It was ironic, really, that this, of all things, would be her end. She willingly put herself in danger every other day, swinging around Paris with little regard for her safety. Yet this, an accident on an ordinary day—with no akuma in sight—would be her last.
Ladybug would just be gone, and no one would know to where.
She took in a sharp breath, eyes wide as she saw the bumper of the truck headed her way. She saw the man behind the wheel too, the way he was gaping, frantically trying to turn the truck away from her. But it was too late, there was no room. That other car had pulled out into the street when it shouldn't have and he'd swerved. And now his truck was headed right for her section of the sidewalk.
She had a bag of cookies in her hands—from her parents' bakery. Her parents. They were going to be so upset. Heartbroken. She felt guilty for that.
And for Alya, Nino, and Adrian too, who were standing on the other side of the street, waiting for her.
Just as the truck was on her, she flicked her gaze their way. Nino was yelling, gesturing, and Alya had her hands up by her lips, horror flashing over her face. And Adrian, he was stepping forward, mouth open in a shout as though he would actually be able to warn her in time.
He was moving out into the street, but hadn't looked both ways. He should have—that was dangerous.
His eyebrows were pulling together above his brilliant green eyes. It wasn't a bad sight, especially for her last one.
Chat. Chat had green eyes too.
Who would tell Chat?
Like the impact had been a pinprick in a balloon of sound, it all came rushing through her at once. The screeching brakes; the impact that sent her flying. The gasps of dismay by onlookers and how Alya was screaming her name. Tikki, too, who was sent flying, caught in her broken purse and unable to get out.
It was sunny, she could see. The sky was blue. And her body was crumbling.
Someone would have to tell Chat.
"Marinette!" Alya was screaming again, so close now. And then there were faces above her, and the sounds of distant, frantic discussion. "I'm sorry! I tried to avoid her!" "Someone call 911!" "Is she alive? Is she okay?!"
"Marinette!" Alya cried above her, that familiar face blurring in and out. She had to get her message across. She had to say something. But her voice seemed so heavy and far away, plagued by the impossible suffocation her body was trying to snuff out. Because the pain was so bad that her brain knew there was no other solution than to ignore it.
"Ch-" She tried to latch onto the words. She had to. He'd never know. He'd never know. "T-tell him," she managed to sputter out, her voice sounding gargled and lost. Not her own. Hurt maybe, or plugged. With something. Iron? No, that wasn't it. She knew what it was. "You have- tell- Cha-"
"Shh, shh," Nino tried to calm above her, his expression panic-stricken. "There's an ambulance coming, okay?" Were those tears on his cheeks? And Alya's too? She was sorry they had to see this. She didn't want them to be there.
"Tell… hm…" No. Those words weren't enough. She had to keep trying, but breathing was becoming so hard.
"You're okay, Marinette, everything's gonna be alright." Adrian. Adrian was there too, above her. Those green eyes. And he looked calm, determined. Familiar.
He'd do it. She had to make sure he did. "You have to tell h-him!" she managed to blurt out abruptly, coughing twice as she did. Her brain let her feel a moment, locate her hand, her arm. She reached up, grabbing Adrian by the wrist. Was he touching her? Quelling the blood maybe? She didn't know.
All she knew was that Chat would always wonder. And she loved Chat so much. He was her partner. Her best friend. And she loved Adrian too, but it wasn't the same. No, in that moment it was like she was finally seeing how different it really was. Because she'd taken Chat for granted, hadn't she? And now she'd never see him again, and he'd never know.
"Marinette, don't strain-"
She cut Adrian off. "You tell him!" she forced out, aware that there must have been blood running out her lips, down her chin, clogging her voice. She grit her teeth against it, putting all the strength she had left into her voice. "Tell Chat!"
He was clearly confused, but he'd stopped objecting to her speaking. He was listening. That was all she needed.
"Tell Chat what- what happened to m-me," she pushed. "He won't know. He- he- he won't know what h-happened."
"Tell Chat what? I don't understand! Marinette!" Adrian was up by her head now, breathing across her face. Those green eyes were searching. So close. "Marinette! Tell Chat what?!"
"Tell him I- that I- that I didn't want to leave him." She choked some, unable to breathe, and then her head was propped up and Adrian was so close. It was getting darker, but she focused on those eyes. So like Chat's. She'd never realized. "Tell him I- I was thinking… of him." Her hand squeezed around Adrian's wrist. "Tell that s-silly cat that I'm- I'm s- sorry."
So much green. Maybe she could pretend like he was there. Pretend that Adrian was Chat. Who'd have figured that was what she'd want in her last moments?
Her stupid kitty cat.
"Marinette!" Adrian's voice rang in her ear. "No, no, no, no, no! Don't leave me!" He was holding her up further, but she'd let her eyes fall closed. It was easier, because she was so tired. Besides, Chat would know now. And that was important. "You can't leave me! I need you! Marinette! You're all I've got!"
Drifting. Drifting felt nice.
"NO! Don't do this! MARINETTE! I can't lose you!"
Just tell Chat. That was what she would have said, if she could talk. But her voice was long gone. Her body too, it felt like. Dying. It wasn't so bad.
Not how she expected it to happen, but that was alright.
She just wished she could have seen him again.
Just one last time.
It wouldn't stop replaying. Over and over and over again in his head. That truck, the way it'd just thrown her body away—like it was nothing more than a rag doll, ready to be ripped apart. He'd seen it before, bodies flying. And so he'd jumped immediately into rescue mode. He'd gone for her, but it'd been too late. So his professional brain had bounded to the next best thing.
Do whatever he could.
He'd raced to her side with Alya and Nino, taking in the gruesome sight with a calm only years on the field had trained into him. He bent down beside her, ignoring the awkward throw of her limbs and the blood. So much blood.
"Someone call 911!" he'd ordered sharply, spotting right away that the majority of the blood was coming from a serious gash in her abdomen. He'd pushed his hand into it, trying to futilely stop the flow. But it wasn't working. He knew it wasn't even as he did it. Marinette—shy, sweet, pretty Marinette—he wasn't going to be able to save her this time.
It was astounding to him, then, when faced with the severity of her wounds, that she'd even remained conscious. That she was trying to speak.
He'd tried to tell her not to strain herself, but those blue eyes were hard, almost clear, and he stared in shock when she grabbed him.
Then she was talking again, and this time he made sure to listen.
"Tell Chat what- what happened to m-me. He won't know. He- he- he won't know what h-happened."
The second felt slow, but that must have been how long it took him to realize what she was saying. Because, at first, he'd thought he'd misheard. She wanted him to tell someone something. Someone called "Chat." Within that second, his brain told him that he was Chat. That there was only one Chat that would be referred to so deliberately.
"Tell Chat what? I don't understand! Marinette!" His blood had gone cold. Because she was trying to tell him something and he wasn't sure he wanted to know. Marinette was his friend, but he was managing to keep a logical distance in those immediate moments. He wasn't sure he wanted to get sucked in. But she had something to tell him, and if he—Chat—was what she was thinking of, he couldn't refuse her. "Marinette! Tell Chat what?!"
"Tell him I- that I- that I didn't want to leave him," she said, and he didn't understand. "Tell him I- I was thinking… of him. Tell that s-silly cat that I'm- I'm s- sorry."
That was when he knew. And his whole world fell down around him.
He tried to keep her with him, screamed her name, but she was getting heavier and heavier. Abruptly, it wasn't that he was calm enough to deal with the situation, but, rather, helpless to do anything. She was small in his arms, broken and bleeding, and he'd been too slow. He'd failed her.
And now he was losing her.
"No, don't close your eyes!" he commanded, his hand bloodied as he turned her head to face him. It'd lolled to the side, only a slit of that blue—that familiar, striking blue—visible. "Don't go! I can't do this without you!" He was crying. He knew he was. Sobbing maybe, but he didn't care. "You're all I have! Please, please don't do this!" He was begging her. If she'd just hold on. If the blood would just stop. But she couldn't and it wouldn't. And her body was twisted in ways it shouldn't be. Slipping through his fingers.
Nothing he could do.
"Please, please, no," he begged, teeth gritted as he pulled her closer. As he cradled her against his chest and released a painful sob that felt as though it was carrying his heart with it. "Please don't leave me…"
He didn't know what he'd do without her. His mother was gone; his father was in prison. She was all he had in the world—she was his world. Maybe it was selfish, but he couldn't imagine his life without her in it. Sometimes he felt as though their patrols through the night were all the kept him tied down—all the kept him sane. He needed her. She was everything.
There was a reason he was always throwing himself between her and immanent danger. There was a reason he always put her above himself. Because he didn't know how to live without her.
He couldn't live without her.
"Hold on a little l-longer, please," he begged, unable to face the fact that she couldn't hear him. That the color had faded from her cheeks and that there was a pool of red all around them. He tried to situate her more comfortably, until her whole body was leaning against his. It didn't help, nothing could, and he didn't know what to do. "The ambulance will get here, so j-just a little bit longer."
He buried his nose in her hair, eyes squeezing closed as tears continued to leak down his cheeks. His chest was burning, pained, and his breath was labored. He was having trouble breathing—he was having trouble thinking. His whole body was shaking, only how tightly he held her in his arms keeping him still. He had to hold on. Maybe then he could keep her there with him.
Maybe then she would stay.
"Get out of they way!" Voices. He ignored them. He couldn't let her go. Refused. "Move, kid!"
It was all a blur, what happened next. Because one moment he'd had her and the next she was being pulled from his arms. Or he was being pulled from her. Either way, it didn't matter—because he wouldn't have it. He wouldn't lose her.
He could feel arms pulling him back, even as he struggled. Wrapped around his shoulder, his waist. Hauling him away as others crowded around her, blocking his view.
He spat and twisted, hollowing in outrage. He clawed at them, and kicked out, and tried to get away—to get back to her. But they wouldn't let go and he wasn't strong enough to throw them off. Not without Plagg. But he tried. He tried. He fought them until there were more, until they were shouting at him to stop. But he didn't care! Even as they lowered and held him to the ground, crying, kicking, and screaming, he fought.
He lashed out until the sky grew blurry and the world faded away.
She didn't know what to do. She was shocked, and panicked, and there was so much blood. This was her best friend, her closest, and she couldn't do anything to help but sit there and watch as her life drained away atop the concrete sidewalk.
Even Adrian was being more useful—giving commands, somehow staying calm. He didn't even hesitate to shove his hands into the blood, into the wound. Alya couldn't even touch Marinette, and she was shaking, and she was saying her name. But none of that was any good. None of that changed what had happened.
It was only the sound of Marinette's voice that caught her attention. The same voice that had called to her so many times, that had greeted her in the mornings before class and whispered to her about Adrian right behind his back. It was burned into her psyche like a brand, the sound of it a string that pulled her attention front and center, even through the panic and the shock.
If she could do nothing else, she could listen. She could hear whatever it was Marinette had to say. The words were strangled, however, struggling, and difficult to understand. There was blood slipping out from between her lips and Alya felt her tears falling anew at the sight. She wanted to help, she wanted to do whatever she could, but it was too much. It was too big.
Marinette was clutching at Adrian, like she was searching for any kind of leverage that would keep her afloat, if only for a little longer. Her gaze was hard, determined, maybe even a little desperate.
"Tell Chat what- what happened to m-me. He won't know. He- he- he won't know what h-happened." Marinette was laboring to breathe, let alone speak, and because of that, whatever she was saying had to be important. Nonetheless, Alya didn't understand. What did Chat Noir have to do with this? He couldn't save her. Not even he could do anything.
"Tell Chat what? I don't understand! Marinette!" Adrian called out to her, wanting the same confirmation that Alya did. To make those words—she refused to think last—mean something.
"Tell him I- that I- that I didn't want to leave him," Marinette gasped out. "Tell him I- I was thinking… of him. Tell that s-silly cat that I'm- I'm s- sorry."
Alya could only blink against her tears, trying to digest. Yet, in same moment, Adrian seemed to be catching on faster than she could. Because it was written all over his face. The way his lips gaped, and how his brow furrowed. Only for that expression to be wiped away as his eyes got big, something Alya didn't understand flashing there.
It was like watching a movie, so close, yet untouchable. Because all the color had drained from Adrian's face and he was staring at Marinette, holding her, gulping as though he'd come to an abrupt realization. One that left him gasping as he reached out to collect her, as he pulled her to him.
As his own tears littered down across his frantic words.
"No, don't close your eyes! Don't go! I can't do this without you!" he was begging, crying out, knuckles white as he held her limp body to him. "You're all I have! Please, please don't do this!" He'd laid her across his bent legs, staring at her like she was the last breath he'd ever take. Like she was everything. And Alya didn't understand.
She didn't understand!
Her best friend had asked one thing of them, but what did it mean? What could they do?
"Please don't leave me…" Adrian spoke through gritted teeth, his voice coming out in a desperate, heartbroken plea. The expression on his face, Alya didn't recognize it. There was so much there—so much she didn't know. Like he was being ripped apart. "The ambulance will get here, so j-just a little bit longer," he murmured softly, as though his voice were being wisped away from him with her. Alya wanted to ask. She wanted to understand. Because this had started with Marinette's words and that was all she had. That was all that was left.
"Get out of the way!" Harshly, Alya was pushed aside, Nino grabbing her arm and hauling her back as the paramedics rushed the scene. They yelled at Adrian too, but he didn't move. Rather, he held Marinette tighter, his face buried in her hair as the police rushed in.
They grabbed him, yanking him back as Marinette's slid from his lap.
And then he fought. Fought like nothing Alya had ever scene before. Like an animal.
There were two cops dragging him back, trying to hold him. But, though he was thin, he was tall and well muscled. He lashed out, arms swinging with his fingers curling into claws. He smacked the first officer with his elbow, slashing the other one across the arm with his nails.
But they didn't release him. Ducking against Nino, Alya watched as two more cops came down on him. He kicked out, hissing and flailing, and they reached out for his legs. And as they caught them, holding the limbs as he bucked against them, one of the most horrible sounds Alya had ever heard left his lips.
She'd remember it for nights afterward, that screeching howl. His muscles were tense, fingers still curled. He shrieked up at the sky as the cops threw him harshly to the ground. Like a crazed monster, he cried out. It was sheer agony, raw and pulsing and enough to cause everyone in the vicinity to shrink away. Even Alya and Nino, the both of them shaking.
And it seemed to go on forever, echoing between the buildings and up into the Paris sky. Yet, still, Adrian struggled. He wreathed and screamed, and it took the weight of all four cops to hold him down. To the point where they were suffocating him. His eyes were wide, manic, and in pain. That was all he was feeling, Alya realized. It was like his humanity was gone and all that remained was pure animal nerve—an instinctual reaction.
A last and final defense.
The struggle only came to a stop as a result of him losing consciousness, no doubt due to lack of oxygen. And as his shriek finally became only an echo in her ears, Alya turned to see Marinette's limp body being loaded into the ambulance, surrounded in machines and blankets and paramedics. Without that scream, the rest came flooding in. The shouts of everyone around, the sirens, the clanging as the gurney was loaded and shut up behind closed doors.
And just like that, she was gone.
Just like that, it'd happened.