GUEST POST: Beauty and the Beat–Ch. 8

We’re at Chapter 8, folks! It is up for all to read. We’re coming to a close end with the guest posts by @obdobuk for our Miraculous Ladybug fic! I don’t want to say more about this chapter, but it’ll be exciting 😉

Previous chapters can be found here ->
Ch. 1 Ch. 2 Ch. 3 Ch. 4  (with bonus fanart by moi) Ch. 5 Ch. 6. and Ch, 7!


Chapter 8

Adrien paced back and forth across his room. His arms were gesturing wildly as he spoke into his headset.

“Don’t bother telling me I’m an idiot Lila, I already know this. Tell me what I’m supposed to do!” Adrien pleaded down the phone at his friend and hoped she would have some advice.

“Adrien, you’re an idiot. I know you know this but it really needed to be said”.

You’re the one who said I-”

I said you shouldn’t feel bad about liking two girls at the same time. But you should definitely feel bad about sticking your tongue down each of their throats!”

“They weren’t exactly complaining Li”.

“Not the point”.

 

Adrien sat down on his couch and let his head drop back.

“I don’t know what to do Li. They’re both so amazing. Mari may genuinely be the nicest, kindest woman I’ve ever met in my life. But Ladybug is the most exhilarating woman that can ever exist. How do I choose?”

“It depends on what you want. If you want someone you might marry, then you choose Marinette. If you want someone to drive you wild then go with the masked chick”.

“Why can’t I have both?”

 

There was a moment of silence on the line before-

“BOY WHAT IS WRONG WITH-” Adrien hung up and waited. After ten seconds he re-dialed her number.

“I didn’t mean date both of them at the same time” he said before Lila could speak.

“Oh…alright then”.

“I meant why can’t I marry the girl who drives me crazy? Why can’t I build a happy life with the woman I dance all night with? Why can’t I bring the masked girl with no name home to meet my father?”

 

There was another moment of silence before they both burst out laughing. The idea of Adrien bringing a masked Ladybug home to meet Gabriel Agreste brought them both to tears. Just when Lila began to calm down Adrien imitated, “Dad this is Ladybug. What’s her real name son? I don’t know” and she was in hysterics all over again.

 

Eventually they managed to calm down but Lila was hiccupping from laughing too much.

“That’s just how it works out Adrien” she said still breathless. “The girls that drive you crazy don’t stick around. They either move on or change. It’s the same reason girls don’t end up with the bad boys. They either leave you or they kill you”.

“Wait what?”

“Things are different for women Adrien. The point remains. You’re going to have to choose. And if you choose wrong, you don’t get to try again”.

 

They spoke for a bit longer before Adrien hung up. He claimed he had work to do, which he did, but he simply sat there contemplating how he got into this mess.

 

Adrien had woken up this morning feeling very conflicted about his actions the night before. Every second of his time with Ladybug was etched into his memory. He would never forget just how close they had been; the taste of her was still on his lips. And the way she reacted when he bit her…

 

He exhaled long and slow before closing his eyes. On one hand was Marinette, on the other was Ladybug. Two unbelievably incredible women in wildly different ways. And he wanted them both in different ways. With a frustrated growl, Adrien stood up. Completely ignoring his assignments, he changed into sweats and headed down to the gym. He had more energy than he wanted right now and he could use a good workout.

 

Maybe I’ll see Nino there, he thought to himself. They didn’t workout together but they had occasionally used it at the same time. It was nice, but right now Adrien didn’t feel up to the inevitable “Are you and Mari OK?” conversation.

 

Adrien closed the door to the empty gym before connecting his phone to his sound system. The room was almost soundproof and he turned the music up loud enough to drown out the argument raging in his head. After some brief stretches he got to work.

 

For two hours, Adrien pushed, pulled, squatted and lifted. Doing everything he could to exhaust himself, but it was no good. The two women in his life were still hiding behind his eyelids and he had no idea what to do about them. The only thing that had changed was that he was very hungry and in need of a shower. He took advantage of the empty house and strolled to the kitchen and made himself a nice array of food. As Adrien flipped his omelette, he remembered the look on Mari’s face the first time she had tasted his food.

 

He was conflicted as he ate. Lila hadn’t offered any help at all. He had known that he would have to make a choice but he didn’t know how to make it. How was he to decide between the only two women he had ever truly been crazy about. When he wasn’t thinking about one he was mooning over the other. It was embarrassing and annoying.

 

Adrien finished his meal before taking a shower. But that didn’t help either. He tried completing his work but Adrien’s brain simply wasn’t working; he couldn’t focus. There was a loop of Ladybug or Marinette playing over and over in his head and he knew the only way to stop it was to make a decision. Unfortunately that was the hard part.

 

/

 

Marinette had woken up, gotten dressed, ate and left for class entirely on autopilot. She wasn’t really paying attention to anything at all, which is why Alya had to stop her from adding butter to her cereal and salt to her coffee. She barely focussed while in class and waited half an hour for Alya at the wrong cafe for lunch.

 

“I’m so sorry!” Marinette cried out as she burst through the door of the cafe where Alya had been relaxing. “I was completely in the wrong place. How long have you been here?”

“Only about five minutes” Alya replied. “I guessed you’d be late so I took my time. Smart right?” Marinette was annoyed at the assumption but given that she had been late, didn’t mention it.

“Well that’s good then… How was class?”

“It was alright. Handed in my project and got two more. But the professor is notorious for being a harsh marker so I asked if he could boost my grade if I spent the night with him”.

“That’s cool”.

 

Alya shook her head at her friend’s obvious lack of attention.

“Mari spit it out”. Marinette looked up at the sound of her name.

“What do you mean? Spit what out?”

“The whole business with you and your boy toys. It’s been keeping you from focussing all day”.

“That isn’t true at all” Marinette protested.

“Babe, you’re wearing Nino’s coat”.

 

Marinette resisted for a second before looking down and realising that she was indeed wearing his coat and not hers.

“I genuinely don’t know when that happened” she said, sitting back in her seat with a sigh.

“This morning. Nino passed you his coat to hang up and you just…put it on and left. You need to get to the bottom of this situation”.

“Easier said than done Alya. It’s really hard to make the choice when they’re both so appealing”.

“Well think about it this way. Do you want the croissant or the pain au chocolat?”

“I want them both at the same time”, Mari replied without thinking.

“Sounds like a fun night” Alya quipped causing Marinette to blush and cover her face.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it” Mari scolded her best friend. “They’re just both so wonderful in very different ways. I don’t know who to be with. I don’t know who I want to be with”.

 

Marinette had been thinking about this all night. Thankfully, she had managed to fall asleep but her dreams had been plagued by Adrien and Chat taking each other’s places and causing all sorts of mischief. She had awoken, somewhat refreshed and very frustrated at the whole dilemma. And when she felt angry enough to just make a choice, if only to put the matter to rest, a bad feeling settled in her stomach at the idea of never being as close to one of them again. She knew it was selfish, and Marinette was a little shocked by it, but she wanted them both. Marinette needed them both.

The memory of Chat pulling her close before biting her replayed in her head once again. He won’t share. And she highly doubted Adrien would either. He may seem gentle but there was a lonely boy in him that would fiercely guard what he saw as his.

 

“I really don’t like this” she admitted quietly.

“That isn’t going to make the situation go away” Alya said as she sipped her drink. Marinette loved her best friend but she was annoying when she was right. Mari knew the situation would only go away once she had chosen but it was an impossible choice.

 

If she chose Adrien then she would never again experience the raw passion that was Chat Noir. The way that he exuded life and laughter. She would never be swept away on the dancefloor. Would never feel his heart beating in time with hers.

 

But if she chose the cat then Adrien, sweet, caring, loving Adrien would be lost to her. She’d never feel his arms around her. Never again be on the receiving end of one of his smiles that he kept just for her. The idea was enough to break her heart. She thought of the moment they had shared at Christmas. The way he had clung to her during that one hug still caused her to breathe a little faster.

 

The idea of going without one or the other made her not want to choose. If she didn’t choose then she could keep both of them for a little longer. And it was that lie that had gotten her into this mess. Marinette needed to make a choice.

 

Neither she nor Alya had any more classes so they slowly made their way home. Mari wasn’t too keen on it as she knew Adrien would be there but they had no other choice. There wasn’t much conversation as they travelled home; Marinette was deep in thought. She would begin comparing one boy to the other, but would quickly lose the heart to be so clinical and end up reminiscing about them both.

 

When they arrived back home Marinette was very conscious of the fact that Adrien was somewhere in the house. She begged Alya to make her some food while she fled to her room; the only place she knew Adrien wouldn’t be. Once there, she changed clothes and unpacked her bag and her work. She had a lot of it but she hadn’t been able to properly concentrate for a while. She had so much more important things to do but every time Mari tried to focus, she would get distracted by her personal life.

 

That, more than anything else, made her want to just decide and be done with it. She desperately wanted to regain control of her brain. The only thing she seemed to be able to focus on for more than a few minutes was her boy troubles and that was the one thing she wanted to stop thinking about.

 

Alya brought her some food and Marinette gratefully devoured it. As she ate, she remembered when Adrien had brought her food and grimaced.

“What’s wrong? Does it taste bad?” Alya asked in concern.

“No, no. It’s me”.

“I’m sure you don’t taste bad. But I’ll have to ask Adrien”.

“Alya…”

“Or maybe I’ll ask Chat Noir. I’m sure he knows as well”.

 

/

 

Nino hit pause on the movie they had been watching. Even though Adrien hadn’t been paying attention, the sudden change brought him back to reality.

“What did you do that for?” he asked, gesturing towards his TV.

“You’re not exactly watching it properly dude” Nino replied. Adrien attempted to deny it but he had indeed been distracted by his issues with Marinette and Ladybug.

 

He had managed to get some work done earlier but it was nowhere near how much he should have. His gym session before that had been lacklustre at best, Adrien knew his old trainer would have been mortified. And now he was drifting off as he tried to watch Avengers with Nino. The situation was getting wildly out of hand when he couldn’t focus on Thor and Iron Man beating each other up in a forest.

 

“I’m sorry man” he said but Nino waved it away.

“Don’t have to apologise dude. But do you want to talk about it?” Adrien sat silently and contemplated his offer. From the look on his face, the offer was genuine. Of course it’s genuine, it’s Nino. He had never really had a confidante. Lila helped a lot but her schedule was so busy that it could be weeks between replies. He was used to keeping his problems to himself, so no one else would be affected. But that wasn’t working out too well.

 

“Well…if you don’t mind then, yeah I would like to talk about it”. Nino turned the TV off completely and turned to face Adrien.

“Go for it”.

Adrien took a deep breath.

 

And paused.

 

What was he thinking? This was Marinette’s friend. Her lifelong friend. Nino may be his friend too but his loyalty would obviously be to Mari.

“Adrien?”

He would not want to hear that Adrien was trying to decide between Marinette and another woman. Nino may know they weren’t smooth sailing at the moment but he didn’t want to know that Adrien was comparing two women against each other. The thought made him uneasy. He didn’t want to hurt Marinette and he definitely didn’t want to risk his friendship with Nino.

 

“Er…actually don’t worry about it. It’ll be fine”.

“Adrien you don’t ha-”.

“Seriously Nino. Thanks for the offer man, I really appreciate it. But it’ll all work out in the end”.

 

Adrien picked up the remote and resumed the film, missing the look on Nino’s face as he did so. He made sure to watch the film properly, which wasn’t hard given that it was the Avengers, but every now and then either Marinette or Ladybug would drift across his mind.

 

Eventually the film ended. The Chitauri were defeated and Thanos had decided he would court death when Adrien turned it off.

“Much better than Ultron” Adrien declared. They had had this conversation many times before but it never got old.

“Easily” Nino agreed. “Ultron was trying to be like Avengers and ended up failing miserably”. “Makes me a little bit worried for Infinity War”.

“Yeah they didn’t exactly handle the bigger cast well in Ultron”.

“Made up for it in Civil War though”.

“True”.

 

When they were in the mood, they could talk Marvel for hours, but Nino knew that Adrien’s heart wasn’t really in it.

“Adrien just so you know, you don’t have to tell me anything but you can if you need to”. Not knowing what to say, Adrien simply nodded.

 

He was feeling very uncomfortable. In the last few months Adrien had become very appreciative of the fact that he had a friend in Nino. Someone he could relax with and talk to about anything. But this problem had taken that from him as well. He had to make a decision and soon. Maybe he would choose Marinette and she would say no. Maybe Ladybug would say no. But Adrien couldn’t control anyone but himself and he needed to stop acting like a child.

 

After Nino had left, Adrien laid down on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. He remembered feeling like this many times during the last of his modelling days. Undecided whether or not he would continue to model as his father wanted or stop like he wanted. It felt as if his entire life was on hold. The days would pass and he would grow older but nothing was changing. He would say his tyres were spinning in the mud but they weren’t. He wasn’t trying to make a decision. Adrien was just stuck.

 

Not knowing in which direction to go.

 

Even that wasn’t accurate because in that situation Adrien had known what he wanted to do. He just didn’t know whether it was worth going against his father. This time he genuinely did not know which road to take. On occasion a small voice in his head urged him to take the third path. Stay friends with both and get involved with neither.

 

Adrien had to admit that it did seem simpler but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. As impossible as the decision was, he would make it for one reason; both women made him happy. And in some deep and dark place inside Adrien, even he admitted that he deserved to be happy.

 

People looking from the outside might see him as having an almost perfect life, but there had been no happiness in it for many years. And now that he had people in his life who made him smile, Adrien was not about to go without.

 

He continued looking up, firmly resolved. It would be difficult and terrible and almost impossible. But he would make a decision between these two women he was crazy about. Because now he had two when before he had none.

 

Things could be much worse.

 

This new and mature outlook on life lasted about thirty seconds before he realised that he still didn’t know how to go about making this decision.

 

/

 

Alya had left some time ago with the promise that she absolutely would not be bringing Marinette dinner in her room. It didn’t matter how many times she begged her best friend, Alya didn’t change her mind. So Marinette tried to work. She was still very behind on her work but she was making slow progress. It helped that she had been ahead of schedule concerning her project before the Adrien vs Chat Noir drama had kicked into high gear.

 

Try as she might, Marinette couldn’t get the skirts on her design to sit right. It was a multi-layered chiffon skirt and any time she added more than two layers the whole idea fell apart. Yes the skirts would be there but they wouldn’t be together. Not how they should be.

 

The entire problem was frustrating Marinette terribly. The worst part, was that she had made a seven layered skirt before and it had gone perfectly. She should be able to do this with ease but it was not going as she had hoped. There was a very specific image in her head, one that couldn’t be translated onto paper. She had hoped to put it straight from mind to mannequin but it wasn’t happening.

 

“Stupid cat” she mumbled. Marinette knew it wasn’t Chat’s fault but still…it made her feel better. It took thirty minutes of frustration before Mari threw her hands in the air in defeat. She couldn’t focus on her work. There was something obvious she was missing and Marinette couldn’t figure it out. Her brainpower was being hoarded by this situation.

 

Marinette was smart enough to know that whoever she chose, she would be happy with. That was simply the kind of person she was. She found her happiness and her peace where she was. Once she made her choice she would be happy. But it was making the choice that was the hard part. Marinette truly enjoyed them both. They made her happy when she was with them. But Alya was right, she was falling for them both, and until she actually made her decision, Marinette would be stuck in this miserable purgatory.

 

Time passed and she moved from one half finished task to the other. Marinette didn’t actually make any progress with them but a lot of things were moved around to make it seem like she’d achieved something. But Marinette wasn’t paying attention to what she was doing. She was more focussed on fixing this dilemma she had gotten herself into.

 

She couldn’t even look back on previous relationships for wisdom. Some had been long and others had been short but there had never been more than one at a time. And while Marinette wasn’t technically in a relationship with either of them, the fact remained that she had two suitors and no idea what to do about it.

 

With a sigh, Marinette continued trying to distract herself. It wasn’t that she was avoiding the problem but if she didn’t know how to fix it then all she was doing was torturing herself. Work was beyond her so she lay down on her bed and opened up her laptop. It wasn’t her console of choice but gaming was gaming. Marinette hoped she would be able to lose herself in a virtual world but it wasn’t to be.

 

“Stupid servers” Marinette cursed as she closed her laptop and threw it to the side of her bed. Now she had nothing to do. No distractions at all and she really needed one. Despite having danced for hours last night, Marinette was full of a restless energy. She needed to burn it off but didn’t want to leave her room.

 

First she paced her room back and forth. Then she tried walking around it but neither helped. Annoyed, she walked out onto her balcony and looked around her. The wind was cold and the railing was still wet from an earlier shower but Marinette immediately felt better. The chill soaked through her clothes and made her shiver even as it calmed her down. From her balcony she could see part of the gardens and beyond them the rest of Paris. She could hear the sounds of people as they made their way home after a day of work.

 

That wouldn’t be her.

 

Marinette knew the life of a fashion designer was not one that followed regular working hours. It was stressful and hectic and she couldn’t wait for it. Designing her own line of clothing was a dream of hers and had been since she was a child. A love of pretty clothes had turned into an appreciation of the skill behind them which then evolved into the knowledge that she could do it just as well.

 

She shivered again but this time in anticipation. Next year the top students in her class would be given summer apprenticeships at several fashion boutiques and she wanted one of those spots. Those students were the ones who broke out into the world. Not all of them achieved their own lines, but they were all successful wherever they ended up.

 

Marinette idly wandered back into her room. She knew where she wanted to end up. Images of her name stitched into every hem around the world. Her dresses on the cover of fashion magazines. Models walking down the runway with her label.

 

She imagined Adrien wearing her clothes, as a model and as himself. Ever since she moved into the Agreste Manor, she had found herself designing more and more men’s attire. Living with one of the most famous male models had that effect on her. But now she realised that she had been designing clothes specifically for Adrien. He was easy to design for, everything looked good on him whether he was standing still or moving.

 

With a groan, Marinette realised that once again her mind had drifted towards the men in her life. Quickly changing into her workout clothes, Marinette stormed out of her door and headed down to the gym.

 

/

 

For the second time that day, Adrien found himself working out. Despite the length, the first session had been so pointless that it had no effect on him. Or maybe he was just extra energetic these days.

 

It didn’t matter. He had once again found himself in the squat rack but this time, he was trying to do it properly. Adrien was forcing himself to go heavy. It made him concentrate more and think about women less.

 

Rep after rep he pushed out, breathing in time with his movements. Working his legs properly whilst keeping his back straight. It was easy until you stacked a large amount of metal on someone’s back. Adrien managed his set and after re-racking the bar, leaned forwards to put his hands on his knees. But only for a few seconds then he stood back up straight. He never liked to lean or sit between sets. It may be a rest period but he would still give everything he had.

 

Once more under the bar and he was done with squats. He jotted it down in his notebook before moving towards the bench.

“The theme of the day is ‘Let’s Almost Die’”, Adrien said to himself as he stacked plate after plate onto the bar. With all his strength, Adrien pressed the bar and did another three sets. Just as he let go of the bar after the final set, Marinette walked into the gym.

 

Adrien was immensely grateful that he was not mid-set otherwise he would have definitely dropped the bar on his head. Mari seemed as shocked as he was as she turned a bright red and took a step back.

“Adrien! I didn’t think anyone would be here”. Mari’s gaze kept flicking between his eyes and the rest of the room. Not that Adrien was any more composed.

“Yeah, I- er- thought it would be a good time for anoth- a workout”. He nervously ran his fingers through his hair just before her eyes flickered towards his arms. Adrien hurriedly dropped them by his side before she thought he was showing off.

“I’m sorry”, Mari said as she blushed harder. “I’ll leave you alone”.

“You don’t have to. You can stay. I’m almost finished anyway”.

 

Mari hesitated before turning around and moving further into the gym. She stood in the free weights area and began stretching. Adrien didn’t stare but the many mirrors around the room gave him every angle. She looked very good. She was wearing black workout pants and a red tank top. As she bent forwards, Adrien hurriedly looked away. He grabbed a small bar off the floor and began curling it.

 

Every inch of him burned and he knew he had done it right this time. He lowered the bar and turned to say goodbye to Mari. She had finished stretching and was tying her hair back when Adrien froze. There, where her shoulder met her neck, was a bite mark.

 

His bite mark.

 

But he had bitten Ladybug…

 

But Marinette had the bite mark…

 

It took his tired brain several seconds to put it together.

 

Marinette was Ladybug.

 

His mind went blank. There were no thoughts and no feelings. Just shock.

 

He left without a word and walked back to his room. The door closed behind him and Adrien was on his bed. His brain began replaying all of his memories so he could review them in the light of his new discovery.

 

Adrien had danced with Marinette.

Adrien had carried Ladybug across his garden.

Adrien had competed against Marinette. She had wings.

Adrien had spent Christmas with Ladybug. He’d given her a gift and kissed her under the mistletoe.

Adrien had spent the night dancing with Marinette. His hands had been all over her body.

Adrien had slept with Ladybug, then covered her body with his own.

Adrien had bitten Marinette. Left his mark upon her skin.

 

Marinette was Ladybug.

Ladybug was Marinette.

 

There was only one woman.

 

“YEEEEEAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” Adrien roared out his delight as the weight of the world was lifted from his shoulders. He jumped off of his bed and thrust his fists into the air, screaming as loud as he could.

 

Relief pumped through his veins. Everything was perfect. There weren’t two amazing women but just one. One phenomenally amazing woman who was smart and sexy and sweet and kind and passionate and perfect. He couldn’t stop smiling.

 

Marinette was Ladybug.

Ladybug was Marinette.

 

It would take time to sink in but Adrien was literally jumping for joy. Until he stopped.

 

Marinette was into Adrien but Ladybug was into Chat Noir. Even the pieces he didn’t know were missing fell into place. She had been stuck with the same dilemma he had been struggling with. That was why there was a distance between them both.

 

Adrien wasn’t upset. They had both been doing the same thing, it was just his good luck that he found out first. All of a sudden he grinned in a very Chat Noir way. If Mari didn’t know Adrien was Chat then it was his privilege and his pleasure to tell her.

 

But…how he would do so and when were up for debate. The relief at having been spared the hardest choice of his life was making him dizzy. Adrien wanted to have fun. He wanted to play. And there was only one woman he wanted to play with. Regardless of what she wore, his Maribug was the only woman for him.

 

This was what he had been wanting all along. One woman for both halves of him.

 

His head was full of ideas about how to tell her. None of them were simply telling her of course. That would be too easy. Marinette had wrapped her fingers around his heart and Ladybug had bewitched his mind. It was time for payback. Confusing comments, dramatic reveals, playing dumb. All were good options but there was something missing…and then he had it. It was time to shake things up. Time to blur the lines.

 

Marinette was about to meet Chat Noir. And it was going to be exactly what they both needed.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: AND WE HAVE A REVEAL PEOPLE! I’m not going to lie, I’ve been waiting for this moment for 8 damn chapters. But finally we’re here! And chapter 9 is where it’s all going to go down. I’ll see you next time. – @obdobuk

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