The akuma showed up ten minutes after Adrien returned to school, all towering body and glowing eyes and snarling mouth. Most of his classmates shrieked and ran, scrambling for the door, but Adrien hadn't had a chance, trapped at the back of the classroom where he had been getting a book and with the akuma's eyes focused right on him.
This Was Not Good.
"I don't understand why you're after me," Adrien said, glancing around as subtly as he could manage, hoping to find an escape route or a distraction or- anything, really. He couldn't leave Ladybug hanging again, not after there had been several akuma lately who had prevented him from transforming and helping her, but he didn't see any obvious escapes. The akuma was blocking his path, and a table had been flipped onto its side in front of the door, meaning that even if he did manage to sneak around the akuma, he still wouldn't be anywhere close to home free. "I didn't think that I had upset anyone today-"
"I was fired!" the Model Model shrieked, making him cringe back. Hopefully Ladybug's Lucky Charm covered hearing damage. "I was fired for being late once, but you- Mr. Boss's Son, Mr. Gets-Everything-Handed-to-You- you're late all the time, and does anyone care? No! Do you get told off? No! Do you get fired? No!"
Adrien very nearly opened his mouth to dispute that- he wasn't late all the time, maybe once or at most twice a month when an akuma attack ended up overlapping with his photoshoot time, and while the photographer never said anything, Adrien's father most definitely found out and told Adrien off afterwards. There were groundings, there were scoldings, there were privileges taken away and extra assignments given to him- but it was pointless to argue with an akuma. It didn't help anything, they didn't remember it, and besides, if there were any of his classmates still around...
Well. There were some things that Adrien didn't tell them.
"So while maybe you weren't the one to fire me, you're hardly Mr. Innocent," the Model Model finished. She glowered at him. "And if Vincent weren't so fed up with your tardiness, then he would have been more forgiving! It's not like it was my fault that I got stuck in traffic!"
"I could speak to him for you," Adrien offered, thinking fast. Surely Ladybug would know about the akuma by now- Alya would have made a post on the Ladyblog, or at the very least triggered the official akuma alert system- and he just had to buy himself some time until she arrived. "Remind him that there's a three-strike over six months policy."
"And how many strikes have you accumulated over the past six months, hmm?"
Adrien winced, trying to come up with another idea. Clearly the akuma wasn't going to stop focusing on Adrien's tardies any time soon, so he had to change tactics. The offers to smooth things over could come later, after Ladybug purified the akuma and set everything to rights. "I, uh..."
Movement at the front of the classroom caught Adrien's eye, and he stuttered to a stop mid-thought, blinking at the spot where he could have sworn he had seen someone ducking behind Madam Mendeleev's desk. Moments later, Marinette's head popped up over the desk, caught his eye, and then vanished again a second later.
What- what was she still doing here? She wasn't trying to pull an Alya and get close to akumas just to get video, was she? Marinette had more sense than that. Maybe there was a table in front of the door, but the akuma wasn't paying attention to Marinette. She should be able to clamber up and over, no problem.
"You don't even have a defense," the Model Model scoffed, drawing Adrien's attention back to her. "Not even a hint! I'll get my revenge on you, and then that damn photographer, and then- oh, I know what the root problem is here, why you're allowed to get away with everything. And I'll get my revenge on Daddy Dearest, too."
Adrien gulped. He hated it when akumas went after his father, even if he was sometimes surprised that there weren't more akumas targeting Mr. Agreste. Still, if an akuma was going to go after either him or his father...
Well, only one of them had the power to stop the akuma and help Ladybug put everything back to right in the city, so if Adrien had to throw his father under the bus to get away, he would.
"I can't always control if I'm tardy or not," Adrien protested, keeping one eye on the akuma and one eye on Marinette, who had snuck out from behind the desk carrying- was she insane? An extension cord, or maybe cords, he couldn't tell- and was creeping up on the Model Model. "Sometimes other activities run over. And I'm not the one who decides if I get to keep modeling or not."
She snarled at him. "I know that. Didn't I just say that I was going to go after your father, too? I know what you're trying to do- escape seeing any actual consequences, just like you always do!"
The Model Model lunged. Adrien threw himself out of the way. Marinette ducked down under desk level, apparently finally aware that the akuma was dangerous and she should make herself scarce. Adrien rolled across the floor, then pushed himself to his feet and tried to make a dash for the door. The akuma blocked him, still trying to hit him with the purse she carried.
The purse, which no doubt held either the akuma or the akumatized item, and which doubled as the Model Model's weapon, if the excessively-destroyed desks were any indication. He would have to point it out to Ladybug, whenever she arrived.
"You can't run and hide this time!" the Model Model snarled, swinging for him again. Adrien ducked and made another short dash, making sure to step over the cord that Marinette had dropped on the floor so that he wouldn't trip over it. "I'll get you! You might as well stop tryi-EEEE!"
Adrien glanced back, just in time to see the Model Model tripping over the cord that he had just avoided, and his mind short-circuited.
Marinette hadn't dropped the cord. She had tied one end to a table leg, left it slack for him to pass over, and then had pulled it tight to trip the akuma before flinging the heavy end just so, sending it wrapping around the akuma's ankle. The Model Model hadn't noticed yet, still thrown off balance and stumbling in her heels.
Marinette was a genius, and- oh. Oh, she wasn't done yet, was she insane? Adrien watched in equal parts disbelief, awe, and terror as Marinette reappeared behind the Model Model- now the akuma was behind her and the door, which would be bad if the akuma spotted her and switched targets- spinning a second cord in her hand like a lasso. Marinette's eyes were narrowed in focus, tracking the Model Model as she stumbled back and forth. Her entire body was tensed and ready to strike, and all Adrien could do was watch.
Well, watch and keep moving himself, now focusing on moving back and forth just out of reach of the Model Model, playing up the distraction as much as he could since he still wasn't in a good spot to get out of the classroom himself. If Marinette was going to try to play Ladybug, then he would help her as much as he could.
Even if he thought that she was totally nuts. Even if she had somehow pulled off the tripping, trying to lasso a supervillain was just complete, utter madness. Ladybug could probably do it, sure, but Ladybug also had a magic yo-yo, and practice, and superpowers, and-
The spinning cord-lasso reached whistling pitch, and the Model Model paused in confusion, just long enough for Marinette to toss her lasso and tighten it snugly around the Model Model's middle, typing the akuma's arms to her side. Before the akuma could react, Marinette dashed around her several times, wrapping the cord around as she did, then tying a fast knot- her hands practically blurred- and grabbing a chair-
Wait. Wait wait wait. A chair?
Adrien only had half a second to wonder at what Marinette was planning now when she flipped the chair, taking hold of the chair's legs, and slammed it at full strength into the wavering Model Model's back, sending the akuma crashing face-first into the floor. Marinette didn't even wait for the (metaphorical) dust to settle before she was dashing up the akuma, ducking down to grab the purse and ripping it away from the Model Model. Adrien's breath caught in his throat as he stared, disbelieving.
Had- had Marinette seriously just defeated an akuma all on her own, without any superpowers? And gotten away with it unscathed?
Before Marinette could jump off of the Model Model and make her escape with the possessed purse, the Model Model thrashed, sending Marinette tumbling off of the akumas back before she meant to. As she landed on the floor, Adrien spotted her stumble and let out a sharp gasp, clearly landing on her foot wrong. Marinette winced, but amazingly enough, she didn't stop. Instead, she kept moving, pulling herself over the upended table and out the door.
He definitely hadn't imagined the misstep. Marinette's teeth had been gritted and while she hadn't let it slow her down much, she was definitely favoring one foot.
Adrien spared a glance to the shouting, thrashing akuma on the floor, then dashed after Marinette. If the Model Model got loose from the cord, she would go after Marinette right away. Combine a towering, long-limbed akuma and the much shorter, injured Marinette and, well, Adrien could guess how that would end.
Besides, he didn't know what Marinette's plan was. She had a possessed item, and if he and Ladybug couldn't find her, that could become an issue.
Over the table, then down the hall. Around a corner, and then Adrien practically tripped over Marinette, who had fallen on the floor. She was struggling to her feet, using the wall for support, and Adrien winced. Her injury had to be pretty serious if it had made her fall, and that she was still struggling on at all was impressive.
Impressive, but Adrien could help. With only a half-formed plan in mind, he dashed forward and scooped Marinette up like he might as Chat Noir, one arm around her back and the other under her thighs, and almost automatically, her legs wrapped around his waist so that some of her weight was supported on his hips instead of fully in his arms. Adrien gave her one quick adjustment so that they were more comfortable, then took off down the hallway, trying to think of a plan.
If they went for a back staircase, then that might be a good hiding spot. Adrien could claim that he was going up to the rooftops to see if he could find the superheroes, then leave Marinette in a hidden corner and come back as Chat Noir. He would be able to reach Ladybug more easily that way- if she was transformed, at least, he had to hope that she was- and then they could take care of the akuma before it pulled itself out of the purse and infected someone else.
Veering to the side, Adrien ducked into one of the lesser-used staircases in the school, adjusting Marinette again so she was a little higher. They should probably head up to at least the next landing, in case the Model Model got free and glanced in the staircase, but even though Marinette was small and light, it probably wouldn't be particularly easy to carry her up the stairs, at least not in his civilian form.
He could do it, though. Marinette had been so brave and done all the hard work of defeating an akuma, so he could get her up some stairs and to safety.
Adrien's breath came in heavy pants as he dashed up the first section of stairs, doing his best to avoid overbalancing in either direction. He didn't hear any banging or shouts, so presumably the Model Model was still trussed up in Marinette's fabulous handiwork.
Adrien reached the landing, and paused to catch his breath. Before he could start up again, though, a blur of red coming towards them caught his attention, and he stumbled to an abrupt halt, eyes wide.
That was Ladybug's kwami. What was Ladybug's kwami doing here?
"Hello!" Tikki chirped, flying to a stop in front of them. In his arms, Marinette tensed up before twisting to try to see where the voice was coming from. "I'm Ladybug's kwami. She can't get away to transform at the moment, so I'll be taking care of purifying the akuma! All you need to do is tear the purse!"
"Oh, thank goodness," Adrien breathed, turning so that Marinette could see Tikki without craning her neck quite so much and adjusting his grip to compensate for her letting go of his shoulders to rip the possessed purse in two. There was a jerk as Marinette tore the fabric, and then Tikki swooped in to grab the akuma and shove it in her mouth, bright light shining out from between her lips.
...okay, that was a bit weird. But seconds later, the purified butterfly fluttered free, and Tikki beamed as she tossed her paws up in the air and let loose a cloud of sparkles, her Cure rushing around the school. Adrien let out a sigh of relief- and almost immediately, it turned into a gasp of surprise and worry.
Marinette had slumped in his arms, suddenly seemingly drained of all energy. Adrien tightened his grip, frantically glancing between her and Tikki.
"What happened to her?"
Tikki had clapped her paws to her mouth in clear surprise. "Oh! Whoops!"
"It's been so long since I cast the Cure without a transformation that I forgot that it, well...it has some side effects," Tikki told him, clearly sheepish as she eyed the slumped Marinette. "It's not nearly as strong without being channeled, and, uh, it drains Ladybug of energy- I don't know why, really-"
"Wait, if it drains Ladybug of energy, why did it get Marinette, too?" Adrien asked, frowning. That didn't make sense. "I mean-"
"Oh!" Tikki exclaimed with a titter, eyes going even wider for a second before she rushed on. "Well, that- that's a combination of factors, really. I mean, if I'm remembering correctly. She was heavily involved in the fight, and the Cure had to do the most work on her, and, uh... and she was close by when I cast the Cure, and I hadn't had enough cookies this morning so I had to borrow more energy than I might otherwise-"
Adrien blinked. "O...kay?"
"So that's why it took her energy, too!" Tikki finished with a chirp. "There might be some lingering effects like some soreness in her ankle, but it'll be all healed and right as rain by tomorrow morning! And I should get back to Ladybug now before she wonders where I went, so good-bye!"
"Bye," Adrien managed before Tikki zipped off. He frowned after her for a moment, still worried. He- he had more questions, really, but he couldn't ask all of them with Marinette still in earshot. He was worried about Ladybug- was she still with friends who could catch her before she collapsed to the floor? What would they think? Should he go and help somehow?- and about how quickly the two girls would recover. Marinette was still pretty limp but stirring enough that he knew that she hadn't been completely knocked out. Hopefully a nap would get her her energy back, but what if Ladybug had been hit just as hard and there was another akuma attack this afternoon?
Hopefully that wouldn't happen. Still, her friends had to be super confused right now, and if Ladybug had collapsed to the same extent that Marinette had, she wouldn't be in any condition to come up with a believable excuse for her sudden weakness.
Maybe her friends would just think that she was sick or something.
After another couple seconds had passed, Adrien gave himself a shake and turned, heading back down the stairs. Tikki had gone up, which suggested that Ladybug and her friends had retreated to the roof. If that was true, they would be coming back down soon, and it wouldn't do for him to still be hanging around.
Besides, with the akuma gone, he had to get back to class. Madam Mendeleev had a track record of not being very lenient with people who stayed missing longer than the rest of the class after an akuma attack had ended, and while he would probably get a pass because he would be returning with an unconscious classmate, it was better not to tempt fate too much.
As it turned out, he hadn't needed to worry. When Adrien returned to the classroom, Marinette clinging to him like a sleepy sloth, his classmates and teacher were all gathered around the deakumatized model on the floor. Rose was working at the knots in the computer cords, doing her best to loosen them and free the model.
Another thing that hadn't gone quite right with the Cure. Normally, the cords would have all been returned to their original spot. Maybe it was because Marinette had been the one to use them instead of the superheroes or the akuma, because the formerly-broken window had been put right.
"Adrien! You got away- bro, what happened to Marinette? Did the akuma hurt her or something?"
Chloe sniffed from here spot on top of her desk, where she had been surveying her nails and the trussed model on the floor. "She's just faking it for attention, Adrikins, just drop her on the floor or something."
Adrien frowned at her, hugging Marinette closer. "She's not, and I'm not going to do that, Chloe."
"Something happened, though, didn't it?" Alya had abandoned Rose's side in favor of hurrying over to Adrien, either for a scoop or to collect her best friend, Adrien couldn't tell. He wasn't going to give her much of either. "Ladybug's Cure was weird, and I didn't see her or Chat Noir arrive like usual, and now Marinette's practically asleep and the akuma victim is still tied up and the superheroes weren't here when she came to and-"
"Alya, slow down," Nino said with a laugh, cutting his girlfriend off. "Let him talk. Adrien was in the room a lot longer than we were, maybe he saw something."
Adrien nodded, his mind racing to come up with a cover story. There were some things that he didn't want to mention with either Alya or Lila in earshot, and the fact that Ladybug had apparently been caught unable to transform on the school property, close enough for her kwami to come looking for them, was definitely one of those things. Ladybug had managed to throw Alya off when she claimed to be 5000, so the last thing they wanted was for Alya to get back on her trail. Still, the best bet was to get as close to the truth as he could.
"Marinette defeated the akuma even before Ladybug could get here," Adrien told his classmates, and all eyes turned to him. On the floor, the model gave him a disgruntled glare as Rose finally freed her from the tangled lasso wire, but he ignored her. He could deal with that later. "She made a tripwire, then made another cord into a lasso to trap the akuma so that we could take the possessed purse and escape. She landed funny, though, so her ankle got injured, and then we ran into Ladybug up on the roof." It wasn't a common place for people to go, usually, so hopefully no one would be able to dispute his story. "The Cure went a little funny because there was no Lucky Charm, though. I, uh, don't think that Ladybug expected that, or she probably would have called for one anyway."
There was an impressed murmur at that, (almost) all of their classmates regarding Marinette with a bit of awe. While it was hardly the first time that a member of their class had fought back against an akumatized villain, no one had ever defeated one before. Most of the time, all their fighting accomplished was buying Ladybug and Chat Noir or escaping classmates a bit of time.
Unsurprisingly, a sour look flashed across Lila's face at the attention that Marinette was getting.
"Oh, that makes sense!" Max exclaimed, and everyone turned to look at him. He looked a little flustered by the attention, but adjusted his glasses and continued on regardless. "Ladybug's Lucky Charm always helps Ladybug defeat the akuma, and it no doubt contains a lot of magical energy. This time, Marinette helped Ladybug by defeating the akuma, which would make her the replacement for the Lucky Charm. When Ladybug casts the Cure, it releases the energy stored in the Lucky Charm to fix the city. Likewise, the Cure took Marinette's energy."
His classmates lit up in understanding, nodding along.
"That makes so much sense!"
"I can't imagine defeating an akuma by myself- that must have been so scary!"
"I bet she outsmarted the akuma, Marinette is fantastic like that!"
Alya waved her phone, the most excited out of all of them. "I gotta get an interview for my blog! My bestie, taking on an akuma by herself, no superpowers needed!"
Adrien frowned at that. A civilian going after an akuma would no doubt become a target for Hawkmoth, either to try to attack as revenge or as a potential akuma victim, since she was crafty enough to defeat an akuma and might be able to defeat the superheroes. If Hawkmoth hadn't seen who Marinette was through his akuma, then they shouldn't just hand over the information. "Alya, I don't know if that's a good idea-"
"It's too bad you didn't get a video, Alya, I bet people would have loved that!"
Adrien tried not to sigh. He would try to get to Alya later, before she could try to harass Marinette into giving an interview.
Rose was clasping her hands together, forever eager. "Marinette is our Everyday Ladybug and a Lucky Charm! That's so amazing!"
Mylène nodded, sending an awed glance over at Marinette, who was doing her best to burrow into Adrien's shoulder. Clearly she was exhausted and just wanted a nap, but she couldn't do that with all of the noise. "It is! Marinette has to be the only person to ever be a Charm, I haven't ever heard of anyone else doing that!"
There were murmurs of agreement all around at that, people nodding in agreement.
And then Lila opened her mouth.
"Actually, it's been done before," Lila spoke up, just loud enough to be heard but not so loud that she would obviously look like she was trying to take attention away from Marinette. Still, she drew more than a few eyes as she laid a careful, modest hand on her chest. "I mean, I don't want to minimize what Marinette has done or anything, but..."
"Have you been a Lucky Charm before, Lila?" Rose asked eagerly, and Adrien's blood started heating up, headed for a slow boil. What Marinette had done was a first, and it had been super brave of her. She had earned the respect and praise that her classmates had been giving her.
Lila had not.
"Just the once," Lila told them, ducking her head as though embarrassed by the attention. "I happened to be in the area, and, well, I saw an opportunity and I took it. And I wanted to help Ladybug, of course, since we're besties. It was harder than I anticipated, but I didn't want to give up, even after I broke my arm."
There were murmurs at that, and the impressed looks were directed at Lila now, not Marinette. Adrien's blood boiled even more. Marinette had twisted her ankle- maybe even broken it, considering that she had collapsed after only getting a short distance away- and hadn't just sat down and given up on the spot, or thrown the akumatized item to Adrien and told him to run. Instead, she had been in the middle of pushing herself up to continue running, pushing on regardless of the injury.
"What akuma was it?" Sabrina asked eagerly, leaning forward. "I don't remember seeing anything on the news!"
"Yes, well, it was one of those akumas that vanished out of public view and was defeated out of sight. They're common enough, of course." Lila shrugged, the picture of modesty. "I don't know what he was upset about, of course, but he kept, uh, making cell phones explode like- like he had a grudge against them or something."
"Ooh, Cellphobia?" Alya exclaimed, already reaching for her phone. Adrien could see questions for another interview dancing above her head, even though there clearly wouldn't be time- after all, Madam Mendeleev had just entered the classroom, and looked none too thrilled about the scene greeting her. "That one was so dangerous, and there was so much damage! And you were the Lucky Charm for that fight?"
Lila nodded, a small smile dancing across her lips. "Yes, Cellphobia was the one! It was so scary, of course, but Ladybug was down and Chat Noir hadn't caught up yet, so of course I had to step in-"
"Cellphobia was a month and a half ago, when you said that you were traveling around Africa to deal with an emergency at your charity there," Adrien interrupted, anger making his words tumble out before he could rethink them. "So you couldn't have possibly-"
Lila sniffled at once, loudly enough to make everyone's attention snap back to her before they could really think about what Adrien had said. "Are you calling me a liar? That's so mean! Cellphobia happened right before I left!"
There were more murmurs at that, and the entire class's eyes swung back to Adrien. He froze for a second, not at all comfortable with the attention. Was now really the best time to get into this argument? Marinette clearly needed sleep to recover, and if Ladybug was in a similar condition, now was not the time to get Lila upset and in an akumatizeable mood. On top of that, Adrien wouldn't be able to get away very fast, because he was carrying Marinette and she would no doubt be a target for Lila.
As much as it pained Adrien- because right now, Lila was trying to steal an amazing accomplishment from his friend and that on top of everything else she had done had pretty much used up all of his patience and then some- he didn't want to get into any sort of showdown right now. Before he could try to diffuse the situation, though, Alya spoke up.
"Maybe you're misremembering when Cellphobia was," Alya suggested from where she had edged closer to Lila, one hand on the other girl's shoulder. "Because Lila wouldn't lie about that!"
There was a snort at that from Adrien's shoulder, and then Marinette lifted her head up slightly, just enough so that she could speak, though her words were still a bit sleep-slurred, as though she weren't completely awake. "Yeah, right. Google is free, Alya. Feel free to use it for once."
There was a shocked silence at that, everyone staring at Marinette. For her part, Marinette had gone back to curling into Adrien's shoulder, clearly done with the conversation. Lila's mouth was open as though to protest, but she clearly couldn't think of anything to say.
At the back of the group, Max looked up from his tablet. "Adrien is correct. Cellphobia's appearance was on the tenth of last month. I sent my notes from class to Lila due to her travels from the fourth to the twelfth, and she told me that she would return to Paris late on the day on the fourteenth, then return to school that Monday. That means that she either lied about being a Lucky Charm during the Cellphobia attack, or she lied about being out of the country for that period of time."
Out of the corner of his eye, Adrien saw Madam Mendeleev perk up at that comment, eyes narrowing in focus. Lila followed his gaze, the barest hint of panic entering her expression.
Well, it was out of Adrien's hands now. Also, Marinette's lack of filter when tired was pretty funny.
"That- that wasn't Cellphobia's first appearance," Lila insisted, her eyes darting around the group. "I wasn't aware that he had been akumatized again when I was away, and the first occurrence was very contained-"
Even Alya was looking doubtful now as she backed away from Lila, letting the hand that had formerly rested on Lila's shoulder fall back to her side, her fingers flexing. "Why would the battle have been bigger the second time around?
"All right, class, stop dithering around and find your seats!" Madam Mendeleev called, cutting off whatever Lila was going to say next. "Adrien, does Marinette need to go to the nurse?"
"I think she just needs sleep," Adrien told her, maneuvering himself into his seat while jostling Marinette as little as possible. He kept one arm around her, just in case she started tipping off balance.
"She can sleep back here next to me, Adrien," Alya said eagerly, leaning forward to catch his attention. "She's fallen asleep at her desk before, it'll be fine."
Adrien could see through that in a second. As much as it pained him to admit it- after all, Alya was his friend and he wanted to think the best of his friends- he could tell that Alya wanted Marinette near her so that she could get the scoop about the akuma fight as soon as possible, either by pestering Marinette during class or pouncing on her straight afterwards, even if Marinette needed more sleep. Still, he wasn't going to call Alya out on that right now. "I'm good, Alya. Marinette can use me as a pillow, I don't mind."
Alya opened her mouth, then hesitated, clearly torn. Adrien didn't give her another chance to argue, though, turning back to the front in time to see Madam Mendeleev escorting the former Model Model out. It was someone who Adrien vaguely recognized- they had maybe had a couple scattered shared photoshoots- and they shot him a dark look as they headed out, clearly not having forgiven him for- well, for not getting fired from the family business, apparently.
Ah, well. Maybe Adrien could have a word with the photography people later and try to make sure that they were being fair with dealing with lateness.
Turning his attention to the front and making sure that he didn't disturb Marinette- who, from the sounds of her quiet, even breathing in his ear, had fallen asleep- Adrien resolved to stay focused throughout class, even with all of the other things there were to consider.
Lila's clearly impending downfall and the fallout from that. Trying to keep Alya from posting anything about Marinette's involvement in defeating an akuma, and from accidentally harassing her friend in her eagerness to get an interview. In general trying to convince his classmates to keep Marinette's amazing work on the down-low for her safety- perhaps he would pay the class a visit as Chat Noir or something so that people would actually listen. But then there was the entire issue of Lila and the fact that- well, Lila was totally the type to use information like that as a weapon. If it occurred to her that she might be able to get Hawkmoth to target Marinette's family, she would make sure to get the information out.
That could be an issue. Maybe Chat Noir should just go to Alya after school and maybe a couple other classmates, ones who might be likely to spread the news. That way, he wouldn't be giving Lila any ideas.
Two classes back-to-back in Madam Mendeleev's room, and then they moved back to Ms. Bustier's classroom to finish the school day. Adrien got dismissed early so that he could carry Marinette to the next classroom without getting jostled around too much by other students, and he caught Alya snapping pictures of the two of them on the way out of the classroom.
Hopefully after school would be early enough and she wasn't drafting a Ladyblog article in class right now. If she was...well, maybe Adrien would have to do some damage control before their next class.
Marinette stirred in his arms as Adrien headed down the hall, doing his best smooth model walk to keep from jostling her. "Wha...?"
"We're just heading to the final class of the day," Adrien explained, keeping his voice low. He didn't know how awake Marinette was, and he didn't want to startle her. "The teachers know that your energy got sapped after the akuma battle, and so they're fine with you sleeping. I can bring you home after school. Just keep napping."
Regardless, Marinette jolted and lifted her head, clearly more awake. "They...know?"
"They know that you took down the akuma," Adrien specified, wondering if maybe Marinette's short-term memory was perhaps a little fuzzy at the moment. "And that you took her akumatized item to Ladybug to purify. Max theorized that you were Ladybug's Lucky Charm for this fight and- well, he said something about transfer of energy and it was a little hard to follow, but that's what everybody thinks now."
Marinette sounded puzzled. "But- we didn't see Ladybug?"
"I know, but the fact that her kwami was here suggests that she was in the school while detransformed and I didn't want Alya to know that." Marinette would understand why, he was sure. Adrien had overheard her arguing with Alya before about the Ladyblog's goal to find out who the superheroes were behind the mask. "And, uh, I don't know how much of it you were really fully awake for, but Madam Mendeleev is on Lila's trail now, I think."
He could feel Marinette's smile against his shoulder as she settled back down. "That's good."
"Mm. It'll be nice to not have to hear her lies all the time, I'll admit." Adrien adjusted his grip on Marinette, letting his cheek rest against Marinette's head as he waited outside of Ms. Bustier's door. He hadn't expected it, but it was such a relief to know that he wouldn't have to listen to Lila reaping the rewards for things that she hadn't done. "I can't believe she tried to claim that she had done the same thing that you did, defeating an akuma on your own."
Marinette didn't respond. It sounded like she had fallen asleep again. Adrien smiled, making sure his grip on her was secure before letting his attention wander, eyes automatically scanning over the school for any signs of trouble. Everything seemed calm for now, though, and hopefully it would stay that way.
If something did happen- if Lila got angry enough about the class discovering her lies and got akumatized- then, well, Adrien would do his very best to protect Marinette and keep her out of harm's way, even if that meant going toe-to-toe with an akuma before he could get away and transform.
After all, she had done so much for him and the rest of the class. Now, it was his turn to help her.
a/n: woo Everyday Ladybug coming in and saving the day! and some bonus Lila takedown because who can resist that?
As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and therefore complete. And as always, reviews make my day!