Marinette wasn’t a liar.
At least Adrien hadn’t thought so. Even when Alya, her best friend in the whole world, wore the most atrocious hat in the world to school, and asked her fashion savvy friend, “what do you think?” Marinette had been honest. She was kind and did the girl a favor and said, “I don’t think it’s your color. I’ll make you a better one.” She could have protected the girl’s feelings, but she was honest. And that was just one of the many examples.
Now that school was over, and he was home, he started to calm down. There had to be a misunderstanding. There HAD to be. It didn’t make any other sense. Because he may not talk to her one on one that often, and when they do, she flounders like a fish, but he’ll be damned if she wasn’t a decent person.
He analysed the rant the girl had went on. It was sort of a blur before she had confessed her feelings, and then even more of a blur after she claimed to be Ladybug.
Mind control? Could be.
Robot replica? Possibly.
He stopped. Was it impossible? He took a step back, mentally and physically, and spoke out loud. “What do I know about Marinette?”
“She can’t talk worth shit.” Plagg responded. He had emerged from Adrien’s shirt and had been observing the boy standing frozen, thinking.
Adrien snapped his fingers and pointed. “Not to me, not if she was nervous because she had a crush. Which we know is true.”
“Oo, stretching the detective skills. A great talent for any Chat Noir,” the kwami grinned. He crossed his arms, antagonizing this game. “What else?”
“She…lives in a bakery?”
“Okay, duh. But think deeper.”
“She has pigtails.”
“Yeah, and so does Ladybug. But who had them first? Is Marinette copying the hero? Or is it her style?”
“Marinette wore pigtails the first day I met her. That was a few days before I met Ladybug.”
“Okay, then check.”
Adrien ran his fingers through his hair. “I don’t know Plagg! She’s…nice?”
“Isn’t every girl in your class nice except for Chloe?”
“I mean, you’re not wrong!” Adrien stalked his way over to his computer and pulled up the Ladyblog. “But what would I even do if Marinette WAS Ladybug? I sided with Chloe! They HATE each other! She’ll skin me!”
“You’re being over dramatic.”
The kwami sighed and flew up into his face. “Alright look, Loverboy. You’ve been studying Ladybug’s identity since she vowed to protect the city. You claim she’s your best friend. You know her better than anyone else. Ignore the weird confession thing that happened. Is it possible that Marinette could be Ladybug?”
“No! Well, yeah…I don’t know!”
“Of course you don’t know.” Plagg mumbled bitterly. “You thought Chloe was Ladybug. You have straight A’s and you’re as dumb as a rock.”
“No need to be so insulting…”
“You kind of deserve it. Especially if she is Ladybug, and/or she turns into an akuma.”
Adrien’s eyes widened and he stared into the vast expanse of his decisions. “What have I done…?”
“Ruined at least one friendship, if not two.”
“You’re not helping.”
The kwami shrugged and floated to the computer, moving the mouse to wake it up. “I don’t blame you for acting the way you did though. This is a very hormonal part of your life, and romance is sticky business. No pun intended.”
“That’s disgusting. How dare you ruin the art form of puns?”
“Boo-frickity-hoo big shootsie wootsie.” Plagg hovered by the screen. “You have bigger problems right now.”
An in-progress video of an akuma attack at Notre Dame played on the screen.
The akuma had been fast. It resembled an angel, with a pair of wings sprouting from its back, a pair covering it’s feet, and a pair covering it’s face. Though Chat had knocked it into a wall, the wings moved from it’s face, both teens had nearly peed their pants in horror. With the gift of flight, this akuma would have been impossible to catch, but since it was trapped indoors, there was nowhere to fly that the heroes couldn’t go. Nowhere to run.
The blacked rosary was restored and the quiet nun returned.
Chat raised his fist. “Pound—“ but when she didn’t return the gesture, it confirmed his suspicions, Ladybug was upset.
The nun on the ground rubbed her head. “Oh dear, what happened?”
“Everything’s alright now.” Ladybug placated with a fake smile.
The nun, however, frowned. “I turned into one of those awful monsters, didn’t I?”
The heroes’ silence spoke for them.
“How could I have let this happen?” She shook her head. “Anger is so poisoning. I’m sure you two know that very well.” The woman stood, dusty off her skirts. “‘Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers all wrongs’. Do you know what verse that is? It’s Proverbs 10:12. What you two do, is spread love to the city. You heal and cover all wrongs. Thank you.”
Ladybug and Chat Noir looked at each other, at a loss for words. “Well, if there was ever a place for forgiveness, I’m sure a church is it.” She said cryptically as she began to wander away.
“A-are you alright? I mean, you had to have been upset!” Chat asked.
The nun smiled. “I’m fine now. I realize that getting angry at children who vandalize is not going to correct the problem. I probably caused more damage to the church as an akuma then they could have.” And with that, she walked down the sanctuary aisle.
It was then that the two heroes came to realize they were alone, standing in the light of the rose window. “Would you…?” Chat spoke, Ladybug whipping her head around to look at him with wild eyes. “Uh, would you like to talk?”
She eyed the door. She contemplated excuses and running. This was a huge mess and she was done with her dumb feelings and her even dumber mouth. But this was Chat, her partner. The entire city of Paris counted on their dynamic. If she was honest, she depended on them too. But she had not used lucky charm and he had not used cataclysm. There was no beeping anytime soon. There was no school to run back to. And as she met his tired and worried eyes she realized there was nowhere to go. Nowhere to run.
She deflated. “Okay.”
He smiled gently and walked with her towards the private chapel. “Think we’ll see a Hunchback?” He joked.
She smiled. But then quickly frowned. How dare he make her laugh.
She fell down into a pew with a huff.
“So…what’s up?” He attempted.
She glanced at him with malice and then looked away. He scratched the back of his head and moved to sit next to her, but she scooted away. “I can’t really help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.”
She turned her nose up and away from him.
“Did I do something? Because I swear, I didn’t mean it. I’m a dumbass.”
She smirked, ever so slightly, and then returned. “Don’t swear, you’re in a church.”
“Right.” He patted his leg.
“What about you? You didn’t make a single pun during the fight.”
He sighed, his shoulders rolling forward. “I’m not great. Why don’t…how about I tell you what’s up with me and then you can tell me what’s up with you?”
“Okay,” he fiddled with his hands. “So, there was this girl at school and she confessed that she likes me. But I don’t really feel the same way about her…and I said…I kind of confessed that I liked you instead, and she tried to claim that she was you.” He looked to the ground. “She is—was…a really close friend of mine. The thing is, I think I misunderstood the situation and cut her off before she could go anywhere with it…and then Chloe? You know, the problem child?”
Again, Ladybug smirked for a half a second.
“Well, she overheard the conversation and called her out on it, in front of the whole class. And what’s worse, I was so upset, I actually took Chloe’s side.” He flopped on the pew and threw an arm over his face. “Marinette isn’t the type of person to lie and manipulate. I know that. But…I don’t know what else it was supposed to be!”
“What if she was telling the truth?” Ladybug’s voice was calm and cool.
“I don’t even want to think about it! I’m not saying she can’t be you, but it’s just…then everything I thought I knew would be wrong! I thought if I saw you under the mask, I’d know you in a heart beat. But then…I hesitated.”
“Do you not like Marinette?”
“No! I mean, no, I do! She’s sweet and kind and brave and cute!” He blushed a shade. “I value her friendship so much! Like, she was my first friend I made when I finally got to go to school! And now…I feel awful.”
Ladybug rested her foot on the top of the pew in front of her. “Clark Kent confesses to Lois Lane. Lois Lane tells Clark Kent that she’s in love with Superman. Clark Kent says, “Oh but I am Superman.” Lois Lane gets offended. Clark Kent feels betrayed by Lois because she didn’t recognize him. Lois Lane tells Superman what Clark said. Superman tells Lois Lane that Clark Kent was telling the truth.”
Chat followed, then replied, “yeah, but that’s not the same situation because Lois Lane doesn’t have superpowers, too.”
“You’re hopeless Adrien.” Ladybug stood. He stood right after her. “I am not hopeless! Wait—…Superman tells Lois Lane that Clark was telling the truth…oh.”
“Oh. Ohohoh. Oh my God. I am hopeless. I’m stupid. I’m dumb—….” Chat sat down slowly and then proceeded to lay down on the pew, his hands covering his face. “How could I have been so stupid?” He whispered.
Ladybug walked a little ways away and let him deal with this new revelation.
“Marinette.” He called softly. When she turned to face him, Adrien stood in his place. “I could list a hundred reasons for why I said what I did, and they would all be shoddy and poor. There’s nothing I can say except how sorry I am and…is there anything I could do to make it up to you?”
“I…I don’t know.” She whispered as a few tears rolled down her cheeks. “I was so afraid Adrien. I found out who you were and I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you I knew. My feelings weren’t supposed to matter, but in the end they overwhelmed me and I messed it up! I messed everything up! All because…it’s your fault! You turn me into a goddamn rubbery mess!” She moaned.
“My lady, language.” He smiled as he approached her.
“Spots off, Tikki.” Sad, small, shy Marinette remained.
Adrien observed her with a reserved sort of fondness. “How could I have missed it? You have her eyes. So powerful and riveting.” He stepped closer still and reached forward. She didn’t protest, so he pulled her to him and held her.
Moments passed in silence in the church, as they both let the warmth of the hug heal over their battered hearts.
Adrien broke the silence first. “I’m so glad it’s you Mari. There’s no one I’d rather have as Ladybug, as my partner, my best friend.”
She tightened her hold on his shirt, gripping it in an iron fist. “Thank you, Kitty. That means a lot to me.”
“I’m sorry this had to happen, Marinette. I…I love you.”
Surprised by the sudden confession, Marinette looked up at him.
“I’ve been trying to tell you for awhile now. And I can safely say it now, because I can see the whole you, the whole stuttering rubbery, messy girl. And I love her.”
She nuzzled her face into his chest and shook with emotion.
“It’s scary how much I love you. That’s why I was afraid of you being Ladybug…like, I had taken the side of my true loves worst nemesis…I thought you’d hate me…” He seemed to consider it for a moment. “You don’t hate me, right?”
Her voice was hoarse and cracking. “I wouldn’t be bawling into your chest if I did!”
“Oh my lady!” He took her face into his hands and kissed her cheeks and forehead.
She was stunned.
He pulled away slightly. “Sorry, that’s what they do in those old black and white romance movies.”
She smiled, actually smiled! “It’s okay…I kind of liked it.”
He blushed harder, but kissed her face again.
“I love you too, mon chaton.”
He squeezed her tight, a few tears leaking out. “Thank God.”
Marinette lowered her voice to a false baritone, “You’re welcome!”
Adrien barked out a laugh, more tears leaking out from the emotion. “I love you!”
She grinned wider. “I know. Is this going to be a thing? You just…saying that all the time?”
“It’s like the dam broke, Bugaboo. There’s a flood of ‘I love you’s’ coming at you!”
“I could get used to it.”
He took her dainty hands and pressed kisses into them. “I’m so glad.”
Suddenly, a look of dread came over her face. “What about Chloe?”
“What about her?”
“Well, I know she’s not just going to let this go. I’m sure she’ll be torturing me for the next week.”
“Well…what do you want to do?”
Marinette considered it for a moment. “Kiss me right on the mouth.”
“Okay~!” And before she could blink, his mouth was on hers, and his arms snaked around her waist.
When he pulled away, she snickered. “I didn’t mean right now.”
He shrunk. “Oh.”
“I meant…” She had a sly, malevolent look on her face, “kiss me in front of her.”
“Should I push all the books off the desk and throw you upon it, for good measure?”
She blushed hotly. “I don’t think we’re there yet, Chat—er Adrien.”
He chuckled. “I’ll kiss you, and then I’ll explain that you were telling yourself you were Ladybug so you could have more confidence. Like, eye of the tiger. You are Ladybug.”
“I hope she buys it.”
“If not, who cares? Does her opinion really matter?”
“No…she’s just so loud.”
Adrien kissed her forehead. “Then we’ll just have to be louder.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh my God…”
“Hey, we’re in a church.”