*cries for days*
New York City- April 2022
The wind whistled around the tall skyscrapers and brown apartment blocks, rustling the blossoming trees. The sky was grey and overcast. It seemed to be a day just like any other. For most people in the city, it was. Business men hounded the financial district with angry phone calls, students went to their classes with sleep in their eyes, tourists trucked on through the endless sights of the city that never sleeps. Just your average, loud, busy day in New York. Same old, same old, as the saying goes.
Except for two secret Parisian superheroes, currently walking down a quieter street, hand in hand.
"I swear," Marinette grumbled, breaking contact with Adrien to bury her reddening face deeper into her equally red, woolly scarf "it wasn't as cold as this the last time I was here! I mean I know that was like a hundred years ago and climate change is a thing, but still!"
Adrien chuckled softly, adjusting the wind-swept jacket Marinette had insisted he bring. It was a little cold sure, but he was certain he would have been fine in a t-shirt. It was a good chill after all, a Spring chill, one which promised warmer weather was just around the corner. Still he couldn't help his amusement at how the dark haired young woman beside him had bundled up as if it were the depths of winter.
"You know you better be careful Princess," He teased, taking back her mitten-covered hand in his own gloveless one "you're starting to sound like an old woman!"
"I am an old woman," The twenty-something girl responded with a pout "I'm old and cold and I want a hot chocolate." Adrien tried not to laugh again even as she stuck her tongue out at him. He paid her grumbles no mind, cold weather always put Marinette in a slightly less than friendly mood, just like rain always put him in a bad mood. The after effects of being Ladybug and Chat Noir.
"I'll warm you up later," Adrien responded with a wink "look, we're almost there."
They moved past the last bunch of Brownstones, opening up the little iron gate at the end of the street and stepping into the small patch of greenery beyond. To anybody else it looked like an ordinary, simple graveyard with an ordinary, simple church but it made the pair grow very quiet, very quickly. A sombre tone settled as they traversed the narrow concrete path around to the back of the church yard. Nobody had been buried there for a long time and it showed. The path was lumpy due to the overgrown tree roots pressing against it from beneath the Earth. Weeds sprouted up amongst the weathered and worn gravestones, willow branches hung low, casting green shadows on the pair. Neither of them really absorbed any of their surroundings, both too busy concentrated on their search.
"There!" Marinette cried and then placed her hand over her mouth in embarrassment "I mean there," She corrected herself with a whisper, pulling Adrien to the tidiest corner of the graveyard. Both of their hearts skipped a beat when they saw the two simple marble graves sat next to each other. Simultaneously, it felt like a great epic moment and a small, intimate one. Marinette took a deep breath as she double checked the names on the graves, just to be completely sure she'd been right. The small stones, peeking out of the moss-covered ground, were so nondescript that they could have belonged to anybody; it was the clear bold font which gave them away:
Here lies John Jones
Beloved husband, father and grandfather.
His kindness was as great as his accomplishments.
He will be forever missed. RIP.
March 5th 1908- October 19th 1995
Here lies Mary Vivian Jones
Beloved wife, mother and grandmother.
She was a star in more ways than one.
The world is less bright without her. RIP
April 11th 1908- February 14th 1996
Marinette was unsure what to feel as she crouched down and opened her purse to let Tikki and Plagg float out. Should she feel grief? Sadness? An odd sort of happiness?
"This feels weird," Plagg stated, offering up a very honest and rather apt view "really, really weird. Why did we come here again?"
"To pay our respects," Adrien replied flatly, kneeling down beside Marinette. He chose to concentrate on the bittersweet melancholy of the moment as he gingerly placed down the flowers he'd been holding, making sure they were right in the middle of the two graves.
"H-Hi Mary. It's been a while," He whispered kindly, suddenly struck by far more emotion than he thought he'd feel. His chest grew tight. From his peripheral vision he spotted a flash of white and anchored his head backwards, blinking to adjust to the sight hovering before him. Marinette was offering him a tissue with a gentle smile.
"It's alright Kitty. I've got you're back," She stood up to relieve the cramping sensation in her legs, and pulled back to see Adrien watching her with an unreadable expression. After a brief pause he stood up too.
"How many of those do you have in there?" He asked as he took the tissue from her in thanks, dabbing the corners of his eyes.
"She's got at least three packs worth," Plagg interrupted Marinette with a wheezing chuckle before his partner had a chance to respond "she knows how much of a cry baby you are."
Tikki rolled her eyes as Adrien scowled at the Cat-Kwami "please, like you don't feel sad right now?" She responded with slight chiding in her tone.
"And also not all of those are for you, I get sniffly in this weather," Marinette added, pulling off her mittens and shoving them into her coat pocket so that she could hold both of Adrien's hands, feel the warmth which always seemed to radiate from them. She needed the comfort. It was too sad to know that just beyond their feet lay the remains of their friends and superhero predecessors. She could still picture Johnny's kind blue eyes and hear Mary's uproarious soulful laughter as if she'd heard them yesterday.
"I feel…things. I guess. I don't know. Like I said, it's weird," Plagg shrugged, but even he couldn't hide the sigh, or the way his ears drooped as he stared forlornly at the graves in front of him "ah well, I said my goodbyes a long time ago. I need a nap. This paying-respects thing is exhausting," The black Kwami flew back into Marinette's purse without another word and cuddled up into a corner, stubbornly closing his eyes. None of the others told him off for it. They understood.
"It's always hard letting go of a Ladybug and a Chat Noir," Tikki responded quietly before turning to Marinette and Adrien "That hasn't changed in thousands of years and I don't think it ever will. I'll leave you two alone, I could do with some alone time myself." The little pink Kwami kissed the graves, tears pooling in the corners of her eyes, before she too retreated into Marinette's little purse, closing it behind her as she went.
After a short pause, where both of them tried to get a grip on their emotions, Adrien leaned down to touch Mary's death date. They'd known it for a long time, that Johnny had died first, quietly in his sleep, that Mary had passed away of heart failure roughly four months later. But seeing it on her grave made it so much more real.
"Do you think she did it deliberately?" He uttered in a hushed tone, stepping back once more.
Marinette tilted her head at his back in confusion "Did what deliberately?"
"Went, you know, on Valentine's day. It's just like her isn't it? To plan her reunion with her husband in the afterlife, plan it so she reunited with him on the most romantic day of the year? I think she did it on purpose," He nodded, his heart lifting at the same time as it grew heavy from his own belief and Marinette found herself watching him with such fondness she couldn't help but wrap her arms around his waist, burying her face into his back.
"As romantic as that sounds, I'm not sure people can plan deaths that way," She responded softly "It's a lovely thought though."
He glanced at her over his shoulder, sighing in content.
"No. I know it. She definitely died on purpose that day. I mean how sweet is that? Can you imagine it? Johnny's in the spirit world or heaven or wherever, forlornly thinking that it's going to be the first ever Valentine's day without his wife by his side and then wouldn't you know it, Mary's spirit shows up and is all 'I don't think so pal!' and then they live happily together forever."
Marinette laughed but it came out more as a contented hum "you sap; I still can't believe I'm marrying someone as mushy as you."
Adrien pretended to gasp in shock, grabbing his fiancées hand, spinning around and lifting it up to his face to double check the elegant engagement ring was still on her finger. Ignoring her giggles, he feigned a sigh of relief when he could see it still there, a simple diamond in the middle flanked by a black sapphire on the left and a red ruby on the right. He reached up and kissed her knuckles.
"But M'Lady you are marrying me, quite happily I'd assume given your own tears during my proposal," He smirked before his face grew serious, his green gaze grew deep "and you know I'd do the same for you."
Marinette returned the smirk that had left her partners face, "what, die? Please don't. I quite like having you around," she nudged him playfully as she began making a list with her free hand "and it would be an awful hassle to have to cancel the wedding venue, and the photographer, and my dress, and the caterer, and the-"
Adrien interrupted her with a chaste kiss to the nose "I know- I know," He responded "like we promised, a hundred years."
"A thousand," Marinette countered.
"An eternity," Her fiancée pledged.
"A MINUTE," Plagg's muffled cry rang out from the depths of Marinette's bag "of peace from you guys being all lovey dovey, is it too much to ask? A MINUTE?!"
"Not a chance Plagg," Adrien called back, but the pair grew quiet nonetheless, glancing back at their friend's graves. Adrien's watch beeped, letting them know they needed to get going, yet neither of them moved. The wind, which had died down, picked up again but that wasn't why they moved closer together.
"I wish I could see them again," Marinette sighed after a long pause "I wish I could share the happiness they felt in their lives, I wish we could share our triumphs with them too. Would they smile with us? Would they be proud do you think?"
Adrien wrapped his arm around her shoulder, squeezing it tight.
"If you can make my father proud of your accomplishments, you can make anybody proud of you Princess," He replied, nuzzling her cheek. His eyes raked over Johnny's grave, and he had to wonder the same thing. Would Johnny be proud of the man he'd become? After all, Johnny won his own Ladybug's heart and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with her. Would the former Cat Noir think Adrien was worthy of the same thing?
"Same to you. I think they'd be very proud of you, and I'm sure they'd both be happy for us," Marinette stuck her chin up defiantly, as if daring the universe to disagree with her opinion and Adrien found himself struck once more by how head over heels he was for his soon-to-be wife. He smiled to himself and they both said another goodbye to their two friends, making their way back down the concrete path and back towards the street. Both silently hoped, by some cosmic miracle, that they would see Johnny and Mary again one day. Neither of them said it out loud, but they had faith.
After all, if pieces of jewellery could grant them magical powers, anything was possible.
Adrien willed himself to shut his mouth, but his brain didn't seem to want to listen.
"Ok Mama, I promise. Yes, we're fine," His partner was by the window of their hotel room, currently speaking on her phone, having no idea that Adrien had just re-entered the room and was staring at her like he was a teenager falling in love all over again "we went to go see them today actually, it was a very sweet little graveyard… a little sad but I'm glad we went. Anyway Mama I have to go, tell Papa I'll get him a Statue of Liberty hat and maybe he'll stop going on about it! Ok, love you, bye!" Marinette hung up the phone with a little giggle, but the laughter died in her throat when she caught sight of her fiancées heated gaze.
"You look handsome," She blushed, even after all their years together she still couldn't fight the redness that frequently flew to her cheeks. Especially when he looked at her like that and doubly so when he wore suits. Damn did he look good in a suit, especially after his growth spurt when they were eighteen. Sure she had to stand on tip-toes now to kiss him, but it was completely worth it.
Adrien stepped closer to her with heavy footsteps, like a cat stalking its prey.
"Thank you," He replied, wrapping his arms around her satin-covered waist, his eyes trailed down the length of her body hungrily "and really Princess, you ought to change. It's unfair. You're going to take attention away from the Bride at her own reception. Here, let me help you find something more suitable. For starters we need to get you out of this dress."
As he slowly trailed kisses down the length of her neck, Marinette tilted her head backwards on instinct alone. A small gasp escaped her lips.
"Adrien," She responded weakly "we're going to be late."
"Mmhmm," He agreed with a low hum against her skin. His fingernails dug into her hips and god help her she had to close the gap between them further, had to lift his head up and meet his lips with her own, it was utterly necessary for her mental state to do so. Really she was just being responsible, looking after her brain, she didn't want to go mad from denying what it wanted so desperately. They moved together so that Marinette's back was pressed against the window frame, the coldness of the glass sent a shiver through her which she didn't mind one bit. Closing her eyes against the feel of her partner's hands on her skin, acutely aware of the sound of her zipper being pulled down, she found herself forgetting that they had an important event to go to, forgetting that they were in a completely different city entirely, forgetting that-
RING RING RING RING
Adrien rested his head on Marinette's shoulder, heaving a huge shaky sigh whilst the dark-haired girl blinked in confusion. After a few moments, in which the only sounds were the thrumming of their hearts and the smart mirror continuing to ring, Adrien pulled back and trudged towards the source of their interruption. Poking the mirror with his finger, he almost blanched when his father's face came into view, filling up the mirror as if he were standing on the other side. Adrien still wasn't used to video calling on these things, but he tried to play it cool nonetheless.
"Hey Hawkpapa, how's it going?"
"Adrien," Gabriel responded, massaging his temples "how many times must I tell you to stop calling me that?"
"When it stops being funny," Adrien shot back with a wicked grin, out of the corner of his eyes he saw Marinette adjusting her hair and pulling her zipper back up, only feeling the tiniest hint of guilt that he was to blame for her having to do so.
"I was just calling to check how you were, and if you were running on time," His tone was laced with accusation but Adrien could hear the amusement in his voice. He knows Adrien thought.
"Oh, hey Nooroo, how's the cold?" he asked loudly as the purple Kwami floated on-screen next to Gabriel. His father raised an eyebrow, but said nothing more on the matter and Adrien fought not to sigh with relief.
"Um, well, it's ok. Better now than it was," the butterfly-esque Kwami responded shyly "I think I should be back up and running by tomorrow."
"That's good, we're glad to hear it Noroo. Paris needs you and Lilenn to guard it whilst we aren't there," Marinette replied, referring to the Peacock Kwami as she came to stand beside Adrien, waving hello to Gabriel as she did so.
"Is that from your floral evening collection?" Gabriel asked with an inquisitive upturn of his mouth. Marinette smiled and nodded "stand back, let me observe."
Marinette complied and twirled around. She was wearing a red fishtail dress with an off-the-shoulder neckline, the fishtail widened at the golden hem, folding over many layers and giving the impression of a blossoming gold-tipped rose hanging upside down. Adrien glowed with pride, having watched her talent grow year on year, every design just seemed to get better and better.
"Exquisite," Gabriel voiced Adrien's own opinion with an approving nod "Modest yet flattering, guaranteed to draw attention yet not too much away from the Bride. An excellent choice Marinette."
"Your son didn't seem to think so, he thinks I'll distract everyone," Marinette replied with a teasing smirk at the betrayed grimace that crossed Adrien's face. Gabriel raised an eyebrow.
"Yes well, love clouds a man's judgement of fashion. Even ones who have spent many years in the fashion industry,"
"Are you talking about me or you, Dad?" Adrien shot back, trying to hide the mortified tone in his voice "because I'm going to tell mum you said that either way!"
"By all means attempt to get your own father in trouble," Gabriel replied, his eyes lighting up in challenge "besides your mother looks irresistible when she's angry."
"I'M HANGING UP THE PHONE NOW! WE'RE LEAVING THE ROOM! WE'RE ON TIME! SEE YOU BACK IN PARIS GOODBYE HAWKPAPA!" Adrien choked, pressing the end-call button before Gabriel had a chance to respond. As Marinette roared with laughter beside him, the blonde model buried his face in his hands. He didn't miss the time when his father had been cold and emotionless much, but now was definitely one of those times.
They'd been lucky enough to secure a room in the same hotel as the wedding reception, so it was with no small amount of relief that they realised they wouldn't be late despite their previous distractions.
Marinette began patting down her dress, checking her hair in the reflection on the elevator doors and fiddling with her engagement ring, something Adrien had come to realise she did as a calming habit when she felt apprehensive.
"No," Marinette squeaked "I mean, yes. It's just- can you blame me? We haven't seen her in ninety years for her and she did so much in that time. I mean, she's a pioneer for women's rights. Without her and women like her, I probably wouldn't have been taken half as seriously as a designer as I am now, the progress we've made over the past century in terms of equality- it's all down to women like her and their efforts. So of course I'm nervous."
"Yes but, we also helped saved her life when she was four years old," Adrien countered fairly "I'm sure she's going to love you."
The doors opened and they stepped into the hotel reception room, Adrien handing their invitations over to the bodyguards at the entrance. Inside had been decorated with many twinkling fairy lights, the round tables were covered in purple hibiscus petals and pale blue candles for centrepieces. Purple lights hung low from the concave ceiling, making it seem as though they'd stepped into an enchanted castle. People were already milling around, making small talk in fancy evening gowns. Some had witnessed the 'beautiful' and 'deeply moving' ceremony, as Adrien overheard them call it whilst he led Marinette to their reserved seats. Both craned their heads and scanned the crowd as they walked.
"Still no sign of Catbug, or any other the other Catbugs," Adrien said with a sigh. They knew what Johnny and Mary's three (out of five) remaining children looked like, but hadn't spotted any of them as they came to sit down. The tension and nerves pouring from Marinette were becoming infectious, but Adrien was still more excited than anything.
Marinette frowned, placing her elbows on the table and fixing Adrien with an incredulous stare.
"If we have children you're going to call them Catbugs too one day aren't you?" She asked.
Adrien thought about it for a moment, resting against the back of the high arched leather chair. After a brief moment he peered at Marinette, who waiting for his response with a glint of mischief in her eyes. His stomach flipped at her mention of children.
"I could always call them something else," He replied, considering other ways to amalgamate their superhero names "Ladynoirs?"
Marinette snorted "What if they're boys?"
"That sounds like the name of a gentlemen's escort company or something," Marinette wrinkled her nose even as her shoulders shook with mirth "you know, Catbug is fine."
"Catbug it is," Adrien grinned, reaching across the table to grab her hand.
"Speaking of Catbugs," a voice behind them interrupted their conversation and Adrien jumped uncharacteristically. When he glanced up he noticed Marinette staring at a spot above and behind his chair, her eyes the size of saucers. He turned around-
And came face-to-face with Johnny's blue eyes. But it wasn't Johnny he was looking at.
"Hello you two," Marian greeted in perfect French "long time no see."
Marian Jones-Bryant stood before them, taller than she had been when they'd last seen her. Adrien couldn't help but remember the tiny firecracker four-year-old who'd barely reached his mid-thigh in height, with grass stains and a grin as wide as her mother's. The smile was still there, only now on a ninety-four-year-old face instead. Her hair was silver, which only made the blue of her eyes stand out more, the laughter lines on her face and around her eyes were deep. She wore a vibrant teal shawl and stood up straight, not a hobble in sight. In short Marian Jones-Bryant didn't look her age one bit.
As both Adrien and Marinette scrambled awkwardly to stand up, she shook her head and raised her hand.
"No, no. By all means keep sitting. We have a lot to catch up on I think, and I don't want to be standing up all this time. I may be young at heart, but my feet aren't."
Both of them tentatively sat back down as the original Catbug sat on a chair opposite them, pulling out a leather bound photo album and a brown envelope which had been previously tucked under her arm. She put them both on the table and fixed the two with a knowing stare. There was a short moment of silence and Adrien shifted in his seat, fighting the urge to scratch at his hair awkwardly.
"Thank you for inviting us here," Marinette said courteously and Marian chuckled.
"Oh so formal! Why are we talking like business partners when if it weren't for you two, none of this would even be happening right now hmm?" Marian laced her fingers together and rested her chin on them. Her eyes twinkled and Marinette found herself so strongly reminded of Johnny that she felt a bittersweet ache in her guts. It was true though, the wedding had been between Mary Scott (Marian's great granddaughter), a famous Broadway performer and Tony award winning actress in her own right, and her co-star Joshua Smith. The wedding had been the talk of the town for months now, everyone had been invited so it had been the perfect excuse to reunite with the Jones family after so many years.
"Well, if it wasn't for your parents we probably wouldn't be together now," Adrien responded in kind, shifting closer to his fiancée "or at least probably would have taken a lot longer to get together."
Marian chuckled "yes, yes we have a lot to be thankful for. Most especially the fact that you're able to drink in America now. Speaking of which, waiter!" she called over a busy busboy and whispered her order in his ear, sending him away with a cheeky grin.
Whilst they were waiting for their drinks, and for the bride and groom to finally arrive, they swapped stories. Marian opened the photo album and they huddled around it whilst she showed them photos which the internet didn't even have. They told the story of Mary and Johnny's life, how they'd moved to Hollywood after the Wall Street Crash, then retired to the south after they made their fortunes in film. A photograph of a dirt-covered Mary, posing with a wrench in one hand, next to a plane showed how the couple had helped out the home-front during the second world war (Johnny being too old to register, especially with his shoulder wound aggravating him "so really you saved their lives twice!" Marian said as Marinette blushed). They laughed when they came to a polaroid selfie from 1969, where the sixty-one-year-old Johnny was in the background tackling a much younger hippie to the ground and Alya had her arm around a winter-haired Mary, both covered in mud and grinning ear-to-ear.
Adrien and Marinette were just finishing telling the story of their engagement when the waiter returned with their drinks. Marian took the tray and handed them both the glasses full of whiskey.
"Here, drink this. It's no longer illegal in good-ol' America," She shot them a knowing look and the pair burst out laughing. The three raised their glasses in toast to loved ones gone but never forgotten, just as the crowd around them burst into applause. The bride and groom had finally arrived and the laughter lines on Marian's cheeks dimpled further from her amusement "oh you guys are in for a treat," she said, standing up and motioning for the pair to do the same. The crowd parted for the faintest of seconds and Adrien and Marinette's mouths fell open at the sight of the beaming bride before them.
"No…" Marinette gasped.
"But she looks just like-" Adrien spluttered.
"I know, it's uncanny isn't it? And hilarious. My own great-granddaughter, the spitting image of my mother and a Broadway star to boot! You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried," Marian laughed, throwing her head back to the ceiling as she did so. When she'd finished she wiped her eyes "Oh I do miss them though. We had such fun, all seven of us. Even more so once the second generation of Catbugs started arriving. But now I'm being a sentimental old fool, here take these and distract me from my memories before I get all misty-eyed," She handed them the small brown envelope which Adrien opened curiously. There was nothing inside except for two gold rings. Marinette gasped, cottoning on before he did.
"They wanted you to have them, mum and dad did, because they knew you'd get married one day. My mother was never wrong about these things," Marian explained with a watery smile "and I have to say that none of us ever disagreed with their decision. Like I said, it's because of you two that we were even born to begin with. My dear mum said that she hoped they give you as good luck and as many years as they did for the both of them. Dad said that if I didn't give them to you, he'd come and haunt us so I guess now he can rest doubly easy eh?"
Adrien finally understood, and stared in awe whilst he took Mary and Johnny's wedding rings from the envelop as if they were the most precious gems in all creation. His eyes snapped up to Marinette, who was holding out a napkin to him as she herself wiped her eyes on one. He felt the lump rise in his throat and was just about to try and formulate some form of thanks when a jazzy tune began to play on the loudspeakers. The bride and groom were about to start their first dance.
Marian clutched her heart and leaned her shoulders back with a loving smile "ah jazz music, now you two simply must have some sort of jazz band at your wedding. I absolutely insist on that!"
Marinette stepped closer to Adrien's side and looked up to him, nodding her head as her whole being seemed to light up from within. She remembered the night so long ago, when she'd stood on Johnny's feet and the radio had told them to sing, sing, sing as they dance, dance, danced. She recalled Mary twirling in front of the mirror in her old bedroom in Paris, humming that same tune herself. Adrien grinned, wrapping his arm around her as he turned back to Marian.
"I think we can manage that," He agreed.
"Absolutely," Marinette added with a giggle, glancing down at the rings in Adrien's hand, the rings that had been with Johnny and Mary throughout their whole lives and would hopefully be on hers and Adrien's for a great many years to follow too. She stood up on tip-toes and leaned up to kiss Adrien's cheek "after all Kitty, what's life without a little Jazz music?"
Ohmygossssh it's finally over!
Thanks so much for sticking with me during this wonderful journey. I must say it was really hard to right this chapter because of all the feels. I didn't want to let this story go!
I honestly cannot thank you all enough, I think I need one of Marinette's tissues because I'm getting misty-eyed myself. Ahhhh. You guys are wonderful for reading and enjoying this story and please feel free to talk to me (and cuddle me) whether here or on tumblr. I've made some lovely tumblr friends because of this story so don't be shy! :) There are a few deleted scenes/scenes that ran differently from this story that I may write and post on my tumblr page if you guys are interested. Plus I'll be doing a few oneshots ("Chat Noir- Laundry Thief" and "How I Met Your (Super)Mum") too before moving onto the spiritual successor to this story, which is called "Redemption".
I'm off to play video games and eat chocolate. Once again thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your kind words. Keep being miraculous!
Until the next time, this has been Midnightstarlightwrites. Goodnight guys! XxXx