GOLDEN BALANCE

*deep breath*

So this is my first MLB fan fiction. In the grand scheme of things it's not groundbreaking, but it's a big deal to me. I started to cobble this story together after watching the first season on Netflix, before I found a lot of the season 2 spoilers. I hope you enjoy it.

- snafsnaf

Blurb: An accidental reveal forces a final confrontation between Ladybug, Chat Noir, and Hawk Moth.


Chapter 1


Ladybug could tell something was up with Chat before they even started their patrol. Over the last four years, he had gradually changed from a flirtatious, punning chatterbox to a more mature partner. His humor was still there, often twinkling in the corners of his eyes, waiting for her to notice, but he rarely overtly complimented her on her beauty anymore. She trusted him now implicitly that if he touched her waist or arms, or if he draped himself across her shoulders, that he wasn't trying to put an unwelcome move on her.

By now, they were a perfect team. One word between them in a battle was usually enough to communicate an entire plan. They could read the subtlest changes in body positions, facial expressions, even each other's sighs that it could have passed for mind reading.

So when she saw him vaulting over the Paris skyline, she knew something was wrong. He wasted no time with pleasantries but simply asked her how she wanted to divide their patrol tonight.

"Do you want to talk about it?" she asked. She and Chat didn't intentionally share any details that might reveal their identities. This secrecy had always been at her insistence, but Ladybug found herself increasingly prepared to make an exception if Chat really needed an ear

He shook his head curtly, his shaggy blond mane fluttering about. "Not now," he said. "But let's be quick. I have a favor to ask of you."

Off they went, meeting again at the Eiffel Tower in record time. It was a peaceful night.

"Now what's this favor?" Ladybug asked. Curiosity was beginning to eat at her.

"Not here," he wouldn't say. Instead, he leapt from the tower and over the city.

Ladybug pursued him to a rooftop they had used in the past for surveillance. The building was abandoned but not yet rundown. Chat Noir disappeared briefly into a doorway that led to stairs and then the street.

Ladybug waited for him to come back, but she could feel his mood eroding her own patience. Surely knowing would be better than this worry.

He came back with a black knit ski mask in his hand that he proceeded to pull over his head, tugging it down all the way over his face. Before she could even ask what was going on, he removed his miraculous ring and transformed into his regular self, the ski mask remaining in place to protect his identity.

"Chat! What is going on?" She could only gape at him.

"I need you to guard my miraculous for me," he said, holding out the ring to her. "Someone close to me has noticed that I always wear it. They've asked me to take it off and I won't. I'm worried they are getting suspicious, that they might believe that this is the cat miraculous. I don't trust them. I don't trust anyone but you."

Ladybug didn't reach for the ring. "What am I supposed to do with it?"

He shrugged. "Keep it safe for me, until we meet again. The regular me has to go out of town for work but I'll meet you back here in one week. That should hopefully be enough time to make everyone think the ring is unimportant. If it doesn't blow over by then, you may need to hold onto it a little longer."

"You're leaving Paris?" she asked, growing more nervous. Each of them had occasionally had to leave the city they had sworn to protect for various reasons, but neither one had felt completely at ease while the other was gone.

"I would never willingly desert you," he said, "but I'm worried that Nathalie is starting to suspect who I really am. I need to distract her."

Nathalie. They had always been so careful with names before. The only name she knew to associate with him was Plagg, his kwami. She didn't know if he had brothers or sisters. She had never heard him mention his mother. And now Chat was going out of town with some woman named Nathalie.

"Is she your girlfriend?" Ladybug asked with a uncomfortable twinge. How had he found the time to form the sort of relationship that involved out-of-town getaways when she had never found the inclination to continue the charade past the second date? Better still, iwhy/i did he have a girlfriend?

Everything in his posture told her that the suggestion was ridiculous before she could wonder if she was more jealous of Chat or the mysterious Nathalie. "No! She's more of a cross between an aunt and a manager. We work together, or something like that." Again he held out the ring to her.

Hesitantly she took it. "Is there anything else I should know?" Somehow knowing this much felt worse than the vague worry that had started her patrol.

Again he gave her that curt shake. "My Lady, we've never been much into those details. I need to go. It'll take longer to get home as my regular self than as Chat Noir. I'll see you in a week."

"I can take you," she offered, "at least part of the way."

He cocked his head to one side and she could envision the sad smile underneath the black knit. "Maybe next time." He disappeared through the doorway.

Ladybug listened to him climb down the stairs and then watched as he walked out of the building and along the sidewalk, toward a home she knew nothing about. In one hand, she squeezed the cat miraculous tightly. In the other, she toyed with her yoyo, debating with herself whether to follow him and secure his safety. She watched, paralyzed with indecision, until he was gone from view.

Seven days later, she was back on the same roof waiting for her Chat for hours, but he didn't come.

.o8o.

There had been an attack orchestrated by Hawk Moth earlier that week, but Ladybug's luck held and it had ended even before she had got there. A few people had been injured by a new evil champion but the akuma had rejected its host after only 15 minutes of destruction. Ambulances had arrived to take the wounded to the nearest hospital and her Lucky Charm was not even needed to reverse the minor property damage. Ladybug had never experienced anything like that before and she wondered what her nemesis was planning. She would have dearly loved to discuss everything with Chat, but he didn't show. She worried that Hawk Moth had gotten ahold of him, but then realized that her partner would be worthless and unrecognizable to the villain without the miraculous.

She hoped it was a simple misunderstanding, that he had gotten the days confused. She came back the next night, and the next. Always the rooftop was empty.

.o8o.

It took three weeks for her stray cat to find his way back to her. When he stepped out onto the rooftop in his ski mask, she practically threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly.

"You did miss me after all," he said in her hair, hugging her in return.

"What happened to you?" she said. "I was worried out of my mind."

"There was a complication," he said. "A very big complication. Did you bring my miraculous?"

She wasted no time in handing him a box filled with sugar cookies, macarons, a small wheel of cheese, and an ordinary-looking ring. "My Lady, you spoil me." His voice was as warm as caramel.

He put the ring on his finger and immediately a small, green-eyed black figure appeared. "It's about time, kid!" the kwami began to scold him.

"Hush, Plagg," Chat cut him off. "She brought you camembert."

"Are you going to tell me what happened to you?" asked Ladybug. "What kept you? You said one week, and it's been three." She didn't mean to sound needy, but he was her partner, her other half; she wasn't complete without him.

He sighed and sat on the roof slates. She joined him while he and his kwami picked through the treats she had brought.

"I was caught up in the attack a few weeks ago," he admitted, plucking out a chocolate macaron. "I was temporarily hospitalized. It was tough to get away right after that."

"You were there?" Had he attempted to help Ladybug in his regular form? Had he put himself needlessly in danger?

"Oh, it gets worse," he said before putting the whole cookie in his mouth. He didn't speak again until he had swallowed it. "Hawk Moth's champion grabbed me by my wrist - nothing's broken but it is still a little sprained. But when she had me in her clutches, I - I heard her talking with Hawk Moth. The magic was such that I couldn't hear his side of the conversation but I could hear hers. He was ordering her to release me unharmed. Well, no more harmed that I already was."

Chat stopped talking, stopped moving. He just sat there, pained. Ladybug reached out and held his hand, giving it a comforting squeeze, silently encouraging him to continue.

He set aside the box of treats and sighed. "I don't know what Hawk Moth said to her, like I said; I only heard her replies. She said, 'I don't care if he is your son. I will use him to have my revenge.' She was going to do something to me, I don't know what, but then the akuma left her trinket and she reverted back to her regular form. And that was the end of the attack."

Ladybug sat there blinking furiously, trying to take in this revelation. Even Plagg had stopped eating.

"Are you saying that your father is…" She couldn't form the words.

The young man nearly squirmed under the weight of her silence. He would have preferred to keep this guilt buried in his chest where it could devour him silently, but this wasn't about what he wanted. If it was, his father would have been someone else entirely.

But he had spent more than two weeks with this knowledge burning through him and no one to share it with to relieve the pressure. He had been under constant observation as he father waited for him to show some sign that he had heard and understood the champion's revelation. Plagg and his miraculous had been safe with Ladybug but that only left Chat alone and unprotected. His thoughts were a poor guide; while he could easily intuit any gaps in Ladybug's plans, she had always been the lead tactician. He was much better skilled at distraction, at taunting their present foe into betraying an exploitable weakness, but without his partner and his mask he didn't dare to provoke his father.

So he had decided to run away, to bring everything to Ladybug, to present the ugly truth and let her judge him: the fact that despite all his father's coldness, Chat had never once suspected the man; that Chat had spent his entire life under the roof of their nemesis; that Chat had put his miraculous in danger nightly; that Chat had an opportunity to attack Hawk Moth and had instead fled; that Ladybug's supposed partner was the heir to her enemy.

He'd had great hopes that after they defeated Hawk Moth, they would finally drop the masks and reveal their normal selves to each other. But it couldn't happen like that now. If he waited until Hawk Moth was bested to announce his relation to the villain, Ladybug would feel that she had been duped. And if his identity was accidentally revealed before then, she would feel an even greater betrayal. The only option was to reveal himself and his father now, and let her decide what to do with him.

In the best possible scenario, she should want to cut all ties with him. That was the only safe option. How could she trust anyone from Hawk Moth's family? She would ask for him to hand back his miraculous, find herself another partner - anybody else in Paris had to be a better choice than Hawk Moth's son -, and finally retrieve the moth miraculous.

And the soon to be former Chat Noir would have his life upended when his father's secret identity became common knowledge. Whatever else might befall him, however, the worst part would be that he never know who his other half was.

Chat took a deep breath and held it. He wasn't exactly thoughtless but his body tended to act faster than his brain could regulate. But he had been so confined under his father's guard recently that he had thought about more things than he could act on, and now he felt himself in danger of not taking the necessary actions. And the longer he postponed his reveal, the easier it became to keep delaying. But this wasn't about what his wants or comforts, he reminded himself with a forceful exhale.

Chat Noir chose this moment to remove his mask. "Ladybug, I am Adrien Agreste. And my father - Gabriel Agreste - is Hawk Moth."