1. Marc's Journal
Marinette had been on the verge of erasing Marc's name when she realised that Tiki had a point.
While she had been super excited at the thought of surprising Nathaniel with Marc's excellent writing talent and his ability to capture Nathaniel's artistic vision in the written word, she knew that Nathaniel had a nasty habit of flying off the handle when he felt slighted and that Marc was an incredibly sensitive soul.
It would be just her luck that somehow these two oversensitive, creative, but silly boys would inadvertently hurt one another if she tried to pull a surprise thing on them. And then where would that leave Marinette? Most likely short of two friends and her hands full of two dangerous, murderous, Akumas with a grudge against her civilian identity.
….Yeah, no. Marinette had other things to worry about and didn't need the extra drama on her plate.
Therefore she snapped the journal firmly shut. "You're right," she said brightly to Tiki, "let's just hand this as it is to Nathaniel."
"I knew you would do the sensible thing!" Tiki said approvingly. "Afterwards could we get some cookies?"
"Sure," Marinette giggled, "and maybe an extra celebratory cake for bringing together a beautiful artistic partnership?"
On that enthusiastic note Marinette virtually skipped out of the bathroom and instantly tracked Nathaniel down. She shoved Marc's journal in his hands and then spent a solid ten minutes gushing how incredible a writer Marc was and how he perfectly mirrored Nathaniel's artwork as Nathaniel eagerly skimmed through the pages.
"Marinette this is amazing!" Nathaniel gasped. "It's like he can read my mind, this is exactly what I intended in my last comic strip. And you said his name was Marc, right?"
"Marc Anciel," Marinette confirmed. Her pleased grin was so massive at Nathaniel's awe that she's sure her face will be sore for weeks to come. "I've arranged a meeting with him after school at the park outside my place for you. He's very shy, so you're going to have to be gentle."
"Marinette!" Nathaniel cried out appalled. "School ended two minutes ago! What if he thinks I stood him up?!"
Marinette didn't even have the chance to open her mouth let alone point out that Marc would still be on school grounds as Nathaniel immediately turned away and almost tripped over his own feet in his desperate rush to get to the park to see Marc.
Marinette also ran out as fast as she could.
She needed to get onto her balcony in order to get the very best seats for Nathaniel and Marc's coming together.
(Fortunately Marinette got there just in time to witness Nathaniel and Marc shake hands. They then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the edge of the fountain as they gushed at one another excitably with over the top hand gestures and shoving their sketchbooks and journals beneath each other's noses.
She and Tiki toasted slices of cakes as they watched Nathaniel and Marc begin to put together their first comic book.
It would have been a pleasant uneventful afternoon if it wasn't for the fact that Hawk Moth decided to Akumatise Mr Pigeon for the third time that month.
...It was a slow week for Hawk Moth.)
2. About Lila Part 1
Alya had been gleefully editing a new post for her blog (there had been a new superhero and she was fox themed! Alya was thrilled and eager to theorise what other animal-themed heroes might be out there) when there was a light knock at her bedroom window.
Alya's mouth dropped open when she turned to see Ladybug crouched outside her bedroom window. It was a billion dreams coming true all at once which was so unbelievable that Alya remained rooted in her seat as Ladybug shot her a small, hesitant, smile and waggled her fingers hello.
'Can I come in?' Ladybug mouthed.
Alya quickly pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming again and when there was a slight burst of pain (firmly telling Alya that this was not a dream!), Alya promptly leaped out of her chair and almost fell over her own feet in a humiliating act of clumsiness worthy of Marinette Dupain-Cheng as she scrambled to get her bedroom window open.
"Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!" Alya chanted disbelievingly as Ladybug slipped into her bedroom. "Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! I can't believe you're here!"
Ladybug smiled sheepishly. "I know it's a little odd for me to make a house call like this," she said somewhat shyly. In fact there was something a little timid and nervous in Ladybug's demeanour that Alya never thought was possible for the scarlet hero. It kinda reminded Alya of Marinette which was rather endearing. "But I had to talk to you about something."
Ladybug then stared so solemnly at Alya, that Alya almost freaked out that something happened to her Mum or Dad or sisters (but then she remembered they were all at home, safe and sound and calmed down before she blurted out anything stupid to her hero).
"Okay," Alya shrugged, "what's up?"
"You need to take down the Lila Rossi interview from your blog," Ladybug blurted out, "if you don't you're going to-"
Alya threw her head back and laughed at that.
"Nice try, Ladybug," she grinned, "don't think I don't know that this means I'm one step closer to figuring out your secret identity. You're not going to intimidate me into stopping my investigation or from fulfilling my journalistic duty of reporting the truth."
"That's just it!" Ladybug snapped irritably. "You're not reporting the truth because Lila Rossi is nothing but a big fat liar!"
"Pfft!" Alya snorted dismissively. "Like I would fall for that!"
Ladybug growled at that.
Like actually full on growled in a animalistic way as her blue eyes flashed furiously and for a moment Alya was a little bit worried that she crossed some sort of line or something. But then Ladybug sighed heavily and recomposed herself into a semi-calm state before Alya even thought of apologising.
"Alya, please listen to me!" Ladybug pleaded. "I am only going to explain this once. Hawk Moth wants my Miraculous which is what grants me my powers. I already have a massive target on my back but I am protected by the fact that Hawk Moth has no idea who I am."
Alya shifted on her feet as she tried not to feel guilty that her goal of finding Ladybug's secret identity might possibly be endangering Ladybug's life.
Ladybug always won, just as every good guy did. Alya was sure if Hawk Moth directly attacked her, Ladybug would be the one coming out on top in that battle.
"If Hawk Moth knew who I was he would find out who the people I love are," Ladybug continued sternly, "and then he might start targeting the people I love to get what he wants. My parents, my friends, the boy I love...he could hurt any one of them. He could kidnap them or worse, kill them just to get to me. So in order to protect them, I must keep my identity a complete secret."
Ladybug took a deep, ragged, breath as the thought of someone she loved getting hurt was clearly unbearable to her.
"This means that Chat Noir does not know who I am behind the mask," she said firmly, "and that means my parents do not know I sneak out to be Ladybug, my teachers don't know why I'm skipping class, my friends don't know why I disappear so often, and, I cannot stress this enough, but my best friend doesn't know that I'm Ladybug."
"Sh-sh-she doesn't?" Alya stammered.
"My best friend," Ladybug said emphatically (clearly not budging an inch about accidentally dropping potential clues to her identity), "does not know that I'm Ladybug. Therefore my best friend is most certainly not Lila Rossi."
"And if you waited to confirm this with me, I would have told you she was lying," Ladybug interrupted crossly. "I didn't know who the hell this girl was until I saw your blog post and I recently got acquainted with her when I lectured her on the irresponsibility of making such a claim. Her response? To get Akumatised because I embarrassed her. That whole asteroid and fox-themed hero was her acting while Akumatised, her way of saying she's better than me."
Ladybug's eye roll was so over the top that for a brief moment Alya actually feared her eyes might fall out.
"So I've come to give you a talking to instead," Ladybug said disapprovingly, "not only did you carelessly paint a target on Lila Rossi's back without any consideration of what Hawk Moth might do with the misinformation she was spreading but you have ruined your own integrity as a journalist by being too impatient to check your sources before you post."
Alya cringed as she suddenly felt really small.
Ladybug was right, she really hadn't acted like a journalist with her careless posting of Lila's interview without any confirmation there was any truth. Not to mention she was quickly realising that her pursuit of Ladybug's secret identity might, just maybe, be crossing a couple ethical lines as well.
"I'm sorry," Alya mumbled, "I didn't mean to cause you any trouble."
Ladybug suddenly sprang forwards and Alya jumped and flinched simultaneously as she found herself bundled into her a tight hug from the superhero. It was warm, soft, and Ladybug smelt a lot like cookies and flowers mingled together.
It was almost like being hugged by Marinette.
Alya relaxed into it and hugged Ladybug back instinctively.
"I know you didn't mean to," Ladybug whispered reassuringly, "just take the interview down and think twice the next time someone claims to be my BFF."
"Okay," Alya murmured, "I'll do that."
Ladybug pulled away and gave Alya one of the most radiant smiles she had ever seen. "Thank you, Alya," she said brightly. There was a pause that dragged on a little painfully as Ladybug's smiled turned sheepish. "I, erm, should probably go now. Have a good night and hopefully I won't see you at the next Akuma attack."
Alya rolled her eyes at that. As if she would give up a chance to get good footage for her blog!
Ladybug had almost retreated out of Alya's bedroom when Alya's curiosity got the better of her once more. "Ladybug!" She cried out causing Ladybug to freeze and turn back to her. "Does...does your best friend really not know who you are?"
"Trust me Alya," Ladybug smiled sadly, "if my best friend actually knew who I was you would be the first person to know."
And then she swiftly jumped out of the window before Alya could question her further.
Alya slumped back into her seat feeling rather sorry for Ladybug that she couldn't trust her best friend at all to keep her secret.
And then she promptly deleted Lila's stupid interview before it diminished the integrity of her blog another dirty second.
(Alya didn't just take down the interview and write up a retraction but told everyone at school as soon as possible what a massive liar Lila Rossi was. She refused to let anyone be taken in like a fool as she had been because she didn't bother to do her job as a journalist in the first place.
It had been a bit of an embarrassment as Nadja Chamack flung it in her face when they fought during the Ladybug and Chat Noir interview but Alya managed to get through it all without any severe damage.
When Lila Rossi finally dared to show her face again, no one ever trusted her enough to believe the stories she was peddling. The Italian girl was left standing by herself as everyone ignored her pathetic attempts to get them to carry her books and only Adrien bothered to offer to switch seats with her when she tried to claim she had tinnitus.
Which judging by Lila's sour expression when the poor sunshine boy made his offer completely beat her objective to sit next to him.
It was rapidly becoming clear to Alya that Lila might be some sort of psychopath.
Alya promised herself right there and then that when Hawk Moth is finally gone and Ladybug can reveal her identity that she was totally going to buy her the biggest bouquet of thank you flowers known to man because boy did Ladybug save her bacon!)
3. About Lila Part 2
"So we just stand by and let her lie?"
Marinette couldn't believe what she was hearing. Here stood the sweetest, kindest, and most honest boy she has ever known and he was preaching to let a liar keep hurting their friends with her lies. Whatever happened to the brave beautiful boy who told her upfront the truth about the chewing gum despite risking her disbelief and fury?
Where did the boy she had fallen in love with go?!
Marinette blinked rapidly as she saw the pedestal she had placed Adrien Agreste on so long ago crumble just a little bit.
Adrien, however, seemed oblivious to the new crack in her heart he was causing.
"As long as you and I both know the truth," he smiled conspiratorially, "does it really matter?"
Just two minutes ago it wouldn't have mattered because Adrien Agreste was all up in Marinette's personal space with a drop-dead gorgeous smile that would send her cheeks ablaze and her heart aflutter. Two measly minutes ago, Marinette would have been too busy swooning to argue with Adrien. She would have stammered herself into agreement and let the matter drop because Adrien Agreste smiled at her.
Now though she was too hurt to be flustered.
"Yes it does matter!" Marinette snapped furiously. Her eyes burned once again as she desperately tried to hold her tears of frustration and pain back. "Because if you won't help me expose Lila for the lying bitch she is then she's going to steal all my friends away like she threatened to do in the bathroom!"
It felt a little good to get that out in the open.
Marinette wasn't sure why but it suddenly felt a little easier to breathe again as a little of the weight on her chest felt lifted.
That and there was something almost hysterically funny about the way Adrien's mouth dropped wide open like a fish at Marinette's outburst.
(...it's been a long and emotional day, Marinette might be having another mini-breakdown).
Something immediately shifted in Adrien as the shock wore off. His mouth snapped to a shut and curled downwards in a disapproving scowl while his gorgeous green eyes blazed with an intense determination that felt oddly familiar to Marinette. She couldn't quite put her finger on it, but there was something different about Adrien that didn't really feel different to Marinette. He stood taller as his chest puffed out and a snarling hiss that sounded eerily like a cat left his lips.
"She did what?!" Adrien hissed.
"She...ah...erm..." Marinette stammered taken aback by the sudden shift in Adrien's demeanour, "she threatened me in the bathroom!"
As if he instinctively knew he was making her nervous (which was a sudden new development as Adrien has never picked up the fact he makes Marinette's heart want to leap out of her body whenever he sneaks up behind her), Adrien instantly softened and reached out to squeeze Marinette's shoulder comfortingly.
"Don't worry, Princess," Adrien smiled gently, "I'll sort this all out."
Marinette spluttered incoherently as Adrien approached the crowd surrounding Lila with an elegant casualness she instantly envied.
(How come she could never be that comfortable in her own skin?! It was so unfair!)
"Hey Lila," Adrien called out cheerfully, "if your tinnitus has cleared up you should give Jagged Stone a heads up, I'm sure he would be thrilled you're no longer disabled from saving his kitten."
"Oh!" Lila trilled as she fluttered her eyelashes. "I'll give him a call later. It's still very early in America right now and Jagged likes his sleep."
"But Lila," Adrien cried out in a falsely innocent voice, "Jagged Stone is here in Paris! He's staying in Chloe's hotel, we can go and see him after school!"
"Oh yeah!" Max grinned. "We've seen him there a couple times. Did you know Marinette has designed both his iconic Eiffel Tower glasses and his latest album cover? He's even been in her home on live TV! It was awe..."
Max trailed off as realisation slowly clicked into place. Marinette could see from where she was standing that the same sort of realisation was clicking into place for each and every one of her friends as their cheerful smiles waned into horrified expressions or confused frowns.
Lila's face had turned ashen as she realised she's been caught out so quickly in a lie and with so little effort. Apparently it's normal for people's critical thinking skills to fail in her mere presence. Lila turned to Adrien as her mouth twisted into a nasty feral snarl as Adrien merely smiled radiantly back at her.
"I know," he said calmly as if discussing the weather, "it's super cool how Marinette knows Jagged considering she's a major die-hard Jagged Stone fan like me. Hey, did you know there's no song in Jagged's discography called Lila? Did he call it something else, Lila? Maybe Liar, Liar Pants on Fire, hmm?"
"You self-righteous arse!" Lila hissed. "What happened to not embarrassing me?!"
"That was when I thought you were just desperate to make friends," Adrien said flatly, "and before you threatened Marinette in the bathroom."
That was apparently the last straw for Marinette's classmates as they suddenly exploded their voices overlapping one another.
" - WORSE THAN CHLOE, I HAVE NEVER KNOWN ANYONE SO-"
"- HOW DARE YOU THREATEN OUR FRIEND?!"
This was, honestly, super satisfying for Marinette as she suddenly felt more at ease with the world as she watched Mylene of all people get right up in Lila's face while she screeched out some seriously terrifying insults as Ivan nodded gravely in agreement in an intimidating manner behind her. However it was apparently not enough for Adrien as he cheerfully turned to Nino and Alya and smiled ever so politely at them.
"I'm going to sit at the back with Marinette," he said loudly, "I'm not comfortable sitting with Lila. Do you know she lied about being Ladybug's best friend just to corner me in the park? Ladybug totally called her out for it but it makes me super uncomfortable whenever I think about how Lila's response was to get Akumatised and then dangle an illusion of me on top of the Eiffel Tower. It's just so very urgh!"
Adrien then did an over the top fake shudder as Nino's mouth dropped open and Alya turned crimson with barely repressed fury and shame.
The bell rang for class before Alya could fling herself at Lila and strangle the liar to death for ruining her blog though.
"Welp," Adrien whistled, "time for class. See you later."
He then swaggered back towards Marinette and gave her the biggest, most uncharacteristic, wink matched with an equally arrogantly smug grin. "Problem solved," he said looking fully satisfied with himself.
Marinette flushed as she felt herself swoon just a little bit at this new, odd, and yet weirdly familiar, version of Adrien. Her knees definitely felt weaker than normal and she's a little bit worried she was they were going to go out completely beneath her.
"Whatever happened to the high road?" she asked weakly.
"She threatened you," Adrien said fiercely, "the high road can go screw itself. No one is hurting my best friend."
Any other day Marinette might be upset that she had just been friend-zoned again but today she was taken aback and flustered by this sudden boldness of Adrien that Marinette thinks she might have just fallen in love with him all over again.
(Adrien and Marinette continued to sit at the back for the rest of the school year.
Her friends all apologised – Alya had even gone a few steps further and fully grovelled – and Marinette accepted them and forgave them all. After all there was no need to drag it out when they were already kicking themselves. Marinette was known to hold grudges sometimes (coughChloecough) but she wasn't that petty.
Her friendship with Adrien steadily got stronger and Marinette was feeling a lot more confident in showing some of her affections. Her romantic interest might not be returned yet but Adrien definitely enjoyed getting hugged and receiving her home made gifts, it felt like a solid step in the right direction for her.
Meanwhile Lila was Akumatised virtually every other day. This might have been a problem but Marinette rarely had to deal with the Akumatised liar as for some bizarre reason Chat Noir always got there first and had Lila hog-tied and waiting for purification by the time Ladybug arrived.
If she didn't know better she would say that Chat Noir took some vicious satisfaction out of punching Lila in the face on a weekly basis.)
4. About Lila Part 3
Marinette's life had been falling apart in the most devastating way possible.
First, she got accused of cheating and Ms Bustier sent her to the headmasters instead of listening to her. Then Lila framed her for more crimes that got Marinette EXPELLED and the whole class, including Marinette, almost Akumatised. And when it couldn't get any worse, to rub salt in the wound, it was beginning to sound like her parents BELIEVED Lila.
The very thought of her parents believing Lila alone was enough to make Marinette want to curl under the covers and give up on life.
Thankfully though Tiki was a great comfort as she pointed out that Alya had not been Akumatised and probably had faith in Marinette still. A quick video call proved Tiki correct as Alya instantly launched into her strategy to clear Marinette's name.
"First off," Alya said determinedly, "a culprit always leaves clues. That's a given. And by following these clues, it will lead us-"
"To Lila!" Marinette interrupted excitedly.
She couldn't help herself, the thought of Lila finally receiving her just desserts made Marinette giddy with joy.
Alya glared disapprovingly at Marinette. "No, to the guilty party," she said pointedly. "If you're so quick to accuse Lila, you might just overlook another potential baddie!"
Normally Marinette would bite her tongue and bottle up her bruised feelings. In a normal day she would cave and let Alya have her way on Lila because it was easier to go with the flow than to have the same fight over and over and over again. Arguing with Alya was like screaming at a brick wall, no actually, it was worse because the brick wall would at least listen.
But today was not a normal day and the last straw for Marinette had been at some point when her parents implied they thought she was guilty.
"Alya," Marinette replied irritably, "Lila walked down the stairs and laid down on the floor before she started screaming her head off to frame me pushing her down the stairs. I have no doubt that she's the one to put the exam answers in my bag and her necklace in my locker."
There was a long silence as Alya's mouth dropped open in surprise and for a horribly, long, drawn out moment, Marinette feared Alya wasn't going to believe her.
After all she had asked Marinette - the girl who was Alya's best friend and had Jagged Stone in her bedroom on live TV! - to provide proof for her claim that Lila – the new girl who clearly has no idea Jagged's pet is a crocodile! - was lying when Lila wasn't asked for evidence at all.
(And boy, didn't that sting?)
Alya's shock expression rapidly melted away into one of fury as her cheeks reddened and her eyes sparkled with promise retribution. "That lying little bitch!" Alya exclaimed. "Oh when I get my hands on her – urgh!"
Marinette blinked. "You-you-you believe me?!" She stammered out in disbelieve.
She had honestly thought they were going to fight over this.
"Girl, of course I believe you!" Alya exclaimed. "You do a lot of crazy things but you wouldn't make a lie that ridiculous up! Why on earth did you think I wouldn't believe you?"
"Well," Marinette nibbled the bottom of her lip nervously, "you haven't exactly trusted my word about Lila before."
There was another long pause as realisation, horror, and then regret flickered across Alya's face. "Oh Girl," Alya murmured, "I've been a really shit friend recently, haven't I?"
"No, no, no of course not!" Marinette squeaked out hastily. "Well...yeah," Marinette admitted as Alya raised a pointed eyebrow at her. "Just a little bit though," Marinette added reassuringly, "and only when it came to Lila!"
"I wish I could give you a hug right now," Alya said softly, "but instead I've got to go back to class."
"That's okay Alya," Marinette replied, "it's enough to know you believe me."
"I've got your back Girl," Alya promised, "I'll reveal Lila for the two-faced lying cow she is and get your expulsion revoked before you know it."
"Thank you, Alya," Marinette whispered, "thank you so much!"
They quickly made their goodbyes as Alya was now hell bent to investigate the case with her new lead. Marinette was, thankfully, saved from worrying over Alya getting into trouble or getting more and more anxious at the thought of everyone hating her by the sudden appearance of a fake Ladybug which had her well and truly distracted.
It was then a pleasant surprise when her parents called her down to apologise sincerely for doubting her and had explained that Alya had forced Mr Damocles to examine the school CCTV footage which revealed not only Lila walking down the stairs to fake being pushed down but her slipping the exam answers in Marinette's bag as they were walking into class and breaking into Marinette's locker.
It was needless to say that Marinette could go back to school tomorrow.
(While Marinette spent the next few weeks enduring her friends' never-ending apologies and gestures that bordered on grovelling, Lila's life well and truly went down the toilet as she was not only expelled from school but grounded for life.
To rub salt in the wounds of Lila's ego, her promised photo shoot with Adrien was also cancelled and when she phoned to scream and threaten Gabriel Agreste she only got a curt response from his assistant.
"As you have proven to not be of any use Mr Agreste sees no need to meet any of your ridiculous demands," Nathalie said coolly, "please stop calling this number or we'll be forced to add to your troubles by pressing harassment charges. I doubt your mother would be pleased with you for that, do you?"
Lila's screams of fury were ignored as Nathalie hung up.)
Chloe felt like she was Queen of the World.
She had just been a superhero for a second time (she most certainly did not count her the real first time as the first time since she didn't really do anything heroic) and helped Ladybug and Chat Noir defeat Hawk Moth in battle!
(And once again Chloe was very deliberately not counting that poser Rena Rouge and that waste of space Carapace.)
And even though she had to hand her Miraculous back to Chat Noir, Chloe had no doubt that this was only the beginning of a beautiful hero partnership and that Chloe will be called upon again and again and again, until Ladybug realises what an utterly ridiculous joke it is to keep having to leave battle to fetch Chloe and then grants Chloe the use of the Bee Miraculous permanently.
Hell she might even ask Chloe to replace Chat Noir because Chloe was clearly the better choice!
Chloe was giddy at the mere thought of it all!
As if she had been summoned by Chloe's mind, Ladybug suddenly landed on her balcony. There was something annoyingly hesitant about her as she insultingly looked like she would rather be anywhere else than on Chloe's balcony.
(Which was so weird because Chloe knew everyone in Paris would kill to be even in the same building as Chloe, let alone on her balcony.)
Chloe rushed to the balcony doors before Ladybug changed her mind or anything. There was no way in hell she was going to let Ladybug doubt her decision in granting Chloe her Miraculous on a permanent basis!
"Ladybug!" Chloe beamed. "Have you realised how much you needed me and decided to give me back the Miraculous on a permanent basis?"
Ladybug grimaced at that and Chloe could have sworn she heard her hero mutter something along the lines of 'Goddammit Chat, did you have to be right?!' before she managed to fix a painfully fake smile on her face.
"Chloe," Ladybug said softly, "we have to talk."
Chloe had heard those words one time too many from her father every time her mother decided to move back to New York or forgot her birthday again or stated in another interview that she was childless.
It was never good when the words 'we have to talk' had to be used.
"No," Chloe shook her head, "no please," Chloe inwardly blanched at how needy and desperate she sounded as she begged, "I did a good job, didn't I? Twice! I did a good job twice and I can do a good job again, I know I can, please don't take this away from me. I'll do better, I promise, I'll be better."
Ladybug reached out and pull Chloe into a tight hug. Chloe squirmed at first and tried to break away just to shout and scream at Ladybug because a hug was not going to fix this obvious and utterly ridiculous dumping she was about to do. But Ladybug just held on tighter and murmured soft, comforting, words, and Chloe couldn't help but slump in defeat in her arms.
It's been a really long time since someone held her.
"You did a fantastic job," Ladybug said soothingly, "this is not because you failed. I was very proud of how you fought today."
Chloe pushed Ladybug away at that. "Then why?!" She snarled furiously.
"Chloe everyone knows you are Queen Bee," Ladybug said flatly, "Hawk Moth knows who you are!"
"And?" Ladybug repeated disbelievingly. "And that means he can target you. He could do something like kidnap your father to force you to do his dirty work or he could hold you hostage in return for Chat Noir and I's Miraculouses, and believe me Chloe, that's the last thing any of us want."
"Hawk Moth has known that I'm Queen Bee for weeks now though!" Chloe argued. "And he hasn't done any of those things!"
"Yet!" Ladybug counteracted. "And he has Akumatised your parents today in a rather successful attempt to distract you and get you Akumatised."
Chloe cringed at that. "You said I did a good job today!" She said in a sulky accusation, refusing to let her hurt shine through.
(She failed, it was obvious she had by the look of pity Ladybug sent her.)
"You did!" Ladybug insisted. "Considering the circumstances you did a fantastic job but that doesn't change the fact you are at risk of being used by Hawk Moth. Maybe he won't hurt you and your father today but that doesn't mean he wouldn't exploit your vulnerability at a later date. Chloe, everyone in Paris knows where you live."
"So?!" Chloe said hotly.
"So," Ladybug said exasperatedly, "that means Hawk Moth could potentially have someone watching you right now. You saw those blue feathers! It's possible that Hawk Moth has an ally and they could be watching you for him, waiting for a moment to target you at your most vulnerable."
Chloe shuddered at that.
She was used to people watching her because of her father but the idea of someone watching watching her like some creepy stalker out of movie was too freaky. It made her skin crawl at the mere thought of it.
"What if they're waiting for the day I give you the Miraculous and attack then?" Ladybug continued. "OR," she said loudly as Chloe opened her mouth to argue, "what they noticed I let you keep the Miraculous and waited till you're asleep or something before they pounce on you? What if you keep waiting for a day for me to give you a Miraculous and they use that vulnerability to push you into another Akumatisation."
Chloe really hated logic, she would much rather have the world to bend to her whims and change the narrative around her so she could have what she wanted.
But she knew, deep down in the same place where she knew she wasn't really a good person and can be a bit of a bully, that Ladybug was right and she could never be a hero again.
It left a vile bile in her mouth and a burning sensation in her eyes that she was determined to ignore.
"I am so sorry Chloe," Ladybug said sincerely, "but I am never going to give you a Miraculous again and you should never get your hopes up that it will happen."
It took a lot of strength and sheer self will for Chloe to get the words out instead of an incoherent choked sob but she was proud to say the words 'I understand' managed to leave her lips coherently and loud enough.
The words 'You can leave now' didn't leave her mouth but Ladybug heard them loud and clear as she nodded firmly and awkwardly patted Chloe's shoulder.
"For what it's worth," Ladybug said as she moved to leave, "I am proud of you today and you don't need the Miraculous to keep being a hero day to day."
At this annoying after-school special one-liner, Ladybug flung her yo-yo out and swung herself out of Chloe's bedroom.
"Oh!" Chloe huffed irritably. "What the hell do you know?!"
(Chloe never had a Bee Signal made or ever waited longingly on the rooftops for Ladybug to come to her senses and give her back the Miraculous.
She took Ladybug's words to heart and kept her eyes peeled for someone watching her, she spotted many times a blue figure lurking on the rooftops across the road or sometimes a suspicious looking drone and regrettably concluded that Ladybug was right. This did nothing but severely piss Chloe off and she took it out aggressively on each and every one of her classmates.
When Lila Rossi and her stupid lies made an appearance, Chloe only laughed in her face when she tried to pull some sort of prank to get Chloe to do some weird dance and chant to summon Ladybug.
"Puh-lease," Chloe rolled her eyes, "I'm not some desperate saddo who believes anything let alone the ridiculous, utterly ridiculous, bullshit you're trying to peddle me."
She then flounced away as Lila spluttered indignantly at Chloe's epic put down.
When the day came that her parents got Akumatised on their anniversary, Chloe merely rolled her eyes (it was so fucking typical of them!) and hid away in her bedroom to paint her nails and wait the drama out.
It stung a little that Ladybug used someone else to help fight Chloe's parents but Chloe heard some enraged shouting coming from the hotel's rooftop which suggested that Hawk Moth had been hoping to Akumatise a vulnerable heartbroken Chloe too.
Chloe decided right there and then that she was more than happy to leave the superheroes to losers like Ladybug and Chat Noir. She was going to do the safe thing and stay the hell out of it.
That didn't mean she didn't enjoy the epic battle between Hawk Moth and his whacky sidekick against Ladybug and Chat Noir. Hawk Moth and his new lackey was soundly defeated as Ladybug and Chat Noir were able to retrieve some weird old man with terrible fashion sense (he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt, WHO DOES THAT?!) and a box from a fleeing and howling Hawk Moth.
In fact...Chloe totally caved and ate popcorn as she watched.
After all she deserved a treat.)