This is the second story in my Finish the Alphabet challenge! For those who missed what that challenge is- I figured after I hit 100 stories that surely I would have titles starting with pretty much every letter of the alphabet, but I looked and found that I was missing EIGHT letters- J, Q, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z. So far I've done Z, and now Y, and more of the alphabet will be coming shortly.
And now: Plagg frustrated with identity shenanigans!
By the time both superheroes had turned eighteen and they still hadn't revealed their identities to each other, Plagg was Very Much Done with the whole secret identities thing. If Adrien wasn't mooning over Ladybug then he was talking about Marinette, and if he wasn't talking about Marinette then he was plastered to the Ladyblog, going over the pictures of Ladybug to see if they could help him figure out Ladybug any better than he could while standing right next to the real thing during akuma attacks and planning meetings.
The whole thing was wearing Plagg out. If Adrien could use his eyes (or his brain), then he might actually be able to figure things out. But Adrien was apparently blind (and Plagg had to admit, the Miraculous magic played a hand in that), and so Plagg had to listen to his Chosen yabbering on about the same girl literally all the time.
(Even if he wasn't admitting it yet, Plagg knew that Adrien had a bit of a crush on his classmate. One simply could not spend so much time talking and thinking about one girl without being at least a little bit interested. Besides, Plagg spent all of his time with Adrien, and he had seen his Chosen's starry-eyed expression pointed in Marinette's direction before.)
So Plagg decided to intervene, just a little bit.
It wasn't Tikki- or Master Fu-approved, Plagg knew as he curled up with a chunk of lovely aged Camembert to brainstorm. But really, the big concern with sharing their secret identities when the two of them was younger was initially that one of the two might have to be swapped out. Then the concern was about how a reveal would affect their dynamic, because Chat Noir was ooey-gooey head-over-heels with his superhero partner and Marinette was tongue-tied around Adrien. But Marinette had long since managed to settle down and become proper friends with Adrien and Chat Noir had accepted his partner's gentle rejection several years prior. They were friends on both sides of the mask.
There was no reason not to nudge things along a little bit, really. So Plagg wasn't going to feel bad about it at all. He couldn't outright tell Adrien- there were rules, and he wasn't able to just out and say it anyway, not unless he wanted bubbles to come out of his mouth instead- but he could hint.
Adrien was smart, Plagg told himself as he watched his Chosen work his way through his piles of homework. His grades attested to that, and he had gotten better at coming up with plans alongside Ladybug over the years of akuma fighting. If he dropped some really heavy-handed hints, Adrien would connect the dots and figure things out. With a little bit of nosing around, he would confirm his suspicions and then he and Ladybug could have a proper reveal and start dating and run off into the sunset with each other and Plagg wouldn't have to listen to Adrien's soppy sighing.
He only hoped that it wouldn't take very long.
Selflessness, kindness, and generosity aside, Miraculous holders tended to appear very, very similar to each other in the eyes of other people.
Or at least they did when they had an enemy to fight and they had to slip away to deal with it, which Adrien and Marinette did. Classes had to be left, plans canceled, and excuses upon excuses made. It was frustrating to people they were close to, to be sure- Plagg had overheard more than a couple complaints from Nino and Alya when Adrien and Marinette showed up late to gathering or study sessions and then almost immediately had to run to the bathroom (for real, that time)- but necessary. They couldn't have civilians knowing their secret identities, even if said civilians were occasional superheroes (and yes, Plagg had figured that out pretty fast).
Especially if the civilians were occasional superheroes, in Plagg's (humble) opinion. If they ever had to be cut from the roster for any reason (like secret identity becoming known to all of Paris including Hawkmoth, for example, or falling out with Ladybug's civilian identity, which, well- Plagg had seen some occasions when it had nearly happened), then it was better for them to have as little information as possible to pass on to Hawkmoth if (when) they got akumatized again.
But the point was that Nino and Alya noticed Adrien and Marinette's lateness, even if the two superheroes never noticed (or didn't register, at least) the other's similar pattern of behavior. If Plagg pointed it out, then maybe Adrien would give Marinette's lateness more than half a second of thought for once.
He didn't have to wait long for an opportunity, and when it showed up it was a doozy. The four of them were meant to get together to work on a group project. Right before they were meant to meet, an akuma showed up and Adrien had to set aside the books that he was organizing to bring to the library with him to transform and rush across the city. The battle had taken an hour and a half to finish, which- well, it wasn't awful. But it wasn't fast, either, and Nino and Alya were justifiably ticked when Adrien and Marinette finally showed up. They had laid into their friends, complaining about their tardiness, and then handed them a number of books so that they 'could actually contribute something to the project' before giving them the cold shoulder. Adrien had wilted at that but hadn't even tried protesting. He and Marinette had stayed after to make up for the time that they had missed, and of course things still hadn't clicked in Adrien's mind by the time they packed up.
So then Plagg came in.
"That's odd that Pigtails was exactly as late as you were," Plagg said as Adrien flopped down on his bed after returning from the library. "She's late a lot, huh?"
"She's really busy," Adrien defended immediately. "And a little bit absentminded too, I think. Like, she's class president, and she's trying to put together a portfolio for university and is doing some commissions and I know that she's doing some superhero dolls for the hospital charity auction and of course she has schoolwork, too, and so of course some things are going to slip sometimes. I worry about her forgetting stuff, sometime, but she seems on top of things. Like, the hospital auction isn't for another month and she's been working at the dolls on and off for a while. And same thing with the portfolio, and-"
Plagg groaned. Okay, so much for that attempt. If he pushed it any more, then he would just have to listen to Adrien gushing about his "just a friend" all evening. "Okay, okay, enough about your girlfriend. You've got a crush, I get it-"
Adrien promptly turned pink. "I- I do not!"
Adrien was as dense as a rock.
Twice that month, he and Marinette had had to detransform halfway across the city and then almost immediately ran into each other. They had both startled, then just started chatting as they headed for the subway to go back to their part of the city as though it were just completely normal for that to happen. Neither asked any questions, and neither offered up any explanations, even lame half-hearted ones.
It. Was. Weird.
It was also understandable, Plagg had to admit. If they didn't ask the other persons any questions, then maybe they wouldn't ask any questions in return. And if the other person didn't ask, well, why offer anything up that could be questioned? But it was also really, really frustrating.
So Plagg decided that it was time for Phase Two of his Identity Reveal plan.
"So it was odd that Pigtails was over where we were," Plagg offered as Adrien started his piano practice. "I wonder what she was doing over there."
"She was probably there because of the akuma attack," Adrien said absently, digging through his sheet music to find a piece to start with. "Alya might have been busy and so Marinette was trying to get footage for her or something."
...ugh. Convenient excuses were so frustrating when Plagg was trying to force a reveal.
"And it would really stink if the Ladyblog didn't get footage today," Adrien added, his fingers starting to move across the keys. "Ladybug was really on fire. She was so fierce!"
...and Adrien had just handed Plagg another opportunity.
"Isn't Pigtails Two always fierce, according to you?" Plagg prompted, grinning. Identical nicknames should prompt something in Adrien's head, right? "I mean, whenever you see her, she's fighting akumas, right?"
"I mean, yeah? But she was really putting the akuma through its paces today." Adrien wasn't really paying attention as he freestyled a section. "And it was just really cool to watch."
"I'm surprised that you didn't gush about the fight with Pigtails One as you came back," Plagg prompted again. "Like, when do you ever miss a chance to yabber on about your ladylove?"
"I didn't want to be too obvious about why I was over there." Adrien frowned at his piano as he hit a discordant note, and then he continued. "And I don't know why you keep calling Marinette Pigtails, she hasn't had that hairstyle in years. It's in a ponytail now most days, and she had it down today."
Plagg sniffed. "There's no point in changing up my nicknames for people all of the time. How would you keep track of them then?"
"You could learn my friends' actual names, you know." Adrien flashed Plagg an exasperated look. "Actually, I know that you know them. You've used Marinette's before. The nicknames are a conscious decision, I know that."
They totally were, but Plagg wasn't going to admit that. "Bah, humbug. If I wanna call people Pigtails One and Pigtails Two, nothing you say is gonna stop me."
Adrien still didn't react. Plagg shot him an exasperated look, only to see Adrien's full attention on the piano as he worked through a section. He clearly wasn't giving Plagg's words more than a passing thought, which meant that any further effort that Plagg put in would be completely wasted on him.
Seriously. Dense as a rock.
Over the years, Plagg had noticed Marinette's favored color for her clothing slowly change from pink to red. She seemed to stand a bit straighter and hold herself taller when she was wearing Ladybug's color, but she was also very careful to not extend the red onto her head with any accessories and Plagg had never once seen her design anything red with a turtleneck. She was clearly trying not to wear anything too close to her Ladybug costume, which was a little ridiculous considering that she had once worn an actual Ladybug costume (minus the mask, at least) and no one had said a single thing.
(She had worn a Ladybug costume, and Adrien had worn a Chat Noir costume, and then voiced himself in a movie and no one had noticed a single thing because they were oblivious idiots. Plagg was starting to worry about the likelihood of him actually being able to prompt Adrien into an identity reveal.)
But Plagg wasn't going to give up. He had a goal and he was going to stick to it, darn it. Surely he could use Marinette's use of red in her fashion in some way. Some way was very likely going to be him dropping more heavy-handed hints and then despairing when Adrien didn't pick it up, but he had to at least try.
"What do you think Ladybug's favorite color is?" Plagg asked after one morning when Marinette had worn one of her red designs. Adrien had spent forever gushing about it earlier, of course, so it wasn't as though he was oblivious to what Marinette was wearing or anything. "D'you think that she wears a lot of red?"
"I think a lot of people wear red these days," Adrien said, not even looking up from his homework. Rude. "Anyone who can pull it off, that is. It's a bold color. Like, Marinette plays with a lot of shades of red in her designs and it actually works, which is amazing. Father talks about how his designers sometimes struggle with getting reds to work together, and they have to be careful about which models the red pieces get paired with." He paused in thought. "They always have to be careful with color pairings, actually. Things just look better on some people."
Plagg Did Not Care.
"And how am I meant to know what colors Ladybug prefers wearing?" Adrien asked. "I really don't have a single idea. She'd be gorgeous in red, of course- look at Marinette, she has practically the exact same coloring as Ladybug and she looks amazing in reds. And the piece today, with the ombre of reds fading into black? I can totally see Ladybug wearing that to a formal event or something." He paused again. "I know that Ladybug's been talking about doing a suit redesign at some point. Maybe she could ask Marinette to draft up some ideas for her to consider! I bet Mari would have some amazing ideas. Everything that she makes is so fun and creative!"
...Plagg was actually going to die from the irony before the reveal happened.
4. Nicknames Pt. 2
If Adrien and Marinette got to graduation without figuring out each other's identities, Plagg was pretty sure that he would be tempted to "accidentally" pop out of Adrien's jacket when Marinette could see. Tikki would actually kill him, but Plagg wasn't sure if it wouldn't still be worth it. At least it would keep him from having to keep dealing with these situations.
'These situations' being that his Chosen had finally decided to emerge from denial, several years after first entering it, and the irony was actually going to kill Plagg dead on the spot.
"I think I have a crush on Marinette," Adrien admitted out loud (at last), flopping back on his bed as though the entire day of flirting with Ladybug's civilian self had worn him out of something. Or maybe the realization had just knocked all of the wind and all of the energy out of him. "She's just-"
"Amazing, cute, smart, funny, fun, talented, gorgeous, brave, yadda yadda yadda?" Plagg filled in. "Good job, kid. I only called this, oh, I don't know, actual months ago. Or years, I forget how long I've been putting up with listening to you flirt with Pigtails."
Adrien turned red. "Okay, that's- I've been friends with Marinette for ages, okay? Friends compliment each other all the time! And I can't just pretend that she's not awesome, because do you know how many people she's helped?"
Plagg knew, thank-you-very-much. Adrien only talked about it all the time, and Plagg had seen Tikki's Chosen crouched next to upset people more than a couple times, trying to cheer them up and keeping more than a few of them from getting akumatized. It was really kind of her, and a lot of work, too. Most people wouldn't go out of their way to help classmates that they weren't that close to, let alone people who weren't their classmates and they only somewhat recognized.
"So many," Adrien sighed. "And then have you seen her face off against akumas before? Like, she's charged akumas before to give their target a chance to escape. I saw her absolutely hurtling dodgeballs at an akuma before because she was cornered and she actually knocked them back." He paused. "...I think I have a type."
Plagg could bang his head against the wall, he really could. A type? Try the same girl, over and over again.
"You don't say," Plagg drawled instead of saying that. He hid his mischievous grin from Adrien as he continued. "First you have a crush on the Bug, and then you fall for Pigtails 'Ladybug' Baker-Girl. I'd call that a serious type."
"I just like girls who are crazy fierce but also really kind!" Adrien protested, apparently completely unaware that Plagg had literally just told him who Ladybug was. "And creative and smart and talented." He paused, his brow briefly wrinkling in thought, and Plagg had a moment of oh my god, maybe he's figured it out-
"And Marinette is our Everyday Ladybug. If you're going to give her a nickname on top of the other nicknames that you keep giving her, then at least get it right."
Plagg was starting to worry about his Chosen, he really was.
5. Telling him directly
Plagg was desperate. Adrien had spent much of the past couple weeks mooning around like a broody teenager, torn between his love for Ladybug and his newly discovered (hah) crush for Marinette. He didn't want to risk starting anything with Marinette if he was still hung up on Ladybug because that could impact their relationship and make something that could work sink instead. At the same time, now he didn't know what to do about his love for Ladybug because he liked Ladybug, too, and what was he supposed to do now, Plagg?
Plagg spent a lot of time screaming into his cheese to muffle the sound. Couldn't they just do the reveal and save him all the drama? Why did it have to be like this?
Master Fu still hadn't said anything about a reveal. Plagg was starting to suspect that the old Guardian just liked seeing him suffer.
Desperate times called for desperate measures. All of the hints hadn't done much (hadn't done anything) to get Adrien to figure out that Ladybug was Marinette, so now Plagg had to get more direct.
Even more direct, that was. He had already been pretty direct but it hadn't done much, because Adrien was thick as-
Well, Plagg didn't know thick as what, exactly- and the Miraculous Magic had to be factored in at least a little bit- but really, this was getting ridiculous.
(After four plus years of being superhero partners, one would think that Ladybug and Chat Noir would have shared enough personal information (on purpose or accidentally) to at least counteract most of the Miraculous magic, but apparently not.)
So Plagg was resorting to mind tricks now. He had read up on hypnotism and the power of suggestion online, while Adrien was busy in the shower, and now it was time to take what he had learned and apply it.
Step One: Wait for Adrien to fall asleep. Plagg waited impatiently as his Chosen puttered around before bed, wandering into the bathroom to wash up and then over to his desk to do some more reading for class and then over to his gym bag to empty it out and then repack it and then-
Seriously, this was taking forever.
Finally, Adrien actually got into bed, bidding Plagg good-night before rolling over and falling asleep almost immediately. Plagg waited for his breathing to even out all the way, then floated over next to Adrien's head.
Maybe he couldn't tell his Chosen who Ladybug was when Adrien was awake, but if he was asleep, then Plagg could get around kwami rules to his heart's content.
"Marinette is Ladybug," Plagg whispered in Adrien's ear. "Marinette is Ladybug. Marinette is Ladybug. Marinette is-"
He repeated the words over and over and over, watching as Adrien shifted in his sleep. Finally Plagg got tired (and bored, honestly) and decided that that was probably sufficient.
Maybe it was a long shot, but it was technically possible for Adrien to actually absorb the information as he slept, at least if all of the Internet pages that Plagg had read were accurate.
...which was maybe a little doubtful, honestly.
"I had the strangest dream last night!"
Plagg perked up as Adrien headed past him towards his closet the next morning, trying not to look too interested. "Oh?"
"Yeah, I dreamed that Ladybug was Marinette!"
Oh, thank kwami. He had gotten it-
"That's what happens with wishful thinking, I guess," Adrien said with a sigh, cutting Plagg's internal celebration off short. "Like, before bed I was thinking about how it's so hard to figure out what to do since I'm in love with two amazing girls and I can't really go for either because it wouldn't be fair to them while my heart's split. So I can see how my subconsciousness would try to roll them into one girl. Which, well, that's not really fair to either of them."
...he hadn't gotten it.
Plagg was starting to go just a little bit insane.
At long last, a reveal
Gabriel Agreste was Hawkmoth, and Chat Noir was barely holding it together as he and Ladybug walked Mr. Agreste and Nathalie out to the police cars. Ladybug took the lead in giving out the statement, and then they beat a hasty retreat, Ladybug eying her trembling partner with concern.
Ladybug followed Chat Noir as he dashed back to his bedroom, where he promptly detransformed and flopped face-first down onto his bed. Ladybug sucked in a sharp breath before detransforming as well, sitting down next to Adrien and pulling his upper body into her lap. She stroked his head gently as his shoulders shook, letting him cry himself out and pull himself back together before finally rolling over nearly an hour later. He stared at the ceiling for a solid minute before his gaze finally slid over to his worried partner.
And then Adrien practically choked in surprise.
"Marinette!" Adrien exclaimed, popping upright at once. "Oh my god, I can't believe- Plagg, look! It's Marinette!"
"I saw that," Plagg said dryly. "Ladybug is also your Everyday Ladybug, aka the other girl that you have a crush on, aka the person who takes charge during akuma attacks. Surprise."
"It is!" Adrien said, clearly delighted. Apparently he had temporarily forgotten about his father's betrayal, or at least he had gotten a bit distracted. "I can't believe that you were so close! Out of everyone in Paris, you're my partner. That's insane! Like, we've been in the same class for years, and we're friends, and-"
"And out of everyone in Paris, you fell in love with the same girl twice," Plagg said helpfully. Adrien turned red and leveled a glare at him, which, well, rude.
"Plagg! Can you not?"
"I was being helpful," Plagg complained. "If I didn't say anything, you would end up mooning around and giving me bellyaches with your sappiness and wondering if you should say anything or if it wasn't the right time to ask Marinette out on a date. Now it's all out-"
Tikki pounced on him with a scowl. "Plagg, leave them be to work things out on their own! Stop bugging them!"
"Aww, but Tikki-"
"Leave them alone!"
By the time Tikki and Marinette headed home several hours later, with the offer for Adrien to come over whenever he wanted to, Adrien and Marinette had decided to not start dating right away, not until things with Mr. Agreste had settled down more, but they were going to date. Adrien was happy with that, Marinette was happy with that, Tikki was proud of their planning, and Plagg was in need of a break from the ooey-gooey eyes that the two superheroes were making at each other.
"I can't believe that Father was Hawkmoth," Adrien told Plagg once he had seen his girlfriend-to-be out. He drooped, clearly remembering that not everything in his world was hunky-dory, then perked up again as he shut the door to his room. "And I can't believe that Marinette is Ladybug! I spent so much time trying to decide what to do about being in love with two girls and I didn't need to decide at all. All that time spent worrying was just completely unnecessary."
"You don't say," Plagg drawled, wondering if Adrien was going to talk about anything else now. Something told him no. He was going to be hearing Adrien plan his first date with Marinette for weeks, until it finally happened. "You could have been dating ages ago."
"Yeah, we could have- hey!" Adrien interrupted himself, turning on Plagg suddenly. "You knew who Ladybug was years ago, after Dark Owl! You could have at least given me a hint!"
…Plagg was actually going to scream.
a/n: Plagg is very justified in screaming, honestly. He tried so hard :D
Am I 100% ignoring the tweet from ages ago that claimed that identities are just protected by the mask and not by magic at all? Yes, because it's dumb and also seems to go against what's actually shown in the show.
As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete! And as usual, reviews always make my day! :)