Marinette was used to being tired, but right now she felt like a zombie. Thanks to M. Damocles and some occasional turbulence, she barely got any sleep. This trip was supposed to be a vacation, a week free of schoolwork and akumas. But so far, nothing felt any different.
M. Damocles just spilled a bunch of popcorn on her in his sleep. Fantastic. Sighing, Marinette stood, and silently slipped into the aisle. Aside from the workers, she was probably the only one on the plane who was awake. As she walked, she glanced around at all her friends. They were completely unaware of the world, asleep, cuddling with each other. Marinette smiled to herself as she passed. Her friends deserved a peaceful vacation just as much as she did. They’ve all be hurt by Hawkmoth’s reign of terror. A week free of supervillains was just what they all needed.
The sun was rising outside the window. Marinette briefly glanced out before slipping into the bathroom. Yeah, it was pretty outside, but she didn’t want to smell like butter more than she needed to. The water felt cool on her face, helping her feel more alive. Once she got everything, Marinette braced her hands against the sink. She took a deep breath.
It was going to be okay. There was still enough time for a power nap. She would sleep quickly, be refreshed, and have a great time in New York. Starting now, it was going to be alright. Great, even.
Out of nowhere, the plane hit more turbulence. It rattled the entire plane, throwing Marinette in the air and hard on her butt. The napkins on the counter toppled all over her, and her hand went in the toilet. She groaned. Okay, starting now, it was going to be alright.
She stood up and looked in the mirror. She had napkins everywhere. Marinette didn’t even want to know how they stuck on. Whatever. She just needed to clean herself up again.
When Marinette stepped out of the bathroom, the plane was pretty much silent. It seemed like everyone was still asleep. She would never figure out how anyone slept through that turbulence. She walked back to her seat only to find M. Damocles slumped over in her chair. She shook him gently to wake him up, but it didn’t work. That man slept like a bear. It was no use.
With nowhere else to go, Marinette walked back to the bathroom, intending to sit on the toilet to try and get a quick nap in. But as she walked back, she got another glimpse out the window. This time, she stopped.
The sun was setting over the horizon. It lit up the clouds below in a brilliant cascade of yellows, oranges, pinks and purples. In the distance, Marinette could see a few skyscrapers peaking over the clouds. New York City. Despite everything that’s happened in the last five minutes, Marinette smiled to herself. It was shaping up to be a gorgeous day in America.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
Marinette jumped. She didn’t notice anyone approaching her. Adrien just smiled warmly and quietly chuckled. Marinette anxiously returned the smile, inwardly berating herself. She needs to get over her crush on Adrien, especially since she was with Luka now.
Turbulence decided to strike right at that moment. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the last time, but it didn’t stop her from falling onto Adrien.
“Ah! Sorry!” She blurted out, jumping away from him.
“Sorry, Marinette.” He returned calmly. She chuckled nervously.
Instead of responding in what would probably be an embarrassing way, Marinette turned back toward the window. Adrien stood next to her, gazing out at the world. She was tempted to hold his hand, but she was dating Luka. She needed to stop this.
“My father told me everything,” Adrien’s comment broke through her thoughts. “The only reason I can enjoy this beautiful sunset is you. I thought it would be impossible, but you believed in it. You’re always willing to take a chance on something or someone, even when no one else is.” Marinette blushed. Adrien looked at her and somehow, his smile grew. “You’ve got something, Marinette.”
“Something?” She breathed.
“Yeah, right there. In your hair.” He reached up and plucked a piece of toilet paper out of her hair. Marinette’s blush strengthened, but for a different reason this time.
“Oh, right. I, uh, the turbulence. I was in the bathroom when it hit, and everything went everywhere!” Marinette explained, making elaborate hand gestures to help explain her point. “I tried to clean everything up, but I guess I missed something!” She giggled anxiously.
Adrien returned her giggle and looked back out the window. Marinette did too, trying to calm herself down. It was hard to keep herself normal when she was around him, but he was her friend. That’s what they were. Friends. Friends weren’t weird around each other. She needed to stop with all this.
After a moment of silence, Adrien spoke again. “Well, what I meant to say was, thanks for managing to convince my father.”
He suddenly pulled Marinette into a hug. She happily returned it.
“Sure thing! Don’t mention it! That’s what friends are for!” His grip tightened, as did hers. “For holding each other tightly in the delicious aroma of cologne!” Oh God. Why did she say that last part?
They separated a moment later, with Adrien resting his hand on her shoulder. She folded her hands together, trying to make her heart beat slower. Marinette looked back out the window. They were getting closer to New York City. But there was something new in the sky behind all the buildings.
“Is that… is that smoke?” She moved closer to the window, looking at the dark cloud forming behind the city.
Adrien also pressed himself against the window, eyes locked on the horizon. “I… think so.”
They stared past the city as the smoke climbed higher into the sky. Marinette clenched her fists. She left Tikki in her seat, but she could easily run and get her. It was probably useless, but being able to transform at a moment’s notice made her feel more secure. Plus, if she was needed, she could help.
Before she could run back to her seat to grab her purse, the speakers dinged on. It was accompanied by a sea of groaning from the waking passengers. “Attention passengers, there has been an incident at JFK airport that is preventing us from landing. I’ve spoken to ground control, and we’re being diverted to the Archie Goodwin International Airport in Gotham City, New Jersey. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience.” The captain announced.
“Gotham City?” Adrien asked, furrowing his brows. “Isn’t that the one with the Batman?”
Marinette nodded, trying her best to remember what Alya said. “Yeah. It’s got Batman, a bunch of other heroes, and a lot of super criminals.” Crap. That was bad. She couldn’t even protect anyone without revealing her secret identity.
“My father isn’t going to be happy,” Adrien looked sad. “I won’t be surprised if he sends a plane to take me home.”
“No!” Adrien jumped, looking at her. “I mean, he can’t do that! He let you come to New York, he can’t make you go back to Paris before you even get to New York!”
Adrien shrugged. “Who knows. I’ll talk to him when we land. I’m sure I can convince him to let me stay.” He smiled sadly at her. “And if I can’t I know you can, Marinette.”
She smiled at him, putting a reassuring hand on his arm and squeezing. He placed his hand over hers. Whatever was going to happen in Gotham, at least they’d be in this together.
“Officials at JFK airport are reporting a super villain attack. Multiple terminals were bombed, with two being almost completely destroyed. The number of victims continues to climb, with the amount of injuries and casualties unknown.” The newscaster kept a blank expression, as if this was normal. “The Titans responded to the situation quickly and are currently on the scene rescuing victims. The super villain is someone who’s never been seen before, and it’s reported that he disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the attack. The Justice League has already dispatched a search party for the villain.”
The entire class, hell, the entire airport, was silently staring at the TVs. Marinette glanced over at Alya, whose face was a mixture of fear, worry, and interest. That’s Alya for you; the Ladyblogger will never miss an opportunity to learn about superheroes.
Adrien grabbed Marinette’s hand, running his thumb over her knuckles. She looked at him; he was clearly terrified. She squeezed his hand, doing everything she could to comfort him.
The newscaster continued. “Because of the attack, officials have postponed the upcoming French-American Friendship Week by another seven days. We’ll continue to report as information comes in.” She finished.
“Alright, class!” Mme. Mendeleiev clapped her hands. “M. Damocles and I have decided that we will stay in America until Friendship Week begins. After speaking to M. Bourgeois and M. Agreste, we’ve arranged accommodations in one of the safest hotels in the city. Now go grab your bags and we’ll head out!”
Marinette looked back at Adrien. “Your father? What happened?”
He shrugged, looking at the ground. “I sent him a text about what happened. He hasn’t responded to me, but I guess he’s okay with me staying.” He gave a weak smile. She returned it.
“Ahem.” They both startled, looking at Alya. Her worry from earlier was completely gone, replaced by a knowing smirk. She cocked her eyebrow at Marinette.
Marinette realized she and Adrien were still holding hands. She yelped, taking her hand back and shoving it into her pocket. “Should we, uh, go get out bags?”
“Oh, uh, yeah.” Adrien turned around, almost falling over when Nino bumped into his side and threw an arm around his shoulders.
Marinette stared as they walked away. Alya stepped next to her. When Marinette didn’t stir, Alya elbowed her.
“Ow! Hey!” She rubbed her arm.
“That was the wrong move, girl.” Alya stated simply. When Marinette didn’t respond, she continued. “He’s clearly emotional right now, and he was reaching out to you.”
“I guess…” Marinette muttered.
“I know that you’ve always been crippled by your crush, but you need to reconcile your feelings. Be honest with yourself, and be honest with him. He deserves that much, and so do you,” Marinette shrugged. Alya intertwined their arms and guided them towards baggage claim. “We just got a whole other week in America, and I think he likes you too! Take advantage of that!”
“But I’m dating Luka now! And I really do like him!”
Alya rolled her eyes, but her smile didn’t lose any warmth. “I know, but between the two of them, it’s obvious who you like more. I’m pretty sure Luka sees that, too. He’d understand if you broke it off.”
“But…” Marinette began.
“No ‘buts’, girl. Honesty is the word of the day. Honesty with Luka, honesty with Adrien, honesty with yourself. You can’t keep going on like this, it’s super unhealthy.”
“So, honesty?” Marinette asked.
Alya smiled. “Honesty.” She nodded.
Marinette sighed. Right. She needed to be honest. Well, she could never be totally honest, for good reason, but her feelings? Yeah, she could do it. Actually, come to think of it…
“So, Gotham City. Isn’t this place some superhero hotspot?” She asked, nudging Alya. Asking about anything super was a good way to distract her.
To Marinette’s eternal relief, she immediately took the bait.
“OMG girl, the amount of superheroes in this city is ridiculous. If you thought Paris was full of them, it’s nothing compared to Gotham,” She pulled out her phone and opened some notes. Alya was nothing if not well-read. “First and foremost, you’ve got Batman. He’s the head honcho, the patriarch, the dark knight. He doesn’t have any powers, but he’s really smart, and is one of the founders of the Justice League. He usually has a sidekick named Robin, and there’s been, like, five.”
“Five sidekicks?” Marinette blinked. “Why so many? What happened to them?”
“The lucky ones went on to be their own heroes. Nightwing was the first Robin, and Red Robin also went on to do his own thing. The current Robin has been Batman’s sidekick for almost five years.”
“What about the unlucky ones?”
Alya cringed. “They didn’t survive. The second one sorta disappeared, and the girl got killed in some gang war,” Alya stopped, looking down at her notes. “We don’t really have that kind of problem in Paris. Just goes to show the nasty side of superheroing.”
Marinette paused. No, they don’t. Sure, being Ladybug wasn’t the easiest thing in the world. But that was just the mental load. She’s never been physically hurt in a battle, unless you count exhaustion. Ladybug certainly was lucky compared to other heroes. She hoped that the Robins who died were resting easy.
But she promised herself she wouldn’t try to think about Ladybug while she was on vacation. Marinette was going to keep her Miraculous on hand just in case, but with how many heroes are in this city (Alya was talking again, going on about someone named ‘Spoiler’), she probably wouldn’t need to transform.
“She’s all in purple, and she’s honestly kind of cute, but - look! There’s our bags! Come on, Marinette!” Alya finally let go of her arm and grabbed her luggage.
Marinette shook her thoughts away and reached for her suitcase. Like she said on the plane, everything was going to be great.
Adrien’s suitcase was next to hers. Marinette jumped and nearly dropped her suitcase on his foot. At the last second, she got a proper hold of her suitcase and gently set it on the ground next to her. She nervously glanced up at Adrien, who was looking at her with a bright smile. She giggled nervously. He laughed happily.
“Come on, Marinette.” He set his own suitcase on the ground and paused, waiting for Marinette to walk with him.
Yeah, everything would be alright.