It’s an innocuous thing, a cell phone. A little brick of wire and plastic, solder and antenna and transistor. Small enough to fit even in Marinette’s tiny hand, barely taking up any space on her desk as she paces the floor of her bedroom, words spilling out of her in an uncontrolled flood as she throws her arms about.
Such a small thing.
So much chaos it can cause.
“Mailbox full,” Marinette’s phone says.
Marinette’s rant screeches to a halt mid-word, arms still in the air, as her brain catches up on processing what she just heard like a lone shoe in a tumble dryer. She stares at the phone, eyes wide, pupils down to pinpricks. “I—did—did my that just—”
Tikki, who—bless her tiny heart—has been patiently listening to Marinette’s word vomit for the last twenty minutes, wipes her stubby nose and stares at the phone in horror. “I—I dink id did,” she snuffles, then immediately sneezes into the fabric-scrap blanket she has pulled around her chest.
Marinette’s entire body contracts with a meep , her chest crushing down on her lungs. “It—it was recording,” she whispers, dropping onto her chaise and burying her face in her hands. “The entire time.”
“Didn’d you hang ub?” Tikki says, still staring at the phone. “I swear I saw you hang ub.”
“I thought I did,” Marinette moans softly. She falls backward onto the chaise. “I—I thought—I was—” She snatches the pillow, slams it over her face, and screams.
Oh gods. She can’t—she can’t do this again. She—that wasn’t just one cheesy line, that was a full twenty minutes of lovesick ranting. Their relationship has gotten better since last time—she knows that a voicemail like the last one she left him won’t really do anything to damage their friendship, he might even think it’s a prank—but this? She can’t even remember most of what she said but some of it—some of it—
Oh gods she said Tikki’s name.
She pulls the pillow down from her face. “Please,” she groans. “Please tell me it wasn’t on speaker.”
Tikki unswaddles herself and climbs off the pincushion, crawling onto the phone and poking at the screen a few times. “I… don’d know how do dell?” she says.
Marinette chokes, whimpering. Her skin is on fire, lightning on her scalp. Her chest feels like it’s inverting, all her organs churning inside-out. She rolls onto her side, plaintive eyes at Tikki. “Tikki,” she says. “We have to get his phone.”
Tikki sneezes, then nods. “Ogay,” she says, pressing down with shaky arms and trying to rise to her stubby feet. “Gibbe a middit—need do—”
Marinette’s finger is already under Tikki’s head when the Kwami collapses.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Marinette says. “You’re sick . You need rest.”
“Bud your idendidy—” Tikki is cut off as her entire body is wracked with another sneeze. “Ladybug needs—”
“Nope.” Marinette gently lifts Tikki in her palm and places her back into her pincushion-bed. “You’re always telling me to rest, not going to let you be a hypocrite,” she says, gently tucking a Kwami-sized fabric scrap around Tikki’s body.
“You need helb!” Tikki protests.
“I’m the Guardian now,” Marinette says. “I can borrow Mullo for a few hours.”
“If you stay in bed I’ll give you a whole tray of fresh cookies when I get back,” Marinette says.
Tikki’s eyes widen, sparkling. “A whowe dray?”
“I swear,” Multimouse grumbles to herself, rubbing skinny forearms and shivering as she stares into Adrien’s window, “that phone is on a hair-trigger.”
She knows that Adrien doesn’t keep his window locked if he can help it—she’s never been quite sure why, something to do with his claustrophobia maybe—but if Nathalie has been in lately, she likely will have locked it. What with the late November chill, she doubts Adrien would’ve opened it lately anyway. So that’s probably out.
How else to get into his bedroom without tripping the mansion’s security? If she were Ladybug, getting into his house would be near-impossible, but Tikki isn’t with her right now. She has to stop thinking like Ladybug and start thinking like Multimouse.
If she gets small enough, there’s plenty of pipes and vents and crawlspaces she can swarm in through. As long as she stays behind the furniture and out of sight, she can divide herself up and search his entire bedroom for his phone, then be in, delete that voicemail, and out without Adrien or anyone else in that house being the wiser.
“Okay, Mullo,” she says, narrowing her eyes as she looks over the manor for access points. “Let’s see what we can do.”
“Talking to your Kwami?”
Multimouse shrieks, her heel slipping out from under her, her arms pinwheeling. She stumbles backward—only, where she’s expecting to fall backward into empty air, she instead impacts a solid chest, held up by familiar leather-clad arms.
“Whoa, whoa!” Chat says, chuckling. “You okay, Ma Souris?”
Multimouse’s brain explodes.
“So,” Chat says, leaning his elbows on his upright staff. “What are you doing out here, little mousie?” The teeth in his grin are blindingly white.
“I’m… on patrol?” Multimouse offers weakly. It’s a bad excuse. She knows it’s a bad excuse, she knows he’ll see right through it, but it’s not like she prepared for him to be here. And she is a terrible liar when she isn’t prepared.
“Uh huh,” Chat says. There’s a mischievous twinkle in his eye, and it’s obvious that he doesn’t believe a single word she’s said. “And there’s absolutely no reason why you were outside of the Agreste Mansion.”
Multimouse’s veins turn to ice. Oh gods, he knows . How? How can he know? She’s—she’s never given him any indication of her feelings, she’s been very careful about that, about making sure that Chat never found out about her feelings for Adrien—either as Ladybug or as Marinette. She doesn’t want to crush him if he ever learns her identity… and, of course, the relentless mocking on his end. But the way he said it—he has to know. There’s no other explanation! There’s no real reason why he’d be suspicious of her being here, no real reason why he—wait. Why is he here? His patrol was yesterday.
“Chat, why are you…” Wait. She can’t ask that—she isn’t supposed to know. “How did you find me?”
Chat shrinks his staff back to baton and flips it in his hand with a grin, then slides it open, showing her the glowing cartoon mouse on his GPS map. “Not hard to find,” he says. “Been a while, Multimouse.”
Multimouse’s heart stutters. She’d completely forgotten the GPS trackers in the tools.
“So, little Marimouse,” Chat says, extending the baton again. “What are you doing outside of the bedroom of the most eligible bachelor in your age group?”
“It’s not like that!” Multimouse shrieks, hiding her face behind her hands. “I—I’m not stalking him!”
Oh god, please don’t think she’s—wait, if she tells him why she’s here, oh, that’ll, that’ll look bad. He’ll think she is stalking him and then he’ll never respect her again.
“Nobody said you were,” Chat says with a smug grin. “But if you are, how did you talk Ladybug into giving you a MIraculous again? I thought you were out.”
“Uh.” Multimouse says. She feels like her tongue is jammed down her windpipe—like she’s choking on her own thoughts.
“This mission must be special if Ladybug gave you a Miraculous after refusing it utterly.” Chat drums his fingers on the top of his staff, his eyes boring into hers with a grin. “She did give you the Miraculous, right?”
Oh, no, she was—she was not prepared for this. “Of—of course she did!” Multimouse says. Oh, tiny gods, he knows “Marinette” isn’t supposed to have a Kwami, and if she doesn’t come up with an excuse that he’ll believe… “It’s, uh, a secret mission. She didn’t want me to tell anyone.”
“Uh huh,” Chat says. He’s—he’s clearly not buying it. His eyes are narrowing, growing harsher.
“I’m serious,” she says. How does she get him to believe that Ladybug would keep a secret from him? “There was, a, um, rabbit? She mentioned a bunny.”
“Hmm,” Chat says. He slides open his baton-phone and starts typing. “And do you mind if I call Ladybug to confirm that?”
“NO!” Multimouse shrieks, pouncing on him and knocking the baton out of his hand. She can’t let him call Ladybug because she is Ladybug! She won’t pick up and he’ll know!
Chat smiles, catching her with a smug grin. “Gotcha,” he purrs, and she immediately knows she’s blown it. “Ladybug doesn’t know you’re here, does she.”
Um. Technically yes, but? Multimouse hangs her head. “No,” she says. “She doesn’t.”
“Right,” Chat says. “I’m not gonna ask how you got the Miraculous, on one condition.”
Multimouse’s heart falls. “What?” she says.
Chat smirks. “You tell me what you’re actually doing outside Adrien Agreste’s bedroom.”
“It seems like you didn’t think this through very well,” Chat says as he carefully pries Adrien’s window open. “What are you going to do if his phone isn’t here?
“I don’t know, I’m panicking,” Multimouse says. She ducks under Chat’s arm and climbs into Adrien’s bedroom. “Do you have a better idea?”
“You could just let him hear it,” Chat says, padding into the room behind her and gently teasing the window to not-quite-shut. “I mean, if you really want him to know how you feel—”
“NO!” Multimouse yelps, spinning and jabbing his chest. “That’s—that’s not an option.”
“Uh huh,” Chat says, gently and carefully removing her hand from his chest. “And what are you planning to do once you find his phone? It’s not like you know his passcode.”
“I do, actually,” Multimouse says.
Herface falls. Oh, he’s going to judge her for this. She just hopes it isn’t too harsh. “This… isn’t the first time this happened.”
“What,” Chat says.
Multimouse grimaces. “Don’t ask,” she says. She unwraps the jump rope from her waist and flings it into the air, letting it wrap her up on the way down. “Multitude!”
As the swarm of Minimice erupts from her rapidly shrinking legs, Chat reaches down and snatches one of her up, lifting her up between his claws and holding her directly in front of his face. “Nuh uh,” he says. “Not getting out of this that easy.”
The Minimice scatter across the ground, swarming the room, disappearing under beds and couches and inside desk drawers, leaving only the one Minimouse remaining, caught between Chat Noir’s claws. She crosses her arms and scowls—though, as small as she is, her expression probably comes off as more of a pout. “Put me down!”
Chat shakes his head, placing her down in his palm. “No can do,” he says. “Seriously, Marinette, what the heck?”
Minimouse sits down on his palm, which is… surprisingly comfortable, actually. Like a leather couch, if a bit stiff. “Don’t say my name,” she says.
Chat purses his lips. “Right, sorry,” he says. “It’s just—you really like this guy, right?”
“Don’t,” Minimouse says. She’s in no mood for this.
“I…” Chat sighs. “Multimouse, you’ve gone to a lot of trouble to keep Agreste from finding out how you feel. Why?”
Minimouse’s muscles lock. “I—” she squeaks. She bites her lip, her eyes falling to the leather below. “ I don’t know ,” she whispers.
“I don’t! ” Minimouse says, throwing her hands in the air. “I just—he’s so amazing, and if—if I don’t do everything perfect, he’ll—he’ll—”
“He’ll what?” Chat sucks in a lip. “Mouse, you can’t honestly think he’ll, what, reject you?”
Minimouse grips her elbow. “He’ll think I’m crazy,” she whispers.
Chat’s eyes grow soft, and he brushes a fingertip across her scalp. “Oh, Ma Souris, ” he murmurs. “Never.”
“You don’t know—”
“I found it!”
Both of them turn to see a Minimouse erupt from Adrien’s nightstand drawer, triumphantly holding up a phone that is larger than she is.
The other Minimice appear again, poking their heads out of drawers and sheets and pillows, and Minimouse turns to look at Chat. “Can you put me down please?”
Chat blinks. “Oh, uh, yeah,” he says, taking her between his claws again and placing her on the floor. Immediately, all of the Minimice swarm back into her legs, and she grows back into full height, still holding Adrien’s phone. She taps it, dialing in Adrien’s passcode and opening the phone application—and her breath immediately zips out of her lungs.
“Oh no,” Multimouse breathes, staring at the screen. “This is—the voicemail is—it’s labeled as read .” Her arm drops limp, the phone slipping from her fingertips. Her lower eyelid twitches as she processes what that means. “Oh gods, he heard everything, he—he knows, my identity is blown, he’s going to hate me, I’m—I’m—”
Immediately, all the mirth drops from Chat’s face. “Oh no,” he whispers. “Are you—”
Multimouse grips her upper arms, trying to suppress a shiver. “I’m—I’m—I’m—”
Chat’s arms are wrapped around her, pressing her tight to his chest. “Hey,” he murmurs. “It’s—it’s gonna be okay.” He presses a kiss to her forehead. “He’s not going to hate you.”
“You—you ca-can’t know that,” Multimouse says. “My life—it’s over—”
“ Marinette, ” Chat hisses, pressing his forehead to hers with a long, slow blink right into her eyes. “Do you trust me?”
Multimouse’s heart skips, then begins to slow. His eyes are so green, so kind, so centering, diving into her soul, and she knows there’s only one good answer. “Yes,” she says. “With—with everything I am.”
Chat purses his lip. “Okay,” he says, letting her go and stepping back. “Brace yourself.”
Chat shoots her a soft smile—a smile that doesn’t seem right for his face, but one that is somehow familiar anyway—and raises the hand with the ring. “Plagg,” he says.
Multimouse’s eyes widen. “Chat don’t—!”
Multimouse slams her eyelids shut and dives under Adrien’s bed, barely escaping the green flash as Chat becomes whoever he is under the mask. “Not looking not looking not looking!”
She hears Chat walk toward her, crouching down next to her ankles. “Marinette,” he says. “Please look at me.”
Multimouse shakes her head, eyes still squeezed shut. “No!” she says. “I’m not letting you compromise your—”
“My Lady,” he says, laying a palm on her ankle. “Please.”
Multimouse freezes. “Did you just…”
“Why do you think I didn’t ask where you got the Miraculous?” Chat says.
“How long have you known?”
“Since I listened to your voicemail.”
Multimouse’s eyes pop open. “Since you—since you what?” She turns around. “How did you—”
Adrien’s eyes are looking back at her, soft and kind and loving, his hand on her foot. Chat’s hand on her foot.
“You—you listened the voicemail,” Multimouse says. “You—”
Adrien nods. “I heard you say Tikki’s name,” he says. “And I—well, I heard everything else, too.”
Multimouse feels her face grow red-hot. “O-oh.” It feels like there’s a stone in her throat. “I, um, Adrien, I didn’t, um, I’m not—” She squeezes her entire face. “Look, what I said, I didn’t, um.”
Adrien smiles. “Mari. My Lady. I’ve known you long enough to read your ramblings.” He scratches the back of his neck. “Well, I’ve never been great at Marinette’s , but... Ladybug’s?” He grins sheepishly. “Sorry about that, by the way.”
“Not realizing what your Mari-rants mean,” Adrien says. “Taking them at face value.”
Multimouse yanks her ankle free of him, pulling it into her chest. “ No ,” she whispers. “ No no no no no—”
“Multimouse?” Adrien says. “Mari?”
“You listened to the— You heard everything, I, I, I can’t you’re gonna—”
“I don’t think you’re crazy,” Adrien says.
All the noise in her brain stops.
It’s like the clanging of a hundred bells, silenced all at once. “You—you—Adrien?”
“I don’t think you’re crazy,” he repeats, crouching down so she can see his face. He’s smiling at her, warm and gentle. “My Lady, your voicemail… listening to it…”
Her heart falls. “It’s okay,” she says. “I—I know you don’t feel—”
“Whoever she is under the mask, I love that girl,” Adrien says with a grin. “Never expected to be so right.”
Multimouse’s breath catches in her throat. “What?”
“I’ve been in love with you for a year and a half,” Adrien says. “Your message just cemented it.”
Multimouse’s heart squeezes. She—she can’t believe it. This is. She’s never. She hadn’t considered.
This can’t be happening, right?
“Is this real?” she whispers.
“Madly clumsy,” Adrien says, holding out a hand. “It’s real.”
Multimouse sniffs, then crawls out from under the bed. “Oh gods,” she whispers, taking his hand as he lifts her to her feet. “I—I can’t—”
Pink light washes out from her body as Mullo’s power finally fails, her transformation falling, leaving just Adrien and Marinette, hand in hand.
“Why’d you come as Multimouse?” Adrien says, stroking her knuckle with his thumb. “Is it cause you knew I’d find you unbearably cute?”
Marinette blushes, looking down at Adrien’s feet. “Tikki was sick,” she whispers. “Made her stay home.”
“Hmm.” Adrien takes her chin between his forefinger and thumb. “Think she’d like a visit from Plagg?”
Two Kwami, cuddled together in a Kwami-sized bed, giggling as they trade bites of a slice of cheesecake larger than they are.
Two teenagers, cuddled together in Marinette’s bed, giggling as they trade kisses.
Mullo is back in the Miraculous Box, and this time, he has a story to tell.