The Price of Fame

BY : Cat_Eyes
Category: +M through R > Miraculous LadyBug
Dragon prints: 277
Disclaimer: I do not own Miraculous Ladybug. Miraculous Ladybug is the intellectual property of Thomas Astruc and released by Zag studios. No profit was made writing this story.

The cityscape was a mere blur as it flashed by. Resting his elbow on the armrest of the car door, Adrien put his chin in his hand and sighed, his breath fogging up the window. He scribbled a frowny face in the condensation before it evaporated.

An important photoshoot had been scheduled for that morning, but due to unforeseen circumstances, had taken until almost nightfall to complete. He had been forced to miss a whole day of school, and Fridays were his favourite day as they got to perform actual experiments in science, and not have to focus solely on theory. This also meant he hadn't been able to spend time with his friends, and now wouldn't see them until Monday.

He had also skipped lunch. With all of the things that had gone wrong that day, everyone was in a rush to get the shoot finished, so no one had eaten, or thought to ask him if he would need something. By the time they finished, everyone was hungry and snappish, many of them suffering terrible headaches, Adrien included.

After the car pulled up at Agreste Manor, Adrien let himself out with a murmured thanks to Gorilla, then slowly made his way up the stairs. His steps were heavy and laborious, his head drooped, and his shoulders sagged.

Pushing the front door open, he squinted in the bright light and harsh glare reflecting off every surface. He shuffled inside and into the dining room, letting the front door swing shut behind him.

As he dropped into a seat, a staff woman brought him his dinner. After missing lunch it was a meagre offering, but he ate it greedily. He nodded gratefully at the woman as she took the empty plate away.

Adrien braced his hands on the table and heaved himself up. He left the vacant dining room behind, and went to his room. Once there, and the door was securely closed, Plagg drifted out of his pocket.

'I need cheese,' he whined.

Adrien kicked off his shoes and collapsed onto the bed. 'Give the staff some time to clean up and clear out, then we'll go raid the kitchen.'

'You ok, Kid?' Plagg asked, as he hovered by Adrien's head.

'Not really,' he groaned, rubbing his forehead with both hands.

Plagg settled on the spare pillow to curl up quietly and wait. They had learnt over time that continued talking, or sitting on Adrien's head and purring, only exacerbated his headaches.

Adrien wished he'd remembered to pack painkillers and snacks before he'd left that morning.

After an hour, Adrien eased into an upright position. 'That should be long enough,' he decided.

He inched the bedroom door open, and crept downstairs, Plagg following silently after. A light shining from under Gabriel's office door proved he was still working, but the silence indicated Nathalie had already gone home.

He scurried into the dining room, sliding gracelessly around the corners in his socks. From there, he walked normally to the kitchen door as Plagg flew beside his shoulder.

He flicked on the kitchen light, squinting at the stab of pain the brightness lanced through his skull. He opened the fridge to retrieve two wheels of cheese for Plagg, and then ate a banana as he collected things to prepare his own dinner. Scrambled eggs on toast seemed like something he could accomplish in his state.

Plagg tore into the cheese with greedy delight. 'Brie and camembert, like beautiful twin sisters,' he crooned, 'only, one of you is better looking.' He hugged the camembert as he stroked it fondly.

'Don't be weird, just eat it,' Adrien chided him.

Once his own food was ready, he placed it on the kitchen table. He wasn't much of a cook, but he was competent enough to prepare basic meals. He sprinkled salt and pepper over the eggs, and poured a glass of orange juice before sitting down to eat.

Plagg finished his second wheel with a belch, then patted his distended belly in satisfaction. 'Cheese is always at its best after a long, hard day.'

'How was you day hard? All you did was sleep in my bag,' Adrien scoffed.

Plagg chose not to answer as he turned away, with his nose in the air, harrumphing in affront.

After he'd eaten, Adrien cleaned up before turning to the pantry. Inside, he liberated two packets of chocolate biscuits, a box of snack bars, and a packet of chips. He also filched an apple, a pear, and a mandarin from the fruit bowl on his way out.

Juggling his loot carefully, Adrien crept back to his room. He hid the box of snack bars in his bag, then set the rest on his coffee table, while Plagg burrowed under the blankets on his bed to sleep. His headache had not faded after his meal, so he went to his en suite to fetch some painkillers. He swallowed three with a large gulp of tap water.

Sitting on his couch in a room illuminated only by the ambient light from outside, he waited for the pain to subside.

A soft tapping drew him from his doze. Looking up, he saw Ladybug hovering outside his window with a concerned expression creasing her brow.

He shot to his feet, racing over to let her in. 'Ladybug, is something wrong?'

She slipped gracefully inside. 'Not with me.'

He tilted his head at her. 'Huh?'

'Sorry,' she squeaked, raising her hands. 'What I meant was, I was on patrol when I just happened to come this way. I noticed, completely randomly, that you were asleep on your sofa. I just wanted to make sure you're ok.'

Despite the lingering tenderness in his head, he smiled at her. Ladybug had always been kind and caring, and she was adorable when she blushed.

'I'm fine, thanks for checking, though. I just had a long shoot today, and the Devil's own headache afterwards, but I'm much better now.'

Her eyes widened as she watched him. 'If you have a headache, you should be resting.'

He rubbed the back of his neck. 'I was.'

Ladybug's blush deepened. 'Oh no, I disturbed your rest. I just thought it was weird you weren't in bed, and oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. I'll go.'

She turned to leave, but stopped when Adrien placed a hand on her shoulder.

'I don't mind if you stay a little while. Actually, I'd appreciate the company.'

He had spent the day surrounded by people, but they were all hard working, professional adults. They had neither time, nor inclination, to indulge an adolescent boy who just wanted to talk.

Ladybug was wringing her hands, suddenly shy. 'Well, if you're certain.'

He nodded decisively, indicating the couch. 'Come sit with me.'

She perched delicately beside him, her hands folded in her lap. 'So, how was your day?'

Her eyes grew comically wide, and she slapped her forehead with an embarrassed groan.

Adrien chuckled quietly, deciding to roll with the gaffe. 'Long and arduous. I missed a practical lesson in school, which sucks, and I won't be able to see my friends until Monday, which sucks even harder. The shoot was just one mistake after the other, so it ran for way longer than it should have. Because of that, no one got lunch, so I came home tired, hungry, and with a stellar headache. Anyway, how was your day?'

She gave his arm a sympathetic pat. 'At least it's over now. My day was a day, I suppose. I overslept, and didn't get to school until nine thirty. My teacher chewed me out in front of the whole class. The class bully decided to make me their target for the day. I tripped on three separate occasions, snorted soda down my favourite blouse, and slammed my locker on my fingers. Real heroic, huh?'

'Sounds like a lousy day was had by all,' he observed.

Ladybug slumped against the cushions. 'So, have I totally ruined your image of me?'

Adrien shook his head with a small smile. 'No, if anything, I'd say hearing all that only humanises you.'

'It does?'

'Well, yeah. I know what it's like to be famous, put up on a pedestal so high, people think you're  incapable of screwing up. Then, people think you're some kind of flawless being. It's a lot of pressure, living up to an impossible standard.'

'I try not to think about it too much,' she confessed.

'That's probably for the best. It's demoralising and dehumanising to see what some people think of you.'

She leaned toward him. 'The public really makes you feel that way?'

'Not everyone,' he clarified, 'just a few. I deactivated all my social media accounts because of the anti-fans, though.'

'They may be a minority, but they sure are loud,' she agreed. 'It's all much easier to handle when you have a solid support network behind you.'

'Support network?' he asked in confusion. An absurd thought of Ladybug talking in a group therapy session flashed through his mind.

'Of course,' she went on, 'my friends and family. Obviously, I can't tell anyone who I am, but they're always telling me how much they love and appreciate me, whether they realise they're talking about me or not. When I am in my professional role, I have Chat Noir to back me up. I've never met anyone as supportive and encouraging as him.'

She leaned in, conspiratorially. 'Don't tell him this, but if it weren't for him, I don't think I would've been able to go through with this whole superhero thing.'

Adrien's mouth dropped open. In all of his conversations with Ladybug, she had never admitted to something so personal or affectionate before. It was clear she thought Chat Noir's ego was big enough, but until that moment, that wasn't something he realised he'd needed to hear.

'So,' she continued, oblivious to his inner emotional meltdown, 'who do you have in your support network?'

His mouth worked soundlessly while he floundered. 'I, well, I have my friends. Nino, Chloe, Marinette, and the rest.'

'They're your classmates?' she asked.

He nodded. 'They're all really good friends.'

She blinked up at him, her brow furrowed. 'What about your family, work colleagues, people like that?'

Adrien gulped as he slid a finger inside his collar to pull the fabric away from his throat. 'Well, there's no one at work my age for me to talk to. Everyone there is an adult with a job to do, so they don't have time for idle discussions. Mother's just gone, and Father is always busy. He likes to keep tabs on me at all times, so I'm hardly ever allowed to go anywhere, especially on my own. It's dangerous, he says. But whenever I need him for something, he's never around.'

Adrien trailed off, his gaze dropping to the floor.

Ladybug was still for a moment. 'Your dad's a complete butt, isn't he?'

He snorted a startled laugh. 'Well, I wouldn't - '

'I'm gonna go fight him, right now,' she declared, as she surged to her feet.

Grabbing her wrist, Adrien pulled her back into her seat, touched by her outrage on his behalf.

'You don't have to fight him,' he told her.

She continued to scowl, her I'm going to beat something into submission face unmistakeable.

'It's not right,' she argued, emphatically. 'Family is supposed to be there when you need them, no exceptions.'

He turned away with a sigh. 'In an ideal world. But, there's always an exception to the rule.'

'Rule breakers need to be taught a lesson.'

Adrien turned back to her, suddenly suspicious and full of trepidation. 'What do you mean?'

Ladybug abruptly got to her feet, then pulled him up to stand beside her. 'Where's your kitchen?'

'If you're hungry, I have food right here.' He pointed to the small pile he'd pilfered earlier.

She gave him a mischievous smile and a wink. 'This isn't that sort of hunger.'

A few minutes later, Adrien found himself dangling with Ladybug outside his front door, suspended from the eaves by her yoyo string. She had woven an intricate net with her string, inside which nestled a tray of eggs. Adrien viewed it, and her, with mounting panic.

Before he could stop her, she plucked an egg from its place beside them, and hurled it at a security camera. It smashed with a satisfying pop, its contents splattering the lens, and dripping down in long, sticky ropes.

She obscured the other cameras focussed on the front door with ease, before settling them both on the ground, the eggs placed carefully at their feet.

She turned to him, a challenging look in her eyes. 'Go on, give it a try. It's very cathartic.'

Feeling equal parts uneasy and rebellious, he selected an egg and tossed it feebly. It fell to the ground in front of the door with a pathetic splat.

Ladybug gave him a sceptical look. 'I know you can do better than that, Hot Stuff.'

Feeling the adrenaline surge, Adrien began throwing eggs in earnest, with Ladybug giggling beside him. He threw them at the door, the walls, the windows, even the lanterns beside the door. He let out his pent up frustration, pelting his projectiles as hard as he could, delighting in the mess he made. Having Ladybug beside him was a wonderful bonus.

Too soon, they had used up all thirty eggs, the evidence of their crime splattered all around them. With a stifled whoop, Adrien allowed Ladybug to wrap an arm around his middle and swing him back up to his room.

They collapsed, side by side, against the windows trying to muffle their excited laughter with their hands. Just when they thought they could talk to each other again, they were overcome by another bout of hysterical giggling.

'Eggs,' Ladybug cackled.

'Eggs,' he wheezed helplessly, tears of laughter blurring his vision.

Eventually, Ladybug got up. 'It's getting late, I should get going.'

Adrien stood as well. Taking her hands, he looked her in the eyes and said, 'thanks, Ladybug, for everything. You've done a lot for me tonight, and I really appreciate it. It means the world to me.'

She bit her lip, and rose up to her tip toes, her cheeks turning pink. Clutching his shirt, she leaned in close, but instead of whispering in his ear as he'd expected, she kissed his cheek instead.

He stared as she pulled back, heat rushing to his face.

Her eyes were wide, and her blush was more pronounced. Before he could react, she turned and fled, zipping out the window and disappearing into the night.

He stared after her, his fingertips touching the place on his cheek.

 


 

First thing the following morning, he was called to Gabriel's office. Adrien was surprised to see Roger Raincomprix already there, standing before Gabriel's desk, with pen and notepad in hand.

'Take a seat, Son,' Gabriel instructed.

Adrien looked back and forth between the men with wide eyes. 'What's going on?'

Roger cleared his throat. 'I'm simply following up on a case of vandalism. Adrien, did you hear anything suspicious after you got home last night?'

Memories came flooding back. Adrien bit his tongue as he pretended to think. 'No, when I came home, I was hungry and exhausted. I ate my dinner and then went straight to bed.'

'So, you didn't hear anyone break into the premises at about half past ten, eleven o'clock, and throw what looks like a whole tray of eggs at your front door?'

Shaking his head, Adrien said, 'my room faces the opposite side of the building. I never hear anything that happens around the front.'

Roger turned to Gabriel. Gabriel merely nodded.

'Ok, you're free to go,' Roger told him.

'Stay inside, please,' Gabriel called after him as he approached the office door.

Nodding over his shoulder, he replied, 'yes, Father.'

He went into the dining room for a solitary breakfast, conspicuously egg-free, then retreated to his room.

'What was that about?' asked Plagg, as he mauled a wheel of camembert he'd stolen himself.

'It would appear that someone broke into the yard last night to egg our house,' Adrien explained, with a straight face.

Plagg's expression turned sly. 'I wonder who could have done such a heinous thing?'

Adrien placed a hand over his cheek, affecting an air of innocence. 'I have not the faintest notion.'

They snickered viciously as they both sat on the couch to watch the morning news. Nadja Chamack was outside the front gates of the manor, reporting the mysterious act of vandalism, and hoping someone would emerge so she could question them.

'Wow, Kid, you made the news,' Plagg gaped.

'The best part is, they don't even suspect me,' Adrien whispered gleefully.

 


 

Adrien spent the rest of the weekend drifting in and out of a happy daze. It was a mixed blessing there were no akuma attacks over those two days, but before he knew it, Monday morning had arrived. Still in a blissful haze, he prepared for school, waving cheerfully to Gabriel as he left.

The result of his nightly escapade with Ladybug had been washed away, scrubbed clean by unhappy household staff. They knew it had been an inside job, as their supply of eggs had vanished, but none of them knew who had done it, or why. The air was thick with tension as they suspected each other, but in a show of solidarity, none of them had reported the missing eggs to Nathalie or Gabriel. However, Adrien suspected their ride or die attitude stemmed more from self interest than from any loyalty to their colleagues or employer.

Adrien met Nino by the school's front steps. Immediately, Nino realised something was different.

'Hey, Bro. Heard some vandals targeted your place. Are you ok? Do you know who did it?'

Adrien smiled beatifically. 'I'm fine. It was Ladybug and I who did it.'

Nino choked on air. 'Holy shit, Dude,' he wheezed. Straightening up, he thumped Adrien on the back. 'I'm proud of you.'

'I am so in love with Ladybug,' he sighed.

Nino rolled his eyes and shook his head in fond exasperation.

Adrien heard a shrill scream of excitement behind him. He turned to see Alya and Marinette, looking at him with varying degrees of amazement.

Alya bounced from foot to foot as she held up her phone. 'Tell me everything,' she demanded.

The first bell rang.

'Oh, you hear that?' asked Nino as he grabbed Alya's arm. 'Time to get to class.'

'But Adrien, and Ladybug. Scoop, Nino, scoop,' she wailed as he dragged her away.

Adrien laughed at their antics, but turned to Marinette with an expectant smile when she tugged on his sleeve.

'What's up?'

'Ladybug loves you, too,' she murmured, as a blush turned her face completely red.

He raised an eyebrow. 'How do you know that?'

Marinette rose up on tip toe, steadying herself by grasping his shirt. She leaned in close to whisper in his ear. 'Eggs.'

Then, she tenderly kissed his cheek, before releasing him to sprint inside.

He stared after her. 'No way.'



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