Superheroes were, practically by definition, meant to be helpful.
Ladybug and Chat Noir helped all of Paris by fighting supervillains and restoring the city. They helped save lives and property alike if they happened to be nearby when a bus or news helicopter went out of control. They saved cats that were stuck up in trees and helped parents with young kids evacuate when there were akuma attacks nearby. They even helped out spoiled brats and snotty liars who were getting targeted, even if they definitely didn't deserve the help.
It was one of the reasons why they were so liked, really. Paris' superheroes weren't aloof or cold or focused only on their job and their job alone. They went out of their way to reach out and make sure that people were okay.
….but even the most patient of superheroes had their limits. There were only so many times that Ladybug could put up with Chloe's clinging and endless babble when, despite Chloe's assurances, she had definitely done something to tick the unfortunate akumatized person off and therefore entirely deserved to be the target of their ire. And really, trying to help Lila at all during akuma attacks was a waste of effort, since she seemed determined to fake injuries and try to distract them. But it was still expected that they at least try to help, because- well, they were superheroes.
Still, being a superhero didn't necessarily mean having superhuman patience. And even though it was still early in the morning- they hadn't even finished homeroom yet- Lila was already wearing Marinette's patience thin.
Really, it was an impressive accomplishment, considering that Lila was "out of town" on one of her mother's "trips" and therefore not even physically in the classroom. But she had video-called in first thing after homeroom started to give an overly saccharine-sweet "recounting" of what she had been up to the previous few days. This time she was calling from "the fjords of Finland, I wish you guys could be here because it is gorgeous!" and prattling on about some princess that she had supposedly met and was discussing charity work with.
Marinette could not envision anything being a bigger waste of time. They could be catching up on curriculum that had gotten behind because of akuma attacks, but nope, no such luck. Instead, they were listening to Lila's completely made-up and not at all relevant stories and wasting their entire homeroom period. Lila had been yammering on for over forty-five minutes now, and showed no sign of stopping.
(Also, Marinette had some serious questions about how Lila was supposedly getting enough internet to support the call while on a hill overlooking one of the most spectacular of the Finnish fjords, which was decidedly not close to any sort of civilization.)
At least Marinette had started bringing projects to school to work on during their calls with Lila. If they couldn't use their time productively for schoolwork during homeroom, then she would take the chance to get some of her other work done. Maybe Ms. Bustier frowned on it, but. Well. Marinette had more or less ceased to care. She had too much to get done to be too concerned with what did or didn't bother her teacher, particularly when what she was doing wasn't hurting anyone.
"So I'll be out for the rest of this week and maybe a couple days next week," Lila chirped at long last, beaming at them. "Depending on whether I can persuade Princess Sophia to join Prince Ali and I on our global campaign to end pollution! I'll keep you all updated!"
The entire class exploded with assurances, everyone hastening to tell Lila that they were sure that she would be able to get the princess to help, and how amazing it was that she was doing such great work, and how everybody was sure to pitch in and help her get caught back up on her schoolwork once she returned to Paris. Lila basked in the attention, gushing about how kind everyone was and how lucky she was to get placed in what had to be the world's nicest class.
Which of course meant a whole new round of people telling Lila that she was nice and kind and fantastic, too.
Finally, finally, Lila signed off after another few rounds of back-and-forth gushing. Marinette let out a sigh of relief, plenty glad that she wouldn't have to listen to Lila's humble-bragging for another couple days. The far-fetched stories that Lila had been spinning- seriously, how were people believing that Lila had somehow saved a beloved prized cow herd with only the help of their traditional decorative cowbells- had been grating on her nerves.
Cows with decorate cowbells wasn't even a Finnish thing. Somehow, Lila (and everyone else in the class, with the sole exception of Adrien) had forgotten that that was a Swiss tradition.
It was probably too much to expect that Lila would actually pay any attention to details like that. For her, differences between countries and cultures were probably annoying little details that she didn't feel like bothering with.
"Well, we won't be doing anything as exciting as discussing anti-pollution plans with a princess today, but we do have plenty of other things to cover," Ms. Bustier announced as soon as the call ended, glancing up at the clock. "We're actually running a little behind schedule in Literature, so let's use the last, ah, three minutes of homeroom to try to get a bit of a head start so we won't have to have as much make-up homework this weekend!"
Marinette could only sigh and hope that the rest of the day wouldn't be so incredibly exasperating.
Because right now? She didn't feel like being very helpful at all.
By the time news of an akuma out and about reached the school in the early afternoon, Marinette was almost relieved at the excuse to leave for a bit. It seemed like everywhere she turned, people were talking about Lila's latest so-called adventures- so much for not having to put up with it for at least a couple more days- and speculating about what new royal support might mean for Lila's campaign. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Ms. Bustier had pulled Marinette to the side between classes to tell her off for her obvious disinterest during Lila's video call, so Marinette's mood had slid even further downhill.
And now? Well, she was in the mood to work out some of her frustrations on Hawkmoth's latest minion.
But not too obviously, of course. People would wonder if they saw her punch an akuma's face in, just because she was pretending that it was Lila's. Besides, whoever was under the akumatization was a victim, as she and Chat Noir were always reminding the press and the people that akumas had targeted. They weren't in control of what they were doing.
(Well. Mostly. There had been some exceptions, largely consisting of Lila, but proving that enough to be able to persuade anyone in power was a bit difficult. On top of that, once the first accusation of on-purpose collusion with Hawkmoth stuck, then- well, it could easily turn into a slippery slope lined with baseless accusations from people out looking for revenge.)
Though to be fair, it honestly seemed as though this particular akuma completely deserved whatever beating Ladybug gave her. Best-Laid Plans seemed entirely entitled, screaming in fury whenever her "foolproof" plots to capture Ladybug and Chat Noir were defeated and yelling about how dare they not fall fire her traps, how dare they not believe whatever she said, how dare they laugh at how (laughably) easy and transparent her so-called complex plans to catch them were.
Honestly, she and Lila would probably get along fantastically. Both of them had some serious delusions of grandeur.
"I can't figure out how she thinks these things are foolproof and complex when she can't spend more than a couple minutes seeing them up," Chat Noir said as he yanked the side off of another "hidden" cage and chucked it off to the side so that it wouldn't pose them any danger. "They're impulsive and showy but lack any real substance."
Best-Laid Plans let out another screech of fury. "Stop making fun of them, they're foolproof!"
"Right, because even fools would be safe from them!" Ladybug yelled back. "Because they fool no one!"
"How dare you, I learned how to make traps from an expert in Bolivia! You're just getting lucky!"
"She does realize that claiming that doesn't somehow make it true, right?" Ladybug sighed, utterly exasperated. They had wasted half an hour already, and she really wasn't in the mood for another half hour of this nonsense. "Lucky Charm!"
A bottle of soap dropped into her hand. Ladybug sighed, then glanced around as she and Chat Noir sprinted after Best-Laid Plans. She was heading up, up, up the Eiffel Tower, fast but not fast enough to outrun the superheroes.
"There's another trap there," Chat Noir pointed out as they leapt up another level. "I bet she's planning on pushing us in."
An idea clicked in Ladybug's mind. Of course! "She's going to stop on the next platform- hit the soap bottle right at her as we pass, hard enough for it to split! And- now!"
It was practically a work of art, really. Ladybug tossed her Lucky Charm at Chat Noir, who hit it at just the right time. Sudsy pink soap sprayed across the platform, completely coating it. The split bottle and what little soap remained in it slammed into Best-Laid Plans' face, sending her staggering right into the slippery puddle of soap.
And she slid, cursing up a storm, right off the edge of the platform and neatly into the trap she had set up below.
"Well, would you look at that," Chat Noir said cheerfully as he and Ladybug swung down to land next to the soap-covered Best-Laid Plans. "Your traps can catch one person, at least! So they're not entirely fool-proofed after all."
Ladybug nearly choked on her laughter as she snagged Best-Laid Plans' cell phone, snapping it in half and catching the butterfly that fluttered free. The akuma only glared, furious but unable to do anything with the ropes of her trap twisted around her arms and keeping them bound.
Really, it was art.
After a moment's pause to appreciate the sight a little more, Ladybug snagged the remnants of the soap bottle with her yo-yo and tossed them into the air. "Miraculous Ladybug!"
The glittering swarm rushed around the city, wiping away all of the destroyed traps and putting things back to normal. Once everything else was fixed, the light swept around Best-Laid Plans and left a sulking Lila Rossi in her place.
Somehow, Ladybug was not entirely surprised.
"Surprise," Chat Noir sighed, rolling his eyes as he stepped up to her side. "Gee, and wasn't she meant to be out of the country right now?"
Deep in Ladybug's brain, there was a distinct aha as an idea was born, and Ladybug pounced on it. Pasting on her best friendly-helpful-neighborhood-superhero look, she approached Lila, who only looked more sour.
"You must have been really upset about whatever plans didn't quite work out!" Ladybug told her, trying her best to sound sympathetic instead of smug. "It's always disappointing when things don't work out the way we want them to, but it's rarely the end of the world!"
Chat Noir nodded seriously, only the twitching corners of his lips giving away the fact that he was maybe not quite as sincere as he was pretending to be. "Exactly! If we miss a movie, there's always another viewing. If we can't go out with friends, there's always another day. It's not worth getting too upset about, because then we miss out on other stuff. I'd say just let it go and move on with the rest of your day."
Lila looked mutinous. Ladybug had to assume that whatever plans had been foiled hadn't exactly been the sort that could just be picked up and done another day. "Uh-huh."
"Chat Noir is right," Ladybug said immediately in her perkiest voice, cheerfully ignoring Lila's deepening scowl. "It's best not to linger too much over plans that didn't work out and just go back to your normal day instead. In fact, to help you get back to your normal day, I'll even give you a free ride back to school, so you don't miss even more class! You're at Collège Françoise Dupont, right?"
Without waiting for an answer, Ladybug grabbed Lila and hoisted her over her shoulder before the other girl could realize what was going on and object. She and Chat Noir were usually more careful when carrying civilians- after all, the over the shoulder carry wasn't very comfortable- but she definitely wasn't keeping Lila in any position where she could make a grab for her earrings. "See you, Chat Noir!"
Chat Noir waved back, looking suspiciously like he was struggling to not double over laughing. "See you, Ladybug!"
With that, Ladybug was off, jumping off of the Eiffel Tower and letting herself do a free-fall for perhaps a little longer than she normally would before casting out her yo-yo and swinging at top speed towards the school.
She really couldn't tell if Lila's screaming was in fear or in anger.
It took almost no time at all for the school to draw near, and Ladybug did some hasty calculations to figure out where to go- her class should still be in Literature, though they would be switching pretty soon- before aiming right at the window Ms. Bustier had opened earlier in the day and dropping neatly in.
"Ta-da, back in class!" Ladybug announced cheerfully, dumping Lila back on her feet with perhaps a little more force than necessary. Lila staggered and nearly fell before catching herself. "And it looks like they managed to start up class again after you got akumatized! That's good, I know that sometimes after people get akumatized in school, the whole day just gets entirely disrupted. And I'm sure you wouldn't want to be the cause of your class falling behind on their work!" She sent the class a smile, then jumped straight back out the window with a wave. As soon as she did, the class exploded with noise, confusion clearly reigning supreme.
Ladybug only smiled.
By the time Marinette slipped back into the classroom, there was such mayhem going on that no one noticed her come in. Lila had clearly tried to spin a new story to cover why Ladybug had brought her to class- and how she had gotten akumatized when she was meant to be several countries away- but this time, no one was buying it.
In fact, Marinette noticed as she slipped back to her seat, Mr. Damocles had already been called in and was currently punching a number into his phone. No doubt Lila's mom was being called now that there was solid evidence that that Lila had not been where she was supposed to be. It was definitely long overdue, honestly, but better late than not at all.
Adrien slid into his seat a minute later with a politely puzzled look on his face, apparently having missed the commotion with a poorly-timed bathroom visit. He caught sight of Marinette, pretty much the only other student still sitting in her spot, and raised a curious eyebrow.
"Lila got akumatized and Ladybug was being helpful and brought her back to class," Marinette whispered, unable to hide her grin. "And, well…"
"Now she's in trouble because clearly she wasn't in Finland," Adrien finished. He grinned back. "Somehow I suspect that Ladybug might have known that Lila hadn't been in class in the first place."
Marinette bit back a tart I don't know what you're talking about before she could give herself away. She wasn't sure why Adrien would suspect that Ladybug would know about Lila's lie about not being in the country, but- well, maybe it was because he had seen Ladybug call Lila out before, and it wasn't exactly normal for her and Chat Noir to return civilians to wherever they had been at the start of the fight.. They only did it for young kids, really, and only if they had enough time left before they detransformed.
So maybe she hadn't been very subtle, so sue her. But at least now Lila wouldn't be able to carry out whatever no doubt nefarious plan that she had been dreaming up. It had already then thwarted once, and Ladybug hadn't been about to let Lila take another swing at it, despite what she and Chat Noir had said about trying again.
"Hopefully she won't get akumatized again," Adrien added after a minute. Up in the front, Lila was in full meltdown mode, but no one seemed particularly inclined to comfort her. Mr. Damocles had clearly gotten through to Lila's mom and had retreated to the corner to try to hold a conversation uninterrupted by the commotion. "I mean, Ladybug and Chat Noir have already fought her today, I'm sure they don't want to again." He grimaced. "I'd hope that Hawkmoth would be tired of her by now, but considering how many times Mr. Pigeon has showed up, that….might be too much to hope for."
Marinette made a face at that. True, another Lila akumatization would be less than ideal, but on the bright side, if she got akumatized at school, then hopefully classes would be canceled for the afternoon and no one would notice her missing. Besides, well… "I'm sure they'd rather just deal with her being akumatized again today than being akumatized several dozen more times in the next couple months, because she is totally on track to do that."
"Ooh, good point."
"And honestly, if anyone is going to get akumatized today, I would guess that it would be one of our classmates," Marinette added, glancing around. People were clearly ticked off about the lies Lila had told, with all of the connections that she had promised and the "industry advice" that she had given people getting their hopes up. Now those hopes were dashed, and people had to come to terms with the fact that someone who they thought was a friend- a friend that they had gone out of their way to help more than a few times- had been outright lying to them to manipulate them. That had to stink, and she was sure that some people would be particularly upset. "Oh, poor Rose. She looks like she's about to cry."
"And Alya looks like she's about to commit a murder," Adrien added. There was an edge of laughter to his voice. "But she's still filming, at least."
Marinette looked and had to try not to laugh herself. It seemed like Alya was torn between chewing Lila out and getting her scoop, so she had combined the two in what could only be described as an accusatory interview given in a yell with less-than-flattering angles.
Well. Whatever made her feel better, she supposed.
"All right class, that's enough!" Ms. Bustier finally yelled over the noise. Mr. Damocles had clearly given up on making his phone call in the room and had fled. "Everyone, to your seats, we're going to continue class as normal until further notice- yes, that includes you too, Lila. Just borrow some paper and a pencil, since you didn't come prepared. And now, back to the lesson-"
Marinette exchanged a grin with Adrien as slowly, everyone filtered back to their seats. Most people were clearly in a state of shock still, but others were whispering, comparing stories and trying to figure out where they had missed the signs where things didn't quite line up. The gossip and speculation continued even as Ms. Bustier resolutely tried to forge on with her lesson, questions about what had happened reigning supreme.
The rest of the story came out less than an hour later, during an easily-overheard shouting match between Lila and her mom inside of Mr. Damocles' office.
As it turned out, Lila hadn't intended to get akumatized at all this time around. She had gotten so upset partway through the day because she had gotten an email- an email that should have been sent to her mom, but apparently the email on file was Lila's instead- that said that, given her test scores and the absolute piles of unreturned makeup work from during her trips, the school would not be able to approve any further travels for the rest of the school year and- even worse- she was in serious danger of having to repeat the grade. She had been furious- there was no real way for her to lie her way out of that- and, well, the rest was history.
And Lila was soon to be history, if Alix was to be believed. She had managed to keep hiding nearby after the rest of the class was busted for skipping class and eavesdropping, and had caught more of the fight. Lila's mom was removing her from Paris effective immediately- apparently she had a very strict aunt and uncle back in Italy who would be willing to take her until either Mrs. Rossi could be transferred to a different embassy or Hawkmoth was no longer an issue. In fact, because of Hawkmoth, Lila was going to be sent back to Italy that evening, before she could get akumatized again.
Marinette honestly couldn't be more relieved about that. Lila's akuma forms tended towards the difficult and more indirect than a lot of other akumas, and she got akumatized often. With her gone- and with the class relieved that Lila was getting properly punished for lying to them- the chance of more Lila-related akumas was steadily dropping.
"What I think is funny is that, if Ladybug hadn't done anything, Lila still wouldn't have lasted much longer," Marinette told Tikki as she headed home after school, completely unable to hide the spring in her step. "She wouldn't have been able to go on any more 'trips' and Mr. Damocles would definitely have to reach her mom about the whole being held back thing, so all of the lies would have come out. Ladybug just sped it up." She grinned. "And maybe it was a bit fun to see everyone's reactions." She paused. "...and maybe it was a bit fun to get my revenge, too."
Tikki giggled too, clearly amused. "I bet it was pretty funny to see everyone's faces! And at least now you don't have to worry about Lila anymore. I bet that people will forget about her pretty quickly once she's gone."
"I hope so." Marinette glanced back at the school before she stepped into the bakery. More people than normal were still lingering, no doubt gossiping about everything that had happened and trying to come to terms with the betrayal. Her class was resilient, though, and they would move on. Maybe there would be some lingering disappointment about the hopes and dreams they had pinned on Lila's lies, but it would fade with time.
After all, Lila Rossi wasn't worth their time or energy.
a/n: As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and therefore complete. And as always, comments make my day! :)