"Run, run!" Wayzz was shouting, desperation in his voice as he called out to his charge. He was trying to prevent the horrible fate he saw laid out before them but Nino stood strong, and in that moment though he faced almost certain death the young boy waited with power in his eyes.
"Heroes NEVER die!" Nino shouted out, his hands gripping the controller as he leaned forward over where Wayzz sat on the bed, the tiny turtle reaching up to cover his eyes with one flipper and his frog's with the other. Across the short distance of his room the wire of his controller draped over discarded blankets, soup bowls and soda cans before it connected below his T.V, it's face displaying arguably the most epic battle the earth had ever seen. Nino's character stood bravely facing the threat of the ultimate lifeform, surging forward with the galactic army at their heels to defend Terra Prime from those corrupt alien bastards, but in the end… his base speed stat just wasn't enough.
Nino groaned dramatically in defeat as his character was blown to smithereens, the screen glowing with a ruthless, blood red 'You Died' just to rub salt in the wound. On the bed in front of him Wayzz fell backwards onto his shell, letting Will hop away as he curled into the blankets.
"I told you you'd never make it!" Wayzz protested, looking up into Nino's face as his boy leaned over him. "You neglected your stats early on! You're paying for it now."
"Oh and how would you have spent the points wise guy?" Nino said with playful snark, unable to keep from grinning fondly at the kwami in its nest in the sheets. He only glanced away to reach out and lightly pick up Will before he hopped his way into some corner of his room.
"Well I would have put more into speed, for one," Wayzz said matter-of-factly, crossing his fins when Nino raised an eyebrow.
"Says the turtle."
"To another turtle," Wayzz shot back, smiling now as Nino rolled his eyes. "This game is so taxing, let's play the chicken one! That one is so much more pleasant, and much less complicated."
Nino laughed at that, tossing aside his controller and maneuvering his way around Wayzz before standing up and waltzing over to his consoles to shut off the game. He could see Wayzz floating off to return Will to the more contained safety of the turtle tank in his peripheral, the kwami himself taking the opportunity to go for a quick swim.
Nino hovered near the games, looking towards the game Wayzz had mentioned but hesitating to put it on. Blowing another few hours just eating crap and playing games with his best little buddy sounded really awesome, but then again so did some other things too. He watched as Wayzz swam happily in his tank, feeling such potent peace and happiness that it sort of stunned him.
Wayzz didn't look out of place in the slightest, finally freed from all of his doubt and worry. He crouched on the floating log in his tank before slipping off, twirling through the water and laughing out in little bubbles as he did. Nino wasn't sure what the expression on his face must have looked like, but when Wayzz suddenly met his gaze he was sure it was the same sort of elated fondness the kwami himself exuded.
There was always so much going on, so much that was confusing and scary. But they had each other, and they had their friends. Nothing could hold them down if they didn't let it.
Nino had just been forgetting that.
"Hey little man," Nino spoke up, turning from the T.V and striding across the mess they had made over to the tank, leaning over it to stare through the water at Wayzz laying on the bottom. "How do you feel about going for a run?"
Wayzz blinked for a moment, his image distorted with the gentle current they kept running through the tank but Nino could still see him smile. "Really?" he asked distantly, his voice almost inaudible through the water but Nino heard him still.
"Yeah, tonights all about relaxing. And sometimes just getting out and taking Paris by storm is a pretty chill way to do that, right?"
Wayzz watched him, his charges eyes still clear to him despite the barriers between them. The kwami didn't respond at first, his gaze shifting to the miraculous on Nino's wrist that rested on the edge of the tank, but instead of guilt or unease or anything else he had associated with it…
It just made him smile even more.
Wayzz pushed off the stony bottom of his tank, kicking his way to the surface so he could look Nino in the face as he proudly declared, "Nothing would make me happier my friend."
And Nino grinned back, before finally he said, "Then lets go."
Cat Noir stood a short distance away from the crowd, for now out of sight as he and his Lady waited for the ceremony to commence. To step out now would be to cause a commotion, everyone eagerly awaiting the man of the hour who, as it stood, they had no idea where to find.
Cat glanced over to Ladybug as she leaned against the alley wall, crossly tapping away on her yo-yo with an adorable pout on her face.
"He answer yet?" Cat asked needlessly, her posture already providing the answer but he felt compelled to anyways, looking back towards the crowd they hid from as they jostled for position on the bridge.
"No," she sighed harshly, flipping her phone closed and pushing away from the wall so she could pace irritably. "He can't bail on this! The ceremony is for him!"
"You weren't there for ours," Cat pointed out with a smirk, his bravado dying instantly when she whirled to face him so he instead laughed nervously. "Because something came up, I get it. But maybe he's busy too?"
"He wasn't busy earlier!" she exclaimed, continuing to pace. "You know when I made the joke that he would run and hide in his room as soon as he got a statue I wasn't actually being serious."
That made Cat Noir snort, the boy significantly less agitated then she was. He simply shrugged, grinning to himself as he continued to watch the crowd. "You know I can't help but notice that his crowd is bigger than ours was. What's up with that?"
"Do you have any idea where he could be?" Ladybug asked with a sigh, ignoring his observation and watching as her boyfriend considered the options.
"Well," he remarked slowly, ticking off the places on his fingers as he named them. "Knowing him. He could very well be in the river below the bridge silently panicking about the press. He could be in his room being lectured by Wayzz, he might be suited up hiding on a roof somewhere but, most likely? I'd say he's with Alya."
Lady stopped dead, pausing for a moment before she walked over to Cat to lean past him, observing the crowd herself now.
"She's not with the press?"
"Nope," Cat said with a smile, not even needing to look to confirm what he had already checked. "The reporters are all up in the front to film us when we arrive, and I haven't seen her so much as in the spectators."
Lady only blinked once more before she sighed heavily in relief, Cat Noir looking surprised and raising an eyebrow at her to elaborate.
"Well, if she's with him then he's definitely going to show up. There is no way Alya would let him skip on this, she'd drag him here herself if she had too. We've got nothing to worry about."
Cat Noir laughed happily at that, letting his merriment devolve into a chuckle before saying, "God, when do you actually think he's going to tell us? I'm pretty sure he knows we're on to him, but he's ignoring it because he's stubborn like that. It's been like a month since that date of his, are they dating for sure now or what?"
Ladybug bit her lip, trying to remain detached as she said, "It's none of our business," however she seemed unsurprised by Cat's blatant shock.
"What are you talking about? It's totally our business! I'm just as invested in this as you are!"
"We can't interfere!" she insisted, though clearly her heart wasn't in it.
"All the shenanigans he pulled to get us together and we don't even get to know?" he protested, crossing his arms. "I'm his best friend! More than anything I just don't get why he hasn't."
"He's my friend too," she reminded him, crossing her arms as well. "And Alya is my best friend. You know how overwhelmed he can get, it's best to just let him take this at his own pace. I love her to death but she can be a handful, I don't blame him for taking baby steps." She hesitated, her thoughts drifting elsewhere before she said in a slightly more serious tone, "Plus, we both know he's got more on his plate then a date."
Cat Noir paused, meeting Ladybug's eyes before looking away again. They both considered her words in silence.
They didn't know a lot, actually to be more accurate they knew almost nothing but Nino had been up front about what he could, and Cat had to give him credit for that. They knew now that Nino had more responsibilities then he could share, and was meeting with Fu on a regular basis because of those responsibilities. However, the nature of those meetings and their purpose weren't something they could know about, and he had asked them to understand that.
It had been sort of jarring for the duo to be completely honest, to know that their friend had been keeping heavy secrets. He had to, and he had to continue doing it, but he seemed about as uncomfortable with it as they were which reassured them.
Their whole lives were caught up in secrets, it had been a comfort to them all to have people who knew what no one else did. In the end though, some secrets were secrets, even to each other. For the duo though it just made them feel a little more distant to have another thing he was keeping to himself, but they were trying to be understanding.
"Nino will tell us about everything when he's ready," Cat Noir eventually offered in place of the silence that had fallen over them both, the superhero shaking his head as if to clear it of doubts. When he looked up at his lady, he was smiling. "He's just a dork who doesn't know how to deal with feelings. To be completely honest I'm sure it's our fault. He probably thinks we'll embarrass him."
Ladybug took the ease of tension he offered, chuckling to herself as she shifted her hands to her hips. "Of course we will, it's what friends are for. The longer he stalls the worse we'll make it, I'm sure he knows that by now."
They looked at each other for a moment more before they both started to laugh, leaning into each other and enjoying each other's company as they continued to wait for their friend.
They continued to chat, speaking of other simpler things in quiet voices. Her parents had invited him to dinner, what should he bring? How were her projects going? How busy was he that week?
They let themselves be absorbed in each other as the crowd waiting over the Seine waited patiently, reporters jostling to take pictures of a veiled statue that stood in the middle with its back to the water. People in the crowd talked of their own simple things, whispering eagerly as the Mayor made his way to the front, knowing that everything would start soon. A girl with an apron from a pet shop patted dog fur from her legs, happily talking with the mother of a little boy and answering her questions. No no, turtles weren't hard to take care of, surely her little boy could handle one. Had he really been asking for one? That's so cute! To be like his hero? Oh my gosh, really, he was saved by- that's incredible! You must have been scared… Hehe well he's wanted a turtle since then? It's so funny, you'd be amazed how many people had adopted turtles since Jade appeared!
The conversations wound on, citizens from across the city trading stories of their heroes. How Cat Noir stopped a runaway bus, how Ladybug cleared a burning building and how Jade appeared as if from nowhere to evacuate a car that had driven into the river. They were so incredible, and so strong. Each person who had seen them all in action… well, they felt responsible for honoring them now. It was about time their Jade turtle had a statue of his own, and they waited in anticipation for him to arrive.
"Jade, you have absolutely no excuse not to go to this!"
"There are reporters-"
"I AM a reporter."
"That's different, also, there are a lot of reporters. All of whom are going to be entirely focused on me all expecting interviews."
"So what exactly is so new about that?"
"Alya please," Jade begged, reaching up to grab his hood and drag it over his eyes. He wasn't even sure what he was begging for exactly, he just was, sinking to the gravel coated rooftop that capped her apartment building.
Alya stood over him, completely unimpressed as he whined and sat on the floor, cowering in his hood like he was hoping it would hide him and slinking towards the shield he had discarded nearby. She sighed loudly almost entirely just so he would hear her, planting her hands on her hips and feeling the bulky weight of her phone that was going unused.
"This ceremony is for you! You have to go Jade."
He peeked up at her, and she was internally frustrated at how adorable it was, not that it would get him anywhere.
"Ladybug didn't go to hers."
"You think that means you can't?"
He groaned, looking down again before laying on his side and staring sullenly at Alya's shoes.
Alya sighed again, reaching up with one hand to pinch the bridge of her nose. After a second of infuriating silence she checked the time. They were absolutely going to be late.
Jade was staring at nothing when suddenly he became aware of Alya getting to her knees, crouching down in the space in front of him. She placed her hands firmly in the gravel on either side of her as she waited for him to look at her, her hair falling over her shoulders as she leaned forward slightly.
With her position he was forced to turn onto his back and suddenly he was staring directly up at her, her knees close to his head now as she stared down at him.
"Hey," she said simply, looking at how suddenly caught out he looked. His hood had fallen from his hair, the superhero looking directly up at her with his pure gold eyes.
"Hey," he answered, intent on looking away but failing to. She had him and she knew it.
"Why don't you want to go?" she asked him, knowing she had his complete attention and that she had tipped the scale in her favor. His hands were on his chest now and looked like he sort of felt exposed without his hood or shield.
He looked like he was going to try and look away again, but she kept his gaze as he tried to answer, taking a moment.
"It's weird…" he finally supplied, relieved when she looked away first and gave him a chance to breathe. She was looking at her phone, clearly eager to be on their way but trying to be patient with him. He appreciated that, he knew he was being lame.
"How so?" she prodded, looking back towards him to see him already looking at her face.
"It's so permanent… the statue," he explained, obviously struggling to express himself. He glanced away at nothing, and after a moment he sighed, dragging his hands up to cover his face. "It's weird," he continued, voice muffled slightly. "And intimidating. I'm expected to speak, what do I even say that I haven't already?" He let his hands fall, staring at nothing before finally he looked back at her. "It's awesome, of course it is. And it's over the river, which is appropriate but also still funny to me. I'm sure it's rad, the same guy is doing it but like- aah. Aaaah, you know?" He gestured at the air before repeating with an anxious expression, "Aah!"
Alya watched his mild panic before she snickered, shaking her head. She let him relax again before saying, "I know it makes you anxious but it would be good for you, and for Paris. I'm sure you'll handle it just fine Shelly you're worried for nothing. What's the real component here besides the press? That its permanent?"
She wasn't too surprised to see him sober up a little at that, his brow furrowed as he looked away. She tried to wait for him to speak on his own, but after a stretch of silence she reached out and put a hand on his arm.
"Are you worried you don't deserve it? Still?"
She asked it quietly, but her tone was disbelieving. It was the way she said it that made him look at her again, searching her expression and marveling at what he found there.
She really didn't understand how he could possibly be so unsure. Like it was ridiculous to even imply. Unreasonable even.
"It's not that… not exactly," he qualified, still thrown by how… pissed wasn't the right word. By how baffled she was. "It's just like… I am Jade Turtle, I am. He is me I'm him, that whole shebang, that's clear to me now. Jade is a part of me and a part that I'm proud of, I have more faith in myself, finally. It's not that I don't deserve it but…" he hesitated, trying to find the words. He was always so awful at words. "Even if it's earned, all the fanfare is weird for me. I don't know how to deal with it, I'd rather just do the good thing and get a thank you every once in a while. I don't need the statue. I know I'm a hero."
He trailed off, not really sure how to continue the thought.
Alya watched him, taking in the detail of his face and the way the mask fit there. After a moment she nodded. "That sounds like you."
He chuckled, shaking his own head. "It's embarrassing, but I guess it's also cool… I dunno."
"It's not just for you," Alya replied eventually, looking off into the distance as she thought through her words. "Obviously it is for you but, it's also so people can tell you they appreciate you. It's not just important that you hear it, it's important that they say it. It matters to the city to have some way to thank you for joining the fight, even if it does make you a little uncomfortable it would mean the most to everyone and you know it's meant well. They're doing it because you deserve it, and they want everyone to know it."
Jade looked up into her face for a little, and she was going to huff at him for brushing her off when he seemed to zone out but understood when he said, "Wayzz agrees with you."
Alya smirked, reaching out to pat Jade's bracelet as a thank you and the hero allowed it, knowing she wasn't going to take it off or anything.
"He says you look nice today," Jade relayed, smiling when Alya giggled.
"Did he really?"
"Well I'm sure he would. He talks into my head sort of so it's hard sometimes to tell him saying something apart from what I'm thinking."
Alya's eye widened and she giggled again as she playfully hit his arm, rolling her eyes as he continued to smirk. They both failed to say anything after that, just sitting together (well she was sitting). Jade lifted his arms to lay behind his head, taking a deep breath before he finally said "We should probably go."
"Yes," she agreed, standing up quickly. "We're really going to be late now."
"Well technically it can't happen till I'm there so how late can I be?" he argued, sitting up himself as Alya wandered off to pick up his shield. He stood up to brush gravel off of him, focused on stalling at first so he missed how she stood a short distance away, looking at him over the shield she held in her arms.
When he looked up and caught her staring he smirked, expecting her to roll her eyes again but she didn't look away, just stood there with the faintest smile.
"What?" he finally questioned, walking over to her slowly.
"Mm," was all she replied, letting him approach until he stood right in front of her. She tilted her head slightly, forced to look up thanks to their height difference. She noted the way his hood was barely on, his hair tousled and his smile genuine.
"Come on, what?" he asked again, laughing a little this time as he reached out to casually put his arms around her waist, only to find that his shield was in his way a little. He looked towards it and tried to be equally as casual as he forced it to shrink in size, almost slipping from Alya's grasp in the process. She smirked at his not so smooth attempt to hold her, but stepped forward anyways and let him settle around her. She waited until she felt his chin rest in her hair before speaking.
"I think it's cool," she said simply, her arms circling around his waist and fastening his shield to his back. "That you can have a literal statue of you placed in the city yet still be so humble about it. Your name is carved in stone and you're revered as a hero," she turned her head, placing her ear to his chest in a now familiar gesture between them. "You never cease to impress me."
She listened to his heart skip, and she knew he could feel her smiling against his chest as it's pace only worsened.
He was warm.
"W-well good," he finally stammered out, powering through her snickers. "You're the only person worth impressing anyhow."
She giggled again, letting the two of them be close for a moment. They really did need to go, and it was the middle of the day. They were usually more careful then this, but it was a little different that day.
He had been about to make another attempt at flattery when she started to pull away. He had meant to say something sort of quietly in her ear in a way he was hoping would fluster her (and probably himself in the process). She had intended to step away, a playful smile on her face as she told him to stop goofing around and take them to the event already, looking up to compensate for the height. But what they ended up with was the both of their faces less than an inch apart, staring at each other stunned at the sudden unexpected proximity.
Jade stared at her, so close he could see even the slightest smudge on her glasses and the way she seemed so unprepared. She was always on top of it, but sometimes, very rarely, he would stun her. Now was one of those times, but he was just as caught out.
Holding her had been… intimate, yes, but it also… it wasn't exactly that. It was familiar, it was comfortable, though not entirely casual. It just, it hadn't thrown him as much as this. They had done it ever since the first night, where they were so close and it felt so natural. In a way this felt natural too, but he really had… just no idea-
Had it been a second? Or maybe two, where they hovered in that space. They didn't look away, nor did they retreat, and neither of them could decide if they were waiting for the other to make a move. Because it was clear to them both what the next move would be.
Did he want that? Did she? Were they hesitating because they were afraid?
She was so close to him in a million ways at once, and he was so entirely unprepared. And though he couldn't quite say she didn't want… or that he… because of course he did. Oh god of course he did. He just didn't know if they… if now…
He didn't know, he didn't know when the right time was. He had thought about it a million times, it crossed his mind every time he saw her and it only got worse every time he ran off to find her. But when? When do you just… go for it? What right time was there really?
What was he waiting for?
"Alya-," he tried to say, her name heavy in his throat. She watched him intently, and he could almost feel like she was hoping. But he didn't know, he couldn't know. So he tried to ask. But then his phone rang.
Of course it did, of course it rang.
Because it was such a good time.
They both jolted when it went off, Jade's eyes sliding closed as he groaned in frustration. Alya felt so suddenly warm as she was ripped out of the moment, however she still managed to laugh breathlessly when he laid his forehead against hers in exasperation. Once she started giggling she couldn't stop, everything about his posture so pissed to have been interrupted that it just, it was honestly so funny.
"I hate them," he grumbled over her shoulder, moving so he could check his miraculous behind her back and only growing warmer in the face as she leaned into his chest to laugh hysterically. "Literally nothing is important enough to have called me over just then."
She tried to speak but couldn't get the words out as he sourly tapped out a reply, suddenly so irritable and flustered that she couldn't keep it together.
"Well I'm glad you're entertained," he huffed, trying to pout at her for laughing through their lost moment but unable to keep grimacing when he saw her face. She pulled back and tried to bite her lip to keep from laughing, but when she saw him sigh at the relatively innocent action she lost it again, snorting and holding her stomach.
He was so peeved, it was just- so adorable.
"Okay," he finally announced, grabbing his shield and tossing it down before sweeping up the still giggling reporter. "We're going, we're gone."
"No! No wait!" she tried but he wasn't listening, stepping towards his shield and attempting to keep a sour smirk from his face as he chastised her.
"No clearly you weren't that invested it's fine, I get it," he said sarcastically, still pouting. She kept trying to stop him but he was determined to be gone, when suddenly, all at once, he felt her grab his face.
And she kissed him.
She was pulling herself forward and his face towards her, sitting up in his arms as he held her. She had intended it as a peck, just something to catch him off guard, but as soon as they connected… it wasn't just something playful. It was something powerful too.
He shifted his hold, leaning into her as the moment stretched on, and she found her heart racing. There were so many little things that changed the kiss. How he held her, how he pressed against her so slowly that it was as if he was waiting for her to stop him… and she didn't. Her hands had lingered on his face, the fingers softening. And there was a moment too, where they seemed so out of breath, and his lips had parted against hers.
And then he kissed her again. And she let him, her hands traveling to his hair and his hood falling back completely. It was the smallest motions of engagement, the silent approvals to continue that pushed that moment so far.
Alya had imagined her first kiss a hundred times. But it felt like a first kiss… and it felt like the hundredth kiss. It was startling and overwhelming… but it was natural. It was magnetic, and it was…
Powerful, in a way she hadn't expected it to be.
When they finally pulled apart they were both breathless, staring at the each other stunned at what had been so much more than they thought it would be. He looked down at her and didn't know what to say, and neither did she. So he settled for, "Woah…"
He was about as warm in the face as she was, but he was a little warmer still when she giggled, letting her hands fall away as they both tried to pull themselves together. He was kicking himself internally for something so unimpressive after something so… incredible, but he had no other words.
"That's one way to put it," she agreed, her voice slightly flustered but containing traces of that same sort of teasing.
"Yeah," he replied, still wildly out of his depths as she giggled again. He held her still, having utterly lost his place in time so it was somewhat of a relief when she smiled slightly and pointed towards his shield.
"We were- uh…"
"Right," he cut in, finally managing to look away from her and attempting to remember what it was he was supposed to be doing. All he could focus on was her. "Yes we, we were uh…" he looked back towards her, relying on her completely. "We were what?"
"We were going to the statue ceremony," she supplied, giggling again girlishly as he nodded and unsteadily stepped onto his shield.
"Yes," he agreed, wondering how his body temperature wasn't burning her at this point. "Right, super stuff."
"You should probably drop me off about a block away," she said, partially trying to distract herself from how close they both were still.
He started moving, extremely distracted but still managing to ask "Huh? Why?"
"Uh, because you're a superhero?" she laughed, raising an eyebrow at him when he looked down at her. "Superheroes can't just bring their girlfriends to things without people catching on you know."
"Girlfriend?" he repeated instantly, and his mental state wasn't aided much when she was forced to cling to him when he botched a turn. He wasn't paying attention to driving at all, but she luckily seemed just as distracted. "Yeah?" he spoke again when she remained silent, looking down as often as he could to see her smiling nervously into her hands.
"Well… yeah obviously. I mean, if you-," she stammered, looking up in surprise when he started to laugh.
"What, if I want?" he finished for her, unable to keep from laughing now as he beamed at her. "Do you seriously think I don't want that?"
"Well- I-" she tried, completely unsure of how to respond when he laughed again, leaping effortlessly now from one building to the next. He was grinning like a fool now, and it was flustering her even more than the kiss had.
"You're right of course," he finally said, so much unchecked joy in his voice that it made her start to laugh as well as he continued. "Can't just parade my girlfriend around, regardless of how much she deserves it and how much I want to. Have to be sensible about these things, have to be careful. I'm responsible like that, I'm a very responsible boyfriend."
She snickered, leaning into him as she smiled just as brightly as he did, attempting to tease him still but failing to nail her usual tone of voice as she said, "Are you going to try and work it into every sentence now?"
"What that you're my girlfriend?" he replied, smirking at her as she giggled again. "I dunno, probably. Just warning you."
Her laugh rang out as they continued to zip through the city, Jade cradling her close as he did his best to keep out of sight. They giggled and smiled so helplessly the whole way there, the trip painfully short when he finally stopped behind a building a street away.
Jade stopped to set her down, still keeping her close as he kept on smiling. He looked over his shoulder mostly for show, only having stopped because he knew they were alone but was careful just in case. And he waited until she fixed and fussed over her windblown hair before he kissed her again, holding her for the one last moment they could justify for the time being.
"I've got a thing to do," he said as he pulled away, "but can I see you after?"
"Yes, and I'll be in the front row. Don't be nervous," she added just as it looked like he was about to leave. "You've got this."
He started to back away, already grabbing his shield as he grinned. "I am now dating the most beautiful girl in the city, like a speech can knock me off the top of the world. Yeah right, not even Hawkmoth could put a dent in my day right now."
Alya paused before huffing again, shaking her head at how lame he was but couldn't keep her happiness from her face, even as he winked and waved goodbye. And not even still when he called out, 'see you later babe!' and skated away like some outdated dude bro ninja turtle. But even if he was just the biggest dork in the city… she couldn't help but smile.
Cat Noir and Ladybug were standing to the left of Jade when the ceremony began, all of them standing patiently beside the statue that was waiting to be unveiled. Even as the Mayor droned on, holding out his arms dramatically and speaking about the fine city of Paris and those sworn to protect it, Cat Noir couldn't keep from watching his friend. The statue hadn't even been shown yet and Jade looked… so impossibly happy. He was just standing there, looking to all the world like he was trying not to do backflips where he stood. It didn't make any sense at all, Cat had been positive Jade was dreading this thing for days… but it didn't take long for him to catch his friend looking at a very particular reporter in the front row.
To Jade's credit he really did seem like he was trying to tone it down, and he was definitely putting effort into not looking at Alya but Ladybug and Cat Noir had the added advantage of expecting something between the two of them. But the one look they traded all but confirmed it and Cat glanced to the side at his lady, grinning happily. Lady noticed too and gave him a quick 'I totally saw that too' look before they both refocused, all three heroes attempting to be professional and failing a little.
Of course Adrien was going to track Nino down like a bloodhound after this to find out what was up, because screw being patient if his friend looked ready to burst from joy, which meant he had been late for a reason and the reason was awesome. Nino looked so happy he was almost positive he would share, but everyone was forced to wait their turns as the ceremony kicked into its final phase.
The three heroes of Paris turned towards the pedestal that waited to be shown, the mayor stepping aside to gesture for the artist to uncover his work for himself.
Jade waited patiently, looking at the artist who eagerly awaited his reaction and forced himself to be in the moment. Arguably weeks if not months of work likely went into this, and to not pay it his full respect even in the face of such sudden developments wouldn't be fair. This moment was important too, even if he was distracted with other things.
With one final look of anticipation the artist reached up and firmly gripped the sheet, pulling it free with a powerful flourish as the crowd gasped and a hundred cameras flashed at once.
The statue itself was masterfully made, a heavy bronze creation just like Lady's and Cat's. It depicted a hero, strong and tall with his shield on his arm looking out over the river and into the city, a perfectly casted replica of the boy who stood beside it.
There were a hundred things going on for Jade Turtle, just as it always seemed to be the case, but even so… he was stunned. People cheered and the artist watched him closely, cameras now turning to him to gauge his reaction. What they saw was a hero who gaped in awe, before he finally smiled, bowing his head as if suddenly humbled. The crowd hummed and murmured at such an honest reaction, reporters already scrambling for the newest headlines. "Hero of the People humbled in the face of Great Honor." "Jade Turtle Overwhelmed at Statue Unveiling," and any number of other things. Though he had no way of knowing it just then, one reporter was settling on a title for her own blog as well, stating simply, "An Honor Deserved."
The next few moments were a blur of cameras and cheers, Jade taking the time to step aside and thank the artist himself while Ladybug and Cat Noir stayed respectfully to the side. It wasn't long however before he realized people were waiting for him to speak, so he stepped forward to the raised platform before the statue.
He had never been a man of words, he struggled often to express himself and what he thought. However, in the moment there seemed to be not just that one second, but every second that led to it. An accumulation of a thousand things said and a hundred actions already done, and somehow too all the things he had yet to do.
He had been so unsure of what to say, but as he looked out and felt so potently the thousands of things that had led to that moment… the words were not hard to find.
"It is a great honor to have something like this, something that even a year ago I honestly never could have expected," he began, speaking firmly and loud enough to heard across the gathered crowd. He noticed a little boy with a small green mask, a beautiful reporter, and a short distance away… an old man with the kindest smile. "It is, in a way, overwhelming. I wasn't sure how I would be received when I arrived, and have been so happy to find myself welcomed as a hero. Ladybug and Cat Noir," he said as he gestured to them, turning to look at them and seeing the pride in their faces as he continued. "They are some of the kindest and bravest people I have ever known, and I'm speak honestly when I say that I don't know what I'd do without them. They guided me when I was unsure and helped me get adjusted when I felt like this is something I could have never deserved." He looked back at the statue and fell silent for a moment, before he looked back into the crowd. "I admit; I am not always sure that I do. But to have those I am fighting to protect call me their hero makes me proud to stand here, and proud to call Paris my home." He paused, taking a deep breath as he looked around him. There were so many that were proud of him just then… so many people who had helped carry him so far.
Adrien, his best friend and constant ally. Marinette, who so suddenly brought him into a whole other world and became so much closer to him as a result. The kwami who was always a kind and gentle voice of reason, and the man who became his cherished mentor.
And now too, a passionate and unstoppable reporter who smiled at him as he stood there, overwhelmed by everything he saw in the faces of those who loved him.
He closed his eyes for a moment, standing before his statue and in front of a waiting crowd as he slowly gathered his thoughts. And finally, when he found the right words, he spoke again.
"I am proud to be Jade Turtle, and to be your hero. I swear I will never stop trying to deserve all the kindness and support I have found here, and that I will always act to protect those who feel threatened. I will fight and guard and serve as I have promised too. And I know now, there is nothing I would rather do."
With that he fell quiet, stepping back and bowing his head as the crowd erupted into cheers, and though he could not see them in the swarm that consumed him, he knew they were there.
Cat Noir and Ladybug watched him from their places by the statue, no one paying them any mind for the time being and allowing them a moment alone. What they felt was hard to describe as their friend was hailed for what he really was, and for what all who knew him always knew he had been.
They watched with pride as a hero was celebrated by those he protected.
There was so much more he had done that no one would ever know, and so much more he would do still without ever once seeking credit. There would come a hundred battles, a hundred trying moments, and he would rise to meet every single one. There would come a thousand voices crying out, and there would always be their heroes to answer them. And when all was said and done… and the dust from war would settle…
There would be a boy and a girl, walking through the city with their hands intertwined, and there would be a boy, with a bright red cap. Walking quietly away with a smile on his face.