He doesn’t have time to consider anything until he gets home and collapses.
Reassuring Juleka and Arnarka he was safe before locking himself in his room on the Liberty . He sits down with his guitar and allows his hands to move over the strings and strum a tune as he thinks.
It makes sense, now he ponders it. How Marinette was always late, always all over the place. The song in her heart hadn’t meant to hurt him, he knew that. It had, but he also knew when you loved someone, you let them go. One of the first lessons Arnarka had taught him. But it was all clicking into place. He had worked with Ladybug and Chat Noir as Viperion enough to know Chat was head over heels for his lady and he had known even back at the beginning of their relationship that Adrien would always have a large part of Marinette’s heart. He knew Ladybug dismissed Chat with kindness and had heard her say her heart belonged elsewhere. He heard Adrien consider Marinette a dear friend.
A dear friend.
Who used that phrase? Luka thought to himself. Did anyone actually consider someone a dear friend? Luka smirked as he remembered all the LGBT+ love letters that he had seen as a queer musuem exhbit that began with dear friend.
He knew from Nino’s eye rolls that Adrien was hugely sheltered. Marinette couldn’t have chosen two more different people to love, he thought with the closest feeling he had to bitterness around the whole situation. Then again, Luka mused, given their polar opposite upbringing, he supposed they were rather similar.
“Not similar enough.” The bitter voice he thought he had squashed weeks back told him. He sighed as the music his hands were unconsciously playing drifted back to the tones he played in the days following his break up with Marinette. All these new realisations were hurting him. Even though he had grieved and dealt with it.
It hurt him because he knew now he never had a chance. A love square. Star crossed lovers. People meant to be together, yet he loved one of them. Loves? Loved? Luka wasn’t sure on the tense yet - but he knows he’ll survive. Who actually finds their soulmate at 16, after all?
Luka put his guitar down and realised it was late. He had allowed himself to be consumed by many thoughts, for now though, sleep.
He would consider everything another day.
Another day comes a week later, during one of the rare band practices that Adrien’s managed to sneak out for. During a break, Nino and Alya had deliberately pushed the two of them to a corner of a room and then proceeded to ignore them, forcing Marinette to interact with her crush. Luka smirked to himself, his mission was supported by their friends, even though they didn’t know what he knew. The voice in his mind had become quieter over the week but cruelly raised it’s head to remind Luka he never had a chance.
“Better than losing the right chance.” He muttered, getting a confused look from his sisters’ girlfriend as Rose came to refill her honey and lemon tea.
“Hey, Marinette?” Luka called, deciding on a whim to start whatever his plan was even though he didn’t know himself, “don’t you think Chat Noir is kinda cute?” Alya’s initial response of a glare for her best friend's ex interrupting the attempts at getting her to flirt became a laugh.
“He kind of is, isn’t he, Mari?” Alya teased with a wide grin.
“W-what?” Marinette demanded. “He’s SO full of himself.” She rolled her eyes but Luka saw the initial shock. The foundations were there, he just had to ensure they stayed strong.
Adrien stood silently, observing Marinette with an odd expression.
“He is a superhero, to be fair.” Luka teased.
“He’s Ladybug though.” Adrien blurted out. The group turned to look at him, Alya and Luka with a sparkle in their eye, Nino with a knowing grin and Marinette with what seemed to Luka like exasperation.
“Ladybug is okay.” Marinette spoke slowly and Luka had to hold his laughter in.
“Ladybug is amazing!” Adrien spoke with a passion rarely shown by the quiet boy and Luka let the boy continue with his impassioned speech on how kind hearted and hardworking Paris’ favourite superheroine was. Marinette’s blush deepend as she heard the boy she loved sing such praises, all while having to pretend to merely be interested as a Parisian citizen. Alya had such a telling smirk on her face, Luka began to ponder if Marinette’s secret keeping abilities extended to her best friend. Surely not, being Ladybug had torn their relationship apart and while he understood it, if Alya knew then…
He stopped the voice taking over, reminding himself he couldn’t know and even if Alya knew like him, he hadn’t found out in such a way Ladybug even knew.
Rehearsal continued with Marinette’s blush lasting a long time. At the end of it, he hugged Marinette goodbye. She held on for the first time since their break up, causing a flutter. She leaned in to his ear, whispering,
“Luka, if you think Chat Noir is attractive, I hope you know that’s okay?” It was quiet, barely whispered and barely heard even in his ear. Luka froze.
“Well, umm.” An intelligible response.
“It’s okay to like whoever you like. I’ll be here for you whatever, okay?” Marinette’s voice grew stronger as she pulled away. Luka suddenly realised what she was saying.
“Oh, OH!” Marinette and Ladybug were so similar in their selfless love, he felt a fool for not seeing it before, “thank you, Marinette.” He smiled kindly down at the girl he was slowly falling out of love with.
So his first attempt had resulted in him accidentally coming out to his ex. That would be a hilarious story…. Some day. Although, he never hid his sexuality so he wasn’t overly sure why she hadn’t picked up on it before. Either way, it was clear a new tactic was needed.
Unfortunately for Luka, he wasn’t the only one meddling.
Akuma attacks were far too regular occurrences and the next one happened on a Wednesday afternoon. Gabriel ’s fashion house had accidentally sent rejected interviewees their rather harsh notes and now one of the hopeful fashion designers was turning everyone into fashionable outfits. Luka liked looking good, but even if he approved of mainstream fashion, he’d rather not become an outfit. He was hiding near the eiffel tower waiting for the Parasian superheroes to find him and hoist him out of the danger zone as they were doing with everyone else around him when Ladybug spotted him. He went to move from behind the pillar when Ladybug shushed him and called to her partner.
“Chat! Someone else is over here. Will you take him to safety?” She yelled. Luka was confused. Did she not want to be around him?
“Milady, he’s right next to you, not me?” Chat turned, confused.
“Please, Chat, I need to start....” Marinette’s famous pause. Yet another missed similarly. “I need to work out where the akuma is.” Ladybug finished confidently. Chat looked so surprised as she jumped away from the two of them, but followed her orders anyway.
“Hi!” Chat grinned at Luka as he wrapped an arm around his waist.
“Thanks.” Luka mumbled.
“Is Ladybug allergic to you or something?” Chat, his voice jovial.
“I didn’t think so.” Luka shrugged. He thought they were over the whole her being awkward around him and she’d always managed as Ladybug either way. Chat jumped across rooftops until he got to a roof where they’d been placing all the civilians to keep them out of harm's way.
“See you around, Luka. Maybe next time bugaboo won’t be afraid to touch you!” Chat winked at him before pouncing back towards the action. Luka was left confused as he pulled his phone out to let his sister know he was safe.
The next few akuma attacks weren’t ones he was directly involved with and his music studies had become so busy he almost forgot his grand plan of romance. But then, an akuma came slightly too close to home. His father, Jagged Stone. A sentence that was still bizarre to him and it was a struggle to wrap his head around it properly. Jagged had got annoyed at something or other, perhaps feeling lonely. He was currently going around trying to capture people, ironically similar to the crazed fan who’d once attempted to do the same to him, to keep them close.
Luka was a target, of course.
Ladybug had catapulted him into Chat’s arms then hurriedly pushed them towards a small bunker left over from days where wars were not fought between akumatised citizens.
The door clanged shut as Chat rushed to it. When pulling on the door fails to work, Chat raises his hand ready to shout-
“No cataclysm, Kitty!” Ladybug called, “it’s part of my plan.”
But which plan, Marinette? Luka grumbled in his head. Chat Noir slowly turned around, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck.
“Soo… how are you doing?” Chat inquired, to Luka’s amusement.
“Other than yet another akuma attack? Yeah I’m doing alright.” Luka cocked his head to one side in amusement.
“You’re the guitarist in Kitty Section, right?”
“Yeah, what of it?” Luka’s guard went up. What was Adrien trying to do?
“Just trying to make small talk, dude. I guess I’ve never been good at small talk. Not much opportunity when you’re a superhero. People usually want to get to the save me talk.” The sadness of Adrien Agreste shone through Chat Noir’s eyes and Luka’s heart jumped in sadness.
“That’s fair. Small talk’s never been my bag either.” Luka admitted before an idea came to mind. “Uhh.. any crushes?” He took his chance.
“Besides my obvious unrequited one?” A self-mocking smirk played on Chat’s lips.
“Ladybug?” Luka pretended to guess.
“She’s made it very clear she loves someone else.” He sighed and sunk down next to Luka.
“Ever thought about anyone in your civilian life?”
“I don’t have many friends there, I wouldn’t want to hurt any friendship. Not when my heart belongs to someone else.” Luka felt more like he was talking to Adrien.
“So your type is bluebell eyes, luscious dark hair and a head strong will for justice?” Luka teased his friend, “Ever heard of Marinette Dupain-Cheng?”
Chat Noir’s head turned, slow and in shock.
“I… didn’t you… wasn’t she your girlfriend?”
“Yeah,” Luka admitted, “but we worked out we were far better off as friends. Not all friendships are irreparable.” He smiled, just about keeping the bitterness out of the smile as he thought of the memory of Marinette’s attempts to avoid him. Chat Noir turned his head back to stare at the door.
“Marinette is…” Luka turned his head to look at Chat’s profile. “She’s a good friend and I…” Chat froze. “What I mean is, we’ve worked together before. With her help I’ve defeated several akumas. I can see why someone may like someone like Marinette.”
“Yeah she’s pretty cool. Reminds me of Ladybug.” Luka grinned, knowing Chat had just slipped up. It was okay though, Luka knew who he was and wouldn’t tell anyone - not that Chat Noir knew this.
“An everyday Ladybug…” Chat Noir mused, eyes glazing over in thought.
“CHAT NOIR!” The scream shattered whatever thoughts the two boys had been sharing. “I NEED YOU.”
“Well,” Chat sprung to his feet, “milady calls. Stay safe, Luka.” He pounced out of the room and Luka couldn’t help but stay where he was, wondering.
“Thanks for saving Paris once again, Ladybug!” Luka grinned at his friend.
“You’re welcome Luka, sorry for leaving you with my mangy cat for so long.” Ladybug giggled at Chat’s pout. Luka turned away, ears perked to hear. He was rewarded.
“So, he’s cute, right?” Ladybug asked Chat Noir.
“Luka? Milady I-”
“I’m pretty sure he’s bisexual.” Ladybug spoke confidently and were Luka to turned around, he knew she would be waggling her eyebrows in a fashion that both Ladybug and Marinette were known for.
“Milday, I’m flattered you care so much for my love life but I am unfortunately one of those heterosexual men. Trust me, I’m ashamed too.” Chat’s response was typical banter from the boy, but Luka heard the betrayal that can only come from someone you love trying to set you up with someone else.
This must be his fault too, he realised. Remembering the time Ladybug insisted Chat save him when she was closer.
“She’s trying to set me up with him because I asked Marinette if I thought he was cute!” Luka gasped out loud, glad no one had returned to the site of the akuma yet. He hit his forehead with his right hand, sighing. He really did have his work cut out for him, then.
One day, he would see Marinette and Adrien together.
Maybe his knowledge they were in love with each other would help.
Maybe one day, Ladybug would need to know who Chat Noir was.
Luka Couffaine would be there to help.
And maybe, maybe one day, he would find a way to love someone he was destined to be with.