinette smiled as the Voyage closed.

“Aw, that was so sweet. I think I’m gonna barf.” That level of sarcasm could only belong to Plagg. 


Aaaand there was Tikki, shutting up her other half. “Don’t ruin the moment!” the Creation kwami admonished. “Sorry about that, Marinette…”

“No problem, Tikki.” With that, the teen went to clean off the Ox Miraculous. As she began sanitizing the nose-ring, she overheard two kwamis in the midst of conversation.

“I won’t deny that I would have liked to work with my previous holder again,” Kaalki admitted, “but I sense greatness coming from the new one. Such zeal and spunk! I picked up that she likes a fighting style heavily involving kicks. How fitting it was for Madame Guardian to choose her for my Miraculous!”

“But ya miss him, don’t ya?” Xuppu asked. “I like Headphones, no denying that, but I do miss the Oaf. He was so much fun! The mayhem we caused, however brief… oh, man! We just clicked together!”

Having finished cleaning the Ox Miraculous and returning it back to the Miracle Box, Marinette decided to check in on the two. It didn’t hurt that some of the kwami had previously informed her that Xuppu had seemed to be feeling down lately. 

“You do know why you can’t work with Kim anymore, right?” Marinette asked. There was no bite or harshness in her statement. 

Xuppu groaned. “I do, and I respect it! It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt, though…” 

Marinette felt her heart go out for the Monkey kwami.

“Technically speaking, I can’t work with Mullo,” she said softly. “I’d have to figure out a way to change my appearance if I wanted to safely do it. I get why it hurts.”

Xuppu only stayed silent. Marinette put herself deep in thought, trying to think of a way to placate Xuppu before he attracted an akuma. She didn’t know if kwamis could be akumatized, but she was not eager to find out.

Then a potential solution hit her.

“How about this?” she threw out, “Once the threat of Hawkmoth and Mayura is gone, I’ll let you have some time with Kim.”

Xuppu looked up at her, eyes wide.

“You’d do that?” he whispered, voice breaking slightly as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “You’re not just saying that? Do you actually mean that?”

“Of course, Xuppu. Why would I lie about this?” She picked up the kwami to nuzzle the little Monkey. “I give you my word that you and Kim can spend time together once it’s safe. I can’t promise he’ll be your wielder for good, though…”

“It’s okay, Miss Guardian!” he smiled at her. “I am grateful that you would even give me that much.”

Smiling, the teen turned to Kaalki to pick her up as well. 

“Do you want me to take you to Max as well once it’s safe? It will at least allow you to say goodbye properly if he can’t be your wielder again.”

“Hm…” Kaalki paused to think, giving the question a lot of thought. “Even though I feel better with the new Madame, I ought to at least say goodbye to the previous one.”

Marinette nodded her head and stated, “Then once it’s safe, I will take you two to your previous holders even if it's just to say goodbye. Come on, I’ll get you two some macarons.” 

“Thank you very much, Guardian,” the two kwamis smiled at her.

You’ve helped Xuppu and Kaalki address their thoughts on their previous wielders…

Magus Rank 3!

By now, night had fallen upon Paris, and Marinette’s parents had closed up for the day. Luka and Kagami had slipped inside to hang out for a little while, especially since Adrien was finally awake. The teens mainly hung out in Marinette’s room, the three Persona users explaining their experiences in the TV world to Luka. Luka would in turn talk about Kitty Section or any trouble his mother was causing the police.

Marinette informed her partners how she was planning to bring in the IT for any future Miraculous since Hawkmoth had no clue who the Investigation Team even was or where they were from. Since Kagami and Adrien had met the team - although only briefly, in Adrien’s case - the two vouched for the older teens as well.

Luka had no problems with this plan but asked if he could properly meet them so that he could hear their heart-songs; Marinette acquiesced, deeming his plan a good one.

Adrien suggested the teens play some video games, avoiding naming the all too famous fighting game that Marinette would destroy them all on, especially since it seemed that Kagami didn’t really play video games.

Thankfully, Luka and Kagami had brought their Nintendo Switches, whereas Adrien agreed to share Marinette’s. Marinette suggested they play a special form of Pokemon battling she’d seen on YouTube called Roulette Free-For-Alls.

Soon after, Kagami was groaning in defeat as Adrien’s Goodra took out her Aegislash with a lucky Fire Blast, leaving the blond the last Trainer standing. It honestly surprised Adrien, given he had even beat Marinette, the proverbial queen of video games.

Then again, him and the other two had ganged up on her from the start, so perhaps not… 

“Only you would call a Heatmor ‘Antheater,’ Adrien,” Marinette grumbled good-naturedly. The blond merely stuck out his tongue.

“You simply don’t understand a good pun, my lady,” he grinned, said grin taking on more of his Chat side than the fake one Adrien tended to wear. “Wanna go another round?” 

“No can do,” Marinette sighed, “it’s a school night.” Surprisingly, it was already rather late.

“You’ve played long enough, and you all need to rest.” Plagg nudged his Chosen, which was a bit surprising to all but Tikki and Marinette 

“Aw, but I’m resting a lot during the day…” Despite this sounding like a whine, Adrien still was grinning, clearly happy to have someone caring for his emotional needs.

“Don’t care, you’re still recovering.” The kwami proceeded to try and drag Adrien from the room causing the others to laugh at the rather endearing scene.

“At least let him say good night first, Plagg,” Tikki playfully scolded her other half.

Plagg frowned, ears flattening, but he ultimately relented, if he just forced Adrien to go to bed without saying goodbye then he wouldn’t be acting much better than Gabriel. He seemed to give a little humph but stayed silent as he moved away to give the teens their space to say good night. 

Tikki giggled at her grumpy partner. “They’re going to be all right, aren’t they?” she whispered to Plagg as he floated to her side to watch them.

“They sssure do,” Sass commented, having been watching with Longg.

“I have a feeling we will be seeing each other a lot more than we have in quite some time, won’t we?” the Dragon kwami spoke up.

“I gotta agree as well,” Plagg nodded.

“If the Guardian is as worthy if I’ve seen her be…” Tikki smiled as everyone made their way to where they needed to go, “...we’re in good hands.”

Chapter Text

Monday was as unpleasant as Mondays tended to be. Time was dragging itself by with the weekend being a reminder of freedom; thankfully there was no homework, but that didn’t stop a few pop quizzes from showing up… most coming from Mme. Mendeleiev. By lunchtime, Marinette had been practically draped over her desk in exhaustion, practically imitating a corpse; here was hoping the afternoon proved better than the morning. 

A knock near her head had the teen looking up to see Nino looking a little… hopeful? No, her brain answered, not hopeful, per se, but perhaps something similar.

“Hey, dudette. You okay?”

“Yeah, just a case of the Mondays kicking me to the curb and back again.” Marinette rested her head on her arms, muffling her words. “Seriously, why were there so many pop quizzes today? Was there some teacher conspiracy today? Did someone anger a teacher enough that now they’re all taking it out on all of us?”

Nino chuckled as he patted Marinette’s head, offering a little bit of sympathy from the empathy; he felt a bit ragged himself. 

“I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy, but it definitely feels like it.” Nino stood up from the chair he had occupied. “Come on, let’s get lunch. If it’s okay, I kind of wanted to talk to you about my gig as well. If you don’t want to talk about that, it’s cool, but can we still hang out? It feels like we haven’t really hung out in a while. I’ll treat you!”

Marinette hummed. She remembered this gig was a pretty big deal to Nino but she was grateful that he was at least asking if they could discuss it and hey, if she wasn’t interested then they would simply hang out.

“Sure, why not - let’s go get some food,” Marinette quickly gathered her items, not wanting to leave things to chance. After her near-expulsion, she was far too wary to leave her stuff behind. “Lead the way!”

The two made their way to get some food. Marinette noticing they were avoiding the lunch room yet said nothing, figuring Nino was doing his best to keep her from Lila. Why? She didn’t know and didn’t really want to ask, but she was still grateful nonetheless. 

“So what did you want to talk about?” Marinette asked once they had gotten their food. It took her a moment before realizing that they were in the same spot where she had taken Luka and Kagami. “You mentioned wanting to talk about your gig, is there a problem? If I am able to help I can do my best to help, or if all I can do is just listen then I will listen.”

“Well, there’s not really a problem,” Nino began to elucidate, “I’m still in the planning stages, but… I wanted to see if I could hire you? Like, to make an outfit and maybe help me make my set.” Nino was silent and looked a little guilty. “Of course, I know that you’re crazy busy, so you can say no, and if you do, can you recommend someone? If you are able to, though, I will definitely pay for your time, I don’t want you to help with all of this for free. Again, maybe suggest someone or help with a sketch? I’d even pay for a simple sketch - I don’t really have a lot of artistic talent to draw my visuals to life.” 

The two were silent as Marinette considered her answer; Nino realized he probably shouldn’t have started with asking for help. 

“Nino, I’m sorry, but I don’t have the time to design or actually make costumes for you.” Marinette eventually said. Before Nino could look too crestfallen, Marinette continued. “However, if you’d like to video call me every so often once the summer hits, I’d love to give you advice where and when I can.”

That seemed to be enough for Nino who looked relieved and grateful, offering a smile that didn’t even show a little bit of bitterness. Nor did he even try to guilt Marinette into this.

“That’s more than enough help, I’m sorry for imposing like this but I’m happy for any help. Of course, I still want to compensate you for all your help - that’s a promise. Also, can I ask for your advice on what to wear to ‘work’? You’re a designer, and a fantastic one at that, so you definitely know what looks good. I’ll buy the clothing from the store and maybe you can tell me… you know… yeah or nah?”

Marinette chortled at that and nodded her head. “Yeah, I can do that. I’ll make sure you’re not a walking fashion disaster.”

“Thanks again, dudette! You’re the best!” Nino wrapped his arm around Marinette’s shoulders in a one-armed hug. “Now, let’s move on to other stuff! Tell me - what’s been happening with you? You seem a lot happier now, like when we were kids!”

Marinette decided there was little harm in sort-of-telling Nino about the Investigation Team. “Well, through what was honestly happenstance,” she said, “I made some friends on the Internet that gave me some good advice about how to manage everything that’s been keeping me busy - they’ve been helping me out so much! I feel more relaxed, more confident… more alive thanks to them…”

Nino couldn’t help but grin at the happy, free smile on Marinette’s face. “Well? Tell me!”

You have Nino’s support, and he has yours…

Innocence Rank 2!

“Well, there’s Kanji - he’s a craftsman like me, although he mostly does stuff like plushcraft and whatnot…”

By the time it was time to return back to school, Marinette had told Nino all about her ‘internet friends’ as well as how she was learning Japanese with Kagami and hanging out with Luka. She didn’t yet tell Nino about her being in a relationship yet - not only was Adrien still in hiding, but the four of them had also decided that they would reveal their relationship later on when it was time. They just didn’t know when that time was yet. Luka had cryptically said they would know when it would be time, which had prompted Adrien to tease how being cryptic was more of the kwamis’ thing. 

The two made it back before their classmates had returned from lunch, which surprised Marinette a bit. After a mental shrug, she pulled out a sketchbook that she used for random notes and drawing until classes were to begin again. She quickly jotted down little notes on what she speculated Kanji’s measurements to be with notes to change later as well as what she had seen so far to be his clothing style. Perhaps she could update her notes on a trip to Inaba?

Hearing the teacher come into the room, Marinette put her sketchbook away and sent another mental prayer for an easier afternoon. She didn’t fault the teachers for putting more work on them - finals were coming up soon.

One school was over, Marinette felt like a zombie, dragging her feet as she was leaving the classroom. Not long after she’d exited the school, Luka rolled up on his bike. The blue-haired teen shot her a casual peace-sign wave.

“Hey, m’fhonn,” he greeted, “You look like you need a break.”

When Marinette nodded tiredly, he held up a spare helmet and asked, “Want to go for a ride?”

She seemed a bit skeptical, but she still put on the helmet; perhaps she needed this ride. Hoping on the back, Marinette wrapped her arms around Luka’s waist and told herself to just enjoy the ride. 

 The two seemed to ride around Paris, taking what many would consider to be the scenic route, and Marinette had to admit that she was starting to relax. Was it watching the scenery going by? Seeing people go about their day? Or the simple rumbling of the bike beneath her feet? Whatever it was, Marinette found herself relaxing and enjoying the moment while it was here. 

As Luka pulled in front of the bakery, he half-bowed from his position atop the bike while Marinette hopped off.

“Thank you, Luka,” Marinette grinned at him, “I really needed this.” 

“Anytime, m’fhonn,” Luka gave her one of his trademark peaceful smiles before zooming off, most likely to return to work. The thought of his boss, from what Marinette knew of the jackass, had her frown, but she ultimately decided to shrug it off.

Luka has your back as always…

Rebel Rank 3!

“You look better, Marinette,” Tikki stated once Marinette was upstairs in the safety of the apartment. “Looks like Luka once again knows how to help you destress!”

“He’s perfect for me, isn’t he?” Marinette closed her eyes happily and breathed out a sigh.

“Blegh! I come out here to sneak some cheese and I run into mushy feelings!” Plagg grumbled, holding a piece of some aged cheese, having most likely already eaten through his camembert stash. “You’re ruining the cheese with all the sweetness! It was bad enough to see Kagami and Adrien getting all romantic a little bit ago, but now I see you fawning over Sass’ boy! Just stop with all the lovey-dovey crap and give a cat a break!”

Marinette rolled her eyes and merely patted the Black Cat kwami as she passed by, checking in on Adrien who was indeed with Kagami. It looked like the two were discussing fencing, as they had a few books open while watching a video, pausing to criticize or praise techniques. Leaving the two be, she slipped away to head up to her room, mainly to focus on homework and studying for the finals.

She had managed to get some work in on her Literature assignment when she got a string of texts from Kim, asking if he could come over to study and do homework. Reading the messages, Marinette had the feeling that he was starting to panic with Finals coming up. Figuring she’d get two birds with one stone, she agreed to Kim coming over. As a precaution, she sent a quick text to both Kagami and Adrien about what was going on.

It seemed that the prediction of Kim panicking was not entirely accurate. While the taller teen had come running into the room similar to the first time, hair looking just about as disheveled if not more so, he looked a bit more confident… almost excited. 

“Marinette!” he greeted. “I looked at my grades, and I’m super close to succeeding! If I can pass my finals, I can stay on the team!”

“Really?” Marinette beamed. “I knew it was possible!” 

“I just need to pass! I am in need of your wisdom in studying techniques!” Kim seemed to bow in exaggeration, more for putting on a show. “Please, oh, mighty savior, help me pass my finals. All I need is a C+ at the bare minimum, but I want to try for a B!”

Laughing, Marinette gestured to her spare desk chair. 

“Pull up a chair, young athlete, and let’s see if we can get you that B.”

As the two studied, Marinette made sure to praise Kim for his successes and work with him on his mistakes and struggles. She noticed how Kim seemed stronger in areas he hadn’t been before and praised him on that too, to which Kim mentioned he was starting to find ways to study that fit him better.

When it grew rather late, Kim prepared to leave, thanking Marinette profoundly for her help.

“You should keep working at this stuff, Kim!” Marinette lauded, “You’re a fantastic student!”

Kim - who had been about to make his way downstairs - froze. “You really think so?” he said quietly. 

“Of course, Kim!” Marinette replied cheerfully. “You’re a natural at picking stuff up when you really work at it. It’s a wonder you haven’t been making better grades from the start!”

That seemed to hit a nerve in Kim; his eyes began to water slightly and he found himself trying not to cry. No one had ever praised his intelligence before, not even Mme. Bustier - and she was one of the nicest teachers he’d ever known!

“Th-thanks Marinette,” Kim said, voice seemed a bit choked up as he tried to talk; furiously, he rubbed at his eyes to try and wipe away the tears. “Y-your words really mean a lot to me.”

“Oh, Kim…” Marinette smiled softly. “Has nobody ever praised you for that before?”

“You know me, Mari,” Kim sighed, having managed to collect himself, “I’ve never been all that smart or focused on my grades until now. It was only a matter of time, I guess…”

“And look how far you’ve come!” she praised. “Kim, can you promise me something before you go?”

“What is it?” Kim inquired, genuinely curious. 

“Never - never - say you’re not smart again. From what I’ve seen while studying with you, you’ve proven anyone who says so wrong, and you’re only bound to grow smarter!”

That seemed to break Kim all over again. The next thing Marinette knew, she was wrapped in a bear hug by a sobbing Kim.

Marinette flinched for a second, before sighing, smiling and leaning into the hug, patting Kim’s back. At least these are positive emotions, she thought relievedly, he shouldn’t be akumatized…  

Eventually, Kim managed to get himself together. With one last quicker and less teary hug, the athletic teen exited Marinette’s home. 

You’ve helped Kim see a side of himself he’s never seen before…

Force Rank 3!

Watching her friend leave, Marinette allowed herself a moment to be angry for Kim with how teachers failed him as he grew up by never once affirming Kim’s intelligence, even if it was in a different way. She took a breath to fully calm herself after that emotional moment. Perhaps she should also try to help Kim’s self-esteem during a study session at some point.

Smiling herself, Marinette had sweet dreams that night.

Chapter Text

As she left for school, Marinette saw a blue butterfly around the entrance of the bakery. A part of her marveled at the beautiful color even despite the part of her that worried about it being an akuma butterfly. Strangely enough, she noticed that no one else saw the butterfly; it was only visible to her. Tikki could see it but she didn’t feel Nooroo’s power, so it might be safe.

Throughout the day, Marinette watched as the butterfly seemed to follow her around, settling on a window whenever Marinette was in class. It seemed to sense that she couldn’t acknowledge its existence and was content to just follow along with her day. 

It was only around lunchtime the butterfly became insistent to get Marinette’s attention to follow it; fluttering in front of her face and even bumping into her shoulders to get her to move. It would fly off only to return to Marinette when she didn’t follow right away.

“I think you have to follow it?” Tikki suggested from Marinette’s purse, keeping her voice low enough for only Marinette to hear. “It might have to do with our other adventures.”

A bit suspicious of this but determined to figure out what was going on, Marinette followed the butterfly out of her school to an alley that was beside the bakery’s doors. In that alley stood an all too familiar blue door under the circling butterfly.

“The Velvet Room…?” 

Marinette then recalled Yu’s request, Quickly she pulled out her phone to shoot the older teen a text, adding a photo of the door and hoping Yu could see it in the photo. She didn’t know if the door to the Velvet Room was visible in photos, but it was worth a shot. 

The response came a few minutes later with Yu stating he’d be there soon

This confused Marinette. Shouldn’t she get Kaalki to create a portal first?

Marinette’s eyes then widened when she saw Yu walking out of the bakery door. 

“Wait… what… how?!” It was then she realized what had happened. “You used the TV!” she hissed out, keeping her voice down so as to not draw attention to the two.

Instead of answering, the grey-haired teen gave a cheeky little bow with a smile that could only be described as playful. 

“I didn’t think we could use the TV for travel,” Marinette muttered. “I could have gotten Kaalki.”

“I was already at Junes with Yosuke,” Yu stated with a shrug. “He said he’d cover for me. Don’t worry, time stops when you’re in the Velvet Room. Come on, let’s see what Igor and Margaret want. They’re probably getting tired of waiting if what you told me about the butterfly is true.” 

Before the two entered the door, Yu murmured to Marinette. “I do have to say it is weird that they summoned you, with me they just wait until whenever I come into the Velvet Room.”

“Well, I’m far less experienced than you when it comes to this… Wild Card stuff,” Marinette pointed out. “And I have been a bit too busy for my liking, so maybe they need to see me?”

“Perhaps, let’s see what is going on. Get ready for an out-of-body experience.” Yu opened the door, and the two suddenly found themselves sitting in the Velvet Room.

“Well now, our two Wild Cards showed up together. A pleasant surprise for sure.” Igor turned to Yu, linking his hands under his chin. “Are you here as support or would you like to work on your own Fusions as well?”

“Support for now,” Yu responded. “I asked Marinette to allow me to come with her when she goes to the Velvet Room for the time being.” 

“A clever plan, Yu,” Margaret nodded approvingly.

“In the Velvet Room, you can fuse two or more Personas together to create a new one,” Yu explained. “The specifics are better explained by Igor here - he actually does the fusing.”

“Although we do request that you not fuse your Initial Persona, Marinette…” Margaret advised. “For the sake of your Miraculous, I would recommend not fusing Tikki.”

“Yeah…” Marinette agreed. Fusing Tikki into something new… it felt wrong… even if she made Tikki into something that might be better for battle, it wouldn’t be Tikki anymore. She wouldn’t dare do that to her kwami, her best friend. Plus, it might change her appearance when transformed or - kwami forbid - damage the earrings. 

“Would you care to fuse some of your other Personas now?” Igor swept his hand across the table in front of him, showing all of Yu and Marinette’s other Personas. Marinette had just Daitengu out there, whereas Yu had Izanagi, Virtue, Ōmukade and a few others. 

“While you can fuse any of Personas, there is also a limit you need to be aware of,” Margaret warned. “Depending on your experience, your power may not be strong enough to hold Personas of a certain strength. As you grow in battle, however, you will be able to use them. There is a positive outcome at the same time, depending on your Social Links with people, you can gain more power for Personas when you fuse them.”

“I see,” said Marinette simply, doing her best to absorb this information. She turned to Yu, who was simply observing her reaction to all of this info, most likely in case she needed his help. “Should I get a notebook or something? I feel like I’m going to forget a lot of this…” she admitted.

“Bad idea. What if somebody sees them?” Yu pointed out. Marinette cringed at the thought.

“Good point,” she conceded.

“Now, since you only have one fusible Persona, you can… ‘borrow’ one of mine,” Yu said. “I would suggest against Izanagi, though, as he’s my Initial Persona.”

“Wait,” Marinette wondered, “can you do that?”

Igor and Margaret nodded.

“All right then,” Marinette nodded back. “Hmm…” 

Marinette mused over the other Personas for a small while before eventually settling on Ōmukade. “How about this one?” 

Yu merely nodded. The creepy grin never leaving his face, Igor ran his hand over Daitengu and Ōmukade. There was a bright flash before a new card came spinning down to rest on the table. It showed a hyena-like creature with an attractive man’s face on its head and a hyena’s face where his butt cheeks would be. 

“Here you are - Kishi has joined you,” Margaret stated as she closed her tome. “The information of your new Persona has been entered in my Compendium.” 

Marinette reached out to take the new card, observing the creature on the front. 

“Me am Kishi,” a growly, monstrous voice rumbled in her mind, “We partners now!” Just as quickly as it had come, the voice went silent as the card disappeared from her hand, glowing and fading away. The other cards seemed to disappear into light as well.

“Do you wish to fuse any other Personas?” Margaret inquired.

“Not at this moment,” Marinette shook her head. “I still need to take some time to wrap my head around this fusion aspect of being a Wild Card.” She then let out a small squeak as she felt her hair being ruffled. 

“Don’t worry, it’ll get easier the more you visit the Velvet Room. Just try to visit before or after a Dungeon and you should be good.” 

“If you have any other questions, feel free to visit us anytime,” Igor said.

With that, the two found themselves outside the Velvet Room again. 

“You two are back?” Tikki asked from inside the purse. “You were just standing and staring into the alley for a few moments.” While that didn’t surprise Yu, it came as one to Marinette. 

“Only a few moments? It felt longer than that…” Marinette whistled. “Time really doesn’t pass in there!” 

“It just looks like we’re doing nothing to anyone outside,” Yu explained to Marinette. “It should be okay.”

“I see…” Marinette checked her phone and saw it was still early for the lunch hour. “You mentioned Yosuke covering for you, so you probably can’t stay. Want to take something back with you?” She gestured over to the bakery. “You can bring enough for Yosuke and the others if you want.”

“Hmm… just enough for three should be fine, if you’re willing,” Yu said, a hint of a clever idea in his smile. “Do you have any doughnuts?” 

There was something in his tone that made Marinette think she was missing an inside joke. Thinking he wanted to surprise his boyfriend, Marinette smirked. “I wasn’t aware Yosuke liked doughnuts,” she teased.

“They’re not for him,” Yu said, blushing slightly. It seemed that his cool demeanor dropped every so often, especially among loved ones.

“Then who are they for?” Marinette asked innocently, tilting her head to the side slightly.

“My cousin Nanako,” Yu explained, “She’s six. I’m staying with her and my uncle in Inaba for about nine to ten more months.”

“Aww,” Marinette smiled, “did you two know each other well beforehand?”

“Not until recent,” Yu sighed, “but we bonded fast. She calls me big bro.”


“Her smile is something I will protect with my life,” Yu smiled, though it was rather serious. “If you ever meet her, play nice, okay?”

Marinette gulped. “Sure!” Looking at the time again, she jumped. “You should go!”

Yu is looking out for you…

Completion Rank 4!

Marinette sat on the steps as she waited for Kagami to come out of the school. After Yu left through the TV, she had gotten a text from her girlfriend asking if they could hang out with Adrien. Her mother seemed interested in visiting the bakery, and Kagami saw the perfect opportunity to hang out with two of her partners. 

Happily agreeing to the text, Marinette spent the rest of her lunch period to study up and practice Japanese. She remembered Adrien had suggested using anime, as that was how he had learned. Marinette sent an invite to Luka, but sadly he had been called into work.

A shadow fell over Marinette causing her to look up from her notes. When she saw it was her girlfriend, she grinned. She happily surprised her girlfriend by starting up a conversation as she put away the notebook. The two took a moment to practice as they spoke about their day.

Kagami let Marinette know that she would be heading home briefly so that she could bring her mother over. It may have seemed like a waste of a trip, but it would also allow her to spend some extra time with her mother. 

“No problem, I understand.” Marinette waved away any uncertainty Kagami might be having. “I’ll see you in a bit, then.” Marinette pressed a quick kiss to Kagami’s cheek before the two parted ways for the time being.

With that, Marinette made her way home. When she did, she let her parents know Tomoe was coming with Kagami, and that she was in on the plan with Adrien. Thankfully, it was a bit slow which would allow the two to close a little early so the parents could talk amongst themselves. As Marinette made her way upstairs, she heard her parents talk about possible ideas to discuss with Tomoe.

Marinette found Adrien watching some anime in the guest room; she tried to figure out what was going on in the plot but struggled. When she asked about it, Adrien told her that it was an older anime and began to go in detail on what was happening so far. 

It was half an hour later when Kagami finally showed up; by that time, Marinette was showing Adrien some of what he had missed in class. When they were asked why, the two replied that they didn’t know how long Adrien was going to be in hiding; when/if he was able to return, he didn’t want to be too far behind everyone else. 

With Kagami’s entrance, the two put the textbooks and notes up. They didn’t want to focus on schoolwork when Kagami came over to hangout. Surprisingly, Kagami asked if Marinette could teach her to cook. Caught off guard, Marinette could only stare when Adrien chimed in on wanting to learn as well. 

“Are you sure?” Marinette inquired. “I would think that cooking would be boring for you guys.” The two shook their heads and now seemed insistent to learn. “Well, if you’re sure.”  Her partners were unpredictable as usual, it seemed.

“Although you’ll have to stay in the back, Adrien,” Marinette informed the blond. “And you guys,” she said to the kwami, “will also have to hide. We have a guest coming over in a bit and while you may not be seen, you will definitely be heard.” 

Adrien agreed to the condition as the kwami seemed to pout yet didn’t protest.

The three made their way to the kitchen with Marinette and Kagami offering support when Adrien needed it. 

“Any preferences?”

“Something challenging!” Kagami’s sudden answer had Adrien and Marinette giving her bewildered looks. “What? I’ve heard the more challenging a dish, the easier it is to make.”

“That… isn’t always the case…” Marinette hesitantly warned. “Sometimes challenging dishes are just that: challenging. Let’s start simple for now: how about what we make will be for dinner tonight? I’m sure your mother will appreciate that, Kagami.”

Kagami acquiesced, though it was not without a light pout. Marinette patted her hand and promised to show a more challenging dish later on once the two - or just Kagami, if Adrien didn’t want to - were more experienced in cooking.

“I think ratatouille sounds simple enough,” Marinette stated as she began to pull out the needed ingredients. “Adrien, you want to start chopping these? I can show you the size we’ll need.” She set the ingredients down and showed the blond the size she needed before turning to Kagami. “Let’s start the oven now.”

That got Kagami’s attention; she had always thought that ratatouille was made on the stove.

“Well, we start it on the stove and finish it in the oven. Here, we’ll need some garlic minced. I’ll show you that, Kagami, and since we’re cooking for more people, let’s double the recipe.” After showing Kagami the size and how many cloves they would need, Marinette chopped up some parsley. She was glad that her family grew many of their own herbs in various planters around the house.

Marinette kept an eye on her partners and was pleased that the two were able to copy the size of vegetables they would need with relative ease. After Kagami was done, Marinette had her girlfriend brown the garlic in a skillet as she greased a casserole dish. Once the garlic was ready, she had Kagami add in the eggplant and parsley to soften the eggplant. 

Marinette brought out the salt and added a little to the skillet, stating that they could add more if that was to the other two’s preference. She had Kagami use her phone to keep an eye on the clock, stating the eggplant would need to cook for ten minutes. 

Once the eggplant was ready, Marinete had Kagami add the mixture to the casserole dish, before bringing it over to where Adrien waited. She stepped back to allow the two to do the next step without her, instructing the two with how she usually did the layer order and to add the parmesan cheese and a little salt over each layer.

As the dish was now ready for the oven, Kagami put the ratatouille into the heated oven. 

“Now we let that cook for forty-five minutes and we are good to go!” 

You feel yourself getting closer to Adrien… 

You are enjoying yourself with Kagami…

Nurture Rank 4!

As Marinette and her partners began cleaning up the used dishes to pass said forty-five minutes, Tom, Sabine and Tomoe were making conversation.

“Yes, I’m afraid I wasn’t the best of parents, partially due to Gabriel’s influence,” Tomoe admitted shamefully.

Sabine reached over to pat Tomoe’s hand, offering comfort to the other mother. 

“Well, we’re bound to make mistakes as parents,” she smiled, “It’s practically inevitable, sadly.”

“But good parents recognize this and work to fix the mistakes they make,” Tom added on, “You’re making your way there, which is a lot more than can be said for Gabriel.”

That got a smirk out of both Sabine and Tomoe. 

“I am pretty sure any growth as a parent far surpasses that of what Gabriel has done,” Tomoe laughed, “Not to seem boastful, but I do think I was a better parent than he had been since the passing of his wife.”

The mention of Emilie Agreste had Tom and Sabine linking hands in unease. The thought of losing each other was not something they desired to think about anytime soon; looking at each other, they silently swore to each other that they would not let the others’ death let them negatively affect Marinette.

Tomoe seemed to sense the shift in the atmosphere and apologized for causing the increased tension in the room. Tom waved away the apology, saying that Tomoe had nothing to apologize for. 

Still unsure and feeling a bit guilty, the elder Tsurugi shifted to a different topic.

“Not to sound impatient,” she smiled innocently, “but how long do you think it will be after those four’s graduations that they propose, and who do you think it’ll be that proposes?”

“Either quickly or a good few years…” Tom began, catching Tomoe off guard with his readiness of answer.

“...and it will probably be one of the girls,” Sabine finished.

“How funny,” Tomoe smirked, having recovered from her shock, “I was thinking the same thing.”

It seemed that all three teens sneezed at the same time, drawing the attention of their kwami.

“Shit, a sneeze! Adrien are you coming down with a cold? ” Plagg began to fret over his chosen, poking Adrien’s forehead and checking the teen’s eyes, looking for any sign of a fever. “I don’t feel anything and you look fine…”

“Relax, Plagg; it’s the spring season, and I’m still recovering. It’s probably allergies or something.” Adrien patted his kwami on the head to comfort him. “And besides, we all sneezed at the same time.”

“Plagg, Adrien will be fine.” Tikki nudged her other half. “I understand your worrying from when Adrien went missing, but you need to calm down or you’ll overstress yourself. You could accidentally cause your powers to activate or cause your Miraculous to overwork itself the next time Adrien uses it.”

“Is that why my ring’s been feeling rather warm on my skin?” Adrien wondered.

That caused Plagg’s eyes to widen at Adrien’s innocent question. He hadn’t meant to cause his Miraculous to react. 

“Possibly,” Tikki stated as she began to inspect the ring.

“Miraculous can actually do that?” Kagami asked as she watched with Marinette, the two both curious with this new information. Both absentmindedly touched their own Miraculouses nervously.

“It’s not unlike needing to recharge the Miraculous,” Tikki explained, “Think of it like the kwami wearing themselves out instead of the wielder.”

“Then there should be little to worry about,” Kagami breathed out a sigh of relief, before shooting Plagg a look and saying, “Provided our kwami can keep their composure, that is…”

“Plagg’sss concern isss underssstandable,” Sass noted. 

“Tikki went through something similar when we fell into the TV.” Marinette looked a little guilty as she rubbed her arm. “We were separated in my Dungeon for some time.” 

“Is that the umbrella term for places like that prison?” Adrien raised an eyebrow curiously. “What was yours like, out of curiosity?”

“Well…” Marinette thought back, feeling rather uncomfortable at the thought of the place, “mine was mainly mountains, I guess. I think there was a valley and some caverns, but I just remember climbing the mountains with my Shadow. It was rather foggy, after all.” She drummed her fingers on the table, as her eyes seemed to focus on nothing yet were unseeing. “My Shadow Self, looking back, kind of reminded me of that old legend of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders, only with me, it was a large glowing orb. I couldn’t even help… well… myself. My Shadow was stubborn, just like me.” Marinette swore she heard a snort inside of her head as she paused for a moment. “But I have to say - I’m grateful to her for opening my eyes to how I burdened myself with too much responsibility.”

“I think we’re all grateful to our Shadows, in a way,” Kagami nodded along agreeingly. “While I think we all would have preferred less potentially-lethal methods, they forced us to acknowledge everything we refused to.”

“I definitely agree with that, even if I didn’t fight my own. Is it bad I’d rather fight an Akuma me instead of a Shadow me?” Marinette wondered, causing Adrien to snort.

“My Lady, I’m pretty sure that fighting you in general would be hard. You are a tactical genius and with Kagami’s training, I fear you two could take over the world.”

At Adrien’s comment, the two girls seemed to turn to each other in sync with matching smirks. 

“Want to take over the world?”

“Why not? I think we could have it done before we finish lycée.”

As Adrien groaned, covered his face with his hands and muttered what had he done, Plagg flew over to sit on his shoulders with a pitying look and patted the teen’s hair to try and comfort. 

“Dude, I think you just doomed the world. They sound serious. Ow.” The Kwami pouted at Tikki who had gave a light swat.

“They’re joking, Plagg.” She rolled her eyes with a light laugh when the two teens both asked “or are we?” 

The sound of someone’s alarm going off reminded the three of the ratatouille. None of them remembered setting a timer and thanked whomever or whichever kwami had the foresight to do so. Marinette pulled out the dish after being reminded to use potholders and happily showed the dish to her partners. 

“Ta-da!” she announced as she set it on the table, drawing their parents’ attention, “Nicely done, guys!”

Both Adrien and Kagami seemed to stare at the dish in wonder, basking in the good feeling coming with the fact that they helped make this dish despite never stepping foot in a kitchen before. Looking at Marinette’s proud grin brought out their own as they continued to stare at the dish. 

Plagg, being the cheeky little kwami he was, attempted to fly in front of the two to see if they’re concentration could be broken only for both Sass and Tikki to pull him away. Tomoe may not be able to see them, but she was a perceptive woman - chances were she’d sensed them anyways.

“I can’t believe that I helped make a meal,” Kagami whispered, “It’s… it feels surreal, but I'm proud of this! Thank you for this, Marinette!”  

“Thanks, Marinette, even if all I did was cut the vegetables. I’m still happy I got the chance to do this. Can you show us more?” Adrien’s hopeful eyes weren’t necessary as Marinette would have been more than happy to teach, but they were still adorable. 

“Of course!” Marinette cheered, watching everyone sit down. “We’ll even add Luka and make this a date night kind of thing. It’s a bit early, but shall we enjoy your efforts?”

Over in Inaba, Yu thought back to earlier when he returned from his brief trip to Paris. He had brought back the pastries with the anticipation of seeing if his uncle would get the joke of the doughnuts. Of course, that would only be able to happen if his uncle was actually home tonight instead of at the detective station. Luckily, Uncle Ryotaro was home for once; it must have been Marinette’s luck helping out. 

“I brought back sweets,” Yu held up the bag before his uncle could ask why he was back so late. “Don’t worry, I was helping out a friend which was why I’m so late. They offered me these as an apology for keeping me.” He knelt down as he held out the bag for Nanako to take first pick.

“Thanks, big bro!” Her smile stopped the lecture his uncle was probably planning on giving him in its tracks. Yu mentally reaffirmed his promise to protect that smile for as long as he could. 

“No problem, Nanako. I hope you enjoy the eclair; you actually picked out the one I got for you.” Yu ruffled his younger cousin’s hair, looking much like the proud older brother that he thought himself to be at times. 

“Here you are, Uncle,” he offered the bag to Ryotaro who looked suspiciously at the bag. 

Thankfully he took one as well without any complaints or statements of suspicion, but when Ryotaro saw what he was holding, Yu had to stop himself from laughing. Oh the look of annoyance was definitely worth anything ensuing.

“Well, at least you got my sister’s childhood sense of humor,” Ryotaro murmured. The thought of his parents made Yu’s face fall a little.

“What’s wrong, big bro?” Nanako asked.

“N-nothing,” Yu responded. It wasn’t nothing, really; he was sick and tired of being told to pack his bags and keep moving around the world for the sake of his parents’ job.

Ryotaro looked at him suspiciously, before finishing the last bite of his donut and saying, “Yu, can you come outside with me for a second? You’re not in trouble or anything; an idea occurred to me, but I think you’d like privacy for it…”

“Uh, sure,” Yu nodded, before following him into the backyard.

Ryotaro got straight to business the second Yu closed the door behind them. “I’ve never seen you this happy in all the times I’ve seen you,” he said, “Would you like to stay?”

“Stay?” Yu asked, confused. “I’m already here for the year.”

“Well,” Ryotaro smirked happily, “if your parents are cool with it, you can stay with us until high school is over for you. You’ll be your own man by then.”

Yu gasped. “You really mean that?”

“Of course! I’m sure Nanako would love to have you stay, too.”

“I’d love that…” Yu smiled at Ryotaro somewhat tearfully, “just take care not to hit me too hard if I mess up, alright?”

“Wait, what?!” Ryotaro’s eyes widened. “Don’t tell me my sister’s hitting you!”

“No, not her,” Yu said innocently. “I think she’s often the one getting hit as well…”

“So your father, then…” Ryotaro scowled. “I should’ve known that bastard was too perfect for Atsuko…”

“I don’t follow,” Yu asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Yu, I’m gonna be blunt,” Ryotaro growled, “Your father shouldn’t be hitting you. Any parent worth their salt doesn’t do that.”

Yu was silent. 

“You definitely have a home with us now,” Ryotaro said. “I’ll talk to Adachi and the team about it tomorrow.”

Yu wanted to stick up for his father, say something in his defense, but Izanagi advised him against it.

To make an omelette, sometimes you have to break an egg or two.

With that, Yu fell into Ryotaro’s chest for a solid few minutes. When he’d finished crying himself out, he and Ryotaro walked back inside.

“You’re back!” Nanako lit up at the sight of the two, before noticing Yu’s puffy eyes. “Are you okay, big bro?”

“Yeah…” Yu smiled, “It turns out I’ll be staying with you guys until high school if I can get my mom’s permission.”

Nanako’s face lit up even more. “Really? Wow! I’m so happy for you! I bet Yosuke will be super happy to hear that!” Yu quickly tried discreetly to shush his cousin through hand motions but it seemed like she didn’t really understand.

“Hanamura Junior? I know you two are buds, but-” Ryotaro said, before catching the look on Yu’s face, he smirked in realization. Yu’s expression could only be described as teenage dread - the feeling when a parental figure discovers that not only are you in a relationship but who you’re in one with.

“Don’t worry, kid,” Ryotaro snapped him out of his thoughts, “I’m not gonna judge you for something like this. Just keep all of… that away from Nanako, got it?” He watched as his blushing nephew could only nod his head vigorously.

Yu wanted to mouth to him that they weren’t there yet, but he wisely kept his mouth shut around Nanako.

“Chie and Yukiko told me they’re super cute when they hold hands!” Nanako smiled innocently before taking a bite of her doughnut. “And they also told me that big bro and Yosuke act like a married couple sometimes!” 

“More like Chie and Yukiko act like a married couple,” Yu muttered, biting into his own forgotten doughnut. His cheeks still gave away his embarrassment. 

The three talked and laughed into the night, and for once, Ryotaro wasn’t called in.

Back in Paris, Marinette was trying to review school work with Adrien, or at least she was trying to but they both kept bringing up their little adventures when they didn’t know each other’s identities. After Tatsu, Kagami and Tomoe had left with their portion of the leftover ratatouille and Marinette’s parents turned in early for the night, Marinette figured it would be a good idea to try and study for the next week’s finals. 

The keyword was try.

It had been an offhand comment that led to such a thing, but what that specific comment was, neither could remember. With a half-laugh, half-sigh, Marinette decided to give up on any sort of studying and reviewing and just focus on the conversation.

“Oh, remember Kwami Buster? You totally tricked me with that illusion! How did I never notice the similarities? I could see you as Ladybug and Marinette, yet I couldn’t connect the two!” Adrien collapsed on the couch with a dramatic groan causing Marinette to giggle. 

“I honestly don’t know how I never connected Adrien to Chat Noir,” she admitted. “I mean, what about Startrain? You were right there for both and yet I never seemed to realize that you were one in the same.” Marinette leaned against Adrien’s shoulder with a fond smile. “Now that I think about it, it’s your smile that gives it away. Your genuine smile, I mean - not your fake one you wear for the cameras. All I have to do is think back to whenever we were with our classmates; looking at you, I can actually see some of Chat Noir’s smiles.”

That got Adrien’s attention. 

“Really? I didn’t think anyone would notice since I tend to act differently between my hero and civilian appearances.” His eyes widened again. “Oh, man. I called you ‘our everyday Ladybug’ when you are Ladybug.”

“I kept pointing out all the similarities between you and Ladybug,” he went on, bringing out a laugh as he did so, “yet despite all of those similarities, I just didn’t make the connection. It was like I couldn’t… now that I can, though, I can call my past self an idiot.”

Marinette giggled once more, before noticing the time. “Shoot, I have school tomorrow!”

“Again?” Adrien teased, “Shame…” 

“You know you’re coming back once it’s safe to do so, right?” Marinette chastised, delivering a playful poke to his side. Adrien nodded seriously.

“Speaking of ‘safe to do so’… we should talk about dealing with F- Gabriel soon,” Adrien sighed. “Let me know when you’re open to do that. I know you’re busy with a lot of things, so…”

“Don’t worry, I will make time for this, and it will be soon,” she promised. “His days are numbered, let me assure you.”

“You’re not busy this weekend, are you?” Adrien suggested. “We can call Luka, Kagami and those other guys that helped you save me over and plan starting Friday night, if that works out for you.”

“Good idea,” Marinette nodded, “If they didn’t have school on Saturday, I’d ask if they can stay the whole weekend so we can plan.”

“We’ll make do with what we can, but we can have Luka and Kagami stay the full weekend. If you want, I can try to come up with some basic plans while you’re in class.” The offer definitely would help with Adrien’s boredom and restlessness. “I know strategizing is your thing, but I want to help lighten your burdens.” This time, Adrien offered a toothy grin. “Besides, I’ve played a bit of strategy games to pick up some tactics.”

“I’m sure those will help you as much as playing that driving game did during the Mime… I think it was the Mime, anyways.”

“Hey!” Still she did have a point. “I’ll also work on a list of what we’ve learned fighting Hawkmoth and Mayura before. It will be a start, at least.”

“I appreciate it, I’ll leave you some notebooks tomorrow. If you want I can check some library books out for you tomorrow, just send me a text to let me know. I doubt they’ll have anything on fighting tactics at the school library, but maybe the one in town has luck.”

“Thanks, now come on - as you stated before, you have school tomorrow.” 

The two cleaned up the living room before turning in for the night, both’s minds still trying to plan on taking down Hawkmoth before eventually settling down for the night.

Your teamwork with Adrien has proven impeccable as usual...

Lust Rank 2!

Chapter Text

That morning, Marinette managed to wake up early in order to get items for Adrien, pulling out any empty notebooks she had as well as a personal note with how to get on to her computer should it lock while she was gone (with a reminder not to go prying into anything private). She also gave the kwamis orders not to go inside her computer again to try and unlock it; the last thing she wanted was to have to replace her computer again. Xuppu and Plagg were given a more stern warning, as they were the more chaotic kwamis.

After making sure that her headphones were in easy reach and could easily be found, Marinette left her room to check in on Adrien. The blond was still sleeping, which wasn’t too surprising as it was still a little early. Besides, he didn’t get to sleep in all that often.

Stopping by the bakery, Marinette collected enough baked goods for herself, Kagami and Luka should the musician stop by before school. After a brief debate, she opted out of getting Nino one. The last thing she wanted was to cause any more unnecessary drama between Nino and the class.

Or more specifically, Nino and Alya. 

Marinette was rather pleased at seeing Kagami’s surprised expression when she brought out more pastries, allowing herself a bit of smugness. Still smirking, she held out the bakery bag for Kagami to take her choice of sugary goodness. 

As the two munched on their breakfast, Marinette quietly informed Kagami of her and Adrien’s plans to take down Hawkmoth some time next week and they were having a sleepover that weekend to strategize. She informed her girlfriend that both she and Luka were invited; it would be easier to plan if they were all there. Marinette also informed Kagami that she was going to try and get the IT to come over Saturday after school, hopefully stay Saturday night and Sunday to help strategize.

Before Kagami could agree, the warning bell went off, letting students know to head to their classes. Swearing slightly at being interrupted, Kagami agreed to the weekend plans with a promise to bring more camembert for Plagg as she had a feeling the kwami was starting to eat a little too much of the bakery’s cheese.

Marinette thanked her girlfriend before the two departed. It was when she was in class that she realized she had forgotten to tell Kagami that Adrien was starting plans as well as trying to study Hawkmoth while they were at school. As she still had a few moments before Mme. Bustier came to class, Marinette sent the text as quickly as she could to the groupchat between the two girls and Luka. Hoping she put in all the needed context, Marinette put her phone away before her teacher stepped into the room.

Morning classes seemed to drag by slowly for Marinette; the girl had to force herself to focus on the lessons. It was a good plan to do so, though; finals began exactly a week from today.

Marinette sighed with relief once it was time for lunch. Finally, a break. Needing fresh air, she made her way to the lunch room, stopping when she heard what sounded like someone crying… or at least trying to cry quietly.

Hopefully Marinette could step in before Ladybug; she did not want to deal with an akuma today. Following the sound, she found Marc Anciel sitting in his alcove, head buried in his knees rather than in his notebook.

“Marc?” Her voice seemed to get Marc to stop far too suddenly, the other teen looking up with widened, frightened eyes. Looks like he had expected to go uncaught…

...or perhaps be ignored.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” She took a seat next to Marc, moving slowly so as not to startle thim. “Do you want to talk about it?”

“It… it’s nothing, Marinette,” Marc murmured, voice hoarse as he wiped at his eyes. His answer flew about as well as a balloon of iron.

“It doesn’t sound like nothing.” Sighing through her nose, Marinette wondered if she should try a different tactic. “Something is clearly upsetting you.” 

Still there was only silence. “How about this, can you answer me if you’re in immediate danger?” 

Besides that of an akumatized moth that probably was on its way to the school went unsaid.

“No… I don’t think I am.”

“...Think?” Marinette quoted carefully. She had never heard of Marc’s home-life, and surely the school would step in if they were abusive.

“Mother doesn’t really hit me, she’s just very…” Marc cringed at a memory of something decidedly unpleasant to remember, “harsh…”

Marinette took notice of the pause, frowning with concern. “Can you talk to your teacher? Do you need a place to stay? It sounds like you’re not really safe where you live.”

“’s not that bad,” Marc said. It was clearer that he was lying than it was with Lila.

“It sounds that bad,” Marinette said. “If she’s hitting you, then you need out of there, pronto!”

“She’s not hitting me… I just can’t… meet her standards…” Marc sighed and leaned back against the wall. “I found out from our art teacher that Mother pulled me out of the art club, and she sent me a text that I couldn’t hang out with Nathaniel anymore due to my grades. My teachers have said my grades are fine, so I don’t really understand.” 

Sounds like it was yet another case of abuse. Seriously, what was up with all of the abusive parents that she was now discovering, and how was it only now that she was noticing? 

“Don’t worry Marc, I’ll get you out of there. We definitely need to tell a teacher.”

“Mom’ll just yell at them, too…” 

“Even Mme. Mendeleiev?” Marinette sounded surprised at that. “I’m pretty sure she takes no crap from anyone.” 



“I want out.” 

Marinette’s eyes widened. She’d never heard Marc so solemnly determined before.

“Let’s go,” Marc said, getting up and beginning to walk in the direction of M. Damocles’ office. Marinette followed behind, ensuring he wouldn’t lose his cool before getting there and trying to hold down the boiling rage she felt herself.

“So your mother has been abusing you…?” M. Damocles’ eyes were wide with disgust as he finished listening to Marc’s story. 

“Yeah…” Marc sighed sadly. 

“Even if she wasn’t hitting him,” Marinette added on, “I think she ‘qualifies’ for emotional abuse and neglect as well.”

Damocles made a note on a piece of paper before glancing back up to Marc. Say what you will about Allen Theseus Damocles cowering under the rich and/or powerful, but he would fight for his students when he was less threatened.

“And your father? Where does he fall in all of this?” He had never seen any signatures from Marc’s father, now that he thought about it.

“He and Mom divorced when I was five, but Mom got custody. From what I remember of him, he wouldn’t hit me… I hope, at least. Mom has stated a few times that he doesn’t really care since he hasn’t tried to contact me… or at least that’s what she says.”

“Very well then,” M. Damocles scowled, though it wasn’t directed at Marc. “You’re very brave to have come to me. Do you have anywhere he can stay?”

“He can stay the night with me,” Marinette offered, “I’d just have to contact my parents and make sure they’re okay with it.”

“Please do that, Mlle. Dupain-Cheng,” M. Damocles nodded, “In the meantime, I’ll contact the police and both of your teachers.”

“Why our teachers?” Marc asked. As if on cue, the bell to begin classes rang.

“That’s why,” M. Damocles chuckled. “I’m sure both of you would rather not be counted as late. Regardless, you two should be on your way.”

“Thank you, M. Damocles!” Marc and Marinette smiled at him as they exited. They’d barely made it down the stairs when Marc collapsed to his knees.

“Marc!” Marinette gasped, immediately kneeling down to check him over. Marc was trying to keep his tears from trickling down his face.

“Some son I am…” he whispered to nobody in particular. “How can I turn against my own mother!”

“Some mother your mother is!” Marinette pointed out. “Marc, it’s pretty clear you’re never going to make her happy. What she wants from you is something she’ll never get, and it’s totally screwed up of her to try and make you into something you’re not!”

“Tell me about it…” Marc was barely audible. “Not all A’s, wants to do writing instead of something more well-paying, and not straight…”

“Sorry, what was that last one?” Marinette frowned angrily, before realizing they were at the spot where they’d need to separate. “Take some deep breaths, Marc,” she said. 

Marc is managing…

Observer Rank 1!

“Thanks again, Marinette,” Marc said after doing so. Hesitantly, the two black-haired teens made their way to their classes. 

After she quickly called her parents and informed them of what was going on - as well as asking them to inform Trixx to hide Adrien with an illusion - she entered the room, receiving a discreet nod from Mme. Bustier. Clearly, she’d received the phone call from M. Damocles.

Glad to finally see Mme. Bustier acting like a good teacher, she thought to herself.

The rest of that afternoon seemed to go by at a snails’ pace, although Marinette had a feeling that was because her focus was still on Marc. Maybe there was a way to get in contact with Marc’s father. But where would she even begin if Marc’s mother had found a way to cease or block all communications with him? 

By the time classes ended, Marinette had realized that she probably had a form of contact with M. Anciel but never used it for obvious reasons. The police could probably squeeze it out of her, which was a reassuring thought.

As she got out of her seat to stretch, Rose and Juleka approached her. They looked rather uncomfortable, which was something not often seen on Rose; this immediately had Marinette alert.

Surprisingly, it was Juleka who spoke first. “Marinette,” she said quietly, as if trying not to attract attention, “can we talk with you? It’s rather important.”

“Of course…?” Marinette said, feeling rather awkward in this situation. “What’s going on?”

“Not here,” Juleka mumbled, “too many witnesses.”

Well, if that didn’t sound ominous… 

At the moment, the bakery was out of the question - not only for Marc’s discretion but Adrien’s as well - but maybe there was somewhere else they could use… Oh, of course!

“Will the park work? I know an isolated area for privacy.”

Rose and Juleka nodded frantically in agreement. It’s not like Rose to be this silent, Marinette noted as she began to now worry. First Marc, now Juleka and Rose? 

Marinette led the way to what she was wondering if she should call her area of the park; no one else seemed to ever come near this part except herself and whoever she brought. As they walked, she kept an eye on the two, noticing how on guard they seemed to be. Seriously, what happened?

Rose and Juleka looked at each other nervously, before bowing in unison. “Marinette, we’re sorry!” they said simultaneously.

Marinette only sweat-dropped. “W-what…? What happened?”

“We should have believed you about Lila,” Juleka said. Marinette’s eyes widened in shock and understanding. Of all her classmates - other than Adrien, obviously - that she expected to figure out Lila first, she would have expected Max or Sabrina. Regardless, Rose and Juleka came as a pleasant surprise.

“How did you two find out?” Marinette asked. She couldn’t help but voice her question out loud.

“Prince Ali,” Rose said at the same time that Juleka mumbled something about supervillains.

“Okay, Prince Ali makes sense,” Marinette nodded, before going over Juleka’s response in her head again. “Juleka, what did you say?”

“...before school, Lila tried to convince us that you were aiding Hawkmoth and Mayura. Everyone else thought she was jumping the gun, thankfully, but when the conversation was over, I caught her scowling nastily to herself.”

“She talked to me about it, and that’s why I called Prince Ali,” Rose said, “He was understanding about the whole situation, thankfully.”

“Her scowl is pretty scary, I’ll admit,” Marinette said, grateful that the class believed in the better of her there. “Wait… does she know that you know the truth?”

“No…” Rose admitted, “we thought you’d know what to do, or that you’d have some sort of plan for her.”

“I don’t have a plan yet,” Marinette admitted, “I was more focused on Adrien’s father.”

“Gabriel Agreste?” Juleka said, confused, “What does he have to do with anything?”

Marinette filled them in about a lot of Gabriel’s wrongdoings, saying Adrien had left her a letter somehow to excuse his disappearance. Adrien had mentioned in last night’s conversation that he thought Lila was spying on him for Gabriel but was unsure about it, so she filled them in on that too.

“Don’t tell anyone about this, okay?” Marinette requested. “I’m planning to get Gabriel exposed for his legal troubles, and if he catches wind, things’ll go to shit real fast.”

The girlfriends nodded along. 

“And for what it’s worth, I forgive you,” she added on, making Rose and Juleka’s eyes shoot up. “You were deceived by Lila like pretty much everyone else, and I can’t fault you for that. Also, both of you haven’t done anything particularly reprehensible like ripping up my sketchbook or something.”

The three embraced each other in a hug. “Make sure you don’t tell anyone about Lila. I know that it seems like it’s not a good idea right now, but if we charge her without a good plan…”

“...Lila will know that we know,” Rose breathed out. “Oh, Marinette, we should have believed you from the start.”

“Save the guilt for when she’s exposed,” Marinette shrugged. “For now, keep your cool. The last thing we want is to actually bring Hawkmoth or Mayura into this mess. Just keep acting naturally, but if you feel if you have to distance yourself, try to figure out a good reason. Lila will probably catch on if she thinks she lost any of her… followers.”

Juleka bit her lip as if thinking. “We can be your spies, if you want,” she eventually suggested, “We’ll tell you if she is planning anything so that you can brace yourself if you can’t escape.”

“I appreciate that, but it’s too risky.” Marinette shook her head, casting a concerned look over the two. “Regardless, if you catch onto something anyways, please do tell me. You can, however, let me know if someone else comes closer or reaches the truth. We should do our best to protect them from her wrath.”

Rose and Juleka shuddered at the thought. “Wait, wrath?” Rose suddenly asked, blinking.

“She threatened to take away all my friends on her first day back,” Marinette explained, “it makes sense she’d attempt to do the same to you guys if given the chance.”

“I need you two to promise me that you will both be careful and won’t take any unnecessary risks,” Marinette noted, “It may be a good idea to further inform Prince Ali that someone is name-dropping him and giving false information on his charities. Maybe suggest he look at the Ladyblog, as Alya posts a lot of Lila’s stories there. That way, you guys are covered and can’t be specifically name-dropped.”

“I will,” Rose said, although she looked uneasy about the whole thing.

Marinette noticed how Rose seemed more affected by this news and gave both of her friends a hug, squeezing just a little tighter for Rose to offer her comfort. 

“It looks like you two need some time to process everything. Why don’t you two take some time and just have ‘you-time’ together? Have a little date to relax and try to put Lila out of your mind for now.”

Both seemed a little unsure, but nonetheless agreed. 

After making casual conversation for a while to further cool the two down, Rose and Juleka both gave Marinette one last hug before leaving the park.

Rose and Juleka are beginning to pursue the truth…

Cabalist Rank 1!

Marinette pulled out her phone to let Luka know what was going on and asked him to keep an eye on both Juleka and Rose whenever he could. It was no surprise to see Luka agreed, although he did ask if he needed to have a talk with ‘the girl with a nails-on-chalkboard heart-song’ for upsetting his sister and his future sister-in-law. Laughing at the jab and the addression of Rose as his sister-in-law-to-be, Marinette told him that no, he couldn’t have that kind of talk with Lila. She was too much stress for that sort of crap.

With that, Marinette made her way to the library, pulling up a list of books Adrien had sent her that he thought might help with this weekend on her phone. The titles didn’t stand out, but she bought them all the same. Looking at a few of the books closer, some seemed based on magic or even lore that felt similar to the Miraculous without actually being the Miraculous. Was Adrien thinking of the classic ‘Magic must defeat magic’ belief? It was definitely a different idea, and a welcomed one at that. Anything was open game at this point to stop Hawkmoth… well, besides murder, preferably.

As she made her way from the library with the books in tow and entered the bakery, she saw Marc talking with her parents while munching on a croissant. It was good to see Marc looking comfortable after earlier today, and judging by the other bag by his feet, he had gotten some stuff from his home. Looks like her talk with Juleka and Rose as well as the trip to the library took longer than expected. 

“Oh, hey, Marinette,” Marc called her over, “you look a bit worn out.”

“Nothing too bad,” Marinette said, “but more importantly, how are you holding up? Was there any trouble with getting your stuff?” 

“Mother was working late,” Marc smiled relievedly. “Your parents are letting me take the couch.”

Well, at least she didn’t have to kick Adrien out of ‘his’ bedroom to crash on her chaise, she was just going to have to make sure that the kwami stayed out of sight in either her room or in Adrien’s. 

“That’s good. I need to take care of these,” she said gesturing to the books in her arms, “I’ll be back down in a moment.” Marinette made her way upstairs; thankfully Adrien was still in her room working on her computer. It was then she realized just what she was looking at. Seeing as the blond-haired teen was still wearing her headphones, Marinette knew she’d have to get his attention.

Playfully she trailed her fingers up the back of Adrien’s neck, only to pout when he didn’t seem ticklish there. Hell, he didn’t seem to notice anything at all, as his focus was all on the screen. Time for the direct approach, she thought.

In a swift motion, she removed the headphones and asked, “How did you get on CCTV through my computer?”

Adrien seemed to glance between her and the computer screen. A far-too-big smile appeared on his face. “Uh… luck?” Sadly, it was no dice for Adrien as Marinette looked skeptical. Regardless, she didn’t push further.

“Just don’t get caught. The last thing I need to be accused of is hacking.” Marinette dumped her bag on to her chaise. “Marc is downstairs and he’s gonna be sleeping on the couch tonight. So be careful, even with Trixx’s help. And please, spread the word to the other kwami. I want to keep an eye on Marc tonight. He’s been through a lot today.”

“Is it my place to pry you for details?” Adrien asked. “Or to ask him once it’s safe to come out again?”

“I’m not really too sure; the best I can tell you now is that Marc’s home life isn’t the greatest and he needs to get out of there for good. We’re taking steps to do just that. Maybe later on, you can ask, but now certainly isn’t a good time.” 

It gave her the idea of maybe starting some sort of abuse survivor group therapy for kids and teens, but that would have to be something for another day.

“I’m heading back down now. Please don’t do any more hacking tonight. Even if it will help us, it’s not safe at the moment.”

“Ya know, I could get you a better system and a VPN if you’re interested,” Adrien offered, only to be reminded that he needed to be in hiding and thus his bank account couldn’t be touched. Hearing Plagg’s comment about Marinette being a spoilsport had the blond agreeing, but he knew Marinette had a point and wisely stopped.

Marinette headed back down the stairs to see Marc was fast asleep on the couch. Was it that late already?

Looking outside, night had fallen, so perhaps it had. Then again, given the stress Marc went through today, it was perfectly understandable. That suddenly reminded Marinette that Marc was upstairs earlier; hopefully he didn’t hear her talking to Adrien. With a quick mental prayer, she could only hope Trixx put up an illusion.

Checking the time on her phone, she sent a text to Yu to see if he was up to talk for a bit; it was incredibly early in Japan, so it wasn’t all that likely, but regardless, she figured he’d talk to her later if he was already out of commission.

Now I face out, I hold out, I reach out to the truth-

Jumping, Marinette gawked at her phone - which was displaying Yu’s face. That was awfully fast!

Not wanting to wake up Marc, Marinette furtively snuck her way back up to her room, taking a quick peek at Adrien to make sure he wasn’t hacking again. He wasn’t, so Marinette finished the walk to her roof and closed the door behind her before tapping the button to begin the call.

“Sorry if I woke you up, I need to ask you a question.”

“I’m awake,” Yu shrugged it off, “Uncle is an early riser and I’ve gotten into the habit; plus, Nanako wanted to have breakfast together some mornings, so we all got up earlier than normal. We still have time, so what’s your question?”

“Before I ask, I just have to say that is really sweet,” Marinette swooned slightly at the adorableness of the situation, “I’m glad you guys do that. As for the question, can you guys stay over this weekend? I know you have school on Saturdays but on Friday night can you come over for a bit then stay the night on Saturday after classes?”

“This is about… Gabriel, right?” Yu asked carefully. 

“Yeah,” Marinette nodded, “Since you’ll be getting a Miraculous of your own when the time comes, I’m sure I can trust you with the info that Chie and Kanji have already used Miraculouses of their own. Yukiko will also be getting one, but please don’t mention that to her. I’d rather not spoil the… surprise, if you will.”

“You have my word.” There was a click and scratching, most likely Yu writing a note or reminder for himself.

“We’re planning on taking Hawkmoth down as soon as possible, and we could use your help on figuring his identity out, too.”

“That can be arranged,” Yu smiled, somewhat freaking out Marinette but for a more obvious reason making her feel reassured as well. Maybe it was the tone that promised pain to Hawkmoth.

“Thank you. It helps to know that you guys have our backs.” Marinette settled into her chair to get comfortable. “So I guess with that out of the way, anything happen over there?”

“If you’re referring to the fog or people missing, thankfully no to both. Kanji has a new classmate; Yosuke said she’s an idol but I’ve never really paid attention enough to anything mainstream to know who she was.”

A few seconds passed before Yu suddenly said, “Wait, there is one other major thing!”

“What is it, Yu?” Marinette asked, noting his rather giddy tone. 

“Uncle Ryotaro says I can live here past the year that was initially planned! I can stay until I graduate. After I made a comment about my father - I’d rather not talk about it - he was rather insistent.”

“Tell me about it,” Marinette grinned.

“It was a little weird but I’m certainly not complaining. I really like it here, even if everyone says there’s nothing to do.”


“Well, there isn’t much, I won’t deny that,” Yu admitted, causing Marinette to guffaw. “I like the mostly peaceful atmosphere; if it weren’t for the murders, I’d say there was a bit of charm to this place in spite of its lacklusterness.” 

“Well maybe once Hawkmoth is defeated and the murders are solved, I’ll bring my family there to relax. We all could use a vacation after dealing with everything.”

Big bro!” The unknown voice must have belonged to Nanako. She sounded precious.

“I’ll be there in a minute, Nanako!” Yu turned to the phone. “Sorry Marinette, looks like it’s time for breakfast. Usually I do the cooking, but Nanako wanted to help this time. I’ll talk to you again on Friday to confirm more details, is that good?”

“No problem at all, go enjoy your time with your family. From how you talk sometimes, these moments can be rare. Have a good night… or morning, in your case.” 

“Thanks, have a good night.” 

You feel yourself getting closer to Yu… 

Marinette clicked off the phone, before stretching. Today had definitely been a roller coaster of a day, with quite a few downs but it seems like she had discovered two more Social Links in the process.

“Come on, Marinette, you’ve had a busy day. Let’s turn in early for the night.” Tikki had phased through the trapdoor to get to her Chosen.

“I’ll be down in a moment, Tikki.” Giving herself a moment to enjoy the night air, she then went back down to her room to relax before eventually going to bed. 

The future looks a little brighter every day, she thought to herself.

And she believed it.

Chapter Text

Marinette kept a close eye on Marc during the next morning. She’d also asked Kagami to keep an eye on him, as she was in the same class as him. While she couldn’t give Kagami the full story, she at least told her that Marc was going through a hard time.

Earlier Adrien had offered to patrol for akumas later that day, at the time she hadn’t been able to give him an answer and now she was considering it. But was it okay to bring out Chat Noir or have Adrien use a different Miraculous? Still, it would look too suspicious if Chat Noir was missing for too long…

Sighing softly, Marinette was brought out of her thoughts with Tikki nudging her thigh. Taking a glance at the clock, she realized she had practically been zoned out throughout most of the morning. And now she had no idea what had gone on during class.

That is until Marinette saw that Tikki had recorded the morning lessons for her on her phone. She let loose another sigh, albeit one of relief this time.

“Thank you, Tikki. You are a blessing in disguise.” 

“No problem at all, Marinette,” Tikki smiled up at her chosen, “you know I’m more than happy to help. In all honesty, you looked like you needed this.”

Since it was lunch time already, Marinette figured she may as well check in on Marc to see how he was holding up. Looking up from her phone and seeing Mme. Bustier gathering her papers seemed to also remind Marinette of their deal. It had been some time; maybe she was now ‘ready’ to actually handle her teacher after what had felt like a betrayal.

“Mme. Bustier, if you’re willing, I’ll help you during lunch for a bit.” Marinette stated as she approached her teacher, catching the older woman by surprise. “I just need to check in on something for a bit. Can you give me ten to fifteen minutes?”

Still surprised, Mme. Bustier nodded speechlessly, only for her to slowly break out into a smile. 

“Thank you Marinette, I really appreciate it. Please take the time you need, I’ll be here waiting.”

Marinette gave a quick nod before heading out, locating Marc with Kagami. It seemed like her girlfriend was taking Marinette’s request seriously. At the same time, however… Marc seemed a little nervous, even in the exhumed presence of Kagami’s protective ‘touch him and face my blade’ aura. Perhaps it was due to what was possibly going to happen later on that day… provided Roger could make things happen that quickly. Maybe it was a bit of both. Nonetheless, Marinette wanted to make sure Marc was okay.

“Marc, how has today been going?” she greeted, “Are you sure you want to be here today, Marc?”

Marc nodded his head.

“Yeah. Like I told your parents, I want some normalcy. I’d feel weird just staying at the bakery.” He took a glance at Kagami. “I appreciate you asking Kagami to look after me, but… she’s a little too good at being a bodyguard.” That seemed to get Kagami to smirk and Marinette swore Kagami preened at the admission. “Can you get her to ease up a little?”

“I can try,” Marinette chuckled and looked at her girlfriend fondly, “but she’s the protective type. If she deems you a friend, she’ll stop at nothing to look after you.” She gave Marc a pat on the shoulder, giving him an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, you’re safe with Kagami. Just think of her as a Mama Bear...or Lioness… Whichever works better.”

The answer seemed to help a little, even as Marc slumped his shoulders with resignation. Kagami patted his back with a smile.

“I’m really sorry but I need to get back to class, I’ll be helping Mme. Bustier during lunch. I hope that’s okay.” Marinette inquired with a concerned smile.

“Yeah, no problem. Thanks again, Marinette.” At last, Marc was smiling again.  “You’re a good friend.”

With a quick hug to Marc and a kiss to Kagami’s cheek, Marinette left to get some food before returning to the classroom. Upon entering, she noticed that not only was there some paperwork for what was most likely for herself, but also some textbooks. Upon hearing her entrance, Mme. Bustier looked up.

“Thank you again for this, Marinette. I figured after we’re done, I could help you with some studying or something like that if you’d like. You seemed a little distracted in class, and with Finals soon, well I thought you might like a little more study time since you could be using this time to study.”

“I appreciate the offer, but isn’t that favoritism? Helping one student when you have so many others?”

“I apologize if it seems like that, but I guess you could say this is what we did in class today. The teachers decided that until Finals, we will be mainly holding review sessions after school, but with your schedule, I thought you might not be able to make those sessions.”

When Marinette looked hesitant to accept, Mme. Bustier somewhat shrunk into her shoulders. “It may not make up for anything I’ve done, but please. You could consider it as the beginning of an apology, if you’d like.”

Marinette still seemed a bit hesitant, mentally fighting with herself on her answer. To prove that she wasn’t lying, Mme. Bustier pulled out a printed copy of what looked like an email and handed it to Marinette. 

“Here, this is an email that we all received,” she said, “this should prove that I am not trying to show favoritism and that I genuinely want to help.”

Marinette glanced over the printout; true to her teacher’s word, there would be reviews after school starting today. It looked like most of the teachers would be in the library to help students review for Finals. Some would be in their classrooms, as the library couldn’t hold everyone, but it also looked like teachers would also be rotating in and out of the library.

“Okay, I accept. Thank you,,” Marinette said honestly, “You’re right about my schedule being packed, so I really appreciate this. And while you’re also right about it not being able to make up for what you’ve done… or didn’t do, really… anyways, it does help as the start of an apology.” 

It looked like a weight seemed to fall off Mme. Bustier’s shoulders as she breathed out a sigh of relief, her smile going from slightly strained to almost happy.

“Thank you, Marinette,” the teacher said, “I promise to try and continue to work on regaining your trust and forgiveness. I’ll work to fix the problems I have caused.”

Marinette set down her stuff with a nod, and the two began to work on grading papers. As promised, Mme. Bustier helped her review the material, going over while not fully not stating what would exactly be on the tests. In areas that Marinette struggled, her teacher did her best to explain even if it wasn’t her subject of expertise.

Eventually, the time for Marinette to go to her next class - Science, unfortunately - neared, and Mme. Bustier thanked Marinette for helping her. In turn, Marinette thanked her teacher for helping her catch up and hone her educational skills.

Mme. Bustier is working to become a better teacher…

Fate Rank 3!

Perhaps it was the reviewing or maybe it was clearing the air with Mme. Bustier a little more; whichever it was Marinette headed to class with a little more spring in her step. Her mood somehow felt a little bit lighter. 

Even if she was called on more, Marinette still didn’t feel discouraged. Her answers seemed to even please Mme. Mendeleiev, who surprisingly enough, praised Marinette for her hard work. Marinette caught subtle grins headed her way from Kim, Juleka and Rose, and she was thankful to have more people have her back. For Nino, she could understand why he couldn’t look back, but she’s pretty sure she saw him give her a thumbs up as best as he could.

Once school was over, Sabrina surprisingly approached her; that said, it was mainly to pass on a message from her father, telling her to take Marc to the bakery and to prepare for an Akuma. While it looked like Sabrina was confused about it all, she still passed on the message before leaving.

Marinette had felt bad for Sabrina more than usual these days. While Chloe had managed to escape legal punishment due to dear old Daddy, she had been expelled from Francoise-Dupont after news got out about Miracle Queen, and Marinette had heard little about the disgraceful heiress since. Last she had heard, Chloe had been accepted into a private school somewhere else within Paris… most likely through severe bribery. That said, she hadn’t seen all that many akumas coming from any other school in particular since Chloe left; perhaps she was fixing her behavior?

Heeding the warning Sabrina had given her, Marinette found Kagami and Marc and took them to the bakery, informing her parents about what was going on. Tom and Sabine were ready to hide Marc, not only from the possible akuma attack but also in case the team needed to transform.

Marinette listened for any destruction, yet… none came. Did the arrest not happen? Would there be reports of the arrest? She highly doubted it was going to be televised, yet not knowing was only making her and Marc anxious. That said, while she could imagine Marc was more anxious than her, she couldn’t tell how much so the young writer was.

In another part of Paris, Gabriel listened to Nooroo state that he felt someone in a deep rage. Intrigued, Gabriel transformed into Hawkmoth, if only to get a feel for how enraged the person truly was. 

“Well now, isn’t this interesting - a parent angered about their child’s rebellion,” he mused, now in his lair. “I should akumatize you… but it would be far more interesting to not. Nooroo, Dark Wings Fall.”

As the unfortunate kwami reappeared, he asked, “Master, why did you not akumatize that woman?”

“Don’t think I’ve given up, Nooroo,” Gabriel sneered as the kwami returned to his pocket, “You know that the longer and stronger her anger gets, the stronger an akuma she will make.”

“You don’t mean…!”

“Yes, I do. Hopefully, this one will settle the score once and for all!”

It was only when the police came to the bakery to inform of the arrest of Miss Anciel that anyone in the bakery knew what had happened. Relieved to finally be free, Marc clung to Marinette as he happily sobbed, releasing so much stress. Even as she patted Marc’s back and offered kind words, however, a part of her was still skeptical, even borderline starting to panic. 

Where was the akuma? Surely Miss Anciel’s arrest would have gotten Hawkmoth’s attention. What the hell was that bastard planning?

“Sir,” she began slowly, “I just realized something important.”

Officer Roger nodded, “What is it, Mlle. Marinette? You know we’re here to h-”

“Don’t you think it’s odd Marc’s…” - she spat out the next word like Adrien would say Gabriel - “mother hasn’t been akumatized yet?”

The question had everyone’s attention, the adults standing at attention as Marc seemed to freeze. No one had even thought of that question. Why hadn’t Hawkmoth akumatized Marc’s mother?

“Roger, perhaps we should keep Marc in protective custody?” Tom suggested. “He may be in danger when his mother is akumatized and we all know she will be - Hawkmoth can’t even resist turning an upset infant into a villain.”

“You’re right, we should,” the officer sighed. “At least until Hawkmoth has been stopped. I hate to put a kid on lockdown, but it’s for his own safety. We all know Miss Anciel will go for Marc when she’s akumatized.” 

When - not if - was the keyword, and everyone knew that.

“If it’s okay with Mom and Dad, Marc can stay here with us,” Marinette offered. “His… carrier shouldn’t know that he is here.”

“Yes, but that would put you and your parents in danger if she finds you,” Officer Roger pointed out. “She’ll search for anyone with info as an akuma, and if she can brainwash me with whatever powers she gets, she could forcibly wean that info out of me.”

“We all know how to defend ourselves,” Sabine stated as she lifted a razor-sharp bread knife, Tom picking up the biggest rolling pin in his vicinity as well. 

Having left little room for argument, Officer Roger had them promise to keep in touch if they had any reason to believe that Miss Anciel had been akumatized before he left Marc in their hands.

“Sorry… if I’m being a bother with all of this…” Marc’s defeated tone practically had the Dupain-Cheng family swarming the boy in a hug. More specifically, it was Tom who easily picked them all up in a bear hug.

“Don’t ever say you’re a bother Marc, because you are not one.” Thankfully Marinette’s hands were not pinned too tightly so she could once again rub her friend’s back to comfort him. She offered him an encouraging smile. “Don’t worry, we’ll work on your confidence over time.”

Marc looked skeptical, but at the same time, it looked like he was starting to look hopeful. 

You are slowly bringing hope to Marc… 

Observer Rank 2!

Later on, once Marc was asleep, Marinette gathered her teammates for a meeting at the Eiffel Tower. Kagami had slipped away upstairs earlier after the police had left, mainly to inform Adrien what was going on. The three had agreed that something was off and wanted to tell Luka. 

In the group chat, Marinette gave the basics as well as stating she wanted to explain more in detail for a much needed patrol. Hawkmoth had not taken the opportunity to akumatize an innocent - though Marinette really did not want to call Miss Anciel that - and that kept Marinette’s guard up. Wayzz seemed really worried over this as well; thus, the meeting was called.

To not arouse suspicion from the public, Kagami and Marinette transformed elsewhere so that Hebi and Ladybug were not spotted leaving the same area as Chat Noir. Each member had also decided to take a different patrol path to the Eiffel Tower, looking for something - anything, really - that was suspicious.

Nothing yielded on their first observation to the tower, that was good… or was it?  Marinette still wasn’t too sure. 

At the tower, Ladybug was the last to arrive; that was to be expected, however, as she had warned the others that she would take the long way to get to the Tower. 

“Thank you for waiting, and I’m sorry for calling you out this late. As I explained briefly, Marc’s home life wasn’t the greatest. There was an arrest today, yet there was something that didn’t happen in addition to that.” Ladybug paused as she had begun pacing without realizing it. “When one is arrested, you would expect that there would also be an akumatization from the ensuing emotions, right?” She scanned over her team to see them nod. “Yet that didn’t happen today. There was no akuma whatsoever. Now why would that be? Hawkmoth never misses an opportunity if he is given one. Today? Today he didn’t even try, it seems. He has to be planning something.”

“Agreed,” Hebi stated, leaning against a beam. “Why would he avoid this chance unless he is planning something?”

“We all know that the stronger the emotions, the stronger the akuma,” Ladybug stated as she once again began to pace.

“That’s it!” Chat Noir snapped his fingers. “He’s trying to let Mme. Anciel’s negative emotions build! It’s not like she’s going anywhere if she’s in jail, right?”

“That’s true,” Wyvern inputted. “With her staying behind bars, she’d be perfect when she is akumatized if he waited for a day or even more. One of us should watch the jail, taking shifts so that we can be on the lookout for an akumatized moth.”

“I don’t know if that will stop it, but it will help inform the rest of us about the akuma if we’re too late to stop them.” Ladybug once again stopped her pacing to think. “If it’s going to be as powerful as we’re all implying it to be, we’re going to need more help. Mama and Papa will stay at the bakery to protect Marc since he will most likely be the target. I won’t leave them defenseless - I’ll be giving them both a Miraculous.”

“Then that leaves the IT to help, but which ones?” Hebi inquired. “I know Kanji, Yosuke and Chie have been given Miraculouses, so they have the most experience. Then again, who to get for which Miraculous or Miraculouses depends on the akuma’s skillset.”

As Hebi and Ladybug conversed, Wyvern turned to Chat Noir. “I had a thought I’m gonna talk to Ladybug about later,” the Dragon wielder said, “but I want to make sure you’re okay with it.”
“What are you thinking?” Chat asked.

“Given that you’re still recovering, I think it would be best to switch Miraculouses until you’re fully recovered. What do you think?”

“Well… it may be a good idea… my power does have the ability to strain my body,” Chat Noir stated as he tried to avoid saying Cataclysm. “And even I can tell that I’m not fully one hundred percent where I used to be. I mean I’m getting there… slowly, granted, but…” He gave a slight sigh. “I say, if Ladybug agrees with it, then I’m okay with it.” 

Chat seemed to grin as a thought came to him. “Hey, we’ve both already shared Sass, so if we do this, you and I have shared three Miraculouses. We just need to get you Tikki, then get both Tikki and Plagg for Hebi, and Sass for Marinette and we can say that we’ve all shared each other’s Miraculouses!”

Wyvern seemed to blink at the observation before chuckling. “Who knows if we ever will do that?”

“It does sound fun, though,” he chuckled. “I doubt my gages will make it possible to wear Tikki’s Miraculous.”

“If you get another piercing, you can!” 

At this Wyvern was now laughing, covering his face.

“It’s kind of funny, isn’t it?” Chat laughed, “We went from discussing temporarily switching our Miraculous between the two of us to switching between all four of us. That could definitely be a strategy to really flabbergast an akuma. Do you think Ladybug will go for that?” 

“Who knows?” Wyvern finally managed to calm down his laughter. “Best I can say is ask her. But I have to ask - with what you’ve told me about how chaotic your kwami is and some of the stuff I’ve heard Ladybug do, are you sure you want to have them work together again? I’m pretty sure they’ll cause some mischief when not in uniform.”

“Eh, we’re safe so long as it’s when we’re heroes,” Chat shrugged, “I fear the chaos Plagg and Ladybug would cause if they were allowed to in our civilian lives.” 

“Nice to know that you two still fear me,” Ladybug cut in. “Now what’s this about switching Miraculouses?” 

“It was a thought I had and wanted to run by both you and Chat. I figured it would be a good idea since Chat isn’t back at full strength yet.”

“Then that turned into all of us switching Miraculouses to confusing enemies and just so we can say we’ve all used each others’ Miraculouses!” Chat happily chipped in.

“I like your ideas, guys,” Ladybug nodded, “but while the first idea is perfect, the second would require all of us to have experience using each of the four Miraculouses. Training for that would take time we might not have…”

“That is true,” Hebi stepped in, “but it could also work in the long term at the same time. Why don’t we focus on Mme. Anciel, Gabriel and Hawkmoth for now? If the time comes where we may need to switch, we can always train. It’s a shame we can’t train in the TV world, what with our Kwami being our Personas and all.”

“You guys are gonna have to fill me in on this more someday,” Wyvern sighed. 

“We will,” Ladybug promised, “I have plans to do so after the situations with Gabriel and Hawkmoth are settled. We promised the IT that we’d help them…”

“Plus, if we bring you into the TV, then you’ll be able to communicate with the other members easily, even if it’s just them that you’ll understand,” Hebi warned.

“Thanks Ladybug,” Wyvern nodded, “I appreciate that.”

“Alright, before we begin patrol, we should figure out who will take first watch over Mme. Anciel.” 

“I can take it,” Wyvern offered. “I have tomorrow off, and Chat can take over after me since you two have school. I doubt Hawkmoth will wait until tomorrow night…”

“Agreed,” Ladybug nodded her assent, “Call it a hunch, but I have a feeling it will be sometime when Hebi and I are in school tomorrow.”

“Meeting adjourned?” Chat yawned.

“Meeting adjourned!” Ladybug nodded.

You feel yourself getting closer to success with Team Miraculous…  

“Come on, Kitty. Time for your beauty sleep.” 

“Implying I’m not beautiful as is?” Chat teased, making Ladybug blush.

“Well, Sleeping Beauty was awoken with a kiss so maybe she wants to do a reversal of that. You can be her Sleeping Prince.”

“WYVERN! Not you too!” Poor Ladybug’s cheeks and ears matched her suit. “Both of you are incorrigible! No kissing or snuggle privileges for a week! Hebi, you’re the only one getting any affection.” 

“Of course, I’ll escort you home,” Hebi offered with a bow. Before she left, Hebi turned back to Chat Noir and Wyvern to stick out her tongue. “Have fun for the next week, boys.”

Chapter Text

Morning came faster than Marinette wanted, yet she didn’t let that stop her. She forced herself to get up early enough to discuss the plans for the day with her parents without Marc hearing. If it was needed she had the proof and alibi of helping her parents with some things in the bakery. 

As a precaution, she gave both of her parents a Miraculous for protection. Her instincts were telling her to be cautious with Geneviève Anciel, to take no chances. With that, Marinette also put a notification in a group chat with the IT in it to be prepared as her instincts were insisting that they would be needed. She informed them that she wouldn’t know which Miraculous would be needed yet or how many so she couldn’t specifically say anything. They were all in class but Marinette knew they would look and confirm the first chance that they got. 

Hearing a ping on her phone, it was from Luka to inform that he was near the jail but out of sight. It looks like even Luka wasn’t taking any chances. 

After making sure that Marc would be comfortable and ready to hide if (once) the Akuma Alert went off, Marinette made her way to school. Her body felt tense and ready to spring into action at any little hint of a possible threat. 

Tikki warned her that she may be channeling too much of Ladybug, but stated that at the same time that she completely understood why Marinette was reacting like this. 

Aware of her surroundings, she felt a similar aura making its way towards the school. Marinette turned to greet her girlfriend with a nod, the two seemingly communicating without words through just their posture and expressions. The two were ready for whatever came, and both knew that something was coming today.

During classes, Marinette kept a discreet eye on her phone, checking for any warning from Luka or the akuma alert. There was confirmation from the team in Japan, stating that they were all on stand by and finding a way to stay isolated or at least out of sight should Marinette need to get them.

Everything was as prepared as she could get, there was nothing more she could really do. It was only a waiting game now.

As she’d predicted last night, Hawkmoth struck while she was at school. The period right before lunch had just ended when the akuma alert went off.

Almost like clockwork, Kagami met Marinette outside the door. Using the excuse that Tomoe wanted Kagami at the Tsurugi residence if possible to get away from their classmates and that Kagami was inviting Marinette along, the two quickly began searching for a safe place to transform.

After transforming in an otherwise-deserted alleyway, Ladybug and Hebi met up with Chat Noir and Wyvern before following the sound of dogs barking to the site of the akuma.

Geneviève Anciel was a veterinarian - the irony of her treating animals better than her own son not lost on Ladybug and company - so it made sense, in a way, that once she’d been turned into Pack Mother that her power was to turn people into dogs with blaster bracelets wrapped around her wrists. 

“Ladybug, those blaster things were once her handcuffs,” Wyvern informed.

Ladybug was fairly sure that she could turn her victims into other animals, though. There was a reason she was favoring using dogs. Otherwise, there would have to be a reason she chose to turn them into dogs, given that she treated more kinds of animals than dogs, even helping the zoo on occasion.

“Why did it have to be dogs?” Chat pouted slightly. Thankfully there were no puns.

“Feeling cynophobia, Chat Noir?” Hebi teased.

“No, but I’m a cat at the moment.”

Noticing the bickering heroes, the akuma shot at Hebi and Chat with her bracelet blasts. Thanks to Wyvern pushing the two out of the way, the beam missed the three by a hair.

“Not right now you’re not, but you will be soon if she has her way,” Ladybug frowned. “We need to move - NOW.” 

It was like a far more lethal game of chase as Ladybug and company ran from the akuma, dodging beams and the nipping teeth of the ferocious dogs as they chased after them. Yet she was just trying to hit them. She no longer was hitting civilians to add to her army.

“We’re getting nowhere like this!” Hebi scowled as she smacked a dog away with her lyre, “Ladybug, any ideas?”

“I think if you guys can keep them busy, I can go get help,” Ladybug threw out. Nodding among themselves, the four split up. Ladybug made her way to the bakery, managing to escape the hounds that had broken away from the others to chase her down. 

It seemed like giving her parents Miraculouses temporarily was a good idea, as from upstairs she saw her parents defending Marc and the bakery from a slowly growing army of dogs. She definitely had to work fast! Still… which Miraculous should she use? 

Noting the ferocity of the dogs would have to be shaken off if confronted, she grabbed the Ox with the Horse, the latter of which she would need to get her allies at all. Despite the strength - pun not intended - of the Ox, Ladybug knew Bullfighter would only be able to take so much, especially after Fortify ran out. 

She’d need someone who could keep Bullfighter up and in one piece. 

“Let me be of assistance, Miss Guardian.” As if the kwami had read her mind, Ladybug turned to see-

Classes had ended for the day not too long ago, and Kanji had received a text from Ladybug telling him not only would his help be needed but who to grab with him on the trip to Paris.

Walking over to Chie’s front porch, he saw her cuddling happily on the porch with just the person his kouhai was looking for. Chie’s parents were surprisingly accepting, and Yukiko’s were learning to adjust.

“Sorry, Chie,” he said by way of greeting, “but Marinette and I need to borrow your girlfriend.”

“Oh?” Yukiko asked, “What for?”

Kanji looked left, then right, before leaning in and whispering to the two, “It’s that business. We ain’t taking on the big bad, but there’s an akuma she needs your help for, Yukiko-senpai.”

“Why not me?” Chie wondered.

“Apparently there are bad guys nearby - I’d guess she doesn’t have the ability to recharge the Horse right now,” Kanji guessed.

That had the two separating almost immediately, Chie urging her girlfriend to help without using words. Thankfully the earlier message in the group chat had gotten to Chie and Yukiko as well, warning them of what was happening. Kanji sent a quick location to Ladybug to notify her of where they were at.

As if on cue, a Voyage portal opened up just out of sight of anyone walking by; no one would be able to see the two teens walking . There was enough panic with the fog; they did not need more hysteria caused by seeing random portals appearing from who-knows-where. 

As Chie watched them head off, she quietly called, “Go get ‘em, guys. I believe in you!” 

Now it was a waiting game. Pulling out her phone and pulling up the Ladyblog, Chie could only watch what was about to go down from afar.

Not wasting any more time, Yukiko and Kanji stepped through to see Lady Mare - or so Marinette called herself when using both the Horse and Ladybug - waiting on the other side. They saw her pull two Miraculouses - one of which was familiar to Kanji - boxes from her yo-yo.

“Kanji, you know what to do,” Marinette smirked as the bottle blond put on the Ox Nose-Ring, transformed into Bullfighter and headed off in pursuit of Pack Mother and the other heroes.

“As for you,” Ladybug said, turning to the girl in question, “Yukiko Amagi, this is the Miraculous of the Rooster, which grants the power of Restoration.” Ladybug held out the box in her open palm. “Should you choose to accept the Miraculous, you will use it for the greater good and return it to me after the akuma has been defeated. Do you understand and agree to these terms?”

“Of course, Ladybug,” Yukiko smiled, “I will prove myself reliable to you.” 

Opening the box, she saw what appeared to be some sort of thumb ring. Before she could ponder it too much, said thumb ring released a ball of light that formed into a chicken-like kwami.

“Hiya! I’m Orikko!” the spritelike deity greeted, floating around Yukiko and looking her over. “I can work with this, Miss Guardian. Your power when transformed is Roostoration, which can heal any damages of a target. To transform, say ‘Orikko, Sunrise!’ and to detransform, say, ‘Orikko, Sunset!’ Got it?”

“Of course! Let’s do this!” Yukiko slipped on the thumb ring, momentarily surprised to see it magically shift to fit her thumb before shaking it off and declaring, “Orikko, Sunrise!”

An orange color flashed around Yukiko and in her place stood the new Rooster heroine. While she couldn’t see it herself, Yukiko was wearing an elegant orangish-red mask with golden designs and a black feather attached to each end. Her clothing vaguely reminded Ladybug of a set of armor that she had once seen at the Tsurugi residence but the coloring felt more like Orikko’s orange-red than the crimson-esque red of the armor. 

Had Yu, Yosuke or Chie been there, they might have made a quip about Yukiko being the knight this time.

“To think I would resemble an onna-bugeisha…” Yukiko mused, “That is very surprising… I like it!” 

Flexing her hand, she examined the pair of kaiken before shifting her gaze up to Ladybug . “Please tell me your plan so that I know how I can be of use.”

Meanwhile, Wyvern, Hebi and Chat continued to try and distract Pack Mother while also dodging the attack dogs. Each of them had to hide to recharge a few times and the longer things went, the closer she came to realizing where more and more of her dogs were going.

“Brace yourselves, you ruffians!” Pack Mother sneered as she and her dogs cornered the three. “This dog will have her day!”

Pack Mother’s costume design was wolfen in a way that would have some people calling her and Hawkmoth furries for the next week at least, yet there were hints of her veterinary job as she was wearing a doctor coat with hunting equipment. Chat Noir had joked that she looked somewhat like a wolf version of Cheetah from Wonder Woman, only to yelp when she focused a strong blast at him. As he dodged the blast, he had to mentally vow to keep all animal jokes to himself for the duration of the attack. 

Suddenly, the sounds of fighting from behind Pack Mother drew her and the cornered heroes’ attention. Dog after dog went flying as Bullfighter drew their attention, near-effortlessly dodging each hound’s jaws and paws and countering easily. 

“You shits think this is anything?” Bullfighter said as a basset hound flew past him, “I don’t hit animals normally, but I guess I gotta make an exception today!” 

“My babies! You disgusting vermin - how dare you treat my babies like that!”

“Oh sure, treat animals better than your own kid,” Hebi growled, “And you call yourself a mother!” 

“You aren’t fit to parent a potato!” Wyvern snarled, before throwing his sword into the air. “Let’s try something. Lightning Dragon!”

Now in his electrical form, Lightning Wyvern grabbed the sword as it fell back down and stabbed it into the ground, sending out a shockwave (pun entirely intended) that zapped all the dogs unconscious. Wyvern was careful not to apply too much heat as to not fry any of them - person or dog, nobody deserved to die like that.

That seemed to enrage Pack Mother even further. She sent out one of her stronger beams towards Wyvern.

“Parasite! I shall make you into a worm for that! You will pay!” Her focus was now on a reverted Wyvern, who seemed to be getting exhausted after not only all of the running but his attack. 

Noticing how his reflexes were starting to slow, she aimed at him. Bullfighter dashed by her just as she fired, calling out, “Fortify!” on the way. Right before the blast could transform Wyvern into something - no doubt something easy to squish - Bullfighter stepped in his way, deflecting it easily thanks to his power. Unfortunately, the blow flew into a pigeon. Strangely enough, it had no effect on the pigeon.

“So it only changes humans…” Hebi noted. 

Chat whistled a note. “Shame that doesn’t help us. Animal-themed as we may be…”

“And tired as you are…” Pack Mother sneered, “’ll be easy pickings, all of you!”

“I’d be less sure if I were you!” a voice called from the building behind the heroes. Everyone looked to see the unfamiliar form of the Rooster heroine standing atop it, wearing a determined look to match the look of Ladybug beside her.

“And who are you supposed to be?” Pack Mother scowled.

“You may call me Onagadori!” the superheroine in question declared confidently. Extending her hand at the heroes, she called, “Roostoration!”

While Pack Mother felt nothing, there was a feeling of relief as the heroes felt the exhaustion somehow diminish to nothing. They felt fully recharged and Pack Mother seemed to sense the advantage she had had before was gone. The familiar purple mask glowed over her eyes causing Pack Mother to pause.

“No, I’ll fix this!” She declared, no doubt to Hawkmoth. “I’ll get you the Miraculous and take back my brat of a son. I just need a bigger army, I’ll beat them with higher numbers!” 

 Before the group could stop her, Pack Mother retreated to find a heavier populated area to increase her army. Thankfully she was heading in an opposite direction from the bakery, but that was only at the moment. Who knows when she would see the many dogs surrounding the store? 

“Come on, guys!” Ladybug declared. “This time, she’s on the run! Let’s go!”

The team followed behind her as she took off in pursuit of Pack Mother. It was a small blessing but it looked like a majority of civilians were taking shelter after it was discovered that she could turn humans into dogs… or at least it was assumed by civilians that she could choose other animals. With all the dogs around, nobody wanted to be a cat now, contrary to The Aristocats.

As a result of the hiding, she hadn’t gotten to anyone by the time Ladybug and company cornered her . The team was complete with not only a recharged Bullfighter and Onagadori but a transformed Tom and Sabine (who had finished clearing out the dogs from the bakery). 

More heroes?!” Pack Mother gawked at the bulky green man and the petite but intimidating woman in yellow and black. “Now who are you two?”

“I am Chelonian!” the Turtle wielder declared. 

“And I am Mìfēng!” declared Pollen’s current wielder, her and Chelonian in perfect sync.

In his hideout, Hawkmoth felt unsure of whether to celebrate this many Miraculous being out or worry that Ladybug was getting bolder. It was rather interesting that she had brought in so many Miraculouses-

A thought occurred to him then. Why would she bring out so many Miraculouses if she didn’t know Marc’s mother would be akumatized? Did she know this was going to happen? 

Well, his mind reasoned, her arrest had made the local news that night, though not much had been thought of it by the public. Hawkmoth shrugged it off and commanded Pack Mother to take each and every one of their Miraculouses. 

“It doesn’t matter how many heroes you have with you! I will defeat you!” Pulling a whistle from around her neck, she used it yet to the group it didn’t seem to have any audible effect. Only those with more sensitive hearing - Wyvern and Chat Noir, mainly - cringed at what sounded like a basic dog whistle but most likely contained more. “Come to me, my favorite child! We shall treat them as they are meant to be treated - like vermin!”

“Calling us vermin? Ooh, how hypocritical!” Onagadori laughed. 

“And the favorite child thing?” Hebi chuckled, slightly unnerved. “You truly are despicable, even without-”

The earth shook suddenly, causing the heroes to stumble. 

“I have a bad feeling about this…” Chat gulped. His ears flattened as an absolutely humongous, feral, and frothing three-headed canine sentimonster rounded the corner. It had fuzzy, unkempt fur and a giant, spiked bracer around its front left paw. When it spotted the heroes, all three heads let loose a deafening, frightening howl.

“Eh, it’ll roll over eventually,” Bullfighter smirked, readying his gauntlets for battle. “We’ve come too far to stop now, especially for a bitch like this!” Chat was calmed down slightly by his appreciation of the puns, even if Pack Mother and her ‘baby’ weren’t as pleased.

One of the heads - the head on the right - shot out as the sentimonster got closer, snapping at Ladybug. Thankfully, she dodged it, throwing her yo-yo out and wrapping it around the head’s neck. With a slight pull, the right head was yanked to the ground, throwing the whole body off kilter.

“Chelonian, Mìfēng, Bullfighter - go for Pack Mother! Wyvern, try using Wind Dragon to keep the sentimonster down! Onagadori, Hebi, be at the ready to heal or reset! Chat Noir, can you Cataclysm that collar?”

“With pleasure!” Chat nodded. “Cataclysm!”

“Wind Dragon!” Wyvern called, turning into a small tornado that surrounded the sentimonster after Chat was within the area.

The other heroes did as commanded, attacking either Pack Mother or her sentimonster, Ladybug noticing that landing a hit on one enraged the other. Thanks to that rage, they were becoming almost less focused and attacking more blindly and thoughtlessly. 

Taking an opportunity when the dog swiped at Wind Wyvern fruitlessly, Chat destroyed the bracer of the sentimonster with his Cataclysm. An amok flew out and was promptly captured by Ladybug.

Noting this, the Dragon user reverted to his human form and told Chat Noir, “Go recharge! I’ll cover you!”

Chat nodded, before taking off in search of a hiding space. 

Screaming in rage, Pack Mother tried to chase after Chat only to be stopped by Bullfighter and Mìfēng. Growling, she took a swipe at the two to try and get them out of the way. She needed to go after at least one of the ones who had destroyed her baby.

“You know, you care more about animals than your own child,” Mìfēng growled as she threw a punch at the akuma. She wanted to do this with her hands instead of the top. “You have no right to call yourself a mother after the abuse you put your son through. Unrealistic expectations for grades, isolating him from his friends, not letting him pursue his own interests and cutting him off when he tries to pursue them…” Mìfēng threw Pack Mother into some trash cans, a rather fitting place if you asked her. “You’re a horrendous parent - if you can even call yourself that! You don’t deserve the title of mother!”

Chelonian said nothing as he and Bullfighter ripped the whistle and bracelets off of her each. In unison, they broke the items, an akuma flying out of the bracelets as had been predicted earlier. 

Ladybug quickly snapped it up with her yo-yo too before calling on a Lucky Charm that dropped a small sheet of rainbow stickers into her hands. Throwing the sheet into the air, Ladybug cured the city, turning countless dogs and whatnot back into humans and fixing all of the damages. 

Glaring as she walked up to a woozy Geneviève, Ladybug leveled Marc’s soon-to-be ex-guardian with a hard stare. “I doubt you’ll ever realize how twisted a person you are, Miss Anciel. I’m glad Marc has, though.”

“I thought you didn’t charge akumas for getting akumatized!”

“Trust me,” Chat snarled, “it’s not the akumatization you’re in trouble for.”

With that, she leaped away to go recharge, leaving Bullfighter and Chelonian to watch over Geneviève Anciel until the police arrived to take her back to jail.

After Ladybug had grabbed Kaalki, she took the two Japanese heroes to a secluded location so that they could detransform. A voice stopped Ladybug before she could unify Tikki and Kaalki and become Lady Mare.

“Wait! Before you go, I heard you have been sending off the newer heroes with some Dupain-Cheng baked goods!” Chat stopped as he gave them two boxes. It looks like he had quickly recharged to make this delivery. 

“I thought it would be a good idea to continue this,” he laughed. “Don’t want to send our friends home without the best baked goods in all of Paris!” He handed both Yukiko and Kanji a box of pastries. “Thanks for your help! It probably would have been a really tough battle without you guys! Have a safe trip!” With that, Chat began making his way out, though he stayed nearby to watch over the area so that Kanji and Yukiko could be taken home without anyone noticing.

Yukiko stared at her box with a slightly surprised look as Kanji happily grinned. He didn’t think he would be getting the relatively famous treats again, and certainly not so soon. 

“I forgot you gave us these the first time. Have you really been giving everyone a box when they visit or help out?”

“Yep! It’s not much but a small thanks, really. I really want to show my friends and brother,” Ladybug slipped Kanji a smirk, “my appreciation for their help. Now come on, let’s get you guys home. It’s probably around the evening for you guys.”

You feel a strong bond with Yukiko and Kanji…

Madman Rank 4!

Before she sent them off to the shrine as a drop-off place, she gave them a quick reminder that she would be picking up everyone some time after school on Saturday to begin planning for Gabriel; she also told them to inform the others of this. 

Once they’d gone through and the portal had closed, Yukiko contacted Chie and told her they were back. Kanji, on the other hand, quickly went home to share the treats with his mother, suddenly having feelings of appreciation for how well she had raised him.

Back in Paris, Lady Mare detransformed back into Marinette, giving the two little kwamis a treat before heading back to the bakery. She wanted to check in on Marc after all was said and done, school was probably starting back up, but she still needed to check on their temporary tenant. 

She sent a quick thanks to her parents for the baked goods and help as she ran up the stairs, her mother sending a wink back. Marinette noted that the Bee comb was no longer in her mother’s hair, nor was Tom wearing the Turtle bracelet. They must have returned Wayzz and Pollen to the Miracle Box.

“Marc? It’s safe to come out now. Your mother is back in jail.” 

She heard feet running so he must have heard her. “...Oh, good,” he said as he hugged her tightly, “Thank you again, Marinette. I can’t stay here forever, though, so I managed to get myself a place while you were gone.”

“Wait, what?” Marinette raised an eyebrow. “Where did you go?”

“I-I didn’t leave!” Marc stammered out appeasingly, a burning blush forming on his face. “I called… I called Nathaniel and asked him if I could stay with him and his folks until we both are old enough to get our own apartment. His mom and dad agreed to do it after he asked them. Him and his parents aren’t homophobic or anything, from what he told me.”

“Oh, that’s great, Marc! I’ll miss having you around the house; it would have been fun to have you as a guest.”

“Yeah… shame the circumstances weren’t better, though…” Marc sighed. “Though, I was wondering - how did you contact Ladybug and get heroes sent here?”
“Trade secret,” Marinette winked.

A few awkward seconds of silence passed. “So…” Marinette eventually said, a smirk forming on her face as she recalled Marc’s blush, “Why’d you pick Nathaniel of all people? Is it because of y-”

“Marinette!” Marc’s blush returned. “You know I can’t date him right now!”

“You’re going to be under so much romantic agony,” Marinette teased, tapping the other teen on the nose with a wink.

Marinette!” The blush deepened further as he pulled away to cover his face. Even his ears were red. It took a moment before the other teen looked up with a pout. “Don’t you have school to get back to? The akuma is gone.”

“I’ll be going in a moment,” Marinette smiled, calming down, “I just wanted to check in on you. I’m sure the school will understand and let you have the day off still.” She gave a playful ruffle to his fluffy hair. “I’ll let Nathaniel know to stop by after school right away. After all, he is your Prince Charming~!”

As Marinette headed out, Marc shouted embarrassed swears at her in Spanish.

Classes seemed to pass by fast that afternoon, but then again, an akuma attack did shorten the school day. Thankfully, the teachers decided to let the remainder of classes be easier - not only was there the akuma attack, but the students had been reviewing incredibly hard. Even Mme. Mendeleiev had lightened up… only a little, but she had lightened up regardless. All in all, a pretty good ending to a tense day. 

Marinette decided to head over with Kagami to collect the other teen’s stuff for the upcoming weekend. Not only would this allow Marc and Nathaniel time together at the bakery, but it would also let her spend more time with Kagami. Besides, she did state that there would be no affection for the boys for a week - why not just go through with keeping her word? It would be rather amusing to watch Adrien and Luka pout - it was so rare to get that out of Luka.

By the time the two got to the bakery, they had just managed to catch Nathaniel and Marc and say goodbye. Marinette whispered a ‘good luck with your crush’ to Marc.

You have saved Marc from his mother…

Observer Rank 3!

Marinette watched the two leave with a rather warm feeling. She couldn’t really describe the feeling, but it was definitely warm, fuzzy and good.

A few seconds after, she sensed Luka approaching; laughing, she dodged a noogie.

“What happened to no affection for us?” the musician teased. 

“Oh, that is still on,” Marinette shot back without malice. “I have Kagami, too, if you’ll recall.”

Giggling as she saw him pout, Marinette made her way up the stairs and was surprised to see a bunch of food left out for them. Looks like my parents are helping with the takedown/sleepover, she laughed to herself. 

With the help of Kagami and the kwamis, she carried the food up to her room, which now had a large pillow fort set up along with what reminded her of those crime shows. Adrien must have worked fast to set this all up - no doubt he had the kwamis to help, too. But where did he even get those three whiteboards? 

Marinette also noticed a laptop connected to her pulldown blinds that had once had everyone’s schedule on it. Adrien had even gotten notebooks - one for everyone, if the labels were anything to go by.

“We are definitely prepared,” Marinette mused as she took in the details of her room. She may have said no affection, but Adrien deserved at least something after this.

Fortunately, while Yu and the IT usually had school on Saturdays, quite a few of the lights in Yasogami High had shattered - nobody was hurt, thank whoever, but their school would be closed for the weekend. The fact that this text came merely hours after dropping off Kanji and Yukiko showed that Lady Luck was finally starting to truly favor Marinette and her team. 

“Ready, Kaalki? Yu said they’re all ready to come over early, and they all told their parents that they’ll be staying with a friend for the weekend.”

“Understood, Madame Guardian,” Kaalki said, a hint of giddiness in her voice at seeing Chie again.

“Alright, be right back you guys,” Marinette waved to her partners. “I have to retrieve our guests.” 

After transforming into Mare, going up to the balcony and calling Voyage to the Inaba shrine, she smiled at Chie, Kanji, Yosuke, Yukiko and Yu as they came through to the Paris side of the portal.

“Welcome back, everyone,” Adrien greeted as he waved to the older teens. “it’s been a few hours for some of you.” 

Mare called off the transformation as she followed behind the Japanese teens, closing her balcony door behind her. It may have been paranoia, but she locked up the door. Sure, no one could enter from the roof, but some part of her told her to do it and she did it regardless.

She mused sadly to herself that Master Fu had always told her to listen to her instincts before clearing her throat to catch everyone’s attention.

“Thanks for coming over sooner than expected. We really appreciate it. Me, Kagami and Adrien will translate between you guys and Luka as he is the only one who hasn’t gone into the TV yet.” Marinette handed out the notebooks and started up the laptop. Looks like Adrien really organized all of these notes. 

“This is our target,” she said, a picture of Gabriel covering one of the blinds, “We have a feeling his arrest will trigger a massive akumatization. He has already been akumatized before, but we are sure that Hawkmoth will mainly go for the public as it will allow a mass akumatization once they realize why Gabriel is being arrested.”

“Just to check my understanding… in the eyes of the public, he’s a powerful figure who probably has done no wrong, right?” Chie asked as she tapped on her own notebook with a provided pencil. Kagami quietly translated the question for Luka.

“That’s correct,” Marinette answered, clicking over to a picture of the Agreste Mansion. “The public mainly just considers him a very reclusive man who likes his privacy and is ‘extremely protective’ of his son - that’s Adrien - ever since his wife Emilie disappeared.”

“Right, you mentioned Adrien’s ma was missing…” Kanji murmured, scratching the back of his head. “You don’t think he did something to her, do ya?”

“What do you mean by that, Kanji?” Yukiko asked.

“If this jackass treats his son like that, who’s to say that he didn’t treat Mrs. Agreste like this, too?” Kanji pointed out. That had the Parisians pausing - Kagami translating once she’d recovered - as the three looked to see an almost shell-shocked Adrien. 

Could his father be that far lost? He didn’t remember seeing anything but… it could have happened.

“It’s been a few years…” Adrien mused morosely, “If that’s the case… I wouldn’t be surprised she left. Even so, you think she would have taken me with her… right?” He looked up with sorrowful eyes. Plagg was instantly by his side as he nuzzled underneath his kitten’s chin.

“I don’t think she would have left you behind,” Luka tried to comfort him, “Adrien, from what you’ve told us about her in the past, she was an angel in human form. The only reason I can see her deserting you would be if she couldn’t take you without arousing suspicion or something.”

“But if that was the case, wouldn’t she have returned for him?” Yukiko asked, having gotten the translation from Marinette.

“If she left to escape Gabriel, she wouldn’t have returned,” Yu explained, “that would run the risk of him seeing her again.”

“Theorizing aside…” Marinette noted, “I think we should consider the possibility that Gabriel might be Hawkmoth.”

“But wasn’t he akumatized?” Adrien pointed out. “He was the Collector or whatever…”

“The Grimoire’s explanation of the Moth Miraculous made me realize something,” Marinette frowned sadly. “Hawkmoth could theoretically akumatize himself by temporarily renouncing the Miraculous. I’m sorry, Adrien, but… we should take this into consideration at least. Your father meets a lot of the criteria of what we surmised as evidence for Hawkmoth.”

“But why would he akumatize himself?” Kagami pointed out. “There is no scarcity of potential victims every day, and we know he is anything but picky.”

“Yeah,” Luka nodded, “Mr. Pigeon? Gigantitan?”

“The fact you doubt him is probably why,” Yosuke explained, “If he really is Gabriel, he probably did it to throw you off of his trail! It’s like the kind of clever villain logic that you see on TV shows!”

That made Luka pause after getting a translation from Sass this time before the Parisians glanced at each other. They had never thought about this - it had taken an outside perspective to show them this. The fact that they fell for this little ruse really bothered them.

“Thank you for that you guys, we really never thought about it like that. We really fell for his manipulation…”

“Don’t beat yourselves up,” Yu calmed them down, “you four are young and haven’t been giving all that much help. If anything, you should be proud of how far you’ve come on your own!”

“And now it’s time for you to receive the help you’ve sorely needed,” Yosuke added, a grin on his face.

“So how are we gonna do this?” Chie asked. “I have a suggestion. You guys got a good relationship with the police?”

“Despite what most superhero movies would tell you, yeah, we do,” Adrien answered.

“Then let them know about Gabriel and your suspicions of Hawkmoth,” Yukiko said as if reading Chie’s thoughts, “They can drive him out and Team Miraculous can ambush him!”

“That might actually work…” Kagami whispered, before explaining the idea to Luka.

“I think there’s a good chance we’ve got him,” Luka smirked.

“We can give you everything you need to know on security!” Plagg declared. “Between Adrien and I, we can mess with the security in his place!”

Sneering almost evilly, he rubbed his paws and cackled, “I can’t wait to make his life hell…”

“Yeah, about that…” Marinette sighed. “Adrien, your discussion with Luka earlier gave me an idea. Would you two mind swapping Miraculouses until Gabriel goes down? You can swap back afterwards”

Adrien and Luka looked at each other.

“That’s a good idea,” Luka finally said, Kagami telling the IT what he was saying, “Adrien, no offense, but you might be a liability given your emotional connection to Gabriel. Granted, an akumatized you with the Dragon would still be a problem, but it would be better than an akumatized Chat Noir.”

Marinette shuddered, recalling the story she’d been told of Chat Blanc and what he’d done to the world in one timeline.

“That’s probably for the best,” Adrien nodded, trying to ignore his kwami’s whining about not torturing Gabriel together. “Relax, Plagg,” he pointed out, “Even if it’s not me you’ll get to take him down with, you’ll still get to do it.”

“Alright…” Plagg sighed, placated by his current chosen. With that, the two swapped the Ring and Choker.

“Now that we have a plan,” Marinette said, “there are two things left to do.”

“And those are…?” Kanji asked innocently.

“One - we inform the police of our plan,” Marinette elucidated. “Two - we get everyone trained to properly deal with Gabriel should he be Hawkmoth.”

“Most of all me, Luka and… Yu, right?” Adrien recalled. 

“Speaking of which…” Yu asked, “Which Miraculous am I to use?”

“That’s a good question,” Marinette responded. “I want to actually have you try two different Miraculouses tonight and test which ones will fit you better. I chose a few from the remaining Miraculouses that would work best for the situation. It would be either the Bee or the Turtle.” 

“How fitting that the Miraculous used by one of Hawkmoth’s worst akumas could be used to defeat him once and for all,” Kagami mused.

“Please do not speak too unkindly of my previous Queen,” Pollen said sadly, floating over.

“Why not?” Luka scowled. “She nearly ruined everything for us; in fact, she did ruin a lot of things!”

“I know she has done wrong, and I do not agree with what she has done,” the Bee kwami sighed.

“Regardless, sometimes I can sense her,” Pollen frowned, “I can feel that she is sad very often… though I could not tell you whether it is from the Guardian’s rejection or from guilt.”

“Cool story, still really bad,” Yosuke said. “I looked up what had happened, and the only source I could find about Miracle Queen said a lot of shitty things about… Chloe, was it?”

“Don’t tell me - the Ladyblog?” Adrien asked with a sigh as he rubbed his forehead.

“Yup,” Yosuke responded simply. “I wonder, though… she most likely has a Shadow, like just about everybody. What do you think it’s like?”

“That’s a topic I’m not too eager to explore right now,” Marinette pinched the bridge of her nose. “For now, however, we should get some sleep. Tomorrow will be a busy day of training and work - it would be best to think on this with a fresh mind!”

For all Adrien’s planning-ahead, he hadn’t had the foresight to set out sleeping arrangements for everyone. Thankfully, Tom and Sabine had, and they’d left sleeping bags for the IT, Luka and Kagami.

The sleep they had that night was somewhat uneasy, but like with everything else, they managed.

Chapter Text

It seemed like Marinette’s parents understood that it was a big day, allowing Marinette a day off from the bakery. There would always be other days for her to help them out, after all. Though it had been a surprise for them when the visiting teenagers offered to help out as well should they ever need it. Tom and Sabine were touched by the offer and thanked the group, or more specifically Yu, who seemed to be the official translator. 

All the same, they rejected the help for now. With the takedown coming up soon, the two adults wanted the team to be fully prepared. It seemed like for the day, the group would be in an open area outside of Paris to train. The idea had come from Luka who felt he, Adrien and Yu would need to openly practice their powers without Hawkmoth finding out about the switch between Chat and Wyvern or the newest hero. Plus, civilians might take their training as actual fights, and that could lead to akumas.

Yu practiced with both Wayzz and Pollen, getting a feel for their different powers, trying to figure out which style suited him more. In the end, it seemed Pollen’s more… direct approach felt appropriate than the defensive style provided by Wayzz. With an apology to the Turtle kwami, Yu returned the bracelet to Ladybug and adopted his new alias of Hornet.

Luka - or Rex, as he chose to be called - adapted rather well to the Black Cat Miraculous, although it seemed like puns were possibly a side effect of using Plagg’s power. Twice was coincidence but three times was a pattern, as the saying went. Rex did have to admit, he definitely liked the leather jacket the Miraculous gave him, and his ‘tail’ seemed slightly different from Chat Noir’s. It also came with a side pouch that connected to the belt tail, with another belt wrapped around his thigh.

Adrien - who went by Urulóki, the nerd - adjusted well to the Dragon Miraculous, possibly due to having used three other Miraculouses before. The temporary Dragon hero noticed how his sword looked different from both Ryuuko and Wyvern’s - the former a fencing sword, the latter a cutlass- whereas his was a zweihander. Sadly, none of the three other sword wielders could help as this matched none of their own swords. For this, Adrien had to get the proper feel of his blade on his own.

The group continued to train until the afternoon, returning early enough so that Ladybug could meet with the police to explain her plan. Really, it was herself and Hebi who went, as they still wanted Rex, Urulóki and the other teens helping out to be a surprise for Gabriel. While the police were a little skeptical of the plan, they still listened to Ladybug and Hebi. Like the Miraculous team had before them, the police had never considered someone who’d already been akumatized to be a terrorist. 

Naturally they wanted evidence, but the only ones that could be offered were speculative at best - regardless, it seemed to be enough for Roger and his compatriots. There was no conceivable reason for Paris’s heroes to lie about this - least of all about something this serious. 

They had also told the police Adrien had come to them with the suspicions that he was Hawkmoth - stating that as the reason for his departure - and had been staying in an undisclosed location with the heroes, guarding him until Hawkmoth would be taken down. Ladybug had also told them that after things were settled, there may be differing accounts of Adrien’s disappearance; this was, according to her and Hebi, because they could not trust anyone not to sell them out - by whatever means - to Hawkmoth.

“We will do our best to follow your plans, Ladybug. If what you’re saying is correct, then I think I can speak for all of Paris when I say that we want to take down the monster holding our emotions captive and our lives at risk.” Roger and Ladybug shook hands after cementing the time the plan would go into effect. “Even so, we can cite your appearances as personal interest. You should go home and rest - I have a feeling tomorrow will be a dangerously busy day for all of us. I will do my best to have my team keep civilians off of the streets near the Agreste’s mansion.”

“Thank you, Monsieur Raincomprix. Best wishes to you and your men. We will see you tomorrow once Hawkmoth is taken down for good.” 

Once the meeting was finished, the two heroines left the police station, looking for an area to detransform in. Once they found a secluded alley, they did so before returning to the bakery where everyone was waiting. 

“They’re on board,” Kagami updated, looking a little exhausted from all of the tenseness that had gone on today, both from the impending threats and training. “I thought we would have to work a little harder on convincing them, but they took our word, even if a lot of our evidence was circumstantial. Officer Raincomprix even stated how too many coincidences lined up for this to not be true.”

“Though it was Gabriel’s akumatization that still left some of them hesitant,” Marinette added on her staring at one of the boards that showed key positions for everyone. “Even after we explained how that proved nothing, some still felt it was impossible.”

“Do you think those ones will be a problem?” The question came from Kanji.

“No, I don’t think so. Even if some of them doubt us, Officer Raincomprix wouldn’t let his men do that. It would be too much of a threat to Paris. Besides, they won’t go siding with Hawkmoth of all people. Other than Mayura, who would do that?” 

“Someone who wanted power, probably,” Adrien piped in chirpily. “It’s kind of anime logic.” 

“Regardless, we are as prepared as we can get at this point. Sure, a few days of extra training would be ideal but we don’t have that kind of time, given that the bastard is doing more akuma attacks.”

“Most of which are getting stronger by the day…” Luka snarled. Kagami translated for the IT.

“Well, once we are done, that shouldn’t be a problem!” Chie pumped her fist before giving an enthusiastic kick to open air. “We will kick his ass so hard tomorrow!”

Her energy seemed to not only ease the tension but also pump up the group. 

Tomorrow was going to be it.

Gabriel had not expected to wake up to the sound of police sirens. Perhaps it had to do with Adrien, he mused as he got up and made himself presentable, pocketing Nooroo with him just in case. If what he hoped was happening was the case, it would be time to play the relieved father. Regardless, he wanted to be sure he could continue somehow in case they’d found him out.

As Nathalie joined him in the middle of the staircase, she shot him a worried look. Sighing, he said, “If it is so, then transform and run. Find more allies, and continue on without me.”

“But sir…!” Nathalie whispered, an incredibly rare tear beginning to trickle down her right eye.

“Consider that to be what may be my final order to you, Nathalie. Thank you for serving me all these years.” This almost tender moment seemed to make him almost human.

“But don’t worry,” he smirked, “I had something prepared to help you in case something like this happened…”

Nodding, Nathalie clutched the Peafowl to her chest slightly before heading to the elevator. Once the secret door had closed behind her, he opened the door.

“Gentlemen,” he asked carefully, “what is it you n-”


From the arch above the door, a new Bee hero dropped onto him. Right before the young man could reach him, he managed to dodge out of the way and call upon his transformation. There were a few curses from the police force at seeing their person of interest was truly the terrorist they had been looking for all along.

“Jig’s up, Hawk-for-brains,” a new Black Cat (what happened to Chat Noir?) glared. 

“You’re under arrest, Hawkmoth!” Ladybug sneered at him, the new Monkey, Horse, Snake, Rooster and Ox at her side. Recovering from the missed Venom attack, the Bee jumped back to join them.

“You can’t expect to take me down for good,” Hawkmoth snarled. “I will have all of your heads once I find a new hiding place! No one will stop me from bringing my beloved back!”

The next thing he knew, however, he was pinned to the ground, laying flat on his stomach. Discreetly, he snapped his fingers. 

“So it was all for her, huh?” a voice that was familiar in a way he couldn’t quite place growled. “Go figure - you dastardly deadbeat dads are all the same. You do as you please, not caring how it affects others, especially those under your care.”

“What would you know about parenting?” Hawkmoth managed to look over his shoulder to see yet another new wielder - this time wielding the Dragon.

“Considering how you failed to parent your son since Emilie Agreste’s passing,” the Dragon snarled, “I think I would know a lot better than you.”

“How dare you…!” Hawkmoth growled, “You are not fit to speak her name!”

Maneuvering, he twisted around and ended up pinning the Dragon wielder down. This proved to be the antithesis of fruitful in a rather short long run, as the Bee simply dashed forward and poked him with the Venom stinger, freezing him in place. With that, Ladybug smiled as she took the Moth away from him.

As the police handcuffed his frozen body and carted him into a police car, Gabriel only hoped Mayura had made her escape. 

“Now what about that Peafowl wielder?” Onagadori asked. “Mayura, I think you called her?”

“Shit!” Urulóki cursed. “I bet it’s his secretary. Nathalie or whatever…”

A sudden rumbling from inside the mansion caught everyone’s attention. It felt so close to an earthquake - perhaps a small one, but still strong enough to shake the building.

“What the hell was that?!” 

Looking in the direction of the rumbling, Ladybug and company watched in horror as a swarm of akumatized moths burst out of the observatory window. Nobody was stationed on that end, so the shattered glass didn’t hit anyone.

The evilized kaleidoscope shot into the sky, far out of sight.

“Was… was that supposed to be a distraction?” Langur wondered.

“We’ll worry about that later,” Horseshoe suddenly called out, pointing at a faint indigo-blue figure in the distance, “I see Mayura!”

“Nice eye!” Rex nodded approvingly. “Let’s go, everyone!”

Hopping to the buildings, the heroes began giving chase to Mayura. Roger and his remaining team also got in their cars and began trailing them all. 

“Here is the Miraculous of the Peafowl,” Nathalie said to her successor, “Use it to fulfill the mission of bringing Emilie Agreste back to life.”

“Yes, ma’am!”

As Nathalie snuck out, most likely to surrender to the heroes, Lila Rossi smirked.

Idiota… like hell I’m doing what you want.”

“Looks like I,” she laughed as she took off the foxtail on her necklace and attached the brooch to the ends instead, “am a free bird now.”

As Duusu appeared, the kwami quickly gulped in recognition of Lila. He’d seen this brat before when Gabriel was talking with her, and he didn’t like her one bit since he’d regained his sanity when his Miraculous had been fixed.

“Ooh, you must be like a servant for the Miraculous!” Lila said eagerly.

“Ma’am, please don’t use me for anything e-”

“Oh, please,” Lila waved him off malevolently, “dealing with those who have wronged me is not evil.”

“Where’s the Peafowl?” Hebi questioned harshly.

“I don’t have it,” Nathalie said coldly, “You’ll have to find my successor… and deal with the akumas.”

“Whaddya mean, akumas?” Bullfighter snarled, Ladybug translating for him, “We got the Moth Miraculous thing back!”

“Yes, but those akumas were magically boosted by the power of a certain grimoire,” Nathalie smirked, “They only obey Hawkmoth, and somehow I doubt you will convince him to call them back.”

“I’m disappointed in you,” Urulóki frowned as the officers approached them. “Adrien saw you as family, and yet you betrayed him like this…” Sighing, he turned away and threw up his hands, his Chat histrionics showing themselves. “Well, can’t say we didn’t try!”

“And so the trash bags became trash themselves…” Onagadori began dramatically.

“Take her away, boys!” Horseshoe laughed as she did her best to finish the meme in English, both she and Bullfighter flipping Nathalie off as she was guided by the police to another police car. 

“As much as I didn’t like Mayura, either,” Ladybug admonished, “we really shouldn’t flip her off.”

“Come on, doesn’t she deserve it?”

“Well, we are heroes…” Langur scratched the back of his head, “and that doesn’t feel like a heroic thing to do.”

Bullfighter sighed. “Yeah, you’re right. It’s not like we’ll be apologizing to her, though… right?”

Ladybug smirked mischievously. “Nah, you’re good. Just don’t do it again, ‘kay?”

That seemed to relieve Horseshoe and Bullfighter. They really didn’t want to apologize, least of all to a supervillainess and terrorist. 

“So what do we do about those moths?” Bullfighter asked. “Should we try to track them down?”

“Not a good idea,” Hebi shook her head, all the while glaring in the direction the moths had gone in. “I saw some disperse from the group before they all went out of sight. At least the akumas are on borrowed time… or rather, limited numbers.”

“I don’t mean to be a party pooper,” Langur said, “but Urulóki’s looking pretty vulnerable right now.”

Indeed, it seemed the pain Urulóki was feeling over the two most constant adults in his life being the villains he’d fought for so long had finally set in. Ladybug, Hebi and Rex were instantly at the temporary Dragon hero’s side. Their focus was on their partner and their partner alone.

“So, uh…” Bullfighter said awkwardly, “should we leave them be, or…?”

“While it isn’t our place to step in, we could keep an eye out for those akumas,” Hornet suggested. He’d been mostly silent throughout both arrests, the similarity between Gabriel and his own father hitting a little too close to home. 

“That would be ideal,” Onagadori agreed, “those moths are attracted to negative emotions. Finding out the truth about your father must be hard on Urulóki at this moment.” Luckily, she’d kept her voice low enough so that no one but the Inaban heroes could hear.

“Poor kid,” Langur sighed.

Eventually, Urulóki calmed down enough to avoid akumatization. “Well, we’d better return Adrien to the public,” the Dragon wielder said.

However fortunate or unfortunate it was, Officer Roger heard him.

“You guys know where Adrien is?” he asked sternly, walking over to them.

The heroes looked among each other before Ladybug eventually spoke for them. “It was him who came to us on pure chance. He’d run away after finding out Gabriel and Nathalie’s identities and taking a lot of emotional and verbal abuse and neglect behind the scenes, and he told us about it.”

“All of that makes sense except for one thing… Adrien went missing nearly two weeks ago,” the policeman pointed out. “Ladybug and Hebi only came to us yesterday.”

“We had to do some digging ourselves,” Rex explained, scowling, “A man like Gabriel Agreste deserves to get away with nothing, and we’d already been looking into him even if he wasn’t Hawkmoth.”

“And… to be honest… I didn’t trust you to not take me back to my father...” Urulóki said. Sighing softly, he glanced at Ladybug and was relieved to see she understood what he was going to do next. “I’m sorry, Ladybug, but I need to prove my innocence. Longg, Open Skies.”

The camera crew arrived almost on cue to see Urulóki transform into Adrien. Watching from home, Nino’s eyes widened, before he sagged into the couch he and Alya were watching on. It was overwhelming how relieved he was to see his best friend alive.

“Adrien, are you sure about this?” Hebi said, eyes wide. “You know Ladybug may not trust you with a Miraculous ever again!”

“With all the media attention coming my way,” Adrien sighed, handing Ladybug the Dragon Choker, “I won’t have time to be a superhero. Send Wyvern my thanks for letting me borrow his Miraculous.”

“Wait, is that Adrien?” another officer said as he approached them. “Well.. how’s that for timing?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Rex asked.

“You won’t believe what we found in the mansion’s basement!” the policeman said, “There’s a whole garden, and we… well, we found your mother.” 

“WHAT?!” Adrien and the others collectively shouted eyes wide. Hebi quickly told the Inabans what had happened. 

“No worries, we understood it,” Hornet said, “although the question rises: how are we able to understand?”

“Probably the Miraculous doing its thing,” Langur shrugged. “But seriously: Miss Agreste is alive?”

“Yeah, I thought she went missing or something…” Horseshoe muttered, looking confused. 

“Well, she’s in some sort of stasis chamber,” the policeman said. “The machine says she’s alive, but unconscious. We don’t want to touch anything because we’re worried we may kill her on accident.”

“Take me to my mother,” Adrien insisted. “Please.”

The police officer nodded his head, asking the small group to stay put to inform one of his superiors and ask for permission. A few minutes later, he confirmed, but that only Ladybug could join with Adrien at the moment.

As he did so, Ladybug whispered to Hornet, “We’ll take you back with the others when it’s time for you to go, but remind me that there’s something important I need to talk to you about.”

Hornet merely nodded.

After the two were escorted down to the basement in an elevator Adrien had never seen, Ladybug took the opportunity to sneak a tablet she saw the copied Grimoire information on. No doubt it would come in handy later on, and she didn’t want it in the hands of the government. She took a quick moment to thank Tikki or whoever was responsible for the hammerspace her yo-yo had. 

Adrien was quiet the whole time he stared at the near-lifeless form of Emilie Agreste. It looks like he may still be slightly in shock, Ladybug thought, watching with growing concern.

“Perhaps we can figure out a spell to resurrect her,” Ladybug said, getting everyone’s attention. “There’s a grimoire I can look into.” 

She noticed the hope slowly growing in Adrien’s eyes and sent him a gentle smile. “I will do everything I can to help her. Is it safe to move her?  I don’t know much about medical stuff.” 

“The life support is connected to the walls,” a higher-ranked officer said, “I doubt that’s smart.”

“If Adrien is okay with it, you may return to do this,” Roger spoke up, “Not that we’d expect you to, but please let the investigation go on.”

“Thank you,” Ladybug said, “Also, if you find any other magical artifacts and the like, please let Adrien know so he can contact me. I can take them and put them somewhere safe.” She was relieved to see both nod their heads at her request. “I’d like to give Adrien a moment with his mother, I’m going to see if I can check out the moths here. They’re not charged with the energy of akumas, but I feel that they are connected to Hawkmoth’s powers somehow… Once I’m done, can we find some way to properly release them?”

“There are plenty of gardens in Paris that I’m sure would be excited to study this breed of moth,” Roger noted.

“Thank you.” Before she left, Ladybug gave Adrien a quick hug. While to the officers, it was a heroine’s compassion, it meant much more to those in the know. 

Briefly alone now with his mother, Adrien walked over to place his hand on the glass, tears filling his eyes and trailing down his cheeks. 

“All this time I truly thought you were dead, yet you were here. Father knew and he never told me! He let me think that you were no longer in this world!” Adrien removed his hand, noticing he had subconsciously clenched it. He didn’t want to punch the glass and harm his mother. “Even Nathalie allowed me to think that you were dead!” The teen let out a harsh laugh as more tears fell. Why did his broken heart feel like it was somehow shattering still? “I was trying to move on, I wanted Father to be happy! I thought maybe Nathalie had feelings and was willing to have her as a stepmother!” Adrien wiped away at the tears, yet they still continued to fall. “Aunt Amelie came earlier this year, she lost her husband and I saw how she seemed to handle herself better than Father did. Looking back now, I… I can’t believe I missed how Father was abusive, how he was almost obsessive over you after your ‘disappearance.’ When you wake up, your life… well ,it’ll probably be a shit show, thanks to him.” Adrien gave a slight smile despite his mother not being able to see it. “I know Ladybug will heal you, and I want to help you. It’s not going to be an easy path… but I have faith we’ll make it through this.” Before he pulled away completely, Adrien laid his forehead on the glass; even without Plagg’s power, he could faintly hear his mother’s heartbeat and breathing. “I promise I’ll be back, Maman.”

Sighing softly, Adrien moved away from the container keeping his mother alive, noticing that Ladybug - now alongside Hebi and Rex - was waiting nearby. It looked like the officers had moved away to the doorway, possibly to give them space?

“I know it’s probably silly to ask, but how are you holding up?” Hebi asked as she hugged the blond haired teen. Rex moved closer to give his shoulder a comforting squeeze as Ladybug rubbed his back, the comfort still new to Adrien. That being said, it was still welcomed.

“As good as I can be for now…” 

“I grabbed a tablet with the translation of the Grimoire on it, let’s look through it tonight if you’re up for it. Maybe there is something in there to heal your mother.”

“Yeah…” Adrien leaned his head on Hebi’s shoulder before a sound caught his ears. He raised his head to stare at Rex. “Are...are you purring?” 

Rex didn’t even seem bothered by the question, keeping his voice low enough so that the officers didn’t hear him. “Plagg told me that it comforted you a lot so I figured I’d try it. You probably can do it too.” 

“Do you need more time?” Ladybug asked as she brushed hair out of Adrien’s eyes, wiping a thumb over the drying tear tracks. 

“No, I’m...I’m good. Thank you. I really want to help Maman out of there.”

“We’ll all help you Adrien, don’t worry. Let’s get you back to the bakery for now and you’re starting to look a little drained.” Hebi slung Adrien’s arm over her shoulder. “I could carry you if you need me to.”

“I’m good,” Adrien once again repeated, “but thanks.”

Once the team managed to get permission, they took Adrien back to the bakery, making sure to avoid the media and temporarily leaving to detransform just in case anyone saw the heroes entering the bakery. Once they returned as civilians, they made their way up to Marinette’s room where Adrien and the Inabans were waiting (the kwamis were recharging). 

“It’s really late for you guys over in Japan,” Ladybug said, “I forgot to ask, does anyone have curfews? If so, I’ll drop you off individually at your homes, hopefully that will prevent you from getting caught.”

“That may work for everyone else, but my uncle tends to be suspicious,” Yu said, the others nodding in confirmation, “I’ll tell him I stopped by on the way home to grab him and Nanako pastries… this isn’t me asking for pastries, just so we’re clear.”

“Done! Everyone is leaving with a box anyways, and I’ll make sure to add extra to yours. If you want, I’ll add anything your uncle specifically likes to try and soften up his suspicions for you… or would that make him even more suspicious?”

“A few might help, but too much will definitely get him thinking,” Yu said honestly. 

“Consider it done! The bakery closes soon, and we didn’t see anyone downstairs, so why don’t you guys go downstairs and help them get some baked goods. Yu, I still need to talk to you, can you hold back for a moment?”

Chie, Yosuke, Kanji and Yukiko flashed her and Yu various forms of approval as they went downstairs.

Marinette smiled at Yu. “The kwami of the Moth Miraculous will need some time to recover from the strain Gabriel’s misuse put him on, but when he does… I’d like you to be there for him.”

M-me?” Yu asked, genuinely caught off-guard. “But that Miraculous has been misused! Wouldn’t you want him close to you so you can watch over him or something?”

“Eh, pretty much every one of us has been misused at some point or another,” Plagg said as he zipped over to the two (he and the Black Cat Ring were with Adrien once more), “I think I’m in the lead now… not that it’s a competition, nor one I want to be winning.”

“Sadly, that’s true; plus, Nooroo might do well to spend some time out of Paris,” Marinette explained, “there are too many bad memories for him here right now. Can I trust you to keep him secret and take good care of him?”

Yu nodded. “I’ll do my best.” 

“With that said,” Marinette noted, “I’m gonna check over his Miraculous first, to make sure there are no lasting damages. I’ll bring him to you when I’m done. This was more of me letting you know so you’re prepared… or something like that. You get the idea.”

“Yeah,” Yu said just in time for the others to come up with their pastries.

“Alright, Yu, your turn!” Marinette pulled out Kaalki’s miraculous, “I’ll start dropping these guys off while you get your pastries. We have some small cakes, if you want to get one for your cousin. I read how you were proud of Nanako getting a 100 on her test in the group chat, that could help you out as well.”

“Oh yeah, I remember reading that too! We all could practically feel just how proud you were of Nanako-chan,” Yosuke said before taking a bite of a cinnamon roll. “You could say it’s from all of us if that helps, just say we all chipped in for the cake.”

“We could all write Congratulations on a piece of paper or something to make it more believable!” Chie said, looking a little too energetic for the situation. 

“I have some stationery, if that helps,” Marinette offered. “I can’t write the note as I don’t know Japanese.” She pulled out a bundle of elegant cardstock. “Pink would work, right?”

As the team mulled over what to write on everything, Marinette smiled. They may not be done yet, but they were a lot closer than they’d been. Today was a major victory.

You feel yourself getting closer to Team Miraculous and the Investigation Team… 

Chapter Text

Monday morning came and Marinette was preparing for the incoming damage control she had a feeling was coming. Luckily, no one from the media seemed to realize yet that Adrien was staying with the Dupain-Chengs, allowing the two to sneak out after putting on a simple hat and sunglasses on the blond haired teen. He seemed a little disappointed about not wearing a wig outside, but Marinette had to stress that that was for the best. 

For the morning, Adrien would have to be in the Headmaster’s office with Officer Raincomprix as well as Tom, Sabine and even Tomoe. Adrien would have to explain what was going on and stated that he asked for the Dupain-Chengs and Mme. Tsurugi as support. He had asked Mme. Tsurugi the previous night if she could join, and thankfully she had agreed. 

As Marinette sat through her morning classes, she forced herself to tune out the gossip from her classmates; everyone was focusing on the return of Adrien, how he had been a hero for Ladybug and the famous Gabriel Agreste had been the terrorist holding their emotions over the last year or so. She noticed that Lila surprisingly seemed to not want the attention working on her, remaining silent most of the morning. A part of her was suspicious and told herself to keep an eye on the other girl.

Despite the fact that finals were coming up in a few days, Marinette found it hard to focus in class, even if the class was only reviewing material. As she listened to her teacher going over information they had learned over the semester, Marinette thought back to the previous night.

After dropping off the IT as Auxois, Adrien had excused himself as he noticed all of the missed calls from his aunt, leaving the room to no doubt return her calls. As he did so, Marinette took the time to look over the tablet, trying to find anything to help heal Mme. Agreste. Yet, at that time she was unsuccessful. There was too much information inside. She had found the potions for the Aquatic and Ice forms for the kwami at least, so that would help if they were ever needed. 

There had also been a surprising brief section on how for some, kwamis could be the extensions of a person’s soul, this being stronger when a person was a kwami’s “True Chosen.” The section also mentioned how kwami could have multiple true holders, but a part of her felt that that was obvious, especially with how she had heard Tikki talk about past Ladybugs. That possibly explained why their kwamis could become their Personas… or at least how there were no issues with it happening. Sadly, there was nothing in there about Personas, and when she had asked Igor and Margaret way back in the beginning, neither of them were able to provide an answer. That said, she trusted the Velvet Room denizens to be her metaphorical Grimoire for anything involving Personas or the TV World. If there was any information on this stuff, whoever had written the Grimoire most likely didn’t know it; perhaps that was for the best. 

It was finally lunch when Adrien emerged from M. Damocles’ office. He hadn’t made it all of a few steps into the cafeteria when he was all but bowled over by Nino.

“Adri-en!” Nino sobbed into the blond’s chest. “Don’t you disappear on me like that ever again!”

Marinette and Alya - who Nino had been previously sitting with - just watched from the background, smiling as the two boys talked and Adrien told Nino what he was allowed to tell of the story involving Gabriel’s defeat. 

“Man… even if there’s still the Peafowl thing missing,” Nino laughed, “at least there won’t be any more akumas!” 

Adrien cringed about that. It sounded like the media had yet to cover that, most likely having been too late to see the remaining akumas shoot into the sky.

Alya eventually hesitantly approached Adrien. “If you wouldn’t mind me interviewing you for the Ladyblog,” she asked, “I would really appreciate that. I’ll let you look at the questions I plan to ask you so you can refuse to answer anything that makes you too uncomfortable beforehand.”

“I’d love to, Alya,” Adrien responded, “That said, I don’t really feel up to it anytime soon. I’m more than willing to do it, but… I need to adjust to everything first. I’ll let you know, okay?”

Alya smiled softly and said, “Just let me know when you’re ready! I can wait as long as I need to, Adrien.” 

Adrien’s eye then caught Marinette smiling approvingly in his direction. Discreetly, he sent her a thumbs-up.

Adrien is happy to be back with his friends…

Lust Rank 3!

Marinette then heard the bell warning students to head back to class in five minutes ring. Packing up her things, she made her way to the library, where this class period was held for the day. It was even more reviewing, though Mme. Mendeleiev decided to add a little mock test in with her lessons to make sure that everyone was actually studying.

While Marinette could understand how she wanted her students to pass, it still felt a little excessive. Even Adrien seemed a little frazzled, and if  Marinette had not copied her notes when he was recovering, he probably would have had a harder time… then again, science had always been his specialty when it came to school subjects. 

Eventually, classes ended, and Nino confronted her. “Marinette,” he said in a serious tone reminiscent of Carapace, “can you and me talk real quick? Somewhere private?”

“S-sure!” Marinette said, getting up and nodding at Adrien to let him know to head home without her, “What’s going on?”

“’s not best talked about with a lot of people around,” Nino admitted as they made their way to the park.

After both of them had sat down, Nino came clean. “I wanted to thank you, Marinette.”

“Is this about the gig thing?”

“No, it’s about you-know-what,” Nino elucidated. Marinette paled - did he know she was Ladybug.

“I know you’ve been helping Ladybug on the down-low,” Nino said. “You started acting weirdly and disappearing on us whenever akumas appeared. I know you’re not the type to flake on us and all if you could help it.” 

“O-oh,” Marinette said, mentally sighing with relief, “Not bad, Nino. Can you keep all of that secret?”

“If Ladybug trusts your opinion, I’m sure you know what the deal is with me, right?”

“If this is about your time as Carapace…” Marinette said, “then yeah. I recommended you and everyone else until Miracle Queen. She still trusts me, though not as much after my mistake as Multimouse.”

When Nino tilted his head in confusion, she told him about Kwami Buster. 

“Ah, that makes sense,” Nino nodded along. “So I’m guessing you don’t know who any of the new heroes are?”

“No,” Marinette lied. “Other than Adrien’s time as Urulóki - and that was because me and my parents were hiding him - I don’t know any of them. I have theories, but I refuse to share them.”

“Yeah, that’s fair,” Nino chuckled, not questioning the part where they’d hid Adrien and how he’d failed to notice. “Don’t wanna fuck things up even further…”

Marinette raised an eyebrow at that, before a thought came to her. “Did you tell Alya about any of this?”

“N-no!” Nino shook his head frantically. “I trust her with a lot of things, my life included, but not that information…” There was another mental sigh of relief on Marinette’s part.

“I trust you not to tell anyone, Nino,” Marinette smiled at him as the two began to part. “Thank you, Nino.”

“No,” Marinette heard as she began walking home, “I should be the one thanking you.”

You managed to get some good information out of a grateful Nino…

Innocence Rank 3!

“You know, you could use that as an excuse, Marinette,” Adrien said thoughtfully once Marinette had relayed the story to him. He was staying a few more nights with the Dupain-Chengs while Mr. Simonov was being checked over as a safe guardian for him, especially since there had been documents found written by Mme. Agreste stating that Adrien was to go under his guardianship should anything happen to her and Gabriel. “Sure, I wouldn’t use it too often, but remember how Xuppu wanted to see Kim again?”

“Yeah, I do… where are you going with that?” Marinette asked. 

“Why not say Ladybug lent you Xuppu to give to him for a night?” Adrien explained. 

“That… might actually work, Adrien,” Marinette smiled eagerly at the thought of Xuppu and Kim’s reunion before heading upstairs. It would bring closure for both of them. Plus, if Kim missed Xuppu too much, it could get him akumatized; Marinette knew how bad bottling feelings up could be.

As Marinette sat down on her chair, she saw Lila’s diary again. Shrugging and mentally saying why not, she opened it and thumbed her way to the next part of the diary.

Dear Diary,

I think my world has been flipped upside-down. Something has been off with my best friend. It’s probably me being paranoid… though I don’t understand why I would be feeling nervous. Something is just all kinds of off to me. 

Two stories Gigi told me about her travels didn’t match up chronologically. I didn’t question her at the time, but I’m not sure what the truth is anymore… was Gigi lying to me? 

No, that’s impossible! She wouldn’t do that!

…w ould she?

People warned me on my first days not to trust Gigi, but I didn’t believe them. I was so eager to have a friend that I jumped at the opportunity without thinking too much about it.

It’s time to do some digging. As her best friend (if I can call myself that), I know most of her adventures well, so it shouldn’t be too hard to search… wish me the best, Dear Diary. I really hope I’m overthinking this… 

Uneasy about what she guessed was happening next, Marinette turned to the next entry. It was dated a few days after the one she’d just read.

Dear Diary, 

Gigi lied. 

Mio Dio, she lied about everything I could find.

She even lied about the ‘friendship necklace’! It’s a cheap knock-off and she doesn’t even have hers on most of the time! She had told me she misplaced it… that was probably another lie.

What should I do, Diary? I feel like I should confront her, but I don’t know what she’ll do if she finds out I know the truth. 

I tried to ask that one girl from the first day for help, but she didn’t trust me. Not at all. She thought it was me plotting for Gigi… mio Dio, I’ve fucked up, big-time. I could have sworn I heard her say that I ‘dug my own grave’ before she left and I felt like someone had pissed on mine.

I’m heartbroken by this, Diary. 

Almost trembling, Marinette turned to the next page. It was written only a day after the previous one.

Never mind that last bit of the previous entry, Dearest Diary.

I’m not heartbroken.

I’m mad .

That was it. That was all that was on the page. Marinette decided to leave it there for the night and go to bed.

She didn’t sleep too well that night.

The tragedy of Lila continues…

Adjustment Rank 3!

Chapter Text

Despite being still somewhat shaken from the previous night’s revelations, Marinette managed to make it through her morning classes. She vaguely remembered waving away Adrien and Kagami’s concern, but couldn’t recall what she specifically had said. She also had a feeling they told Luka what was going on, if the messages in her inbox were an indicator. But Marinette didn’t want to tell them what was going on; she still needed to process what she had read herself. 

Not to mention the little key fact that explaining her stress would tell them that she had read Lila’s diary. She didn’t really want to open that can of worms quite yet.

Marinette forced herself out of the funk with pinches to her cheeks. She had to focus for the study group going on during both lunch and after-school. She needed to focus on her finals! 

“Okay, I’m good… no more thoughts on that!” Marinette slapped her now slightly-reddened cheeks to make sure she didn’t slip back into those dark thoughts. “Focus Marinette! Finals! Study group! You have to pass your finals!” Feeling pumped up, she made her way to the room they had reserved as the library was full. As she was collecting some food from the cafeteria, she checked her phone to respond to Luka, stopping when she saw the entire Investigation Team was checking in on her. Touched, Marinette sent a reply that she was doing okay now and had merely been deep in her thoughts and busy with classes. 

“Let’s do this!” Upon opening the door, she noticed that she wasn’t the last in the room. It looked like most of the boys would be the last to arrive. Pleased, Marinette made her way to a seat after hugging both Kagami and Adrien. “Sorry for this morning. I’m doing good now; I just needed to think over something. Also, thanks for having the others check in.”

“No problem, Marinette!” Adrien grinned while taking a bite of a burger he’d gotten from a relatively- nearby Five Guys. No longer being a model allowed him more freedom to eat as he pleased. “I was out for so long… what’d I miss?”

“We gave you our notes,” Kagami reminded, poking Adrien in the forehead with an amused smile. 

“But it’s probably easier and better to review and study with others than just read over information yourself,” Rose smiled at them. “Please, feel free to ask us anything if you need help.”

“Remind me who we’re waiting for again?” Juleka asked.

“Just Nino and Kim,” Rose responded, Juleka nodding along in assent.

“I thought Marc was coming as well…” Marinette reminded them.

“I am,” Marc said as he entered through the door. “Nino and Kim should be on their way as well. Alya wanted Nino to study with her and everyone else, but Nino made the commitment prior.”

As predicted, Nino and Kim arrived not all that long after Marc had sat down and began studying with them. The first thing they noticed when the two was Kim’s disheveled and damp hair.

“What happened to you, Kim?” Adrien asked, eyes wide.

“This idiot tried to see if he could give himself a swirlie,” Nino sighed, facepalming at the memory. “I had to get Ivan, Alix and Ondine’s help to pull him out.”

“Thanks for that, Nino…” Kim said sheepishly. 

“Dude, you’re lucky you’re not partially bald,” Nino grumbled.

“...Is it bad I want to see that?” Adrien blurted out, on the verge of laughing.

“Please don’t encourage him, Adrien,” Marinette sighed. She was all too aware of the antics Kim often got into, but this one took the cake for recent ones.

“At least he didn’t give someone else one…” Kagami grumbled as Kim sat down. Thankfully, he’d dried off enough to not get anyone wet.

“I know I fit the jock stereotype,” Kim complained as he sat down with Nino, “but I’m not a bully! I take offense to that!”

“Enough, guys!” Rose said sternly. “Let’s get to work, shall we?”

“Right!” Kim said. “Can we cover Biology first? That’s my worst subject, so…”
“Right, right,” Marc nodded along. “Here’s one for the taxonomy unit. What is a group of alligators called?”

“Isn’t that a float?” Kagami attempted. “Or is that crocodiles?”

“Sadly, that’s crocodiles,” Marinette recalled, “I’m pretty sure the answer is a congregation.”

Nino nodded approvingly and high-fived her. “Nice one, Marinette!” 

“What about this one Gilgemash thing? I don’t remember this one...” Marc scratched the side of his head. “What is that?”

“That may have been when you were out,” Kagami supplied as she pulled out her notes to show Marc. “He was a king in Ancient Mesopotamia, and he had a partner named Enkidu. Here, I’ll share my notes.” 

This went on for a while before the lunch period ended and everyone returned to classes. After the rest of the school day went by, Marinette and company met up at the bakery to continue their study session, dodging Lila on the way.

The first subject the group decided to get out of the way, mainly because they all seemed to hate it, was math. While some tolerated it, most agreed that it was the subject they all hated. 

“And I thought Mme. Mendeleiev was a sadist of a teacher… but M. Cadieux takes the cake…” Juleka groaned as she looked over her notes. Kagami and Marc looked over the notes to see if they were similar to their own.

“Well… you guys have a harsher teacher than we do... It looks like your teacher makes you really work to take notes.” Marc gave a sympathetic pat to Juleka’s shoulder as Rose tried to keep her girlfriend from banging her head against the table. “Here, Kagami and I have a more chill teacher. Take a look over our notes and see if they help.”

Somehow, Kagami and Marc’s math teacher seemed to be a lot more comprehensible than M. Cadieux.

“Can we copy your notes? Your teacher seems like an angel…” Kim begged. “The only way I can understand M. Cadieux is when Marinette explains it to me.”

“No problem. Here,” Kagami slid over her notes, only to blink when everyone eagerly began copying the far more easy-to-understand notes. Even Marinette seemed desperate for the notes.

“Is M. Cadieux really that bad?” Marc asked innocently. Those in Mme. Bustier’s class gestured in ways that gave him the answer. 

“Oh wow, take a look at this. You guys can actually understand this problem…” Adrien wrote down the problem, following the new notes to correctly answer questions on the review sheets he and the others had been given.

As the hours went by and evening fell upon Paris, the teens began trickling out. Nino was the first to leave (no doubt to ‘comfort’ Alya after reviewing), followed by Juleka and Rose; Marc left a little while after, and Tatsu took Kagami home around the same time. 


You feel yourself getting closer to Rose, Juleka, Marc, Adrien, Nino and Kagami…

Kim had been preparing to leave when an idea hit Marinette.

“Kim, can you stay for a little bit longer? There’s something I need to talk to you about. I think it’s something you need.” Marinette could practically feel a certain kwami’s excitement.

Kim tilted his head at Marinette. “Uh, sure… just let me check it over with my mom first.”

One call later, Kim met Marinette in her room upstairs. Adrien had turned in for the night, so there was no need to worry about him hearing anything.

“Is something wrong, Marinette?” Kim asked. “You got this serious look on your face… it’s honestly sort of scary!”

“Well, it is best kept secret… of course, you were King Monkey, so I know I can trust you to keep a secret.”

“Yep!” Kim’s eyes then bugged out as he realized what he’d just admitted. “W-wait, how did you know that?”

Marinette merely smirked, a glint in her own pair of peepers. “Who do you think recommended you, Kim?”

“ get cooler and cooler every day, Marinette. Please, never change.”

The answer he got was a smile and an all too familiar black box extended out. If one were to look closer, they’d see a light blush from the praise. 

“Ladybug said that you know the rules and that she’ll collect it in a few hours. She also mentioned that you should try not to be seen but to otherwise have fun.” No doubt Kim would follow these rules, but she felt it would be a nice reminder to both Kim and Xuppu. “I’ll head down to let Ladybug know that I did the favor. Have fun.”

Marinette made her way downstairs to give the two time. As she made her way down the stairs she heard the familiar sound that came with opening the box. 

“Heya, Oaf!”

Kim stared for a moment at the kwami, still at a loss for words as tears filled his eyes, any words he had choking in his throat. This was real, he really was with Xuppu again. Even if it was only temporary. It felt like an eternity since he had seen the Monkey kwami, since he had had to give up the Monkey miraculous due to Miracle Queen.

“Big guy?” Xuppu picked up on the silence but seemed confused. Wasn’t Kim happy to see him as well? The kwami flew over to nudge the teen’s cheek, nuzzling against it. That got a reaction; hands gently enclosed around the kwami in an almost hug like manner. Xuppu’s eyes widened before he hugged the now wet cheek. “I get it now. I missed you too.”

The two seemed to stay that way for a bit, neither could tell if it was only a few minutes that passed or more than ten, time just wasn’t discernable for them. But sadly, time was also limited.

“It’s good to see you too Xuppu.” Kim wiped at his cheeks, giving an almost watery smile. “Words can’t really describe how much I missed you.” The teen slid on the Miraculous, feeling like a void in his chest was starting to heal. Despite this being a temporary thing, maybe it would be all he needed to properly heal. “Come on, Marinette said that we only have a few hours before Ladybug picks you up. Let’s go have some fun! Xuppu, Showtime!”

Ladybug decided to transform early and catch up with Kim. She wasn’t separating them yet, but she wanted to join him… and to keep him out of trouble just in case he got into the good kind (he had promised to stay out of the bad kind).

Luckily for her, she’d found King Monkey on the Eiffel Tower, hanging on a beam from his tail. On closer inspection, he was secured almost naturally to the beam; there was no knot unlike what Chat would do. It looked like she had caught him either resting or having a moment to plan something if he was this quiet. Possibly both.

“Fancy seeing you around here, King Monkey!” Ladybug called out cheekily, gathering his attention.

“Ladybug?!” King Monkey seemed to briefly panic at her early arrival, nearly falling off of the beam.

“Don’t worry, I’m not separating you two yet. I figured you might need a supervisor or at least someone to help clean up any mess your pranks or games if there are any.”

Visibly relaxing, King Monkey sighed with relief. 

“I honestly have no idea what to do yet,” King Monkey admitted as he hopped down and detransformed. “I just wanted to enjoy the view first. Feel and see everything from this place one last time.”

“I see,” Ladybug settled on to the beam. “I’m sorry I have to separate you two after this; it’s just too much of a risk, even with Hawkmoth now defeated. I can only hope that this will be a proper goodbye.”

The two seemed to mutually observe the city for a moment, both sitting in companionable silence. That is until Ladybug got an idea. A crazy idea… perhaps just what she needed.

“Want to see how far I can throw you? Chat Noir and I used to do this back in the beginning as practice for our strength and aim.”

Kim could only stare in shock, no doubt surprised by the fact that Miss-Mostly-By-The-Book would willingly throw her partner for practice. Then again, after some of the stuff he has seen or heard her do, it kind of made sense. 

“I’m in!” Nodding at Xuppu, he quickly transformed back into King Monkey. “Let’s see if you can throw me further than you can Chat Noir!”


It turned out that King Monkey could come close but ultimately come up just short of the record. It helped that Chat Noir was thin as a rail while he was on that model diet, but King Monkey ate a good bit more. 

Later on, the two had been joined by Hebi and Wyvern, and they’d all gone for banana splits at a local ice cream parlor. The owner and staff had been surprised to see them (not only because they were superheroes but because of Andre Glacier), but had ultimately gotten over it quickly and had been all too eager to feed the heroes of Paris.

“If Chat Noir were here, he’d say you guys got our orders out lickety-split ,” King Monkey had laughed when the food arrived, earning hearty chuckles from staff and patrons alike. Ladybug and Hebi both groaned as they hit their heads against the table. If one were to listen closely, they’d hear Ladybug mutter something about another pun lover.

It was getting late when the group split up, Ladybug following behind King Monkey to collect the Miraculous. She waited outside an alley to allow the two a private and proper goodbye.

It was not too long before Kim walked back to Ladybug, Xuppu’s Circlet in hand. Pulling a box from her yo-yo, Ladybug took the Monkey Circlet back and stored it in her yo-yo.

A few more seconds of awkward silence passed before Kim said to Ladybug, “Uh… tell Marinette I said hi… and thanks.”


You’ve given Kim catharsis and closure…

Force Rank 4!

“I will, so don’t worry about it. You should get home, Kim.”  

“Thanks, uh… Goodbye.” Kim managed an awkward wave before leaving, no doubt heading home. Ladybug swore she saw him walk straighter, as if a burden had been removed from his shoulders. 

Smiling, she headed home.

Chapter Text

It was time for the dreaded Finals and no one was looking forward to the next few days. Marinette barely managed to muster the ambition to get out of bed, only getting up because the kwamis decided to take matters into their own hands (read; threatening to use the spray bottle for her plants). It was even a struggle to get Adrien out of bed, even with the kwamis’ help (minus Plagg, who was absolutely no help at all). 

Marinette and Adrien both dragged themselves down to the bakery, drinking the strongest coffee they could handle before packing up a milder one for the day. As a gesture of wishing them good luck, Sabine held out a box of pastries for the two to share with others, mostly Kagami and the two. Marinette noticed how there was a limited amount, not really enough for the whole class. 

The two made their way over after dodging some shady-looking journalists who seemed to be skulking around the entrance to the bakery.. No one had revealed that Adrien was staying there, so Marinette was instantly suspicious. If there was a rat somewhere, she was going to find them. Perhaps she could borrow Plagg? After all, the Black Cat was just as, if not more than, protective of Adrien.

Surprised at how just a few reporters managed to make her vigilant and took her mind off the Finals, she decided to mentally ‘thank’ the journalists with something later. Something splashy and petty to make their reporting look like a dramatic tabloid. Perhaps she should get Luka and Kagami in on this as well? Oh well, that would be something for a later time. 

Adrien was the first to spot Kagami getting out of the car, giving Tatsu a quick good morning before the door closed; Marinette quickly held out the box for Kagami to take a pastry. None of the teens saw Luka, which kind of sucked. He had said that he had his Finals at an earlier date, so maybe he was done with school and sleeping in? If so, she wouldn’t fault him.

The three made their way inside; since it was Finals, every student almost looked like a zombie as they all desperately reviewed their notes before class could begin. Before leaving, Kagami took a pastry for Marc, for the three had yet to see the writer. Marinette snuck the remaining pastries to her group of friends before disposing of the box. It would have been better if the box wasn’t seen in the classroom trash, lest others catch on to the fact that there had been baked goods brought in. Marinette was too tired to have everyone crowding her in hope of pasties.

By the time Mme. Bustier came into the room, all evidence of the goods was gone. 

Once given the signal by the teacher, Finals officially started.

Marinette felt like all her practice had paid off; she had confidently moved her way through most of the questions and did her best for those she didn’t know as well.

After returning home for the night, she’d tried to fall asleep only to be interrupted by an all too familiar alert from her phone.

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me!” She had forgotten about the many akumatized moths Hawkmoth had released before his capture. It looked like Adrien had been in a similar state as he ran into her room. Still suspicious of the reporters, the two made their way out of the bakery to safely transform.

But the akuma - which the media had still yet to find - wasn’t the surprising part. It was the new Peacock user that had their attention. 

“Greetings, future minions! I’m Donna Piuma!”

Like Mayura, Donna Piuma had a similar color scheme with the blue clothes and violet hair. Ladybug noted that the ponytail (or was it a bun?) looked very similar to a peacock’s tail. Also like Mayura, her dress was long enough to be classified as a dress but not long enough to hamper her movements, the bottom even looked similar to peacock feathers as well. Unlike Mayura, however, she wasn’t wearing heels, and her skin wasn’t blue. 

“Looks like this Peafowl user really likes the aesthetic…” Chat murmured to Ladybug. “I’m sorta getting a ringmaster’s vibe from her…”

“Should we begin, or wait it out?” Hebi asked, Wyvern in tow.

“I don’t see her amok yet, and that has me worried,” Wyvern mused, “perhaps we can take her out now before she makes one.” 

“Good idea, but be prepared for anything. Not only do we have to fight her but an akuma as well.” Just as Ladybug said those words, the ground rumbled as a behemoth quadruped creature seemed to rise from among the buildings.

“So much for stopping her before she created an amok…” Wyvern muttered, clearly annoyed with himself. “I just had to jinx us.”

It was then that Donna Piuma spotted the heroes. A look of pure maliciousness fell over her face.

“Ladybug, Chat Noir… oh, and you other two as well. I’m going to mangle you and raze the city!”

As if proving her point, the sentimonster let out a stream of flames into the sky.

“A firebreather amok?! Seriously?” 

“Oh, are you getting hot under the collar, you mangy cur?” Donna Piuma shot back. Letting out a feral screech, she leaped into the air, hoping to divebomb her foes.

Growling, both Wyvern and Ladybug moved to counter the attack, throwing her back into a building. The fact that Donna Piuma was most likely still a novice was definitely going to be an advantage. Approaching her, Ladybug pulled the Peafowl user from the building towards the open air. 

“No one insults my Kitty and gets away with it!” Before Ladybug followed after her, she turned to her team. “You guys focus on the amok. I’ll take her myself and join you after I’ve whooped her!” There was something about Donna Piuma that nagged at Ladybug, but she couldn’t figure out what. Perhaps a fight would help her.

While they seemed hesitant to leave her on her own, Chat, Wyvern and Hebi headed out to deal with the amok. 

“Hmph, so you think you’re so special that you don’t need your sidekicks? Well, that was a mistake!”

Ladybug growled once more; no one insulted her partners. Not unless, they wanted to feel pain! Once again, she managed to catch Donna Piuma with her yo-yo to throw her into the air, sending the villainess flying onto the top of another building with a spike. 

“I dare you to say that again, you prissy peahen! Just try to insult my team - I freaking dare you!”

Snarling, Donna Piuma wiped at blood from the corner of her lip, eyes displaying her desire for nothing but Ladybug’s defeat… or perhaps even death. 

“You and your ‘team’ are nothing but maggots! Now that I have the Peacock, I can put you in your place…” Donna Piuma sneered, “You don’t deserve any of the love and glory this city gives you!”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ladybug shouted back. “A battle or a popularity contest?”

Screeching, Paris’ newest supervillainess charged Ladybug, throwing a series of punches that were far too easy to dodge. It was very obvious that she had no fighting experience, and her rage only further hampered her. It was really easy to read all of her moves, almost to the point of it being pathetic.

Eventually, Ladybug got tired of waiting for Donna Piuma to do something interesting; throwing her yo-yo, she tied Donna Piuma up, binding her.

She’d been about to take the Peafowl Brooch off when Wyvern zoomed by both of them, a swipe from the sentimonster having blown him back.

Wyvern!” Ladybug called out in horror. Taking the opportunity, Donna Piuma burst from her bindings and cracked Ladybug over the head with a cheap fan-strike. Recovering quickly, Ladybug resumed the battle with Donna Piuma, Wyvern joining her this time.

Meanwhile, Chat and Hebi were struggling to get anywhere with the sentimonster. They couldn’t find its item anywhere on its person. A crazy idea then hit the Black Cat wielder. He started making a beeline for the bakery, hastily informing Ladybug on his communicator to keep the sentimonster busy.

Upon arriving, he quickly informed the heroes they would need about the plan and grabbed the Horse, Bee and Monkey; unifying Plagg with Kaalki, he sent a Voyage portal in an alley near Junes.

They were lucky Yosuke and Yu had just finished finals and were merely walking around after midnight.

“Sorry, no time! Need your help!” He pulled the two older teens into the portal without much more of an explanation, pretty much forcing the familiar boxes in their hand. “Please transform, then follow me!” Chat Noir released the fusion before giving Kaalki a treat and returning her Miraculous to the Box. Sure, it wasn’t her usual, but there wasn’t much time, and she knew better than to be picky right now.

Turning back, he was happy to see Hornet and Langur following him while he jumped over the rooftops. Chat Noir led the two to the fight, hoping that things hadn’t tipped completely in Donna Piuma’s favor. 

Things weren’t completely in Donna Piuma’s favor, but they were better than before. Upon seeing two new heroes join the battle, the Peafowl villainess scoffed.

“Really, are you all that pathetic? Weren’t you saying you could handle a ‘newbie’ like myself on your own?”

“If you were alone, then you’d be toast,” said Hornet, “but it looks like you have a knack for creating sentimonsters.”

“I’m flattered,” Donna Piuma smirked. “and here’s my thanks!”

She chucked her fan at Langur, who deflected it into the air with Ruyi Jingu Bang. The warfan landed almost calmly in Hornet’s hands.

Gulping, Donna Piuma took off, attempting to escape the heroes. Wyvern and Langur attempted to give chase, but she was long gone before they could go too far.

Not long after, the warfan faded away in a small burst of light. Donna Piuma must have detransformed.

“Does that mean it’s over?” Langur asked. As if answering his question, the sentimonster appeared around the corner, hot on Hebi’s tail. 

Hornet cringed as he looked up at their enemy. “Guess that’s a no…”

Ladybug decided now was a good time to call on her Lucky Charm. Throwing up her yo-yo, she summoned… 

“Rope, huh?” Hornet noted as he looked at the item in question.

Looking around, Ladybug’s eyes flashed from Langur to the sentimonster’s muzzle to Hornet. “That’s it! Hornet, Langur! I need your help with this!”

“What can we do, Bug?” Langur called. 

“On my cue, use your powers on this guy! Make sure that Langur goes first, though!”

As she began running towards the sentimonsters, it shot fireball after fireball at her. Evading each one, she hooked her yo-yo around its horns and began wrapping the long rope around the front of its mouth.

“Uproar!” Langur called, summoning a sock monkey, dashing forward and impaling it on a spiky part of the sentimonster.

The sentimonster prepared another fireball, only for the flame sac in its gullet to stop working and shoot the flames into its belly. Roaring in pain, it attempted to squish Langur and swing at Ladybug, only for Hornet to dash forward himself. 

“Venom!” he shouted, stinging the sentimonster with his weapon. As it froze in place, the sentimonster’s belly began glowing a bright red.

Realizing what was going on, Wyvern shouted, “EVERYONE CLEAR OUT!” 

Thankfully, all of the civilians were far away from the radius of the sentimonster’s swan song. Quickly, Ladybug and everyone else ran for cover, everyone making it to a safe distance right before the sentimonster exploded in a burst of flame.

An amok flew out of the smoke and ashes, only for Ladybug to catch it with her yo-yo. The Lucky Charm, charred but still in one piece somehow, landed on the street where their former foe once stood. Picking it up, Ladybug threw it into the air and purified the city. 

Everyone was eager to get home and sleep, especially Ladybug and the Parisians. After sending Yu and Yosuke home once they’d returned their Miraculouses and both Luka and Kagami headed to their homes, Marinette and Adrien quickly passed out on their beds, praying that the finals tomorrow would be more merciful than the ones of today.

Chapter Text

After the previous night. Marinette felt even more drained the following morning. Now in addition to akuma moths, she had to worry about a new villainess on the scene. Could life just give her a little break for once? 

Sighing to herself, she splashed cold water on her face before glancing in the mirror. It looked like she didn’t even sleep much last night at all. But after all that, there was one positive. Adrien had gone beyond to help her by getting Yu and Yosuke, they had really overestimated their abilities last night and had required back up. Perhaps in addition to training, maybe she could ask Adrien, Kagami and Luka if they were interested in learning to be co-Guardians; that would truly ease her burdens and help if she couldn’t get to a specific task on her own.

A knock at the door had her opening it to see a cup of coffee in her face; this was quite the welcomed sight. 

“Thanks, Adrien,” she murmured before draining the cup in one go. “You look similar to me…” she chuckled, “Yesterday keeping you up as well?”

“That and possibly overstepping my boundaries… I wanted to apologize for grabbing Yu and Yosuke yesterday without asking first.” His concern was waved away before Marinette hugged him tightly, briefly squeezing the air out of him.

“You don’t have to apologize, you really helped us out yesterday! I overestimated our abilities and got cocky with that Donna. Well not anymore!” Marinette pumped her fist in the air. “After that, I actually was inspired to make you, Kagami, and Luka my co-Guardians if all of you are willing.”

Adrien’s eyes widened. “I don’t feel like I should be making this decision running on coffee alone… can I get back to you on that one?”

“Of course! I just got the idea this morning, to be honest, so if you need time, take as much of it as you need. I just wanted to run the idea by you first.”

With that, the two made their way to school, both getting best wishes from the IT on their phones (they had finished finals only so long ago). It still seemed to surprise Adrien to have others support him after all he had been through from his father.

The two didn’t see Kagami that morning, but there was still the afternoon. Sadly their tests were their focus for the day. Neither noticed how an absolutely exhausted Lila seemed to be in a foul mood. 

Hours later, Marinette and Adrien returned home, avoiding any paparazzi on the way. Adrien had gone upstairs to ponder joining Marinette as Guardian and study a little more, while Marinette went to check on the kwamis.

Strangely, she noticed how Stompp and Orikko seemed to be waiting for her. “Is...something wrong, you two?” she asked them.

“No, not at all,” Stompp said, “Just wanted to commend your choice in wielders. That Kanji fellow’s a good kid, and we work really well together! He’s got a strong spirit!”

“And Miss Yukiko is an elegant but strong soul,” Orikko nodded approvingly, “Even I was surprised to see her suit was similar to a female samurai. It reminded me of Tomoe Gozen, a previous wielder of mine.”

The name sounded familiar but Marinette couldn’t really place it at the moment. “Well, I’m glad you two approve. I wouldn’t make you guys stay with someone you didn’t like.”

The two kwamis nodded up at her happily.

You have the full faith of the Ox and Rooster kwamis…

Magus Rank 4!

Eager to get some sleep this time, Marinette went to bed.

The next morning, Marinette awoke feeling a bit more revived. Perhaps it was the fact that it was the last day of Finals, or perhaps it was the feeling of getting proper rest for once in a few days. Whichever it was, Marinette felt ready for the day. It seemed like her energy was noticeable as Adrien looked a little surprised to see it. While the ex-model may not have said anything about it, Plagg seemed happy, too.

“Looks like someone woke up on the right side of the bed for once. Are you sure Orikko didn’t rejuvenate you while you were sleeping or something?” The Black Cat kwami seemed to swirl around Marinette to observe her. “You look like someone coming back from vacation.”

“Really?” Marinette raised an eyebrow. “All I did was actually get some good sleep for once…” 

“About your idea from earlier…” Adrien piped in. “Let’s talk to the other two tonight, yeah?”

“Sure thing!” Marinette grabbed Adrien’s wrist to pull him out of the bakery. 

“Come on, let’s do this! Today is the final day of Finals!” Marinette moved her hands in a dramatic flourish as she and him walked down to the school, “We will vanquish the evil known as tests!”

“Woah! Marinette, you’re way too positive about this!” Nonetheless, Adrien was still smiling as he was pretty much dragged to the school by his girlfriend. 

They missed Lila’s tired but watchful eyes, seething in rage, cursing Marinette for her happiness and for winning the boy she had sought.

How to claim vengeance, she wondered. She didn’t do that long, though, as an idea formed in her mind.

If finals weren’t too hard for Marinette when she was tired, the ones today were easy. Even if Science - her worst subject - was one of the finals she had today, she’d studied hard enough to ace every question Mme. Mendeleiev and M. Cadieux had thrown at her.

As she walked out of the doors of the school, her phone started ringing. “Hello?” she asked as she picked it up, recognizing the caller as Chie.

“Marinette,” Chie said seriously, “we need to tell you about the Midnight Channel. It’s our way of predicting the murderer’s targets, and we’ve got reason to believe they’ve struck again.”

“Huh?” Marinette asked, beginning to worry at the last statement. “Did the murderer get someone?”

“Yes,” Yukiko’s voice chimed in. “We’ll update you, Adrien and Kagami later today, if all three of you can make it."

“Don’t worry, we’ll be there,” Marinette promised, “I’ll update them right away. Can you tell me who got kidnapped now?”

“Have you heard of…”

Risette?!” Adrien gawked at the Inabans’ serious faces on the screen. “She’s always been an icon for me! Her bubbly personality was something I always tried to imitate! But I heard she was on break or something?”

“She’s not as happy as she looks,” Yu admitted. “I talked with her casually a few days before she went missing. She feels unseen by her audiences, and doesn’t know who she really is…”

“Sort of like Teddie…” Yosuke mused. “We’re gonna go two days from now, on Sunday. Can you guys make that?”

“No problem,” Kagami nodded, “we’ll have to think of a reason to leave on Monday as we still have an extra day of classes. I think that’s considered a free day though.”

“At least you guys don’t have classes on Saturday…” Kanji grumbled. “Though our classes ended today; I guess that’s the tradeoff.”

“We’ll go at your time, as you guys are earlier, just let us know the time you are going so we can prepare.” 

“Speaking of preparing, does Adrien have a weapon yet?” Yukiko inquired. “This will be his first official trip into the TV.”

“Right, right,” Adrien said, “I’m more than willing to help you guys out, as you helped me. Let’s save Rise and catch this guy!”

“As for the weapon…” Chie hummed, “we have a guy who can get you a weapon. What would you like?”

A grin overtook Adrien’s face. “...does this guy do scythes?”

That had both Kagami and Marinette glancing at each other, they thought for sure that Adrien would have gone with swords as it was a familiar weapon. 

“Do we even want to know why, Adrien?” Marinette hesitantly asked, not really liking how Adrien seemed almost eager for a scythe.


“Well, we’ll try our best. But I’m sure he’ll make one. Just give us a design, and we’ll see if he can do it.” Chie was surprised to get a message in the group chat from Adrien not even thirty seconds after she had suggested it. “It looks like you’ve already got the design, then…”

Yu glanced at the picture that had been sent before once again glancing at the three, focusing solely on Adrien. “You really want that scythe, it seems,” he chuckled. “We’ll do our best to honor your request.”

Curious over this request, both Marinette and Kagami gave the blond looks. It was Kagami who made the correct guess first. “It’s an anime reference, isn’t it?” she groaned.

“Yup!” Adrien answered proudly. When Marinette groaned in realization, he laughed a little. “Sorry…” he said. 

A knock on the door then came. When Marinette called, “Come in,” Luka walked through.

“Did you guys finish your call?” he asked. Marinette, Kagami and Adrien nodded.

“Well, I had some time to think over your proposal from earlier,” Luka said, “and if you’re willing, I’d love to be your co-Guardian.”

“Really? Thank you so much!” Marinette ran to hug Luka, spinning around to use her body as a bracer in case she had tackled too hard. 

“I too accept. Being a Guardian sounds like a hard job alone.” There was another squeal and poor Luka and Kagami were dragged into a hug.

“Want me to save you the job and just hug you?” Adrien smirked. “After giving it some thought, I want to help you out as well, M’Lady!” And just like that, Adrien was pulled into the embrace. In all of her eagerness and gratefulness, Marinette was probably squeezing her three partners a little too tightly.

They weren’t complaining, though. 

And neither was Marinette.

Chapter Text

For once, Marinette woke up without much struggle. Those who knew her well would be surprised, as Marinette was not a morning person nor did she wake up early without some sort of negative side effects. This time, however, the answer was actually rather simple: today was the day Nino left for his internship and she wanted to see her friend off. She was pretty sure the entire class would be there, hopefully a certain someone wouldn’t, but if that someone was... well, Marinette would hold her tongue today. For Nino.

Marinette made her way downstairs to see Adrien struggling with wrapping a few gifts, each of which were small enough for Nino to put in a suitcase. Chuckling, she noticed how his focus was solely on the gifts; he had yet to pick up on her presence. She walked over and helped Adrien finish the gift-wrapping, the other looking a little disappointed that he couldn’t wrap the gifts on his own without a struggle. Marinette offered to teach him easy tricks for next time, the thought of which cheered him up sufficiently. 

Once the two were done, Adrien pulled out the cocoa and milk, mixing the two like Marinette had shown him before as she got out croissants. As usual, Adrien’s eyes lit up at the sight of his favorite pastries, and he was well into one almost as soon as they were placed on the table. 

The two took the time to figure out how to get to the airport, only to pause as Gorilla entered from the stairs connecting to the bakery. He gave them a simple nod. 

Looks like they were good to go, then. Neither Marinette nor Adrien had really asked him, but it looked like they didn’t even need to. 

After making sure they had their stuff, the two were soon on their way, following behind the former bodyguard. The trip was mostly quiet, surprisingly, the two mainly just sitting in the backseat of M. Simonov’s car and enjoying each other’s presence. 

Just as they were arriving, the two spotted Nino and Alya. Alya was helping the young man of the hour get luggage out of the back of a car belonging to one of Nino’s moms. Marinette and Adrien got out to offer their assistance with Adrien asking M. Simonov to hold onto the gifts for a moment. Soon after, Kim joined to help - he was dragging along a luggage cart he’d borrowed from his dad’s moving business - with Max and Markov right behind him.

As everyone approached, Alya and Marinette shared a serious look at each other, a sort of unspoken tension between the two. Alya gave a nod and Marinette returned it; they were going to put their disagreements aside for Nino’s sake. This was his big day, and the last thing either of them wanted was to ruin it. Besides, Marinette mused to herself, Alya’s probably hurting enough because Nino’s leaving for a while; me pushing her might get her or even Nino akumatized.

Alya and Marinette had begun butted heads a lot ever since their arguments over Lila had begun. It wasn’t as bad as it had been with Chloe and Marinette, sure, but that didn’t diminish the fact that it wasn’t good. Marinette just wanted her friend to know the truth; what happened after could be figured out then.

After all of Nino’s classmates had arrived - minus Lila, who was missing for a reason Marinette did not know but suspected to be a lack of care, and Nathaniel, who had been unable to make it due to a family obligation - the large group of friends and classmates were mustered by Zahra Lahiffe, the woman requesting they all head inside and allow her wife Hanan to park the car. There was still time before Nino had to go through security, so they could all say their goodbyes inside.

“Thanks for coming,” Nino gave one of his oldest friends a hug, “it really means a lot to me, dudette.”

“Don’t get a big head before you come back, okay?” Marinette teased as she returned the hug.

“Yeah,” Ivan chuckled, “the last thing we want is a new Chloe.”

Marinette’s mind flashed back to what Pollen had said as they were preparing for Hawkmoth. Perhaps she should check in on the bully sometime?

Shaking her head, Marinette decided to file that idea away for later. Returning to the here and now, she saw Adrien handing over the gifts she and him had wrapped earlier. Next thing she knew, Adrien was happily being crushed by his best friend and eagerly returned the embrace. The other teens spotted new, top-of-the-line headphones as well as a rather expensive coupon for an American music store Adrien must have done his research on. It only made sense that Adrien pulled out every stop he reasonably could for Nino.

The rest of the classmates followed suit in giving any gifts they’d brought; everyone had made sure that their gifts could fit in the suitcases. 

Pulling Nino aside, Marinette pulled out her own present. 

“I know I said I wouldn’t make you a few outfits, but I figured I could make you this at least!” Opening the package, Nino found a custom-made jacket Marinette had made him. 

“So that’s why you wanted my measurements!” Nino laughed. “I had to get my moms’ help on figuring that out!”

“Yep! I needed your more recent measurements as you’ve grown a bit!” Marinette poked Nino’s arm. 

Turning to Zahra and Hanan, Nino smiled brightly at them. “You guys knew, didn’t you?”

Hanan laughed sweetly. “We didn’t know what exactly she was making you, abnay, but we had a hunch!”

“Try it on,” Zahra encouraged, “see if it fits.”

“It’s Marinette’s work, of course it will!” Even so, Nino put on the jacket and marveled at the feel of it. It felt comfortable and made him feel like a professional. “It doesn’t feel like the same material used for suits, what’d you use?”

“Sorry, trade secret~!” 

Laughing, Nino once again hugged Marinette in thanks before carefully and smoothly taking the jacket off. Hanan folded it carefully to put in one of the suitcases for him, still wanting to have motherly moments while they lasted. 

“Thanks again, dudette. I love this!” Nino adjusted his cap with a grin, eyes slightly misting over. 

Marinette’s grin softened as she hugged one of her oldest friends. 

“I’ll really miss you, Nino. Even though we’ll still be able to talk over the phone, it won’t be the same without you around here.” She pulled away to wipe at her own eyes. “But I’m so proud at how this moment is so big for you.”

Nino’s future and mood look bright…

Innocence Rank 4!

“You’re taking it in stride, Nino,” Juleka piped up, “I’d be freaking out.”

“Believe me,” Nino laughed as he made , “I am scared. But it feels like I need this.”

Zahra and Hanan both looked teary-eyed as Hanan rushed forward to hug her son, all the while crying about her baby boy had grown up into such a sweet young man and wondering where all the time went. 

Sadly, Nino had to finally leave to go through security. It was like time had flown by too fast before Nino had to depart. The group hung back until their friend was fully out of sight and making his way to the terminal his flight was at. Marinette, Adrien and Alya all offered comfort to Nino’s mothers. Marinette made a note to furtively keep watch over them as Ladybug (or delegate someone else to do it, if need be) so Donna Piuma or the rogue akumas didn’t target either of them.

Soon enough, though, Adrien and Marinette had to leave. They’d told M. Simonov not to worry about them getting back home and to go back on his own, so Adrien decided he’d go for a run as Chat Noir.

Before Marinette could respond, her phone went off. 

“Sorry, give me a moment.” She pulled her phone out, answering it as she noted it was from Sabine. “Yes, Mama? Oh, we’re just about to leave the airport. Yeah, I can head over there, I didn’t know the rush was going to be that bad. See you soon.” After hanging up, she turned to her boyfriend. “I’ll join you on that run to the bakery; Mama needs some help with the late morning crowd and I can get there faster as Ladybug.” 

Nodding, the two made their way to an alley to transform before taking off towards the bakery, somehow turning it into a mini-race. Once they were close Ladybug broke away to head into yet another alleyway to detransform, making the rest of the way on foot as Marinette.

 Inside was busy… in an unusual way, Marinette’s mind pointed out. Still, business was business… right? 

Shaking off the feeling of suspicion, she made her way behind the counter to help out her mother with ringing out purchases and getting drinks. She scanned the crowds, looking for anything that was causing her suspicion, yet nothing was out of the ordinary. 

After all, Tikki had always told her to trust her instincts.

Sighing, Marinette focused on helping her parents while still keeping a subtle eye and ear out for anything unusual. A few hours passed with the crowd becoming more manageable near lunch hour. Around the afternoon, a familiar figure came running into the bakery. 

“Marinette! I need your help! Please!” Nathaniel’s widened eyes and flushed look had Marinette rushing around the counter to check on her friend. She yelped slightly as he clung to her arms. “Please help me!”

“Okay, I will. Don’t worry.” She would have patted Nathaniel’s back or shoulders if her hands weren’t currently stuck.

Sabine gestured for the two to head up stairs for more privacy. 

“We can handle this now, go on up.”

“Thanks Mama. Uh… Nathaniel… can I have my arms back?”

“Oh, right!” He immediately released her arms. “Sorry!”

Marinette led the other teen upstairs after grabbing a few treats on her way. Once in her room, she gestured for Nathaniel to take the chaise as she gave him a random pastry. 

Nathaniel blurted out his problem without her even asking. “Marc asked me out!” 

“Oh...well, that’s a good thing isn’t it?”

“Yes! But… I don’t know the first thing about dates! Do I take him somewhere or do I go with him? Do I dress casually? Formally? How do I know? What do I do?” Nathaniel never even touched the pastry and Marinette had to pull it away before it was crushed in his hands. “I said yes and I don’t even know what to do!” 

“Nathaniel, breathe. The first step is to breathe.” Grasping the other’s shaking hands to help ground him, she gave them a brief squeeze. “Breathe with me, you’re working yourself up into a tizzy. Let’s just take a moment, focus your breathing with me.” Marinette took a few minutes of deep breathing to calm Nathaniel down, pleased to see the breathing technique was working.

“That’s better, how are you feeling?”

“Besides calmer?” Nathaniel laughed quietly. “I’m not feeling dizzy anymore, at least… but I’m still nervous. I mean, I said yes and I have no idea what to wear or even do on a date!”

“Who honestly does on their first date?” Giving a playful smirk, she gave Nathaniel’s shoulder a pat before returning the pastry from before. “As for what to wear, why not go somewhere in the middle? Maybe a few steps above casual without being formal. I can help you pick out an outfit if you want. I don’t think I’ll have time to make you anything, but I can help you pick stuff out.”


“Just tell me what you guys are doing and I’ll work on getting it in my schedule.”

“Thank you so much, Marinette!” Nathaniel wrapped her up in a surprisingly-strong hug. “We’re meeting tomorrow just for a slight coffee date, to see just in what sense we’re gonna be partners.”

Marinette snickered at that, recalling Yu and Yosuke’s relationship and how Yosuke called Yu partner

Just as Nathaniel’s bond with Marc has become something special, your bond with him has improved…

Separation Rank 1!

Oh shoot, tomorrow was the day they were going to help the IT! 

“How about I walk home with you and we’ll look at your wardrobe?”

“Sure, no problem. Thank you again, Marinette!”

The two made their way down the bakery; nearly an hour later, Marinette was walking out of Nathaniel and his family’s apartment. Nearly at the bakery, she heard familiar voices. And...were they arguing? 

It might possibly be her putting her nose where it didn’t belong, but she wasn’t one to not help people; plus, if she could prevent an akuma…

Marinette followed the voices into an alley only to find… Ivan and Mylene?! Why were one of the closest couples in their class - if not outright into the school - arguing?! 

“Look, I’m telling you - these charities are not real! They have to be scams!”

“Where is your proof on this? Lila assured me that they’re all legit!”

“Maybe she was fooled too, but I’m telling you - I researched them as they sounded too good to be true!” Ivan rustled around his bag and pulled out a few papers. “This is for one of the charities; it has nothing but reviews on it. Many of the commenters are even saying it’s a front for some sort of redirection thing that people can use to redirect money into their pockets… that none of the information lines up with anything. The address is an old factory that got turned into a lot, and the phone number listed is no longer in service, too.”

Mylene looked as if she was going to falter, but she shook her head and stood her ground.

“That can’t be right, you must have put in the wrong charity! There can’t be anything wrong with the charities…” 

If there was a time to interfere, it might as well be now. Especially before any akumas came.

“Ivan? Mylene?” she began timidly, getting their attention. The intimidating glares directed at each other quickly faded when they saw her.

Marinette?” They both managed to ask at the same time after finding their voices.

“I-Is everything okay? I heard shouting, and I came here as soon as possible when I realized it was you two.” 

Mylene sighed. “I-I don’t know, Ivan… I’d like to believe Lila wouldn’t scam me.”

“I’m not saying she’s trying to scam you!” Ivan’s hands were wildly gesticulating as he spoke. “I’m saying that the charities are dubious! Who knows, maybe someone tricked Lila, too!” 

“I-I don’t know…” Mylene shrunk a little. 

Recognizing he’d made an outburst, Ivan took a few deep breaths. “I’m sorry for snapping, Mylene…” he apologized.

Remembering the danger of akumas, Mylene also tried to calm down, wrapping her arms around herself. “I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have gotten so defensive, but that was a lot of money… and if I really did that…” 

Mylene’s face was beginning to pale far too quickly for either Marinette or Ivan’s liking. Marinette knew she had to take control now.

“Mylene,” she began commandingly, “tell me five things you can see.”

“You, Ivan, that trash can, Ivan’s bag… the ground?”

“Good job. Now, four things you can feel?”

“Um… my clothes and hair… my headband… and my necklace.”

“Three things you can hear?”

“Pigeons, you and some other people talking.”

“You’re doing very good, Mylene,” Ivan praised, though it was obvious he was worried. 

Marinette nodded along. “Two things you can smell, Mylene. You’re almost good.” 

“Someone’s perfume… and alcohol. Eww…”

“One thing you can taste?”

“My lipstick…” said Mylene, who was beginning to get up from her curled-up position on the alley floor.

“You did good, are you feeling better?” Marinette moved closer to rub Mylene’s shoulder. “Your color is coming back. That’s good.”

“Thanks, Marinette,” Mylene said gratefully, “sorry you had to see that.” 

“It’s okay, you were stressed out and needed help. Do you need help getting home?” 

“No… I think I’m good.” Mylene managed to take a few shaky steps forward before nearly falling. Thankfully, Ivan caught her. “Okay, maybe I do need some help.”

“I’ll take her home Marinette, it’s on my way back myself. Thank you for your help, and sorry you had to see that.”

“It’s no problem,” Marinette smiled softly at them. “If something happens, you can come to me. No promises I’ll be able to give you as much of my attention as I’d like, but…”

The two just nodded gratefully before Ivan picked Mylene up bridal-style and carried her home. Mylene blushed all the way out of Marinette’s sight, but Marinette could tell she was smiling.

You have potentially saved Ivan & Mylene’s relationship…

Twins Rank 1!

Pleased with her work, Marinette then decided for a surprise visit to the Liberty. She hadn’t visited in a while and well, her evening was free. Humming softly, she made her way to the well-known (or infamous, if you asked Officer Raincomprix) house boat. 

Surprisingly, the boat was quiet when she got there. Anarka must be either asleep or somewhere else. Entering the Liberty, she noticed Rose seemed to be setting up the deck for an outdoor viewing. Juleka must be somewhere inside the boat.

“Oh, am I interrupting a date?” she asked.

“Nope! In fact… why don’t you join us, Marinette!” Rose eagerly offered. “Luka should be getting off work soon, and he offered to bring us some food. You two can join in, we haven’t hung out in so long!”

“Thank you, I think I will. What’s the movie?”

“Don’t spoil it, Rose! She hasn’t seen it yet!” Juleka’s voice could be heard from inside the houseboat; looks like she went in to grab something. 

“Is it horror?” Marinette gulped. She decidedly did not like horror movies.

“Nope! You’re safe, though I don’t understand why you can’t handle most horror movies. They’re pretty much nothing but uncreative and cheesy CGI nowadays.” Let it be said that Marinette did not know that Rose was a horror movie fan.

“Right…” Unconvinced, Marinette took a seat on one of the blankets. Carefully she angled her purse so that she could sneak Tikki food as well as allow the kwami to watch the movie. 

“Ya know, now that I think about it, next time we should invite Adrien and Kagami as well so that we can have a real double date! It’s rather sweet that all four of you are dating!” 

Right. Marinette recalled Luka asking them permission to tell Juleka - and thus Rose, which came with the territory. The two girls had promised to keep it secret for as long as needed.

“Luka’s been really happy lately, almost to the point of it being sickening,” Juleka teased as she came out with pillows and more blankets. Even though the nights were warmer, the deck was still pretty hard. “In all seriousness - thank you, Marinette.” Juleka and Marinette began to arrange the blankets and pillows for a more comfortable seating area. Rose went in to get drinks, giving the two time to talk. “Luka truly is as happy as can be dating you three. The only thing that is bringing him misery is his job, which he won’t quit. Something about how the hours are flexible, even if I haven’t seen it, and that quitting would be giving his boss some satisfaction.”

“Well, Luka makes me happy and I know he makes Kagami and Adrien as happy. We would do anything for him. So I’m happy to hear of your approval.” Marinette sighed as she tucked a loose bang behind her ear. “We’ve been trying to get him to quit but he’s adamant on staying, I know we’ve brought up his mental health on it but he’s waved us away. You want to hear something funny?” She waited until she got Juleka’s nod, Rose having returned by this point. “Kagami and I both offered to punch his boss should the asshat get akumatized. We’d risk becoming pawns just for a swing in Luka’s honor.” 

While it wasn’t the full agreement, the context was pretty much the same.

“That’s so sweet,” Rose gushed. “You’d fight for Luka’s honor at the cost of your own safety!”

“But wouldn’t that upset Luka?” Juleka asked. “He’d never want you guys to risk your safety… even for him.”

“He was there, and he said he was honored… though, you are right. Kagami and I are still keeping the promise. Robert Bellamy deserves at least one decking for the stuff Luka goes through.”

Juleka was silent before giving a smile and nod, giving Marinette her approval. “That’s good. I won’t say anything about it. Just get a picture or record it for me if you can; I’m sure Mom would love to see it as well.”

“Done!” Like she and Kagami had done, Marinette and Juleka shook on the agreement. 

You have an understanding with Juleka...

Cabalist Rank 2!

Not long after, Marinette headed home to get some sleep before the big TV World trip tomorrow. She was going to miss out on the movie, but with them going on the IT’s time to the dungeon, it was probably not a good idea to stay for the movie. Luckily she got to grab two slices of pizza from Luka before leaving, her boyfriend letting her know on the sly that he would research the tablet for any information on saving Adrien’s mother while she and the others were gone. 

You feel yourself getting closer to Luka...

Chapter Text

It was in the wee hours of the early morning when Marinette woke up to her alarm, forcing herself to not hit snooze and just wake up. When she had returned from the Liberty, Adrien had informed her that the team had asked for them to be ready by four A.M. to enter the TV; the team was apologetic and had stated they were trying to be considerate of the younger teens given the seven hour time difference, but that they usually entered in the TV world early mornings on weekends and afternoons on school days. 

Given this time request, Adrien had done his best to pack up as much supplies as he could and possibly over-packed. Those had been his own words, but to Marinette, you could never be over-prepared. She vaguely recalled how Yu said drinks could help restore energy in the TV world - and sure enough, even those were in the bag. 

All in all, they were as prepared as they could get.

A few minutes to four, Ryuko - or whatever Kagami was calling herself given her Dragon form had changed - appeared on Marinette’s balcony. Looks like Luka and Kagami had switched back their Miraculouses last night. Perhaps with Hawkmoth gone now, they could keep their original Miraculous if they redesigned their costumes… that was a thought for later, especially since she had plans to bring Luka into the TV world at some point in the near future.

As they waited in the TV with Teddie, waiting for the group to enter - Tikki making it easier to convene in one area was a blessing - the bear handed over a pair of frameless green tinted glasses to Adrien. It looked like a mix of Yukiko’s and Kanji’s but colored more to fit Adrien. 

 Marinette could sense something off with Teddie but couldn’t place what exactly. Even Kagami and Adrien seemed to pick up on this, possibly due to their own Miraculous and the start of their Guardian training. Marinette had even less doubt that if Luka were here that he would have picked up on the same thing.

Perhaps she should mention it to Yu later on; after all, he knew Teddie for longer than she did.

After five minutes of waiting, though it felt longer, the Inabans finally came into the TV. Adrien’s eyes lit up at the scythe behind Yu’s back, the younger teen practically glomping the older one in thanks. Taking the scythe into his hands, he happily expressed his glee. Marinette briefly wondered if she should be concerned over the way Adrien hugged the weapon and stroked the blade, but told herself they all had their own quirks. She refused to take this joy away from Adrien.

“Ready to go?” Yu asked the Parisians. His answer came with three nods, each of them now almost channeling their hero persona. “Let’s go.”

The group left, following behind Teddie who still seemed to still be his usual cheerful self, yet it looked like even some of the Inabans picked up that something may be wrong. 

Marinette handed over the bag of supplies Adrien had packed over to Yu, much like she had done for Adrien’s dungeon while also mentioning that she as well as her partners picked up on something being off with Teddie. Voicing her concerns seemed to almost cement something in the silver-haired teen as he promised he would keep an eye on the beloved bear. 

The two made a quick trip to the Velvet Room, where with a few fusions - and a decent bit of money spent - Marinette received a few Personas.

“So, Teddie,” Yu said as he pulled out an origami crane made from some magazine, “is this able to give you the scent of Rise Kujikawa?”

“You thought ahead, Sensei!” Teddie nodded. “I can smell someone here without it, but then I wouldn’t be able to figure out where.”

Taking a few sniffs of the paper airplane, Teddie took a small while before he lit up. “I think I’ve got something! Follow me!”

Without warning, Teddie took off in a direction, the Investigation Team quickly giving chase. A little while later, they arrived in an area too dark for them to see where they were.

“You sure this is the place, bear-boy?” Kanji grumbled.

As if on cue, the lights came on, revealing they were in some sort of glitzy yet dank-looking stripclub. Upon this realization, all three of the younger teens became rather uncomfortable, especially Adrien. No doubt he was being reminded of his own Dungeon. 

“Well… at least we’re not going into an actual strip club…” Adrien gave a weary laugh, still looking uncomfortable. Plagg moved to nuzzle against his cheek to comfort him. 

“I’m just hoping that the Shadows don’t look like… well, something that belongs in a place like this.” 

“It’s like one of those resort towns I’ve heard about…” Yosuke mused.

“Not like my family’s inn!” Yukiko cried out.

“Sorry, didn’t mean it like that,” Yosuke apologized, waving his hands in front of himself. It looked like not only did Yukiko look offended but ready to kick his butt to the curb. “Please don’t hurt me!”

“Relax Yosuke, she won’t.” Chie patted his shoulder. “She apologized for the studying incident and promised never to do it again, right?”

“R-right,” Yosuke breathed a sigh of relief. “Sorry for panicking like that.”

“You’re good, but for now, let’s focus on getting Rise out of here!” 

The team stopped as they heard a familiar voice - unfamiliar for Kagami and Marinette (Adrien knew about Risette the idol) - come over the loudspeakers.

Welcome one and all to Marukyu Striptease Trip! Starring your favorite idol: Risette~!

“Something seems wrong with her voice…” Adrien shuddered, “I feel like I’m listening to myself when I was modeling…”

“That’s her Shadow.” A reassuring hand squeezed his shoulder, Adrien looked up to see the words came from Yu. “We will save her.”

“He’s right, Adrien,” Marinette gave his hand a squeeze. “We’ll get her out of here.”

The team moved about the first floor with the younger three keeping their gazes off the wall as best as they could; they didn’t want to have the image of the posters on the walls ingrained too deeply. It was when they turned the corner of one of the hallways that things got interesting. Almost as if it was hiding and waiting for them to show up, a Shadow took the group by surprise… 

“Wooooah, everyone! You’re completely surrounded!” 

Marinette scanned around the monsters, noting how they looked a bit like… walking DNA strands? Recognizing Adrien as the weakest of them, one of the Miss Genes bounced towards him in an attempt to drop kick him. Almost expertly, Adrien blocked the attack with his scythe; with a mighty swing of the weapon, he sliced the Miss Gene in two.

“I knew this would be a good weapon!” Adrien allowed himself to cheer before yelping as another Miss Gene took the minor distraction as an opportunity to attack. “Oh hell no! I am not letting you think I am an easy target!” With another swing, the Miss Gene nearly met the same fate as the previous one, although the attack left it barely standing.

“Stubborn, huh…?” Adrien growled. 

“Use your Persona!” Chie called out to him. 

“H-huh?” Adrien asked, before noticing a card floating down in front of him, a lion and woman displayed on the front side. Instinctively, he crushed the card with a downward swing of his scythe, calling upon Plagg’s new power. “Persona!”

Commanding a Garula, the barely standing Miss Gene dissolved into black plume as the Wind attack whipped around it, slicing it to pieces.

“Well, other than the fact they caught us off guard, that wasn’t so bad!” Yosuke gave a lopsided grin. “Not bad, Adrien! You’ve got a knack for this!”

“Thanks!” the younger man said, blushing at the praise.

“Imagine if you could apply that to your Chat Noir powers…” Kanji whistled, “I’m sure the scythe would scare almost any Akuma into giving up.” 

“I don’t think I can change the baton into a scythe… but if I could, that would be awesome! Now let’s go!”

With that, the group traversed through the rest of the first floor and all of the second floor with no problems. There didn’t seem to be as many Shadows, most focused on the ‘rooms’ of the Dungeon than anything.

“Is this normal?” Kagami asked as they got through yet another hallway safely. “I think the Prison Dungeon had a little more Shadows. I’m certainly not complaining, but it does feel suspicious…”

“No,” Yukiko mused uneasily, “I think Kanji’s was similar to this in the early floors. We are definitely not thinking back to that place, though!”

“Hey, guys?” Teddie caught everyone’s attention. He pointed to a curtain just up ahead and said, “Someone’s scent is coming through that door!”

Yu was the one to open the door. Even with the heavy fog, they could still make out the figure of Rise. As they approached, however, they quickly realized it was actually that of her Shadow Self. Marinette and Kagami went to cover their boyfriend’s eyes, not because they didn’t trust him but more so he didn’t see someone he looked up to in such a state. Even Plagg seemed eager to help keep Adrien’s eyes covered, the kwami hissing at Shadow Rise.

“I can still hear her, you know… and I’m not a child!”

“We know, Adrien,” Marinette apologized, her and Kagami removing their hands before wincing with everyone else as a loud roar of applause filled the room. 

Hello, everybody!” Shadow Rise called. “Thanks for coming!

Getting straight to business, Kagami pointed her nodachi at the doppelganger. “Where is the real Rise?”

So you want to see every part of me?” Shadow Rise’s face contorted into something like a sneer. “How’s that for timing? You and everyone else are going to get to see every bit of me today!

The phrasing she used made even Yosuke shudder. He may be bisexual and liked Risette a little, but he was taken… even if polyamory was a thing, he didn’t feel strongly enough for Rise - and especially not her Shadow Self - to try anything.

“Were… were we like that?” Adrien asked, looking over to his girlfriends.

“I think everyone’s Shadow Self is different,” Yu said.

Different is right…

Everyone’s heads whipped back to Shadow Rise. “The hell does that mean?” Kanji demanded.

Giggling, Shadow Rise took off into the rooms ahead. “Follow me and find out!” she said naughtily. That was the last thing they heard while they could still see her.

“Dammit… I guess the real Rise’s further in,” Marinette frowned.

“Looks like I’m on the rescue team,” Adrien swung his scythe around, looking determined. This time, Adrien would be able to be a hero - not just Chat Noir.

“Then let’s go!” Teddie cheered.

With that, the team progressed through the third floor and fourth one. On the fifth one, however, there were more Shadows than the previous few floors, and it was only so long before the group found themselves in battle with a quartet of Venus Eagles.

“The Eagles classes repel Wind attacks, so Yosuke can’t use his Persona’s attacking magic…” Marinette muttered to herself. She then noticed how Chie's Bufu seemed to make the flying Shadows falter more. “That’s it! Chie, use your Bufu more!”

“Huh?” Chie turned her head towards Marinette, only to stagger back as one of the unfrozen Venus Eagles dive-bombed her. 

Yukiko rushed over and pulled her up to her feet. “Are you okay, Chie?”

Chie nodded, giving Yukiko a quick cheek kiss before summoning Tomoe and calling for a Mabufu. The attacking Venus Eagle was defeated, two of the other three were knocked down, and the last of them dodged it.

“Then let me try!” Adrien grinned. Transforming Plagg, he commanded, “Mudo!”

The Dark spell instantly killed the Venus Eagle that was still in the air. Given that the remaining two were on the ground, the team tore into them with an All-Out Attack, finishing them off.

“Holy smokes, that was fun!” Adrien’s eyes were wide with glee.

“All-Out Attacks are a good stress relief,” Kagami stated as she stretched.

“Good job, you three,” Yosuke praised while ruffling Adrien and Kagami’s hair. Marinette could only giggle while watching; her hair was spared for now. 

“Let’s go,” Yu called over to them, “the Shadows seem to be getting more aggressive. We shouldn’t stay in one area for too long.” 

The group continued up to the seventh floor, the Shadows continuing to get more and more aggressive with each battle. Along the way, both Marinette and Yu got a few more Personas, with Marinette wanting to really observe them at a later time - one where they were able to breathe.

As soon as they were on the seventh floor, they heard Shadow Rise once again through the loudspeakers.

Wow! I’m so happy you came! But I’m a little embarrassed by all of this attention… so I’m gonna turn out the lights!” 

“Wait… she’s not serious, right?” 

Kanji’s question was answered by the hallway going pitch-black. 

“She really did it…” Kagami sighed.

“The absolute madwoman,” Adrien joked, but it was clear this made him uneasy.

“So… is now a bad time to mention that Adrien, Kagami, Longg and I can see better in the dark?” Plagg inquired.

“I have a better idea,” Marinette smirked. “Tikki!”

Having transformed, Tikki’s Persona form began to emanate Light energy, lighting up a decent part of the room.

“Well, we can see better now,” Yosuke nodded, finally getting around to ruffling Marinette’s hair. The younger pouted at the ruffling, but still, smiled at the praise. 

“Glad we could help!” 

Once again, the team continued on, stopping when a Shadow was in front of the steps to the next floor. 

“Oh come on! The steps are right there! Right freaking there!” Chie groaned with frustration; unfortunately, this gained the attention of said Shadow, who charged them. Marinette struck it with her hook, causing it to transform into a duo of gloves with Shadow masks on the backs of them. Assisting the Killing Hands was a dark-blue lion chained around its neck to some sort of heavy-looking orb. 

“Let me take this one!” Marinette jumped ahead, clapping a card between her hands to crush it. “Houdini!”

A Persona styled like a stereotypical magician appeared in a giant bubble of water; with an extended hand, a Maragion struck down the Enslaved Beast and did decent damage to the Killing Hands.

“Ooh, that’s new!” Chie lauded before summoning her own Persona. “Tomoe! Assault Dive!”

Her Persona rammed its weapon into the Enslaved Beast, killing it. 

“Susano-o! Garula!” Yosuke called. The Wind spell knocked down one of the Killing Hands, leaving it on a sliver of health.

“Do it again, but on the other one!” 

As ordered, a Garula ripped into the other Killing Hand; this one was not as lucky, and it perished. 

“Let’s finish this!” Even if it was overkill, the team did yet another All-Out Attack. The remaining Shadow didn’t stand a chance.

“Everyone’s getting rather tired…” Yu noted, “and our healers are running out of SP.”

“Let’s see if we can find the stairs before we use that Goho-M,” Yosuke suggested. 

“The what?” Adrien asked.

“Goho-Ms are very important items,” Yukiko explained. “They can take us back to the entrance via teleportation, and we can teleport to the last floor we entered whenever we return.”

“Where do you guys get this stuff?” Marinette asked.

“Believe it or not, there’s a store that sells them in town,” Kanji told her. “I think we can make it to the next floor. Anyone against the idea?”

“I don’t think we have much longer from there!” Teddie piped in.

No one said anything; it was probably a good idea to get to the next floor just so they could return to it the next time they returned. 

The path ahead was a straight one (at least for now, most likely) leading to a single curtain.

“Do you smell anything, Teddie?” This time the question came from Tikki. “If not, we can check for you guys. Since it’s possibly dark on the other side, we should be able to move unseen.”

“No need!” Teddie said after a few sniffs, “I sense someone on the other side!”

“That can only be Shadow Rise…” Yukiko said worriedly, “we may as well see what she has for us.”

“Be prepared for anything,” Yu warned. “Try to conserve whatever SP you have and avoid getting hit if you can.”

Thankfully, the team had recharged with healing items during the 6th floor, even if that didn’t stop how tired they were entirely. Stepping through the curtain, they saw Shadow Rise standing there alone.

It’s my first time… please be gentle.” she smirked. “I’m turning on the lights, okay?

In a flash of light that temporarily blinded the team, Shadow Rise disappeared, leaving a giant snake with gender symbols hanging on its body in her place.

“Oh, shit…” Adrien whispered, unnerved by its sheer size.

“It was a trap… of course it was a trap…” Plagg mumbled, silently cursing in all sorts of languages. “At least we healed beforehand…”

“Here it comes!” Chie cried out just as the Amorous Snake began to charge them. When it got out close enough, it breathed out some form of transparent smoke.

“What the… what is this?” Adrien wondered. 

“Stagnant Air,” Yu explained, “Status ailments are more likely to hit us now!”

Not too eager to give the Amorous Snake the chance, Marinette decided to bring out another Persona. “Furaribi!” she called.

A birdlike creature with a dog’s face completely engulfed in flames shot an Agilao at the Shadow, causing it to fall with a loud, hissing screech. 

“Let’s do this!” Kanji declared, the team charging in with an All-Out Attack that did a little more damage to the Amorous Snake.

“So that’s the trick…” Kagami mused. “We just need to use Fire attacks to defeat it!”

“Then let’s burn it to the ground!” Yukiko smirked. “Konohana Sakuya, Agilao as well!”

The attack once again knocked it to the ground; another All-Out Attack later, the creature was at about half of its health. The Amorous Snake did not look too pleased when it came back up.

“I think a few more of these and we’ll have it beat!” Yosuke cheered. His words were soon drowned out as the Shadow did a move that caused him to become confused and attack the party. Thankfully, everyone evaded the wild swings of his blades.

“At least his moves are easy to choreograph…” Kagami muttered as she dodged the flurry of attacks.

“Mujina!” Marinette cried, summoning a tanuki-like creature, “Me Patra!”

The healing spell washed over Yosuke, returning him to his more conscious self. 

“Ugh, what happened…?” Yosuke mumbled before recalling where they were and what was going on.

“You were snake-charmed!” Adrien exclaimed, almost proud that he’d been first to say it. He pointedly ignored Marinette and Kagami’s groans at his quip. 

“Focus, you guys!” Yu brought the part of the group back, using his own Persona Pyro Jack to summon an Agilao. May as well exploit the weakness to end the battle faster, right? 

The pattern of most of the team was basic attacks with their weapons while Yu, Marinette and Yukiko focused with Agilao attacks on the Amorous Snake. It wasn’t long before the giant Shadow fell at their feet, dissolving into black.

“Hah… hah… I think that’s it for me today,” Kanji breathed out. The teen collapsed on his knee, holding himself steady with his weapon. 

“Yeah…” Chie noted, “Yu - the Goho-M?”

“Right.” Yu activated the Goho-M leading the group to outside the Stripclub. The younger three looked amazed at being teleported back that simply, staring around the entrance all over again.

“Can I throw in a Star Trek joke or…”

“Please, no,” Marinette tiredly requested. “I don’t think I have the energy to handle a Star Trek joke right now…”

“Got it, M’Lady,” Adrien nodded. He was feeling rather tired himself.

“I’ll lead you guys back to the entrance so you can go home…” Teddie said.

Not long after, both the Inabans and the Parisians had left the TV World.

Chapter Text

Even if it was the first day of summer, Marinette was all too happy to sleep in. Really, sleep was such a beautiful thing; truly a marvel. So why wasn’t her brain letting her go back to sleep? Why was it insisting that she wake up at… Marinette forced her eyes open to check the time on her phone. Okay twenty minutes after ten, late in the morning but still! She wanted to just sleep!

There were still lingering effects from the TV world and pushing her body past exhaustion. She could feel her muscles hurt and tense up with pain. Groaning, having no choice but to get up - or at least that was what her brain was claiming - Marinette climbed out of her bed, heading for the shower. Hopefully that would wake her up until she could get some coffee.

Thirty minutes later and she felt more awake, or at least as much as she could be in the morning. Making her way downstairs, she saw Adrien on the phone while in the kitchen area. Not only did his voice seem a little tense while trying to remain positive, but it looked like his body was tense with how his shoulders bunched up and he was pacing the kitchen floor. Plagg glanced up from his camembert before floating over to Marinette.

“It’s his Aunt Amelie,” Plagg elucidated, “I think he’s been on the phone for at least half an hour. I’ve been kind of tuning in and out for the conversation, ‘cuz he seems to have to repeat himself…”

That worried Marinette. If Adrien was repeating himself, then maybe his aunt was trying to push something on him? She would have to ask when he hung up… 

“Should I give him privacy, or…?”

“I think he’s almost done; you notice how he’s tapping his fingers on the counter?” Plagg pointed out the mentioned action. “I’ve only seen him do that once. While I don’t know who was on the other line, that time he hung up without saying goodbye. I’m kind of hoping he does that here.”

It looked like Adrien had finally noticed Marinette as he gave her a brief wave and a smile that kind of reminded Marinette of one of his fake model smiles.

“Sorry, Aunt Amelie, but I have to go. No, no, you don’t have to do anything. I’m fine here - really, I am. I’m just a little exhausted right now, but there’s nothing to worry about. Yes, I love you too and I’ll talk to you later. Bye.” Adrien clicked off the phone and collapsed onto a stool. “Finally, that’s done. I really don’t know how to handle all this attention from her… it feels like all of a sudden her focus is on me and me alone.”

“If you don’t mind telling me what was going on…?” Marinette asked.

“Huh? Well, she’s worried about me and Mom…” Adrien sighed.

“Well, your mom I can understand,” Marinette nodded along, “but if she knows about all of that, she knows about Gabriel’s defeat. That most likely means she’s seen you as Urulóki - she knows how strong you can be, even if you don’t have that Miraculous anymore.”

“I’m kind of worried she is going to do something impulsive and drastic, but whatever that would be, I don’t know what. I never saw her a lot, especially after Mom… well, you know.”

“Me and Kagami never did get the chance to deck Gabriel, did we?” Marinette mused with a slight smirk. “Perhaps a visit is needed?” That got a snort out of her boyfriend, at least she got a laugh.

“If that happens, I’d happily pay for not only your bail but any copies of a recording.”

“Done deal! Oh, do you think if I do it at the trial that it would be allowed? That way pretty much everyone can see that husk of a man get punched across his smug face!dge would allow one little punch to the man who made Paris suffer!”

“Yeah, but you’d have to do that as Ladybug…”

“Hah! Just makes my job easier…” Marinette proclaimed, grinning viciously, “...and more painful for him.”

“Hah!” Adrien laughed heartily, a loud bark of laughter the likes of which Marinette hadn’t really ever heard from him. “That I need to see!” 

Just then, Marinette’s phone began ringing back up in her room.

“I’d better go see who that could be, be back in a moment!” Marinette ran up the stairs, catching herself as she tripped in her haste. As she went, she heard Adrien chuckle at her antics.

You feel yourself getting closer to Adrien… 

Thankfully Tikki had the device ready for her. Seeing the name on the screen had her calling for her boyfriend; no doubt he would want to see his best friend.

“Adrien, it’s Nino!” She hit the Answer button just as she heard Adrien running up the stairs. “Hey Nino, how was the flight? Or…  flights…”

“Pretty good, thanks for asking,” Nino grinned, although he looked a little drained from what Marinette could guess was jetlag. “Hey, bro!” he greeted as Adrien skidded across the floor with a Hi Nino, looking straight out of Risky Business even though he was fully clothed! “It looks like Adrien is picking up on your klutziness,” he laughed.

“Oh, haha.” The two teens settled on the chaise, both still a little winded from scrambling upstairs. “So, what’s it like there? Do you have a roommate? I don’t see anyone else in the room from your camera angle alone.”

“It’s definitely warmer than Paris here, I’ll say that. I got a room to myself, as I’ll actually have to set up a work area according to the studio. The head said he’ll explain it more tomorrow; today is a day we can relax, as all of us are coming in at various times. I think he said the last one will be arriving at six tonight.” 

“Is he going to be feeding you, at least?” Adrien asked. “I think I’ve seen stuff in movies where you guys are supposed to have a big welcoming dinner on the first night.”

“Well, us trainees are being stationed in a hotel, and they agreed to pay for room service as long as we don’t go crazy,” Nino chuckled. “There was a lady who mentioned a dinner tonight, but that’s supposed to be really late to accommodate the later arrivals.”

The teen was quiet for a moment before his expression changed, “To be honest, I’m starting to feel a bit uneasy about all of this. What if I’m not up to snuff? What if-”

“Speaking as someone who you’ve helped get through so many spirals,” Marinette interrupted, “let me stop you right there. They’re not gonna send you back home unless you do something really bad, and I doubt that’ll happen. You’re not that type of guy!”

“Yeah, man, I completely agree with Marinette! You are one of the best musicians I know, and I’m including those at parties. You have more heart and soul than a lot of musicians out there - even some of the famous ones!”

“Like XY…” Nino chuckled.

Everyone is better than XY,” Adrien pointed out, “I think he might still be copying music.” 

“Bad timing, Adrien,” Marinette lightly admonished. “Nino, I’ve seen people so moved by your music that you brought them to tears. You know how to pull out people’s emotions and bring life to people at any event. The only person stopping yourself right now is you.” 

Marinette may not have been able to offer physical comfort, but she hoped that Nino could see her poking her phone as if she was poking him. “You’re overthinking things. Just work hard and enjoy this opportunity given to you.”

Nino seemed to pause, thinking over Marinette’s words before a smile seemed to bloom on his face. Marinette was fairly sure that it could even rival one of Adrien’s natural smiles.

“Thanks, guys,” he said appreciatively. “I got up early so I could contact you all. Sorry if I woke you up…”

“Luckily for you, my brain decided to wake itself up early today,” Marinette grumbled, earning a laugh from Nino and Adrien.

“That is definitely a surprise, dudette… and yet, it’s so typical of you,” Nino chuckled, “First day of summer and you get woken up early.”

“I know, right? I was surprised to see her up before eleven! I kind of had a bet with her parents about when she would get up. Tom and I both owe Sabine a few euros!” Adrien lightly poked Marinette’s shoulder. “Why couldn’t you hold out for another hour? I had you after eleven and your dad had you at noon.”

Marinette grumbled something unintelligible, but ultimately smiled and refocused on Nino.

“You’re gonna be alright, Nino,” she said, “If you wanna call again ‘cuz you’re feeling unsure of yourself or something, you can call me. Just be smart about the time of day due to time zones, and please respect it if I’m too busy or something.”

Nino’s glad to have your support… 

Innocence Rank 5!

“Thank you again, Marinette,” Nino flashed her a thumbs-up. “You’re a good friend, you know that?”

“I try…” Marinette rubbed the back of her head with a chuckle as her cheeks were dusted with pink. “I'm gonna let you and Adrien talk right now. I haven’t eaten yet and it’s almost lunchtime. Talk to you again soon, Nino!”

Nino waved goodbye as she walked down the stairs, Tikki flying into her purse when she grabbed it (boy, it was good that kwamis weren’t detectable on camera). It was a nice day out, so she decided to take her lunch - some leftover Bolognese pasta - to the park and enjoy herself. It was nice and peaceful in ‘her part’ of the park, as usual.

Later that afternoon, Marinette decided on going on a run through Paris’ rooftops as Ladybug. She’d received some waves and photos from civilians and tourists, the latter of which were becoming more and more prevalent since the news about Gabriel came out and Paris was safer than it used to be (even if it didn’t say much due to Donna Piuma and the escaped akumas).

As she passed by an alley, the sound of fighting caught her attention. Thinking it might be an akuma - or something that might lead to one - she dropped down around the corner of the entrance.

Juleka, Rose, Nathaniel and Marc stood terrified as some knife-wielding douchebag advanced on them. He wasn’t akumatized, so Ladybug didn’t have as much liberty to attack him, but perhaps she could as she was still a heroine.

Then again, somebody had to do something. It was as Alya had always told her - all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Sending out her yo-yo, Ladybug wrapped it around the attacker’s knife-holding hand and attached shoulder. Before the attacker could react, Ladybug yanked in a way that had the man punching himself with his own hand (without stabbing the guy as well).

Freaked out at seeing the heroine, the man ran away, his knife forgotten on the ground.

“Thank you so much, Ladybug! He really had us backed into a corner!” Rose sighed with relief. Both she and Juleka looked ready to collapse if they weren’t holding on to each other.

“What happened? Normally citizens aren’t like that.” Ladybug’s question was answered by Nathaniel.

“He didn’t like seeing ‘us people’-” - Ladybug noticed the air quotes - “-together when he realized that we didn’t fit his ideal version of a double date. You know what I’m saying?” It was clear that Nathaniel was clearly trying to censor himself; no doubt the man had used far more homophobic langue.

“We honestly didn’t expect him to pull the knife, though,” Marc shuddered as he clung to Nathaniel’s arm. “That just came out of nowhere.”

Really scary,” Juleka murmured. “To think someone would threaten another’s life just because they don’t meet your vision of normal. It feels so childish and dangerous.”

“We just wanted a cute date!” Rose’s fearful expression carried a bit of a pout. 

“At least we didn’t get akumatized,” Nathaniel sighed, though it was clear that he was also shaken up. 

“Did you get his name or any information we can give to the cops?” Ladybug asked.

“No…” Nathaniel scowled. “It was out of nowhere…”

“Well, I can take you to the police so you can give an account of what happened,” Ladybug suggested. “Perhaps they can track this guy down? I’ll even watch you guys until you get there and vouch for you.”

“Thank you, Ladybug,” Nathaniel said, a small smile on his face. That was good.

You feel yourself getting closer to Marc, Rose and Juleka… 

You feel Nathaniel’s gratitude… 

Separation Rank 2!

After watching over the four teens to Officer Roger, making sure they got their statements and seeing them home, Marinette made her way back to the bakery. While she was glad to help her friends, she still felt a bit bad for them because their date had been ruined. At least there had been no akuma to deal with; fighting one of her friends due to someone who didn’t support same-sex relationships was not how she wanted to spend her first day of summer.

Sighing, Marinette looked up to see… why was there a limo in front of the bakery? It wasn’t Tomoe’s vehicle, so who was it? Well, she mused, no other choice but to go in… 

Marinette regretted it the second she stepped in. Why was Felix Graham de Vanily sitting here in the bakery? Marinette had a feeling this was going to be just as much of a surprise to Adrien, if he wasn’t already here.

Hopefully, she could sneak upstairs without being spotted; his back was to the door, so if she walked just right, he shouldn’t be able to hear her. He didn’t acknowledge her when she opened the door, that was good. Now to just get to the stairs… 

“Slinking around your own parents’ bakery?”

Well, shit. There went the idea of going unnoticed. Where was her ladybug luck when she needed it?

Remembering how he had not only impersonated Adrien to make all of their friends hate him but also worked willingly with a terrorist, Marinette scowled and crossed her arms. No way was she going to take this from him .

“Maybe I was just trying to be considerate for your stuck-up self.” Marinette really didn’t care that she might have offended Felix. “Speaking of which, why are you here, Felix?”

“Mother wants to retrieve my cousin and bring him back to London, yet my cousin isn’t here as he claimed he was. I thought I would help Mother by keeping watch for her.”

“You can tell your mom he’s much happier here, now that Gabriel is gone,” Marinette scowled, “and you can leave.”

“Now, now, Miss Dupain-Cheng, where are your manners ?” Marinette could feel her hackles rise at the almost-condescending tone Felix was using.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I seemed to have forgotten that you tried to frame your cousin for sexual harassment before willingly working with a terrorist, siding with him against the heroes. My mistake.”

It seemed she’d hit a nerve, as Felix rose out of his own seat now. “And how do you know about that?”

Shit. Cover-story time. “I was passing by Adrien’s old home and not only overheard a good chunk of your conversation with Ladybug but saw her smack you. You attempted to force yourself upon her… I won’t stand for it.” 

It looked like Felix was still suspicious judging by his narrowing eyes, but Marinette refused to waver and stood firm. Like hell she was backing down. The two kept their almost glaring contest with each other and it probably would have continued if not for Amelie coming down to collect her son. 

Surprised to see Felix actually listen to someone, Marinette could only stare dumbfoundedly. She broke out of her stupor when she heard the front door open. Thankfully it was Adrien and… M. Simonov?

“Hey, Marinette, what’s going on?”

“Your aunt and cousin are upstairs.” Hearing the venom in Marinette’s voice didn’t seem to surprise Adrien as he sighed.

“When she said she’d talk to me later, I thought she meant over the phone, not in person. I have a strong feeling over what this will be about.” He turned back to M. Simonov with a knowing look. “Good thing I brought you and we have everything in order now, huh?”

Marinette saw M. Simonov nod and was confused as she glanced between her boyfriend and his former bodyguard. She felt like something had changed… well, it looked like she was about to find out soon.

“Don’t worry, we got this covered. Let’s go see what my aunt wants.” Adrien gave Marinette’s hand a squeeze before the two went up the stairs, M. Simonov following close behind. 

Marinette noticed how everyone - her parents included - was in the sitting area, with Adrien’s aunt almost expecting them. The older female happily stood up to engulf her nephew in a hug. The forcing caused Adrien to lose his grip on Marinette’s hand. 

“Oh, Adrien, it’s so good to finally see you! I was so worried about you when I heard the news! To think your father was that awful of a man, abusing you and terrorizing Paris.” Amelie seemed to pause for a moment, possibly thinking or looking back. “On second thought, no, it isn’t. He really is a spoiled child at heart - one who throws a tantrum whenever something doesn’t go his way. I should have seen it sooner…”

“You and all of us in Paris…” Adrien sighed, “The trial is a week from now. Me and Igor will be testifying against him.”

“One week…” Amelie mused, “we will be able to bring you back in time for that. It’s clearly not safe for you in Paris. There are too many bad memories here; you’ll be happier in London with us.”

That had everyone minus Felix - who already knew about this - looking up in shock. No one expected this, and Adrien’s opinion wasn’t even being brought in for consideration for this. 

“I’m happy here, Aunt Amelie,” Adrien spoke sternly, “Gabriel was the reason I wasn’t. I have friends here, and now that he’s gone, I can actually spend time with them. M. Simonov has offered to take me in until I’m of age to live on my own.”

“Then why were you living at the bakery?” Felix piped in smugly, only to be shushed by his mom. Marinette was a bit surprised to see Felix once again listen to his mother without protesting.

“I was staying until all of the paperwork and background checks were completed. I found a document signed by Maman, stating that if anything were to happen she wanted me to stay with M. Simonov if it was possible. Gabriel, being Gabriel, hid it in his office and a police officer found it earlier after M. Simonov made his offer.”

Marinette was surprised to hear about this and wondered if this was the truth or if Adrien was bluffing. She got her answer when Adrien provided said document - or at least a copy - for his aunt to read over and analyze. Judging by the way Amelie seemed to deflate, it looks like it was indeed very real.

“Well, at least it seems to give visitation rights and all…” Amelie mused, “Felix, we’re going to stay in Paris for a while.”

“What?” Looks like Mr. Perfect’s composure was destroyed. “But… but Mother-”

“Now, Felix, your cousin - and aunt, if Ladybug can truly save her - need us. It is in everyone’s best interest that we stay and help clean up the mess your… uncle made.” Amelie seemed to stare at the document with amusement, before it turned into a frown. “Perhaps we can even get a divorce for your aunt…”

Felix actually groaned at that, directing an almost half-hearted glare at his cousin. The three teens then seemed to tune out the adults as the adults fell into a conversation amongst themselves. Feeling disgruntled, Felix once again turned his attention to his cousin, no doubt to try and take some frustration out on Adrien.

“So, Adrien, have you gotten over that unrealistic celebrity crush of yours?” he teased, almost maliciously. 

“Yep, and I’m even in a relationship.”  Neither he nor Marinette hid their now interlocked fingers.

Felix’s smirk fell as his mouth dropped open, and when he went to retort, Adrien continued, “With multiple people… how’s your love life?” Adrien smirked as he rested his chin on a fist, giving his cousin a knowing look. 

Felix wisely chose to stay silent, even starting to look uncomfortable in a way that made Marinette feel a tad bit of pity for him.

Marinette giggled and took Felix aside, the two walking back downstairs.

“Look, Felix,” she said, “I don’t like you all that much, and I know you don’t like me. Can we put that aside for Adrien? If you change your behavior, I might consider hanging out with you more often.”

Extending a hand out, she was only somewhat surprised to find Felix taking it immediately. “You have yourself a deal.” Make no mistake that although Felix was willing to frame Adrien and all, the British boy still cared about his cousin. 

You have made a deal with Felix...

Rebirth Rank 1!

Just then, Amelie, Sabine and Tom came back downstairs.

“Mlle. Dupain-Cheng, thank you for you and your parents housing Adrien until he was able to have a safe home.”

“Oh, it was no problem at all!” Marinette shrugged. “Adrien needed a place where he was comfortable and felt safe.”

The Graham de Vanilys had left a few hours later, and Adrien and Marinette were about to go to bed when Marinette’s phone rang. Opening it, she saw it was from Kanji.

“Hey Marinette, hope I didn’t wake you up. Just wanted to let you know, we’re planning to head back tomorrow. Can you, Adrien and Kagami be ready?”

“No problem, Kanji. How early are we talking?”

“Only about an hour later than before.” Those words had Marinette mentally groaning (it meant another early morning); regardless, she shook it off. “Got it, we’ll be ready by six, then.”

“Alright Marinette, see you tomorrow.”

“See you, bro.” Marinette quickly sent a text to Kagami and Adrien informing them of the plans for the following day. She also sent a brief one to her parents to read when they got up that morning. Not long after that one, she got a thumbs-up emoji from Kagami and a nod from Adrien when she headed upstairs.

Laying in her bed, she let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding and fell asleep quickly.

Chapter Text

Morning came far too quickly for Marinette’s taste; it was summer and her body was demanding to know why she was even up. That is until she was reminded that today was yet another trip to the TV world; hopefully today they would save Rise.

Like before, the Parisians had gathered a bunch of supplies for the TV world, ranging from food and drinks to medical supplies. It was better to be overly prepared. Tikki had mentioned that maybe some of the Guardian magic would help, but they had yet to try. It felt too much like a risk to Marinette as even Igor and Margaret didn’t seem to know that much about the Miraculous.

Just like the other day, Teddie seemed out of sorts, prompting Marinette to keep an eye on the beloved bear costume. He had honestly grown on Marinette and she could tell that the IT was just as attached - no, perhaps even moreso - as they knew him longer. Just as before, she informed Yu when the team met up in the TV world, and once again, Yu promised her that he would help keep an eye on Teddie.


It was easy to return to their previous location on floor eight; just as they had been told, they stepped in and found themselves on the floor they’d been in last. There didn’t seem to be any sign of Rise’s Shadow Self, no physical appearance and no voices over the loudspeaker like before. It honestly made Marinette a little uneasy.

The reason for it became clear when they realized the area had plenty of Shadows to battle. 

“Dammit, they seem more aggressive today than they did before,” Kanji stated as he threw a Mazio at a quintet of Large Basalts. The spell did decent damage but otherwise mostly left them unharmed.

“We haven’t defeated these guys yet so we don’t have any intel on them” Yukiko said as she threw an Agilao at one. “Fire isn’t effective either and they just block our physical attacks.”

“Let me try!” Marinette said, summoning Houdini. “Maragion!”

And just like that, the Large Basalts were rendered immobile, prompting an All-Out Attack from the group. Just as the Shadows disappeared, another set of Shadows struck, this one a duo of Forgotten Hableries and a Silver Dice.

“Oh, come on!” Chie threw her hands up in frustration. “We just defeated a group, then you guys show up?” 

“Remember, the Dice don’t have any weaknesses, and they can withstand our physical attacks!” Kagami reminded the group as she threw out a Mazionga at the group from Longg that knocked down the Hableries. “Leave the Forgotten Hableries to me and Kanji, their weakness seems to be electricity.”

“Oh I’m gonna enjoy this! Mazio!” Despite not having the stronger Mazionga yet, Kanji’s Mazio could still do some damage, eliminating one of the Forgotten Hableries and doing decent damage to the Silver Dice.

Marinette decided to bring out a new Persona. “Marie-Antoinette!”

A giant cake in the shape of a woman in a floofy lemon-yellow gown appeared. Marinette casted a Mamudo that eliminated the remaining two foes.

“Are we clear now?” Yosuke asked, removing his headphones while taking a glance around. “Okay, it looks like we are.” 

“Come on, let’s get a move on. We don’t want to stand around and become easy targets,” Yu stated as he sheathed his katana. Looks like there was no treasure with these two groups of Shadows.

The group continued onwards, into the strip club, taking out Shadows along the way. A few of them grumbled at the lack of good rewards, even Plagg complaining about the Shadows “being stingy”. 

Finally the group was outside of a room, Teddie stopping to sniff the air.

“Guys! Guys!” he told the team. “Shadow Rise is right behind this door… and someone else. I don’t know who…”

“Judging from past experience, it’s probably Rise herself,” Chie mused. 

Without needing anymore prompting, the group entered the room.

“There she is!” Plagg shouted at the Shadow leaning against a pole on a stage in the center of the room.

“And Chie was right, the real Rise is here too!” This one came from Adrien.

For a famous idol, Rise was dressed rather humbly. She looked like she worked at some shop rather than on stage.

Aahahahahaha! They’re all watching! ” Shadow Rise cackled, sending shivers down most of the team’s spines. “ All eyes are on me now!

“Stop it!” Rise sounded like she was trying to not cry as she huddled in on herself. 

Awwww! What’s the matter?” the Shadow Self cruelly mocked her. “You want to show your stuff, don’tcha? How’s this?” The Shadow began to spin and dance around the pole in a way that too many people might find seductive.

Marinette and Kagami quickly covered Adrien’s eyes, noticing his red-hot cheeks and working to rectify that situation immediately. He didn’t complain this time; this was one Shadow Self that seemed eager to get slugged by the two.

“Please… stop this…” Rise begged the Shadow Self, sounding tired and close to tears. Her Shadow Self chuckled maliciously.

Ooooh, she wants me to stop. That’s so funny!” A dark aura seemed to flow around Shadow Rise, her teasing grin turning into a sneer. “As if that’s even close to what you’re really thinking, you little skank! You’re me ! And obviously, I’m you!” The more Shadow Rise spoke, the more the dark aura got bigger, darker, worse

“Uh oh…” Yukiko worried.

“Oh no… it’s happening again…” Yosuke muttered.

“No… that’s not true…” Rise’s denial only seemed to bring joy to her Shadow Self.

Shadow Rise threw her head back with a laugh as she began to once again dance, showing emphasis on her body. “Ahahahahaha! C’mon, look ! You can’t tear your eyes away! This is me! This is who I really am!

Shadow Rise then scowled. “Not Risette, the fake celebrity!” she mocked, “Look at the girl right in front of you!” She threw her hand as if swatting something out of her way. “I’m sick of being some airhead cliché who chokes down everything she’s fed and takes it all with a smile ! Everyone praises and lauds Risette, but who the hell is she? There's no such Risette in the world ! I’m nobody but myself - so come on and look at me!

“That’s not… I…!”

Well then, I guess it’s time to prove it. I’m gonna show it all off! Let my naked truth be burned into your brains!

“Stop… stop it!” The real Rise shakily stood up and covered her ears. “You’re…”

Everyone flinched and was at attention now.

“No! Don’t say it!” Adrien and Chie shouted in unison.

Their protests fell on deaf ears.

You’re… not me !” Rise glared defiantly at her Shadow

“Oh, shit…!” Kanji swore as the aura now was getting larger and seemed to fill the room, all while Shadow Rise’s crazed laughter was the only sound in the room.

Here it comes! Now, I’m finally myself!” The Shadow shifted from Rise’s appearance to a giant feminine creature with an antenna-like face and a multi-colored body reminded Marinette of kaleidoscope colors. 

“Tch… here we go!” Kanji warned.

Take a look,” The Shadow said as she removed herself from the pole she was hanging on to stand before the team. “I am a Shadow… the true self…” She once again hung herself on the pole by her legs, a gross squelching sound being made as she showed herself off for the team. “And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for! It’s time for me to show you every last inch of myself! ” She giggled slightly, voice becoming more unhinged as she continued to speak. “And for our guests in the front row… I’ll give you extra-special, extra-intense service!” 

“Looks like she had issues of her own after all…” Adrien muttered. He glanced up to see Yosuke grasping his shoulder. 

“Don’t worry, kid. We’ll stop her from going berserk!” 

Adrien nodded his head in thanks to the older teen. 

Seeing all of the team with their weapons drawn and at the ready, the Shadow continued to throw her verbal jabs. 

Ohhh? You’re going to rush the stage? What ill-mannered guests… maybe you’re looking for an experience that’s a little more intense?” Her voice raised in intensity, showcasing her rage.

A green light emanated from her, washing over the Investigation Team and the Personas they’d summoned as they dashed towards Shadow Rise. No one seemed to notice her teasing remark.

“What in the…?” Kagami gasped as Longg’s Black Spot whizzed right by the enemy. Kanji, Adrien, Chie, Yukiko and Yosuke shot attacks at her too, each of them being dodged as Shadow Rise expertly maneuvered herself around the pole.

You’re sooooo transparent~!” Shadow Rise giggled evilly.

“Save your energy!” Yu called out to the others. “I think she scanned us! She can predict our attacks now!”

“But how do we fight back?” Marinette shouted back. 

“I…” Yu was pallid. “I don’t know…”

Quickly, Yu turned to Teddie, who had taken a now-unconscious Rise to a hiding spot. “Teddie!” he barked. “Get Rise out of here!”

“But I can’t just a-bear-ndon you guys!” Teddie sobbed. “I want to help… but what can I do?”

“We’ll be fine, Teddie,” Marinette tried to encourage the living costume. “Just g-” Her words cut off as Shadow Rise got off the pole. 

Analysis complete. Now…” the Shadow almost cooed. “Time to counter-attack!” She removed the pole from where it was placed, aiming it at the team like it was a cannon. “FIRE!

A multitude of attacks released from the pole, each of just the right element to attack each Persona. 




The three Parisians rushed forward to catch their kwamis, each of which had reverted to their smaller forms after the attack.

“She’s that powerful?! She’s pretty much one-shot all of us!” Adrien shouted while doing his best to keep Plagg from falling out of his hands.

“Oh, no! Sensei, everyone!” Teddie panicked cries could be heard from the hiding spot.

Ooooh~! That got you good! ” Shadow Rise taunted. “Here’s another round~!” The team hid as yet another round of attacks was released from the pole-cannon. 

“I really oughta do something…” Teddie murmured to himself, looking over the team with worry. “I need to help them! But I have no idea what to do! I’m so useless!”

Then the strangest thing happened. A bright, orange energy began to emanate from Teddie, and he began charging towards Shadow Rise.

“Teddie?! What in the world are you doing ?” Kagami gasped.

Ugh… more people in the way?” Shadow Rise seemed to be angry (without a noticeable face, it was hard to tell), “Fine… I’ll eliminate you… hmm? His power levels… they’re off the charts!

She managed to ready another cannon attack in time to stop Teddie from ramming into her. Unfortunately, this did her little good, as he started powering his way through the blast.

“I don’t know what’s happening! My body is just moving on its own!” Despite this, Teddie still seemed to release a war cry as he once again charged the Shadow. The aura almost protected him as he continued to slowly push through. 

“It’s like Stompp’s Fortify…” Marinette said, voice filled with awe and something like recognition.

The system is overloading!” Shadow Rise screeched. That was the last thing that happened before a bright light filled the room.

When the light cleared out, Shadow Rise had reverted back to her lookalike form and seemed to be unconscious. Teddie - now flat as a flapjack - was laying on the floor in front of the stage.

Marinette and company couldn’t have gotten up fast enough as they rushed over to the bear costume. Even the kwamis seemed almost desperate to get to the beloved bear. Poor Teddie seemed to not be speaking and making random sounds.

“Crazy-ass bear,” Kanji noted with a bit of fondness in his voice, “what you did out there is nuts.”

“Yeah! You saved us!” Chie’s praise made the bear smile.

“You coulda died!” Adrien admonished, though it was clear he wasn’t angry. He tried to wipe away at the tears threatening to fall.

Just then, Teddie looked down, before gawking loudly. “My fur! Aww, no…”

“Well, he seems to be okay… for the most part, anyways,” Marinette laughed, the rest of the Investigation Team joining in.

“Mmm… where am I?” 

Everyone turned to see Rise slowly awaken and rise to her feet. The first thing the idol looked to was Shadow Rise, who looked conscious but was still splayed out on the stage. The team quickly got up there to help her.

“I’m sorry…” Rise apologized sadly, “It’s all my fault…”

“It’s not your fault, Rise…” Yu said honestly, “it happens to the best of us.”

“Yes it is… I… I rejected myself!” Rise protested sadly.

“Most of us here rejected our other selves, too…” Adrien smiled softly at her. “It may hurt to accept her, but you have to…”

Smiling sadly, Rise turned to her Shadow Self. “Here, stand up.”

Cautiously helping the now-silent Shadow Rise up, Rise said, “I’m sorry… you must have been in a lot of pain for a long time. You’re a part of me, even if I kept refusing to admit your existence…”

“I was trying to figure out who the real me was…” she continued, “and now I realize I was looking for the wrong things. There isn’t a real me… it just doesn’t exist yet.”

“There’s no… real me…?” Teddie whispered to himself. Nobody heard him.

“You, me, even Risette…” Rise declared softly, “Every persona I took up was all born from me… all of them are me!”

Shadow Rise nodded, before being engulfed in a bright light that turned her into a black-skinned womanoid figure dressed in white with a satellite-esque face not unlike Shadow Rise’s monstrous form. A strange golden ringlike item was held in her hands, Marinette stared at this strange item, wondering what its purpose was.

As the Persona transformed into a card that empowered Rise, she smiled weakly, before collapsing to her knees.

“Rise! Careful!” Adrien and Yosuke rushed to help her up.

“I’m fine…” Rise struggled to help herself up. She then recognized most of the Investigation Team. “Wait… you guys came to the store, right…?”

“Store?” Marinette asked.

“Rise’s grandma owns a tofu shop in Inaba,” Yu explained, “it’s why she came here of all places to escape the idol life.”

“I can get behind that idea…” Adrien said, the feeling of wanting to escape a luxurious but limiting life more than familiar to him. He smiled when Marinette nudged his arm, as she whispered you’re kind of already doing that to him.

“...! Aren’t you…?”

“Yeah… we’ll talk about it later.”

“I thought I recognized most of you… thanks, everyone.”

Taking charge, Chie said, “We’ll explain things later. Now that we’ve saved you, let’s-”

“There is no real me…

Chapter Text

There is no real me…” Teddie’s distorted voice had the teens turning around quickly.

“H-hey, Teddie…” Kanji tried to approach but was stopped by Rise.

“No, get back! Something’s coming out of him!”

Real? Me?” The sudden voice change caught everyone off guard before he chuckled. “Such foolishness” A bigger and more dangerous-looking version of Teddie appeared from behind the bear, looking almost like a hologram or illusion. 

“What is that thing?” Adrien cried out.

“D-don’t tell me…” Marinette whispered, “Is that Teddie’s Shadow Self? His hidden thoughts?”

“Something feels off…” Yu murmured, looking at Shadow Teddie’s eyes. They were golden like every other Shadow Self, but something just felt… off about it all.

“I agree,” Rise nodded, having heard the I.T.’s leader, “It feels like a powerful presence is intervening…”

Teddie finally seemed to notice that something was off. “Wh-what’s going on?” His voice panicking, he looked around, before finally noticing his Shadow Self. His eyes bugged out. “Wha… whoa!”

The truth is unattainable…” Shadow Teddie began, “It will always be shrouded in fog… though you reach through the murk and gloom to grasp anything, you have no ways to know what is truth and what is not.

Everyone’s eyebrows - minus Teddie’s - furrowed at this. 

In which case… why? What sense is there in yearning for the truth? Close your eyes. Lie to yourself. Live in blissful ignorance… It is a much smarter way to exist.

“I-I don’t understand…” Teddie said fearfully, “What are you saying? Are you trying to confuse me with big words because I’m not that smart? How rude! I’m thinking as hard I can about this stuff right now!”

It is those efforts which I find futile… you are hollow. Empty.

At your core, you know this…” Shadow Teddie continued, “...You just cannot accept it. So you seek an alternate form… a denial of your nature. You… you have no lost memories. If you have forgotten anything , it is this truth.

“That’s… lies… all of it…” Teddie whimpered.

Shall I spell it out for you? You are a mere-

“Enough!” Teddie said, before jumping at his Shadow Self. Being practically paper-thin as he was right now, however, he bounced right off of Shadow Teddie.

“Teddie!” Yukiko and Marinette cried out, both rushing to catch their flattened friend.

The same applies to you all. Undergoing suffering merely because of your quest for ‘truth.’ The world is filled with thick, heavy fog… how do you expect to find that which you don’t know you’re searching for?

“The truth has to exist!” Yu stated.

Obtaining the truth is simple. All you have to do is believe that is the truth. Then I will grant you one truth… you will all die here. You sought the truth, only to find death.

“Dammit…” Yosuke looked somewhat unnerved. “Teddie helps to navigate… how are we supposed to fight without him?”

“It’s all right,” Rise caught their attention, “I’ll take his place with Himiko. Get ready, everyone.”

“Don’t tell me you think you’re gonna join us in fighting!” Chie frowned. “You can’t take it!”

Rise shook her head. “I’m okay… I should be able to take Teddie’s place! It’s my turn to save you all…”

With that, Shadow Teddie transformed, the size he was growing to causing the world around them to rumble. Marinette took the still-flattened form of Teddie to somewhere safe before returning to the others’ side.

When he’d finished, the horrifying form of a grotesque, battered Teddie caused more than shudders to run down everyone’s spines. Marinette and Yukiko almost screamed. What unnerved Yu the most were its eyes. They almost seemed unfitting… 

( )

I am a Shadow… the TRUE self… ” Shadow Teddie declared ominously, “I shall give you all the truth you claim to hold so dear… the inescapable fact of your death here!

“I can’t believe we really have to fight Teddie…” Adrien spoke mournfully.

“It’s not him, but his Shadow,” Yosuke tried to cheer up Adrien, though it was clear that even he was feeling the weight of fighting a close friend. “Though I can understand what you're feeling. He was a lot more troubled than he looked…”

“We have to save him!” Ever-determined, Marinette had her hook swinging at the ready.

Foolish beings… accept your deaths with dignity and grace!

“Tomoe!” Chie called, summoning her Persona to cast a Bufula on the Shadow Self. Instead of damaging him, however, it merely washed over the Shadow, healing it. “Ice is a no-go, you guys.”

“Well, let’s try and weaken his ability to hit or evade,” Kagami stated as she sliced through her Persona card. “Longg, Sukunda!”

A green light fell over the Shadow Self right before it swung a giant paw at her, which she dodged rather easily.

“Right behind you with that! Plagg, Tarunda!” Similar to before, a red light fell over the Shadow,  decreasing his attack power. 

“Isonade!” Marinette cried out, summoning a giant, faceless shark creature with a barbed tail, “Torrent Shot!”

Isonade slammed its tail down on Shadow Teddie once, twice, and thrice, doing decent damage. A part of Marinette flinched at the sound of each strike against Shadow Teddie, but she told herself that she had to do this. It was the only way to save Teddie!

“Konohana Sakuya,” Yukiko called, “Agilao!”

The Fire spell did quite the bit of damage to Shadow Teddie, but it didn’t knock him down or anything of the sort.

“Fire spells seem to do well, guys!” Yosuke realized. “Light this bastard up!”



“Konohana Sakuya! Once more!”

Three Agilao, one after the other, landed on Shadow Teddie.

Stop this futile struggling,” Shadow Teddie demanded, “Even if you resist, it will all amount to nothing…

Diving into the hole he was standing in for a second, Shadow Teddie quickly jumped back up and pulled out a ball of energy in one hand. He began charging said energy.

“What…? I have a bad feeling about that…” Rise murmured, before calling out, “Put up your guard! It’s gonna attack!” to the Investigation Team.

Somehow, when Yu and everyone else attempted to block the Nihil Hand with their weapons, it worked. Other than being pushed back a little, they were unharmed. 

What…? How can you summon such strength for such a pointless goal…

“It’s not pointless - not to us, it isn’t!” Yu declared. “Lamia! Agilao!”

“Tomoe! Assault Dive!” 

“Take-Mikazuchi! Kill Rush!”

“Susano-o! Garula!”

“Garula, Plagg!”

“Longg - Zionga!”

The multitude of attacks dealt heavy damage to Shadow Teddie; regardless, the monstrous Shadow Self stood strong, even though it was obviously on its last legs.

Why continue to resist? Even if you win, nothing but suffering and pain await you!

“Finding the truth makes it all worthwhile!” Marinette shot back. “Tikki, give him another Agilao!”

As the attack hit the Shadow, Marinette wiped away at any tears that tried to fall. As much as she didn’t want this fight to happen, she knew that it had to. If they didn’t stop Shadow Teddie, not only were they in mortal peril, but Teddie would be agonizing over this for who knows how long.

“How’s his health looking, Rise?” Kagami asked. “Can you tell?”

“He’s pretty close!” Rise called back. “Give him a few more good shots and we’ll get him!”

“Keep it going, guys, we’ve almost won this! Longg - Zionga once more!”

“You heard her!” Kanji grinned, before swinging his chair down onto Shadow Teddie. 

“Plagg! Garula!” Adrien called. His kwami/Persona’s Wind attack earned a loud roar from Shadow Teddie as it collapsed, the eyes disappearing and its color rusting.

After they’d recovered Teddie to their side, Teddie sighed sadly. Marinette rushed forward to hug the still-flattened bear. 

“Don’t ever scare me like that again!” She cried as she allowed her tears to fall, soaking into Teddie’s fur. The bear didn’t seem to know what to do.

“Was that really a part of you, Teddie?” Yukiko asked.

“Even Teddie had a hidden side…” Chie whistled.

“I… I don’t know who I am…” Teddie’s almost broken voice filled the room, noticing how his Shadow seemed to observe him. “I’ve thought a number of times… that maybe there is no answer. But I’m here… I live here.”

“You’re not alone, Teddie,” Marinette stated as she pulled back, wiping at her eyes.

  The bear turned back to face the group, a hopeful look in his eyes.

“Then… I don’t have to do this all on my own?” 

“Dude, we’ll help you figure it out,” Yosuke promised with a wink. 

“I’m sure we’ll find out about you as we continue investigating this world” Yukiko reassured the bear. 

Teddie started to tear up. “Y-you guys! I’m… I’m one lucky bear!” He turned back to his Shadow, who started to glow with a familiar blue light, transforming into a colorful, round Persona carrying some sort of missile in its hands. “Is this my Persona?” His voice held such wonder.

“Heh… see, you dumb bear?” Yosuke laughed. “Even your Persona isn’t empty… well, not empty-handed, at least.”

“I can sense strong power from it… it's awesome, Teddie!” Rise praised, before collapsing again.

“I don’t fault you for that,” Chie said as she and Kanji helped Rise up. “You were already tired, and to help us fight all of that… good job, Rise!”

“Enough about that,” Adrien said, “We’re all really tired - let’s get out of here.”

With that, the Investigation Team began to carry Rise outside.

After using another Goho-M, the group made their way back to the entrance, Kanji carrying Rise bridal-style. Marinette did not miss his blush at the proximity he had with her, nor did she miss the one on Rise’s face, but she wisely decided to save any teasing and whatnot for another time. Adrien and Yosuke were helping a still-flat Teddie, who kept assuring her that he would be back to normal in a bit.

“Will you be alright, Rise?” Kagami asked once they reached the TV area.

“I’m alright…” Rise nodded, “Really, I’m more worried about Teddie.” 

“You gonna be okay on your own, Teddie?” Kanji asked. He’d set Rise down on her feet a little while ago.

“I think I’d like to be alone for a bit,” Teddie said honestly. “My fur is all matted, and my nose is weaker now…”

He laid himself out on the ground and started doing sit-ups. “ I’m gonna start training now! Nobody will be able to stop us with moi able to fight!”

The rest of the team and Rise laughed.

“Anyways, we still have time to pass,” Marinette pointed out, “do you guys want to rest in Paris for a bit? I think it’s only the afternoon or early evening for us…”

“That might be Paris time, but not only is it later for us but we also need to get Rise back home,” Yu pointed out. “Maybe some other day?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t think of that. I just wanted to help you guys recharge before going home.” 

“Let’s get back, ourselves,” Kagami noted with a gentle bump to Marinette’s shoulder. “I wonder if Luka’s found something on the tablet…” 

Nodding among themselves, Marinette, Adrien, Kagami and the kwamis went back through the TV.

The trio exited the TV to see Luka in the living room. The older teen merely blinked when the TV started creating the spiral pattern before spitting out Marinette and company.

“Well, that was interesting,” was all Luka said (or perhaps all he could say), though he managed to shrug it off well. It really paid to have a boyfriend who was a go-with-the-flow type.

“Ugh, we’re back…” Marinette said while rubbing her back. “We have got to move this up to my room… that, or we should make us a softer landing…” 

“At least we didn’t hit the table again,” Tikki grumbled. 

“You guys look beat,” Luka observed while helping the three stand up and getting them on the furniture. It looked like now that they were out of the TV World, their bodies were finally feeling the effects of two major fights (even if one of them hadn't been a full-on fight).

“We definitely feel beat…” Adrien huffed out.

“Two frickin’ boss fights!” Plagg grumbled. “Where's my camembert? I definitely need it after all that!” Plagg was already flying for his stash, Tikki and Longg flying to the tray of food Tom and Sabine had left out on the table.

“You guys definitely earned it after everything,” Marinette smiled at the trio of kwami as they chowed down.

“You three look like you need food as well… and maybe a bit of some first aid. Adrien, you’ve got a cut on your upper lip. Where’s the first aid kit, Marinette?” 

“I have one in my room, it should be by my desk if I remember correctly…”

Before Luka could stand up, a few kwamis were already bringing it down, handing it over to Luka. 

“I’ll fix you guys up while you tell me what happened. I already asked your parents and informed Mom, so I’ll be staying for dinner. I want to show you my findings from the tablet. I think we’ve got a good chance at saving Emilie, Adrien.”

Those words made Adrien’s face light up. 

Carrying the first aid over, Luka began to help the teens with some of their injuries; none of the three had felt them in the TV World but now back in reality, they were feeling every sore muscle and every cut or bruise. It was a bit weird - Marinette was sure this hadn’t happened before, but then again maybe that was because they had all over exerted themselves.

Later on, the four were left alone in Marinette’s room; after spending some time with Tom and Sabine, they had been allowed to take their food upstairs to give them privacy. Luka pulled out a notebook with a decent amount of writing and a bunch of sticky notes in it.

“I put the stuff to help Emilie first as that is the most important part; I did my best to detail every step that I could. There are some other stuff that I took notes on because I thought they could help us and maybe you guys in the other world, but for the most part I focused on Emilie for now.” Luka opened the notebook to show that in addition to notes there were even little drawings. 

“Why the drawings?” Kagami asked. 

Luka merely shrugged. “The tablet had diagrams, so I did my best to copy them. I didn’t want to leave out any details.” He turned the notebook so that the other three could see it better. “Like with the wish, both the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculouses are needed, but for this one, you two,” he gestured to Marinette and Adrien “are both the ones who need to use the Miraculouses. They can’t be used by one person, unlike the wish; there must be two people.”

“Also, one of the users must be close to the person who will be healed,” Luka continued on, “I imagine that’ll be Adrien.”

“Without a doubt,” Adrien nodded seriously. 

“From what I could gather, Plagg will be needed to destroy whatever it is that is keeping Emilie in her coma before Tikki can heal her from the removal of said whatever-it-is. The process seems to be delicate yet also instinctive according to the translations.” Luka showed a small picture of what looked like a person holding another person’s wrist. “The translation was a little off, I think, it mentioned needing touch for Plagg to do his thing, but it never specified where or if it needed to be by skin. The diagram showed it being on a person’s left side as it is supposed to follow the blood flow, I’m not sure if this goes for using Tikki as well…”

The discussion of the plan Luka had made went on for a little while, and it was followed by casual conversation once everyone was down with the plan. Eventually, Kagami had to go home. She gave each of her partners a quick cheek-kiss goodbye before she exited.

“Thank you again for doing this while we were out, Luka,” Adrien said earnestly, Marinette nodding along beside him. “You have no idea how grateful I am for this. You helped save my mother… or rather, you’re going to do so!”

“We’re partners, aren’t we?” Luka shrugged. “It’s all right, Adrien.”

The two boys embraced each other, the hug lasting a little while before Luka went home for the night. In the midst of the hug, Luka looked over Adrien’s shoulder and shot Marinette a wink. Marinette gave him a thumbs-up. The two teens were getting closer.

Luka has found a solution to Emilie’s condition…

Rebel Rank 4!

Not long after Luka left, Marinette and Adrien were all too eager to pass out themselves. The day’s events definitely had definitely worn them out. 

Marinette dreamed of Kanji and Rise’s wedding, causing her to smile as she slept.

Chapter Text

After the previous day of clearing not one but two bosses, Marinette and Adrien both slept in. Despite this, Adrien awoke just a little after ten whereas Marinette was up closer to eleven. The teen headed down to the bakery with a cup of coffee to see the bakery… empty? It shouldn’t have been - around this time of day, it should be bustling with customers!

As she finished walking downstairs, she saw Tom and Sabine looking over something on their business computer. They looked almost fearful - something Marinette seldom saw on her parents other than during akumas.

“Maman? Papa? What’s going on?” She found herself asking, noting the look of concern on not only her parents but also a few kwami that slipped downstairs to and help out. 

“I’m not sure…” Adrien answered back, somewhat busy carrying a few sacks of flour. “I would ask what’s going on, but I feel like it’s not my place…” Setting down the flour, he made his way over to the computer where the elder Dupain-Chengs were sitting. For a few moments he was silent before looking back at his girlfriend with an almost solemn expression. “Marinette, you’re going to want to see this…”

Worried now, Marinette made her way to the computer, Tikki hiding in her hair. Tom and Sabine uneasily parted to let her take a look.

One of the most scathing reviews of the Dupain-Cheng Patisserie Marinette had ever read was on the screen. Funnily enough, a lot of it was wildly inaccurate - pests in the building (no way; the kwami kept themselves hidden, so it wasn’t them), slow and crude staff (what staff? It was just her and her parents on weekends), outrageous prices (most of the prices were actually a little under average, according to Grandpere Roland)… 

Reading the reviewer’s alias of Camaleonte68 only heightened her suspicions of who was behind this. While it was possible it could be someone else, there was only one person Marinette could think of that could and would do something like this. 

Lila …” she scowled. 

Alarmed, her parents turned to her. “You mean that classmate of yours?” Sabine asked. “From that debacle that got you temporarily expelled?”

“I never told you about her because I thought I could handle her on my own, and I didn’t want to worry you…” Marinette looked down sadly, “Plus, I couldn’t tell you how I knew she was lying without revealing myself as Ladybug…”

“What happened?” Adrien asked, “Or is it not my place to ask?”

Lila libeled the bakery,” Marinette growled, fists clenched. She had to tell herself to calm down to not attract a moth, but it was so hard

Adrien looked over the review. “Surely hardly anyone believes this,” he pointed out, “you guys have a good set of regulars and all…”

“That may be true, but the bakery is empty…” .

No customers meant no money, and while she knew her parents didn’t care too much about the financial rewards, money was still necessary in today’s world. They had been able to set up backup funds for this sort of thing in the past, but even those wouldn’t last forever. “What are we gonna do…?”

Then an idea hit her. Surely the rest of the IT wouldn’t mind…

Whipping out her phone, she called the Inabans. They all picked up quickly.

“What’s going on, Marinette?” Yosuke was the first to speak up.

“Someone libeled the bakery,” Marinette said coolly (although rage was evident in her tone), “You know how the Shadows drop money and other valuables?”

“Yeah…?” Chie said.

“Can we take some of that to keep us afloat for a little while?”

“Of course!” Yukiko responded. “You’re part of the Investigation Team, Marinette - the money is yours as much as Adrien’s, Kagami’s, and ours.”

“Do you want us to come over?” Kanji asked. “I mean, do you need the manpower to help? I’m pretty sure we can help give out flyers or something to help.”

“Oh, I know!” Chie piped up. “Marinette, do you guys have an online menu?”

“No, but we could set one up. What’re you thinking?” 

“My parents loved the treats so much that they wanted to outright buy them after a bite! We could help sell some of your baked goods over here!”

“Good idea, Chie,” Kanji nodded. 

“I know my parents also liked what I brought home,” Yosuke added. “I know my dad all but demanded to know who or where the baked goods were from.”

“I’m pretty sure they would be popular at our school, too,” Yukiko mused. “I remember hearing a few teachers and students complaining about wanting to try something new and different other than steak skewers and Junes products…”

“And I heard my uncle tell his coworkers about the doughnuts I brought home, even if he didn’t really seem to appreciate the joke that came with them.” Marinette wasn’t sure, but she could have sworn she could hear a pout in Yu’s voice. “I’m pretty sure I could get some for my uncle’s coworkers; if I can’t ask him, then I know I can ask Adachi.”

“Adachi?” Marinette asked.

“Uncle’s gopher,” Yu explained, “He’s a bit of a blabbermouth, but he means well and is kind to me and Nanako.”

“Anyways…” said Yukiko, steering the conversation back to the problem at hand, “Don’t worry, Marinette. We’ll help you!” 

Marinette felt tears sting her eyes as she stared into space with her mouth hanging open. She had no idea that everyone would offer this much help when she had wanted to ask a simple favor. It was so different from growing up.

“Thank you, Marinette,” Sabine spoke up, “but we really shouldn’t accept money from you.”

“You’ve paid for a lot of things for me when I was younger, Mom,” Marinette pointed out, “even if it’s just this once, let me give back.”

The family embraced each other. They would get through this.

You and your parents have confidence…

Physician Rank 4!

“Wait…” Yu then spoke up. “You said something about libel… that means somebody defamed your store. Do you know who did it?”

“Marinette thinks it’s a liar at our school named Lila,” Adrien piped in. Yu and the others scowled at the notion. “She has a vendetta against Marinette for trying to expose her.”

“Someone around our age did this?” Yosuke gawked. “What the hell… er, sorry, Dupain-san and Cheng-san.”

“But why would she do this?” Kanji wondered. “I mean, if she has something against ya, why do this now?”

“Perhaps she saw us hanging out and got angry,” a voice called out. Everyone in the room turned to see who the voice belonged to.

Kagami stood in the front of the bakery, a worried look on her face. 

“I heard about the review on the way here,” Kagami told them, “Mother was not deceived, nor am I. I know this bakery is a better establishment than that.”
“Wait, is that Kagami?” Chie said from the phone. 

“Yes, I’m here,” Kagami said, “It’s good to hear you again, Chie.”

“We’re planning our… comeback?” Adrien tried to explain. “No, not a comeback, that’s too cheesy… but we’re definitely a solution to all of this. It looks like the bakery is expanding to an Inaban clientele. I was going to say ‘plan of attack,’ but that didn’t feel right either...”

Listening from the side, Plagg snickered to Xuppu, “Don’t call it a comeback… we’ve been here for years!”

Xuppu laughed. They’d spent some time on Marinette’s computer learning movies and memes, and had really enjoyed a mashup they'd found of a Mario song and Mama Said Knock You Out.

“Lila? You mean that girl at the school who does nothing but tell lies?” Kagami scowled at the thought. “I’m no fashionista, but she has all the pleasantness of a mud-pie with sugar dumped on it.”

Everyone shuddered at the imagery of that.

“Sorry… anyways, if there is anything me and Mother can do to help, please let us know,” Kagami promised them.

“I think you can,” Adrien beamed. “Marinette! Me and Kagami can deliver them to Inaba when it’s time, since we know Japanese. Can you ask around to see if any of our friends and classmates want to order as well? I’ll do whatever I can to help out around here to help strum up business.”

“Of course I’ll help you out! I just wanted to talk to Marinette about some things. It also partially involves you and Luka as well. He told me he’s busy today with work, so I’ll have to talk to him later on, but I’d like to talk to you two today, if that’s okay. We can also plan other ways to help the bakery.”

“Sounds like you three will be busy for a bit,” Yu stated. “We’ll ask around here and get you three some orders. We’ll try to stick with what you’ve given us for basic stuff for now, just let us know your menu and prices when they are available.”

“No problem. I’ll send you a list of what we have around here for today and their prices within an hour.”

“And I’ll deliver them later,” Adrien responded, “just send me a picture of the place Marinette uses so I can teleport safely.”

“Not a problem. We’ll see you and Kagami in a few hours.”

Marinette disconnected the call after that. It felt good to have friends you could trust.

You feel your bond with the Inabans improving…

“I take it from your expression that you guys found a solution?” Tom inquired. His voice was cautious, but there was hope in his voice.

“We’re gonna deliver some stuff to Inaba, which I think I told you Yu and those guys are from,” Marinette explained. “We’ll have to transfer the yen to euros, but I think we’re gonna be okay.”

“And the gang said we can use the treasures we’ve found in the TV World too if we need it, so that’s also an option. But I think we’re gonna try and stick with the delivery for now, right, Marinette?”

“Pretty much,” Marinette responded. “Now, let’s leave my mom and dad to do what they need to do.”

As the three kids headed up the stage, Tom and Sabine wiped away any tears before they began baking. Most of the kwamis came down to help.

Once settled in Marinette’s room, Kagami pulled out what looked to be two invitations.

“I have qualified for a fencing tournament in Japan this upcoming October. Mother has said that I can bring you two and Luka with me, but there is a condition to this: you three have to learn at least decent Japanese by this October. Adrien, I know you have an advantage with your anime, but I’d like to bring you into our lessons today, if that is okay. Luka would also be joining when he is available.”

“Of course! I’m so proud of you!” Marinette grasped Kagami’s hand to press a kiss to her knuckles. It looked like Adrien had a similar thought as he did the same with her other hand. It was rather nice to be on the blush-inducer’s end instead of the other way around.

“Congratulations, my Empress!” 

Kagami could only stare at the two as her entire face slowly became red. It was actually rather cute to see the normally stoic-acting Kagami go as red as her former suit. Enjoying the moment, both Marinette and Adrien shared a look and smirked, no doubt, intending on flirting with their girlfriend to see if she could get any redder.

“Ugh, more mushy stuff?” Plagg just had to ruin the moment. “Right in front of my cheese? Do you three have no shame?”

“Plagg,” Tikki said in a sweet voice, “Would you mind coming with me?”

Before he was led off, Plagg visibly gulped. There was no escaping for Plagg, especially not if Sass and Trixx were there, both grinning too widely for Plagg’s liking as he was led off for a scolding.

“Thanks, Tikki,” Adrien muttered.

“Be nice to Plagg!” Marinette admonished semi-lightly.

A grin formed on Adrien’s face. “Stinky, cheese-obsessed gremlin.”


“Naughty boy. Brat cat.” Kagami deadpanned.

“Nooo! You two are unfair!”

“Well, he is,” Adrien stated simply. “Where is the lie?”

Anyways,” Kagami said sharply, bringing their attention back to the conversation. “Shall we begin your lessons?”

“Of course! I’ve been trying to study in some of my spare time and I think I’ve gotten the hang of basic or simple sentences. I’m not too sure which one is more accurate.” Marinette brought her notebook that she had been using and grabbed one for Adrien as well - the one he’d been using during their meeting with the Inabans to plan against Hawkmoth. 

“Let’s begin. We’ll review what we did last time and some of what I covered in the bakery that one time. Then I’ll start with some newer words and phrases.” 

The lesson started, with Kagami going over some of the past lessons, having the two answer simple questions or repeating some phrases to jog Marinette’s memory. True to her word, Marinette didn’t struggle as much with the lesson and was picking up rather quickly with the review. Soon, Kagami began to switch with more advanced stuff, having the two repeat common answers to questions or other phrases they would need to hear. 

Eventually, Kagami called for a break; she didn’t want to overwhelm the two, or perhaps she was afraid that she might. This allowed Marinette to send the previously mentioned list to the group, along with prices which Kagami and Adrien took the time to help convert. Adrien got some more orders by asking Gorilla and his Aunt Amelie if they would like to order a few items as well. The two had acquiesced wholeheartedly.

Since Adrien and Marinette hadn’t really eaten, mainly due to stress, the two had a light lunch with Kagami who told them a few stories about what was going on in Japan in Japanese. Sure, it was a lesson, but it felt more lighthearted.

You have been invited to an upcoming competition in Japan, of which Kagami eagerly wants you to join her…

Nurture Rank 5! 

After the lesson, both Kagami and Adrien were ready to take the orders to Inaba, the team had a few orders ready to go and the two wanted to give Marinette a break. She needed to destress, so the two got Luka involved. Marinette didn’t know that, however, as it had been Juleka who invited her to a karaoke night with Kitty Section and Mylene. 

With a promise to see if she could get more orders - despite her parents insisting that she didn’t need to - Marinette was out the door. The walk to the Liberty was quiet for the most part, but that may have been due to Marinette focusing on the review. It was doing damage to the bakery, yet she had no proof at all that Lila was behind it. There was no way to even tell where the review had been done; for all she knew, it was done at the local library!

With some gentle nudging from Tikki, Marinette found herself outside the Liberty, Luka standing there waiting for her arrival. Without any prompting, he wrapped his arms around his girlfriend.

“I guess you heard what’s going on…”

“Yeah, but we’re going to take your mind off things for now. Juleka and Rose wanted you here to have some fun. Let’s go in, Mom’s getting pizza for tonight.”  

Luka led Marinette up to the main deck where everything was mostly set up, looking very similar to the movie night Juleka and Rose had not too long ago, mixed in with band practice. Marinette noticed that only Juleka and Luka’s guitars seemed to be set up. 

“I’m surprised you got a karaoke machine,” Mylene said honestly, “I figured you’d want to play the songs yourselves.”

“Yeah, but then we can’t focus on the singing,” Juleka shrugged. “I have a feeling Luka will be on his guitar whenever Marinette sings.” 

Instead of responding too much to his sister’s teasing, he merely shrugged and stated, “Like you won't do the same with Rose?” 

Marinette was pretty sure she’d never seen Juleka redder. Juleka managed to regain her composure and Marinette was sure she saw sparks flying between the two siblings. Was this normal? Judging by Rose’s reactions, she mused, it just might be.

“Okay who wants to start first?” Rose scanned the group; not seeing a volunteer, she simply chose to ‘voluntell’ someone. “Marinette, why don’t you start?”

Speechless but feeling challenged in a way, Marinette nodded and went through the selections on the machine. She found an interesting one, but it stated that it was an adapted or mistranslated version of a song. Marinette knew the rhythm enough to sing along with the song, so that did not deter her. 

“Hey Luka, can you help me out with this one? I just need your guitar for this mainly.”

She missed Juleka’s told ya to Rose, but Luka caught it. Oh, he was definitely getting Juleka back later.

“Not a problem, just show me which one.” Upon seeing the song, Luka slightly winced, but hearing Marinette asking him to just adapt and have fun had him nodding his head. The two performed a truly rocking rendition of Caramelldansen.

Rose definitely seemed to enjoy the cover, as did Ivan and Juleka; even Mylene bobbed her head along to the music. The group seemed to encourage Marinette to continue singing on, so after plugging in her phone to YouTube to find some stuff, Marinette went through Stronger Than You from Steven Universe and Lifelight from Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

Ivan offered to go next. He may have been the drummer, but he still managed to give an impressive performance of Other Friends (another song from Steven Universe; him, Mylene and Marinette had been sad to see it end).

At some point, Juleka and Rose did an amazing cover of Phantom of the Opera together, and even Mylene stepped up to sing the non-operatic parts of a movie song called Poisonous Love. Ivan had gone crazy over that.

Somehow, Marinette got Rose and Juleka to sing a few Disney love songs with both Luka and Juleka adding some rock to the music. It was rather cute to see Rose and Juleka blush while singing, and if she happened to blush whenever Luka gave a smirk, well… it was allowed in the dating rules!

With a lot of strong convincing from everyone (namely, major puppy eyes from Marinette, Juleka and Rose), the group managed to convince Luka to sing. They had to set up the drums for the song Luka chose (the karaoke machine didn’t have it and Luka didn’t want to use YouTube for it). Marinette was a bit surprised to hear It’s Terror Time Again from Scooby-Doo, yet at the same time she wasn’t. 

As a bit of a theme, Rose, Marinette and Juleka decided to end the night with Hex Girl from another Scooby-Doo. Once again, this was played as a band instead of off YouTube or the karaoke machine.

“How do you sing for so long and so hard?” Marinette asked as she held her throat. “Pretty sure my vocal chords are going to hate me in the morning… but man was it so worth it.”

“I’ll say. You have a pretty good range, Marinette,” Juleka praised.

“Yeah! You could help with vocals if you want! Similar to how Adrien helps us with the keyboard!” Rose faltered for a moment as if remembering something, and quickly added on. “Of course, whenever you’re free, that is!”

“Thanks, I may consider it but my schedule is packed at the moment.”

“Of course, no rush at all.”

You feel your bond with Ivan, Mylene and Luka growing…

You sense Juleka and Rose’s appreciation and love for music shining…

Cabalist Rank 3!

As she left the Liberty , Marinette noticed a few of the bakery’s boxes. It looks like Anarka had made a trip to the bakery. She noticed a note addressed to her from Anarka.

There are tough times on the water, but just ride the waves.

You’ll weather this storm and find land soon.

Touched by this, Marinette kept the note in her hand on her way home, the note a little reminder that things will get better. When she got home, she noticed a list of orders that had been done while she was gone. Surprised at the amount, the teen was even further surprised to see another stack of orders for the next day. While most were from Inaba, there were also some from Amelie, Gorilla, Nino’s moms, Tomoe herself and yet another order from Anarka. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Marinette brushed away the tears as she ran up the stairs, spotting Adrien in the living room still. The poor teen never noticed what was coming until he was practically tackled by Marinette. It was a bit hard to understand through the tears and what sounded like jumbled and incoherent words, but he understood the meaning behind them. 

“It’s okay,” Adrien stated as he hugged his crying girlfriend. The stress of the day had the two falling asleep on the couch for the night.

Chapter Text

Marinette and Adrien awoke with stiff joints and slightly sore bodies; somehow, the two had managed to stay asleep on the couch without either falling off. That being said, the couch was definitely less comfortable than their beds. The two were given a special kind of tea by Wayzz and Tikki for their discomfort, to help heal their bodies from the aching. Marinette recognized it as Master Fu’s recipe.

It was a rather quiet morning, although Marinette was surprised to be up by seven. That is until the peacefulness was interrupted by the TV screen spitting out five familiar teens. 

“I’m surprised that actually worked,” Yosuke muttered, as he rubbed his head. Looks like he hit the table… head-first, too. 

“Told you it would,” Yu informed him while standing up and stretching his back, “I did travel to get here by TV a while ago.”

“We have got to move that table…” Marinette grumbled. “I’ll get some ice for your head, Yosuke.” 

“We’re planning on moving it upstairs later on, there’s more room up there,” Adrien briefly explained. “Thanks for coming, we could really use the help.”

“No problem! We got a few more last minute orders before coming here,” Chie stated as she held up some more papers. “Some are for shopkeepers we go to, and I’m pretty sure we got almost the entire Police Department, thanks to Adachi.”

“Sadly, they don’t want doughnuts.” Yu sighed slightly with a hint of a pout. “No one can appreciate a good joke anymore.”

Yukiko let out a sigh of her own. “I think that joke has run its course, Yu.” 

“His comment still stands!” Adrien cheered. “That’s comedy gold right there!”

Sighing, Marinette pinched the bridge of her nose. She had to repeat the mantra in her head - She loved her boyfriend and his humor, she loved her boyfriend and his humor… 

“Well, since we had a lot of orders from Inaba, we figured that we should help you guys out.” Kanji’s voice was what brought her out of her head. “Plus, Adrien mentioned delivering in Paris and it seemed like a lot for two people.”

“Make it four,” a voice said from the stairwell. It was Kagami, Luka standing behind her as well. “We’re helping out too!”

“We can alternate between delivering and helping with the baking, although I’m pretty sure Kanji-kun would rather stay here than go out and interact with people.”
“You got that right, Yukiko…” Kanji grumbled at Yukiko’s accurate jab.

“Thank you, everyone,” Tom said as he and Sabine came out. The kwami had translated the comments for the two so they weren’t left behind with what was going on. “You have no idea how much this means to us.”

  As usual, the kwami translated, although Yu seemed to also understand. 

In French, Yu stated, “It is no trouble to us at all. Marinette is a major part of our team and we want to help her out. Not to mention, you have helped us out with giving us supplies to help in the TV world. This is our way of paying you back, if nothing else.” Yu suddenly found himself hanging in the air as Tom had picked him up to hug him. The height difference was a bit surprising, now that he thought about it.

“Well, let’s get started! Those baked goods aren’t going to make themselves!” Adrien declared. The living room seemed to respond with everyone’s own enthusiastic shout. 

Soon the shop was filled with various sounds, from the sounds of baking to idle chatter. It was really lively; one would think that the slanderous review had never been posted.

Within an hour, Luka, Adrien and Yu were heading out for the first delivery in Paris while Yukiko, Chie and Kagami made theirs in Inaba. It had been rather surprising for the Inabans that Yukiko and Chie could actually bake, and yes, even Chie and Yukiko were surprised by this; it did come as a welcomed surprise regardless.

Whenever there was a pause, Marinette was sketching out ideas for a site and making notes of what should or could go on. In addition to her parents’ input, she asked Yosuke, Kanji and Yukiko for theirs as well, as their parents were part of a business or owned a business. She hoped to get this started some time soon, maybe she should ask… no she couldn’t ask Alya for help. 

It was also during these pauses when the group would try to come up with something to help the bakery get back in the public’s good graces. Something to get rid of that review; while it had been deleted, the damage was still done.

“The increased sales from Inaba are good, but they will only last so long,” Marinette mused while everyone was there. “What could we do for a more long term solution?”

“Why not something that involves the public?” Yukiko offered, causing everyone to look at her. 

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, get the public involved with the bakery. Have events or contests where you’re the ones hosting. At the Inn we have events that allow people local and tourists alike to come in and enjoy the festivities. People stay at the inn a lot of times as a result, which brings in more business.”

“That… that could work…” Sabine murmured, pulling out a notepad and began to take notes. “Yes, we could make that work. Tom, doesn’t Nadja owe us a favor?”

“I believe so,” Tom mused. “What are you thinking?”

“We’ll start small and host a contest, perhaps something with the local youths or college-age people, have a baking competition. We’ll still have to figure out the prizes, but it could help us out if we start working small. Something small can grow to something big.”

“That could work, Mama, but we’ll have to figure out how to go about it. Should we judge or have others do it, the location or if people bring their own dishes… that said, I can see this working!”

“I think we’ll figure that out more as we flesh out the idea, but it’s a very good start. I think this will most certainly help us.” Tom turned to the rest, focusing on Yukiko first. “Thank you so much for this and thank you all for your help. And thank you to all of you for your help.” 

“It’s not a problem at all; we all owe Marinette a lot,” Kagami stated, almost repeating Yu’s earlier words.

“Yeah, she’s pretty much family in all but blood to us, so that makes you family too. Now let’s get back to work!” Much like Adrien had gotten the group earlier, it was Yosuke who took the spot this time. 

Your Maman and Papa are feeling even more confident about persevering… 

Physician Rank 5!

The group resumed their work, focusing on the Inaba orders once the Parisian ones were complete. A few times Marinette helped deliver, and while Yu seemed to hide her from his uncle, she did get to meet Nanako. Even if it was for a far too brief moment, Marinette had near-instantly understood Yu’s protectiveness.

“I had only met Nanako for thirty seconds, but if anything were to happen to her, I would kill everyone in the room then myself.”

“Glad we’re in a similar mindset,” Yu offered a high five to the younger teen. She happily reciprocated.

It was during one of the delivery trips where she also spotted Adachi, who had been on the way to get something. Yu said it was probably his uncle’s coffee, a late lunch or early dinner, as he was considered Ryotaro’s gopher. The two managed to make their delivery to the Police Department but Marinette was glad she came out unscathed; as much as she knew her parents’ baked goods were popular, it had been rather unsettling to see so many eager adults almost fight to get their orders. She was pretty sure she saw someone punch another… 

Yu got her out of there once he heard his uncle shouting about what was going on. It was probably for the best as seeing a foreigner would probably drastically raise Ryotaru Dojima’s suspicion if what Yu had told her before was true. The two were a bit frazzled once they stepped back into the bakery, having had a bit of  a struggle while escaping. Thankfully, no one said anything when they got back. Marinette decided that she was just going to hide in the kitchen with Kanji for a bit.

By the time lunch rolled around in Paris, the Investigation Team figured it was time to leave for the day as it was now late in the evening for them. With goods they had bought (after a lot of insistence on paying) and the remaining orders, the team headed upstairs with Auxois to portal back. 

You trust the Investigation Team will always help you…

Completion Rank 5!

Marc came into the bakery just as he saw the group heading up the stairs, and while he did look a little curious, he didn’t really ask what was going on. 

“Hey, Marinette, I heard through the grapevine about the negative publicity, and, uh… I wanted to see if there was anything I can do to help.”

“Thanks, Marc. We got most of our orders done, but we actually have a few for later today and some for tomorrow.”

“I can help with those if you want! You’ve done a lot for me! And I kind of wanted to ask for a favor, if that’s possible. It’s not much, but I wanted to thank Nathaniel and his folks for taking me in and I kind of wanted to make a small cake. I’ll pay for it, but I also wanted to see if I could help make it. Make it special, ya know?”

Marinette was caught off guard but quickly nodded her head with a smile. “Of course, no problem at all! What did you have in mind?”

Happy to not be turned away, Marc followed behind Marinette to the kitchen, stopping when he entered as both Tom and Sabine seemed to stop whatever it was they were doing. Tom looked like he was… gluing macarons onto something while Sabine had been… braiding bread?

“Marc! So good to see you, how are you holding up?” Sabine wiped her hands on a cloth before giving the teen a hug. All four bakers - Adrien was not yet back - noticed that Marc froze up at the contact, most likely not used to any motherly affection.

I’d kill that witch if I could,” Sabine muttered under her breath in Mandarin. She could feel Marc’s shoulders shake and a spot on her shirt dampen ever-so-slightly. “There, there. Let it all out.” Sabine patted and rubbed at Marc’s back, gently comforting the teen.

Once he’d calmed down enough, Sabine said, “Come along, tell us about your request. What did you have in mind?”

“Well…” Marc started, wiping his eyes to try and get rid of any tears. “Mainly a small cake as thanks for Nathaniel and his parents, but the flavor is something I still don’t know what to do as they all have different tastes. I was hoping you guys could help me on that, but I want to help bake it and I’ll pay for it.”

“No problem, let me see if I can find a file on flavors they favor and we’ll work from there.” Tom went to the office area and came back with a binder. 

“These are the flavors they usually order,” he said as he showed Marc a list, “just pick the one that you want to try.” Marc did so and Tom returned the binder to its file.

“I’ll help you with the cake,” Marinette said as she was already getting out the ingredients. “While I can’t give you the recipe, maybe with enough practice, you could make something like this for Nathaniel on your own!” She couldn’t resist teasing her friend who turned as red as Nathaniel’s hair. 

“Shut up,” Marc whined with a light and playful punch to Marinette’s arm.

Giggling, she began to show Marc how to make the cake, going through each and every step carefully. Explaining that while most of the ingredients needed to be exact, there were some leeway for others. At some point she took a picture of Marc with a few smears of flour on his cheek as he was mixing ingredients. She’d have to wait to send it to Nathaniel, but Marinette made a promise to herself that she was definitely sending the picture.

While they were waiting on the cake, Marinette began to teach Marc how to make homemade frosting. She could give him some simple frosting recipes as most were actually easy to find online. 

Once the cake was done baking, Marinette had Marc wait to let it cool, explaining that cakes melt frosting while still hot. When it was time to actually frost the cake, she showed him a few common tricks the bakery used, making sure that Marc was the one to do the steps. It had been his request, and Marinette was trying to not overwhelm her friend.

When all was said and done, the cake turned out really good. While Marc looked almost in awe of his creation, there was still a sense of pride in his work. Marinette tried to give Marc a discount when he left, but he kept insisting on paying full price and giving a heavy tip for helping him. The payment and tip were too much, and no matter how much Marinette tried to explain that, Marc would just smile and shake his head. 

“It’s honestly not as much as I owe you, you’ve been such a big help Marinette. You and your parents deserve this!” Marc picked up the bakery box, putting the change Marinette had set on the box back on the counter before walking away. She was pretty sure she heard Marc humming as he left.

Sighing after she lost the battle with Marc, Marinette rang the order up and informed her parents of the payment without taking change. To make up for this, they suggested that instead they make up the difference by just giving Marc some extra pastries for himself to enjoy.

Marinette checked her phone to see if Adrien or Kagami had left her a message upon her arrival, there was a brief one just mainly stating that they were heading off to practice (which startled her, as she’d thought fencing stopped in the summer) and that Adrien would be more likely to be late to dinner; he had some sort of team meeting afterwards. Adrien did like fencing enough to keep doing it, so Marinette didn’t complain about it - plus, it helped him as Chat Noir.

Just as she was about to put away her phone, she was startled to see it start ringing in her hand. Judging from the caller ID, she was surprised to see it was Nathaniel. Her first instinct was that he saw the cake, but it was still too early for that.

“Hey, Nathaniel. What’s up?” There was silence for a moment. “Nathaniel?”

“Hey… the police think they found the guy…” Nathaniel sounded a bit nervous, Marinette could practically see him paling at the reminder of a few days ago. “They need me at the station to identify him - can you come with me? For… for reassurance.”

“Of course!” No way was she letting her friend go through that on her own. “Will the others be there as well?”

“I think so… the police mainly called my folks about this. I’d feel a lot more comfortable if you were there.”

“Of course! I’ll be on my way soon!” Marinette grabbed her purse with Tikki flying into it just as she was heading down the stairs. “Mama, Papa! I’m heading out, Nathaniel needs me for moral support!”

“Be safe out there, Marinette,” she heard her mother shout from the office, no doubt looking over the sales from today.

“Call us if you need us there,” Tom said as he gave her a quick hug before she ran out the door. 

“I will! See you guys later!” With that she was running down the streets to the meeting place Nathaniel had asked to meet her at. It was close to the police station without being right directly outside.

“Thanks for coming,” Nathaniel released a sigh of relief as he stood up. It looked like Juleka and Rose were waiting as well, and Marc running down the road at almost the exact same time as her. He must have left the cake at the Kurtzbergs’ place.

“It’s not a problem at all, Nathaniel. I hope they found the right guy.”

“I hope we can recognize the bastard if he's there,” Nathaniel scowled irately. “He attempted to hurt Marc and my friends…” 

“We’re mad too, make no mistake, but we don’t want to attract akumas,” Rose pointed out sternly. Nathaniel sighed and took a few deep breaths.

“You’re right…” Nathaniel looked up when Marc linked their fingers together. He stared at his boyfriend who gave a slight smile, no doubt to try and reassure and calm the red-haired teen down. “Thanks.”

“Do you guys want to take a moment to gather yourselves any further before possibly facing the man who threatened you?” Marinette asked kindly. The group looked amongst themselves before shifting their glances back to Marinette.

It was Juleka who stepped forward first. “I think I want to do this now and get it over with, but I feel like I may need a moment when we’re inside. I’ll let you know if I do, or we all will if we need a moment.” The others seemed to agree with her comment.

“Let’s go in, then. Hopefully they caught the right guy.”

They entered the police station, where Roger was waiting for them. He raised an eyebrow at Marinette, but Rose bravely told him she was moral support. Marinette offered to stay out of any important rooms if that would ease the police’s minds. It seemed to be enough, as Roger led the group to where they had a lineup of five men waiting. 

From what Marinette would later learn, it hadn’t taken long for Nathaniel to pick out the fourth of them, his attention to detail being strong as ever. Rose, Marc and Juleka agreed with him, and their suspicions were practically confirmed as the man screamed slurs and declared vengeance before two other officers dragged him out.

“That was way too easy,” Nathaniel smirked viciously as they exited, “I’m glad it was over with quickly.”

“It was still nerve-wracking…” Rose shuddered, clinging to Juleka’s arm. “When he saw us, he still said those awful words despite the police holding him back. Why are people like that?”

“For some, it’s fear… for others, their beliefs don’t match up right and they think they’re doing us a favor… it differs.” Marc sighed. “There are plenty of reasons, but there are never excuses.”

“Well, whatever his reason was, he’s gone now,” Nathaniel smiled tiredly. “Good riddance to bad rubbish.”

“As much as I’m happy for you guys, you all should head home soon,” Marinette suggested. “Who knows if that guy has friends?”

“Good point…” Juleka nodded quickly. “I’ll call Luka and see if he’ll take us all home.”

Marinette mentally noted that Juleka was confident in Luka’s ability to defend them. Shrugging it off, she waited outside the station until Luka arrived. Eager to get them home, Luka quickly thanked her for being a source of support to his sister before driving her and Rose back to the Liberty .

You feel yourself getting closer to Marc, Rose and Juleka…

You’ve helped Nathaniel catch a nasty homophobe…

Separation Rank 2!

Marinette found herself asking, “How are you really feeling?” She was still a bit unnerved by the viciousness of that smile.

“Relieved, mainly. I’m glad that everything is over and that that guy is going to jail for what he did. He can’t hurt or threaten anyone else like he did to us.”

“That’s good then, but still be careful out there.”

“Don’t worry, I will.” Nathaniel stretched out his arms in front of him, popping any stiff joints. “It’s probably a good idea for me to head home as well. My parents are probably wondering what is going on or what is taking so long. Be safe on your way back, too.” Nathaniel waved goodbye as he and Marc headed back to his place.

Marinette gave a wave back before pulling out her phone. Noticing she had a missed call (she had put her phone on silent while she was in the police station), she quickly redialed.

“Hey, Ivan, what’s up?”

“I know you’re probably busy, but can you come over to my place? I need to talk to you.” Ivan’s voice seemed unsure, and there was something else in his tone that she couldn’t really place. 

“Sure, just give me a moment to call my parents and let them know I won’t be in for dinner tonight.” After making the call, she was on her way to her friend’s place. At the rate she was going, she wasn’t going to be eating with her parents a lot if she kept this up.

Soon she found herself standing outside of Ivan’s place. She didn’t even need to knock; he was already waiting for her outside. 

“Come on in,” Ivan said as he allowed her inside. It looked like he had been waiting with his laptop in the living room with a few pieces of paper on the table. “As you heard when Mylene and I were arguing that day, I found out that quite a few charities she’d donated to were fraudulent. I wanted to give you my side of the story and see if you could help me with a few others. I’ve been trying to gather proof, even though Mylene doesn’t want to fully hear it.”

“I’ll hear you out; it sounds like you need it. Bearing all of this must really be stressful for you, so I’ll do my best to help you out.”

“Thanks, Marinette. I was thinking that to start looking into things that I should ask Lila-”


Ivan visibly recoiled, caught off-guard by Marinette’s harshness. Marinette took a deep breath before continuing more calmly.

“Sorry if I scared you. Ivan, for your sake, I’m going to recommend against that. I have reason to believe Lila intentionally gave Mylene those links in particular because so that money she donated would be sent to her.”

“But… why? I thought she had good intentions…”

“I can’t say that, at least not yet, but if we look into the charities, we’ll find out more. I’m not as tech-savvy as Max and Alya, but I’ll do my best to help you.” She took a seat on the couch as Ivan sat in front of the laptop. “Can you show me how you discovered the charities were fraudulent?”

“I wanted to make something special for Mylene for her birthday,” Ivan explained. “I was going to see if I could get a surprise for her involving the charities, so I did my research on them…”

Typing on his computer, he showed her a few review websites. “...and these came up.”

Marinette looked over the reviews. All of them seemed to point out that there was no history with any actual charities and lacked any official pages on Google. Many reviewers said that they were scams, as they all had the same routing numbers to one location, a mostly-abandoned place where the police had busted some nasty businesses a few months ago.

“Okay, so the addresses are faulty, that is definitely a warning sign right there. Have you made a note of the address and routing number?”

“Yeah. I also saved each review in a document too.” Ivan then clicked away on the laptop to bring up another webpage. “I then tried to see if I could find that routing number again and it was for something else… problem was that it wasn’t charities.”

Marinette did her best to look over the page, noting that a lot of it was in Italian. While she could understand some of what she was reading due to her Papa and Nonna, there were still large parts that she couldn’t. “So basically, the routing numbers somehow connect to Italy as well. At least that is the gist I’m getting from this. Have you tried translating the page?”

“I tried, but it didn’t really translate. It gave me a code and when I Googled that code, it said something about the page not really existing or being a dead link. I’m not sure which is the case and I’m afraid to ask Alya or Max. Alya can be a little too intense and I’m afraid that I won’t understand Max if he were to explain it to me.”

“I can understand that…” Marinette stared at the page, resting her chin on her palm. “Just to be safe, I’d run a scan on your laptop. The page may be dead but you never know if someone may have added a virus. Better to be safe rather than sorry.”

Ivan nodded and got off the page, starting a virus scan on his laptop. As the two waited, he pulled out one of the papers. “There were one or two charities that listed a parent company or whatever it’s called, and when I tried to research that, the supposed parent company doesn’t actually donate to the listed causes. Like one was for building shelters and homes for those who need it, yet Lila told Mylene it was a children’s hospital. Another example: this one is for animals, yet Mylene told me it was for the elderly. Neither of those two up to what the parent company actually does. That was another reason why I was starting to get suspicious.”

Glancing outside, Ivan noticed it was rather late out and said, “I could go on for more time than I think you have, Marinette. You should get home.”

“I will, thanks for showing these to me, Ivan. Be careful, alright? For now, I’d say just wait on doing too much research at the time. And we’ll both look over more later on.”

“No problem, Marinette. Thank you for hearing me out, it really helps.” As Marinette left, she heard Ivan mostly talking to himself. “Now if only I could get Mylene to understand…” 

Ivan’s intentions are good…

Twins Rank 2!

Marinette made her way back to the bakery with a frustrated mind. Lila was really starting to do a lot of damage in her life. One of these days, she was going to have to check the diary again and see if there was anything about Lila learning this trick from Gigi.

As she went to bed, she decided she’d look tomorrow. Hopefully, things wouldn’t be too bad…

Chapter Text

A decent while after waking up, Marinette was working on a commission, her mind wandering as to what the bakery was going to do for the prizes when it came to the planned contest. While her parents had asked to let them worry about that part, she still couldn’t help but worry. What if this contest didn’t work? What if the public continued to believe that awful review?

She was broken out of her internal panic by the sound of her phone going off. Not having expected any calls, she took a glance at the ID, and the sight of the name on the screen had the teen practically beaming. Quickly, she answered the call so as not to lose the other person, Marinette gave a quick comment of “One moment, please!” and raced to get Adrien, leaving her phone in her room.

“Adrien! Adrien! Dammit, where is he?” The blond teen wasn’t in the bakery - he wasn’t in his room, nor was he in the living room. “Can anyone tell me where he went?”

“Right behind you, pigtails!”

Plagg’s voice had her turning to see Adrien carrying an empty box. 

“What’s the fuss about?” Adrien asked as he set down the box.

“Nino is on the phone!” Marinette replied excitedly. “He’s waiting on us!”

She watched as Adrien’s eyes widened before he broke into a similar grin. Needing no more prompting, he was already running up the stairs before Marinette even started making her own way back up.

Not long after they’d both reached Marinette’s laptop, Marinette and Adrien were being regaled with tales from Nino about his first half-week or so in America. However, both of them had picked up on the fact that Nino was trying not to talk about a certain part of something. He would get awkward looks on his face at certain parts of the stories he told.

“Nino, is everything okay?” Adrien finally asked.

“Of course, guys!” Nino said, still grinning. Said grin was mostly genuine.

“Nino, please don’t lie to us,” Marinette said seriously. “I know all your tells. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any of the supervillains over in America… I think.”

Nino clearly wanted to deny it, but he ultimately gave in. “You guys know all my tells, don’t you?”

Marinette merely looked amused. “Nino, need I remind you that we grew up together? I know when you’re deflecting, just like you do for me.”

“Alright, alright…” Nino sighed, “Obviously, I’ve mentioned a lot about Mr. A-MAX. He seems innocent enough, but his assistant, Mr. Longstaff…”

Recognizing the musician/director Nino had been brought in by, Adrien and Marinette nodded. After they gestured for him to continue, Nino said, “Something about him just…. I dunno… unnerves me. He’s disappeared randomly a few times, but he pretends he was always on set. I haven’t really brought it up, never mind vehemently, but I think he’s up to something…” Nino had taken off his hat, bending the curved part as he rolled it mostly between his hands.

“Maybe you could record any interactions with him?”

“I think that’s illegal, as he technically isn’t consenting to the recording. I really don’t want to get in trouble… if I bring anything up, I’m worried my chances of staying as an intern are shot.”
Marinette frowned, before getting another idea. “Then perhaps you need to do something a bit risky.”

Nino looked uneasy, so Marinette continued. “Nino, I know you’re worried, but if it turns out this Longstaff guy is trouble, wouldn’t it be better to know?”

“Yeah, but what do I do about it if he is?” Nino pointed out. “Bring it up to Mr. A-MAX? Longstaff is pretty much the Nathalie to Gabriel, but if Gabriel was actually good… I think.” The two watched as Nino started taking a few deep breaths to calm down. It was a good thing that he was in America and therefore shouldn’t be vulnerable to the akumas or even Donna Piuma.

“If he is good, then he’ll understand your worries,” Adrien reassured Nino. “You’re never going to get any peace of mind if you just ignore this.”

Nino smiled worriedly. “Alright, I’ll look into it. That said, I’m not going into the blocked-off areas, and if I get in trouble, I’m blaming you guys.”

“Worth the risk, I’d say,” Adrien nodded seriously. “Just don’t go picking fights if you find anything, Nino. Take any info you find and get the hell outta dodge, ‘kay?”

“Will do. But seriously, if I get blacklisted from the music and/or film industries…”

“Nino, they’re not gonna blacklist you for exploring as long as you do things right,” Marinette reassured him. “We’re by your side Nino - every step of the way.” 

Nino has his worries, but you’ve got his back…

Innocence Rank 6!

“Thanks, guys,” Nino nodded, “Now, I gotta get to work in about half an hour, so I’m gonna need to hang up…”

“No problem, Nino,” Adrien said, “Hope to hear from you again soon!”

“Me too…” Nino said as he hung up. From his hotel room, he groaned; what was he getting himself into? “Me too.”

Then a thought occurred to him. He had been Carapace - a hero of Paris - once. Even without the powers, he could be a hero. It had been the civilians on Heroes’ Day who saved him, so that meant civilians were not powerless.

A Carapace-like grin formed on his face as he exited his hotel room. It was time to find the truth.

After the phone call had ended, Adrien had shown a desire to look into this Longstaff man and asked Marinette to borrow her computer. While it seemed that he knew he wouldn’t probably find anything incriminating online, he mostly wanted to do it to satisfy his worry for his best friend. 

Understanding, Marinette gave him the go-ahead and went back to her commissions. Out of the corner of her eyes, she noticed how Wayzz seemed to be helping Adrien, or at least reading over stuff with Adrien and trying to point out anything that Adrien might miss.

It was around lunchtime when she heard a few voices coming from downstairs. She couldn’t recognize some of the voices, but she was able to pick out those of her parents.

Walking down, she saw Felix and Amelie talking with Tom and Sabine.

“Oh, Marinette,” Amelie acknowledged her presence. “We were just offering to help your family if possible.”

“What brings you guys here, out of curiosity?” Marinette asked. 

“I figured you guys would still be moving into Gabriel’s house,” Adrien said.

“We finished moving yesterday,” Amelie explained, “We came because we saw the review.”

Before Marinette or Adrien could open their mouths, Felix said, “Don’t worry about us there. Mother and I could smell the bull from London.”

“Language, Felix,” Amelie admonished. Felix apologized.

“That wasn’t even a full curse, Aunt Amelie.” It seemed that ever since Adrien had gotten out from Gabriel’s thumb that the blond was gaining a much more colorful vocabulary, even if he rarely used it.

“Well, if either of you two would like, you can help us in the bakery,” Sabine offered tentatively. “...if you’re not too busy, that is.”

“I don’t think today is a good day,” Amelie said, looking a little disappointed. “Felix, why don’t you go upstairs and talk with Adrien and Marinette. Is it okay for Felix to stay for an hour or so? I need to check on something and I can’t really take him nor do I want him alone.”

“Of course, Aunt Amelie! Take your time - we’ll keep Felix entertained!” Before either Felix or Marinette could say anything, Adrien was already dragging his cousin up the stairs towards the apartment part of the door. Before following, Marinette gave a sigh as she stared with a mix of amusement and fondness at the two retreating blonds. 

“I’ll keep them out of trouble,” she stated, although it was probably fair to say that Adrien was going to be the one to keep Marinette and Felix from doing anything reckless. 

“Thank you, I’m sorry to ask for this. Please don’t tell either of them, but I’m going to talk with Gabriel for answers on my sister. I’m hoping that he’ll answer my questions… although I’m really not expecting much good from him.”

Marinette gave a nod and quickly headed up the stairs, she noted how Felix was watching Adrien with an unreadable expression as Adrien went about getting stuff for lunch. Rather than comment on this, she continued to observe. 

Adrien had managed to coax Felix into playing some games with him and Marinette, all the while near-begging his girlfriend to show some mercy on his cousin. Marinette playfully smirked while stating that she wasn’t going to make any promises

A part of her was surprised that she could have sworn she saw something akin to Felix giving her kudos. Mentally shrugging, Marinette allowed herself to get immersed in the video games. It had been kind of... refreshing to banter with Felix - it almost felt normal. She watched how the two cousins were slowly beginning to bounce off one another as Felix began to start opening up. He was still mostly closed off, but perhaps she was starting to see the Felix that Adrien saw.

When Amelie returned - looking heavily disappointed - to collect Felix, Marinette saw how Amelie seemed a little surprised when she saw Felix. Perhaps it was how he seemed a little happier than he did earlier? Or maybe how he seemed a little more relaxed?

Marinette watched as her father gave Felix a hug goodbye, noting the stiff body language and how Felix almost seemed confused on what to do with his hands. It was as if he wanted to return the hug but his shaking hands didn’t know how or maybe felt paralyzed. She was pretty sure she had heard a hitch of breath from Felix as his shoulders were also shaking. 

It took a moment before the blond teen almost seemed to collect himself, pulling away and tried to discreetly wipe at his eyes. Marinette decided to give him the space and make it seem like she didn't notice, it was probably a good idea to keep an eye on Felix for now.

You are starting to see a better side of Felix…

Rebirth Rank 2!

Adrien waved goodbye to his aunt and cousin as the car drove away, Marinette leaning against the bakery’s walls as she too watched the car. A part of her was curious over what had happened but knew at the same time that none of what was discussed between Amelie and Gabriel was any of her business. 

Hearing her phone ping, Marinette pulled out the device to see a text from Mylene. Looks like she wanted to talk about those charities that Ivan had mentioned the previous day. 

“Hey Adrien, I’ve got to talk to Mylene for a bit. I’ll see you later, okay?”

“No problem, Marinette! Thanks for hanging out with me and Felix, I know the two of you have gotten off to a bad start, even if Felix doesn’t know about you being Ladybug.”

“Anything for you, Adrien; you asked that I give him a chance, so I did. I’m gonna go get my purse and let my parents know I’ll be out for a bit.” Marinette leaned up to press a quick kiss to Adrien’s cheek before heading inside the bakery.

After grabbing Tikki and her purse, she sent Mylene a response.

Marinette: Where do you want to meet?

Mylene: I’m at the park. Is that good?

Marinette: Sure! OMW!

It wasn’t a long walk to the park. Marinette found Mylene sitting on a bench, watching a few little kids playing American football absentmindedly.

“Hey, Mylene,” Marinette said. “What’s worrying you about the charities?”

Jumping slightly, Mylene responded, “It’s… I…” Mylene bit her lip and looked down, sniffling as tears started to fill her eyes. “Oh, I don’t know where to even start!”

“Deep breathing, Mylene,” Marinette quickly said, “I know it’s hard, but you have to calm down and be brave!”

“Be brave…” Mylene laughed bitterly, “Easier said than done… I get scared too easily…”

“You know,” Marinette said as she sat down on the bench, “being brave doesn’t mean you don’t feel fear. Emotions are natural - it’s no wonder Hawkmoth got so many people, you know? Plus, do you think akumas and amoks don’t scare Ladybug and her allies?”

Mylene looked up confusedly at Marinette. “Then what is bravery?”

“Bravery is the ability to act in spite of your fear, Mylene,” Marinette said sagely, “It’s the ability to feel the fear and get past it anyway.”

“That makes sense…” Mylene smiled sadly. “How do you do it, Marinette? You took on Chloe for so long before she got expelled…”

“It helps to have people who support you and have your back,” Marinette explained, “You have Ivan, don’t you?”

Mylene sighed as she wrapped her arms around her legs, she stared at the ground with mixed emotions in her eyes. Guilt and grief seemed to be the strongest emotions. 

“I… I’m not so sure anymore… I think I really hurt his feelings when we had that argument… I said some really mean things before you showed up.”

“He cares, you know.” Marinette pointed out, “He only wanted to protect you. He just got out of control on that one - which was not his finest moment, I’ll grant him that.” She wondered just how much would be okay to tell Mylene; she wasn’t sure if Ivan wanted her to tell Mylene what he was doing yet

Then a clever idea came to her. “You should do your own research, Mylene,” she advised; shoving her issues with Alya to the side, she said, “If Ivan is wrong, then he’s wrong, and me and the girls will have your back when you prove it.”

“And if he’s right?”

“Like if he’s wrong, you’ll figure it out. I guarantee you that if he’s right that he’ll have your back as you pursue the truth.”

Mylene seemed to be mulling it over, but Marinette could see that she was really thinking over what she was saying. Finally, Mylene turned to her with a determined expression and nodded her head resolutely.

“I’ll do some research, Marinette,” Mylene said determinedly, “Can you help me with it at some point?”

“Sure, Mylene,” Marinette smiled happily at her. “Just respect my boundaries if something comes up and I need to go or can’t make it, ‘kay?”
“Of course!” Mylene nodded eagerly.

You’re helping Mylene to be brave…

Twins Rank 3!

The two talked for a while casually about the rest of the Girl Squad and Kitty Section. Apparently, they were considering letting Sabrina into the Girl Squad if she kept out of trouble, since she’d broken off her friendship with Chloe after Miracle Queen (it happened before her expulsion). Eventually, the two parted ways, heading home.

It was after dinner when Marinette found herself in her room at her own request; telling Adrien about the diary still just felt wrong, and she needed to look for any clues about Lila’s behavior. She remembered how she and Ivan had found a connection to Italy the previous day and wondered if this was something she had learned from Gigi after all of the lies; her theory was that Lila thought the best way for revenge against Gigi was by copying any dirty plays her supposed bestie might have done. 

Looking at the drawer that carried Lila’s diary, she sighed and pulled it out. There was only one way to find out, she supposed.

Dear Diary, 

It has been a long while, hasn’t it? I should probably catch you up to speed, since you’re pretty much the only thing I have resembling a friend now. 

Gigi laughed in my face when I asked if she was lying and confirmed everything. When I asked her why, she told me she wanted to ruin my social life because it was fun for her. HOW could ruining my life be fun? I asked her that very question, and all she said was that she liked controlling people and watching them both build themselves up and break down.

Anyways, I tried making other friends in school, but none of them trust Gigi, and since I associated myself with her… well, I think you see where that went. Someone I asked even had the cazzo to say I did this to myself.

It sucks! I'm all alone because I made one small mistake. How was I to know that things would turn out this way?! Newsflash: I didn’t

I tried to get back at Gigi but it looks like she anticipated everything. Every little trick, every little attempt. NOTHING worked! I thought I was using my own tactics, but Gigi just laughed and said I was copying her.

At least Mama says we’re moving in a few weeks. We’ll be going to Paris from what she was saying during dinner. I want to prove myself superior, and I have a plan.

I’m going to become so powerful that I can and will doxx her. 

No one will ever hurt me like that again. I will control my next school with an iron fist!

I will get where I want and need to go - by any means necessary.

“Holy shit,” Marinette whispered. This… this explained a lot. Lila wanted vengeance, and Marinette and her friends were just stepping stones.

You understand Lila's past in near-entirety...

Adjustment Rank 4!

Did Lila figure that eventually her lies could or would become reality? That had to be it - it was the only thing she could think of that made sense. 

Then again, Lila had become like Gigi. Did she… had she thought about that? Or was she so blinded by her rage that she didn’t think that through?

“Oh, boy,” Marinette sighed while rubbing between her eyebrows, “this is one big mess.” A part of her wanted to read on, but for now, she needed to process this. Taking a glance, she skimmed over the next few pages, noting that most were just ramblings or doodles. She stopped once she got to Paris, marking her place with a pencil. “I’ll read that later.” Marinette glanced over doodles and random messages - most of the drawings seemed to be of Lila as a queen or something like that. Whereas quite a few of the messages  - after looking them up - seemed to be quotes by people who got what they wanted through suspected but never confirmed, dirty means. The others seemed to be what Lila wanted others to praise about her. “Tikki, I don’t think Lila even noticed how she was becoming like Gigi. She was hurt by her, yet she began to unknowingly copy their demeanor and attitude, by the looks of things.”

“Looks like that’s the case,” Tikki said as she glanced at one of the images of ‘Queen Lila’. “It’s ironic in all the worst ways…”

“Definitely…” Putting the diary away, Marinette decided she had to focus her mind on something else and went back to her commissions. She worked until she ended up falling asleep at her work station, dreams unsettled dreams of Lila, Nino and Felix.

Chapter Text

Almost immediately after the whole negative-review debacle had happened, the Dupain-Chengs had placed a sign outside offering baking lessons to any would-be patrons for half the price whatever they made would normally cost. Marinette offered any free time she had to help her parents and had passed on that her friends from before would also be willing to help, though that might be a little harder with the language barrier between them and Parisians. Touched by this, Tom and Sabine expressed their gratitude and to ask Marinette to send their thanks to the Inabans. 

Marinette received a text from Luka asking when to swing by for their planned TV Trip, reminding her that they’d planned to go that day. She told him to swing by at some point this afternoon, and he sent her a thumbs-up emoticon. 

Just as she was pocketing her phone, she heard the door swing open. Putting on her best professional smile, Marinette’s smile became more natural instead of forced when she saw Nathaniel in the doorway. 

“Hey, Nathaniel. What’s up?”

“Morning, Marinette. Heh, I’m kind of surprised to see you up this early in the morning.” Nathaniel gave a well-meaning smile. “I figured you would want to sleep in during summer break.”

Marinette laughed and gave a cutesy wink.

“It depends on the day most times, some days I sleep in until almost eleven and other days I’m up by nine at latest.” 

“It’s kind of surreal to see her up this early,” Adrien chuckled as he stepped out of his room. Nathaniel’s eyes widened for a second, before he laughed.

“Man, Adrien,” the redhead said, “I saw you heading home with her, but I didn’t know you were living with her!”

“I’m as surprised as you, in ways,” Adrien smiled. It was a genuine smile, too; the kind Marinette hoped to see many more of. “I’ll be moving in with Igor in a few days,” Adrien stated with a wave. “They want to get Gabriel’s trial done first.” He moved to wrap an arm around Marinette’s shoulders, continuing on. “I’m gonna miss being around Marinette and her parents all the time, but it was bound to happen sooner or later.”

“So what brings you here, Nath?” Marinette asked. 

“The cake Marc brought us was amazing, as usual,” Nathaniel said, “and I… well, I wanted to pay him back.”

“By purchasing a cake?” Marinette asked, tilting her head.

“No,” the redhead shook his head, “actually, I want to make one myself and wanted to ask for your help.”

“You’re gonna have an amazing teacher!” Adrien lauded, patting Nathaniel’s shoulder encouragingly. “Marinette’s been teaching Kagami and I to not only cook but bake as well! She’s a really good teacher!” Adrien turned to leave. “Sadly I won’t be able to watch; I have practice today and intend to spend a good part of it with Kagami, but don’t worry, you’re in good hands.” Before leaving, Adrien left a kiss on Marinette’s knuckles, causing her face to go a bright red.

After he left, Nathaniel smirked. “Two things before we begin. One: you finally get your guy?”

“M-more like guys and girl…” Marinette mumbled before she could help it, earning a curious look from Nathaniel. “Fine… I’m dating Adrien, Kagami and Luka. We’re all in a relationship.”

Nathaniel merely nodded approvingly. “Good for you, Marinette. You know, I once joked to Alix that you deserved, like, ten boyfriends or girlfriends for how hardworking you are. Three isn’t bad, though.”

“Heh… I suppose so,” Marinette giggled. “So what’s number two?”

“Who’s Igor?”

“Uh… Adrien’s ex-bodyguard and the only good person who lived in Gabriel’s mansion other than him. He called him Gorilla before learning his real name recently,” Marinette explained, a scowl on her face at the memories of Gabriel and Nathalie.

“I’ll leave it there,” Nathaniel nodded along. “Shall we begin?”

“Yeah. Thanks for reminding me.” Marinette nodded. “Got a cake in mind? Or would you like to look over our selection?”

“I don’t really know which cake to do… can I look over the cakes?”

“No problem! Follow me down, I’ll get the book of our selections and let you decide. Do you want to decorate as well? I figured you might want to try.”

Nathaniel nodded his head and followed back down to the bakery. “I kind of have a small design I wanted to do; if you’re willing to do it, can you look it over and tell me if it’s too complex? I sketched it out already to save you the trouble.”

“Sure thing. I’ll look it over while you look over the cakes.” 

Walking over to the backpack, Nathaniel pulled out a sketchbook of his and showed her the design. It was rather simple - frosting in the shape of an elegantly-written red N interlocked with an equally elegant black M to go on top of the cake - so Marinette and Nathaniel set about working on the cake. Like with many of Marinette’s classmates, this wasn’t the first time Nathaniel had been baking with the Dupain-Chengs, so he was of better help than many other people would be if they’d been doing it in his place right now.

It sadly occurred to Marinette that for all the time they’d spent together as friends, Alya had never baked with her. Alya was already a good cook - thank you, Marlena Cesaire - but she’d always said she couldn’t bake to save her life.

Marinette had to shake her head rapidly to pull herself out of her nostalgia. She had to focus on Nathaniel right now. Looking over at him, she saw he’d gotten the cake in the oven. All that was left to do was prepare the frosting and wait for the oven to do its job.

“So which frosting would you like to do?” Marinette said as she pointed to the list of recommended frostings, “These are the frostings we usually pair with the cake, but as this is your cake, you get to decide.”

Nathaniel looked over the list and chose for it to be two halves - both of which were recommendations. “I really don’t know much about desserts, so I’m gonna follow anything you guys recommend. Better to be safe than sorry; I don’t want to ruin anything.”

“You won’t, Nathaniel, I’m noticing you’ve got a decent talent with baking.” Marinette smiled as she praised her friend. “Now let’s get working on these frostings!”

The two worked on the frostings, stopping only to pull out the cake to cool. Marinette began to pull out the necessary items for decorating and began to explain how to decorate Marc’s gift cake. Once the cake had cooled enough, it was time to frost and decorate.

“I forgot to say this earlier, Marinette,” Nathaniel’s comment had Marinette pausing with her frosting, “but thank you. Not only for this, but for helping Marc when he made his cake.” 

Marinette stopped to stare at her friend, who only smiled as he continued to work.

“It was my pleasure.” she smiled appreciatively.

Nathaniel’s love for Marc is strong…

Separation Rank 3!

Once the two were done, Marinette carefully wrapped the cake so none of the hard work was damaged. It seemed that Nathaniel was on the same wavelength as Marc as the teen paid full price for the cake instead of the sale price, with a decent tip to boot. And also like Marc, Nathaniel was out the door before Marinette could even give him his change. 

“Looks like we owe Nathaniel pastries now, too.” Marinette made a note in a little notebook. For those who decided to not go with the half prices listed but paid full instead, the Dupain-Chengs put them on a list for “We Owe You Pastries,” or WOUPs, as they called it. 

As Marinette watched him disappear into the distance, she texted Luka telling him to come on over. The musician arrived not long after, wearing Sass’ Ouroboros Bracelet.

“Kagami and Longg are working on ways to redesign her suit and think up a new alias,” Luka explained. “Sass and I figured we would do the same soon - Sass mentioned something about a hood being good - but since we’re not going to be seen by many people…”

“It’s up to you,” Marinette smiled at her boyfriend before grabbing her chain-hook. “I’d allow you to use either Sass or Longg as I would for Kagami.”

“Thank you, Marinette,” Luka hugged her softly, before pressing a kiss to her cheek. He then walked towards the TV. “Should we move the table?”
“Oh! Good call!” After moving the often-cursed table (as Marinette was starting to mentally call it) to the side, Marinette rapped on the TV’s screen, causing the familiar portal of the Midnight Channel to appear. She reached for Luka’s hand, pulling him towards the TV. “Come on, let’s go. Oh, before I forget, prepare yourself for a hard landing,” she quickly warned. “Tikki and I are trying to figure out how to keep a large cushion to stay when we land; they always disappear every time we return…”

With that, the two went into the portal.

The landing was surprisingly less hard this time, though it was by no means all that pleasant. Marinette landed on her stomach, and Luka landed on top of her, making for what would have been a very embarrassing position if anyone were able to see the two.

“I am nailing down a mattress if I ever get the chance…” Marinette muttered as she felt the pain of the landing. The two teens locked eyes, both to blush furiously; thankfully, their kwamis didn’t say anything as Luka quickly got off of her.

“So this is the TV World…” Luka mused as he looked around, not seeing much due to the fog.

“Yeah. Wait, hold on…” Marinette said, having noticed something on the ground. It was a pair of teal-framed shades with a note attached to them. Picking them up, Marinette read:

Dear Marinette,

I had a beary strong feeling you were going to take that other boyfriend you mentioned - Luka, right? - on a trip here soon, so I made these and left ‘em here. Hopefully no Shadows have gotten to these…

I have a surprise for you and everyone which I’ll show you soon. 

Can’t wait to see you again!

- Teddie! 

“Looks like Teddie left us a gift. Here, you’ll be able to see better with these.” Marinette handed over the glasses.

Trusting Marinette’s word, Luka took the glasses. Slipping them on, Luka’s eyes widened as the fog seemed to disappear, making everything far more easy to see. 

“This is definitely a chaotic place,” Luka then murmured. “I can hear various songs off in the distance, most of which are… unnerving. This must be a safer area… a hub, of sorts?”

Marinette nodded, impressed at Luka’s deductive skills.

“That’s correct! This is pretty much where Kagami, Adrien and I land when we enter. Now, let me think of how to explain how everything works around here…”

“Take your time, Marinette,” Luka said kindly, “For now, where should we go? Or should we stay here?”

“Hmmm…” Marinette pondered over that before recalling the directions she’d once been given to the other areas the Inabans had previously visited. “Follow me!”

Not long after, Marinette and Luka arrived in the Inaban Shopping District. On the way, Marinette had told him all about Personas, Shadows, Dungeons and Shadow Selves.

“Where are we, m’fhonn?” Luka asked.

“Yosuke told me this is a copy of Inaba’s shopping district,” Marinette explained, “He awakened to his Persona in one of these stores.” Marinette noticed at times how Yosuke would dodge certain parts of the story when it came to this area; believing it to be personal, she had decided not to push the subject. 

“The music here is quiet and sorrowful,” Luka mused, “Wait… what’s that thing in the distance?”

Squinting, Marinette jumped as a lone Shadow came into view. It saw the two and let out a horrid sound before moving as fast as it could towards them.

“That would be a Shadow,” Marinette growled as she readied her chain hook, “Viperion, you may want to transform.”

“Got it,” Luka said seriously, “Sass, Scales Slither!”

It was good to see Viperion again, however temporary it would be. Marinette struck the Shadow from a distance with her hook, causing it to reform into a quartet of teal and black serpents.

“Any idea what those are called?” 

“Never seen them before,” Marinette frowned.

Noticing the gender symbols wrapped around them, Viperion scowled. “How about Constrictive Snakes?”

“Got it!” Marinette nodded, before summoning a Persona card whose face side had a sun with a face. “Chōchinbi!”

A tanuki-like creature with nine small tails sitting atop a giant lit paper lantern appeared, Viperion stopping to watch in awe.

“Mabufu!” Marinette cried. A series of ice shards struck each of the Constrictive Snakes, knocking down all but the one who dodged.

“So Ice attacks work…” Marinette mused. Taking the opportunity, she resummoned Chōchinbi’s card and crushed it between her hands with a cry of Mabufu. Better to strike them all and, especially since Viperion didn’t know how to do an All-Out Attack.

While most disappeared, the only one that remained was the last to fall. Viperion threw his harp at the fallen Shadow, watching with amazement that it returned similar to a boomerang or chakram.

“I gotta say - didn’t think that would work…”

“Same here. I never thought of the harp as a weapon, but there you go…. we probably shouldn’t tell Kagami.”


Both had the same thought of their girlfriend constantly throwing the harp and possibly losing or breaking it - or breaking something else - with how much force Kagami would likely use.

“So, I take it you guys fight those constantly?”

“Yep, and usually the stronger ones are further into the Dungeons. A lot of times we end up fighting our friends when we go to save them. Rejecting your own Shadow causes the Shadow Self to go berserk, after all.”

“I see… I take the three of you have fought your own Shadow Selves?”

“Kagami and Adrien did, yes. But I accepted mine off the bat and got lucky. That day was the day I revealed myself to you, Adrien and Kagami, you know.”

Viperion studied his girlfriend for a moment before nodding. 

“That makes sense… I did notice a difference in you starting that day the second Ladybug called me; it was like you’d become a more open person. Your music was always open, but a part of you remained closed-off and guarded. After that day, it was like your music was more whole and true.” Viperion was silent as he fell deep into thought. “Should I drop the transformation now or stay as Viperion a bit longer?” 

“I recommend you stay like that until we get back to the hub, as you called it,” Marinette advised. “I don’t know if we’ll see any more Shadows or Shadow Selves until then, and I’d rather preserve Sass’ energy.”

“Got it,” Viperion nodded.

The two began to walk back to the hub; during the trip, Viperion spoke once more. 

“I wanted to tell you that I think everything is all set when it comes to Emilie. We can do it tomorrow if you and Adrien are ready.”

“I think we both are,” Marinette replied ecstatically, “I know Adrien will be happy to hear this. Is there anything we should prepare for? Like, after we’re done?” 

Viperion shook his head. “I think you two should have enough energy to pull through, and even if you don’t, Hebi and I will help you two out.” 

“Great!” Marinette grinned. “We should tell Adrien when we’re back!”

“Good plan, good plan,” Viperion nodded approvingly.

Luka has done his last run as Viperion and found a solution to Emilie’s plight…

Rebel Rank 5!

Not long after that conversation, the two reached the hub. Viperion detransformed, and the two made their way back to Paris.

Neither of them noticed a silhouette watching them from a distance.

The two made their way out of the TV and avoided the table thanks to moving it earlier. Thankfully, they were in the living room, so none of the customers down in the bakery - the likes of which were slowly starting to come back in (albeit not yet at the same amount they used to be) - saw them come through the TV. They could also hear Adrien and Kagami hanging out in the guest room upstairs. 

“I’ll go let Adrien know we’re back and to come downstairs,” Tikki said. The kwami flew off to grab the mentioned teen. 

“Thanks for taking me, Marinette,” Luka nodded along, “I’m a bit saddened we didn’t see your friends there, but hopefully this helps me understand them.”
“It should,” Marinette nodded along, “and it’s no problem! We’ll see them again, I’m sure of it!” 

The two had just gotten up when both Adrien and Kagami came down the stairs. 

“Welcome back you two, how did it go?”

“Pretty good, I think. Teddie left Luka some glasses, so he has a pair if we ever need him in there. We ran into a few Shadows, though… I’ll admit that we’ve never seen them before. Luka came up with a good name for them.”

“More importantly for you, though,” Luka smirked as he and Kagami swapped Miraculouses, “the healing process for your mom has been finalized.”

“W-what?” Adrien gasped at the news.

“We should be able to heal her tomorrow,” Marinette explained, “You ready?”

“Of course I’m ready!” Adrien near-shouted, trembling with emotion. “But you’re serious, right? We can do this tomorrow? We can bring Mama back that soon?”

Luka nodded his head, eyes widening when he found Adrien clung tightly on to him. He patted the other on the back as best as he could, though it was harder given that Adrien had his arms mostly pinned due to the hug. 

Marinette sat beside the two, offering comfort to her boyfriend. She let out a yelp as she was tugged in to join in the hug. Now that she was closer, she could feel that Adrien was silently crying. They shouldn’t be the sort of emotion that would attract akumas or amoks, she sighed in relief.

“Come on, Kagami,” Luka called the fourth of them over, “he needs us all.”

Needing no other prompting, Kagami closed the space to hug Adrien as well, the three providing a loving circle around the blond teen, allowing him to release some much needed relief.

The four stayed like this for a while, allowing Adrien to release all of his emotions. There was no doubt this was something he desperately needed.

You and your fellow Guardians have a plan to help Adrien’s mom…

Lust Rank 4!

Eventually, Adrien got it all out, and promised to get some good sleep for the trial ahead. Luka and Kagami went home soon after as well, planning to get some good sleep. Marinette followed suit.

She had never met Emilie Agreste, but she looked forward to doing so.

Chapter Text

In preparation for the big event, the teens had made sure to get enough rest. Marinette and Luka went and got any items they might need for afterwards. While they knew that Emelie was alive in the case, they all had a good hunch she would be physically weakened and might need medical attention. 

They’d informed the local hospital that night as Ladybug and Chat Noir and let them know to have a room ready the following day. The hospital seemed more than happy to fill the request of Paris’s beloved heroes. They’d also contacted the police in hero-form and let them know they were coming over with Adrien the next day to see if they could resurrect Emilie. The police had greenlighted them quickly, having finished their check of Gabriel’s mansion a few days ago.

Standing before Emilie’s unconscious body, Chat Noir could only stare at his mother; vaguely, he realized his hands were shaking. To calm him down, Ladybug and Hebi grabbed a hand each, and Wyvern put his hand on his shoulder. The three were anchoring him. Adrien took a deep breath. In, then out… in, then out… 

“I’m ready,” he stated. 

Nodding his head, Wyvern removed the case as Ladybug and Chat Noir got into positions; they had practiced a few times just to make sure they had everything right. Chat Noir gently grasped his mother’s pale bare wrist, channeling Plagg’s power carefully. It felt different from the Cataclysm, yet somehow more powerful. Somehow he stayed connected as the magic carefully searched through her body, looking for whatever was keeping Emilie in a coma so it could dispel it. He remained silent until he found what he was looking for.

“I found it!” Chat forced himself to breathe slowly and began to slowly talk himself through what Wyvern had told him to do, staying cautious so that he didn’t hurt his mother. It felt like hours but was only minutes as he carefully and meticulously destroyed the disease or blockage (he still wasn’t sure) that was hurting his mother. When he finally pulled away, he was pale and sweating, having overexerted himself, but he managed to give a tired smile. 

“Your turn, Milady.”

Ladybug nodded and went to work, following Chat’s magic to the source and healing the path along the way. It took her a little longer as she was healing the path on the way to the blockage, but she did get there and began to let Tikki’s magic work. Ladybug remembered how Tikki once stated that healing magic worked differently for everyone and would come naturally to her when it was time. 

For this it felt like she was sewing, actually mending the damage in Emilie’s body like fixing a rip in a piece of clothing. Carefully, she ‘sewed’ the damage until everything was completely healed, never wavering even when her vision got a little blurry from using too much magic here or a little too much there. 

Once the task was done, Ladybug pulled away. She looked similar to Chat Noir, but her hands were shaking from strain. 

The machines began to beep with change, recognizing the speed of her breathing and heartbeat changing.

And then, ever-so-slowly, she opened her eyes.

“Mmmph… what…”

Adrien detransformed immediately. Before he could embrace his mom, Wyvern held him back. 

“Let’s see if she’s able to hug you back first,” Wyvern advised. Nodding, Adrien held back.

“Who are you? Where am I?” Emilie asked. Then her eyes laid on Adrien.

“Adrien…? Is that you?”

Tears began to form in Adrien’s eyes. “Maman…!”

Shakily, Emilie reached out for Adrien; at long, long last the two embraced in a soft hug. Adrien quickly threw Ladybug a thankful look before focusing all his attention to his mom.

Adrien has been reunited with his mother…

Lust Rank 5!

“Oh, Adrien,” Emilie near-sobbed, “You’ve grown so much! How much was I out?

“Too long, Maman, too long…” 

The three heroes stood back to watch the mother and son, giving the two time while also staying vigilant to the machines that continued to monitor Emilie’s condition.  

Once the two finally separated, Emilie asked, “If you three don’t mind me asking, where are Gabriel, Nathalie and Igor?”

Everyone in the room flinched.


Lila had been walking down the street when she saw an akuma flap down from the sky. She watched as the akuma flew off in a direction unknown to her.

“Where there are akumas, there’s Ladybug…” Lila realized. Her trademark sneer appeared on her face, and she took off for an alley.

Once she was sure she was well-hidden, she whispered, “Duusu, Spread My Feathers!”

Not long after, Donna Piuma covertly followed the akuma.

“They… they did all those horrid things?” Emilie whispered in horror. “No… I never asked that of them…”

“Maman, please calm down,” Adrien whispered, “I know it’s a lot to ask, and I definitely understand why you’re hurt, but you have to. Gabriel did a last ditch effort when we caught him, and there are still a lot of akumatized moths out there-”

We?” Emilie stopped at this. “You mean you had to fight him?”

“I chose to,” Adrien scowled, “Even before he became Hawkmoth and before I found out he was, he was treating me in ways I don’t think you would have approved of.”

Ignoring Ladybug’s muttering of that’s putting it lightly, Adrien continued. “I barely saw him as he forced me to model and do all sorts of extracurriculars. He barely let me attend one of the local colleges, and he had Nathalie and Igor - although Igor was pretty much forced to - practically breathing down my back when I wasn’t home. There are so many things he did other than being Hawkmoth…”

“Oh, Adrien… I’m so sorry… this is all my fault. I should have gotten out s-”

“Shit! Akuma!” Wyvern called out, pointing to an akuma just before it embedded itself in the rose pin on Emilie.

Almost instantly, it transformed her into a darker-colored version of what the heroes assumed she would have looked like as the Peafowl wielder. Instead of a tessen or warfan, however, she held dual sai - one in each hand.

“Maman…?” Adrien whispered in horror.

“Not anymore!” the akumatized Emilie snarled, “I am Painhen! I will give Gabriel and Nathalie pain tenfold for everything he has done to you and this city!”

“How in the world did an akuma get here?” Hebi gasped, readying her lyre. “This place is incredibly high-security!”

A haughty laugh caught everyone’s attention. They looked at the giant window just in time to see Donna Piuma - who had been chipping away at the window with her warfan - finally shatter it.

“Seriously? Her too?” Wyvern frowned as he moved Adrien out of the way of the incoming shards of glass.

Understanding Adrien couldn’t transform now without revealing his identity, Ladybug took action. “Wyvern! Get Adrien out of here!” 

Pulling out her yo-yo, she texted Chat Noir’s number with a Get Yu the Moth and pick someone else. She sent it just in time to dodge a feather dart from Painhen.

“Two Peafowl users…” Hebi scowled. “Even if one is actually an akuma…”

“That doesn’t make it much better,” Ladybug scowled, throwing her yo-yo at Donna Piuma. The current Peafowl wielder managed to block it with her warfan before she charged Ladybug.

“Yeah… I won’t love him like I used to,” Yumi Ozawa told Yu, “but perhaps someday I’ll be able to think positively of him again. Until then, I might quit the drama club-”

“Why?” Yu - having pocketed Yumi’s annotated script - asked honestly. “Don’t you enjoy it?”

“Yeah, I do…” Yumi said honestly, “but I want to live a truthful life now.”

“You can do that and still act,” Yu assured her, “What matters is how and why you’re acting.”

“You really think…?” Yumi asked. “I’d really like to continue it, so I’ll t-”

Suddenly, the familiar Voyage portal opened up right in the Drama Club’s room. 

“Yu, we have an issue!” Cheval Noir - Chat Noir with the Horse’s power - poked his head through, only to freeze up at the sight of Yumi.

Before she could open her mouth, Yu frantically shushed her. “Yumi, I will explain everything later. For now, please don’t tell a soul about this.”

Moving Yu’s finger out of her mouth’s way, Yumi said, “Wait! They need your help with something?”

“Something big!” Cheval Noir confirmed. Then a thoughtful look appeared on his face. “Actually, perhaps I could get your help too…”

“With what?” Yumi said quickly, coming to Yu’s side. “Yu has helped me through my problems. If I can help him, then let me!”

“O-okay, then…” Cheval Noir nodded along. “Come on through!”

Yu stepped through the portal, shocking Yumi. She only hesitated for a second before following suit. Once they’d come through to the other side, Yumi saw Yu being handed some lapel pin themed after a butterfly… or perhaps a moth. Chat Noir had deunified and kept Plagg’s part, whereas Kaalki had already flown off to hide.

In a flash of light, Nooroo appeared. He froze up and teared up instinctively at the sight of someone - even if it wasn’t Gabriel - wearing his pin, but Yu was fast enough to comfort him.

“Shhh…” Yu soothed him. “I know what Hawkmoth did to you. He’s behind bars now.”

“H-he is?” Nooroo whispered. 

“Yes, and Ladybug and her allies need your help. Will you let me transform with you? You have my word that I won’t force you into anything.”

“O-of course,” Nooroo nodded along. “If you promise, then I am willing to trust you. Please don’t break it…”

Yu nodded. Recalling what Hawkmoth had transformed with, Yu took a spin on it and said, “Nooroo, Wings Rise!”

Yu’s suit was quite different from Hawkmoth’s. For starters, his mask was not a full facial mask - instead, it was a masquerade-like purple one. His suit - like that of Izanagi’s - had an ascot, and the jacket seemed longer as it went down a little past his knees. Instead of the shorter cane-sword Hawkmoth had, the new Moth wielder had a shikomizue.

“Huh… I guess Izanagi influenced this a little…” Feeling a weight on his head, Yu reached up and pulled down a purple bowler hat with a moth-shaped insignia where feathers would be on some fedoras.

“The colors surprisingly kind of suit you,” Yumi admitted, still in awe at what she’d just witnessed.

“Yu, what’s her name?” Wyvern asked, drawing everyone’s attention. “We don’t have much time!”

“Yumi Ozawa,” Yu told them.

“Well, Yumi-san,” Chat Noir said, extending out a pendant,, “this is the Miraculous of the Mouse, which grants you the power of Multiplication. You will use it for the greater good, and return it to us when you’re done. Do you accept these terms?”

After Yu had finished translating, Yumi’s eyes widened. “Wait, isn’t this one of those Miraculous things I heard about over in France? Is that where the portal took us to?”

Chat nodded quickly. “Hold your excitement for now - you said you wanted to help, right?”

“O-oh, yes! I’m in!” Yumi nodded along, putting on the Mouse Miraculous. She was surprised to see Mullo, but not too much so given that she’d seen Nooroo.

The murine kwami seemed to size up Yumi, muttering something about how she was surprised to see someone who wasn’t a part of the Guardian's class. Only Wyvern and Chat could nod along, however, as Mullo spoke the language of the Guardian. 

“You take… um…”

“Call me Clearwing.”

“Right. You take Clearwing and go help Ladybug and Hebi, and I’ll quickly help out the new Mouse Hero.”

“You go on, too,” Mullo offered. “I’ll translate for your friend.”

Clearwing still seemed to hesitate until there was the sound of destruction being heard in the distance; none could tell if it was an explosion or a building collapsing from too much damage. It seemed the call to action had him following Wyvern and Chat towards the damage.

Turning back to Yumi, Mullo then began communicating with Yumi in Japanese. “Your power is Multitude, which shrinks you but creates a bunch of copies of you as well. You’ll have five minutes after that before you automatically detransform. To transform, say, ‘Mullo, Get Squeaky!’ and to manually detransform, say, ‘Mullo, Get Away!’”

“Got it,” Yumi said as she put on the Mouse Pendant. Taking a deep breath to gather her courage, she declared, “Mullo, Get Squeaky!”

Her costume was very much like Multimouse’s, but she had a small crown atop her head. Instead of a jump-rope, she had a similarly-designed whip.

Quickly, the new Mouse wielder followed after the other three heroes.

Having been punched hard by Donna Piuma (she’d gotten stronger …) Ladybug went crashing through three buildings before she was caught by Clearwing, the new hero immediately hiding after setting her down safely. Now was not the time to reveal that the Moth was being used again; plus, it might end up easier for anyone who knew Yu to tell just who the new Moth was just by the unique hair color alone.

As Clearwing hid behind a chimney a decent distance from the battlefield, he heard Nooroo’s voice. Excellent job, Clearwing. I think I can trust you… now, we should work on making Champions.

“Those are the good versions of akumas, right?” Clearwing asked. “I won’t make any villains if I can help it.”

Of course not, Nooroo responded. My former wielder chose to create villains because they were more likely to be stronger overall than their superheroic counterparts.

“That makes sense…” Clearwing growled quietly. “Not that it’s good. Now, how do I… Champion someone?”

The Moth Miraculous grants you empathic powers while transformed, Nooroo explained helpfully. Empty your mind and feel the emotions around you… 

Clearwing took deep breaths in and out, it felt like a mild form of meditation somehow, as he suddenly felt so many various emotions. Most were similar - no doubt due to the circumstances surrounding them all - but he passed over these, his instincts telling him that they weren’t what he was looking for.

Suddenly, he felt a wave of great sadness not too far off from him. After looking around to make sure he could go unseen, the Moth wielder took off in the direction that the emotion was coming from.

Eventually, he came to a building near Le Grand Paris. Looking around, he saw a blonde girl sitting on a balcony jutting out from the famous hotel. She looked emotionally exhausted and very downtrodden. Despite all of the destruction nearby, her focus wasn’t on the fight. From what Clearwing could pick up, it felt like this teen wanted to change but couldn’t for some reason.

I think that’s the one we’re sensing… Nooroo said. Feel the power of your moths, and let them come to you.

Holding out his hand to the air akin to how he summoned Persona cards, Clearwing saw a small flash of light in his hand before a white moth appeared in it.

It will take energy to summon moths, Nooroo explained, so if you can find moths of your own, that will work even better.

Clasping the moth between his hands, Clearwing felt the moth being charged with energy. Strangely enough, it somehow felt like when he was summoning Izanagi, like he was summoning another part of himself… albeit a smaller one. He’d have to ask Nooroo at a later time - right now he had to focus.

At this time, I think you only have the power to create one Champion, Nooroo warned him, make sure that this is the one you want to choose.

“At worst, desperate times call for desperate measures,” Clearwing mumbled before extending his hand out and letting the moth fly out to the blonde. It embedded itself in the band holding her hair in a ponytail.

Before Clearwing could get a word in, the girl immediately shot up and snarled, “I don’t know how you’re back, Hawkmoth, but I refuse to become your pawn again.” 

Clearwing couldn’t help but choke out a laugh. “I guess it works out that I’m not Hawkmoth, then,” he said via the telepathic communication they’d opened.  A new butterfly-like outline appeared over her eyes, yet at the same time it was a completely different color. Instead of the usual pale-purple color, it looked more royal purple, which made the light look more alive.

Blondie looked around, before noticing Clearwing’s silhouette. She squinted in his direction, trying to make sure he wasn’t Hawkmoth and lying to her, before sighing. “I believe you… but you should just go find someone else,” she said almost defeatedly. “You don’t want me fucking things up again…”

“‘Again’…?” Clearwing asked. Then he recalled a memory of reading the Ladyblog with Yosuke; getting a better look at the blonde, it clicked in his head. “You’re…!”

“Yeah, me,” the saddened form of Chloe Bourgeois said. “Told you you don’t want me helping you out…”

“If this power was permanent, then yeah, I probably would’ve gone for someone else,” Clearwing said. “But I am willing to put my trust in you; from your emotions, I can tell you understand what you did was wrong.”

“Wait, seriously?” Chloe raised both eyebrows at this.  “Don’t you know what I’ve done? How I’ve fucked up so many people’s livelihoods and even lives?”

“I wasn’t done,” Clearwing said sternly. “There are going to be conditions to this partnership. You do want to help Ladybug again, right?”

“Of course!” Chloe declared instantly. “What are the conditions?”

“You will use your powers for good and good alone,” Clearwing said, cool yet commanding, “and once you’re done, you will rescind your power back to me. I apologize in advance about the hair-tie…”

The words sounded all too familiar to Chloe, reminding her of her promise not to let her heroine down during Miraculer; regardless, she nodded. “What can I do?”

“Let me grant you power… Miss Sting.”

Instead of dark, bubbling energy shooting up and encompassing her from the bottom up, the now-lighter purple energy seemed to engulf her like flames, turning Chloe into what looked like a Queen Bee knockoff. Instead of the trompo her former superheroine persona had, Miss Sting had dual daggers like Yosuke used in the TV World, although these daggers were longer and connected to each other with a chain like Kai from Kung Fu Panda. Furthermore, there was a hood on her suit that hid her face.

Miss Sting smiled sadly at Clearwing once she’d leaped over to the building where he stood. “Before I go and help, why did you trust me?” 

Clearwing just smiled. “What you’ve done in the past doesn’t make you a bad person. If you think you’re still Miracle Queen, then go be a villain and watch what happens to you. If you want to be a heroine, though, then take your vow - work to be better and never make mistakes like the ones you’ve made again.”
“To Ladybug?” Miss Sting asked. “I don’t think she’ll want to look me in the eye… would you mind apologizing to her for me?”

“That’s something you need to do for yourself,” Clearwing lightly scolded her. “When you mess up,  confess up, right?”

“‘When I mess up, confess up,’ huh?” Miss Sting murmured. That gave her an idea… “Yeah… you’re right. Let’s go!”

Donna Piuma smirked as she kicked the new heroine - some sort of rodent-themed wielder - off a nearby building, only to scowl when Ladybug caught the newbie. It was delightful to her to figure out that this new wielder - Rat Queen, was it? - seemed to be newer than even her to the Miraculous scene. Another part of her was amused and pleased that the pests known as Paris’s beloved heroes were struggling to fight for once. It was also pleasing that her akumatized ally had been a previous Miraculous user; judging by the similar themes to her own costume, it wasn’t too hard to guess which Miraculous Painhen had held.

“Looks like you’re running out of steam, you insignificant insect!” Donna Piuma cackled, unable to hold back her giddiness. “You’re overwhelmed, and your help is useless against me! Just surrender your Miraculouses and call it a day!”

“Like hell that’s gonna happen!” Ladybug snarled, Chat Noir and Rat Queen nodding resolutely at her side. 

Meanwhile, Wyvern and Hebi were battling Painhen. The two wielders were starting to overwhelm her, but she then helped her odds by summoning her own storm of razor-sharp blue feathers, sending them whizzing towards the two heroes. They managed to block most of the attacks, but a few snuck by and gave them small cuts here and there.

Just then, a chained blade shot through the air from out of nowhere, wrapping itself around Painhen and tying her up tightly.

Looking in the direction, Wyvern and Hebi gaped at the form of a new heroine in a suit that was a rusted yellow with black stripes. “Tie her up!” the newbie called in a voice that they couldn’t quite place a name to.

“Looks like we have our first… whatever good akumas are called…” Wyvern realized. 

“Is that what that is?” Hebi asked before rushing to grab the akumatized rose-pin off of Painhen. “Who is she behind the mask, I wonder…”

“T-that can wait!” the newbie shouted. “I’m Miss Sting. Please, go get the item to Ladybug! I’ll watch over her until you fix the damage!”

Wyvern and Hebi nodded resolutely, leaving to go aid Ladybug with the rose pin in tow. 

The two arrived in time to see Rat Queen use Multitude to dodge a swipe of Donna Piuma’s warfan and additional feathers; it was an unusual tactic, but one had to use what was at their disposal. Ladybug managed to use this as a distraction to once again try and capture Donna Piuma, this time with her Lucky Charm. The Peafowl user seemed to have gotten better at dodging or sensing attacks from Ladybug specifically, however, so the net failed to succeed. 

“You get the item to Ladybug and I’ll go after Donna Piuma,” Wyvern planned out. Hebi merely nodded in response. 

The two separated. Ladybug spotted Hebi first, making sure to not alert the villainess of the incoming heroes. Ladybug knew she would have to recharge after this, but she trusted her partners to handle the corrupted Miraculous user.

Hebi presented her with the akumatized rose pin while Chat Noir and Wyvern double-teamed her. Donna Piuma looked in their direction just in time for Ladybug to rip it up and catch the ensuing akuma moth. It was too soon to use the Miraculous Ladybug; they still had to fight Donna Piuma.

“Cover for me.”

“Can do!” Chat cried out, as he dodged the razor-sharp feathers being thrown his way. He had been helping cover for Rat Queen as she returned to normal; now he ran off with her to somewhere that would be safe to recharge. 

Lightning Wyvern rammed into Donna Piuma as she raised her hand to strike out with her feathers once more, possibly aiming for Ladybug’s retreating back. 

Surrounded by two experienced and irate wielders, Donna Piuma snarled, “Fine… you win for today! But don’t think you’ve won the war - when the next akuma comes, I’ll be back!”

With that, she made her escape. Granted, Wyvern and Hebi gave chase, but they were not able to catch up with her, and she got away.

After Ladybug purified the city, she, Chat Noir, Rat Queen, Wyvern, Hebi, Clearwing, and Miss Sting reconvened in their own hiding place, Chat carrying an unconscious but mostly-healthy Emilie in his arms.

“So… Clearwing and Rat Queen, huh?” Ladybug mused. She was looking them over, but most of her scrutinization was directed at Rat Queen.

“What’s your name?” Ladybug asked.

“Rat Queen,” Yumi replied somewhat timidly. “I thought the thing was that you guys didn’t reveal your identities.”

“ pass,” Ladybug nodded approvingly, a small smirk now on her face. “Chat and Wyvern can tell me who you are later. For now, we should get you two back home.”

Your team is expanding, even somewhat without you…

Madman Rank 5!

“Already on it. Wyvern, can you take our guest for a moment?” Once his arms were free of his sleeping mother, Chat pulled out Kaalki’s Glasses and transformed into Cheval Noir.

“Wait, should I head out first?” Miss Sting asked. She really did not want to be around Ladybug when she detransformed. Looking to Clearwing - who subtly shook his head - she sighed. She had to do this the hard way. Mess up, then confess up, after all.

Clenching his hand, Clearwing rescinded Miss Sting’s power - reverting her to Chloe - before returning his Miraculous. The main four heroes’ eyes widened upon recognizing the rich girl.

“Didn’t expect her to pick you of all people,” Hebi snarled. 

“Yeah, I know…” Chloe sighed, catching all heroes involved by surprise. “I wanted to apologize, and Clearwing came to me - not the other way around.”

Turning to Ladybug and Cheval Noir, she said, “I’m sorry, both of you. I put a lot of hurt on you, and I’m gonna work on becoming a better person - for real this time. What I did was wrong, and no amount of apologies are going to fix what I did. Even if you did give me another Miraculous - which I doubt you’ll ever do - I assure you it won’t happen again.”

“...I believe you,” Ladybug eventually said. “I can’t forgive you yet, and I’ll never forget what you did. But if you’re really going to work towards becoming a half-decent person, I wish you the best.”

Chloe was silent as she accepted everything, but she eventually nodded. “Th… thank you, Ladybug. At some point soon, I intend to apologize to everyone else I’ve hurt.”

Cheval Noir offered to take her home, but Wyvern took the job so Cheval could return Clearwing and Rat Queen.

“Voyage!” Cheval Noir opened the portal, and after dropping Yumi off, he collected Mullo’s Miraculous before Yumi left (Yu had promised to tell her some of what was going on later, and she’d been sworn to secrecy). Now alone, he turned to Yu. “M’Lady mentioned to me that Nooroo needed to heal, that she had asked for your help in the process and that you accepted. She asked me to tell you that Nooroo’s Miraculous is yours to keep for now.” Cheval Noir was silent as he stared at the sad-eyed kwami. “He’s been through the ringer and then some, so… show him the love he deserves, okay?” The hero was silent before taking the kwami in his hands gently. “No apologies I give you will ever fix what Gabriel did. Yu will make things get better for you,” he promised before turning to Yu with a dangerous look in his eyes, “and if he doesn’t…”

Yu merely nodded seriously. He got the message, and had no intentions of using Nooroo like that anyway.

Nooroo knew that this was going to happen yet he still felt saddened; it didn’t feel like he was being abandoned, but how he was feeling… it was something he couldn’t properly name. 

“Well, see you little guy. Be safe, okay?” After recharging, Cheval Noir called a Voyage once more and disappeared through the portal. 

Yu stood there as the kwami floated by his side. “Come on,” he stated as he carefully gathered Nooroo to set in his shirt pocket, “let’s get you home. Even though it’s only temporary, it’s still your home.” With that, the silver-haired teen made his way back to his uncle’s place, coincidentally avoiding the gas station clerk.

Lila threw another plushie across her room, screaming with frustration. She had been so damn close! She’d almost defeated Ladybug and her merry band of jackasses. Everything had been damn near perfect with that strong akuma - and a past Miraculous user at that. So, what the hell went wrong? 

The teen glared around her room, now irritated by the mess at her rampaging. Just another thing caused by Ladybug, she thought angrily. Lila had meant to punch her wall when her hand moved wrong and she felt her fist hit something else.

No, wait. Her hand… went through something?

“What the hell?” She asked as she now focused on her hand. Wait, her hand! It… it was inside the TV?!

“What’s with this spiral thing? Is it supposed to hypnotize me or whatever?” she murmured almost dazedly. Well, she wasn’t drooling, staring mindlessly at the TV and waiting for orders from fuck-knows-who, so perhaps not.

Moving her hand around, she felt her hand touch ground. “This is… some sort of portal?” she mused dazedly.

Then a crazy idea hit her. Mr. Agreste’s trial was tomorrow, right? If he squealed on her - which he was very likely to do - that meant her time as Donna Piuma was good as over. 

“Oh, this is simply perfect!” Lila started to laugh, which turned into gleeful, full-blown cackling. “Just you wait, Mr. Agreste! I have a little surprise for you now! Here’s hoping it’ll be one you never come back from…”

Duusu only gulped.

Chapter Text

Of course it was a rainy day. The skies seemed all too happy to drench the city of love on a day like this.

Monday morning had been the day just about everyone in Paris was looking forward to. From superhero to civilian to the public servants, anyone and everyone who had been a victim to Hawkmoth and Mayura - whether as akumas, amoks or victims in some other fashion - was watching this trial. Unbeknownst to the public and government, the main four heroes were sitting in the courtroom, offering support for Adrien and his now-conscious mother, who sadly had to be there in person. 

Everyone had just gotten settled in and was waiting for the judge to arrive, but instead of the judge, it was Donna Piuma who entered. If it were any other time, Marinette would have thought it under the Peafowl wielder to crash in through the window, but now she had to try and stop her before she got away with a handcuffed Gabriel in tow, which was a little difficult as a civilian.

Wasting no time, the four found a room to transform in and were soon giving chase the kidnapper and the kidnapped.

Donna Piuma smirked at almost how easy this was; too easy in fact. That said, she wasn’t going to complain. There was still no sign of the Loser Squad and she was about to get rid of a problem.


After scouring for the perfect spot to chuck Gabriel through the night before, she had found a perfect location to throw her target. It was a secluded area, in an abandoned building. It was cliche as all hell, but if it worked, then it worked. Donna Piuma recalled how in luck she had been when she discovered that the power was still working. The only problem had been finding a TV that could properly fit an adult through. After an hour in an electronic store as Lila, she had found the perfect size and had returned as Donna Piuma to steal it.

Really it was such a cheesy thing to do but there was no way in hell she was using her own TV. There would be too many questions about getting a new TV and she didn’t want to risk her fingerprints being discovered.

“Well, Mr. Agreste, I do believe this is where I bid you adieu.” Rapping on the TV’s screen, Donna Prima waited for the spiral to appear. Once it did, she said, “Alley-oop!” and tossed the ex-supervillain inside before he could properly process what was going on. His cry for help dwindled rapidly as he disappeared out of sight. “And that takes care of that. Good riddance to old rubbish!” Hands dusted together as the villainess confidently strutted out of the building, dropping her Donna Piuma appearance for Lila in an alley. “Now to watch those stupid heroes chase their own tails!”

Lila made her way home, happily humming a tune as she ignored the silently sobbing kwami in her purse.

Once the report came out that Donna Piuma and Gabriel were nowhere to be found - and the heroes and police had done searches through the whole city, too - there was a loud public outcry. Theories were already coming out, the likes of which included that Donna Piuma was working for Gabriel.

Police had checked into Nathalie, but she had remained silent, refusing to give any information. It didn’t help that she was hurt to hear Gabriel had supposedly abandoned her. A small, dark part of her was misconstruedly proud that her predecessor was doing her job now, even if she had hoped that the current Peafowl user would help her out as well. 

Then again, she’d always been treated as expendable.

Emilie - who had been sitting in her seat, quiet yet heartbroken and enraged at Gabriel - had given a testimony that Gabriel hadn’t been under her orders and that she wasn’t the mastermind nor an accomplice. She’d barely left the stand before bursting into tears in front of everyone. Not many people faulted her. Igor, Amelie and Felix had been there at her side to offer support, even if they were in a little shock at seeing Gabriel “make his escape.”

The group of heroes refused to stop and rest, each one pushing themselves to their limits to try and find Donna Piuma and Gabriel. Neither Wyvern, Hebi or anyone could tell who was taking this harder - Chat Noir or Ladybug. Both seemed too determined how gently brushed aside any worries, stating they appreciated the concern but there was no time to rest.

Eventually, with the help of Chelonian and Mìfēng, Ladybug and Chat were convinced to stop for the day. The teens all collapsing on their beds from overexertion, pushing their bodies beyond their limits. Yet despite this, their minds wouldn’t shut down, instead replaying the courtroom scene over and over again.

Nobody would get much sleep that night, but before Marinette and Adrien went to bed, they got an urgent phone call.

Nanako and Yu had been casually chatting about all sorts of things for a while with Yu showing some more magic tricks to his younger cousin. Yu’s Justice Arcana had finally hit Rank 10, though that wasn’t to say he was only interacting with her to improve his bond. 

Nanako had a bedtime, so Yu and her went to turn out the lights. They’d just stepped into her bedroom - Yu intended to spitball a story for her - when they heard someone picking the lock on the door.

“Is that Daddy?” Nanako whispered to Yu. “That doesn’t sound like his keys…”

“I don’t think so,” Yu scowled. “Stay here, Nanako. Don’t leave unless someone you don’t know comes in here.”

After closing the door, Yu furtively dashed into his room. Nooroo had been munching on a grape when he entered.

Instantly noticing Yu’s panicked look, Nooroo quickly asked, “What’s wrong, Master?”

“Someone’s trying to rob us,” Yu said, “and I thought I requested you not to call me Master.”

“Sorry…” Nooroo said somewhat dazedly. They were being robbed?!

“I need your help, Nooroo,” Yu begged the Moth kwami. “Will you let me transform you?”

“Of course!”

“Then… Nooroo, Wings Rise!”

Meanwhile, Katashi Takeda had been searching through the house for valuables, using his flashlight to see. He’d just put his fingers on the TV in the living room when he felt something cold and sharp on the back of his neck.

You picked the wrong house to rob.

Nanako’s head shot up at this newcomer’s voice; it was sort of familiar to her. Wait… why was the robber saying not to rob the house? Was it someone else? Carefully, she moved to press her ear to the door to try and listen in.

Even if she hadn’t heard him, though, she definitely heard someone else scream at the top of their lungs, followed by harried footsteps that quickly grew faint and the sound of a door delicately closing and being locked from the inside.

There was a single tap at her door. Quickly, Nanako grabbed the bat Daddy left in her room and prepared to whack whoever came in.

An oddly-dressed figure in purple with silver hair walked through the door, looking around. “Where’d Nanako go?” he wondered out loud. Oh, no, she thought, this stranger knew her?!

Jumping out from her hiding space, Nanako went for the stranger’s private parts with all of her strength. As expected, he keeled over from the slugger of a hit. Nanako had inherited her Daddy’s strength, it seemed. She could practically hear a high-pitched wheeze coming from this stranger.

“OW! Nanako, what the-” Mr. Purple caught themselves before they could say something; Nanako wasn’t sure what.

Suddenly, there was a flash of purple light, and her big brother was cradling his private parts in the stranger’s place. Floating in the air was some kind of purple fairy, frantically flying around him and asking if he was okay.

“Wh-what the…?!”

“O-oh, shoot.” Yu seemed to still be trying to catch his breath from the hit. “Nanako… sorry for scaring you with that. Nice shot… ow…”

“Big bro… who’s that?” Nanako asked, pointing at the fairy thing. “How did you do that?”

“M- er, Yu… I think the secret’s out.”

“Nanako, I’m sorry, but you can’t tell anyone about what you just saw - not even your dad. Can I trust you?”

Nanako blinked her eyes at her big brother’s question; why would he ask that? Was this a grown up thing? If it was, then she wouldn’t tell a soul! Determined, Nanako nodded her head. 

“You can count on me, big bro! I won’t say anything!”

Yu stared for a moment before softly smiling, reaching up to ruffle Nanako’s hair. “Thank you, Nanako,” he said relievedly. “Man…” he mumbled to himself, “everyone’s gonna kill me for this…”

Returning his voice to normal loudness, Yu said, “I need to make a phone call, Nanako. Can you look after Nooroo for me?” He shakily stood up and used the wall for aid. 

“Yep! Sorry for hitting you, by the way…”

“I-It’s okay. You didn’t recognize me and did the safe thing; I’m proud of you. I’ll be in my room… I’ll come get you when I’m done.” Yu carefully staggered back to his room, shutting the door behind him.

“So… you’re Yu’s little sister?” Nooroo greeted awkwardly. “I’m Nooroo… it’s nice to meet you, Nanako.”

“Nice to meet you, Nooroo! You look like a cute fairy! Wait, are you a fairy?” Nanako’s eyes shined with such hope and innocence that Nooroo’s heart was already melting. Dang it all - he’d loved Gabriel and Emilie when they were younger because they were sweet like this… 

“...something like that,” Nooroo said after a moment of deliberation. He tried to mask his sadness and was only partially successful.

Noticing his sadness, Nanako asked, “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah… I just… just remembered something… something I can’t tell you yet.”

“Is it another secret?”

“No… just unpleasant memories…”

“Oh…” Nanako was silent for a moment. “I don’t think my Dad is back yet. Why don’t we get you a snack?” Surprised at her kindness, Nooroo merely nodded his head dumbfoundedly, causing Nanako to giggle. “Then let’s go before Dad gets home. I’m not supposed to be up this late…” Quietly, she slipped downstairs; she ignored her curiosity as she walked by her brother’s room, she couldn’t tell what the other person was saying and after discovering her brother’s secret, she should probably give him his privacy.

In the kitchen, Nanako pulled out some fresh fruit and veggies from the fridge, smiling as she pulled out the best-looking ones. 

“Here, try these!” she said, offering some cherries to Nooroo, “These are from our garden!” 

Nooroo began to nibble on the fruit, it was different from what Gabriel gave him. No, Gabriel never gave him food. He had to forage for it himself. Nooroo didn’t seem to notice that he had spoken that last part out loud.

“It’s good,” the kwami said as he took a bigger bite. “You guys should be proud.”

“Thanks! It’s mostly just me and my big bro who work in the garden, but sometimes Daddy helps too.” Noticing the time, Nanako picked up the food along with Nooroo; she didn’t want to get caught by Daddy. He might yell at her big brother again.

 “Come on, we’ll go back upstairs. I know where to hide stuff so Daddy won’t know I had food up there.” Quietly she made her way back up the stairs, noticing that there were still voices coming from her brother’s room. “Looks like big bro will be a while…”

Nanako had intended to stay awake as she waited for her brother, but her eyes refused to stay open. Nooroo promised to return to Yu himself, even though Nanako wanted to stay up for her cousin. No matter how much she struggled, though, she couldn’t stay awake. She never felt Nooroo covering her with a blanket before he left. 

When Yu had stepped into his room, the first thing he’d done after closing the door was call Marinette. She’d picked up on the first ring and went straight to video call.

“Yu…? Is that you?” Dear god, she sounded and looked exhausted.

“Marinette, we have a problem..”

“Well, there’s more than one problem,” Adrien came into view, looking equally exhausted and even more distraught. “What happened?”

“It’s not on international news yet?” There was a bitter edge in Marinette’s tone. “Donna Piuma happened. She kidnapped Gabriel, and we can’t figure out where she took him.”

“Oh…” Yu whispered in horror. He already had a nasty clue of where Gabriel might be. “I think I have a theory on where he might be… but you’re not gonna like it.”

“What is it?” Adrien asked desperately.

“What if Donna Piuma is the murderer? What if she’s working with them?”

“The murderer? What mur-” It clicked in Marinette and Adrien’s heads at the same time. “Oh… oh, shit…” the former mumbled, now white as a Ku Klux Klan sheet (although she was a lot cleaner than the bastards).

“We’re doing a trip tomorrow, as soon as reasonably possible,” Adrien declared. “Call everyone and let ‘em know, okay?”

Yu nodded.

“Now, what’s the problem on your end?”

“...Nanako saw Nooroo.”

“Shit…” Marinette whispered. “What happened?”

“Scared off a would-be robber,” Yu said simply, “and forgot to detransform before checking in on Nanako. I have the pained private parts to prove it…”

“Too much info, dude,” Marinette shuddered. “What did the robber do?”

“Nothing. He hightailed it out before anything could get taken. Nanako bravely whacked me down there with a baseball bat.”

“Ooooohhhhh…” Adrien shuddered. “You already weren’t going to be making any kids with Yosuke, but now…”

“Shush, you,” Marinette whacked him, pointedly ignoring Yu’s light blush. “Has Nanako told your uncle?”

“She’s promised to keep quiet, even from Uncle Ryotaro,” Yu answered. “Do I need to return Nooroo?”

“Normally, I’d say yes,” Marinette says, “but I think taking Nooroo away so soon would only end up hurting him more. I don’t fault you for defending your home, but just make sure nobody else sees him, okay?”

“Of course!” Yu said immediately. “Honestly, I think it may help him heal, being around Nanako.”

“And put some ice on down there!”

“Adrien!” Yu and Marinette cried at the same time, both teens bright red.

The three were silent before Adrien and Marinette started to laugh, possibly confusing Yu. But it was something needed to ameliorate the situation.

“As embarrassing as that was, we needed that… especially after today.” Marinette glanced down when she felt Adrien lean against her, the exhaustion finally kicking in fully. “Keep us informed on Nooroo, and if it’s possible at some time I’d like to talk with Nanako. From what you have told me before in the past, she might be what Nooroo really needs at this time. We can figure out a time later, and whether it should be done as myself or Ladybug. For now - even though it has been only a day - can you tell me about how Nooroo is handling the situation so far? Does he seem better now than when you first saw him?”

“Yeah,” Yu stated as he nodded. “There are some tangible differences from when he was saved from Hawkmoth’s clutches. They may be small, but they are there.” He gave a detailed report of the past day, stating any information that he felt would be helpful. 

It was only when Yu heard the door downstairs opening and the familiar steps of his uncle when he figured it was time to cut the conversation short. Besides, Adrien had fallen asleep leaning against Marinette and the latter looked ready to pass out herself. 

“We’ll contact you guys in the morning once we’re up; be prepared to meet up and go into the TV tomorrow.”

“We will. You guys be safe over there.” Yu disconnected the call and noticed the kwami sleeping on his bookshelf, hiding on the little bed Yu had made. It was out of sight should anyone - now only his uncle - looked into his room without entering. He’d make a more suitable bed in his desk tomorrow with Nanako’s help if she was interested. 

Standing up, he made his way downstairs to inform his uncle about the would-be robber. 

“Oh, Yu. I’m surprised to see that you’re still awake.” His uncle was on the couch, looking as if he had flopped down onto it then and there.

“I wanted to tell you in person instead of over the phone that we had an attempted robbery. I got the guy to leave before he saw Nanako or took anything.” That seemed to get Ryotaro’s attention. The cop shot up from his seat on the couch.

“What?! Give me a description, dammit!” Yu gave a detailed account, impressing his uncle; if only all witnesses were like that. “Son of a… I think I ran into him on the way home! Dammit, I could have taken him in!” Ryotaro scrubbed his hands over his face. “I’ll have to look for him and haul him into the station tomorrow.” He briefly studied his nephew for a moment. “I’m glad you were here. I’m still pissed that it happened, but at least you were here to protect Nanako.”

“You’re family,” Yu smiled seriously, “it’s what we do. We stick out for each other.”

Yu had also maxed out his Social Link with Uncle Ryotaro a bit back, so the man nodded approvingly. Not long after, the two went to bed themselves, falling asleep quickly.

The next morning, Marinette, Adrien and Kagami woke up bright and early. The heavy downpour of rain from the previous day seemed to be continuing on, and stronger than before. After packing the essentials and contacting the Inabans, they went into the TV World right away, figuring that even if the Inabans showed up later that they could hang with Teddie or begin searching themselves.

However, when they entered, Teddie was nowhere to be found. They went looking around for him while making sure not to stray too far from the hub.

“Where the hell is he?” Adrien wondered once they’d returned to the hub. “You’d think Teddie would have smelled us by now and come running!”

“Well he did say that his nose had misled them before when we were at that… club…” Kagami mused, shuddering at the memory as she glanced around. “Perhaps it’s still off?”

“Wait, I see something!” Marinette pointed in the distance. Emerging from the distance was… “A fox?”

The Shrine Fox, sensing that the Inabans had a trip today, had left early. Walking around the three and sniffing their legs, it laid down next to Marinette.

“I think it’s friendly…” Marinette said uneasily.

Just then, the Inabans entered through their TV portal. As they all came through, the Parisians noticed that not only was a fully-healed Rise with them but there was a newcomer among them - a blond with big blue eyes in a white dress shirt with a rose pin, dark-grey pants and slacks. More importantly, he was carrying… Teddie with his head detached? Why wasn’t he fighting back? Was he dead? 

There were a few moments of silence as the two groups stared at each other - or rather, the Inabans stared at the Shrine Fox while the Parisians stared at Blondie.

Yu and Marinette spoke at the same time.

“Didn’t expect you to get here early,” Yu said to the Fox, who merely scratched at its ear.

“What the hell happened to Teddie?” Marinette gawked.

Blondie only grinned. “Guess who grew a human body~!” he said in a far-too-familiar voice.

“...” Kagami was silent in shock.

“Wait… are you Teddie?!” Adrien gasped. Marinette’s jaw dropped. Holy shit, it was Teddie!

“But… but how?”

“We were asking the same thing,” Kanji chuckled awkwardly. “He just came outta the TV one day, and we found him using the massage chairs in Junes.”

“Unfortunately, he was buck-naked other than for the suit,” Chie grumbled, blushing at the memory.

“Yeah, and I had to pay for those clothes…” Yosuke scowled at Chie and Yukiko, though it was not one of any ill will.

“I could help pay for them,” Adrien offered.

“Yeah but then you’d have to explain why your credit card was in Japan, and you’d have to pay with yen or whatever,” Marinette said with a sigh. 

“Not if I pay with cash!” Adrien pulled out his wallet. The Inabans gawked at the sheer amount of euros and money notes inside; how much cash did this guy carry on hand? “This should be enough to put a dent in it, right?” He handed over enough money that Yosuke estimated it would pay for almost all of what the clothes had cost. “You guys have done so much for me and my girlfriends that it’s the least I could do.”

Marinette sighed, more than used to this. “Tell me his sizes, Yosuke. I think I’ve made enough spare clothes that I haven’t sold or given away yet that there should be some that’ll fit him.”

“You guys…” Teddie’s eyes got watery as he grabbed the two for a bear hug (pun not intended), squeezing the two rather tightly.

“Well, seeing as those two contributed,” Kagami also pulled out her wallet, handing over another good chunk of euros to Yosuke. “Just add this on to pay for any remainders or if you need to get something else for him.” And now Kagami found herself being hugged by Yosuke. She recoiled slightly, before smiling and leaning into the hug. At least his hug wasn’t as tight as Teddie’s… 

“You three are the best! You pulled me out of my debt and then some!” 

Everyone laughed.

“So…” Marinette said, getting back to business, “What’s with the fox? You seem to recognize him… her…?”

“I think it’s a her,” Yukiko said, “but I refuse to look and find out for sure.”

Everyone else nodded their agreement. The Shrine Fox merely yipped.

“I think it’s a girl, too,” Tikki said, flying out from Marinette’s pocket.

“We could always ask Trixx…” Adrien mused.

“Why would we ask Trixx to do that? They’d probably say the opposite just to mess with us!” Marinette patted her cheeks, reminding herself of why they were there. “We really needed this lightheartedness after yesterday, but we still need to focus on why we are here. Yesterday, Donna Piuma took Mr. Agreste and Yu theorized that he may be here. Is there any way to find out?”

“That’s where I come in!” Rise stepped forward, Himiko at the ready. “If he’s anywhere near us, I’ll find him for you.”

“Teddie required information or something with their scent to find people, so I thought if I brought a picture of Gabriel, that might help you.” Adrien pulled a picture of his father and handed it to Rise. “This is the most recent image of him. I know he’s all over the internet - especially now - but I figured something from his home life would be better because it’s personal and all. I don’t know if the public image he projects would be accurate or not, so I figured it was better safe than sorry.”

“Hmm… I don’t know if there is a difference, but it helps! Okay, Himiko, let’s find this guy!”

Himiko lowered some sort of band in front of Rise (letting her use it like a visor), and she and her Persona began looking around, trying to sense anything. The group remained quiet as Rise scanning all of the TV World… or as much as her power would allow.

“So far… I’m not picking up anything yet. It’s rather unusual… I can see all of the Dungeons you guys have mentioned, but there’s nothing new yet…” She was quiet for another few moments; it was easy to read the frustration despite her eyes being covered. “It actually feels like something is blocking me, in a way.”

“Is… is that possible?” All eyes were on Teddie who looked just as confused and a little distraught. 

“I don’t know… I don’t remember being blocked when I was here last.”

“It’s probably too dangerous to just walk around, but at this point, it may be our only option.” Yu fell into deep thought, weighing the options. On one hand, if they didn’t look and Gabriel was here, then it would all weigh heavily on their conscience if he appeared like the others. On the other hand, if he wasn’t, then they may possibly have lost time which they could be using in the real world. “Let’s look around,” he decided. “We may be going in blind, but at least we can say we tried. You mentioned that you couldn’t find him in Paris yesterday, so he could be here… somewhere, anyways.” 

“Let’s hope so…” Kagami frowned. “Gabriel is an awful man. That may be true…”

“...but he doesn’t deserve to die,” Adrien said sadly, “especially not like… Saki and Mme. Yamano, you called them?”

“Plus, he can’t own up to his crimes if he’s dead,” Marinette grinned viciously. “I fully intend to drag him out by the hook when we find him.”

“And if he’s kicking and screaming, all the better.” Plagg cackled as he rubbed his paws together. “I’ll personally help you with that Marinette. Just say that Chat is letting you ‘borrow’ me.”

“If we’re going to randomly search, I can guide you to a few areas that I can see and go from there. Perhaps we’ll know we’re going the right way just in case things become hazier for me.” Himiko had removed the visor-like device for a moment before Rise spoke. It seemed like after everything she had been through, she wasn’t all that bothered by the kwamis; that, or it was also possible that the IT had already explained everything to Rise. “We could start on the outskirts of the Mountain area from Marinette’s dungeon, the surrounding area was clear but a bit further from that was where things were hazy. It may not be much of a start, but it’s something… I think.”

“We’ll do that. Thanks, Rise.” Yu turned towards the rest of the group. “Let's go everyone, but be prepared - there are still Shadows around. Once we leave this area, we’ll most likely be sitting ducks in the new areas.”

Your group is working together…

Completion Rank 6!

The group headed out for the new area, but it was fruitless; a few hours later they were trying an area by the Famisa Prison, which also yielded no luck. There was a possibility of something by Yukiko’s Castle and the Shopping District, but it was like they couldn’t enter. Like something was blocking them somehow.

After a few accidental battles with Shadows, they gave up and vowed to try tomorrow. All that searching had exhausted them, so they went right to sleep. 

What they hadn’t noticed was that in both Paris and Inaba, neither they nor anyone else noticed the brief yellow glow from their TVs that night. Faintly, both Inaba and Paris’ TVs showed something - two different silhouettes, one for each country - before turning off ominously.

Chapter Text

Gabriel had wandered around this strange world for who knows how long. Ever since that brat threw him into the TV, he couldn’t see a damn thing due to the fog. He was pretty sure his glasses were broken but they were better than going without them. Hell, he was pretty sure he had a concussion too.

There were times he swore he saw figures in this fog, but he wasn’t sure. Then there were voices, voices he could have sworn sounded so familiar. But what seemed to get to him were the screams - the blood curdling screams that sent an icy chill down his spine - and the unearthly moans. 

Gabriel stopped when he thought he saw a familiar figure in the fog. 


The figure turned and ran. Ran away from him.

“No, no! Emilie, please come back!” Despite everything telling him to not run, to not follow, he couldn’t help it. Not if it was his beloved Emilie. Even though every part of him ached, Gabriel still ran and continued on. His body could wait until he had his wife again.

His running came to an abrupt end when he found himself in a strange building. His mind told him to continue looking for Emilie but it felt like his body was giving out. 

“No, I must continue on! I can’t lose her, not again!”

Really? This nonsense again?” 

Who the hell said that? What the hell did they mean?

It’s not nonsense! She is the other half of my soul, the keeper of my heart!” Gabriel shouted in the voice’s direction.

And the mother of your son - a son whom you abandoned, need I remind you? ” It was that damned voice again. And why the hell was it so familiar? “Do you really think Emilie will want you after finding out what you did to Adrien?” The voice sounded like it was getting closer.

Silence! You know nothing ! Adrien should know that I did what I had to do to get his mother back!” Gabriel threw his arm out as if throwing away the concern. “Now where in the hell is Emilie?

Your focus is only on Emilie… fine. How do you think she will feel when she finds out that you overworked her son? Kept him out of school? Refused to let him have friends or even went to anything he asked you to go to. Do you think she will forgive you for abusing her child?” 

Our child! Adrien is ours!”

And here is where you give mixed signals. Your focus is almost entirely on Emilie, only coming towards Adrien when ignoring him means you could lose him. Tell me, do you think she would allow you to even utter Adrien’s name after finding out what you did?” The voice continued to get louder as footsteps could now be heard. “Ah, and we can’t forget about everything you did as Hawkmoth. How do you think she would feel once she finds out that you did it all for her as you claim? She’s going to be sick with guilt.

Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up! You know nothing, dammit!” 

Oh, but I do,” the owner of the voice stepped closer; even despite the fog, Gabriel could see his own face staring back at him clearly. “because I am you.” 

Gabriel stood in shock. How the hell was this possible? He didn’t seem to get to voice anything as his duplicate spoke again, circling him while sneering down at him with those unusual, cold, golden eyes.

What else have you done to make you unworthy of Emilie’s time? Should we start with how you used Nathalie as an expendable pawn and manipulated her feelings for you to do your bidding? Used and manipulated two teens to do your dirty work for you? Or my personal favorite - fought against children for the sake of your desires. You know for a damn fact that those heroes aren’t even eighteen yet.

“Shut up!” Gabriel’s demand met deaf ears.

Just wait until your wife finds out how you became an emotional super-terrorist, creating monsters from humans to fight the previously mentioned children. Again, all in the name of Emilie. Because of you as Hawkmoth, you have traumatized a whole city and emotionally scarred children. You’ve weaponized their emotions.” The lookalike took a seat against something, resting an elbow on a knee while resting his chin on his hand. “I wonder what Emilie will think when she finds out that you have caused so many deaths, even if they are temporary.” He raised his hand when Gabriel tried to protest. “Don’t blame your akumas, you are the one who gave them their destructive powers. It is your fault that so many have died. You’re very lucky that Ladybug has the power to heal and revive the dead.

“I did what I had to! Sometimes sacrifices need to be made!” Gabriel’s response had his duplicate throw back his head with an almost-maniacal laugh. 

Is that what you’re going to do? Justify murder? Justify your abuse towards Adrien? I’ve noticed that you're not denying what you’ve done anymore. How interesting…

“I’m not a murder or an abuser! It was the akumas who did those things, and I was just trying to protect Adrien!”

Denying ourselves again?

“Damn you! You know nothing - nothing! You don’t know the struggle of losing a loved one!”

Is that so, despite everything I have pointed out? You’re like a child throwing a temper tantrum over losing a toy. You could have moved on and raised Adrien like a half-decent parent at least, instead you let Emilie suffer by keeping her alive. Imagine what she is going through right now because of your actions…

“Enough!” Gabriel went to throw a punch, but his weakened body faltered, causing him to fall to his knees, pain shot through him as his hand was stepped on. The duplicate seemed to stand up only to bring him more physical pain. 

You’re absolutely pathetic, and you know this. Everyone is disgusted with you - yourself included - yet you continue to act this way.

“You’re wrong… everything you’re saying is a lie!”

Sighing, Golden-Eyed Gabriel lifted his foot to kick Gabriel, forcing him to roll over. “Give it up already and just accept the truth. Keep on denying things and you’re going to regret it… consider it an Agreste promise.

“You may look like me…” Gabriel snarled, recognizing that phrase as one he used only when incredibly angry, “but you have no right to use that phrase. You are not an Agreste, never mind me!” 

He had not been expecting the laughter, it was like the maniacal laughter from earlier, but it sounded much more unhinged. His duplicate covered his face continuing to laugh.

Go on and say it again! See what happens!” The not-Gabriel goaded him, now being enveloped in a dark, threatening aura. 

“You… are not me! You will never be me!”

The dark aura engulfed the laughing lookalike; while most engulfed the other, some leaked out and almost deteriorated anything it touched. It sort of reminded Gabriel of an akuma, but in a more... lethal way. 

I am a Shadow… the true self…” An imposing figure now stood where the imposter had, the dark aura still hanging around. “You will regret your actions. Your true self demands it.” The doppelganger - this ‘Shadow’ - lashed out, grabbing Gabriel by the throat and throwing him in the air. While it wouldn’t kill him yet, it definitely injured him. “I’m going to enjoy every single minute of this...” 

Gabriel barely had time to try and catch his breath after landing as a claw seemingly grabbed him, dragging him back to the Shadow. 

His screams could be heard throughout the entire TV World. 

Upon being woken up by a scream, Marinette had instinctively expected Hawkmoth to be at it again with another akuma. Such was a testament to the effects he still had on Paris. Then she remembered the events of yesterday, which had her scrambling out of bed at the same time that Adrien and Kagami - the latter of whom had been staying over - scrambled up the stairs from the guest room. It was supposed to be Adrien’s last night, too, but the kidnapping of Gabriel had thrown a wrench in that.

Meanwhile in Inaba, Yu and company also woke up to a horrified scream. Scrambling to the source of the screaming, the seven teens stared in horror at the third body to be strangled up on the railing of an apartment building.

“Holy shit,” Daisuke mumbled to Kou in shock, “is that King Moron?”

Back in Paris, Marinette quickly transformed to find the source of the screams and exclamations of things along the line of Holy Shit, the latter which were soon growing in number. She soon wished she hadn’t.

When Chat Noir saw the body, he expected himself to feel horror and grief, and to break down crying at the sight of his father dead as a doorknob, strung up on the wires. The reality? He wasn’t sure what to feel. He just felt… numb.

“Oh, shit…” Wyvern covered his mouth when he first saw Gabriel’s corpse, fighting back the urge to gag. It took everything the normally-calm young man had to not get sick at the sight.

Hebi pulled out her device to send a message in the IT group chat, thanking whatever it was that allowed their weapons to connect to normal phones. The IT needed to know about this, and now. “Let’s get out of here,” she stated. “We’ll just get in the way of the police.” 

It took a bit of guidance but eventually all four made it to the Eiffel Tower, the meeting place of the heroes. Now away from the crime scene, it seemed safe enough for Wyvern to briefly lose his calm. Thankfully, his partners gave him the space… and a trash-can from the alley below.

A rather-unnerved Hebi pulled out her device to check to see if the IT had responded. "Yu wants to talk to us immediately. I'll go get them… should I bring their Miraculous so they can meet us here, or do you want to meet them at the bakery?"

"I… I don't know…" Ladybug closed her eyes only to open them again almost immediately. All she could see was Gabriel’s dead body. “That Donna Piuma…!”

"Let’s meet them there," Chat suggested. "We have yet to give Rise a Miraculous, so it would probably be best to have us all be at the bakery. Go on ahead, Hebi, we'll be behind you shortly. Also, can you ask Tom and Sabine to keep the shop closed? We don't want any civilians popping in while we're discussing the case."

Hebi nodded quickly and took off for the bakery, she quickly sent a text stating she’d be in Inaba shortly and if not everyone could make it to the shrine then to let her know where she should go to get the rest. By the time she returned in tow with the IT, the Miraculous Team was officially set up in Marinette’s room.

Marinette was just bringing up tea once the portal closed. 

“I figured none of us would want to eat about now, but Mama and Papa insisted on this tea. It’s supposed to calm nausea and nerves. Especially after what we saw.” 

“You guys saw the body?”

The Parisians nodded their heads, both Luka and Marinette looked a little pale.

“I don’t want to close my eyes. All I can see… Gabriel’s just hanging there… oh, god…” Marinette took a sip of the tea to calm her stomach.

“So it was Adrien’s old man who was the first… at least here, anyways. I think Senpai’s theory about that Donna chick working for the killer might be correct.” Kanji fiddled around with his tea. He itched to do something productive yet calming with his hands, but now wasn’t the time for crafting toys and the like.

“Looks like you four have to be careful with the rain and fog now,” Yosuke spoke, though it felt more like he was talking to himself. 

“Just remember that when the fog is here, things are dangerous in the TV World,” Teddie reminded the younger teens. “And when the fog is in the TV World then it is safe here.”

“Got it, we’ll keep an eye on the weather report from now on.”

“So what happens now?” Adrien asked. He looked lost, but at the same time, it seemed like a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders. This was likely due to being free of his father permanently… even if it was in the worst way possible.

“Now…” Yosuke started, “now you have to let the police do their job. We’re still investigating and now we have to worry about both Inaba and Japan. We should definitely try to look into Donna Piuma when we’re in the TV World now.”

“We also have news on our end. King Moron was killed.”

“...who?” Marinette asked Chie, the name sounded familiar as the team had said it before. “S-sorry! That was super insensitive!”

“It’s fine…” Yukiko sighed, “He’s me, Chie, Yosuke and Yu’s homeroom teacher… well, was. He was found this morning.”

“Two deaths in one day…” Yu was quiet as he steepled his fingers together. “There’s no way the killer is working alone. But I have to ask - how competent are your police? Would they be able to connect this to Inaba?”

“I doubt it,” Adrien shook his head. “If they were to learn about Inaba, they would most likely think that they were a copycat.”

“Would the Inaban police think the same thing? After all, these murders sorta started in Inaba…” Luka finally asked, still looking a little pale and sick.

“It’s possible,” Yu said with a sigh. “We used to be able to use Adachi for information, but it looks like he’s gotten a bit better at not saying stuff around us anymore. Too many reprimands from Uncle Ryotaro, most likely.” 

“So basically we’re going to be going in blind with this investigation…” Kagami sighed, “but then again, it’d be the same in Paris as we don’t really have any close connections to the police.” 

“What do we do now?” Marinette questioned. “I think you once mentioned how the shopping district opened up after the deaths of Saki and that reporter lady. Do you think it’d be the same with Gabriel’s?”

“More than likely.” Yu turned to Rise who had gotten Himiko out and had begun to scan the TV world while they were talking. 

“Okay, the area beyond the shopping district that I mentioned yesterday? That opened up!” Himiko removed the visor device before returning to Rise.

“Looks like we have our destination people! Let’s move out!” The group followed behind Chie; the team looked a little grim, Marinette and Kagami keeping close to Adrien.

The dungeon wasn’t really what Marinette was expecting but then again, with Gabriel, what did she expect really? It sort of reminded her of a shrine… or more of a temple… actually, no… it reminded her of Master Fu’s former temple that had shown up before Miracle Queen. But there was something about it, something that felt more extra.

“Be on your guard,” Yu cautioned, “no doubt there are Shadows about.”

Everyone had their weapons at the ready on Yu’s command, tense as they all scanned the corridors. Only the Parisians -  and maybe Rise - seemed to notice that every statue, every image, everything, was Emilie. Be it her civilian or even her heroine form if Marinette were to guess.

“I thought these Dungeons were about distortion, but this feels a little too on-the-money…” Plagg flew near one of the statues, scanning the material. It almost seemed to be breathing. “These almost feel lifelike… It’s kind of creepy.” 

Teddie stopped as he noticed a slight splotch that seemed to go in one direction. “Uh guys, I think we need to go this way…” Some froze and paled at the sight of the familiar color. Despite having dealt with injuries, it was possibly a different thing to see this much blood, let alone a sanguine trail. Following the trail, the team froze when they saw the destruction of the room they presumed Gabriel had died in. 

“It… it almost reminds me of Ms. Yamano’s…” Yosuke uttered in horror, unable to finish the sentence.

“Yeah, but this one feels even worse,” Chie mumbled, pretty much frozen in place. “Whoever this blood came from, it feels… fresher, if that makes any sense.”

Some of the statues looked cracked in parts of them, as if someone had been thrown against them; beams from the ceiling and a few columns seemed to be smashed, there looked to be traces of blood and torn cloth amongst the debris. There was a smashed window and the doors all looked like they were ripped off. There were even claw marks lining the floor and ceiling.

“Wait, weren’t the bodies without any injuries? I don’t remember hearing about any injuries and yet, there is blood in here.” Kanji turned to the younger three. “Did any of you notice anything?”

Marinette, Kagami and Adrien were silent as they thought back, Marinette looked a little sick as she seemed to think about it. It was Adrien who spoke up to answer the question.

“I don’t think there was, at least if there were, they may have been under his clothes.” 

“We’ll have to wait for the police report I guess, but I wonder how we’ll get a copy… I doubt they’d give one to Adrien, given how he’s still a minor.” Kagami said, though most likely she was talking to herself or thinking out loud. 

“Let’s look around for clues, but keep up your guard. We may not have run into a Shadow yet, but I have a feeling we may soon enough.”

The team dispersed and began to search around the room, looking for traces of something, anything. Even if it was small, it would be at least something.

Upon closer inspection, there was a lot more blood than they thought, slightly growing in intensity the deeper in they went. In addition to the claw marks, there looked to be signs of a possible struggle as more human scratches were found along the floor and amongst columns. Adrien had even picked up his father’s shattered glasses at one point. The teens weren’t too sure if they could give these to the police or not without accidentally implicating themselves.

“I don’t think we can use any of this evidence, anyways,” Teddie eventually said, looking down sadly. “At least we have proof Mr. Agreste was killed by his Shadow Self.”

“And violently, by the looks of it…" Chie shuddered. "Seriously, was Mrs. Yamano's this bad? It's almost like he really pissed off his Shadow Self, if that's even possible.”

“Gabriel was always a short-tempered man…” Marinette mused, “It wouldn’t surprise me if his Shadow Self followed the same pattern.”

"We should get out of here, I think it might be getting too much for some of us." Yu had noticed how Yukiko and Marinette were looking a little ill in the face, though Marinette was trying her hardest not to show it. “We have our answers, even if they were mostly unhelpful.”

The team made their way out of what they presumed was Gabriel’s Dungeon and back to safety. It had been a surprise that they hadn’t had to fight a Shadow Self or even a regular Shadow, but hey, never look a gift horse in the mouth, right? 

By the time the teens made it back to the entrance, it felt a little easier to breathe. No one had noticed how repressive the air had been in the Dungeon. 

“A sign of his true nature, I’d guess,” Kanji supposed Adrien. His answer was the form of a nod and a grim look from Adrien.

“I think that is the effect Gabriel had on people. It's kind of unexplainable, but there was an air about him that made it hard to breathe and focus in his presence.” Plagg stated in Adrien’s place; the blond looked like he didn’t want to talk at the moment.

“Let’s head back to the real world and regroup another day, you three have been through a lot mentally.”

“If it gets too much, then call us; we'll find a way to get over to you guys. We may not have the Miraculous but we still have the TV…”

“Thanks… we appreciate it.” Marinette gave the Inabans a strained yet grateful smile. 

“You guys may need to consider setting up a new TV to travel through or getting that specific TV to a new location,” Tikki advised. "It may not be wise to keep using the same public location."

“We're working on that on our end,” Yosuke promised. “So far, we're trying to figure out whose place to use or if we should set up some sort of hideout. Both have pros and cons, but we're still trying to decide which is better in the long-term.”

The answer seemed to satisfy the kwami, Tikki nodded her head before flying back to Marinette’s side. 

Before leaving, Kanji gave Marinette’s hair a gentle ruffle, stopping when the younger clung to him in a tight embrace. Shocked but instinctively, Kanji returned the hug. It was probably a good idea to give the teens some time before returning; no doubt an akuma moth would love to take advantage of the teens. 

“I'll stay behind with them,” Kanji told the rest of the Inabans, “you guys go on ahead and I’ll catch up with ya.” It might have been seen as strange for Kanji to do, but there was no doubt that it was also positive growth for the bottle blond.

“We’ll see you in a bit,” Yu nodded. “Just be careful if you leave through the TV.”

“Don’t worry if the TV doesn’t work or something - one of us will bring him back,” Kagami promised. It looked like she and Adrien were also hugging Marinette. 

With that, the rest of the Inabans went back through the TV to return home. Thankfully, the time on the TV was mostly quiet. Marinette tried to calm herself down with some of her support system, yet her mind continued to try and remind her about Gabriel’s corpse and his Dungeon. 

Had she been in shock and now everything was hitting her at once now that she couldn’t be akumatized? Possibly, at least for the moment. Marinette couldn’t really tell. 

After shedding some tears into everyone’s chests and crying her emotions out, she eventually managed to calm herself down enough that she could avoid akumas upon her return. Kagami offered to take Marinette back first as Adrien figured on waiting to see if Kanji would need an alternative way back. Luckily, it seemed that there was no issue.

By the time Adrien was pulling himself out of the TV, it was late afternoon. He heard Kagami getting off the phone with her mother by the way she was talking.

“Mother said I can stay for a few nights and has excused me from practice if I need to take the time off. Marinette didn’t want to sit around, so she’s helping Tom and Sabine cook.” Kagami studied her boyfriend carefully. “How are you holding up?”

“At the moment?” Adrien gave a shrug. “I don’t know. I’m still sort of in shock, but Kagami… I don’t really feel anything about it all… I just feel numb.”

Just then, Adrien’s phone rang. Looking at the ID, he and Kagami saw it was his Aunt Amelie. Quickly, Adrien picked it up. “Hello?”

“Adrien, if you have Ladybug’s contact, please hurry!” Amelie called frantically. “Me and Felix are fighting off more akumas from getting to your mother!”

“O-on it!” Adrien said quickly. He hung up and turned to Kagami.

“I heard it all. I’ll get Marinette and call Luka. You hurry to your family - we’ll be right behind you.” Kagami was already sending a message as she was running out the door to get Luka so they could trade their Miraculouses.

“Let’s go - Plagg, Claws Out!” Chat Noir was out of the window facing an alley; thankfully, no civilians were nearby to spot him as he jumped onto the rooftops. As promised, Wyvern, Ladybug and Kagami with the Horse and Snake Miraculous unified (Black Mamba, she called herself) were almost immediately behind him, catching up with Chat in no time and following him to the Agreste Mansion.

The heroes were ushered in by a panicked Felix, the teen pale with worry - something Chat Noir seldom saw on his cousin. They arrived just in time to see Amelie push her sister out of the way, allowing an akuma to take possession of Amelie’s ring.

“Shit…” Chat Noir growled as his aunt transformed before taking the chance to get Felix and his mother out of the room. He couldn’t stop the transformation now, but he could at least get his family to safety. At least it seemed like Donna Piuma hadn’t noticed anything… yet.

The akumatized form of Amelie had heavy, spike-tipped glove gauntlets not unlike Bullfighter. Overall, her suit had a theme fusing a rather sleek high-technology supersuit with a post-apocalyptic raider’s armor, complete with cleated army boots and skeletal face mask covering her mouth and nose. 

“While I’m trying to resist making a Mad Max reference, I’m definitely getting that kind of vibe from you.” Wyvern pulled out his sword at the ready. “So, Mme. Graham de Vanily, what are you going to call yourself before we fix up?”

“How presumptuous, thinking you’ll win so easily!” the akuma shot back. “You may call me Bad Riddance! I will take your Miraculous and resurrect Gabriel so that I may deal with him myself!”

“Yeesh…” Ladybug shuddered ever-so-slightly, before tumbling out of the way of Bad Riddance’s fist. “Another revive-an-incapacitated-person type… already getting sick of that theme. Let’s end this quickly!” 

Unfortunately, the team found out after about three quarters of an hour later that the battle would not end quickly. It didn’t help that Kagami had little experience with the Horse Miraculous, let alone both it and the Snake Miraculous.

Ladybug thought to herself, The Horse… alright, then. New plan. 

“We’ll hold Bad Riddance off. Black Mamba, can you get Clearwing and Rat Queen? Clearwing will guide you to who she is.” Ladybug dodged a swing from the akuma. “Please, hurry!”

“Understood!” With that, Black Mamba called Yu on her communicator, telling him to grab Rat Queen and Nooroo. Once the text was sent, she rushed back to the bakery to collect Mullo’s Miraculous and open a portal to Inaba’s shrine. Thankfully, Yu was just in time, running up the steps with a short-haired teen girl behind her.

“Transform and quickly join the fight,” Black Mamba ordered Yu before turning to Yumi. “I take it you are Rat Queen?”

“Yes, ma’am!” Yumi responded dutifully. “Ready to be of help!”

“Take Mullo and transform; the sooner we get there, the better,” Black Mamba nodded, handing her the familiar pendant that was the Mouse Miraculous. 

Yumi quickly gave a two-fingered salute. After transforming into Rat Queen, she followed the also-transformed Clearwing through the Voyage portal. 

“Any information on the akuma?” Clearwing asked as he, Black Mamba and Rat Queen ventured across the city’s rooftops. While he did need to stick to the shadows and find a Champion, any information would be helpful in figuring out how to counter it.

“The akuma calls herself Bad Riddance, and she’s pissed over the grief of Gabriel’s wife. The moth was going for Emilie, but her sister pushed her out of the way and was transformed instead. She’s a brawler type, and she intends to make a wish with Ladybug and Chat Noir’s Miraculouses. So far, we’ve managed to avoid Donna Piuma.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way; she did start all of this.” Clearwing turned towards Rat Queen. “Follow Black Mamba and join the fight. I need to find you guys a Champion.”

As they separated from a building adjacent to the former Agreste Mansion, Clearwing paused as he picked up on something. It felt like determination mixed with worry.

It’s your instincts guiding you, Nooroo reminded his current wielder. Remember how they lead you to Chloe? Follow your instincts - as a Moth user, they are almost never wrong when used correctly.

“Then it looks like that’s the one.” 

A blond-haired teen ran out of the Mansion and something like familiarity almost hit Clearwing. And wait, was...was he carrying a… Clearwing’s eyes narrowed at the object; yep, that was a fire poker. Surprisingly, the Moth user figured the younger teen would have gone for something a little better… he must have been grabbed at random or something.

That’s Adrien’s cousin Felix, Nooroo told him, sounds like it’s his mother who is akumatized. It looks like he’s heading in the direction of the fight. And he already has an attempt at a weapon, we can work with that.

“That so?” He could relate to protecting his mother. Clearwing opened his hand to bring forth his power, sending a moth towards the blond that dissipated into the fire poker. 

“This again?” Felix sneered angrily as the indigo mask appeared over his face. “Look, whoever you are on the other end, I’m not interested. I learned my lesson the first time.” If he wasn’t so focused on helping to save his mother, he probably would have noticed the different color and design of the mask.

“I’m not Hawkmoth, kid,” Clearwing’s voice was dry yet almost amused. “You’re worried about your mother and want to help, and for that I can give you the power you need.”

“Really? And just how do I know this isn’t a trap? Your predecessor was not only manipulative but abusive and cruel to my cousin. Besides, if there’s one thing I learned early, anything that is too good to be true usually is.”

“You’re wary, and that’s something that I can understand. It sounds like you’ve made a bad decision before in the past regarding Hawkmoth and your uncle, yet I can sense that you regret it… even if you refuse to show it. Please - the heroes need your help right now. Your mother needs you right now.”

Felix scrutinized the telepathic image of Clearwing, looking for any signs of deception or evil intent; finding none, he sighed and nodded. “What do you intend to call me?”

“How does Inspirit sound?” Clearwing asked. “For all the relations to death and grief ongoing in your family’s situation… it’s sort of a pun, like the phrase with us in spirit.”

“Thanks for the reminder,” Felix grumbled, though Clearwing could tell he wasn’t too miffed. “Don’t make me misuse my powers and I’ll accept your power, whatever-you're-called.”

“It’s Clearwing.” Felix rolled his eyes at the slightly offended tone. “Just use your powers righteously and rescind them when we’re done,” the Moth wielder said, the fact that these were the rules not lost on Felix, “That good by you?”

“Fine, do what you need to.”

With a snap of Clearwing’s fingers, the moth inside of Felix’s fire poker began to spread energy throughout Felix’s body, transforming him into a ghostly, partially-opaque lookalike of him. Granted, his body was now all tinted a faint blue, and his eyes were obscured by a domino mask, but it was rather close otherwise. The fire poker became what looked like a magical scepter.

“Your power rests within that fire poker, use that every time you want to become intangible or fire energy blasts.” Clearwing instructed as Inspirit inspected the now transformed item. “You can put it on your back when you're not using it; I gave you a strap for that. That said, you must wait a few minutes to recharge each change of tangibility, with five uses at a time tops.” Hearing the slight grumbling, Clearwing couldn’t help his defensive retort. “Hey, this is only my second time using this Miraculous. I’m still a novice to these powers, so I’m bound to have some weaknesses.”

Inspirit rolled his eyes and slid the scepter onto the strap. “Just tell me where to go.”

“I was told they were fighting near the Eiffel Tower, but they may have moved. Just follow the crashing sounds; I’ll be right behind you.”

Inspirit jumped to the nearest roof before taking off; if there was one thing he could admit to actually liking about this, it was the speed and better endurance granted to him. 

Hm? He glanced back, but saw nothing; even so, he could sense another person following him nearby in the shadows. Guess this Clearwing character wasn’t lying. Inspirit would have joined the fight, but he had to stop and dodge as a heroine he hadn’t seen before was thrown in his direction. The following figure that followed quickly behind… It must be Mother, he noted.

“I guess Mother’s a fighter… I’m honestly not too surprised.” He pulled out his scepter and prepared himself. “Five uses, with a waiting time between each use. Best to make them count…” Taking cover nearby, Inspirit shot out a blast of energy from his staff, striking Bad Riddance in the back. It didn’t hurt her all that much, but it got her to lay off of the heroine she was chasing, allowing the heroine enough time to pull back and recover.

“Thanks, Champion!” Rat Queen called up to Inspirit. “I’m Rat Queen - what should I call you?”

“...Inspirit,” Inspirit responded. “Where’s the akuma?”

“The ring on her hand!” Chat called from behind Bad Riddance, Ladybug, Wyvern and Hebi (who had returned Kaalki to the Miracle Box) not far behind him. 

“And sadly, we have been on the defense to the point where we can’t even grab it,” Rat Queen sighed. “That scepter do more than shoot beams?”

“Yes, but it has a cooldown period,” Inspirit answered. “I think if you guys distract her, I can grab the ring.”

“Give a signal when you’re ready, we’ll try and get you an opening.” With that, the heroine jumped into the fray, trying to help the others hold Bad Riddance. 

Once Inspirit gave the signal, Rat Queen used Multitude to create smaller copies, latching onto Bad Riddance and preventing her from moving her limbs. The others seemed to take the hint, they had tried this before but with Inspirit, perhaps they would have better luck. Ladybug used her yo-yo to wrap around one of the akuma’s arms, gritting her teeth as she was starting to get dragged, she had to lock her legs just to try and stay put. Hebi came over to aid her, helping by pulling on the string as well.

Both Chat and Wyvern attempted to help with their weapons, but it was more like they were attempting to keep Bad Riddance from removing Ladybug’s yo-yo and the copied Rat Queens. Inspirit used this time to turn intangible and dashed past Bad Riddance, turning only his hand tangible midway and snatching the ring from his akumatized mother’s finger.

With the ring secure from his mother, he chucked it to Chat Noir, who broke from Bad Riddance to Cataclysm it. Ladybug took the opportunity to snatch the akuma up and toss her Lucky Charm - a small hand mirror - into the air, the customary loveliness fixing up the city’s damage and reverting Bad Riddance back to Amelie.

“What happened?” Amelie mumbled, before shooting up as Rat Queen and Ladybug let her go. “I was trying to keep the akuma away from Emilie and… oh, sweet heavens, I was akumatized instead, wasn’t I?”

“That’s correct, sadly. We don’t fault you for protecting your sister.” Inspirit patted his mother’s shoulder. He was never good at comforting and he was a little afraid too many words might reveal who he was. After all, his mother knew all of his quirks.

This time, Ladybug - or rather Lady Mare - was the one to take Rat Queen and Clearwing back. Once Lady Mare had gotten Mullo back, and Yumi was already walking out of sight, Clearwing detransformed. Yu decidedly had noticed the exhausted look in her blue eyes. 

“Swing by and stay in Inaba tomorrow. You guys have been through too much today, so why not just take a day for yourselves?”

Lady Mare studied the older teen quietly before nodding her head. It sounded nice to have a break after the shitty day with Gabriel’s death, finding his Dungeon and having to deal with an Akuma. 

“I’ll take you up on that offer, expect the four of us tomorrow. I’ll let you know when we’re on our way with Kaalki.” She’d have to let the others know but she had a feeling they’d all easily agree to this. “Is it okay if I check in and talk with Nanako? I can tell her that I was sent by the Guardian to keep my identity secret, or if you think it’s better, I’ll talk to her as the Guardian. You mentioned how she’s smart for her age, so the truth might be better.”

Yu nodded and gave Lady Mare’s hair an affectionate ruffle. “Take care of yourselves and we’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Actually, before you go…” 

“Hm? What is it?”

“Why did you give Felix a ghostly theme as a Champion? He never struck me as that type.”

“From what I picked up, Felix has his own pain he’s going through, not too unlike that of Adrien now.”

“You think so?”

“I presume he’s lashed out at you or something?”

“Well… yeah…” Memories from Felix’s first visit came to mind. “He also may have done a few… other unpleasant things as well.”

“Gabriel did the same, in a way, didn’t he?”

Mon Dieu, you’re right… oh, god, what happened to Felix?”

“Worry about that some other day, Marinette. For now, you should get some sleep for the trip tomorrow.”

“Thanks… I’ll see you and Nooroo then!” Lady Mare gave a wave to the kwami before slipping back into the portal. After detransforming herself, Marinette told her partners about the plans for the next day. Luka would be staying the night, which would thankfully make things easier. The four decided to turn in extra early so they could head over to Inaba early, so Marinette took the time to let her parents know of the plan before heading out.

“I’ll be just a half-hour at the most then I’ll go to bed,” Marinette promised her worried parents and partners. “I just need to go check on someone.” With that, she was out the door and making her way to the Agreste Mansion. It took a bit to lose the three shadowing her, but she knew it was only because they were worried about her. Surprisingly, she found her target outside of the Mansion, sitting on a small boxed garden outside of the Mansion’s walls. Wordlessly, she took a seat next to him, unsurprised that he noticed her right away.

“What do you want?” Felix’s voice sounded emotionally strained and sounded a bit drained.

“Just checking in on you.” The words easily fell off her tongue.

Felix was silent for a moment before lifting his head up, turning towards Marinette with a look of suspicion. “Why?” It was one word, but it felt like there were multiple questions with that one simple word.

“I was asked to.”

There was an annoyed scoff from the British boy. “By who?”

“Ladybug, believe it or not.”

“Oh, please. Spare me your lies.”

“Do you really want to stay on her bad side or something?” Marinette’s question had Felix looking down with a scowl. “Look, she told me that she was worried about you and wanted me to check in on you. Your mother was just akumatized, your uncle is dead and your aunt is having to deal with all of the backlash from learning her husband was a terrorist as well as an abuser.” Marinette sighed to herself and pinched the bridge of her nose. This was getting nowhere, but she had taken Yu’s advice. “There was also someone else who wanted to check in on you and had asked Ladybug to check in on it. I was told you would know who.

While she knew obviously that it was Clearwing, she still had to play the part of not knowing. 

“Felix, you’re going through a hard time even if you don’t exactly show it, and it seems like others are picking up on it. You don’t have to talk now, but you should talk to someone soon. If not me, maybe Adrien, maybe your mother, hell, it could probably be some rando on the street. I just wanted to let you know that you shouldn’t keep things bottled up and there are people who are willing to help you if you give them the chance.”

Hearing rustling above had Marinette looking up in the trees; even if she didn’t see anything, she knew the other three had finally caught up. Looks like her time was up, yet she didn’t get up from her spot.

“Why are you trying to help me?” Felix’s voice almost sounded broken, like his cold, hard shell was starting to crack or melt. “Why bother with the guy who you’ve shown such dislike for in the past?”

“Because no one deserves to be alone when they are hurting. Whatever’s going on with you - I don’t know what, and you don’t have to tell me - but you shouldn’t hold those emotions in.” Marinette leaned over to place a comforting hand on Felix’s shoulder and gave a squeeze. “Bottling things up just makes things worse in the long run.” This was something she knew firsthand from past experience.

“...loathe as I am to admit it, you are right. If you wouldn’t mind talking with me about it at some point later…”

“Now not good?”

“You… you do know it’s almost 10 P.M., right?”

“…” Well, shoot… looks like time had slipped between her fingers again.

Felix let out the first laugh she’d ever heard from him that wasn’t condescending or maliciously directed at her. It actually felt nice to see this side of Adrien’s cousin. 

“I should be heading in now. I’m sure Mother may be wondering where I am if she managed to sneak away from Aunt Emelie.” Felix stood while dusting off his slacks. “It was interesting listening to you, Miss Dupain-Cheng. You’ve given me some things to think about.”

Before he closed the door on Marinette for the night, he turned to Marinette and said, “Perhaps we can actually become friends after all.”

You are starting to break through Felix’s walls…

Rebirth Rank 3!

Once the door closed, Marinette had her hands on her hips and glanced up at the trees. “I know you three are up there. Come on down.”

There were multiple flashes in the leaves before three civilian teens jumped down from the branches, each one varying expressions from sheepish (Adrien) to cheeky (Luka) to concerned (Kagami). 

Sighing with amusement, Marinette shook her head. “I’m not gonna ask how you guys even got up there. Let’s just go home…”

“What can I say other than cats are natural climbers?” Adrien stated as he linked arms with Marinette. Kagami and Luka looked to be doing a quick game of rock-paper-scissors for Marinette’s other side. Judging by Luka’s pout, Kagami won.

“Don’t worry Luka, there’s tomorrow.” Marinette gave her other boyfriend a smile as he took Adrien’s hand instead. “I’m beat, I can’t wait to sleep…”

Earlier that day, elsewhere in Paris…

Lila could only stare at her TV in shock as the news went on about Gabriel’s death. How was he dead when she had thrown him into the TV just the previous day? Shouldn’t he still be alive but inside the TV portal thing? The teenager stared at her own TV before her shocked look morphed into a crazed smirk.

“So when people go into the TV, only their bodies return? This is absolutely perfect! I can get rid of the worthless nobodies who stand in my way!” Her crazed laughter became maniacal as part of her sanity seemed to slip away. “I think I’ll use this to get rid of Ladybug and her pack of pests…” The laughter may have died down for now, but the smirk never left. “Now, how to get them in there…?”

Accidentally changing the channel, she saw it was tuned to a press confidence Andre Bourgeois was giving. She grew enraged and affronted as the mayor declared Donna Piuma a terrorist and murderer - Paris’ Public Enemy Numéro Un.

Turning the TV off, she mumbled, “On second thought… perhaps Paris needs a new and better mayor.”

Poor little Duusu hid as Lila began to move about her room, gathering items. Whatever she was plotting, it was something big.

Chapter Text

Despite the busy and emotional day before, Marinette found herself waking up just after five in the morning. Her body should have felt lethargic at being up this early, yet it wasn’t. 

Perhaps it was due to the chance to see where her friends lived, or perhaps it was being able to escape after the living nightmare of discovering Gabriel’s body. Maybe it was just having the chance to be a teenager and not worry about evil moths or controlling her emotions. 

No matter the reason, Marinette was grateful for this day. 

Since she had time before her alarm would have gone off, Marinette slipped out of her bed and tiptoed past a still-sleeping Kagami, planning to head down to the kitchen and make breakfast. She also intended to bring some treats for her friends when they headed to Inaba.

As she started breakfast, Marinette heard her parents down in the bakery. Thankfully the business was slowly picking back up, even if it was currently at a crawling speed. She planned on getting something for her parents while in Inaba, even if it was a bookmark or small charm.

Hm… maybe she could pick up some fabric and make something as well? Kanji mentioned something about living in a textile shop, so there was that possibility to consider. And she had to make a stop by to talk to Nanako; perhaps she could say that the ‘Guardian’ sent her and use Kaalki as proof. 

Hearing footsteps behind her had Marinette glancing back only to meet a headful of blue hair. Luka was up; surprisingly, he’d even preceded Kagami in getting up, who had been Marinette’s guess on who would come out first.

“Morning…” Luka honestly sounded like her when she first got up, which was another surprise. Marinette always figured Luka to be a morning person. 

“Morning to you too. Want coffee?” She gestured to the coffee pot that still had coffee waiting in it. Luka pulled away only to make a beeline for the coffee. “Any preference, or…” She was cut off as Luka downed an extra large cup of plain black joe in pretty much one go before he shook his head. Marinette noticed how Luka’s eyes were a bit more awake while he took his time on a second cup. 

“Preference for what?” Luka took a glance over the counters. “Making omelettes?” 

“Yep, figured it would be a nice change.”

“I’ll go with a Buddhist omelette, then. Need help?”

“Buddhist omelette?”

“Make me one with everything.”

Marinette laughed lightly at Luka’s joke. She wasn’t much for puns, but she appreciated most forms of humor and wordplay. “I’m pretty sure Adrien would have loved to hear that; you should totally use that later.”

The two made conversation as they made and ate their omelettes, Kagami and Adrien eventually joining in after they’d woken up and all that. 

Just a little after seven, the quartet was stepping through the Voyage portal where the IT was waiting for them. Along with the Shrine Fox they had seen in the TV world, just as the portal closed, Marinette heard Trixx’s excited gasp; no doubt they were disappointed that the portal closed before they could enter. 

“Good to see you all again,” Yu greeted. “Before we begin your tour of Inaba, there’s something we ought to give you.” He pulled out four rather large wads of cash and passed them over to the Parisians. It looked like the Inabans could barely hold their smiles at the shocked expressions on the younger teens’ faces.

Marinette, Adrien, Kagami and Luka stared at the Japanese currency that they were given, all of their eyes widening at the amount. While it was probably nothing major to Kagami and Adrien, it was definitely something to Marinette and Luka.

“How… how much is this?” Luka thumbed through the bills. He may not have understood how much was in his hands, but something told him that it was a lot.

“Around one hundred thousand yen, or close to nine hundred euros,” Rise hummed as she tapped her cheek, thinking back to how much they had split.

“That’s your part of the treasure that we’ve made from the dungeons,” Teddie chirped with a smile. “We know you want to use a lot of it towards the bakery but that’s about twenty percent of your share that you can use for now. We figured you guys would want to spend some money here so Yu suggested how it would be safer this way instead of using your cards.”

“Thank you for this, even though I’m not helping you in the TV World or whatever it is,” Luka scratched the back of his head before muttering, “I honestly feel a little bad for taking this…” 

“You’re part of the team even if you haven’t been in the TV World with us, and you’re still a major part of being the Miraculous Team. You deserve this just as much!” Yosuke grinned, lightly clapping the technical kouhai on the shoulder. “So where too first?”

“I kind of want to take Marinette somewhere first,” Kanji requested, “We’ll catch up in a bit, promise!”

“No problem at all,” Chie waved away the concern. “We can show them a few nearby stores while we wait. Thanks to Nooroo and Nanako, we have Yu’s uncle’s schedule, so we can avoid him and any questioning he would give us. How Nooroo got that information without getting caught, I’ll admit that I don’t know.”

“We’ll see you guys in a bit, then,” Rise waved to the two as the rest began to walk away. The three other Parisians gave Marinette a quick see you later kiss on her cheeks before following after the Inabans.

Marinette trailed behind Kanji into a shop nearby the shrine, instantly marveling over the fabrics while moving closer to inspect a few pieces of clothing. She noticed that when she looked over a certain scarf, Kanji seemed to get a strange, almost- pained look. She’d been about to ask what was wrong when an elderly woman stepped into the shop from a doorway. The younger teen froze up as she was all but dragged to the front by a beaming Kanji.

“Ma, this is Marinette! She’s the one I’ve been telling you all about; she’s an aspiring fashion designer and unofficially adopted me as her older brother!” 

Marinette blushed at the bottle-blond’s words. Boy, did she want to hide right now; he sounded so earnest!

“H-hello, Tatsumi-san. It’s a pleasure to meet you!” Marinette bowed as she continued to blush and mentally thank Kagami for the lessons and all the studying she’d done on her own. The teen seemed to freeze as the older lady began to circle around, studying her before smiling. 

“Kanji! Get me my measuring tape!” The words had Marinette tilting her head in confusion. “If we’re doing this, then I want accurate measurements.”


“Oh, don’t mind me, really.” Kanon Tatsumi stated as Kanji handed over a roll of tape and a notepad. “Kanji is paying for this with his allowance even though I told him not to. He asked me to make a kimono a few days ago for one of his friends.” She spoke while casually getting Marinette’s measurements, the younger designer not even fully realizing what was going on until she was done. Marinette could only marvel at how fast and skilled the elder Tatsumi was. 

“He also mentioned how you might want to learn from me at the same time. I’ll be more than happy to teach you some techniques that you can apply for your own designs.” Kanon smiled as she set down the tape measure. “I want you to know, though, that this kimono will be a gift and the design will be a surprise. So please be patient.” 

Surprised and still a bit in shock at how fast the measuring had been, Marinette could only nod dumbfoundedly. 

“Let’s get a look here… good bone structure, yet a bit on the skinny side...” Once again, the older lady circled her before nodding once more. “I do believe I have a few fabrics that will suit you well. Kanji, I’ll want your input later.”

“Can do, Ma!”

Marinette covered her cheeks; the two both sounded so happy and proud. It felt like she’d been all but adopted by Kanji’s mother, just as he had been by her own parents. It was honestly a little overwhelming.

“I’ll have Kanji get you once this is ready,” Kanon gave a warm smile. “I noticed you were browsing before I came in. Is there anything you were interested in?”

“Yes, but as much as I’d love to talk fashion with you,” Marinette said in her best Japanese, “I’m visiting with friends, and I’d rather not keep them waiting too long. Is it possible I could come back later or something? I’ll make any purchases before I leave today.”

“Not a problem, dearie. After all, I would like to get to know the one Kanji has taken such a shine to as a younger sister.” 

“It’s not like that, Ma!” Kanji called from the workroom. “I feel like this is revenge for all those sibling comments I made as a kid!”

Kanon gave a slight chuckle and leaned forward to stage-whisper to Marinette, “He’s a bit awkward around kids his age, but he always wanted to be an older brother in the past…” 

Marinette couldn’t help but giggle at that. 

“Okay, that’s enough with you two. I knew you two would get along if you met, but… ugh. We’re going now before she starts telling childhood stories!” A blushing Kanji began guiding Marinette out of the store. “We’ll be back later, Ma!”

“It was nice meeting you, Tatsumi-san!” Marinette managed to get out before the two ended up back outside. Kanon only waved amusedly, if her smile was anything to go by.

“You two got along a little too well…” Kanji muttered while scrubbing at his face. He pulled out his phone to see if there were any text messages. “Looks like everyone is waiting at Kujikawa-san's tofu shop. It’s not that far from here, so we should prolly head on over now.”

“Sure, you can point out some shops along the way.” Even though a lot of the shops looked empty, there looked to be a few shops that were still open. 

“No problem, let’s go.”

The two made their way to the tofu shop Rin Kujikawa owned, with Kanji pointing out a few of the shops that were still open. They passed a bulletin board where a poster briefly caught Marinette’s eyes but they had to continue on before she could question why she was getting a strange feeling from that particular poster. Her nose caught the scent of food from what looked like a noodle shop not too far past, piquing her curiosity; she mentally filed that away for a later visit.

By the time the two caught up with the rest, it looked like Kagami, Adrien and Luka each were sampling a few different types of tofu. Spotting Marinette, Kagami offered the last piece on the small dish.

“Give this a try,” she said. “I don’t remember ever having these types of tofu before, but they’re good!” Marinette spotted the bag by Kagami’s feet as she took a bite and gestured towards the bag. “Oh, these? I figured these would help you guys out for October. I got you each the same few books; you’re all doing well, so these are more advanced to help. I’ll give them to you guys when we get back.”

“Alright, where to next? We’ve been here for just a little over half an hour so it’s still early.”

“We figured we’d show you guys the park area at the Samegawa Floodbank,” Yosuke said as he and the rest of the Inabans exited the tofu shop. “The view is pretty good there, and according to Yu, Nanako still isn’t home yet, so we figured on waiting for that until we’re closer to the end of your trip.”

“Actually, I had a better thought and wanted to ask if you guys would like to stay for dinner - though it may be more lunch for you guys given the time difference - as Uncle won’t be around for dinner. I’d say it would be safer to talk then with Nanako.”

Marinette glanced around at her partners who all nodded their ascent. “Sure, we can play it off and say that all of us have been sent by the Guardian. Kaalki is going to be our proof, but if you think we should use all or at least some of our kwamis as well, we can do that, too.”

“You’re the Guardian,” Rise shrugged, “it’s your call.”

“I know, but I want the input of my fellow Guardians…” Marinette rubbed her upper arm as she continued on, “Plus, you’re all older, so you have a bit more life experience than we do. Your input can be just as helpful, too.”

“Hm, for that...” Yukiko mused out loud, “Adrien has been outed as a Dragon Miraculous user, which made national television; perhaps you should have him use Longg. I remember hearing a segment when I was at the inn, although I didn’t see it.”

“That could work, that way the other two are safe,” Adrien nodded as he swapped the Black Cat Ring with Luka’s Dragon Choker. “If asked, we could say we’re all assistants or something, but we’ll use Kaalki and Longg. I’m sure Nooroo won’t say anything about sensing the other kwamis…”

“Oh, come on! You’re leaving me out of food?!” Plagg was heard complaining from Adrien’s bag; thankfully, no one was around to hear. “Besides, you all talk about how sweet this Nanako girl is, so I want to meet this other ‘sunshine child’!”

Blushing slightly, Adrien pulled out his kwami, giving him an almost unimpressed look. “Since when did you show so much interest in anything but your camembert?” 

Plagg merely hmphed and looked away from his Chosen, choosing to ignore the question. Kagami and Marinette both sighed, while Luka slightly snorted in amusement.

“We’ll figure out more as we walk,” Marinette suggested, “For now, let’s just explore around. I want to see what else is in Inaba!”

“Oh, I know! Let’s take them to Daidara’s place!” Chie suggested cheerily. “I think they’ll get a kick out of all the cool stuff in there!” 

The group hadn’t made all of two steps in the direction of this Daidara’s place when a voice called out, “Oh, Narukami! I was looking for you!”

“Great…” Yosuke groaned, “here comes the fun police…”

Tohru Adachi came running up to the group, slightly out-of-breath from him catching up to them. “Narukami, Dojima told me to tell you that he can’t make dinner today- huh? Who are these guys?”

“Just friends from out of town, Adachi-san,” Yu said coolly. “Is that all you needed to tell me? I already knew that he’d be busy.”

“Wait… Adachi…?” Marinette suddenly recalled a conversation they’d had before. “ he the gopher guy who likes cabbage a little too much that you’ve mentioned?”

“Gopher?!” The detective turned to Yu with a look of something akin to betrayal. “What are you telling people?!” 

“Nothing of importance, don’t worry,” Yu said. “I have better discretional skills than you might think, Adachi.”

Marinette felt like that was a discrete jab; by the looks of everyone else, they were all thinking the same thing. She was sure she could hear Plagg snickering from Adrien’s shirt pocket.

“Well, I guess my job is done… all of you kids enjoy Inaba. It’s small and… well, mostly uneventful, but it’s nice enough.”

The four Parisians each nodded and thanked the detective before he left. It was once he was out of sight that Tikki emerged from Marinette’s purse, still keeping out of sight as the group began to walk.
“Something is off with that guy,” she whispered to Marinette, “I can’t fully tell what, but something set off an alarm.”

“Really? He seemed nice,” she muttered to her kwami. 

“It might be a wise idea to see if Nooroo can keep an ear or eye out on things,” Tikki suggested, “he was always stronger at sensing things. I know he needs to heal, but I think he’d be upset at himself if there was something he could have prevented but didn’t.”

Marinette nodded her head. “I’ll ask him privately later on.” 

For now, the two decided to return to the moment at hand and enjoy themselves.

The group entered a shop and the Parisians were met with a wave of heat that they were not used to. In spite of this, it wasn’t overbearing, instead almost being welcoming.

“Welcome to my shop! Take a look around.” greeted Daidara, the eponymous owner.

“Wait… you’re the guy who made my scythe?”

“Yup!” Yosuke laughed. “He’s basically outfitted all of us!”

It was a good idea to update their weapons, anyways. While they did that, the Parisians looked into getting some other stuff, too. Kagami and Adrien put in special orders that would take time, as they were requesting specially-designed weapons. Marinette and Luka were done with their purchases in less time, where Luka’s got him a few questionable looks.

“It’s for Mom.” Short and sweet, yet slightly cryptic. While the answer was enough for the Parisians who understood, it still got a few raised eyebrows from the Inabans.

“You’ll understand once you meet Anarka,” Marinette shrugged. “I’m pretty sure she’d be interested in meeting you guys, anyways.”

Eventually, they made their purchases, and as it was beginning to get late in Inaba, Marinette hurried over to Tatsumi Textiles to get her own items. After she’d done just that and said her goodbyes to Kanon, Marinette and the others began making their way to the Dojima residence.

On their way to the residence, however, a rather deep, rough voice murmured, “Fascinating…”

Turning to the voice, the group saw a young boy their age in blue.

“Oh, it’s you again,” Chie grumbled. “What do you want, Naoto?”

“Hm?” The almost-hostile (or perhaps annoyed?) tone in Chie’s voice had Marinette, Kagami and Adrien looking at the Inabans for answers.

“Marinette, Adrien, Kagami, allow me to introduce you to Naoto Shirogane, the police’s prodigy,” Yosuke introduced, “who seems to be suspecting us of all the murders.” 

“Really? You guys?” Luka glanced around the Inabans. “I can’t see it.”

“I don’t suspect you as the murderers,” Naoto said in a calm tone Marinette could only guess was the usual for him. “If I did, I don’t anymore… though I do think all of you have some role in the case.”

“Well, Rise, Kanji and Yukiko make sense,” Marinette responded. “But would you care to explain us four, Yu, Yosuke, Teddie and Chie? The seven of us have never gone missing, so…”

“Perhaps not to my knowledge,” Naoto admitted, “and it is true that I have never met the four of you. I have to say, though… it is a bit suspicious to see the son of Gabriel Agreste here in Inaba, especially after yesterday.”

“How is that suspicious?” Adrien asked slowly, taking more time to understand and properly give a response. “I heard about the murders happening here and connected them to the way Fa… Gabriel died. As much as I’m not too eager to deal with matters regarding him…”

Marinette filed the implication that Adrien was better off without Gabriel away for later.

“...I may as well see what I can do, right?”

“Gabriel Agreste ended up like Morooka, Konishi and Yamano? Peculiar… well, you’ve given me a lot to ponder. I would assume you all have business, so I won’t bother you anymore. Have a good day.”

With that, Naoto walked off in the direction the group had come from. 

Once he was sure Naoto was far away enough, Plagg slid out enough to watch his retreating back. “Well, isn’t he a stick in the mud. I’m getting strong Kagami vibes…”

When Kagami gave him a look, the Black Cat kwami amended, “Well, before she became friends with the kid and Pigtails.”

“ that a compliment or an insult?” Teddie asked.

“Knowing Plagg, both.” Adrien sighed and pushed his kwami back in his shirt. “Don’t mind him. Though he does have a point; I kind of felt like that guy and Kagami could have been distant cousins. I think they had a similar aura or something.” Noting the looks he was getting, Adrien pouted slightly. “What? I’ve been practicing reading auras to help with being a Guardian. Figured it would be useful. Anyways, his hair is sorta similar in shade to Kagami’s!”

Luka walked over to sling an arm over Adrien’s shoulder. “I could see the possible connections you’re making, Adrien. Besides, I can see things in this Naoto guy, too. His music seemed… conflicted over something; I couldn’t tell you what kind or anything, but I think he’s putting up some sort of front.”

“Well, just about everyone has some internal problem or another, right?” Teddie pointed out as they entered the suburban area where the Dojimas lived. 

Marinette spotted the garden next to what must’ve been the Dojimas’ place, with familiar-looking handwriting on a sign. “I like the garden. I take it this is our stop?”

“Yeah,” Yu nodded. “Nanako had to plant seeds as a school project, and it sort of grew into our own personal project afterwards.”

“Oh, so then is that where you guys get the vegetables from?” Kanji asked. “That makes sense now… who woulda thought they’d have an effect like that in the TV World?”

“I’m sure Nooroo would love that,” Marinette smiled. “We saw a garden in the Agreste mansion, but it didn’t look like it was being used for gardening. You could probably sneak him out at night to help, if you want to.”

“Nanako would love that. The garden is a way that we bond, though we aren’t usually able to during the rare nights when Uncle Ryotaro is home.”

Marinette smiled at that and followed the group inside the house. As she entered, she saw a familiar streak of lavender fly to hide. Nanako’s eyes lit up at seeing the Inabans but seemed to almost shy away, when she spotted the Parisians. 

“Nanako, these are my friends: Marinette, Kagami, Luka and Adrien. They were sent by the Guardian, who protects Nooroo and his kind.”

“The Guardian?” Nooroo peaked out at hearing Nanako’s question who was looking at the four with confused eyes.

“That’s right,” Marinette stepped forward, giving her best smile to the child. “We work to protect the Miraculouses and their kwamis from those who would misuse them.”

“Oh, it’s you guys!” The kwami breathed a sigh of relief as he flew out of hiding; the other kwamis took this as a sign and flew out of their own hiding spots. Seeing the various kwamis seemed to make Nanako’s face light up as she stared with wonder at the various looking ‘fairies.’

Plagg seemed to be the first to approach, surprisingly eager to meet Nanako. This was a rather huge surprise to both Marinette and Adrien, as it felt a little out-of-character. 

“Let’s see here…” Plagg flew around Nanako as if inspecting for anything negative, ignoring the protective stare from Yu before settling against Nanako’s shoulder to nuzzle her cheek. “I like her! You were right on her being another Sunshine Child!”

Adrien felt his eyebrow twitch at his kwami’s fickleness; one minute he acted almost aloof, another he acted spoiled, and now he was acting like the most lovable being in the world. Plagg was truly a handful when he wanted to be.

“Well, with that out of the way…” Marinette stared at the purring kwami who continued to nuzzle Nanako’s cheek. “Nanako, do you want to feed him cheese while we talk? Cheese is his favorite food.”

“It’s not fish?”

“Nope, Plagg likes cheese in all forms… well, except processed. The fancier the cheese, the more he likes it.” 

“To be honest, it’s more of the agedness that I like…” Plagg admitted.

“In other words, the smellier the better.” Luka’s comment had the Black Cat glaring at the smirking teen.

Nanako shifted her gaze to Yu, indirectly asking for permission. At Yu’s nod, she too gave a nod. “Sure, I’ll feed him.”

“I’ll start on dinner while you guys talk,” Yu handed over a small bit of cheese with a label that Marinette could not fully read to Nanako. 

“Thank you for having us, and I’m sorry for intruding on you like this.”

“Not really a problem,” Yu smiled softly. “Nanako enjoys having guests over, and I care about her happiness and safety.” 

Once Yu turned away to head for the kitchen, Marinette sighed. She thought she had been prepared for this but it was like all thoughts had left her head. Now she couldn’t remember how she had wanted to approach this. 

“Is my big brother a superhero?” Nanako’s voice snapped her out of her thoughts. Marinette looked to her fellow Guardians for reassurance, and found it in their smiles.

“Something like that,” she eventually said. “You understand you can’t and shouldn’t tell anyone , right? It puts him in big danger if anyone finds out.”

Nanako eagerly and determinedly nodded her head. “I don’t want to get my big bro hurt… I will keep this a secret from everyone.”

“Especially your dad,” Kagami spoke up, “he can’t know, either.” 

“I know it’s a lot of us to ask you this, but this is also for your protection as well,” Adrien piped up. “Someone could try to use you to hurt your brother.” 

“Yeah…” Nanako whispered softly. “I get it!”

“Then we place our trust in you, Nanako,” Luka nodded.

"Thank you very much!"

"The Guardian wants updates on Nooroo, and I have a feeling that you'll be the one who will help him the most. Can you send updates on his progress?" Marinette would figure out a way to contact Nanako at a later time. "We'll let your brother know how once the Guardian lets us know."

"Sure! Leave it to me!"


Time seemed to pass as the group talked and helped out with dinner. Nanako had learned that each of the teens - minus Rise and Teddie so far - had been chosen by the Guardian at some point. She had also learned about some of the various kwamis and their powers, or at least the ones in her house currently.  Despite being young, she also had picked up on the subtle comments about Nooroo being severely mistreated by Adrien's father, which had surprised her. 

Nanako had learned that Tikki and Plagg were connected, like Yin and Yang, and were completely balanced. Luka had talked about heart-songs and stated that hers was strong and sweet (he hadn’t stated anything about the undertones of grief he’d heard, though), he called it something but she fully couldn't remember.

By nine, Nanako had fallen asleep against her brother, a sign that they should all head home.

"We'll see you guys soon; once again, thanks for inviting us over. We needed today."

"No problem, feel free to come back again!" Chie waved before heading out the door with Yukiko.

"Or call us if you ever need our help! I really want to try using one of those Miraculouses myself!" Rise had a slight pout, but her eyes - while patient enough for Marinette to know she wasn’t over-expectant - were eager for the chance. 

"We will, I already have an idea on who will be a good pairing with you."

"If it's who I think it is, M'Lady, I think it’ll be very interesting."

“Now I'm really curious, but I'll wait. Hope to see you guys again soon, but hopefully on more positive interactions instead of dangerous ones.” Rise gave a quick wave before heading out. Kanji had offered to take the former idol home, his rough attitude and punk looks deterring any fans or paparazzi. 

Marinette managed a see you later to her brotherly figure before the door closed.

"You can use my room for the Voyage portal," Yu offered as he picked up a sleeping Nanako. "That way you don't have to head back to the Shrine to head home."

"Thank you, we appreciate it." It was probably a good idea as not only was it late in Inaba, but carrying their stuff might be burdensome. The four Parisians said their goodbyes to Nooroo, Yu, Yosuke and Teddie (the latter two were staying the night) before heading upstairs to the room under Yu's direction. 

The Inabans have given you a good, relaxing time to take your mind off of everything… 

Completion Rank 7!

As they stepped through the portal, they felt some mental whiplash as they went from night to afternoon. 

"We should see if we could stay the night some time," Kagami stated as she returned Kaalki's Miraculous back to the Miracle Box. "These breaks are rather nice."

"Well, we'll have that chance in October," Marinette gave her girlfriend a smile. "I know you'll kick ass in the tournament!"

"You know it!" Adrien cheered as he and Luka switched back their Miraculouses. "Our Kagami is one strong swordsman! …Swordswoman? Oh, you guys know what I mean!"

The compliments had Kagami smiling with pride. “Thanks, you two! I'll train hard for you!”

Luka lifted up the fireworks and smaller bags. "I should get going. I promised Juleka an evening practice; she and Rose saw a few posters for competitions, and they wanted to get some practice in." Luka pressed a kiss to Marinette’s cheek and gave both Kagami and Adrien a one-armed hug as the fireworks took up the other hand. "Thanks again for today, it was fun. I'm gonna give Mom her gift before practice."

"You realize M. Raincomprix is going to hate her even more now."

"Yeah, but she'll love it. You know how much she loves stirring up chaos."

"True, true. Have fun with the fireworks!"

Luka headed down the stairs and out of the three's sight. It was still early now that they were back in Paris, and Marinette wanted to use some of the fabric she had gotten to make something for her parents. She headed up to her room, but offered Kagami and Adrien to hang out there if they wanted while she worked. The two politely declined for now; Adrien wanted to talk to his mother as well as give her gifts to her, and Kagami was going to help sneak him over as various reporters seemed to be on the hunt for him. If she was still working when they came back, then maybe they'd take her up on that offer.

Marinette pulled out the swatches and her design sketchbook. She really hadn't gotten enough for any full outfits, but maybe aprons or scarves… on second thought, maybe not scarves - she could still remember the haunted look on Kanji’s face.

Getting to work, she sketched out simple aprons and jotted down her parents’ measurements. Since she was familiar with her parents, it took almost no time at all and there was still plenty of fabric left over. Something told her to package up the aprons for her parents, but she wasn’t sure why.  Perhaps it was a special occasion or because she rarely packaged up non-birthday/holiday gifts for her parents.

Still in the mood to work, Marinette looked down at her sketchbook then her tape measure. 

"Hmmm… Tikki, how would you and the rest of the kwamis want some sort of outfit?" It would be a challenge given the smaller size, but hey, she was always up to challenge herself. 

By the time Adrien and Kagami had returned, they saw Marinette getting the kwamis' sizes and was getting their input for personal designs. Unable to resist the fun, the two also helped out, the group of humans and kwami coming up with something for Longg, Nooroo and Duusu when they got him back from Donna Piuma's clutches.

Chapter Text

Thanks to the previous day, Marinette felt a little bit more rested. Yesterday had been a day she and her partners had really needed, especially after that day. When she had woken up and gone downstairs earlier, she saw both Adrien and Kagami talking in almost hushed tones. At hearing Marinette’s entrance, the two looked up.

“Good morning, Marinette.”

“Morning, M’Lady.”

“Morning Kagami, Adrien.” Marinette yawned and made a beeline for the coffee maker. “What’s going on?”

Both Kagami and Adrien shared a look before turning back to Marinette. 

“Well… we were talking and…. I need to see if I can find where Gabriel was thrown into a TV.” At Marinette’s blank stare, Adrien rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “I know it’s a long shot and we probably won’t even find anything, but I feel like I have to do it. For closure I think. Even if I find nothing, I can say we tried.”

Marinette reached across the table and gave Adrien’s hand a squeeze. That one little action seemingly speaking volumes and giving the support Adrien needed.

“If you think this is something you need to do, then I won’t stop you.”

“Thanks, M’Lady. I figured I’d try today, Kagami offered and I know you’re usually busy so I don’t want to bother you.” Adrien hoped that maybe if he found where Donna Piuma threw his father into the TV, maybe he would feel something. “I think Luka said he’s available after his shift and offered to help if we needed it.”

“And if you need me, don’t be afraid to call me.”

“No problem. Thanks, Marinette!” Adrien pressed a quick kiss to Marinette’s cheek before Kagami did the same, the two making a beeline for downstairs. “We’re going to start now. Kagami suggested the earlier the better.”

“That makes sense, good luck you two.” She waved goodbye to the two and mentally wished she could help aid their search. 

It was some time later when she mused to herself; eyes focusing on nothing as she sipped at her newest cup of coffee.

“Perhaps I could get some of the other kwamis to help? No that wouldn’t work… There’s too much risk with releasing some of the others to help…” 

“Marinette, your phone is going off!” Tikki’s voice was heard from upstairs.

“Coming, Tikki!”

Somehow she was able to run up the stairs while carrying her coffee and barely spilling any. Reaching it before the last ring, Marinette quickly answered despite not seeing who was calling. “H-hello?”

“Yo, Marinette! Well, morning in Paris, anyways!” There was a brief pause for a moment. “You okay? You sound out of breath.”

“Yeah, just give me a moment. Here, let me switch to video call.” A few buttons later and she was facing Nino on the screen. She quickly noticed how Nino seemed to be searching for something or someone. “What’s up?”

“Is Adrien around?”

“No, sorry. You missed him by ten minutes or so.”

“Damn… I heard about what happened to his… father,” - Nino spat out the last word like it was venom on his tongue - “and wanted to offer my condolences to Adrien and his family. To be honest… while it may be wrong of me to think of this - and I mean no offense to Adrien in the slightest - I say good riddance to that miserable excuse of a father.”

“As much as I worry over how Adrien is doing right now, I have to agree,” Marinette admitted. “I’ll definitely tell him you called, but for now - how are you doing?”

“I think I found some information, but… I’m not sure if it’s enough…” Nino pulled out various folders varying in thickness; some looked like they were a good few inches, while others were rather thin.

“That seems like more than some… and…” Marinette’s eyes narrowed as she studied the folders for a moment. Something looked oddly familiar about how everything was set up. “Wait a minute, are you using my filing and organizing methods?”

“I learned from the best,” Nino merely responded. If you didn’t know them, you might have thought Nino was taking a jab at Marinette; the truth, however, was that it was a pretty big compliment.

“Aw, thanks. So what did you find out?”

Marinette listened attentively as Nino said, “I got a bunch of pictures that I felt were suspicious and wanted your thoughts on them if possible; then I found some information that possibly connects to previous interns being fired; the ones I managed to contact all talked about being framed after finding anything out. A lot of the stuff I managed to somehow find is actually sorta considered public information, but I don’t know how I should go about presenting this. I’m probably going to need a lawyer, though that just feels like it’s going to make me look suspicious as hell.”

While listening to Nino as he talked about the evidence in detail and showed her pictures, Marinette began to help him sort through everything as best as she could. She was in no way the U.S. police, and she would gladly admit that she had limited knowledge about this stuff, but she would do everything she could to help her friend. Some of the photos were thrown out and the information was sorted more in terms of severity, many mild yet still illegal things being put under miscellaneous while the more major illegal activities were given their own sections. The interviews of past interns - Marinette mentally gave major kudos to Nino for not only recording the interviews, but also transcribing them as well -  were put in one section. Marinette left it up to Nino’s discretion on where to put those. They’d also confirmed that A-MAX logically could not know about any of these behaviors without having taken action already.

This part of the phone call took over an hour and a half; the two both wanted to be as thorough as possible as it was Nino’s apprenticeship on the line. Many would have probably thought it better to just let the illegal actions continue and stay safe but to Nino and Marinette, it felt wrong to ignore it.

The later half of the phone call was more Marinette giving Nino her best pep talk at his request. He knew he had to do this or he’d never let himself live it down, but a part of him was terrified of what was going to happen next. Either his internship would continue as the best-case scenario and he’d eventually go back to Paris unscathed as the mildest worst case scenario or he’d be looking at possible legal action as the major worst-case scenario. Despite these risks, Nino would at least feel better about exposing the corruption and crimes of A-MAX’s assistant.

You hope Nino will expose Longstaff’s crimes without too much problem…

Innocence Rank 7!

By the time Marinette hung up, she wished her friend good luck on his endeavor and told him she hoped to hear from him soon (“but not too soon!” she’d laughed awkwardly). Sitting back with a sigh, she stared at her ceiling, allowing her mind to wander. Marinette felt worried for Nino, as was natural in this situation, but at the same time, they had done all that they could do… or maybe it was more accurate to say that Nino had done all that he could do for now while she was just giving moral support.

Wayzz flew over to nudge her cheek, the Turtle kwami offering a gentle reassuring smile even though Marinette could see the worry in his eyes.

“He’ll be alright. Nino is strong and resourceful; he’ll get through this.” While she was sure those words were meant to reassure her, Marinette had a strong feeling that Wayzz was also trying to reassure himself as well.

“Yeah, you’re right.” Marinette gave the kwami a slight pat before standing up. She had been hunched over her desk for nearly two hours and was starting to feel it as she stretched. “It’s probably too early for lunch, but meh. I didn’t really eat breakfast, so it’s allowed.”

Marinette made her way downstairs, starting to make something when a slightly familiar hand touched her shoulder. Shrieking lightly, her body instinctively reacted, and before she knew it, she’d pinned the owner of said hand against the counter. Spotting the familiar blond hair and monochrome suit had her releasing the now-identified person.

“I am getting you a bell, no questions asked! You practically gave me a heart attack!”

“You?! I’m the one who got pinned!” Felix huffed as fixed his vest and tie. “I was told to come up here and I find myself getting accosted…”

Marinette looked slightly ashamed about it, but she still held her ground. “Well, you should have said something!”

“I did! You were so deep in thought that you didn’t hear me.”

Marinette sighed, before taking a deep breath in and out. “Sorry. You freaked me out, and I somewhat overreacted, but you can’t blame me entirely on the second what with living with akumas for over a year.”

“I suppose that’s fair…” Felix sighed, causing her eyes to widen at his sudden politeness. “Gabriel has done quite the number on you and your city… I just made a big oversight there, huh?”

“If you’re referring to trying to side with him, then yes, yes you did.” Marinette gave a slight smile in spite of the unwitting comparison between Felix and Chloe. “But it was harmless, and at least you learned from that and are growing.” She turned back to the stove. “Well, I figured on making an early lunch, so you may as well join me.” 

It was an invitation stated in a way he had never heard before. Felix was so used to the cordial, stiff mannerisms of upper society that he struggled to recall anything said so casually. 

“If you’re offering, then I may as well. It’d be rude to turn down an invitation.” 

“Take a seat then, I have a feeling you might not be as interested in cooking like Adrien is.”

Felix rolled his eyes and sat at one of the stools, eyes skimming around as if looking for someone. “Speaking of Adrien, where is he? I thought he’d be here.”

Marinette glanced back before shrugging.

“Oh, he and Kagami went out somewhere. He mentioned something about wanting closure, so I can only guess that he went to the crime scene or something.” She couldn’t exactly state where Adrien was going, but a half-truth or omission might be safe. “If you’re asking why I didn’t go, I think it was because he knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle the crime scene area… well, if that’s where he went.” 

The answer must have satisfied Felix, for he merely hummed in response, though it did look like he was starting to go deep in thought, if Marinette were to make any assumptions. Mentally shrugging, Marinette went back to cooking.

Silence rested between the two as Marinette prepared lunch - simple grilled cheese sandwiches - while Felix kept to his thoughts.

Marinette had barely finished and set Felix’s plate down in front of him when he finally spoke. “What do you think inspired Ladybug to send you after me the other night?”

The simple question had Marinette pausing yet she couldn’t really show it as it could lead to her identity being revealed. It had been Yu as Clearwing telling her that there was something more to Felix and that he was going through a tough time. However, it was Ladybug who knew that, not Marinette supposedly.

“I can’t really say… maybe she saw something in you that you and/or others don’t see in you? Maybe she felt like you deserved a second chance?” Marinette shrugged and took a bite of her sandwich. “I really couldn’t say.”

Felix stared down at the sandwich, as if that wasn’t the answer he wanted to hear.
“I’d say to ask Ladybug if you could, but that is pretty much impossible as she needs to keep her identity a secret. It’d be a long shot, but you could try flagging her down after an akuma or during patrol; she may not be able to get to you, but it’s a thought.”

“...thank you, Marinette,” Felix eventually looked up at her, the grateful beginnings of a smile on his face. 

A bit surprised by this, Marinette could only nod, unable to find her voice. It took a moment, but she managed to smile back. 

Felix has shown you his appreciation…

Rebirth Rank 4!

“Well, I should get going,” Felix then said, looking outside. 

“What’s the rush?” Marinette asked.

“Somehow, I doubt those two will take pleasure in seeing me,” he responded, gesturing as Rose and Juleka came into view on the sidewalks below. With that, he quickly made his exit before Marinette could even think to stop him. 

Judging from the lack of a negative response when the two came up to the apartment, Felix must have succeeded in avoiding Rose and Juleka. In fact the two seemed rather excited about something… or maybe ecstatic was the word?

“Marinette! We got in! We got in!” Rose ran forward; in her excitement, she somehow managed to lift up Marinette off the floor in a squeezing hug. 

Shocked and really unable to respond as Juleka rushed forward to also squeeze Marinette, mostly cutting off whatever little air she had. 

“We passed the audition and we’ll play soon! Aren’t you excited? Oh…” Rose stopped in realization that Marinette had no idea what she was talking about. “Wait… please tell me Luka already told you about it!”

“I-I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about…” Marinette stuttered out, vaguely reminded of Nino telling her about the America trip. “Lucky you?”

“Damn right, ‘lucky us’! We’re going to be in a battle-of-the-bands, Marinette! This will so help Kitty Section!” Rose finally let Marinette back on the floor, the latter still a bit light headed as she weaved in place. 

“Congratulations, you two!” Marinette squealed once she wasn’t dizzy from Rose and Juleka’s tag-team hug of suffocation. Thankfully, she recovered quickly from it. “You guys definitely deserve this big break.” 

“Hell, yeah we do! Oh, I can’t wait to have this shoved in XY and his asshole of a father’s faces! We will show them true music!” Marinette stared as the normally-sweet Rose cackled all too happily at the thought of rubbing this in the Roths’ faces. “I have never seen Rose like this…”

“She may not look it, but she can and will hold a grudge against certain people. They need to meet specific criteria for it to happen, and Bob Roth fit them all.” Juleka slipped ahead to pat her girlfriend on the shoulder to pull her back to reality.  “We can plot their career’s demise later, mo ròs; for now, let’s just bask in the victory with Marinette.”

“You’re right!” Rose pulled out a sheet of paper with what looked like a bracket on its writing to Marinette. “We’re here on Section B,” she said, pointing to the last bracket on the right hand side. “Since this is considered a smallish event, there are only two sections. The upside is each section has sixteen bands, which allows a total of thirty-two musicians or groups to enter.”

“There are five rounds and we were told that each round will be a week apart.” Juleka showed another paper that had the times each band would play the first week. “I think they said something about not overwhelming the bands as the reason why it’s once a week for the competition.” 

“So this means we may be too busy with practice at times, but we’ll all try to hang out with you whenever we can!”

“Don’t worry, you two. Focus on this, this is big news for you guys!” Marinette looked over the page Juleka was holding as that had more information. “Wait, who did you say was sponsoring this?”

“Oh… wow, we didn’t yet! We completely forgot! It’s Jagged Stone!” Both Rose and Juleka squealed with glee at a frequency that made Marinette worried her eardrums were going to rupture. Thankfully, all the windows or anything made of glass didn’t shatter.

“Well, among others, anyways,” Juleka recalled once they were done. “I don’t remember any of them off the top of my head, though.”

“Congratulations, you two, that really amps things up. I know Jagged will love your music - it’s very much his style!” 

“Thanks Marinette! It means a lot to us to hear you say that.”

“Swing on by the Liberty and hear us practice sometime, won’t you?” Juleka asked.

“Of course, I’ll find a way.” Marinette smiled before looking over the list of bands. “Anyone on here that are familiar or possible rivals?”

Rose and Juleka shared an uneasy look. 

“...there is one at the moment, but they’re in Section A,” Juleka murmured, looking a little uncomfortable. “If it’s okay… we really don’t want to talk about it right now…”

“Yeah, it’ll spoil the happy and we need this happiness.”

“No problem at all,” Marinette waved away the comment. “You guys deserve this. So any ideas on songs, or…?”

“We figured we would talk about that at our next band practice,” Rose said. “Would you mind if we throw some ideas at you in the meantime?”

“For music? Oh, well… okay.”

Sensing that Marinette seemed a little uncomfortable at that, Rose clarified. “No, for clothes… you designed our band outfits for that event, so maybe you could help us with matching our clothes or something. You don’t have to make them if you don’t want to or if you’re too busy, but it would be helpful.”

Sighing with relief, Marinette smiled. “Thanks, this is your thing and I feel like if I were to choose then I’d screw up your chances. I’m a designer, not a musician.”

“Too bad Nino isn’t here…” Juleka mused, “his input could help, but he’s probably really busy.”

You have no idea was all Marinette could think.

For an hour, the girls went about working on possible outfits. Rose and Juleka offered to get clothes and maybe Marinette could alter them, thus saving Marinette time and money with materials. There was still about a week before the first round so there was still time just not a whole lot. Marinette handed over copies she had made of some of the outfits so the two could show their bandmates at the next meeting. As Rose and Juleka left, Marinette once again, found herself wishing someone good luck. 

Rose and Juleka are excited about their brightening futures…

Cabalist Rank 4!

“I’m beginning to think that is today’s trend,” she muttered to herself. Marinette then took a glance at the time and decided to check in on the search, to see if she was needed. One transformation later, she pulled out her yo-yo and texted them. From Chat’s response, she learned that there was no luck so far, but both Hebi and him seemed determined, judging by the phrasing of their texts. They stated that they’d be back before midnight at the absolute latest and nightfall at the earliest. As that basically meant any time in between the areas, Ladybug just stated she’d leave food out and a light on if they weren’t back before she went to bed.

After detransforming back into Marinette, she gave another sigh. 

“We really need to find a way to connect our cell phones to our weapons. It’s too much trouble to transform just to make a phone call to communicate. Chat’s number is the same as Adrien’s yet my phone doesn’t register as the same thing.”

“That’s a good idea!” Tikki nodded along. “It would allow you to connect to Inaba as heroes faster!”

Hearing a knock on her trapdoor had the kwami hiding and Marinette giving a come in to whomever was asking for permission. 

“Hey, Marinette.”

“Hey Marc.” She studied the other for a moment, near-immediately noticing how Marc was tightly gripping his bag strap as he shifted from one foot to another. “You okay?”

“Mother’s trial is tomorrow.” 

Really? That fast? After Gabriel, it was possible the court system was paranoid, even though there was no reason for the current villainess to be going after random civilians. 

“They want me to be a witness against her. I don’t think I can do it… I don’t think I can face her again…I can’t do it! I can’t do it!”

Marinette was up and out of her chair almost instantly, pulling Marc into a hug while keeping an eye out for any akumas. No way in hell was she going to allow an akuma to take advantage of Marc like this. She pulled back and saw how he was starting to hyperventilate; she had to calm him down quickly or he’d possibly pass out due to lack of oxygen.

“Just follow my breathing for a moment,” she said, exemplifying by taking a deep breath of her own, “breathe with me.” It took a few tries, but he finally started to follow Marinette’s breathing, slowly starting to calm down and regain his normal color. “There we go, you’re doing great.” The two continued on until Marc seemed almost fully calm; there was still a slight jittery edge to him, but it was gone for the most part.

“Thanks Marinette. Sorry about starting to panic… I… everything…”

“It’s a lot, I know. You have a right to panic and to be upset.” Marinette guided her friend to her chaise to sit; it looked like he was a bit weak in the knees. “You went through a lot with your mother, and the law is asking a lot of you to ask you to go in front of people and say what she did.” She grasped a shaking hand to help ground Marc. “But at the same time, you’re very brave for speaking out against her. I’ll be there for you every step of the way, and so will the judges; plus, you know that Nathaniel won’t let you go it alone, either.”

Marc was silent but it seemed like her words were slowly starting to affect him, like he was slowly starting to believe her. A small part may still doubt that he could do this, but for the most part, Marc truly seemed to believe her.

“Thank you Marinette,” Marc said gratefully, “I knew coming here was the right thing to do. You always know exactly what to say.” 

“Thank you, Marc,” Marinette nodded sweetly. “Would you like me to attend the trial, or is that not possible or something?”

“I think you can go, but even I’m not too sure. Nath said he’d camp outside of the courtroom if he wasn’t allowed. It really surprised me to hear him say that, but it really helped at the same time.” 

Hearing Marc say that about Nathaniel was a bit of a shock to Marinette, she always figured Nathaniel was a bit shy but it looks like being with Marc brought out his more protective side. Love seemed to do the strangest of things it seems.

“If they don’t want us in, then I’ll sit outside with Nathaniel.”

“Thank you Marinette.” Marc jolted up before pulling something from his bag. “It’s not official yet, but I was told that my father is looking to get custody of me!” He handed over a packet of what looked like a copy of some legal documents. “He still has to be questioned and get approval by lawyers, if what I read is correct. Or  maybe he has to wait for the trial to finish...  I really don’t understand what all of  the legal language is saying but, either way, my dad actually wants me! Mother always told me that he walked out on us because of me!”

“That’s great, Marc! I hope he gets the approval he needs to get custody. You two will get to know each other again!”

“Thanks… although I worry…”

“...? What are you thinking about, Marc?”

“What if he turns out to hurt me like Mother did? What if he’s worse?”

“Then the Kurtzbergs will take you in or something,” Marinette shrugged. “You always have a home with us if you need it, too.”

The weight on Marc’s shoulders melted away at hearing that. “Again… thank you, Marinette.”

“Aw, you’re welcome.” Once again, she pulled her friend into a hug.

Marc has become more emboldened by your pep talk… 

Observer Rank 5!

Marc stayed around for dinner; Marinette wasn’t sure if it was good or bad that neither Chat nor Hebi showed up. As it was still early in the night once Marc finally left, Marinette figured on working on her commissions. Jagged Stone had put in a new request for a jacket the other day (something about an old one from a different designer not really suiting him anymore; Marinette had groaned at his unintentional pun) and wanted her style instead. Eager to help her unofficial uncle, Marinette went to work.

But before she became too deeply drowned in her work, she quickly went downstairs to leave food and a light out for her partners as she had promised. Once she got started, Marinette doubted she’d hear the two come in nor would they really want to talk if they came in especially late.

It was nearly 2:45 in the morning when she finally went to bed, hoping that she would wake up early enough to be competent enough for Marc’s trial.

Chapter Text

Surprisingly, Marinette awoke with her alarm… with some of the kwamis’ help, but they thankfully kept quiet about that. It looked like she was up before Adrien and Kagami, if the sight of her still-sleeping girlfriend (Adrien most likely was in the guestroom) was anything to go by. Quietly, she slipped out of bed and grabbed her clothing so as to not awaken Kagami, trying to slip in her bathroom as silently as possible. 

It was rather surreal being the only one awake; sure, she had done this the other day, but it was still such a rare event.

Dressed for the day, Marinette made her way downstairs and after checking in on Adrien, sure enough he was still sleeping. Marc’s mother’s trial was at nine - the first one of the day, if she recalled correctly - so she had about an hour to eat and make her way to the courthouse where she would meet up with both Marc and Nathaniel. 

While she wasn’t the one in the witness booth, she still felt a bit nervous. Perhaps it was part of the fact that she knew Marc was also nervous about this as well? Well, she and Nathaniel would give him all of the support he would need to face his demon of a mother. 

After breakfast, Marinette waved goodbye to her parents. She’d promised to pass on their well wishes to Marc. 

When Marinette arrived at the courthouse, she spotted Marc and Nathaniel waiting. She could hear Nathaniel’s parents waiting nearby even if she could not see them, or maybe it was more accurate to say it looked like Nathaniel’s father was trying to stop his wife from going to jail for murder.

“One wrong word and I’m clawing her throat! No one will stop me, not even the law!” Naomi Kurtzberg was practically frothing at the mouth. “She hurt that sweet young man, and she thinks it’s okay?! How dare she call herself a mother!” Naomi’s scowl turned into an almost-pleasant smile once she spotted Marinette; it was like whiplash. “Marinette! Good to see you! Are you ready to see a vile rat be dragged by the courts?” She had better get dragged somehow felt as if it had gone unspoken.

The group made their way into the courtroom, creating a shield around Marc; whether this was done intentionally or unintentionally was up for debate, yet they all seemed to help give him strength, the teen never shrinking once in the courtroom, not even when his mother was brought in.

As the defense opened their case on how Genevieve was a good woman who simply fell victim to the troubles of a single mother, Marinette found herself catching something. It took a few moments to properly catch on and… yep, she’d heard right! Her eyes slid over the side and noticed how Nathaniel’s mother had caught it as well. They were trying to blame Marc for all of this by stating he was a difficult child to raise! Marinette grit her teeth as her fists clenched over her arms, digging her nails in to ground herself.

As expected of the trial, or at least by Marinette’s expectations, Genevieve Anciel was the first called to the stand. Listening to the start of it, it sounded like her lawyer (a sleazy-looking man named Yves Léandre) was going fairly easy on her and continued to build up on the idea that she was a single mother who struggled on raising a child by herself and fell on hard times. Yves never seemed to bother asking anything that would paint Genevieve in a negative light, and only focused on any questions where she could point the finger of blame at Marc instead of her. 

Marinette found herself having to briefly excuse herself from the courtroom and slipped out without a word; Naomi seemed to have a similar idea. The two took about ten or so minutes to try and calm down.

“I swear I was about to punch that vile woman and give a hard kick to that conniver’s family jewels,” Marinette heard Naomi finally say. “That bitch is no mother! Hell, I don’t know how she even got custody!” Marinette gave a hum of agreement as she allowed the older woman to rant. 

“If we ever could do it legally, I’d say I’d hold them down for you and in return, you do the same for me.”

Naomi laughed and patted Marinette on the shoulder.

“Deal, now let’s go back in. I don’t want to leave Marc in there with that woman more than I have to.”

As quietly as the two had slipped out, they slipped back in. Marinette saw that they had just finished with the art club teacher and had moved on to Mme. Mendeleiev. Probably because she is Marc’s homeroom teacher, Marinette thought to herself.

Like before the questions seemed pretty basic, asking about Mme. Mendeleiev and her job, and how she was connected to Marc. Then some of the questions asked about any interactions and impressions she had of Mme. Anciel. For the most part, Mme. Mendeleiev seemed mostly neutral when it came to Genevieve, but had always felt something off yet she could never be able to tell what it was nor did she have any evidence of anything. 

Marinette felt Marc’s hand cling tightly to her own (and no doubt Nathaniel’s) as they listened to Yves’ questions, the likes of which seem to once again try and point the blame at Marc. Some sounded twisted to the teen or like they were pushing some sort of boundary. She watched as Mme. Mendeleiev’s already-annoyed expression shifted to a pissed off one during the whole tirade. Finally, Mendeleiev looked like she finally had enough.

“M. Léandre, I have better things to do than to listen to you try and make this sweet child look like some troublesome brat. Marc is a smart young man who didn't deserve the abuse - yes, you heard me right - he went through under that woman's parentage. I understand it may be your job to zealously defend that abusive woman, but you will never see me insult someone who doesn't deserve it.”

She turned to the prosecution team who looked like they were all trying to hold back their applause at her little spiel. “Are you going to question me now?”

“No, Madame, I think you have already proved where you stand. I think if we tried, it would be an insult to you.”

“Then I am taking my leave.” Mendeleiev stood up and gave a glare towards Genevieve. “I think I stand for most of us when I say I hope you get the maximum sentence of the worst kind of punishment for what you did to Marc and are trying to do now.” The defense tried to protest but the judge seemed all too happy to dismiss this. 

“She’s already leaving, so why should she be held in contempt?”

That didn’t seem to please M. Léandre as he clenched his fist and growled, how dare he be mocked? He practically barked Marc’s name, causing the mentioned teen to flinch.

Giving the shaking teen’s hand a quick squeeze, Marinette watched as Marc almost staggered up to the stand. It looked like he was trying to stop his legs from trembling. And after doing the whole swearing in thing, Marc all but collapsed into the seat. 

The first batch of questions seemed pretty basic, asking Marc about his age, where he goes to school, currently lives, grades, etc. Those were easily answered without problems and seemed to potentially lull him into a false sense of security. It was when the questions seemed to turn towards his previous home life when Marc went back on guard; while Marinette couldn’t see his hands, she was given the impression that he was severely fidgeting.

“Well, I was to be home after school most days; being allowed to go to the art club was a rare treat… like, really rare. I wasn’t allowed to bring friends over at all, and spent a lot of time at home. Most times I had to make my own meals and was expected to leave a plate for Mo- Mme. Anciel.” Marinette was not as surprised as she thought she’d been at how Marc was starting to disconnect away from his mother. “If she didn’t eat the food or I forgot to leave out a plate for her, I was punished.”

“Oh? And what were these punishments?”

“There were times where I had to make her food but I wasn’t allowed to eat. There were times I was punished by being denied to talk to friends. She monitored my phone and there are cameras in the apartment to make sure I followed the punishments.

The mention of the cameras caught everyone by surprise. That felt not only creepy but also overboard; it meant no freedom of choice. No doubt, Genevieve wouldn’t have mentioned those.

“So my client was protective, that would be expected as she is a single mother.”

Bullshit! That’s not protectiveness! That was overcontrolling and allowing no freedom! Monitoring the phone and cameras? That was almost like keeping Marc prisoner!

Despite the lawyer’s words, no one in the court room seemed to believe his attempt on making Genevieve look innocent. In fact, for some at least, it had the opposite effect. 

“Protective? How is that protective?!”

Marc’s outburst seemed to please the opposing lawyer, yet no one from the back or jury could see the smirk on his face and Marc wasn’t paying attention; his vision started to blur as he heard his heart pound in his ears.

“You see? Young Marc,” - don’t call him that so casually, Marinette and Nathaniel both shouted in their heads - “is clearly a rebellious child who speaks out of turn! There is no doubt that he has been out there with gangs and causing trouble like a delinquent!”

As the prosecutor shouted his objection, Marc had enough. He abruptly stood up, for his stress and anxiety levels had combined together and were at their limits.

“Stop making her look like she was a saint or struggling! You don’t know what it was like! I had to maintain grades in the mid-to-upper As, and if I didn't, I would lose everything!” No one seemed to stop Marc as he vented and a certain teen was keeping an eye out for akumas. “I developed severe anxiety and had panic attacks if I had an A minus or less! Tests are a literal nightmare for me as it means losing my friends and freedom!” Tears trailed down his cheeks yet this time he was glaring at the smug lawyer. “She would tell me my writing was garbage and a waste of time, and anyone with a kind word for me would get screamed at! She maintained a front for the school or her work but outside of that, too. She didn’t give a damn!” 

Marc’s breathing was near hyperventilating by the end of his rant, his chest heaving as tears continued to fall down his face. His vision seemed to waver but no one could really see that. No one stopped Naomi as she left the audience to practically run up and pulled Marc off the stands.

“He’s done.” She growled, keeping him in a protective embrace and glaring daggers at Yves. “You’ve done your damage to him. I hope you’re proud. If you absolutely must continue, then you’ll do so without him. Hold me in contempt of court, I don’t care. You’re not hurting him anymore.”

With that Naomi guided Marc out of the courtroom, her family and Marinette following behind, the latter hearing the judge say that the trial would continue the next day when Marc was feeling better. Grateful for this, she told the others what was going on and noted the look of relief on his face.

“Thank you for coming, Marinette.” Marc sighed, it looked like he was finally starting to calm down now that he was out of that room. “Your support was really appreciated.”

“No problem, I’m glad I did. That bastard really tried to drag you through the mud. I swear I almost strangled him with his own tie.” Naomi nodded her head in agreement.

You have Marc’s gratitude… 

Observer Rank 6!

“Why don't you kids go out for ice cream?” Nachum Kurtzberg suggested. “It is summer after all and you three need to relax after that stressful time in the courtroom… especially you, Marc.”

“Sure. Thanks, Mom.” Nathaniel tugged on his boyfriend’s hand. “We’ll see you later!”

As the three walked away, Marinette could hear Naomi grumbling. Honestly, who in their right minds can defend that woman, she’d picked up. Marinette couldn’t help but agree with Nathaniel’s mom.

The teens made their way around Paris, using the time to help calm Marc down. They weren’t in the mood for Andre today, though; instead, they simply wanted a shop to not only cool off for the time being but also sit down. They found a hole-in-the-wall type of shop that was thankfully mostly empty.

It looked like Marc all but collapsed in the booth; no doubt the stress was catching up now that he was away from the courthouse. Nathaniel gave his boyfriend a squeeze on the shoulder.

"I'll get your favorite - you just stay here."

"No, I'll get them." Marinette said as she gave Marc’s shoulder a squeeze, “let you two have a little much needed alone-time and all.”

Alone in line, Marinette stood with her thoughts until she collected their ice creams - two chocolate cones and an extra sweet chocolate-vanilla swirl in a bowl with all of the works for Marinette. She could practically feel Tikki grumbling at being left out and ordered a set of gummies and smaller cookies to eat in her purse.

"I'm back." 

She passed out the ice cream, and the three dug in.

"Thank you Marinette, that was really nice of you. But you didn't have to buy it for us… especially with the bakery…"

"Not a problem at all, you two deserve this. I get plenty from commissions, and things are picking back up." There was also the fact that she still had quite a bit left over from her trip in Inaba.

"You've done so much for us, and all we can do is just say 'thank you.' I really don’t know how we can repay you… it feels like we're taking advantage of you even when we're trying not to." Marc stated before sighing. That didn't feel right. "No, I think it is more accurate to say that we can never properly repay your kindness,” Marc amended. He was the writer for a reason.

"Aw! Thanks, you two, but really - you don’t have to. I do this because I want to. I'm still learning boundaries, so I know I can say no if I don't want to do something or feel uncomfortable; I don't have to do things just to make people like me or be my friend."

“Good for you, M!” Nathaniel cheered. “Hah… it’s sorta like Mme. Bustier says - the world needs more people like you… people with the power to protect who and what they hold dear and use that power righteously… sometimes I wish I was more like you, Marinette.”

Marinette was slightly uneasy at the unintended contrast between her and Gabriel there. Gabriel indeed had the power to protect those he cared for - namely, Emilie and perhaps Adrien too - but he hadn’t used it righteously, had he?

At least she no longer felt uncomfortable whenever someone brought up or agreed with how Mme. Bustier stated there needed to be more Marinettes in the world. Such was an improvement to her…

"I guess I should say thanks this time, but really, all you need to be is yourself. Or maybe your best self…" Marinette crossed her arms as she glanced up at the ceiling. "I think what I'm trying to say is when you're comfortable being yourself, you'll find out things you never knew about yourself." The semi-philosophical moment was broken as Marinette didn't know how to say what she was actually trying to say. "Gah! I don’t know how to phrase it!" She gripped the sides of her hair.

Nathaniel and Marc laughed, and Marinette knew they had no ill will. At least it made her friends happy. 

“Thanks Marinette,” Nathaniel grinned while placing his cheek on his hand, “I think we’re getting the gist of what you are trying to say and we appreciate that.”

You helped reassure Nathaniel and made Marc feel better… 

Separation Rank 4!

Eventually the group separated, Marinette figured she could work on some commissions or something until that evening. Nino had sent a brief text that she had been unable to answer stating he was going to call later around evening Paris time, but would be unavailable until then. 

She had just entered her room when she had gotten a text from Yu.

YN: Uncle is working late again. Nanako wants to talk to you.

MDC: Is everything okay?

YN: Yeah. She just wants to update you on Nooroo’s progress.

MDC: I’ll get there as soon as I can. Give me a bit to find the place.

“Looks like I’m heading to Inaba.”

“Guardian? Can I go with you?” Marinette looked up to see Mullo hesitantly approach. “I wish to see Nooroo.”

“Sure, it’s alright with me.” With that, she grabbed Mullo’s and Kaalki’s Miraculouses. She could probably have used the TV World as transport, but she wasn’t too sure about getting out unseen or wandering about Inaba on her own. Granted, she was sure any of her friends probably wouldn’t mind escorting her, but she didn’t want to burden them. 

“Let’s go, you guys.”

One Voyage later and Marinette once again found herself behind the Shrine. Surprisingly enough, the Fox was there to greet her. 

“Hey there.” The Fox sniffed her pockets after detransforming. “Sorry, big guy, but I didn’t bring anything. Maybe next time.” To compensate, Marinette gave it a few pats and chin scratches. 

“Looks like I timed this pretty well.” A new voice had Marinette looking up to see Yu approaching her and the Fox. “I figured I’d check on the ema here before starting to look for you… looks like it was a good idea.”

Despite the casual tone, Marinette had a feeling that this wasn’t just coincidence. 

“I’ll take you to Uncle Ryotaro’s place now. Nanako and Nooroo are waiting.”

The two left right after Marinette saw what from her experience she presumed to be a rank-up between Yu and the Fox; it was something involving a plaque in the Fox’s mouth in kanji she could not yet read. The two made small talk as they made their way to the Dojima residence, the three kwamis on Marinette’s person quietly interjecting from time to time.

“We’re back,” Yu stated as he removed his shoes. Marinette followed suit as she heard two welcome backs

“Oh, you brought Assistant-san with you!”

“You can call me Marinette,” Marinette smiled, “if I can call you Nanako.” The child in question nodded eagerly.

“I told you I would,” Yu smiled, affectionately ruffling Nanako’s hair, “you guys have a seat and I’ll start on dinner.”

Marinette tried to protest, but the kwamis all seemed so eager to be fed that she just went along with it. Besides, it was rude to deny food when it was prepared for you.

As Yu began work on making some gyoza and mentaiko pasta, Marinette and Nanako discussed Nooroo’s progress. He seemed to be doing rather well in spite of everything, and Nooroo had spent more than a few nights crying into Nanako or Yu’s chest over everything. Marinette assured the younger girl that however painful it had been for the kwami to let everything out, it was good progress for his healing.

“Are you sure?” Nanako had asked, “Will he be better eventually?”

“You can’t have a rainbow without any rain, sadly,” Marinette smiled sadly, “and while he’ll come out stronger than he was before, he won’t be good as new…”


“Well, here’s everything,” Yu interrupted the conversation, placing plates of food in front of the two of them before taking a seat across from Nanako. As Marinette and the two cousins chowed down, she deduced that the seat was most likely his preferred spot at the table. “It was actually interesting to discover that Nanako and Nooroo have very similar taste preferences. He really likes sweet things, but he doesn’t like super-sugary stuff.”

“He’s really good at chasing away any bugs trying to get to our crops!” Nanako added in, shooting the kwami a big, toothy smile.

Nooroo smiled humbly before being all but tackled by Mullo. The Mouse kwami prepared to take him to the side to catch up with them, but before doing so, they zipped up to Marinette’s ear and whispered, “You have chosen well with Nooroo and I. Keep up the good work, yeah?”

“Sure thing, Mullo,” Marinette nodded, pleased with her work. With that, Mullo took Nooroo somewhere to chat.

You’ve got the support of Mullo, and Nooroo is gaining a support system of his own…

Magus Rank 5!

Marinette then noticed Nanako staring at her pensively, almost wondering if she should ask a question.

“Miss Marinette? I was wondering… will Big Bro get some bad people coming after him or something?”

Marinette hadn’t considered that, but she hummed thoughtfully. “I don’t know…” she eventually said, “but you and him should be ready. If somebody does come looking for the Miraculous, call me immediately , okay?”

Nanako nodded her head dutifully, Yu giving her a nod of his own as well. Suddenly remembering the time, Marinette politely made her exit, Mullo, Tikki and Kaalki following suit.

Marinette thankfully got back from Inaba in time to see Kagami off somewhere; because of this, she’d been able to pass over Kagami’s share of the produce that Nanako had given as a gift. The six-year old was so proud of her family’s garden and wanted to share the bounty. 

Now she was waiting on Nino’s call; well, both her and Adrien were.

Adrien was busying himself on her computer as Marinette worked on a commission, the two both nervous and trying to work off the energy. Marinette had explained what was going on with Nino and now the two were waiting to see what their friend’s fate would be.

The room honestly felt too silent, so when Marinette’s phone rang, it felt almost like a shrill cry.

“I got it!” Closer to the phone, Adrien practically dived for the device. His fingers probably smashed the answer button with more force than was necessary, but at least the screen was protected. “Nino, talk to me - what’s going on?”

“Adrien? Why do you look like you’re on the verge of a panic attack?” Marinette’s face pressed next to Adrien’s in a mirroring expression. “Dudette? You too? What’s going on?”

“That’s what we want to know! Are you fired? Did that director guy believe you?”

“You bet he did! I am happy to announce that Longstaff has been arrested!” Nino was practically beaming, causing the two to visibly relax. “Imagine my surprise when I found out that A-MAX had some suspicions himself; the guy just didn’t want to make any baseless accusations. I found the proof he needed!”

“So you did the work for him?” Adrien sounded both confused yet also proud of his friend.

“It probably sounds like it,” Nino sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck, “but I swear that I am okay with it. A-MAX even pulled me aside to thank me. He could never really collect any evidence as it probably would have alerted Longstaff about his suspicions nor did he know where to look in the first place.”

“I’m glad that you managed to help your idol,” Marinette gave a soft smile. “You should be proud of all your hard work; you put in so much effort.” 

“Thanks, but I couldn’t have done it without your guys’ support. You two gave me the strength to try and find out the truth.” 

Nino has succeeded in exposing the truth…

Innocence Rank 8!

“Since my internship is going to continue, I wanted to let you know that I won’t be available for a while. A-MAX told us that while he is looking for an assistant now, we’re still going to continue on. There’s a show some time in either late July or mid August - we still don’t know the official date - and that’s going to be recorded, so you guys can watch it at some point!”

Nino was quiet for a moment as he looked guilty and rubbed the back of his neck.

“What’s wrong Nino?” Adrien asked.

“Maybe it’s just me but… can you guys keep an eye on both of my moms? I think they’re starting to get lonely, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to contact them anytime soon. I’ll do my absolute hardest, but it may not be anything more than five minutes. So can you two just check in on them from time to time, please?”

“Of course!” “Not a problem at all!” Came the two answers at the same time.

“Thanks. I honestly feel like a crappy son for asking you of this.”

“It’s okay, we understand. We’ll keep an eye on them for you.” Adrien promised.

“Again, thanks.” Nino glanced off-screen; he was being called, it seemed. “Sorry, I have to go now. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to you guys; if not, stay safe. I’ll let you know when that concert is!”

The three said their goodbyes before Nino ended the call. Marinette and Adrien let out a relieved sigh before going to bed.

Marinette dreamed of a pompous arsehole in jail, a free black-haired boy and his pleased boyfriend, and a smiling purple mini-deity surrounded by his close ones.

Chapter Text

Marinette awoke with her third set of alarms (after all but slamming down on the snooze button on the first round of alerts and accidentally turning off the second set) and made her way down the stairs to see her mother waiting at the kitchen table, dressed rather formally for the average Saturday. The teen was a bit surprised, as she thought her Maman would be in the bakery at this time.

“Maman? What’s… is something wrong downstairs?”

“No, don’t worry.” Sabine held up what looked like a subpoena, “Your papa and I were summoned to be witnesses since we not only housed Marc temporarily but were temporary guardians. It states that one or both of us could go in.” Sabine calmly took a sip of tea yet to Marinette, or rather it looked like her Mama was calm. “After talking it over last night, we decided that I should go in. Adrien is helping out your father until I get back.” 

Marinette watched as her mother’s calm expression seemed to take on a sort of malicious twist, as her eyes narrowed and smile reminded Marinette of a cold blooded killer.

“I can’t wait to drag Genevieve in that courtroom and explain to her what a true mother is supposed to act like…” Sabine chuckled as she tapped her fingers together. “Should we ever get the opportunity, Naomi and I have plans for her… many wonderful plans…”

Sighing slightly as there was no way to pull her Maman out when she was like this, Marinette merely patted her mother’s shoulder before grabbing a cup of coffee. It was probably a good idea to eat in the bakery at this moment. 

“Maman’s plotting something unpleasant,” was all Marinette needed to say when she entered the kitchen. Tom had shot her a worried look, but he sighed upon hearing her response.

“Ah…” That was the only explanation needed to answer Tom’s unanswered question.

“Does she need help?” Plagg and Trixx both flew up to Marinette’s face, matching Cheshire smiles on their faces.

Please don’t give her any ideas, she’s dangerous enough on her own.” Marinette sighed. She had a feeling the two would possibly ignore her on this and find some way to help out her Maman.

To her surprise, Plagg and Trixx nodded in understanding before zipping back upstairs. Marinette had a feeling that such was merely a ruse, but she decided to wait and see on that.

“There’s still some time before the trial, so I can give you guys a hand for a bit.”

“Thanks, M’Lady, we appreciate it.” Adrien wiped at some flour on his cheek. “We’re a bit low on cheese for today, thanks to a certain someone ‘sampling’ a big chunk of your stock,” he grumbled.

“Have to love his enthusiasm,” Tom stated, “Plagg’s been my biggest taste-tester for the cheese related baked goods. He’s surprisingly good at feedback.”

That’s Papa, Marinette mused as she slipped on an apron, always looking on the positive side of things.

“How long until you and Sabine have to leave?” Adrien asked, pouring another cup of extra sweet iced coffee for Marinette into a thermos. 

“Well, it’s not as early as yesterday, but we have to be there a little before the trial. I know Mom will want to look over Marc and spoil him with treats. Also there is a possibility she may try to make plans with Mme. Kurtzberg.” She spared a look at her Papa. “Should I try to stop the two or just let them be?”

“Let them be. You know there is no stopping your Maman when she’s like this,” Tom paused for a moment. “But keep an eye out for Nadja; I have a feeling your Mama will bring her in this somehow.”

“Will do.” Marinette started on the Miracle Bread. As she worked, she saw how it seemed like the kwami were doing their best to help… bless (bless wasn’t the right word, but it was the best Marinette could think of) the baked goods to give those who consumed it a bit more energy and possibly make their day better. Apparently it was something they started doing after that damn review. Just one other thing to add to the list of Lila’s ‘Accomplishments, Marinette mentally grumbled.

It was a bit surprising to learn that Adrien had a rather almost natural talent in the front of the shop - perhaps it was due to his modeling? He acted almost in his element as he served and rang up orders, and judging from her Papa’s look, it looked like he thought the same thing.

She didn’t catch Tom mutter, “Well, if we haven’t found a successor…”

You feel your bond with Adrien improving…

For an hour or so, Marinette continued to help with mainly baking until her mother came down to collect her. Ready for the worst, Tom had prepared a box of the best pastries that turned out practically perfect waiting to be collected.

Sabine’s vicious smile never faded; not during the drive to the courthouse and certainly not during her questioning (M. Léandre had tried ragging on their business, but he’d been shut down instantly each time with jabs towards his client, all with a pleasant smile). Naomi was brought in and did the exact same thing when it was her turn; Marinette felt a slight shiver go down her spine as Naomi responded; no doubt this was planned. The two both kept their jabs at Genevieve civil, but their undertones were clear to both her and M. Léandre; the sleazy lawyer could try all he wanted, but he ended up getting nowhere.

Tom, Sabine and Naomi seemed rather pleased with themselves as they left the stand, there was a slight applause from some of those watching, keeping it quiet so as to not be called into contempt of court.

Clearly annoyed, M. Léandre next called forth Roger Raincomprix to the stand. Marinette could already tell this was a mistake as he was the type of cop who could not be bought, nor did he believe in siding with those who he deemed unjust. No doubt this was going to be quite the show.

Roger answered every question factually and dutifully, acting oblivious to M. Léandre’s attempts to paint things in a better light for Genevieve. At one point, Sabrina’s dad literally corrected him on a part of the story, almost getting laughs from most involved. Marinette almost wondered if having popcorn would be pushing the limits too far, but with this show, it would definitely be appreciated.

The kicker of the trial was when Marc’s own father was finally called in. As Marinette watched him walk in, she instantly began to make phenotypical comparisons to Marc. Most of Marc’s looks seemed to have come from Jérémy Anciel, and given his awkward but determined posture, it was likely his mannerisms were the same. She sensed something akin to meekness - almost timidity - from the man as he took his oath of honesty.

Like with everyone, it was the basics when it came to information at the start. Marinette learned that Marc’s father Jérémy was also a writer, a talent he seemingly passed on to his son. Apparently, M. Anciel had a few pseudonyms in various genres; Marinette made a note to check out at least one book under his name.

“So please, tell the courts why you lost custody of your son.” The tone seemed pleasant but there was an almost malicious undertone that Marinette just barely caught. 

Anciel looked a little uncomfortable with the question, mirroring similar mannerisms to Marc when asked about his mother. Perhaps there had been some sort of spousal abuse?

Eventually, he sighed.

“I never liked how flippant or, dare I say it, cruel Genevieve was to Marc,” Jérémy said, “and the last time we went to court together, I lost my temper about it. The judge that ruled Marc’s custody should be given to her - Marco Gros, I think it was - I later learned lost his job for accepting bribes for ruling. I don’t know if that happened to our case, but I’m sure it was possible.”

“You don’t mean to accuse me of-” the judge gasped.

“Not necessarily,” Jérémy said quickly, “but like with last time, it is possible. If Genevieve can hire a disreputable crooked lawyer such as Yves Léandre, then she can probably get the judge in her pocket, too.” Marinette could hear someone else in the crowd mutter Shots fired when M. Anciel called M. Léandre disreputable and crooked; judging by his expression, so did M. Léandre.

When it came time for closing arguments, the judge asked if there was anything else the lawyers wanted to add anything before giving their statements. Surprisingly, the defense did not, especially after the game they seemingly played after the last two days.

The prosecutors on the other hand…

“We have found evidence that the defense tried to find and/or bribe people to not only defame Marc Anciel and make him look more like a delinquent, but also to add false information that would back up Mme. Genevieve Anciel.”

“That is preposterous and slander!” Yves slammed his hands on the table while standing up. “I object!”

“Please present your evidence; this is a rather dubious claim.” At least the judge was allowing this evidence.”

It seemed that not only was there paper evidence but also photographic evidence as well. Perhaps it was a bit twisted of Marinette, but she found herself enjoying watching both Mme. Anciel and M. Léandre’s faces go whiter and whiter as the evidence piled up. She was honestly surprised at how fast not only M. Léandre tried to do this but the fact that the prosecution team managed to collect this. While most may have been from a good bit before the court-date, some definitely happened within the last twenty-four hours.

“Well, this definitely puts you in a predicament, doesn’t it M. Léandre?” The judge looked over the evidence. It almost sounded like a disappointed father scolding his child. “I honestly find it hard to allow Mme. Anciel any power over her child or call her innocent of any of her crimes. I charge her as guilty and I want to talk to you after this, we will be discussing your license - or as it will likely be soon - your lack thereof. We will discuss custodial rights at a later time but that will be more between a different judge more suited for such cases and M. Anciel. Marc will also have a say in that matter, as he is over the age of thirteen, but for now, I grant temporary custodial rights to the Kurtzbergs. Oh, and before I forget… that restraining order against M. Jérémy Anciel shall also be looked over to see if it’s still needed.” 

It wasn’t much in terms of fully reuniting father and son, but it was definitely a win. At the very least, Marc would be free of his mother and safe with other loved ones. It was all he could really ask for. 

Marinette left the room and kept an eye on Marc, it was almost like a weight had been removed from his shoulders. Out in the hall, both father and son held on as they both released emotions that had probably been hidden for years. Everyone was willing to give the two their space.

Sabine had to leave to return to the bakery but she told the two that the doors would be open for them, before leaving she handed over the baked goods to Naomi and gave one last wave. 

By the time the two Anciels pulled away, the Kurtzbergs began to discuss visitation rights with M. Anciel; no way were they planning to keep the two apart now, and would probably do everything they could to allow Marc to stay plenty of nights with his father. 

“I know I keep saying this Marinette, but thank you. I can never thank you enough for what you’ve done!” There were still traces of tears but his smile showed Marc’s true feelings. “I’m finally free from her, and I’ll even be allowed to see my dad! You helped me stay strong throughout this!” 

Marinette caught Marc in the hug, surprised to see this much from her friend, yet she returned it just as enthusiastically.

Marc is officially free of his mother and on his way to a better life…

Observer Rank 7!

Eventually, the Dupain-Chengs decided to take their leave and let the Kurtzbergs, Marc and Jérémy celebrate. After a while of enjoying pastries, Marinette got a text from Ivan.

IB: I heard Marc’s free from his mom, and that you had a hand in it. Would you mind helping me with another legal… thing?

MDC: Sure, but you’ll have to give me some time to get to… actually, where are you right now?

IB: Near the police station. Don’t worry, I’m not in trouble or anything.

MDC: Then why are you there…?

IB: I was gonna try and see if we could get the police to help figure out where the charity money went so we could reimburse at least other victims, if not get some money back ourselves. 

MDC: On my way.

IB: You don’t have to if you don’t want to, before I forget to say it.

MDC: On. My. Way.

IB: O-oh. Thanks… 

Marinette slipped her phone into her pocket and practically made a beeline for the police station. No way was she leaving her friend alone to do this.

Sure enough, Ivan was waiting for her outside the police station. He had a big backpack on… well, his back.

“Thanks Marinette. You know you didn’t have to come, right?”

“Nonsense!” Marinette smiled at him. “Besides, I was already in town, so it’s not like I had anything this would be getting in the way of. Let’s see what Officer Raincomprix can do.”

The two made their ways into the police building. While Roger had been at the trial, he had returned a little before Marinette and was now catching up on paperwork.

“What can I do for you two?” He asked once the two were in his office. Ivan unzipped his backpack and pulled out his laptop and a few paper stacks.

“Me and Marinette think we and some of our friends have been scammed by groups posing as charities,” Ivan said.

“Those are tough to do but we’ll take a look,” Roger said as he began looking things over, “It’s honestly somewhat impressive that you brought information; most folks don’t usually have it beforehand.” At least he was willing to look over the information and give them the time of day.

From what Roger taught them, odds were this was a goose chase at best, and even if they managed to catch the people behind the scams, it would still most likely end up with the money being gone for good.

“Even if we can’t get the money back,” Ivan said, “is there anything that can be done to catch the guys behind the ‘charities’?”

“Possibly,” Roger answered, “though in order to officially warrant arrest or even charge them, we would need some pretty concrete proof of it to cover any loopholes that might be used. It is possible, but it’s highly unlikely. No offense meant, but if you can pull something like that off, I’d give you my hat.”

“Hah… thank you again for giving us your time, M. Raincomprix,” Marinette said as she and Ivan left to let Roger finish other paperwork, “Tell Sabrina we said hello!”

Roger nodded, eager to help Sabrina reintegrate with her classmates. While nobody faulted Sabrina for Chloe’s actions - least of all Miracle Queen - she and the rest of the class were still somewhat estranged. Things were getting better between them, albeit slowly; the Girl Squad had agreed to bring her in, but they hadn’t had any chances to all get together yet. All of us will have to get together soon, Marinette supposed, even if that means inviting Alya and Lila…  

That had Marinette mentally groaning. She was not ready for that, nor did she think she would ever be, really… well, not for Lila. Once Lila had lost the so-called ‘war’ she’d declared on Marinette and Marinette felt up to trusting Alya again, they could be friends. Lila… probably not so much. If the Italian girl changed her behavior - unlikely as it was - perhaps Marinette and her could be on good terms some day in the future. In spite of the sad backstory she knew Lila had, none of it allowed her to deceive and lie to people the way she did.

“We did all that we could,” Ivan sighed, shouldering his backpack once they were outside. “but at least we did something. I’m glad it was even something as small as this.”

“Ivan…” Marinette said, a thought occurring to her, “as much as I don’t want you and Mylene to break up or anything, I do think you should communicate with each other about these things at least soon. Any good relationship requires communication, you know?”

“Yeah…” Ivan didn’t look all that convinced, but he did look like he was thinking about it.

“All I can ask of you is that you just give it some thought. I know you’re trying to be careful about this, but I think she’d understand.”

“Got it,” Ivan said, sounding as resolute as he could. “We’ll talk soon. Keep me updated if you find anything, okay?” Marinette nodded eagerly before saying goodbye to Ivan and parting ways. 

Ivan is a bit more understanding...

Twins Rank 4!

After a while of walking, she decided to go for a run as Ladybug, patrol the city for a bit.. Finding a good hiding place and transforming, she set about the city.

It felt relaxing to run around, releasing some pent-up tension in her body as she ran and jumped over buildings. Her yo-yo felt like an extension of herself as she tossed herself into the air and always safely caught herself. If Marinette wasn’t sure she was something of an adrenaline junkie before, becoming Ladybug seemed to have awoken it and/or proven it. 

Ladybug almost found her yo-yo missing her target as she spotted a familiar blond attempting to flag her down. Thankfully, she caught herself. It had only been a few days since she talked to Felix, and she honestly expected a little more time before he tried contacting her.

“What can I do for you, Felix?” Ladybug asked, giving her best encouraging smile.

“First, I wanted to apologize,” Felix began. “I shouldn’t have tried impersonating Adrien, nor should I have forced myself upon you like that. I have some deep-seated issues I’m dealing with; I apologize for that but I don’t feel ready to talk to you on said issues.”

“So, you don’t trust me for personal stuff,” Ladybug said diplomatically, “that’s understandable. I accept your apology, but I don’t wanna hear about you pulling shit with someone else, okay?”

“Thank you…” Felix said, “There are two other things I wanted to discuss with you, though. Do you have time?”

“I can pass a few hours if necessary,” Ladybug shrugged. 

“Second of the three things, then,” Felix nodded, “There’s an event my mother is hosting. Due to you stopping Hawkmoth and its surrounding events, it will be hosted here instead of London as usual.” 

Pulling out an envelope from his pocket, he handed it to her and said, “I would like to invite you. Not only is this an apology of sorts, but as the one who helped our family get through Hawkmoth, you should be invited there anyways.”

“Thanks,” Ladybug said as she looked over the content of the envelope. It seemed to be an anniversary, though Ladybug didn’t get a big look at it so as not to keep Felix waiting too long. “That said, I think I’m gonna be busy then, so I’m afraid I have to decline…”

“That’s a shame,” Felix said, “perhaps I’ll invite your ally Marinette in your stead.”

“That’s not a b- what, what?”

“You did send her after me a few nights ago to talk me through a few things. This actually coincides with the third thing - why?”

“Why what?” Ladybug asked confusedly, tilting her head to the side.

“Why would you try to help me by sending Marinette? For all you knew, I was still the same asshole who forced himself upon you… what made you care?”

Ladybug took a little bit to formulate an answer. “I guess the short answer is… you look like you needed an ally, or maybe a friend. Gabriel Agreste, monstrously as he acted, had noble goals. I like to think everyone has some good in them, even if they don’t choose to act upon it.”

Smiling softly, she then asked, “Did you really think you were any different?”

“Yes… I just mainly wanted to cause trouble.”

“Even so, you seemingly had a reason for it. Whatever that reason is may not be my business, but you acted out for a reason.”

“John Locke once said everything happens for a reason, I suppose…”

“There you go!” Ladybug smiled at him. “Now, make sure to treat people right from now on, okay? I don’t wanna have to see you in the news for bad reasons anytime soon.”

Felix nodded rather resolutely. “You have my word.”

As Ladybug threw out her yo-yo and swung off, Felix muttered, “Everything happens for a reason, huh… what could possibly be the reason for taking him?”

Felix intends to invite you to an important event…

Rebirth Rank 5!

Ladybug continued on with her patrol, she figured she may as well make an evening out of it. On different parts of it so far, Hebi and Wyvern had joined her for a little while, but they’d ultimately had to leave her in order to fulfill other commitments.

The sound of angry shouting drew her attention as she passed by Le Grand Paris. Unable to piece what was being said together, she decided to listen in in case it was something serious like child abuse or something. As she approached the hotel, she noted that the angry voice sounded like it was coming from what (if her memory served her correctly) was Chloe’s room.

Spying from an unnoticeable position, her eyes widened as she took in the sight of Andre looming over Chloe. Andre was obviously full of rage, and his face was practically contaminated with the emotion. Chloe - who was sitting on her bed - had her hair down, which was a surprise for Ladybug. Chloe never let her hair out of her usual ponytail when someone could see it; even during Painhen, Chloe’s hair had been tailed up, even if it seemed to droop more. Ladybug didn’t miss the silent, broken look on her face.

Wait… was she seriously feeling sorry for Chloe? Then again, she mused, given what’s going on, it would be hard not to. Was she supposed to step in? It honestly felt like Andre was  crossing a line with this. Unsure of what to do yet, Ladybug decided to listen in more.

From what she picked up as Chloe and Andre conversed (although it was more like as Andre shouted at her and Chloe attempted to explain her side of the story only to be shut down quickly), it seemed that some kid at some summer school that Chloe must be attending attacked her, most likely for what she did as Miracle Queen. From what Chloe had gotten out, she had only fought back in self-defense, and both kids had gotten in trouble with the school. Ladybug wasn’t sure how well the school had reacted, but she didn’t have high hopes. Andre hadn’t seemed to care, though, telling her to control her temper better before straightening his tie, a sign that he was done talking. 

As Andre eventually stormed out of the room, Ladybug caught a glimpse of Audrey Bourgeois standing outside the door. What caught her attention most was the horrified look on her face as she watched Andre go; she’d stared at him like she didn’t even recognize him anymore.

“Hm… I wonder if I should keep an eye on this… maybe I’ll ask Adrien if he remembers ever seeing M. Bourgeois like this… he would be the next best candidate as Chloe’s childhood friend.” Ladybug managed to find a spot to sit on and crossed her arms, tapping her finger while thinking. “I doubt Sabrina would know anything, but maybe I should ask her as well… this is most likely a recent development, after all.” 

As Ladybug snuck away, she heard Chloe mutter, “I’ll prove you wrong, Daddy. I’m gonna make something of myself, I swear it!” 

Turning around, she spared a glance into the now dark room; perhaps Chloe went elsewhere to think or hide from would-be akumas? This would be something she would definitely keep an eye on. If things got too serious, she would intervene by getting the cops involved. Chloe or whoever, nobody deserved to be shouted at like that.

“I still have time to pass before dinner,” Ladybug mused, “so I’ll keep an eye out for akumas in this area. It’s probably the least I could do after eavesdropping on… that.” She still felt a little guilty for not intervening, but she kept on asking herself - was she supposed to?

When she got home, it was a rather difficult conversation to have with Adrien. It seemed that Andre did have a bit of a temper but it was always pointed at those who deserved it, never at his own child. Adrien stated he would keep an eye out on Le Grande Paris as he knew how much was on Marinette’s plate already (not to mention that he was worried for Chloe if Andre was acting like this). Adrien didn’t consider Chloe as close a friend as they’d once been, and they had barely talked since Miracle Queen, but he still hoped he'd change, even if he now knew better than to do nothing to curb her bad behavior in the hopes that the “kindness” would inspire her to change.

Marinette felt a headache coming on, the stress at the end of the day catching up with her at last. “I’m turning in early. Hopefully, that’ll get rid of it…”

Despite turning in early, Marinette didn’t sleep easy that night, her mind practically punishing her for not stepping in while also making her relive some of her less pleasant childhood memories involving Chloe.

Chapter Text

For some reason, Marinette found herself getting up earlier than normal, possibly due to the sleepless night but somewhere in her instincts told her that something was off today. Or perhaps something was going to happen. She really couldn’t tell, but she promised herself that she would try to keep an eye out for trouble. 

Marinette passed the time in the bakery, helping her parents for the most part, Adrien joining when he got up. Plagg was all too eager for the fresh cheese danishes that the family had learned to set aside. It was honestly a sense of comfort and routine. Marinette was so into the rhythm that she found herself being pulled out her head when Adrien got her attention.

“The gang’s coming over in a bit, if that’s okay.” Marinette’s confused look had Adrien clarifying. “I guess you haven’t read your phone, hence why they informed me. If you don’t want them to, I can tell them it’s not a good time.”

“No, no, it’s fine.” Marinette waved her hand. “I’ve just been feeling off all day, didn’t sleep much last night due to you-know-what and my brain has been feeling haywired due to a feeling of...something I guess. I think seeing everyone may just lift my spirits.”

“I’ll let them know then, especially since you and Alya don’t seem to be… communicating.”

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Perhaps all she needed was her friends to take her mind off things for now. In hopes of preparation, Marinette began to make some drinks and snacks to help her beat the heat, using her knowledge of her friends’ tastes to guide her. At some point, Adrien joined in; being as new to the class as Alya, he was curious of some of their preferred tastes and wanted to learn not only said tastes but how to fulfill them.

It was not an unexpected surprise that Kagami and Luka were the first two to arrive, Juleka and Rose following not far behind. Marinette noticed changes in Marc’s demeanor when he and Nathaniel came in; with his mother’s controlling behavior behind him, he looked a lot happier and healthier.

Kim seemed to arrive with Alix, Max and Ivan; the fact that Mylene wasn’t with the last of the three most likely meant that Ivan had yet to text her. Marinette sighed a little at the realization but ultimately decided against saying anything for now, it was Ivan’s business to tell Mylene, not hers. That would most likely mean that the rest of the girls would most likely be joining later on.

“Hey, Marinette, good to see you again! It’s been too long!” Kim greeted with a firm pat on the shoulder. “Thanks again for the tutoring last semester, it was a big help! Oh, that reminds me - Max had an idea before the start of the year; tell her, Max!”

Max shifted uneasily, more than a little uncomfortable with the attention placed on him. 

“It wasn’t much of an idea,” he said awkwardly, “I just suggested we all review before the start of the school year so everything is fresh in our minds.”

“Aw, come on!” a painfully-familiar voice called out casually, “We’ve still got a good while of summer break left. I can use that time to focus on my blog; besides, you know the first week of school is nothing but reviewing.”

“I think it’s a smart idea, Alya,” Marinette gave an encouraging smile to Max. “You can count me in on that, Max, but if it’ll help, we can do it closer to the school year’s start or something.”

“I think that was what he meant, you guys,” Adrien wrapped an arm casually around his girlfriend’s shoulders, trying to keep the peace between the two. “You can count me in as well. It’s a great reason to also hang out more with everyone.”

Thankfully, it was enough to appease Alya who merely pouted as she made her way in, Mylene and Sabrina behind her. Marinette noted how Sabrina looked a little uneasy being around the rest of the class, and yet there was something in there that indicated she was happy at the same time. 

There was no sign of Lila; the girl most likely lied and said she was busy. Marinette was grateful for that; she had a sinking suspicion the teen wasn’t even allowed in the bakery anymore if her parents saw her (especially her Maman). Hell, a part of her was sure that all three of her partners would have a little too much fun kicking Lila out as well.

When Tom and Sabine both came out to see who was there, they discreetly casted a look at Alya then to Marinette; their daughter merely nodded and flashed them a small thumbs-up, which seemed to be enough for the two. Still, if they were to keep an ear out for any trouble, no one could really blame them.

Time passed by for the group. Marinette found her spirits lifting, and she was grateful to her partners for keeping distance between herself and Alya. She’d have to thank them in private later. Even though things weren’t as chill between the two as Alya seemed to be pretending they were, the two former best friends were actually rather amicable when Lila wasn’t in the way.

You feel your bonds with Adrien, Kagami, Luka, Marc, Nathaniel, Rose, Juleka, Kim, Ivan & Mylene improving…

As this was going on, no one knew that someone was on their way to the bakery with important things to say, mentally going over each and every event they’d need to discuss.

“And then I said, ‘Why should I need to come out? If you didn’t realize I wasn’t straight, that’s on you!’” Kim delivered the punchline, earning uproarious laughter from the rest of them.

The sound of the door opening had everyone turning. Any and all casual greetings died on their lips as they all saw just who was standing at the door.

“Chloe…” Kim whispered, he and Ivan near-instinctively stepping in front of Sabrina.

“I… I wanted to come to… apologize…” Words seemed stuck in the blonde’s throat yet she pressed on. “I h-had planned to d-do this at your houses individually…” Chloe bit her lip as eyes scanned over the tense crowds, reminding Marinette of a spooked deer in headlights. “b-but it’s probably better this way…”

Hiccuping, she said, “I’ve been a horrible… no, a complete monster to all of you! In some way or another I’ve bullied you, damaged your property at times, s-sl-slandered you, framed you for crimes you didn’t commit, f-forced you to do my work for me… copy or stolen your work, or something else… even if none of you b-believe me or… or for-forgive me, I completely understand.” No one seemed to really be paying attention to the fact that Chloe was crying until she wiped at her eyes and cheeks. “It would be selfish of me to ask that of you. I’ve done so much damage to a-all of you as well as many people in Paris; this is something I needed to do a long time ago…”

Many of the inhabitants wondered if this was just a show or if Chloe was playing up the theatrics to try and garner sympathy; however, she surprised everyone by going to every single person in the bakery (including those who weren’t in Bustier’s class) and apologized, in details, over every single thing she had done to them. There was no event that was left out - not even the Miracle Queen stuff.

“Like I said before… you don’t have to believe or forgive me… I don’t expect you to. I just needed to apologize to all of you.” With that, Chloe left the bakery, intending to make her way around the city and continue on her journey of apologizing to every single citizen she had wronged.

Once the door closed, no one seemed able to speak, everyone still stunned from the fact that the normally-spoiled heiress had actually come to apologize for her past cruelty.

Surprisingly, it was Ivan who spoke first. “Holy shit…”

“Did… did that really just happen?” Kim looked almost zoned out despite staring at the door, his gaze shifting to everyone within sight. “Was I hallucinating? You guys saw that too, right?”

Sabrina - now unable to sit up properly out of shock - practically dropped into her chair, still focusing on the door her former friend had closed. That seemed to break the rest of them out of their stupor, everyone rushing over to check on the redheaded girl.

“Do you think that was legit?” Marinette discreetly asked Adrien once the two pulled away from the group.

“I think so, but I’m not too sure…” Adrien frowned while crossing his arms. “The way Chloe was acting… it’s way different from when we were kids. I always naively believed that how she treated me was normal, and now I know better.”

“Maybe it has to do with what I saw last night…” Marinette wondered.

“Perhaps we’ll keep an eye on Chloe and see if anything happens,” Luka suggested, he and Kagami having broken from the group to join them, “I think it’s the best we can do right now.”

Eventually, Sabrina managed to recover enough. “Thank you all for caring…” she said.

“Oh, of course!” Rose said, “You’re one of us now!”

“Mhm,” Juleka shook her head up and down in agreement, “Even if Chloe seems to be changing her behavior, it would take a while before I would ever forgive her…”

If you forgive her…” Nathaniel scowled, before lightening up, “If I ever forgive her for what she’s done, I’ll certainly never forget.”

“The axe forgets, but the tree remembers,” Marc quoted, “Chloe mostly left me alone, as I wasn’t in her class, but I don’t recall her being nice to me in particular… I was only really happy when she said she was leaving because I knew how much she’d harmed you, mi arcoíris.”

“Speaking of her biggest victims…” Alya said, “How do you feel about all of that, Marinette?”

“Honestly, I’m speechless…” she admitted once everyone had turned to her, “I feel conflicted, really… I think I’m still processing it all, to be honest.” 

“Chloe and Marinette actually used to be friends, before Chloe closed off and started being mean to all of us,” Kim provided for Alya, Kagami and Marc, “Nino could vouch for me, but he’s not here right now and all…”

“Speaking of Nino, I should fill him in soon on all of that,” Alya muttered out loud, “I don’t know if he’d be happy to hear anything about her, per se, but…”

“I think we should all discuss this some other time,” Mylene suggested, “it might do us all some good to process this on our own.”
“Good call, Mylene!” Alix spoke up, “That way, if an akuma comes our way…”

“Nice call!” Adrien agreed, “They can’t get all of us at once now, since F… since Hawkmoth is long gone.”

Everyone shot him sympathetic looks. “Speaking of which, Adrien,” Max said awkwardly, “how are you coping with all of that?”

“If you mean his death?” Adrien said rather bluntly, “I’m conflicted in a different way than you guys might have expected. On one hand, he’s my father, and nobody - not even him - deserves to die like that.”

“As much as I fucking hated your dad, I agree,” Luka nodded along.

“On the other hand…” Adrien said gravely, “he hurt me, my family, my loved ones, and my city. I’m… is it wrong that I’m sorta glad he’s gone?”

Ivan walked up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “This may be biased coming from me,” he admitted, “but hell no. You feel how you’re supposed to feel. Something Hawkmoth - horrid as he was - taught us that the way we feel is important and should be cherished.”

“He’s right,” Alya nodded, “Adrien, we don’t think any less of you for what he did to all of us - what he did to you!”

“And we definitely don’t blame you for M. Agreste’s actions,” Nathaniel said, “There’s something to be said against blaming the son for the sins of the father…”

The group started reassuring Adrien that how he felt was okay. He ended up crying lightly into their group hug, before they eventually started casually conversing again to help avoid akumas.

Adrien is coming to terms with Gabriel’s death…

Lust Rank 6!

Later on, close to evening Chloe arrived back home. Her feet were killing her and she felt physically and emotionally drained; she had apologized so much that day and there was a chance it was all for naught. But that was okay, she had to tell herself, perhaps everyone’s rejection was her punishment. Heaven knows she deserved it for how she had acted.

“I’m gonna sleep for a week after this…” she mumbled exhaustedly. 

It was not meant to be.

She hadn’t made it ten steps out of the elevator and onto the floor where her room was when she heard the sounds of struggling nearby. Rushing over, she whipped back to her side of the corner, staying out of sight as she saw a shadowy figure dragging an unconscious person into her Daddy’s suite.

Actually, that’s not just some person, Chloe realized, that’s-

When nightfall came everyone began trickling out, those who were on the list for more baked goods, carrying their pastries out the door (it was Adrien who managed to convince them). Eager to stretch their legs again, Ladybug and Chat Noir decided to go for a run, Wyvern and Hebi sadly couldn’t join them without raising suspicions with their families, but they wished the two a good night without any trouble.

They’d been parkouring around for a while, laughing and exchanging banter before eventually stopping to catch their breath.

Suddenly, Chat froze, eyes fixated on something off in the distance. Confused, Ladybug turned in the direction he was looking at.

Up in the sky was the infuriatingly familiar Bee Signal.

Ladybug’s eye twitched, and a furious look appeared on her face. Even if Chloe had apologized to the people she’d wronged all day, did she seriously expect Ladybug to return Pollen as if everything was hunky-dory now?

Oh, hell no!

“M’Lady…?” Chat quietly said beside her, a worried look on his face. He’d seen the Bee Signal, and he wasn’t pleased, either, but he was more worried about Ladybug’s enraged look right now. Before he could do anything else, however, she was swinging off in the direction of Le Grand Paris’ rooftop.

Sure enough, Chloe was standing near the machine that cast the signal. She had an extremely panicked look on her face even before she noticed Ladybug and Chat Noir; in fact, the moment Chloe did notice her was after Ladybug had tied her up with her yo-yo.

Yanking her up-close, Ladybug snarled, “Are you fucking kidding me, Chloe?”


“Listen to me, and listen to me close , Chloe. You are never going to use Pollen again, especially not after Miracle Queen. Did you think just apologizing to a few people will make you hero quality again? Do you think it’ll make up for what you’ve done?”

“L-Ladybug…” Chloe barely got out. Ladybug wasn’t done.

“If I were you, I would fucking trash that signal,” Ladybug told her, “Face the facts: you will never-”

It’s not about Pollen!” Chloe shouted, having finally found her voice.

This gave Ladybug pause. “Wait, what?” It was only then that she noticed the tear streaks on Chloe’s face.

“I don’t deserve Pollen or anything from you, I get it,” Chloe began to cry, “but I need your help! Someone kidnapped Daddy!”

“Come again?” Chat asked, eyes wide open, “Did you see who?”

“No… I was hiding from them…” Chloe was full-on sobbing again, “I saw a white light flash temporarily around the corridor in the direction of Daddy’s room. There was a weird sound, and after I was sure the attacker had left, I went to see what happened.”

A heavy lump formed in Ladybug’s stomach. “He wasn’t there, was he?”

“But the thing is he wasn’t-” Chloe said before what Ladybug said was truly registered in her head, “Wait, how did you know that?” 

“There’s a TV in his room, right?”

“Uh… why does that matter?” The question clearly had Chloe pausing and trying to figure out why that was even asked. 

Thankfully, Ladybug seemed to read her expression and clarified for her. “Remember when Adrien disappeared? Before everything with Gabriel Agreste was revealed?”

Chloe nodded. She’d struggled even more at the disappearance of her childhood friend, although it got better after Adrien ‘returned’ and revealed himself as Urulóki.

“If our theory is correct about your father, what happened to him is similar,” Chat explained, “although he wasn’t kidnapped.”

“We need you not to freak out and attract akumas and/or amoks,” Ladybug said as calmly as she could, “but while we can try to prevent it, it’s possible what happened to Gabriel might happen to your dad.”

“No…” Chloe’s eyes were wide with horror. By now, Ladybug had loosened her yo-yo’s grip on Chloe, and the blonde shook her way out of the yo-yo’s bindings and got up. All but rushing Ladybug, she begged, “Please help me save my Daddy, Ladybug! I know I’ve been nothing but trouble for you, but please don’t let him die like Gabriel!”

“We’ll do our best, Chloe,” Ladybug nodded, “and I’m sorry for snapping at you for the misunderstanding.”

“I don’t fault you,” Chloe admitted.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever forget what you did, but I can see you’re trying to become worthy of forgiveness,” Ladybug told her, “I have contacts who will call you and take you where you need to go, but if you go with them, I need you to do as you’re told, okay?”

“I let you down and hurt you and others many times, Ladybug…” Chloe frowned, deeply pained at the memory of Miracle Queen, “I won’t do it again. What do I need to do?”

“For starters, if you have something with your dad’s scent, bring it. I know it sounds weird, but it’ll help, I promise.” 

Turning to Chat, Ladybug said, “Chaton, call the I.T. and get Hebi. Let them know what’s going on.”

“Affirmative, M’Lady!” Chat said, frantically whipping out his communicator. Yosuke and Kagami both picked up on the first ring; Chat didn’t put it on speaker, just in case they accidentally revealed names.

“Chat, what’s going on?” Kagami asked.

“Mayor Bourgeois has been abducted,” Chat responded.

“Shit…” Yosuke swore, “Was it Donna Piuma again?”

“We don’t know,” Ladybug said, “Chloe was the one who saw it.”

“You sure she wasn’t lying?” Yu’s voice piped in.

“She said it wasn’t about Pollen herself,” Ladybug answered, “and I’m sure she knows better than to lie to us. Besides, she’s not that good an actress.”

Chloe wisely said nothing from her position. She didn’t try to see who was on the other side of the screen, afraid she’d fuck something up.

“We’ll call the rest of the Investigation Team and meet with you in the TV tomorrow,” Yu told them, “If Chloe stays behind and promises not to cause trouble, she is welcome to try and help.”

Ladybug relayed the message to Chloe, who eagerly nodded her assent to the terms, reiterating that she wanted to save her Daddy. 

“Then, it looks like we’ve got help.” Ladybug nodded, avoiding names just to be safe for the next part, “If the navigators need anything specific, just let us know. We already informed Chloe to bring something for our bear friend, and I think she’ll be able to give any information we may need.”

“That’ll help,” Yu sighed, “At least she won’t have to go around all of Paris looking for information. It was tough looking for information when we had to look for one who is now our newest navigator.”

“That will help; we may know Paris but it’s too big to search for clues,” Chat sighed while ruffling his hair. “At least you guys live in a place way smaller than us. It’d be hell searching around Paris for clues.”

“We’ll contact you tomorrow when we’re ready. Hopefully, we get to Mr. Bourgeois before his Shadow Self does…” Yosuke said before hanging up.

“Shadow… Self?” Chloe asked. “S-sorry! I wasn’t meaning to eavesdrop!”

“If that’s all you picked up, it’s fine,” Ladybug waved her off, “Shadow Selves are like… doppelgangers of people with truths they hide from everyone, themselves included. Rejecting them makes them transform into monsters and go berserk. We presume Gabriel Agreste rejected his Shadow Self and was killed by him.”

“So basically, we need to hurry to get to him,” Chat explained, “though I don’t think we’ll get him tonight. We’ll contact you tomorrow and tell you who to meet with. In the meantime, get something with his scent and think of any changes you noticed in your father’s behavior.”

“I could tell you the latter right now,” Chloe half-scoffed, “Since he heard about Miracle Queen, he cracked down on me hard. I’m attending summer school right now, but it’s mostly online, so I don’t have to worry about skipping school or something.”

“Well… that’s sorta good, at least. We’ll pass on the information, but if we need any more information, we’ll let you know. For now...” Ladybug ran her hand through her hair trying to think of what to say next. It didn’t seem right to tell Chloe to just sleep this off. “For now, just do that. We promise you that we’ll do what we can to help. I’m sorry if it’s not much, but it’s the best I can say for now.”

“Ladybug…” Tears still shimmered in Chloe’s eyes, but they’d stopped falling. “Thank you.”

“We have a mutual interest in not getting your dad killed,” Chat nodded. “Oh, and if anyone asks, let them know something happened to him but that the heroes are on the case.”

“C-Can do!”

“Stay safe, Chloe,” Ladybug said before she and Chat took off for the bakery, eager to get some good sleep in preparation for the troubles to come.

Chapter Text

After her alarm woke her up bright and early, the first thing Marinette did was call Chloe. 

Du- Marinette?” Chloe asked, “What do you w- er, need?”

“To help you,” Marinette said seriously, “You want to save your father, don’t you?”

There was a sharp breath on the other side of the phone. “That makes sense…” Marinette heard quietly muttered, “What do I need to do?”

“Meet me, Adrien, and Kagami at the bakery. You have forty-five minutes to an hour. We’ll explain everything once you get there.”

“Affirmative… uh, should I call you Marinette or Dupain-Cheng?”

“Marinette is fine.”


The next thing she did was contact the I.T. to confirm that they were ready to go. It had been decided that the team would alternate between fighting and puppy-guarding Chloe, since she would likely insist on going with them.

Chloe showed up fifty minutes in, on the dot. Tom and Sabine gave her wary looks as she passed them in the bakery - Marinette had informed her parents what had happened, and as bad as they felt for Chloe, they hadn’t forgotten her actions towards Marinette (especially not the train incident).

Chloe had been understandably shocked to see the TV World portal show up. “Marinette, what in the fresh fuck is this?”

“Our ticket to saving your father,” Marinette was checking over to make sure they had everything they would need. She’d packed extra coffee and energy drinks as she had a feeling they would be using a lot of magic. Kagami helped by sneaking in specific treats for the kwami, just in case they would find a way to feed their kwami in secret. It was going to be rather awkward, summoning their Personas.

“But… it’s a TV!”

“Trust us, Chloe. It may seem crazy, but we’ve all gone through this; Marinette and I have both fallen into a TV.” Adrien patted the confused blonde’s shoulder in comfort. He shifted his gaze over to where his girlfriends were just finishing up. “Are we all set?”

“Yeah, we’re good to go.”

“Prepare yourself, then,” Kagami warned Chloe, “the landing is a little hard. We still haven’t gotten something to break our fall yet.”

With that, Adrien took Chloe’s hand and guided her into the TV. Marinette and Kagami followed suit right after.

The Inabans were caught off guard by a flash and a series of THUMPs occurring near the spot where they’d been conversing.

“We seriously need that landing pad…” Marinette grumbled as she rubbed her lower back. “I am bringing one next chance we get, no more forgetting.”

“I will remind you,” Kagami promised as she stood up, “Maybe we’ll try throwing a bunch of pillows in before we enter and see if that works.”

Chloe was the only one not on her feet. She was only partially up, stupefied as she stared at the world on the other side of the TV.

She didn’t even notice the Inabans until Yu offered a hand to help her up. As she snapped out of her awe and stared into his eyes, something briefly clicked in her mind. Disregarding it for now, she took his hand.

“Thanks,” she said to him, earning a raised eyebrow from Kagami. She then turned to the rest of the Inabans and said, “I’m presuming you and these three here are all buddies now. I’d like to apologize to all of you for hurting these guys… well, Adrien and Marinette, at least. Did I… did I ever hurt you, Kagami?”

To the Inabans, this was a first; Chloe was apologizing to others unprompted. Maybe she really is trying to change, Yukiko mused; looking at the others, she could tell they were thinking along the same lines.

“I’m not gonna pretend I know what you’ve done,” Teddie said, walking up to her with the lower half of his suit on, “but you deserve a chance to change. You’ll lose other things if you refuse, I think, but you do deserve a chance.”

Impressed at Teddie’s maturity, everyone could only nod along.

“I didn’t have time to make you glasses for this world,” Teddie then apologized, “but I’ll get to work on that!”

“Glasses?” Chloe asked. “You know what? It can wait. Introductions?”

“Yu,” said the silver-haired boy, “and these guys are Yosuke, Chie, Yukiko, Kanji, Rise and Teddie.”

“Wait a moment… Rise as in Risette?!” Chloe’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped as she fully recognized the idol, “Holy shit! Adrien used to be your biggest fan in Paris when he started modeling!”

“H-hey!” Adrien yelped, blushing a hot red, “It’s not like you didn’t think she was cute!”

Chloe froze up at his words, causing Yosuke to tilt his head in confusion. “What’s wrong?”


“Lemme guess,” Kanji said uneasily, “another case of internalized something-phobia?”

“Intern… what?” Rise asked.

“It’s like when you know being gay or whatever your sexuality is ain’t bad,” Kanji explained, “but you gotta tell your mind to get out outta all the conditioning people put on you when they say it is bad.”

“It’s not that easy!” Chloe snapped, “Daddy has campaigns to worry about and bigots to keep pleased. As much as I’d love to come out, I can’t afford that! Besides… I don’t know if he’d accept me…”

Marinette hesitantly approached Chloe, but the blonde pushed her hand out. “Please, no, Dupain-Cheng. You lay a finger on me and I’m going to break down. The last thing we need is an akuma…”

“You don’t need to worry about those here,” Chie assured the younger teen, “If you need to have a cry, then have one. You’re safe in here...well, aside from Shadows, but those are another story.”

“While you do that, I’ll begin the search right now,” Rise got everyone’s attention, “I got somewhat of an idea from your heroes in Paris - don’t ask; I won’t reveal how - but if I need clarification on something, I can ask you, right?” 

“Of course!”

With that stated, Rise summoned Himiko, who brought down the visor as she began to scan the foggy areas.

Chloe recoiled in shock as Himiko appeared; ignoring the scanner head, she felt like she was looking at some sort of goddess or queen.

“What in the world…?”

“This is Himiko,” Kagami explained, “She’s Rise’s Persona. Personas are our true selves in different, superpowered forms… did I explain that right?”

“Sounds about right to me,” Yu nodded. 

“So you three have Personas too I take it?”

“Yep, and like hers, they only come out when summoned.” Here was hoping Adrien’s comment would save their kwamis and identities from being discovered. Chloe - whether she was changing or not - was one of the last people Marinette wanted to let in on that secret. Right… time to use her other Personas. Good thing she had other Personas with Fire and Light skills… 

“Ah! Found something!” Rise’s voice cut Marinette right out of her thought process. “You smell it too, Teddie?”
Teddie - now fully in his costume - blinked, before sniffing around. “Nope… you sure have an impressive schnozz, Rise-chan!”

“I think it may be more of Himiko’s doing, but thank you Teddie. I’m sure your nose is just as impressive.” Rise’s praise seemed to make Teddie a little bashful; the bear-boy blushed and rubbed the back of his head. 

“Thanks, Rise-chan!” Teddie said, the others thanking her in turn. “Take us there, please!”

“Alrighty then!” Rise said, Himiko disappearing into blue light, “Follow me, and stay close - especially you, Chloe!” If Chloe noticed how she seemed almost directly in the middle of everyone as they ventured along, she didn’t say anything.


The Investigation Team had found themselves in a lush, humid jungle full of plants but strangely lacking in any animals whatsoever. On the sides of the path leading to the entrance to the ruins-like area that must be the Dungeon, there were pedestals - once statues that had crumbled and broken into so many pieces that if they were effigies of someone it would be impossible to tell who.

“Your Pa isn’t an animal hater, is he?” Kanji asked.

“I don’t think so…” Chloe answered, “What is this place?”

“Places like these are called Dungeons,” Marinette explained, “they reflect the Shadow Self who lives there’s distortion.”

“I… don’t follow…”

“Everyone has their dark secrets they hide from everyone,” Kagami said, “That darkness becomes a Shadow Self, who looks like the real self but often in a costume and with golden eyes.”

“Me and Kagami had a prison for a Dungeon,” Adrien supplied helpfully, “It was right before I helped expose F- Gabriel as Hawkmoth…”

“That man was always shit,” Chloe scowled. “Sorry, Adrik- Adrien, but even if he didn’t deserve to die the way he did, whoever killed him did the world a service.”

“Me and Yukiko’s were in a castle,” Chie added on.

“We don’t talk about the bathhouse…” Kanji’s shoulders raised up a little, the bottle blond groaning a little at the memory of his Shadow Self.

“Can we add the stripclub to that list?” Rise requested.

“Sounds fair to me,” Yu shuddered. “I just sorta awakened to mine… I think it’s because I don’t have much to hide.”

“Looking back…” Marinette mused, “I think mine seems sorta mild after everything we’ve seen and heard from you guys.”

“Explains why you were able to accept your Shadow Self so easily,” Yosuke teased.

“Oh, shut up, Frogger!”

“Accept? What happens if you reject your Shadow?” Chloe’s question had the others pausing, but before anyone could answer, some sort of loud, shrill cry cut off any response.

“Looks like the Shadows are rolling out the welcome mat,” Yu snapped to attention as a Shadow oozed out. Readying his sword, he declared, “Everyone, get your weapons ready, Chloe, you stay behind Chie and Kagami!”

Striking it with his sword, it reformed into a trio of eyeless stone-creatures shaped like infants with a single golden daisy atop their heads. The Lionheart Bambini screeched out a battle cry.

“That’s rather creepy-looking…” Chloe muttered, shuddering slightly, “And you guys are gonna fight them?”

“Yup!” Teddie declared, “Let’s see what I can do now - Kintoki-Douji, Bufula!”

Off the bat, Ice skills seemed to do the trick, as the ensuing attack knocked one of the Lionheart Bambini on its feet. 

“That makes things easier then!” Chie followed up with Mabufu, knocking down all of the Lionheart Bambini. “Go for it you guys!” Being on guard duty meant that she couldn’t leave Chloe behind, but she could still attack from a distance. 

Taking advantage of things, the rest of them went in for an All-Out Attack, clearing out the area of Shadows. 

“That was surprisingly fast, but definitely for the best. Let’s get going.”

Chloe could only gape as she stared at the group. “And you guys do this all the time?”

“Not all the time,” Yosuke shrugged, “but we’ve been at this for a while now. We think Donna Piuma’s been working with someone who’s been murdering folks back at… our place.”

“Is it my place to ask where ‘your place’ is?” Chloe asked innocently. 

“Best not to say,” Kanji stated. “All ya gotta know for now’s that we came here through a TV like you guys did.”

The group continued on to the next floor, as they alternated with protecting Chloe. For the most part, Adrien and Kagami rarely seemed to use their Personas and mostly focused on physical attacks. Marinette switched between her other Personas and before Chloe could ask about the similarities she saw between her and Yu, a Shadow always seemed to pop out and attack. 

On the second floor, a voice had the group stopping. The four Parisians seemed to be the only ones who recognized it.

“Chloe, you troublesome child…” the angry voice of Andre Bourgeois echoed throughout the room, “do you not realize all the trouble you’re in? All the problems you have caused me? Ugh… I should have been this harsh on you long ago! Maybe then you might have learned to not be such a brat…”

That had everyone looking over at Chloe, the blonde had her shoulders hunched up as while holding her arms in an almost self kind of hug. She looked to be biting her lip, almost hard enough to draw blood. 

“Let’s continue on,” Yu stated, giving her a look of concern. “Chloe, are you sure you’re going to be able to handle this? He is only going to get more harsher the deeper we go, because we’re hearing his true thoughts. The ones your father might be trying to suppress.”

“Suppress…” Chloe mumbled as they began walking again, “If these are hidden, why is he so open about his displeasure with me?”

The group continued on, using a bit more magic than normal as physical seemed to mostly be ineffective against the Shadows, or at least on the first few floors. They came to a door that most likely had the stairs (or at least something important) behind them but of course…

“Locked. Typical.” Yusuke released a groan to show his displeasure. “And like always, some random Shadow will have it.”

“More like a mini-boss,” Yukiko corrected with a sigh. “I think we left some rooms unattended, so let’s just try them.”

As they began searching for another door, they ran into another Shadow. Marinette jumped on the opportunity and struck it with her hook, transforming it into a duo of orange justice scale-things and another duo of disembodied hands with a diamond-encrusted mirror-thing on the other side of where their palms were.

One of the Strike Balances hopped up and managed to nick Yu with its sword-like stand. Marinette immediately prepared to summon a Persona. Crushing her card, an elderly figure with wings that dripped feathers and wax appeared. 

“Daedalus! Diarama!” she cried, and the Persona obeyed. Yu’s cut was instantly fixed up.

“Thanks!” Yu nodded at her, before summoning his own Persona. A watery womanoid with blonde and green hair appeared.

“Undine! Mabufula!” he called. The Ice spell did decent damage to both the Sharpfinger Hands and Strike Balances.

Kanji then attempted to swing his chair at the Strike Balance who attacked Yu. It deflected his swing, and the chair bashed Kanji in the face instead. 

“Looks like physical attacks are out…” Chie huffed; this meant she couldn’t use her kicks (Yukiko and Kagami were on Chloe duty). “Ice did some damage, so… Tomoe! Bufula!”

The attacking Strike Balance was killed by the Ice spell, earning a cheer from Chie.

“Way to go, Chie!” Marinette lauded, before clapping up another card, “Ōnamazu!”

A large catfish covered in mud appeared. With a cry of Magarula, Wind spells ripped into the three remaining Shadows, knocking down the Strike Balance and killing one of the Sharpfinger Hands.

“Go again, Marinette!” Rise’s voice called out from next to Chloe and those protecting her.

“Got it! Goryō!” With another card crushed between her palms, a ghostly figure in aristocratic clothing appeared, a ring of water surrounding it like a hula hoop.

“Hama!” Marinette declared, the Light spell one-shotting the other Sharpfinger Hand.

“All-Out Attack time!” Rise said, boosting the fighters’ energy and strength as they charged the last Shadow. It far surpassed overkill. 

Sadly, the Shadows didn’t drop a key, so the team progressed through the floor, looking around.

“How much money are you guys willing to bet there’s a mini-boss behind this door?” Yosuke asked once they’d reached another open door.

Adrien laughed, a hint of unease in his tone. “I am not going to bet money on that. That’s a sucker bet!” 

“Poor sport!” Yosuke shot back good-naturedly. 

Being the strongest of the group, Kanji and Yu both opened the door to spot two giant rhinoceros beetles with black wings and red horns. Noticing the Investigation Team immediately, they let out deafening squeals and assumed a battle position.

“Good thing you didn’t take that sucker bet!” Kanji yelled back to Adrien as he dodged a heft of one of the Disappointed Beetles’ horns; after he was out of their sight, the two moved to stand in front of Chloe, protecting her and Rise.

“No kidding…” Kagami muttered, using her nodachi sword to block an attack from the second charging Disappointed Beetle. 

“Try to find a weakness and exploit it, you guys.” Rise advised the group. “I doubt Physical attacks will do much…”

“Time for elements, then,” Yosuke nodded his affirmation, “Susano-o, Magarula!” 

The ensuing Wind spell did some good damage and pushed their foes back a bit, but it didn’t knock them down.

“Looks like Wind isn’t their weakness… I’m going for Fire then! Maragion!” Yukiko sliced at her Persona card with the tessen. It did less damage than the Magarula, but it was at least something.

“Well, that was a bust…” Marinette mused, “Kanji, Chie - give it your elemental skills!”

“On it!” both of them said simultaneously. 

“Take-Mikazuchi, Zionga!”

“Tomoe, Bufula!”

The Zionga did better than the Magarula slightly, and the Bufula knocked one of the Disappointed Beetles down.

“Excellent!” Kagami declared. “Again, Chie!”

“I got it, actually,” Marinette smirked, “Wani!”

A chimera of a dragon, shark and crocodile appeared. Marinette ordered a Mabufula which did excellent damage to both Shadows and knocked the other Disappointed Beetle down.

“It’s time to do some damage!” With a whoop, Kanji led the charge for an All-Out Attack. The Disappointed Beetles fell to the ground and dissolved, dropping- 

“It’s a key! I told you!” Yosuke held up the item like it was a grand prize or mystical artifact.

“Technically, I was the one to say it would be held by a mini-boss,” Yukiko smiled serenely, “so I was the one who told you all!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” With a grin, Yosuke ruffled Yukiko’s hair, looking a little proud at the disgruntled pout. “You told us all, you get the honors of opening the door!” He handed over the item to Yukiko. “I think we still have a room left we can check.”

Said room, however, held only a single chest that was wrapped up in chains. They all heard the sound of chains rattling and groaning coming from that chest. 

“Is… is that coming from the chest?” Chloe asked warily, “Is that normal for you?”

“I don’t think so…” Kagami stared at the chest with a sense of unease. “I don’t remember ever seeing one like this.”

“I don’t think we should open that chest,” Teddie shuddered, “We’re already a bit tired, and I don’t think we could bear through a battle with the monster of all Shadows that’s most likely in there…”

“Shame…” Adrien shrugged, “We usually get a lot of money from those Hand Shadows.”

“I don’t think that was a Golden Hand…” Plagg muttered to Adrien, keeping his voice low enough so that Chloe didn’t hear him.

“Our focus is M. Bourgeois,” Yu reminded the group, “Let’s just move on.”

When they exited the room, the rattling sounds stopped. From there, they made it back to the door and unlocked it with the Regal Key. The group took a brief break to replenish some stamina with the food and caffeinated drinks.

“There’s no voice on this floor…” Chloe wondered as they began going through the next floor.

“It can vary; sometimes it happens when we enter a floor, and other times we need to somehow trigger it.” 

Sure enough, they had only made it past some sort of archway when the Mayor’s voice could be heard again.

“No wonder Ladybug took away your ability to become Queen Bee! Look at the damage you caused! You’re no hero! Everyone can see that you’re doing it all for attention and praise, none of which you deserve! Look at Ladybug and Chat Noir - at least they help people, but what do you do? You just make a mess of things and cause me more problems!” 

“He’s not wrong…” Chloe muttered to herself. “I only caused trouble as Queen Bee… I was such a glory-hog instead of focused on helping people…”

A hand rested on Chloe’s shoulder had her looking up to see Yukiko, the older teen looking concerned. Concerned for a stranger they mostly knew as a bad person? Why?

“Are you okay Chloe? You’re looking a little pale, we can rest a little longer if you want.”

“No, that’s okay. Besides you guys are doing all the work; you don’t need to worry about me.”

They made it through that floor and a few more Shadows before deciding to call it a day. Yu pulled out another Goho-M, and they went their separate ways for the time being.

Adrien, Chloe, Marinette and Kagami managed to spill out of the TV without crashing into anything this time. Despite how she’d done none of the fighting, Chloe looked the most drained out of the four; that said, she was more emotionally drained than physically drained, really. Perhaps the world had been too much emotionally for her, and she didn’t have glasses; her eyes must have hurt like hell. 

Adrien offered to escort Chloe back to the hotel, what with everything going on; if she were to disappear, it would no doubt draw suspicion one way or another. Adrien figured the police would consider Chloe a runaway teen, much like he had been considered.

Marinette offered Kagami to stay the night but her girlfriend politely declined, as she had early-morning training that had to be done before they went into the TV for the next trip (they’d scheduled it up for two days from tonight). 

With Chloe now gone, Tikki came out of hiding. While she wasn’t summoned during the trip, she still felt nerve-wracked after everything. 

“I can’t believe that those were the Mayor’s thoughts…” Marinette mused to the kwami, “He’s really changed since Miracle Queen…”

“Yeah…” Tikki responded sadly, “but so has Chloe. That reminds me… I had a question for you. A serious one.”

“What is it, Tikki?”

“If, by some miracle - pun not intended - Chloe gets a Persona, would you let her onto the team?”

“What do you mean?”

“On one hand, another Persona user would be a great asset to the team. On the other, she might not be trustable with one, and I don’t know if we can trust her with power at all. Most of all, I don’t know if you trust her.”

“Well…” Marinette paused as she carefully thought over Tikki’s words. Her kwami had a good point; another Persona user would be helpful. But at the same time, Marinette didn’t really trust Chloe; she had done so much damage over the years. “I don’t really know yet… like you said, I don’t trust her.” Marinette crossed her arms and leaned back against the counter. “But I want to give her a chance… it’ll just take time. I think I’ll hold off on letting her on the team if she gets a Persona, and give her a sort of trial as Ladybug. I want to see where she would do best. And even if she does get a Persona… I’m not trusting her with a Miraculous anytime soon. If someday I can trust her again, then maybe, but…” She gave a look to Tikki. “Is that wrong? Do you think I should try something else?”

“You are the Guardian, Marinette; follow your instincts. If you don’t trust Chloe and wish to test her, that is your decision. Maybe talk to your partners and get some of their opinions on this as well.”

“I’ll do that. I think we should wait until after we get M. Bourgeois before we try and talk this over.”

“Good idea,” Tikki nodded approvingly.

“Sounds like you’re having trouble, Marinette. Why don’t you tell us what is going on?” Tom set down a plate of extra sweet cookies that Tikki practically dived into once the plate hit the table, Sabine not far behind him. “I may not know a lot of what goes on in that TV, but perhaps we can help?”

“It’s nothing really Papa, just a little bit of… turmoil? No not that… just trying to figure out what happens next with Chloe, that’s all. You and Mama look like you have something you wanted to tell me; what’s up?”

This time it was Sabine who spoke. “Well, we wanted to tell you that we finally have enough participants for that little bake off. We’re going to have it this Sunday and wanted to let you know that you and your friends are more than welcome to join!”

“Really?! That’s great news, Mama!” Marinette stopped for a moment. “But this is to help the bakery, I don’t know if any of us would join, none of us would feel right about winning any of the prizes.” 

“Well, we’re not the only one judging,” Tom reassured. “We got some help from some locals who volunteered to judge.” 

“Some of the prizes vary from free desserts to internships or free lessons to some cash prizes. We managed to set up different categories with different prizes. Take a look and talk it over with your friends if anyone is interested.” Sabine handed over a pamphlet. “We managed to put all the information on here; just let us know by Thursday. Maybe talk it over with Adrien, we noticed he seems to like helping out in the bakery.”

“Will do, Maman!”

Your parents are ready to put themselves back up on the map…

Physician Rank 6!

When Adrien returned, Marinette handed over the pamphlet and allowed her boyfriend to read it. “It sounds interesting, count me in.” He paused. “That is, if you, Kagami and Luka want to join. I really want to do this with you guys.”

“We’ll have to talk to them, but we still have a few days. You can count me in; I have a feeling that they’ll agree.”

“Thanks, Marinette. I’ll try talking to them after we get the Mayor back, sooner if we don’t get him by Wednesday.”

“We’ll find him, don’t worry.” Marinette gave Adrien’s hand a squeeze. “We now know that we just need to stock up more on energy drinks since the Shadows seem more prone to magic attacks than physical attacks.”

“Got it,” Adrien said, “I’ll see if there are any vending machines around town-” - he let out a yawn - “-tomorrow…”

“Alright you two, bedtime. Come on, up up up!” Plagg nudged Adrien to stand up. Only somewhat begrudgingly, the two made their way to bed. Not long after getting under their covers, they were out like lights.

Chapter Text

Morning came, and Marinette woke slightly exhausted, feeling the strain of using so much magic the previous day. The team had decided to give things a day or two (but no more) to allow for better prep as well as give Chloe time to adjust. Everyone on the team remembered how much of a strain it was to be in the TV world without glasses; plus, Chloe’s emotional state wasn’t exactly healthy either at the moment with her father being taken. 

The teen sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. She really didn’t want to think about Chloe this close after waking up. Marinette then glanced at her phone to see the reminder about practice from Kagami.

“Shit!” Throwing back the comforter, she ran into her bathroom to get ready. She probably missed the early morning practice but she could still make it for the late-morning practice… or was it normal practice? 

Marinette barely managed to avoid stumbling down the stairs in her haste, accidentally waking Adrien. He peeked out of his room to see what was going on, yet she didn’t notice him due to focusing on leaving; her mantra of get to Kagami’s practice could be heard through the bakery. She managed to grab herself a thermos of coffee as well as the pastry bag her parents left out, saying a quick goodbye and thank you before the bakery door closed and hightailing it. 

“Marinette, you could just become Ladybug, it’ll be faster.” Tikki’s voice normally would have possibly been heard but it seemed that no one was really on the street. 

“Tikki, you’re right!” With that idea in mind, Marinette cut through an alley, Ladybug swinging out on the other side. Thankfully she had cut her time in half by the time she de-transformed. “Made it!” 

Marinette ran into the building and after getting directions from one of the staff, she found where she was supposed to be. Upon reaching the room, Marinette slipped into the room as quietly as she could so as to not disturb those practicing. 

Curiously, she watched the others, focusing on how - compared to Kagami - everyone else seemed almost clumsy; even so, she still couldn’t fault all of their passion; not to mention their teacher was strict but so easy to understand (unlike Mme. Mendeleiev and M. Cadieux…). Sure, she was no fencing expert, but it was obvious that Kagami had skill in surplus.

Once practice was over, Marinette ran over to right outside the room where she saw Kagami had gone into, hoping her girlfriend would come out once she was finished changing. A few minutes later, Kagami came out, a satisfied smile on her face. 

“I saw you on the bleachers,” Kagami said happily, “thank you for coming today.” 

“It’s no problem, Kagami,” Marinette responded sweetly, “I may not fully understand the world of fencing, but it’s interesting to watch, and it’s your passion - as your girlfriend, I shouldn’t just ignore what you like doing or whatever. Really, I should thank you for inviting me.”

“I appreciate your words, Marinette,” Kagami gave her a small, genuine smile (not one of those big, awkward, forced-looking and still somewhat creepy ones Marinette saw during Ikari Gozen). It was hard to get that sort of smile out of her, so Marinette’s grin only got bigger.

You are indulging in Kagami’s passions…

Nurture Rank 6!

 “So… what would you like to do now?” Kagami then asked.

“Hmmm…” Marinette mulled it over, but it wasn’t long before an idea hit her. “Wanna see if we can go on a scooter ride with Luka?”

Kagami lit up a little at the offer. “That sounds like a good time. Shall we go to the Liberty?”

“I think he’s still working,” Marinette said, “but even then, we can stop by and say hello.” The two began to make their way to Luka’s workplace before Marinette remembered what Adrien had asked her about the competition. “That reminds me - Adrien wants to join the baking competition my parents are holding this weekend and he was wondering if all four of us could join together.”

“Really? But wouldn’t it be seen by others as your parents potentially being biased? I mean, I want to do this; it sounds fun! It’s just…”

“Someone could try to ruin it right? My parents mentioned in the pamphlet about bringing in special guests as judges, blind taste testing and even civilians are judging. I’ll have to get you guys a copy but I think we’d be safe with the blind tasting. We can decide more in a little bit.”

“No problem. Speaking of Adrien, where is he today?”

“He’s keeping an eye on Chloe today,” Marinette sighed slightly. “I think he feels guilty or like he abandoned Chloe so he wants to try and keep tabs on her. I think he mentioned doing so as both Adrien and Chat, so we’ll just have to me he doesn’t wear himself out again…”

“You tired yourself out looking for his progenitor, too,” Kagami reminded her.

“Can I say that’s different or will I just sound hypocritical?”

“Personally, I say it’s different but…” Kagami’s pause had Marinette sighing once more. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t what you wanted to hear.”

“No, it’s okay… hey, I think I see Luka and wait… is that his boss?”

Seeing the two as well, Kagami wondered, “Why would he be yelling at Luka in the open? Granted, they seem to be in a back area of the building, but still…”

Marinette broke into a sprint. “I don’t know either… but I sure as hell refuse to let it continue!”

Kagami didn’t wait long to follow after her. “A-ah! Right behind you!”

Marinette and Kagami pushed the doors open rather loudly, immediately garnering the attention of Luka and M. Robert Bellamy. Luka looked more than a bit surprised to see Marinette and Kagami here; for hell-knows-what reason, he almost looked ashamed, if the shifting of his eyes were anything to go by.

Despite seeing Kagami and Marinette, the older male only seemed to get angrier. He demanded to know who they were to speak to him like that.

“Some boss you are,” Marinette growled, unable to stop her glare, “not only do you berate your employee out in broad daylight, but you don’t even stop once there are witnesses.”

“Perhaps that is a good thing,” Kagami added, acting like the ice-queen she could be. “Better scum than two-faced scum, I suppose.” 

Realizing he was in no position to do something like fire Luka here, M. Bellamy growled, “Get out, kid. You’re not fired, just… just get out before I lose my temper…”

You couldn’t have gotten Luka to move faster. He scrambled over the counter, and the three were out within seconds.

Marinette made sure they were out of earshot before commenting, “Lose his temper… hah! As if this is the first time!”

“Agreed, especially given what Luka has told us before.”

“Thank you… both of you. You didn’t have to do that.” Luka wrapped an arm around each of his girlfriends’ shoulders, the height difference strangely endearing. “I really appreciate you two coming to my defense…”

Your care for Luka seems to surpass that of his own…

Rebel Rank 6!

“By the way, where’s Adrien?” Luka then asked.

“He’s keeping an eye on Chloe,” she said, “the TV World seems to have taken more of a toll on her than we thought.” Marinette held up her phone to show a recent text that had come through from their blond boyfriend. “Seems like she kept waking up throughout the night from nightmares and suffering from migraines and nausea at the moment so she’s been put on bedrest for a little while by... M. Jean? I think that was his name...” Just to be sure she reread the text again.

There was a rumble on the ground causing the three to look back at where it seemed to come from. 

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me…” Kagami groaned when they all saw just where it came from. “Looks like he was going to lose his temper regardless of whether we left or not…”

Marinette was silent for a moment before a Cheshire grin spread across her face. “Hey Kagami~” the almost singly lilt was not lost on her partners, “don’t forget - I won rock-paper-scissors, so I get the first punch!” 

Was it wrong that the two were eager to deck Luka’s boss as heroes? Probably. 

Did they care? Absolutely not.

A giant, extremely-muscular and dark-green-skinned version of M. Bellamy - clad in a military uniform and flanked by a slowly-growing horde of hypnotized civilians - strode around the corner.

“I am Commander Bellum!” he roared to anyone who could hear him, “It is time to assume control of those under me - the likes of which has now extended to all of Paris!”

By this point, Luka, Marinette and Kagami had already found a place to transform and were making their way back. It wasn’t long before Chat Noir joined them.

“Who’s the akuma this time?”

“My boss…” Wyvern’s voice was a mix of a growl and a groan. 

“I’m guessing he’s going for the military aesthetic based on the name and appearance. Is he some sort of drill sergeant?” Thankfully, there were no puns from Chat this time.

“No, just an asshole,” Hebi and Ladybug said in unison.

“Good to know I guess… anything on his powers?”

“Haven’t seen anything specific yet, but it looks like we have another mind-control villain…” Hebi mumbled, only to stop as Commander Bellum blasted an unsuspecting civilian with an eye-laser; within seconds, the civilian’s own eyes had glazed over, and they’d joined the others.

“Mind control eye lasers… got it, good to know.” If there was a hint of disappointment in Chat’s voice, no one said anything. “Same basic thing.”

“Now I’m wondering if Hawkmoth was the one for those eyesore designs or if it was all the akuma moths’ doing,” Hebi pondered.

“I feel like that was Nooroo’s way of rebellion…” Ladybug sighed, “or perhaps another way Gabriel deceived us. If akumas had world-class designs, that might have made it easier to attribute Hawkmoth to him…”

“Still can’t believe I never noticed it was him…” Chat mumbled.

“There’s no way you could have known.”

“Looking back though, there were definitely some signs-” Chat’s comment was cut off as he let out a yowl and dodged a beam. “Okay, pity party later, akuma fight now.”

As the horde of civilians charged the heroes, Ladybug wrapped her yo-yo around a lamppost to swing around them and launched herself towards Commander Bellum. Unfortunately for her, he caught her by the head. “You’re lucky I’d rather make you hurt than take your Miraculouses right away,” the akuma sneered, “so I’ll give you a chance to make your defeat less painful: where are Luka Couffaine and those two p*tato-queens of his?”

“Fuck off,” Ladybug snarled back, “You have no right to talk about anyone like that!”

“And don’t use that term, jackass!” Chat roared.

“Well, then… can’t say I didn’t try,” Commander Bellum shrugged, “Have a rotten flight!”

Doing a discus spin, he threw Ladybug as far and as hard as he could. It was not a pleasant landing she had, but she was mostly okay (albeit very dizzy).

Reorienting herself, she realized she’d landed in the Batignolles Cemetery (thank the kwamis she’d missed a grave marker, both for the sake of her head and for that of the deceased) and was about to head back out when a familiar shade of orange caught the corner of her eye.

Glancing back, Ladybug saw Caline Bustier laying down a bouquet of pink carnations, the beginnings of tears in her eyes. Ladybug had never seen Caline this negatively emotional - not even as Zombizou!

Realizing she might be intruding - not to mention the fact that she had business elsewhere - Ladybug gave one last look at the name on the headstone Caline had honored before a loud crashing sound resonated throughout the graveyard.

Tiffany Louquerre, huh…? She’d have to look into that later, but for now she needed to get back to defeating Commander Bellum.

You have gained a little more insight into Caline Bustier…

Fate Rank 4!

Once again there was a crashing sound as well as a faint cry of pain - possibly Wyvern’s? - that brought Ladybug back to the here and now, once again she launched herself into the air with her yo-yo. Akuma now, mysterious name on the grave later.

Upon returning to the battle, Ladybug had managed to find a blind spot, throwing herself into the air to get enough speed for a flying kick. Didn’t feel as good as a punch, but boy did it still feel satisfying! 

Commander Bellum scowled when he spotted (pun not intended) who was responsible for the hit.  “I thought I threw you away,” he growled, “No matter - I’ll crush you now. Something about you pisses me off… just like those two nosy bitches from earlier!” 

“We have them hidden somewhere you’ll never find them!” Chat shot back. “Milady - the akuma’s in that kepi of his!”

“Got it!”

“Wait,” Wyvern said as he batted away another civilian and ran up to Ladybug, “let me do this, Ladybug. If it’s alright with you… this bastard is mine.” Ladybug understood that this was something Wyvern needed to do.

“Then it’s yours-”

Before either of them could make their move, however, they were alerted back to Commander Bellum when he let out a yelp of shock and pain. Someone - clad in a red hoodie and what she presumed was a store-bought mask that obscured their face - had gotten the jump on the akuma, hopping on their back and delivering as many blows as they could. Upon closer inspection, it looked like the weapon the newcomer wielder was some sort of bludgeoning weapon - a pipe straight out of Clue.

One lucky blow knocked Bellum’s kepi right off of his head. It landed unceremoniously right in front of Ladybug. 

“Break it now!” the newcomer yelled at them in a voice that was familiar enough for Ladybug to know she’d heard it before but not familiar enough for her to recognize who it was quite yet.

“Talk about anti-climatic…” Wyvern muttered, taking the offered item from Ladybug. If he happened to slice it in two a little too harsh, nobody said anything.

Ladybug was quick to catch and purify the moth, the little moth flying off to who-knows-where. “Time to clean up after this bastard.” Calling forth a Lucky Charm - which gave her a painter’s palette - she threw the item in the air, releasing the magical loveliness and fixing the damage. 

“What do you want to do about our new friend?” Hebi stood by, keeping a firm grip on the vigilante’s shoulder. 

“Let me recharge and I’ll talk to them. They’re not in trouble, but I think we should at least thank them for their help; they gave us the item, after all.” 

Ladybug’s words seemed to release a tension in the vigilante’s shoulders. “Glad to see I could be helped,” the vigilante said smoothly, “Would you like me to wait here? I’m sure everyone else needs to go wherever you all go to recharge…”

“Uh… sure,” Ladybug nodded, a little dumbfounded. She and Hebi then took off to recharge while Bellamy was seen back to his workplace by Chat; Wyvern wasn’t exactly trusted to do something he might regret later. And hey, if Chat was a little too rough in dropping him off… well, so be it.

Eventually, the four reconvened with the helpful stranger. Ladybug was surprised when an ice cream - not from Andre’s, thank the kwamis - was placed in front of her. 

“I know you’ve already recharged, but I figured you might need a little more sugar or something for energy.”

“I appreciate it.” Ladybug took a bite and guided the vigilante to a more secluded area that they could get to without any aid from Ladybug’s strength or other super suit abilities. “Thank you for your help, you helped distract and get the item for us.”

“It wasn’t much,” the hooded helper said, “I just basically hit the guy when he wasn’t looking at me…”

“Don’t sell yourself short. You provided aid at the cost of your own safety. I honestly wouldn’t recommend it again, but I can still thank you. May I ask what brought this on?”

 The vigilante was silent as he was thinking. Ladybug was pretty sure she already knew who it was by their voice, but she was trying to be respectful and not ask for their identification… yet.

“I want to get stronger… so I can protect those I care about. You can understand that, I’m sure.”

Turning away from Ladybug, the vigilante said, “Call me M. Red. I have… work in the morning tomorrow, so I should be on my way.” 

As M. Red dashed away, Ladybug’s grateful face turned to one of worry.

What brought Nathaniel Kurtzberg to pursue crime-fighting…?

Separation Rank 5!

Later that night… 

Marinette glanced up from her computer at the light knock on her door. Adrien walked in, his face bearing concern, stopping to lean against Marinette’s desk.

“Turns out Chloe still isn’t up to par yet. Jean says she seemed to be worse and even had a little breakdown. He’s not too sure what to do; he even seemed a little panicked, however good he is at hiding it.” Adrien sighed slightly and ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like this before… I heard him discussing with Audrey about possibly having her see a doctor… do you think that would help or hinder us?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t think Chloe will tell anyone about the TV World, but I was going to suggest maybe going in tomorrow. I know Chloe and her mother are probably worried about M. Bourgeois, but…” 

“We’ll have to wait one more day, like you mentioned earlier. True, it leaves the Mayor in that world, but we all want to be in top form. Whether or not we like it, that includes Chloe as well.”

Adrien nodded, eyes concerned but determined.

“I’ll ask Kagami and Luka to help get supplies for Thursday, then .”

“May have to be Kagami for a while, there’s a competition tomorrow and Luka’s a part of it.” Marinette glanced over one of her notes on the table. “They’re playing in the afternoon, so I think they may do some last minute practice or be working on prep in the late morning.”

“No problem. Kagami and I can get supplies and we’ll meet you there.” Adrien’s smile was both proud and affectionate. “Gotta support our boyfriend and friends, after all!” He held out a fist in offering, similar to what he did as Chat.

“Damn right we will!” Marinette took the fistbump. “Bien joué!" they said in unison.

The two both worked on the last-minute changes to Kitty Sections’ outfits, the short sleeved hoodies somehow matching the theme despite being multi-colored. Marinette appreciated and enjoyed the time with Adrien, even if they were kind of working. It seemed like Adrien had managed to fit in asking Luka about the competition, something Marinette admitted to forgetting thanks to the akuma. But at least the four of them were going to be one team.

You feel your bond with Adrien improving…

Not long after, Adrien had finally been taken back to M. Simonov’s house; it was clear that Emilie needed her loved ones around her to cope with Gabriel’s actions and passing, so of course Adrien was going to be there.

Marinette smiled happily as she watched him go before going to bed herself.

Chapter Text

Waking up a little before her alarm, Marinette forced herself to get out of bed, lest she fall back to sleep and probably oversleep. She wanted to make sure that the hoodies got one last inspection in case she forgot anything before taking them to the Liberty. While each hoodie was in a preferred member's color (dark teal for Luka, royal purple for Juleka, an assortment of pinks for Rose and an almost steel-grey for Ivan), they all matched. The added kitty ears was Juleka’s idea… or was it both her and Rose’s idea…?

Satisfied, Marinette carefully packed away the hoodies, intending to deliver them herself in a few hours. For now, she planned on looking a little more into that name she saw on the grave. The previous night didn't seem to yield much results, as the focus had been too broad and given her people with any combination of the name and surname. Whoever she is, Marinette mused, she’s definitely not famous… not that it matters all that much.

Wait, she realized after a while of searching, why didn't I look up the name on the site? That would give me her birthday and death day, and with that I can narrow down whoever this Tiffany girl is.

Sadly, there weren’t a lot of articles on that, either. Maybe it was covered up…?

“So much for that…”

“Marinette, maybe it's because she was a minor?”

That had Marinette looking up at her kwami, looking a bit surprised. She leaned back in her chair thinking. 

“That is a factor, isn’t it…? I’m surprised I didn’t think of that.” She tapped her finger along the table. “I’d have to ask Mme. Bustier about this, but I’ve invaded so much already… I’ll just ask her at the beginning of the school year… or maybe sooner, if I see her then. If she asks how I found out, I’ll just say Ladybug informed me…”

“Perhaps wait until the school year,” Wayzz offered, “She may be blindsided by all of this regardless of when you ask, but you could explain it away by stating Ladybug was worried for her.”

“It’s rather productive,” Kaalki piped up, “It could explain away your disappearances during class!”

“So basically, you’re saying that Marinette should inform Mme. Bustier that she’s Ladybug’s assistant?”

“I think it would be better to call yourself more akin to a confidant,” Wayzz stated, “that said, however, it could put her at risk at the same time. Try to do it at the end of the school day when no one is around, lest anyone possibly listen in or even record your conversation.”

“Wise call,” Marinette nodded, “I’ll ask if someone can be on the lookout just in case. It’ll most likely be Adrien or Kagami at this rate.” Marinette sighed as she closed out of the search-engine, it felt a little wrong to pry in her teacher’s personal business, the more she thought about it. “Come on, I need to get these over to the Liberty and make sure everything is all set with Kitty Section.”


You feel your understanding of Mme. Bustier improving…

Marinette grabbed her things as well as the packages for her friends. On her way down she saw that her parents had left out a Good-Luck cake for her to take over. 

“Okay…” She glanced at the boxes, then the cake. “Looks like I’m calling in some help…” 

“Way ahead of you!” With almost perfect timing, both Kagami and Adrien came out of the kitchen. 

“Wait… I thought you two were getting supplies!”

“We will, later on,” Kagami explained. “We figured we’d do something nice for Luka and Kitty Section so we came here to try and make them a cake.” She gave the cake one last inspection before closing the top of the bakery box. “It didn’t turn out too bad actually, though I think we mostly have Adrien and his magical skills for that.” 

That was right! The bakery was bustling once more, so the kwami had to be careful once again. 

“Regardless, I’m sure Kitty Section will love this! And do you know why?” Marinette beamed with pride at her partners. “Because you both made this with love!”

That put matching blushes on both Kagami’s and Adrien’s faces. Adrien flusteredly rubbed the back of his neck, while Kagami fiddled with the Snake Ouroboros Bracelet, shoulders hunched-up.

“L-let’s just get this over now; time’s a-wastin’!” Still a bit flustered, Adrien carefully picked up the box so as to not damage the cake. Kagami followed behind, almost a little too eager to get moving; she was probably a little embarrassed to be praised in front of so many people. 

They were taking a shortcut through the park when a hand grabbed Marinette’s and pulled her behind a tree. She was lucky Adrien was carrying the cake and not her…

“What in the-”

“S-shh!” Mylene whispered frantically before pointing to two men in casual but disguising clothing, “Listen, Marinette!”

Listening in, Marinette heard the elder of the two praising the other for doing a good job deceiving all those goody-two-shoes charity donors before the younger man was handed what she presumed was a lot of money - his cut, most likely.

Briefly, Marinette felt a tap on her hips. Turning one eye away from the scene in front of them, she saw Tikki wink at her. Was she recording this using Marinette’s phone?

Only once the two men had parted - Marinette, Mylene, Kagami and Adrien having gone completely unnoticed - did Marinette and Mylene breathe a sigh of relief. 

“We should bring this up with Ivan,” was the first thing out of Marinette’s mouth.

“What does he have to do with this?” Kagami asked cluelessly. Right, she didn’t know about the relationship issues Ivan and Mylene were having…

“It’s sorta Lila-related,” Marinette began awkwardly, the memories of said girl earning scowls from Kagami and Adrien.

“You guys don’t trust her either, huh…” Mylene mumbled dazedly, “Maybe Ivan was right… was everything she said really a lie?”

“I don’t know about everything,” Adrien said kindly, “but I know that a lot of what she’s said is fabricated.”

Mylene sighed dejectedly; clearly, that was something she hadn’t wanted to hear. 

“If it helps, I think we all were fooled by Lila at some point,” Kagami tried to offer Mylene comfort, even if it wasn’t exactly reassuring, “Her stories sound amazing from what others have told me but at the same time too good to be true. Plus, some of you at Francoise-Dupont have done rather impressive things or are of high standing…”

“Thank you, Kagami, I appreciate that.” The start of a smile could be seen from the usually-timid teen. “It helps hearing your affirmation.” Mylene paused for a moment before turning her attention to Marinette. “I know I have to bring this to Ivan’s attention, and especially the police, but… I’m not ready to face Ivan yet. I shouldn’t have yelled at him…”

“Understandable, but at least talk to the police as quickly as possible, okay?” Adrien advised, “This is important, and we should report it as evidence.”

“It’s not like that’s enough proof, though…” Mylene mumbled, “we don’t know who those two are, or even their names!”

“Is now a good time to reveal I recorded that… exchange?” Marinette asked, pulling out her phone and playing the recording after turning down the sound in case those men or their friends were around.

“How?!” Mylene gripped Marinette’s shoulders. “I didn’t see you pull that out!”

“I can be pretty discreet and quick when I want to be, Mylene,” Marinette winked at her, “my phone was in my pocket and since my hand was already in there, it only took a few presses on the screen before… well,  you know.”

Relieved tears filled Mylene’s eyes as she quickly pulled the other into a hug, practically squeezing on for dear life. And if she was squeezing her a little too tight? Well, Marinette wasn’t going to say anything.

“If Marinette takes the cake, me and Kagami can make a stop by the police office for you two,” Adrien offered.

“No, I’ll take it in.” There was a sense of determination in Mylene’s eyes. “I feel like I should do it; after all, it’s partially my fault for losing that money. I can meet up with you guys at the Liberty.”

“Are you sure? I can go with you.”

Mylene shook her head at Marinette’s offer. “No, but I appreciate it; this is something I need to do. Can you send me the recording, please?”

“Of course!”

Once she’d texted Mylene with the recording and Mylene had confirmed she’d gotten it, the braided girl began making her way to the station with a promise of “See you soon!”

Mylene has confronted the truth…

Twins Rank 5!

Earlier, Adrien had set down the cake box to watch the scammers do their exchange. Picking it up, he and his girlfriends watched her until she was out of sight before continuing on their way to the Liberty .

Anarka - who was Kitty Section’s official manager - and the band lit up when they saw Marinette and company. Their bright smiles only brightened when they saw the cake in Adrien’s hands.

“A gift from the bakery, courtesy of Adrien and Kagami!” The mentioned teens blushed at the call-out. “They both worked very hard on this for you guys!” It looked as though praise from the members of Kitty Section caused both Kagami and Adrien’s blushes to deepen. 

Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Adrien pulled Marinette to the front. “Marinette finished your hoodies,” he informed them cheerily, “so please, gaze in awe at her hard work come to fruition!” If one were to listen closely, you might notice the slight desperation in his tone. Luka, Marinette and Kagami were the few who caught the embarrassed tones. 

Taking mercy on the poor blond, Luka was the first to pick up one of the boxes - more specifically, the one holding his hoodie. Admiring it as he took it out, Luka told Mari