"Adrien, what are you doing?" she gasps.
"I'm paying for my mistakes," he tells her. "Marinette…I… I need to finish this fight."
He steps back, and in a flash the man before her is… no…
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you… And I know you hate me now, but…"
"You asshole!" she screams. "You're running out to fight, to fight for something that was never yours to begin with, and you're going to hurt people!" Adrien… Papillon… it almost makes sense, but..
He looks down, and rubs his neck. "I understand why you feel that way. But I don't have a choice anymore. I haven't for a long time…"
"We always have a choice, Adrien…" she looks down.
"I don't. Never did. I have to do this… and this time, it might kill me. Can I… Can I please kiss you? Just one time, before the battle? For luck?" He looks so hopeful… but no. This man has destroyed everything. He's hurt people. He's hurt her more times than she can count.
"No. No, you can't. Neither of you can, anymore. After Volpina, do you really think I'm just going to forgive you? Forgive all these secrets?"
He offers a sad smile. "I don't. I'm a liar, and I'm selfish. I stalked you, trapped you, and I… I love you. If I could change everything, I would, if it would make you happy…"
"But you can't."
"No, I can't…" he looks down. "I have to go."
She clenches her jaw. "Same deal as before. If you come back alive, I'll kiss you. Okay?"
His eyes widen. "I'll try."
Adrien watches the countdown. This is going to destroy everything. All he can do to justify it is say that he'll bring it all back. Make sure nothing terrible lasts. This is for a brighter world, a perfect world, a world where they can be happy…
He closes his eyes, and the memories crash against his eyelids. Marinette storming into the class, her aggravation with him over their misunderstanding… The umbrella, and the rainfall… Their first kiss…Taking her flying for the first time… "I love you, Adrien." "I love you so much, Princess."
They were happy. They could have been happy, couldn't they? If he'd been good. They could have taken on the world. Maybe it would have hurt, sometimes. Maybe his obsession and jealousy, her temper and stubbornness would have gotten in the way. But they could have made it work.
He watches the countdown.
Ladybug bursts into the room, eyes wide. "No… you… What is that?"
"It's the power of the akumas. Harnessed from the butterflies. And from me…" he looks down. "When this goes off… Everyone ever akumatized will send waves of energy off. The blast will have one purpose- getting the miraculous- but I don't know what else it will do." He looks down. "This is the last battle, though."
She looks at him, all the pain and hurt in the world in her eyes. "You're going to kill people, Adrien. Doesn't that bother you?"
He doesn't think as to how she knows his name. Marinette told her, of course. Marinette…
He looks up, terror clear in his eyes. "Tell Marinette that I can. She'll know what it means. And… tell her that my last thoughts were of her, okay? And that I love her. And I hope she knows."
Clarity dawns on her. "No…"
"I love her. Why not die for her?"
The timer clicks to zero, just as he opens his wings, covering the blast… And a flash comes from behind them.
She screams, racing to the wings, letting her transformation drop. When she reaches the wings, a small silver pin lies inside. "No… No, no, Adrien, please, I love you, you can't be gone…" Tears streak her face, as silver dust blows in the wind. "I need you to come home… please, you have to come home…"
There's no body to bury.
The news of who Papillon turned out to be spreads like wildfire. Marinette is offered condolences, people saying how sorry they are that she was so taken in, and expecting her to talk about how horrible he was, what a twisted liar…
They're shocked when she refuses to say a word against him. "He loved me. And he loved his family. He made mistakes, but I'd like to see you make any better choices if your life went so… wrong."
Her parents aren't happy after she gives that particular statement to the media.
They help her hold a funeral, though, and her father threatens the people standing outside the cemetery, although they continue booing her as it starts to rain, and she throws a handful of dirt onto the empty coffin. She wonders what Gabriel will think, when he manages to get home… if he manages to get home.
It goes on.
She can't stand the looks she gets, and one day, she transforms, cameras be damned, and starts racing across the city to where the wings still stand. She sits inside the wings, feeling them around her, and detransforms, crying.
"Adrien… Adrien, I miss you. I never got to tell you who I am… I never got to say I always loved you…"
She removes her earrings, and places them on the ground. "Take them!" she screams. "They're right there! Don't you want them? Don't you…?"
She hugs her knees, sobbing… and a butterfly flies down, landing on her hand.
"What…?" she raises her head, tears staining her cheeks.
The violet-and-green butterfly flies up to her face, wings gently brushing the tears away.
"Please don't cry, Princess."
She looks up, and gasps.