Trigger warnings! Suicide and self-harm trigger warnings, though nothing super graphic.
I don't own Miraculous Ladybug.
Plagg woke with a start, blinking the sleep out of his eyes in confusion for a moment and yawning as he scanned Adrien's bedroom. The yawn died in his throat when he saw that the boy's bed was empty and the kwami floated upright, rubbing his face with his paws and peering around the room curiously, eyebrows furrowed.
"Adrien?" he called quietly, not wanting to be too loud.
He darted towards the bed, checking both sides to see if maybe the teenager had tumbled out in his sleep and was on the floor. The moonlight streaming through the window revealed nothing except bare carpet, and Plagg frowned, twisting his body in midair to scan the whole room.
The computer monitors in the corner blinked sleepily and made soft humming sounds, dark and lifeless for the moment. The gym was eerily silent, and Plagg didn't hear the rustle of pages from the library area that would alert him to his human.
The kwami hovered over to the door of the room, which was cracked open as always, and peeked out, his eyes landing on the soft light spilling out under the crack of the bathroom door across the hall.
He sighed in relief and started to turn back, but something made him pause. Plagg wasn't sure what, but he had learned long ago with many other Chat Noir's to always trust his gut instinct, so now he listened it and flew over to the bathroom door, tapping his paw against it gently.
"Adrien?" he whispered. "You in there?"
There was a pause, and then the rustling of fabric. "Yeah," came the soft response. "I'll be out in a minute, Plagg."
Plagg nodded and backed away from the door, leaning his body on the door frame of Adrien's bedroom and fiddling with the end of his tail as he waited for his human to emerge.
The light of the bathroom was sharp compared to the dark never ending hallway, and Plagg blinked several times to clear the spots from his eyes as Adrien shut the light switch into the off position and stepped into his room, Plagg trailing him.
"Why are you up so late?" Plagg whispered, waiting patiently as Adrien took off his slippers and crawled back into bed before settling down on the nightstand.
Adrien gave the kwami a thin smile and tugged the covers up to his chest. "I could ask you the same thing," he mumbled.
Plagg frowned and scooted down towards the boy, landing on the pillow without a sound and pressing a paw against Adrien's cheek. "Were you crying?" he asked in concern, tilting his tiny head and gazing into the boy's eyes.
His lip quivered once and Adrien turned on his stomach, burying his head into his pillow and refusing to look at Plagg. "No," he grumbled, the crack in his voice betraying him.
Plagg winced and snuggled up against Adrien's shoulder, purring in the back of his throat. "You don't have to lie to me, Adrien."
Adrien shuddered and lifted a hand up, cupping Plagg in his fingers and turning on his side so that the kwami was pressed firmly to his chest, murmuring gentle words in order to make the model calm down.
It must have worked, because eventually Adrien relaxed his grip on Plagg and soft snores surrounded the cat. He wriggled free from Adrien's grasp and scurried down the bed to grab the comforter, which had been pushed to Adrien's hips when he had rolled over. He grasped the fabric in his paws and tugged it up as best he could, panting a little at how ridiculously heavy it was and finally settling for leaving it draped around his lower chest.
Plagg floated to sit next to Adrien's forehead, gently brushing the boy's hair away from his skin and humming gently in the back of his throat, an occasional purr slipping out (it was an occupational hazard of being a cat).
Though the kwami dozed, every time Adrien moved in the slightest he was awake again, checking him over before calming his racing heart.
At some point in the night, Adrien rolled over again and slid his arms up under the pillow, tugging his long sleeved shirt up his arms and effectively knocking Plagg off of the soft surface and sending him tumbling to the bedspread.
Plagg huffed and stood up, brushing himself off. He looked up with a slight pout that immediately was replaced with cold hard anguish.
The cat picked his way carefully over the folds of Adrien's clothing and hopped down into the space between his neck and his pillow and his arm, a triangle that captured Plagg in its embrace.
He took a deep breath and lifted a trembling paw, brushing it tenderly over the very fresh cuts that had worked their way into Adrien's bicep, where they wouldn't be seen because of his daily wardrobe covering the majority of his arms. The kwami turned his gaze back towards the sleeping boy and swallowed, moving over to him quickly and pressing his face against Adrien's neck in an attempt to calm himself.
Adrien grunted in his sleep and subconsciously moved his hand out from under the pillow to cradle Plagg against him, and the tiny cat choked back a sob before clutching desperately to Adrien's hand and refusing to let go.
When the model woke up in the morning, he was very confused to find the snoring animal clinging to his hand, and for a moment he just laid in bed watching him. Finally, though, he was forced to poke Plagg awake, an eyebrow raised and a smile on his cheeks.
"Wake up, silly," Adrien murmured, stroking Plagg behind the ears and then tugging his sleeve back down where it belonged. "I have to get ready for school."
Plagg fidgeted for a moment, his whiskers twitching as he tried to remember where he was, and then his eyes bolted open and he flung himself at Adrien's neck, startling the boy enough to make his heart skip a beat.
"Whoa, Plagg!" Adrien yelped, lifting a hand up to press against the shaking kwami. "What's wrong?"
Plagg pulled away from Adrien and stared up at him with big, tear filled eyes, and his gaze darted to his cloth covered bicep and back so fast that Adrien would have missed it if he hadn't been paying attention.
The boy winced, glancing away and rubbing the back of his neck. "I…"
"Please," Plagg whispered, his voice shaking in a way that was very unlike his usual sarcasm. Adrien looked back at him anxiously and Plagg shuddered. "Please don't. It's not worth it."
He flinched and ducked his head, twisting his hands in his nightshirt and biting his lip. "Maybe it is," he choked out, struggling and failing to push back a fresh set of tears. "You'd just…find a new Chat…Ladybug doesn't care enough…my dad really doesn't care and I…"
He trailed off, swallowing hard and spreading his hands in his lap. "What's the point?" he whimpered.
Plagg floated over quickly and sank down against Adrien's open hands, pressing his forehead against his thumb. "The point," he whispered, "is that I care about you. I can't replace you, Adrien. None of my Chat's can ever just be replaced. And Ladybug does care about you. And…and what about Nino? Or Alya or Marinette or Kim or Alix…I know they like having you around."
Adrien swallowed and ran a free hand through his hair, getting to his feet wearily and shaking Plagg free. "Maybe," he murmured with a shrug. "I dunno. I have to get ready for school. Go get something to eat."
With that, he vanished into the bathroom and left one very concerned kwami floating in the air.
"Plagg, are you crazy?!" Tikki hissed, glancing out the slats of the locker they were hidden in to keep a watch out for passing people. "You know we aren't supposed to contact each other! I can't find out who Chat is, and you can't know who Ladybug is!"
"I know, I know," Plagg groaned, sinking back against the cold metal and pressing his paws to his eyes. "I'm sorry, Tikki."
That gave the bright red kwami pause, and she turned away from the vent to look at her counterpart in the dim lighting. Plagg rarely, if ever apologized, unless something was really wrong.
"Plagg?" she whispered, drifting over to where he was leaned against the locker and peering at him intently. "Is everything okay?"
"Does…does Ladybug care about Chat?" he croaked out. "Like…at all?"
Tikki blinked in surprise, her face confused. "Of course she does. Maybe not quite the way he seems to care about her, but she definitely cares about him."
Plagg sighed with relief and wrapped his arms around himself and Tikki floated so that she was next to him, their shoulders pressed together. "Plagg? What's wrong?"
He shivered and shook his head. "I…last night I caught him in the middle of…they were fresh and…I can't, Tikki. I…really care about this one. I need him to be okay."
His voice broke and Tikki instantly pulled him to her in a tight hug, rubbing his back soothingly and swallowing. She had been with Plagg for every Chat that had ended their lives themselves, and it never got easier for her. She couldn't even imagine how it was for Plagg.
"It'll be okay," she reassured him. "Do you want me to get Ladybug to talk to him?"
"Yeah," he choked out, clutching at his partner tightly.
Tikki nodded and pressed a soft kiss to Plagg's forehead as they pulled away. "Go on patrol tonight, okay?"
Plagg nodded and tugged anxiously on his cat ears, green eyes brimmed with tears. "I can't lose him, Tikki," he whispered hoarsely. "Not another one. Not this one."
Tikki smiled gently and pressed a reassuring paw to his cheek. "I know, Plagg. I promise she'll be there tonight, okay? I'm not going to leave you alone on this, kitten."
Plagg lifted his gaze and gave her a shaky smile. "You never have, bug."
Ten in the evening found Chat perched firmly on the top of the Eiffel Tower, his and Ladybug's usual meeting spot, with his claws wrapped loosely around the guard rail and his hair buffered by the wind around him.
He sighed and shut his eyes, leaning forwards and struggling to breathe. He wasn't sure why Plagg had insisted he go on patrol that night; there hadn't been an akuma in over a week, and he honestly wanted to be anywhere else. He didn't want to be around anyone, had barely managed to tolerate Nino at school that day.
Chat knew he would feel bad about basically ignoring his best friend tomorrow, but right now he just felt empty. Empty and worthless.
His fingers dug into his pocket and closed around the pocketknife he kept concealed there, the cold metal relaxing him as he stroked his thumb across the surface.
A jolt in the structure of the tower alerted him to Ladybug's arrival, and he pulled his hand away from the knife and placed it back on the railing, sending a cocky smile over his shoulder. "Little late, aren't we My Lady?"
She didn't respond, and Chat sighed inwardly, shutting his eyes and cursing his stupidity. Right. Ladybug hated his flirting. She pretty much hated everything about him. So just shut up, Chat.
He clenched his hands on the railing and swallowed hard, flinching as Ladybug stepped up next to him and brushed her shoulder against his, her fingers wrapping loosely around the guard rail next to him. They stood in silence for a moment, staring out over the city, before Chat managed to work up the nerve to speak again.
"You uh…want to take the East and I'll head West?" he offered softly, keeping his eyes averted from her.
She shook her head, pigtails making a soft smacking sound against her skin, and Chat frowned, furrowing his eyebrows. "Okay, then…I'll take West and you take-"
"You know," Ladybug murmured, and Chat whipped around at the crack in her voice. "When…when Tikki said that your kwami actively searched her out and told me to come talk to you I wasn't…exactly sure what to do."
Chat's heart nearly stopped and he stared at her for a solid thirty seconds, jaw working. "He…he what?"
Ladybug snorted, her fingers tightening on the railing. "That's what I said," she chuckled harshly.
She finally turned her gaze on him, her eyes filled with unshed tears as she stared at him. "Chat…you know you can tell me things right? It…I'm so sorry you thought that I didn't care about you."
Chat flinched and took a step away from her, rubbing his hand up and down his bicep once before remembering fuck wrong arm.
She saw the wince that he tried to hide and her lower lip trembled. Before he could register what was going on she had darted forwards and wrapped her arms tightly around him, burying her head in his chest.
"I c-care about you s-so much," she stuttered out, and he swallowed hard as he felt her start to shake against him. "I d-don't…Tikki t-told me that a lot of the p-past Chat Noir's…k-kil-"
He shushed her, struggling to hold back his own tears, and circled his arms around her lithe body, pressing his forehead to the top of her head. "I'm sorry," he choked out softly, stroking her back gently. "I never…wanted you to know this."
She pulled back enough so that he could see her tear streaked face, and Ladybug shook her head. "I don't-"
"I'm supposed to be tough," Chat heard himself saying, his voice breaking at every syllable. "I'm supposed to be unbreakable, this…this person that can do no wrong, won't fuck up, this person that everyone loves and adores but I'm just…useless. Everything I am…is fake."
Hot tears slid down his cheeks now and he found himself clutching to Ladybug and sinking to the floor of the tower. She didn't resist, instead stumbled into his lap and stayed there, a gentle hand pressed to his cheek and the other one rubbing circles across his knuckles.
"No one…actually cares about me," he whispered, shuddering suddenly at how much he was confessing to the love of his life. "They care about what comes out of me, what I produce, and I…I am so tired of being nothing more than a toy for people to manipulate."
He finally stopped talking, waiting for Ladybug to get up and leave.
Instead, she lifted her head enough to press a soft kiss to his cheek and then lean her head against his shoulder. "That's not true," she murmured. "And I know I can't convince you of that, but it is."
He swallowed and tightened his grip on her hand, using his other arm to tug her closer.
"You…are so important," Ladybug continued softly. "To me…to the people of Paris…to your kwami. He was so scared for you. I was scared too, when Tikki told me what he said."
Ever so hesitantly, she moved her free hand away from his chest and over to his bicep, rubbing a tender thumb across it before pulling away, her touch nothing more than a whisper as she moved her hand back to where it had been originally.
Chat felt like he was choking, and he couldn't remember ever feeling more vulnerable.
"You are more important to me than almost anyone else," Ladybug whispered, her voice breaking a little. "And I don't mean just the Chat part of you. I mean whoever you are under the mask, too. You are…"
"Stop," Chat croaked out, pulling his hand back and tugging it through his hair. "You can't…you can't say that, Ladybug. You don't know me out of the mask. How…how can I be even remotely important to you?"
She stared up at him with a fierce kind of determination and she brought his hand back to hers, resuming her thumb movements.
"You're my partner, Chat. I trust you with my life. You are way more important to me than you could realize."
She pulled away from him this time, and it took him a second to register that she was lifting her hands to her earrings with the intent to pull them off. He flung his hands out and clasped her around the wrists, eyes panicked.
"Chat," she whispered, a tiny smile twitching on her lips. "It's okay. I told you. I trust you."
His jaw clenched and he pulled back, moving his hand to his ring and twisting it gently before lifting his eyes to look at her. "Okay," he murmured. "Okay."
There was a flash of light from both parts, green intermingling with red, and Adrien vaguely registered Plagg settling against his neck as his eyes blinked away the spots from his vision to find Marinette sitting in her lap, a tiny red bug settled on her knee.
His breath caught in his throat and for a second he felt too exposed, naked almost, and he wanted to tell Plagg to get the hell back in his ring before Marinette looked up. But that wouldn't be fair to her, so he just averted his eyes and struggled to stay calm.
He heard her breath catch and a moment later jumped when her arms entwined themselves around his torso. He shut his eyes before returning the hug and pressing a hand tightly to the back of her head.
"You were wrong," she mumbled against his shirt.
He frowned and tilted his head, not sure what she meant. Her hand slid back up to his bicep and Adrien flinched but didn't protest as Marinette slid a gentle thumb under the fabric of his shirt and ran the lightest of touches over the cuts littering his skin.
"I absolutely care about you, both as yourself and as Chat."
He risked pulling back to look down at her and she tugged her hand away, eyes shining with tears and a grim smile on her face. "Marinette, I…"
She shook her head and glanced up at Plagg, lifting a finger to rub his head soothingly. "It's okay, Adrien," she murmured.
He finally broke and buried his head into her shoulder, body shaking at the weight of his sobs and hands clutching at Marinette's back while she rubbed his tenderly, her eyes stinging.
Neither noticed Plagg and Tikki move away and sit together, Plagg trembling and Tikki holding onto him tightly, both of them watching the scene quietly.
"He'll be okay," she murmured to him. "Marinette isn't going to let him feel alone. Not anymore."
Plagg nodded. "Thank you, Tikki."
As he studied his boy, Adrien looked up over Marinette's shoulder and caught him watching. Adrien gave Plagg the gentlest of smiles and lifted his head just enough to mouth "Thank you."
Plagg nodded at him and leaned heavily on Tikki, and it didn't take long for the exhausted kwami to fall asleep against her shoulder with the knowledge that Adrien would be okay easing his tired mind.
Plagg and Tikki totally call each other "kitten" and "bug" fight me.