a/n: This is set after/inspired by the events at the end of Ladybug! Even Adrien has to run out of patience at some point.
Two months after the start of their agreement, Adrien was getting really, really tired of Lila.
At first, it hadn't been awful. Sure, she was clingy and annoying and manipulative and attention-seeking, but Adrien could tolerate her presence at his photoshoots. His photographer seemed to pick up on the fact that Adrien didn't like Lila hanging over him, and so he always made sure to pose them in positions that weren't touching, not giving Lila any ground when she tried to cajole him into putting them in closer positions. Adrien was used to putting up with unwanted attention, too, so that was hardly new.
But Lila wasn't so easily deterred. She would cling before and after photoshoots, pushing at Adrien's boundaries almost all the time. The constant suggestions that they should work on their homework together afterwards at his house- always approved by his father, if he happened to drop in on the photoshoot and overhear Lila's suggestion- were irritating, and Lila was always far more of a hindrance than anything else during their study sessions. On top of that, he had finally had to refuse to let her in his room, because she didn't seem to understand the concept of no snooping.
(Thank goodness for the Gorilla being firmly on Adrien's side, or else Lila probably still would have tried to drag Adrien up to his room to do their homework.)
Adrien always ended up having to stay up late those days to actually finish his homework and do his studying. As one of the city's superheroes, he shouldn't be doing that. He needed his sleep, and he needed to be able to get his homework done in a reasonable amount of time in case of an akuma attack.
But they were at an impasse. If Adrien didn't keep publically acting as though Lila were his friend, then she would start targeting Marinette at school again, and he couldn't let that happen. Adrien was worried that if he pushed back too hard when Lila pushed at his boundaries, she would consider their "agreement"- that she wouldn't try to get Marinette in trouble and that he would (at least publically) pretend to be her friend- null and void and go after Marinette again.
It was a frustrating place to be in, and Adrien's patience was fast wearing thin. His tolerance for Lila- for acting like they were friends of any sort, for ignoring it when she snagged him close for the sole purpose of pressing a lip gloss-sticky kiss to his cheek for a picture to post online, for even being near her- had gotten worn down to the point where Adrien was starting to wonder about looking into other solutions to the Lila problem.
And then Lila went too far.
There had been rumors about them before, of course. Lila's sudden constant presence at Adrien's photoshoots hadn't gone at all unnoticed, and the fact that they sometimes left photoshoots together- when Lila and Mr. Agreste forced study sessions on him- had only added to the rumor mill. The rumors had never been addressed, though.
Until now. Lila had apparently been approached, and she had decided to confirm to a reporter that she and Adrien were a couple. The news had zinged across the city, and Adrien had found out on social media that he was apparently one-half of a couple that he had never agreed to being part of.
And he. Was. Fuming. His patience was gone, snapped, the last strands so far gone that he couldn't even see them anymore.
"If she thinks that I'm going to keep playing along, she's wrong," Adrien told Plagg, pacing back and forth in his room. "She probably thinks that I'll just lie down and agree to play along, but this is too much. It's too far. I'm not- the very idea of being in a relationship with her makes me sick, after what she tried to do to Marinette."
"Some of your fans want you to have a photoshoot where you kiss," Plagg said unhelpfully, scrolling through Adrien's phone. "Or an announcement photo, because they think it would be cute."
Adrien tried not to gag at the thought and snarled instead. "Not happening. Not. Happening." He sighed. "At least Marinette knows why I've been letting Lila come to my photoshoots. Otherwise, I bet she would be feeling pretty betrayed and I don't- I don't want her to feel like that."
Plagg zipped around his head. "Are you going to just ignore the news, then? If your actual girlfriend knows the truth, it doesn't matter what the rest of Paris believes?"
"No way. If I don't stop Lila now, she's going to expect that I play the role of a boyfriend all the time, even if it's not true." Adrien scowled into the air, then the second part of Plagg's words sunk in. "And Marinette is my friend, Plagg, not my girlfriend."
Plagg only sniggered. "So you always say."
Adrien rolled his eyes at his kwami. This was not the time, really. He had too many other things to worry about-or, well, only one thing, really, and that was Lila's lie.
If Adrien didn't want to be forced into playing along, he would have to act. He hadn't wanted to before- confrontation normally wasn't his thing- but now...
Determined, Adrien headed for the door, a plan already starting to take shape in his mind. He was at least a bit famous, and the news about him dating was fresh and apparently exciting. That meant that if he could get outside, he would no doubt be approached by someone- a fan or a reporter, it probably wouldn't matter in the end. They would no doubt ask him for a statement and he could refute the news then, and it probably wouldn't be long before that news spread and got some attention.
Partway across the atrium, Adrien paused when he heard his name come from his father's office. Curious, Adrien crept closer, crouching down behind a column and listening.
"-not what I anticipated her doing," his father was saying. "But I can't say I entirely disapprove. We'll have to give Adrien instructions to go along with it, anything else will just end up with a lot of backlash and bad press. A couple months of dating minimum, I'd say, depending on how reliable Miss Rossi is."
Adrien's stomach dropped. No, no, no, this wasn't what he wanted happening! He- he couldn't stomach fake-dating Lila, he really couldn't. Surely his father had picked up on how uncomfortable she made Adrien. Or if his father hadn't, Nathalie-
"Shall I tell him now?" Nathalie asked, cutting that thought off mid-sentence. Adrien could hear her take a step towards the office doors. "I can run up before the meeting."
"No, it can wait," Mr. Agreste decided after a heart-stopping pause. "We've neglected preparation for this meeting, so we need every minute. Adrien isn't going anywhere, and if he's doing homework as he's meant to, he won't find out about what Miss Rossi said until later anyway."
Adrien had heard enough. As soon as the conversation had turned away from him and towards their upcoming meeting, Adrien made a break for it as silently as he could. Across the atrium, out the door, catch it before it could slam, close it carefully and then run down the steps and out the gate. Adrien glanced back for a second, hoping that he hadn't been seen and wasn't being followed, and then dashed for the park near the school.
If he was seen before he could talk to anyone, it would all be over. Adrien would be forced into dating Lila and wouldn't be able to do anything about it. If he tried, his father would know that Adrien had directly disobeyed orders and would be absolutely furious.
Thankfully, Adrien didn't have long to wait. Within minutes of him arriving in the park, Madam Chamack materialized practically out of thin air and approached him with an eager smile. Behind her, her cameraman and sound person were trotting along, trying to keep up. She made a beeline towards Adrien, no doubt very interested in getting the scoop on his formerly-secret relationship before anyone else did.
She was going to get a scoop, all right. Adrien was still too furious at Lila's manipulation and his father's plans to dictate his life even more to have any sense of filter anymore, and he was going to absolutely rip apart all of her lies and firmly slam the door on any chance of him being forced into a relationship with Lila.
"Adrien! We just heard this morning that you and Lila Rossi are dating!" Madam Chamack started, beaming at him in a way that was probably meant to look friendly but came off as more feverishly over-eager. "Congratulations! We would love to hear more about how you met, how you got together... I was wondering if you had a minute to spare to chat a bit?"
"Certainly," Adrien said politely, flashing his own smile. It was a little dangerous, a little too full of teeth. "And actually, Madam Chamack, that news was a surprise to me, too. I never asked Lila out, and even if she asked me, I would never agree. Lila is a selfish, intolerable, manipulative serial liar, and I only tolerated her to protect my friends."
This time, Adrien wasn't going to hold back. Lila had pushed him to a breaking point that he hadn't even known he had, and the kid gloves were coming off, and coming off hard.
Lila had wanted to be famous, and over the past couple months, she had gotten her wish. Now she was going to learn the hard way that sometimes, there were downsides to that fame.
Ten minutes later and no small amount of questions and explanations later, Madam Chamack had thanked Adrien and went on her way with her cameraman. To the best of Adrien's knowledge, the interview had been live, and Lila would no doubt be feeling the effects of her empire crumbling around her ears shortly. Adrien had torn her apart to the point that, unless Mrs. Rossi lived under a rock, there was no way that she wouldn't hear about Lila's lies shortly.
Everything had come out. All of Lila's lies that she had told about her life, all of the disabilities she had claimed to have, the incident where she stole his father's book from him and then threw it in the trash (which he had learned about several weeks earlier after finally asking Marinette how she had learned about Lila's lies), all of her attempts to manipulate students and teachers alike to get what she wanted, the months of "traveling" that she had supposedly done during the school year, the charities that she had supposedly founded, her blatant disregard for his personal boundaries and insistence on hanging off of him and forcing unwanted kisses on him, the attempt to get Marinette expelled and how that led to Adrien cooperating with her in order to get his friend's name cleared.
Madam Chamack had looked torn between absolutely shocked and absolutely delighted to get all of the information. It was a real scoop, and it was bound to get her a lot of viewers.
Which was exactly what Adrien had wanted. More people knowing the truth meant that there was less chance of Lila getting away with anything like she had been pulling before.
In one final fit of lingering anger, Adrien had called out the adults who had fallen for Lila's lies- the teachers and principal, mostly, but part of it was aimed at his own father. All of them were supposed to be protecting him and Marinette (and their other classmates, too), and they hadn't. They had sat by and not followed procedure for expulsion (which Adrien had looked up after that incident, in case Lila decided to try again) and not checked out Lila's claims at all or stopped Lila from hanging all over him or- or anything.
Adrien was pretty sure that he would regret at least part of what he said later, but he was just so angry about- well, everything about the whole situation- and he had just remembered Marinette's frustration and all of the comments Plagg had made about Lila, and everything had come out in a rush.
Still stewing, Adrien glanced around the park. There was no Gorilla in sight yet, which meant that his father and Nathalie were probably too busy with their meeting to notice Adrien's absence or what was bound to be a sudden and even larger spike of activity in his hashtag. That was likely to not last for long, though, which meant that Adrien should probably consider leaving the park.
Where he should go, though, Adrien wasn't sure. The school was closed for the weekend, and he didn't really want to deal with Chloe's clinginess, either, and the library was a little too far for him to be able to go without getting caught.
Before he had too much time to think about it, Adrien spotted Marinette across the park, hurrying towards him. He headed towards her, eager for some decent company, and then let out a surprised yelp when Marinette didn't even slow down, positively barreling into him to wrap him up in a hug.
"I saw the broadcast!" Marinette told him at once, beaming up at him. "And so did everyone else in our class, I think- my phone is positively blowing up with notifications, and- Adrien, you're shaking!"
Was he? Adrien refocused on himself, and- yep, Marinette was right. Now that the adrenaline high was wearing off, the full impact of what he had just done was setting in. There were going to be so many people hurt and confused and angry and his father was going to be furious, Adrien knew it already, and-
"Okay, let's move inside," Marinette decided, linking her arm through his and gently tugging Adrien towards the bakery. "Then there won't be anyone approaching you, and I'll make a cup of tea and Maman can bring up some croissants or a baguette or cookies."
Adrien let himself be led, more than willing to follow Marinette. They headed across the park, into the warmth of the bakery, and up to the Dupain-Cheng living room, Marinette leading the way.
Her arm through his didn't feel constricting or possessive like it did when Lila or Chloe did it, Adrien noted absently as Marinette led him to the couch and released him, letting Adrien seat himself while she went to put the teapot on. She didn't hold on as tight or drag him around or towards her. If Adrien had stopped or decided that he wanted to let go, he would have been able to.
There were a lot of things that he liked a lot better when Marinette did them, really. Her hugs were the warmest he had gotten in ages, her arms wrapped around his chest to give the most full-bodied hug she would instead of hanging off of his neck like- well, like both Chloe and Lila and the occasional fangirl who decided to ignore his personal space, and the occasional cheek kiss that he got from Marinette felt like it was for him, not self-serving and for show like the cheek kisses Lila forced on him always were.
Marinette was more genuine, that was for sure. When she did things for him, it was because she truly wanted to help, not because she wanted to be seen with him and get famous.
"Oh, I forgot to switch off the TV before I headed out," Marinette commented as she came back over to rejoin Adrien on the sofa. She tucked her phone into her pocket as she settled down on the couch next to Adrien, and Adrien caught the flash of her text messages inbox on her screen. It looked like Marinette had a lot of unread messages. "I just saw the news about Lila online, and then spotted you on the TV, and headed straight out."
"It's okay," Adrien managed, catching Marinette's wrist before she could grab the remote to turn the TV off. "I kind of want to see what's going on. I might as well be prepared, at least, and see what people are saying."
Marinette nodded, sitting back as Adrien released her wrist. "I guess it's good to know what's going on. Not that we can really change much at this point, I guess."
"Yeah, I might as well have started an avalanche," Adrien admitted, keeping one eye on the TV. A muted commercial was playing right now, but he was sure that the news would return soon enough. "But I just got so ticked off at Lila for trying to pressure me into a relationship by announcing that we were dating, and then I overheard my father talking to Nathalie and he, well..."
Marinette looked absolutely horrified, clearly anticipating his next words. "Was he going to go along with Lila's lie? Oh, Adrien-!"
"Yeah," Adrien confirmed, unable to help but feel validated at Marinette's response. "And with both of those together..."
"You'd want to slam the door on that possibility as fast and as hard as possible," Marinette finished, as though she was reading his mind. She reached over, squeezing Adrien's hand. "Don't doubt yourself, Adrien. Whatever comes next, Lila deserves all the bad press and publicity that comes her way. She's the one who put herself in that position, what with all of her lies and manipulation."
Adrien flashed a grateful look at Marinette, unable to be anything but grateful that she had pulled him inside. If he had been by himself right now, his guilt and second-guessing himself would be eating him up from the inside.
As it was... well, Adrien was anxious about what the fallout was going to be, that was for sure. Lila probably wasn't going to be the only one to get in trouble, and Adrien hadn't even checked his phone since getting inside, too nervous about finding a message from his father, furious at him for doing an interview that definitely wasn't approved.
At least everything would probably be worth it in the end. He wouldn't have to deal with Lila anymore, Marinette wouldn't have to deal with Lila anymore, and he wouldn't have to worry about being forced into a relationship with one of the most manipulative, deceitful, and downright unpleasant people Adrien had ever had the displeasure of meeting.
Adrien spent the rest of the afternoon at Marinette's house, curled up in a cozy blanket with his phone muted as they switched between ignoring the world while playing video games and watching the unfolding news coverage- and there was a lot.
Madam Chamack had taken it upon herself to make a beeline straight over to the Italian Embassy, where she had spent the better part of an hour camped out on the steps before being allowed inside and confronting Lila's very harried mother, who clearly had heard the news and was not coping well with it. Adrien felt a little sorry for her- Mrs. Rossi's coworkers were giving her rather dubious looks from their desks in the background- but seriously, how had she not managed to pick up on the fact that her daughter was such a liar?
Across town, Alec Cataldi had managed to hunt down Mr. Damocles and had followed him for a bit, trying to get his questions answered until the principal finally was able to duck away into his apartment building. There had been a lot of "no comments" or "that's classified information" or "we'll be looking into everything on Monday" in response to Alec's comments. That had only resulted in a fair bit of speculation on Alec's part as he re-stationed himself and his camera crew right outside of the Agreste mansion, clearly hoping for a statement about how Lila had started modeling for Gabriel and if she would be continuing but not quite daring enough to try the buzzer.
There was absolutely no sign of Lila at all, which was odd considering that (at least according to social media), she had been out on the streets, soaking up the attention that came with being Adrien Agreste's "girlfriend" only minutes before Adrien's interview aired.
Something told him that she wasn't going to be bothering him for a while. Even if her mom didn't immediately ship her out of the country, the legal trouble that Lila was going to be getting into was more than enough to keep Lila occupied for the near future.
Maybe Adrien would still have to deal with his father's displeasure about the press fallout from his impromptu interview, but, well, that was a problem for Future Adrien. For now, well, Adrien was more than content enough to spend as much time as he could with Marinette and her family.
He was free from Lila at last and honestly, Adrien couldn't be any more relieved.
a/n: angry Adrien angry Adrien angry Adrien
(also yes for those wondering Alec is 100% accidentally preventing a Lila akumatization by having a camera on the Agreste mansion and Gabriel is 1000% mad about it.)
As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete. And as always, reviews make my day!