It was ironic, really, how she, being the remarkable superhero she was, had died such an unremarkable death. No powers, or magic or villains involved.
Just a weak building, and the backlash of eternal bad luck.
Her passing was a quiet one for most, though. It left Paris shocked, forever mulling over the disappearance of their spotted saviour. People made up stories to fill the void of the unknown, exchanging theories in hushed whispers and solemn fragments.
A family of two heaved sobs, day after day, about the one daughter that they would never see grow up. About how they would never be able to cherish and spoil her kids they way they had with her. Not anymore. She was gone, her dreams and aspirations and future buried under the rubble of regret.
Her classmates mourned the loss of their peer as well, eyes downcast and bleary as they pushed aside memories of her smile from the past. One by one, they broke, crying secretly in the locker rooms and abandoned corridors. The first was her best friend, Alya, who cried herself dry. Then came her childhood playmate, Nino, his face as hollow as his heart.
Dread loomed over their heads, misting the atmosphere with gloom and embracing them as a cloud of guilt.
But the one who hurt most of all, the one who grieved to no end, was her partner. Her partner, who always plastered a smile on his face for her sake. Her partner, who loved her endlessly and who gave himself away for her. Her partner, who always caught her when she fell, always saved her.
Except this once.
He didn’t know much of it at first, what had happened to the bug, or where she had disappeared to or why. He waited, days, weeks, months. He waited, and waited and waited, until he couldn’t feign ignorance anymore. Why had she left? Was he not—not enough? Was he—was he doing something wrong?
Bitterly, he’d chuckle. This feeling felt all too familiar, all too habitual. After all, he was no stranger to people taking off on him. He was never enough of a reason for them to stay, and it was nice to know that he would never be.
And although he bemoaned the death of his shy classmate, he couldn’t help but wonder how her passing and Ladybug’s disappearance coincided, so very perfectly.
Until it hit him.
But rather than enlightening him, finding out that Ladybug was Marinette and Marinette was Ladybug; it had left him even more broken than before. This was never the way he wanted to find out, not when he had to live through it alone.
Because he didn’t have her anymore.
And he knew—he knew how disappointed she would be, knowing how easily her Adrien, her Chat Noir had given up. He knew; the corners of her mouth would dip, brows furrowed and eyes hard as she watched. But no matter how many times he tried to pull through, and shed this lingering coat of despair, nostalgia would bring him back.
Nights of muffled cries and frustrated tears couldn’t bring her back. Nothing could. She was gone, to the one place he couldn’t follow, no matter how hard he tried, or how much he wanted to. Who was he, without his Lady? What could he do, without her?
Because she was a rainbow—his rainbow, and when she left, she took all color with her.
But no amount of rain, or storms or sunlight would bring back that resplendent aura and that dazzling smile. Parisians watched as their cat tore himself apart on rooftops, wailing and sobbing so brazenly, and they wondered what could have hurt him this bad.
They watched, as he leapt, mercilessly and carelessly across buildings, slipping precariously and tripping in the rain. They watched, as all professional barriers were shattered and they witnessed all grace and elegance leave him. They watched, as he half-heartedly patrolled and settled each night on the withering balcony of a familiar bakery, watering the plants and sweeping the dust off of untouched chairs.
What they didn’t see was his slow descent into eternal heartbreak. They didn’t see how a boy of mere fifteen years came every day, to the graveyard and wept his soul out to the girl he loved, and wiped away his sadness before facing the world again. They didn’t see how his smile didn’t rival the sun anymore, and how his eyes had dulled away to a pale green, and how sunken his cheeks seemed. They didn’t see, or maybe, they just pretended not to.
He lay awake in his bed each night, petrified of the darkness that was waiting to consume him, afraid of the nightmares that would swallow him whole. He clawed at the bedsheets, begging them for a comfortable embrace, but he was rejected one each time. Plagg watched on, scared for his charge, and what would become of him.
But Adrien was gone, and no one knew where, or when he would return. In his stead, he’d left a shell of a boy, who hardly laughed and scarcely smiled. A boy, whose pain no one could comprehend, or even begin to.
A boy, who recognised disappointment like no one else, and knew what it was like to be one.