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Caged

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It wasn’t a normal week in Paris if something wasn’t getting destroyed. This week was no exception. Ruble littered the ground, and giant vines twisted around from a flower shop to Notre-Dame.

Yet, Marinette hadn’t had the time to transform. Vines had wrapped her entire body, leaving only her head poking out of the thick, green plant. She shifted, trying to, at least, free one of her arms. But her struggle was useless. Her tension eased, when she saw a blur of black and yellow.

“Chat Noir!” she called instinctively. A clank and a thud later, he was standing in front of her.

“How do you keep getting wrapped up in these situations?” Marinette rolled her eyes. A part of her almost regretted asking for help, but her reasoning part knew she needed her partner.

“Just get me out of here!” she insisted. Chat gave a small giggle, right before calling on Cataclysm. The vines around her evaporated in a black mist. The cat-boy caught her just before she hit the ground, arm wrapped around her back.

“You’re lucky I like you, Princess. I might have left you if--”

“Look out!” Marinette quickly scrambled to her feet, grabbing the boy by the bell and pulling him out of the way, into the ground.

BOOM!

A large vine hit the pavement where they had been standing only three seconds ago. Both looked at the plant, eyes wide. Chat’s lips quickly curled into a smirk, before looking back at his savior lying next to him.

“I say we’re even now,” Marinette blinked once, registering what had just happened. Finally, she quirked an eyebrow, and gave him a small smile, saying: “Guess we are.”

“We gotta get outta here,” he quickly said, standing up and grabbing her, throwing her over his shoulder. Marinette protested for the way she was been handled, but gave up, once he was already running from rooftop to rooftop, away from the battle. A normal person would have gotten dizzy, but the blue-haired girl was used to seeing the world from strange angles already. It still didn’t change the fact that being dragged over someone’s shoulder was insanely uncomfortable. At last, the leather-clad hero stopped down in an alley, away from prying eyes.

“You should be safe here,” the blond said. “Hopefully no one else has been caught.” And just like that, he gave a short salute and ran off, back into the fight. Marinette let out a sigh of relief.

“That was lucky,” she breathed. Just then, a red blur zipped out of her purse.

“Marinette, the akuma!” the teen gave a determined look.

“Right. Tikki, transform me!” a flash of bright, red light flowed through her, turning her into the most beloved superhero of the city: Ladybug. With a swift movement of her wrist, she sent her yo-yo flying to the nearest chimney, and pulled herself into the air. She swung for a minute, until she was once again back at the scene, Chat Noir standing on one of the towers of the cathedral.

“Nice to see you buzz in, My Lady,” he greeted cheerfully. Ladybug raised an eyebrow.

“Buzz? I’m not a bee.”

“Ladybugs make kind of a buzz sound. Or would you prefer flutter?” the polka-dotted heroine rolled her eyes for the second time that day. Always with the puns, she thought. “Any idea where the akuma is?”

“Her gloves,” Chat responded proudly. Ladybug frowned.

“How do you know?” Immediately, the cat-boy pointed. Ladybug followed his index to see Entangler, holding out her hand, and small seeds sprouting out of the tip of her fingers. Right after, she threw the seeds to the ground, and they landed like bombs into the concrete, breaking the pavement and sprouting vines from the ground. Ladybug’s lips rounded into an ‘o’, in understanding. A beeping noise caught her attention.

“We’re gonna need to do this fast,” Chat was looking at his ring as he spoke. “My time as a charming knight is almost up.”

Ladybug nodded, promptly calling on her Lucky Charm. A grappling hook landed on her slim hands. Her eyebrows furrow for a second, and she started looking around. Bluebell eyes focused on the vines moving around Entangler. She knew exactly what to do.

“Chat, I’m going to need a distraction.”

“No problem,” Chat winked, right before leaping off the tower. Ladybug shook her head, smiling. She leaped after him. The alley cat ran to the woman in the skintight green suit, covered in leaves, and shouted: “I knew flowers bloomed in spring, but don’t you think you planted one too many?”

This enraged the akuma, making her wave her hand to move one of the many vines sprouting from the concrete. He dodged just in time, taking out his baton as he did. Extending it, he made one of his battle poses, ready to move again.

“What kind of fertilizer do you use? Must be powerful for your plants to grow in such lengths.” Another thick vine crashed right where he had been. Meanwhile, Ladybug sneaked behind the akuma, spinning both the grappling hook and her yo-yo, waiting for the right time.

“Any chance you can plant some catnip there too?” With those words, the akumatized victim finally had it. She raised both her arms, making two vines rise on her sides. NOW! Without a second thought, Ladybug threw the grappling hook to wrap around one vine, and her yo-yo to wrap around another one.

“Chat!” she called, throwing him the rope of her Lucky Charm. The blond caught it and smiled, already understanding the plan. On cue, both started running around Entangler, causing the vines, rope and string wrap her completely, leaving only her hands sticking out. With two ripped gloves and a swing of her yo-yo, the akuma was purified.

Bye-bye, petite papillon,” she said after the white butterfly. “Miraculous Ladybug!” the grappling hook turned into magical ladybugs in the air. Every brick disturbed by the vines came back to its place, leaving Paris spotless, once again. And Fleur de la Tour was back into her teal long-sleeved shirt, blue pants and striped gardening apron, looking around, confused.

Bien joué!” cheered Ladybug and Chat Noir in unison. Just then a frantic last beep came from the leather-clad hero’s ring.

“Sorry to cut this short, My Lady, but this cat has to leaf,” he gave a short salute, quickly vaulting into the roofs, disappearing. Ladybug looked at his vanishing figure. She gave a low chuckle.

“Silly chaton,” she whispered. A flick of her wrist later, she was bounding across the rooftops, heading back to Tom & Sabine Boulangerie Patisserie.

And thus, once again a victim was purified and Hawkmoth’s plans thwarted. Once again, Paris was safe. But Marinette’s homework and chores were not. And the sooner she got to her home, the better.


 

Adrien only showed his face in the kitchen to pick up camembert for Plagg, before quickly running to his room and locking the door. It had become a habit when he didn’t have his usual lessons, practices or photoshoots, to either shake off his bodyguard in the city or escape through his bedroom window in cat ears. This was one of those days of the latter.

“But patrol is not until nine!” complained Plagg, holding a piece of the smelly cheese.

“It’s not like I’m leaving now,” retorted Adrien. “We’re just leaving a little earlier.”

“But we fought an akuma today!” the small kwami insisted.

“So?”

“So!” Plagg popped the piece of camembert into his mouth and zipped up to the boy’s face. “Can’t you see I’m tired? Do you have no consideration on this poor, ancient soul?”

The blond gave him an incredulous look. “You have to do it anyway, whether it’s at six or eight. It’s just two hours of difference. I don’t get why you’re so upset.”

“I’m upset because it’s two hours less I can nap,” Plagg dramatically placed his tiny paws on Adrien’s nose. “Napping is sacred!”

Adrien scowled. He grabbed the ancient being by the tail, making him hang upside down.

“You were napping all day before the akuma attacked,” the boy said, like stating the obvious. “And you’ll have plenty of time tomorrow on basketball practice.”

Plagg crossed his arms, eyes squinted. “It’s not the same.”

With a defeated sigh, the boy let the kwami go. Plagg effortlessly straightened up.

“I’ll compromise for an extra hour. How does seven sound?” Plagg placed one of his paws on his chin, deliberating the offer.

“Fine,” the black creature raised his paws. “On one condition: more camembert before we leave.”

Adrien rolled his eyes, but obliged nonetheless. Anything to have more time as Chat Noir.


 

Seven came by in a flash. After eating a quick (and lonely) dinner and finishing his homework, Adrien was more than ready to escape his luxurious prison. Plagg barely rubbed his eyes, when the model called him into his ring.

This was his favorite way of relieving stress. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, landing on balconies with tiny gardens every now and then. This time, he decided to take a different route. One that lead to a certain bakery a blue-haired girl happened to live in. It wouldn’t be the first time he leaped past one of his friend’s rooftops without them noticing. Except for once, at Chloé’s. The one time he passed by her balcony, it did not go unnoticed. She had tried to lure him into finishing their physics homework. After that, Adrien made a conscious decision to avoid Le Grand Paris at all costs.

Of course, he didn’t actually expect for someone to be at the rooftop of the bakery. Just as he was about to leap away, he heard a low squeak, and turned to look from where it came from.

What happened next went by in the blink of an eye. One second, Chat was raising his hand to wave, the next: CLANK! An aluminum watering can hit him squarely on the forehead, making him stagger backwards and support his weight on the railing, rubbing his forehead. Marinette’s hands clapped over her mouth, in embarrassed shock.

“I’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorryI’msorry,” she repeated as she ran to aid him, frantic.

“It’s okay,” groaned Chat, still rubbing his forehead. “That was a good throw,” he straightens up as he says it. “You’re stronger than you look.”

Marinette took a step back, giving a nervous laugh.

“Yeah, well, I-I help out a lot in the bakery, a-and, you know, the ingredients are heavy…” she trailed off with another nervous laugh. She cleared her throat, looking to change the subject. “Uh-what are you doing here, Chat Noir?”

“I was just taking a stroll before my nighttime patrol,” he responded, not questioning Marinette’s odd behavior, to her relief. “It’s an occasional routine. Although I don’t usually get hit on the head.”

“Sorry, again,” she fiddled with her hands and looked to ground, only to realize the watering can was still lying on it. Chat absentmindly followed her gaze, stopping at the aluminum object. With two fingers, he lifted it from the handle and extended his arm towards Marinette.

“Next time, make sure it’s an akuma or an intruder and not your savior before attacking.”

Marinette’s apologetic attitude was gone in a heartbeat, given away by her now crossed arms.

“You weren’t invited into my home, so technically, you are an intruder.”

“Ah!” Chat raised his index finger. “But I’m not in your home, I’m actually on it. So, technically, I’m not intruding,” he puffed his chest proudly, but a second later, gave her a deadpan look. “Also, you weren’t supposed to be up here.”

“It’s my balcony,” scoffed Marinette, “I can come up here whenever I please.”

“Well then you’re gonna have to get used to the fact that I jump around here whenever I please.”

The girl in pigtails scoffed again. “Rude.”

Without skipping a beat, Chat Noir gave a hearty laugh. Adrien had never seen Marinette so worked up, or so expressive for that matter. It was… new. She was usually very mellow around him. Or awkward. He knew she was capable of standing up to people, and he did see her get upset for being compared to Chloé once, but that only lasted for about four seconds that time. But this was different. She seemed comfortable, even confident, despite the fact that she was talking to a superhero people tended to idolize. Unlike others, she wasn’t taking any of his crap.

“What’s wrong, Princess? I thought you liked the ‘great Chat Noir’,” he flexed as he used her own words from that time before the Evillustrator’s date. Marinette slapped a hand to her face, and muttered something that sounded suspiciously a lot like this can’t be my life. As a response, Chat gave he a wide cheshire grin and winked. The blue-haired girl was not amused.

“Yeah, as a superhero you’re great. Doesn’t mean you can’t be a little full of yourself.”

“Meowch,” Chat dramatically grabbed the suit from his chest with his free hand. “So blunt.”

“Didn’t you say you were going on patrol or something?” Marinette placed her hands on her hips, but softened her expression this time.

“Yeah,” the hero confirmed. “At nine. Wait, are you throwing me out?” he gave another dramatic performance with a loud gasp. “So cruel.”

“You’re quite the performer, aren’t you Chat Noir?” the girl’s pigtails bounced as she tilted her head. The boy beamed, arms on his back and chest puffed.

Adrien couldn’t get over how much fun he was having. He already knew his classmate was pretty amazing: mad videogame skills, great class president, and a talented designer. He had no idea her personality was just as intriguing, to the point of almost reminding him of a certain bug. He wondered if his other friends also had hidden sides of themselves. What if Chloé had one? That’s not worth the risk, he thought, remembering the homework incident. But maybe Nino did. Or Alya. Although, Alya was probably not a very good idea either, being the creator of the Ladyblog and all.

Chat started tapping one of his fingers behind his back. He realized he was still holding the watering can on his right hand. He almost didn’t want to give it back, for the sake of keeping the conversation going.

“Here,” he sighed, extending his arm once again. Marinette retrieved the can, causing their fingers to brush for a mere second. “Please look before you throw.”

“I’ll try,” she held the aluminum object with both her hands and gave a slight nod. Chat gave her a salute. He turned to grab the railing.

But he stopped. An idea occurring to him.

“Hey…”

“Hm?”

“Do you hang out here often?” the question made Marinette’s eyebrows furrow.

“Uh… Sometimes. Why?”

Chat gave a mischievous smile. “Just wondering if it would be okay to stop by every now and then.”

The girl’s eyes went wide.

“What?!”

“I’ll take that as a yes. Are you around on Thursday?” he responded like he was having the most casual conversation ever.

“I-uh—” she stuttered, arms flailing.

“Yes? Okay. See you then, Mari,” he gave another salute and jumped off the railing, vanishing into the sun that had just started to set. And Adrien internally laughing.


 

The designer’s mouth was agape, still staring off towards where her partner had just disappeared to. She barely even noticed when the little red kwami floated up to sit on her shoulder. Tikki gave a sigh of relief.

“That was some quick thinking, Marinette,” she complimented. It so happened that when Chat Noir landed on the balcony, the kwami had been in plain view. “If you hadn’t hit him with the watering can, your identity would have been exposed for sure.” But her charge wasn’t listening, still staring off into the horizon. “Marinette?”

Finally, the teen frowned, pursing her lips to the side.

“That mangy cat,” she snapped. “What on Earth is he thinking? Is he trying to get himself discovered? And how dare he overtake my free time?” Her head whirled towards Tikki, who had started giggling. “And what’s so funny?”

“It’s not as bad as you make it seem.”

“Still…” Marinette bit her lip. She knew Chat was a tad reckless sometimes, and it worried her the idea of him carelessly risking his secret.

“Don’t worry,” Tikki moved up to her cheek. “Chat can be impulsive, but he would never allow it to endanger anyone.”

“I hope you’re right,” the designer gave a resigned sigh. With a tender smile, she gave Tikki a soft scratch on the head, as the small being nuzzled against the girl’s soft face. “Anyway,” she lifted her watering can, “I should finish up here, before the sun sets.”

Marinette resumed the last of her chores for the day, leaning towards the rose bush hanging off her railings. The water trickled down the plant, into the earth, grazing the stem and its tiny buds beginning to sprout. It was, after all, the start of springtime.