Chapter 9: Exhausted Sickness

*Warning* panic attacks/etc?

Marinette felt hot, sweaty.

She was breathing hard, fast breaths.

There was a throbbing deep inside her head, pulsating.

She cringed in pain. She was in the state between unconsciousness and barely registered consciousness. The pain permeating her body was too much. She tried moving her arm to massage the painful area but she found it to be too much for her tired body. It sent sharp needles throughout her and made it hard for Marinette to move.

She could barely open her eyes.

T-tikki… Marinette tried her best to call out her Kwami's name, but even thinking was hard on her. Marinette entered into restless slumber, feeling too exhausted to do anything about her pain but to endure it.

. . . . . .

A few hours later, Marinette found herself waking to a warm, wet cloth and gentle, loving hands.

Ma-maman… Marinette tried to speak but her mouth and throat were parched. Her lips were cracked and stuck together. She heard a faint voice call her name. She was sure it was her mother's. Marinette wanted to reach out and hug her mother desperately. She tried to reach for her but Marinette's arm wouldn't budge from its position on her stomach. Every move felt like tiny needles punctured every ounce of skin and was filled with heavy lead.

"Oh, dear," Marinette thought she heard her mother say. She felt the pressure beside her rise, heard soft footsteps cross her room, then a soft 'click' of her trapdoor closing.

Her room felt cold and the silence was deafening. She felt trapped, isolated. Scared. Her ability to move was gone which made her feelings of terror seize her and she fell into a panic attack.

It was over just as quickly when she felt the same gentle hands caressing her. She could hear soft singing and her body began to relax. She could feel wetness on her cheek as a single tear left her right eye.

"Ma-" Maman, finished Marinette, as she couldn't speak. She pulled what energy she could and opened her eyes. What she saw first was the way the blinding light hit her eyes. As her vision cleared, she found her mother.

Marinette noted the unshed and dried tear tracts on her beautiful Chinese face. It made her heart swell up with sorrow, but also pride. She loves her mother and her mother loves her. If she ever doubted, this would blow all those doubts away.

Her eyes, too, began to prick with tears.

. . . . . .

Down stairs, it was quiet in the Dupain-Cheng household.

Neither parent could muster up enough motivation to do what they love: baking. Both were worried sick about their young daughter. Young, healthy daughter. At least, that's what the doctor had said two nights ago.

It's been forty-eight hours since they discovered their darling daughter motionless in her room.

Sabine was slowly washing the nightly dishes that she and her husband, Tom, used for their daily job as bakers. It was an ephemeral, but decent distraction from their worries. Tom was silently watching from behind her, knowing that her dam was about to burst; and he wanted to be there when it flooded.

He needs his wife to understand that no matter what ordeal they go through, they will never go through it alone. For as long as he is alive and breathing, he protects his family. Marinette is their daughter, and like her parents, she is strong.

He could see his wife's shoulders start to tremble with silent sobs. She's trying hard not to cry, to continue to be strong. He sidled up to her and slid his arms through hers and wrapped her in a comforting embrace. He laid his chin on the top of her head as he's done thousands of times before throughout their life together.

Tom knew it was best just to let her cry it out, instead of just keeping it dammed up. So, like a river needs to flow, so do the negative emotions.

So Tom let her cry in the comfort of his protective arms. He knew no words could possibly describe how they feel.

Finally, as her sobs subsided, and her shoulders resided their shaking, Sabine took a long, deep breath and exhaled all the negativity from her body. She began to feel more like herself.

"Remember what the Healer said," Tom gently reminded Sabine.

"That nothing is majorly wrong with Marinette," responded Sabine. "She is one-hundred percent healthy."

"Right. Only her body and mind are just exhausted. He said she needs lots of rest and nutritious foods," added Tom.

"I remember all of that, Tom." Sabine rested her head on her husband's chest. "What I don't understand is how a healthy fifteen year old girl can be diagnosed with 'exhausted sickness'. What does that even mean, anyway?" Sabine sighed. "I just don't understand it, Tom." Sabine looked at her adoring husband with big, dark grey eyes. Fresh tears threatened to show themselves. "Did-did we do something wrong? Did we put too much pressure on her?" Her bottom lip puckered out with a slight tremble.

"Non, ma cherie, non." Tom cupped her face and placed a kiss on her nose. "We only wanted the best for our daughter." He placed a kiss on each eyelid. "We gave her and taught her what we could." Tom placed a kiss on her forehead. "She has all our love and support." Tom placed his final kiss to her trembling lips. "She has us."

In a soft but raspy voice, Sabine agreed. "I know, my love." Tom continued to caress his wife's face and teased her lips gently before he leaned in and passionately ravaged her dainty mouth.

. . . . . .

Cat Noir was seen bounding across the Paris skylight, vaulting from rooftop to rooftop. He dropped into a dark alley and green light flashed around him. He de-transformed and quickly gave Plagg his 'beloved' Cammenbert.

Adrien checked around the corner and he was met with silence.

There were no other souls in sight.

Plagg retreated to his usual pocket and Adrien began whistling.

He surveyed his surroundings as he nonchalantly walked up to a mysterious massage parlor.

Adrien's not there for a simple massage, no, he's there for another reason entirely. He's there for some direction on their current dilemma and Master Fu always has all the answers. He also happens to be the last surviving Guardian of the Miraculous. He loaned them their Miraculouses.

Adrien had his hand up to knock when he heard a 'click' as it opened to reveal the Master. "Greetings, Cat Noir," greeted Fu. "Come in, we have much to discuss." Master Fu held the door open for Adrien to enter. Plagg barely managed to stay hidden before the door was closed. He was full of tension and worry when meeting his Master once again. "Master," came Plagg's high pitched voice, "Sugar cube's hurt! Ladybug's hurt! Master, what do we do?" The Kwami was near-hysterical.

"Come. Sit, Adrien," invited Fu.

"Yes, Master." Adrien obliged and kneeled down onto one of Fu's sitting pillows and sat across from him.

"Now, Adrien, Plagg, please explain from the beginning. What distracted you from the Akuma? A very dangerous one, at that."

Adrien averted his eyes as he felt his face light up as if on fire. Of course he knew, thought Adrien, he knew everything. Adrien took a deep breath and, as he was told, he began at the very beginning. He felt his face become hot once more.

"The beginning. Okay, I can do this." whispered Adrien under his breath. He took a deep breath. "You know how my father usually ignores me unless he has jobs lined up? I was starting to feel lonely, even depressed at times; so patrols with Ladybug became my salvation. Even patrolling alone freed me from my caged lifestyle. One night though, I proclaimed my love for Ladybug again but, as usual, she turned me down. My emotional state plummeted from there. I felt trapped and unloved. Don't get me wrong, I know Ladybug loves me, and Plagg; but it's not the love I craved desperately.

I was patrolling alone a few months ago and smelled something delicious. I followed the scent and it brought me to a very popular, family-owned bakery. I realized after I'd been spotted that it belonged to my friend Marinette's parents. The smell came from freshly baked macaroons that she had let cool outside on her room balcony. I tried to hide but it was futile when she called out to me. Then she waved her hand to me, inviting me to come over. She then offered me some macaroons which were very delicious.

Of course I was cautious, but I just couldn't stop myself from indulging in the sweets. After that, whenever I found her outside, I would stop by and she'd have another dessert, waiting for me. I was drawn to her, and I kept going back. The third time, we started talking. We would ask each other how our days went. The sixth time, I had just gotten into a fight with Father and ran away. I found myself at her bakery once more. She let me get my frustration out and helped me calm down. I even explained to her how much I loved Ladybug and how much it hurt every time she turned me down. She-" Adrien choked up.

"She would comfort me. She told me not to give up on Ladybug, that she would come around. Now I know what she meant," Adrien said quietly. "Marinette already knew I was hurting from Ladybug's rejection because she still tried to heal my heart as herself."

Adrien completely missed the looks that Fu and his Kwami, Wayzz, gave each other. "Marinette would comfort me and yet I failed them…. I failed to protect them…" Tears threatened to appear but he quickly wiped them away. He felt he had no right to cry.

"...Protect them?" prompted Fu. Does he know…?

Adrien hid his puffy eyes from view once the tears started to flow. He was embarrassed to be seen that way. Adrien's voice cracked as he continued. "When Cat Noir, I, was hurt by Firecracker, Ladybug was so worried. She was crying, telling me over and over that I was going to be okay. I don't know what happened after that but I soon lost consciousness and regained it later at Marinette's. She said Ladybug gave her explicit instructions not to let me leave until I was at least bandaged up properly. Being badly injured, I couldn't force my way out. They both took care of me, protected me. But I couldn't do the same…" More tears slid through his fingers as well as snot mixed in. Fu handed him some tissues. "Thanks," Adrien nasaled out.

With the brief intermission, Fu took Adrien's emotional state into consideration. This boy is obviously distraught. "Drink some tea, young one," offered Fu.

Adrien accepted the dainty antique tea cup from the Guardian. He took a quick whiff of the herbal tea and blanched. It smelled horrible but Adrien drank it anyway.

Adrien felt better, calmer. He fiddled with the ceramic cup as he spoke. "Once I was all patched up, I hurried to Ladybug and the Firecracker akuma. We managed to defeat him and Ladybug did her Miracle Cure. It fixed everything, as always, but it also healed our wounds. Ladybug then comes running to me and gives me a back-breaking bearhug. She was in tears and told me never to do that again. Then surprisingly, she kissed me. Ladybug kissed me! Her face became a tomato. Just as quickly, though, it ended. Her miraculous beeped and she left. Later that night, it was my turn to patrol alone. I was distracted, so I ended it early. I decided to wait at our spot on the Eiffel Tower. I was still giddy from our kiss but I was also still terrified from earlier. I mean, I almost died! It's not easily forgettable. I didn't want to be alone and I needed her. So I waited." Adrien took a moment to breathe and find the rest of the words.

"Somehow, though, like she knew I would be waiting for her to show, she showed up. I was reminded of our first kiss and became giddy again. Then my heart dropped. She said we needed to talk. I thought she was going to call that kiss a mistake so I told her something stupid which pissed her off and she went on a tiraid. At the end though, I was not expecting another amazing kiss." Adrien took a sip of herbal tea to calm his racing pulse. "Finally! What I've been waiting for; my feelings to be reciprocated by the one I love, another Akuma strikes. This one was even more dangerous. Drainer." Adrien went silent as his mood darkened.

"I didn't think anything could ruin that moment. Then Drainer happened." Inhale, exhale, he reminded himself. Breathe. "Ladybug just confessed to me. I was giddy. She loves me back but it didn't take long for it to be ruined. For us to become distracted. I wanted to protect her even more. I was even more reckless than before. Trying to take all the hits for her. Then the Akuma had me cornered and I was barely fending her off. Just as I thought that Drainer had me in her claws, Ladybug came flying at the Akuma, bringing her down. They rolled several feet before they stopped. Drainer was on top. She had this nasty grin on her face. My fear spiked and I remained paralyzed. I couldn't move. My body wouldn't move. I never felt so terrified, even when I felt like I was about to die. Ladybug was in peril and I froze. I failed M'lady…" More tears protruded from his puffy eyes. Fu remained silent, silently egging him to continue..

It's true; if they both had stayed focused on the task at hand, they most likely wouldn't be in this dilemma, but, I am also partly to blame, Fu surmised. Adrien looked at Fu with tears in his eyes. "Master, how do I fix this?" pleaded the Cat superhero.

"Only the Miraculous of the Ladybug can fix this, Adri-" Master Fu was interrupted by Adrien's ringtone.

Dread filled Adrien down to his core. He picked it up tentatively, as if it would bite him. He looked at the Caller ID even though he already knew who it was. His Father. The only time his father called was when he was in trouble. "I must take this. Hello, Father." he answered timidly.

"Adrien, where are you right now?" coldly asked Gabriel Agreste.

"O-on my way home, father." He cursed himself for stuttering when he was trying to lie.

"Hm." Adrien knew his father didn't believe him. He never did.

"I'll be ho-home in ten minutes, father." He braced himself for yelling.

"Make it five!" snapped Gabriel. Click! The line went dead.

Adrien let out the breath he didn't realize he was holding and made a move to get up. "I'm sorry, Master Fu, but I need to go now. I'll come back tomorrow." He headed for the door but was topped.

"Here, Cat Noir, give these to Marinette. It will heal her and Tikki." Fu handed him an inconspicuous brown bag. It had no logo on it. "You must go now." Plagg entered Adrien's breast pocket. Fu watched as one of his Chosen's walked out the door an emotional mess.

"Wayzz, what have I done? I should never have entrusted a big mission to children. If it wasn't for my mistake centuries ago…." Fu was disappointed in himself.

"But, Master-"

"Not now, Wayzz," cut off Fu. "I know you mean well, my dear friend, but we both know it's all my fault. It's my mistake, and I'm too old to deal with it."

Back outside, Cat noir was bounding across buildings until he made it to Marinette's. He landed softly on her roof balcony. He used his night vision to check for signs of life. The coast was clear as well as her trapdoor was unlatched. Not safe, he thought, I'll need to reprimand her about that later. Forgetful bugaboo. He couldn't help but smile. He dropped in and found a pen nearby. He quickly wrote her note and placed it inside the bag. He left it on her bed, slightly hidden by her covers. He didn't want to risk anyone else finding it.

With that done, he vaulted back towards his isolated mansion. He de-transformed a half-block away before running towards the foreboding front gates. He harshly poked the intercom and Nathalie's emotionless voice permeated out. "Yes?"

"It's Adrien." Click!

AUTHOR'S NOTE

I AM SO SO SO SORRY FOR MAKING Y'ALL WAIT A YEAR?! FOR CHAPTER 9!

So much has happened during this time. To be honest though, I had writer's block. I had this chapter written, but i didn't like the second half of it but I couldn't come up with something better. So I left it alone for a bit. Then it became a month, 3 months, a year. Finally, it took watching the new Miraculous World: New York: United Heroz special to get my mojo back! And I'm so glad I did! I missed working on my stories. Not to mention I was distracted with work (I work in a restaurant and I was doing at least 2 doubles a week (I mainly work at night)) Not to mention watching new anime and catching up on some of my faves. (Ahiru no Sora, Argonavis, Boruto, Food Wars, Fruits Basket, Haikyu, IDOLiSH7, and One Piece, to name a few. Check them out. They're all so amazing!)

But anyway, I got distracted by everything going on and then the CORONAVIRUS happened. I hope everyone is okie. Y'all wanna talk about how annoying it is? I know a LOT of people have died from it, bless their hearts, and some are still kicking and trying their damndest to survive it. I hope y'all make. And I know working in customer service with this going on is difficult. We have those unruly ones who lie about their health just so they don't have to wear a freaking mask! I mean, come on guys! Then, there are those who just straight up REFUSE to put one on. Those who get mad because they are asked (required everywhere, there's ever signs) to wear a mask. I hate asking people because then I'm the one being yelled at and I'm just a simple employee. It's not like I can change anything. We were all shut down once. Do you really wanna risk it all again, and then this time it being longer than just a few months!? I sure as hell don't! So please, everyone, just get the fuck over it. That's how I've been feeling, dealing with all those dumbasses in the world.

What about y'all? What's y'alls Most Annoying Covid-19 stories?

Also, sorry for the short tantrum. I think I needed that.

Anyways, again, SO SO SO SORRY, for making y'all wait soooooo long for this. There are 4 MORE CHAPTERS TO GO!

What do you think will happen? Let me know in the comment section.

DON;T FORGET TO LIKE/SHARE/SUBSCRIBE.

^_^ -Mishu out!-

PS: SORRY FOR A/N BEING TOO LONG