Adrien didn't know what he was going to do. He paced, he grabbed at his hair, he made a couple stabs at making plans to run away but found big, gaping holes in his plans almost immediately when he actually managed to take a half-step back and look at them again.
His father was Hawkmoth, and Adrien Was Not Dealing.
"I can't sleep here, what if he finds out about me?" Adrien asked frantically for the twenty-fifth time, carding his fingers through his hair. "Or what if he already knows? What if he suspects something and decides to put up a camera on my window? What if-"
"Okay, first of all, I do check for things like cameras and hidden microphones all the time," Plagg said loudly, cutting through Adrien's panicked fog for the first time in- well, for the first time in however many minutes it had been that Adrien had been freaking out. "There aren't any over here or any even pointed in this direction, which is a bit odd considering how often you sneak out but maybe it's because people can't really sneak in this way. Second of all- can't you move out? You were planning on doing that when you went to university anyway, right?"
Adrien nodded, then shook his head. "I'm too young to move out yet, I still have a few months before I'll even be able to sign a lease. And if I move out right away- then he'll know that something is up. It's better not to arouse any suspicions, but I don't want to be close enough for him to get any suspicions about me."
"He's had years to get suspicious about you, though," Plagg countered. "It's not like you just started being Chat Noir."
"Yeah, well, I've had years to get suspicious about him, too, and look at where we are now!"
Plagg looked. His usually picture-perfect Chosen was a frazzled mess in the middle of his room, hair sticking up oddly from him pulling at it so much. He could see where Adrien had been pacing in the carpet, the little loops scuffed more than the ones around them. Scattered pages of notes from his half-baked plans covered the top of the desk, some things circled and others crossed out (and some circled and then crossed out).
It was a somewhat unsettling picture.
"Okay, so first of all, don't let on that anything is different," Plagg said, because apparently he had to be the cool-headed thinker between the two of them now. "If you do, your father will investigate. Second of all, you have locks on your doors, right? Lock them at night."
Adrien shook his head. "It won't make a difference. Father has the keys to all of the rooms. At best, I could set an alarm so that I would wake up if someone came in, but that would be hard to do without anyone noticing. What if I set it at night, had to go out for a morning akuma attack and forgot about it, and one of the maids tried to come in? Then the alarm would go off and Father would be so confused and annoyed and would investigate and-"
Plagg watched, unimpressed. "I think pigtails is wearing off on you with the over-the-top unrealistic panic scenarios."
"They aren't unrealistic! You've seen what Father is like. Paranoid and controlling and- he's a supervillain, Plagg, it's not unrealistic for him to notice something off in the room and wonder about it and then he would try to lock me down even more while he tries to figure out what's going on and why I have an alarm system set up on the interior doors of my room."
...his Chosen had a good point. So Plagg sighed, floated down to desk level, and actually gave it some more thought.
Tikki would be so proud of him right now.
"Okay, so you'll definitely have to tell Ladybug sooner rather than later," Plagg started, because while the discovery was earth-shattering for Adrien, he still had to think like a superhero. "And then, uh..."
Yeah, so maybe he was coming up a little blank.
"Yeah, that was about as far as I got, too," Adrien said moodily, flopping down in his desk chair and spinning around. "I mean, once I turn eighteen and can rent a place, I could just escape at night and run over there to sleep. As long as I set an alarm every night, I should be able to get back here before anyone notices that I'm gone. And I would only need to buy a mattress to keep over there, at least until I move out for good. And at least I can afford it," he added. "All of the money from my modeling and commercials and all the other stuff that I've done- that's in my account, and no one can take it from me. I made sure that the account was entirely in my name last year, when I started thinking about moving out. Neither Father nor Nathalie can touch the money in there, I made sure of that."
That still left several months between now and then which- well, again, not ideal. Maybe they would defeat his father before then, since they knew where to find him now, but if they didn't...
"Lots of sleepovers with friends, maybe?" Plagg suggested weakly. Adrien laughed, then sighed.
"Yeah, I wish. I think Nino might start to wonder if I showed up at his house every night for three and a half months, though. And his parents might call Father, and I don't want that." Adrien slumped in his chair again, then straightened with a yelp when he caught sight of the time. "Oh! Crud, I'm meant to be going over to Marinette's house today so we can all hang out today. I don't want to be late for that. C'mon, Plagg, let's go!"
Adrien was undeniably, irrefutably, most definitely feeling off. And it was showing. He had lost the last three games of Mecha Strike to Nino, of all people- and he had lost badly. Thankfully his friends seemed willing enough to write it off to exhaustion from too many photoshoots instead of interrogating him on his distraction, and so Adrien got off scot-free.
That wasn't good if he was so obviously distracted, though. Nathalie would see through his squirrely behavior in an instant. She knew that he didn't have an overly loaded schedule- well, no more loaded than it usually was, at least- and she would be more likely to ask question.
He wondered if she knew about his father. She had to, right? There was no way that she could miss it when she was working in the same room as him day in and day out-
-she was Mayura, wasn't she. The thought hit Adrien like a brick wall, and he swallowed hard, feeling a little ill. His father was his family and Nathalie had been like family and they were the supervillains terrorizing Paris, the ones that he had to fight against almost every other day.
He was going to be sick.
How Adrien made it through the rest of his get-together with his friends, he didn't know. It seemed like time flashed by in an instant and then Nino and Alya were leaving, headed out the door together arm-in-arm and without a care in the world. Adrien was about to follow them- now that he was nearly eighteen, he was actually allowed to walk between Marinette's house and his own instead of having the Gorilla drive him for the few short blocks- when a slender hand slid around his wrist, stopping him before he could get more than a couple steps. Confused, Adrien blinked and turned around to see Marinette staring up at him, concern written across her face.
"Something is bothering you, isn't it?" Marinette asked, tugging Adrien gently away from the door and letting it close. "You've been off the entire time that you've been here."
Adrien tried for a smile. "It's nothing, just photoshoots-"
"You haven't had a photoshoot in three days, and you were just fine after the last one," Marinette shot back, and belatedly Adrien remembered that oh, right, Marinette had an open invitation to all of his photoshoots and knew when they were. "And if you were tired, you would have passed out on the couch while we were playing games. Instead, you were almost fidgeting out of your skin. And you suddenly got more distracted partway through- you looked like you were about to be sick."
"Start-of-summer cold?" Adrien offered up weakly. Marinette looked even less convinced, brow furrowed with concern as she gazed up at him. All of a sudden, Adrien couldn't do it anymore.
"My father is Hawkmoth," Adrien confessed in a rush, practically collapsing in on himself. "I was passing by his office today and I saw him talking to Noor- to his kwami, and it was a butterfly, and then he pulled off his necktie and was rubbing this brooch underneath it and why would he hide any jewelry if it weren't the Miraculous? And Nathalie knows, she has to, she's in the same office all day and she has to be Mayura and I'm living in the same house as two supervillains and I can't move out for a year without them getting suspicious and what am I meant to do?"
Marinette looked rather as though she had been hit by a truck, she was so surprised. Adrien winced.
...he definitely could have broken the news better. Maybe she wouldn't want to be near him now, because it would be dangerous to be near the son of a supervillain even though he wasn't a supervillain, he was a superhero, and wasn't that ironic? He had to fight against his own father.
That was really, really messed up.
Marinette's expression shifted from startled to confused, and Adrien heard her mumble "But how does he know what-?" before her grip suddenly tightened around his wrist and she turned his hand, just enough to see his ring glinting in the sun. She let a tiny oh, and suddenly Adrien knew without question that somehow she had just figured out his secret identity.
A soft thud behind them caught Adrien's attention next, and both he and Marinette swung around in time to see Mr. Dupain startle, righting his tray before another loaf of bread could fall off. His gaze returned to Adrien as soon as he had ensured that all of the bread was safe, and- okay, apparently Marinette's dad had overheard him.
He hadn't planned on letting people know, let alone this many. Marinette's family was perfectly normal and completely functional and he shouldn't be burdening them with his family's problems. But now Mr. Dupain was setting down his tray to come over and wrap Adrien up in a hug, and when had Marinette started hugging him? Adrien couldn't help but stiffen up in surprise at first, before practically collapsing into the hug.
Adrien hadn't been hugged like this for so long. Two sets of arms wrapped around him, and Marinette's hands were rubbing up and down his back. It was absolute unquestioning acceptance, and Adrien couldn't even manage to be embarrassed about the tears that he could definitely feel starting to leak down his cheeks. Marinette's cheek was pressed against his, and she clearly had no reservations about holding him close.
"Does your father know that you found out about him?" Mr. Dupain asked, pulling back but only enough so that he could see Adrien. "Or doesn't he know?"
"He doesn't know," Adrien said at once. After all, he hadn't lingered much in the atrium once he saw the kwami- Nooroo, Plagg had called him- before making a hasty (and quiet) escape to his room. In fact, he wouldn't be 100% sure of what he had seen if it weren't for the fact that Plagg had seen it, too, and had even zipped back to try to eavesdrop for a bit. "I left right away, and he wasn't facing the door. But I just- I can't believe that I've been sleeping under the same roof as a supervillain. Two supervillains, if you count Nathalie."
"You don't feel safe sleeping there anymore, do you?" Mr. Dupain asked at once. He was frowning. "I know that I wouldn't."
Adrien nodded, burying his face in Marinette's hair and trying not to sound like he was about to cry. He was pretty certain that he wasn't succeeding. Also, he was definitely getting snot all over her hair, and he would have to apologize for that later. "Yeah. I was planning on moving out once I started university, and of course I can get an apartment once I reach my birthday and then just sneak out to sleep there, but I would have to wait for that."
"And it's very possible that your landlord would still reach out to your father," Mr. Dupain said, and Adrien's head flew up in alarm to stare at him in alarm. He had only done a little research on apartments, enough to figure out that he had to legally be an adult to rent without a guardian's signature, but he had a source of income and a savings account of his own and surely that would be enough, right?
Marinette was frowning, too. "But surely if he asked the landlord not to say anything, they wouldn't?"
Her dad shook his head. "Not necessarily. I assume that you would pick something small and relatively cheap, at least for the time being," he said to Adrien, and Adrien nodded in confirmation. He didn't want to spend too much money right away, after all. "Right. Some of those landlords- well, they're not the best, to say the least. They would know that you come from money and they might try to exploit that. It's not legal, and all you would have to do to get them to back off if they were trying to push for more than what's in the lease is report it, but if something like that happens or you forget to pay on time they might go to your father, and once is all you need for him to find out."
Adrien nodded, his heart sinking.
"And frankly- Adrien, you're still a teenager. You're still a kid. You shouldn't have to be spending your money on essentials yet, and I'm not comfortable with letting you do that." Mr. Dupain glanced towards the bakery, where Mrs. Cheng was still working the front counter. "I'd have to discuss it with Sabine, of course, but- Adrien, we do have a guest room that rarely ever gets used."
Adrien's jaw was practically on the floor at the implied offer as soon as it sunk in. "I- I mean, that would be- are you sure?"
Mr. Dupain smiled, clapping Adrien on the shoulder. "You're a kind young man, Adrien. If you don't feel safe at home, we'd be more than happy to help. I will have to tell Sabine about your father, though, to convince her that we're actually helping and not just trying to steal you away from your family. Not that she would be entirely opposed to that, of course."
If it would get him a place to stay at night, that was fine. He would just have to trust that the Dupain-Chengs wouldn't get akumatized before he and Ladybug could take Hawkmoth down. "Of course."
"Good, good." Mr. Dupain gave Adrien's shoulder a squeeze before stepping back and picking up his tray of bread again. "Why don't you two head back upstairs then? If you can stay for dinner, Adrien, then maybe we can discuss how this is all going to work out?"
Adrien nodded obediently, glancing back towards Marinette. He certainly wouldn't mind staying longer- the Dupain-Cheng home was so warm and friendly, so very unlike his own- and he also had a few things that he needed to discuss with Marinette. Namely, the fact that she had figured out that he was Chat Noir.
Adrien's mind was racing as he and Marinette headed back upstairs. He was trying to figure out where to start. Should he try to deny her discovery? Would she even believe him if he tried? Something told him no.
"We're going to have to figure out how to time things so that your father doesn't catch on," Marinette said as she ushered Adrien back upstairs towards their living room. She sent him a sharp look. "Though I suppose that you being able to just slip in and out from your window makes things easier."
...yeah, he wasn't even going to try to deny his secret identity. Marinette hadn't phrased it as a question. She knew.
Adrien sighed, his shoulders slumping in defeat. Ladybug wasn't going to be happy about someone finding out his secret identity, but at least- well, at least they knew Hawkmoth's identity, too, so an end to this whole fight was in sight. Hopefully. "Yeah, it makes things a lot easier. But speaking of that..."
Marinette glanced up at him. "Yes?"
"We really need to talk."
a/n: New multi-chapter story (abet a shorter one)! I started writing this story ages ago- like, literal years- but kept losing sight of where I wanted to take it. The final chapter is still giving me a little trouble, but hopefully it'll all come together soon.
For those wondering how Marinette figured Adrien out- she heard him nearly name Nooroo, and if Adrien weren't Chat Noir, he would have no reason to know Nooroo's name. Combine that with the ring that he's always worn, and she figured that there was very little chance that her suspicions were wrong.
As always, comments make my day!