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"i am free and that is why i am lost"

-Franz Kafka

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He felt the lightest touch to his head, startling him awake. He laid stiff for a moment, ready for the worst when a voice soothed out, "You doing ok Mon Chaton?"

He blinked, heavy and slow, his mind fogged and thick. His ear twitching at the voice, turning to it as he relaxed. "I... I don't..."

"Ssshh." Deft fingers slid through his hair, weaving the golden strands lazily. His eyes fell closed at the soothing sensation, his body going limp as he released a happy hum. "It's alright."

Still, there was something wrong.

Something off...

He... he felt like he did something wrong... felt like he did something he shouldn't have.

He felt the brushes of regret, but not for what he should be regretting. As he felt chains slide over his wrists, clinking softly as they moved, he turned up to the figure above him, barely visibly blur.

"I," he babbled, "I'm sorr-"

"It's ok."

"I'm, I'm sorry."

"It's ok. I'm proud."

"Prin..."

Soft lips pressed against his brow, sweeping his bangs away. "It's alright."

"Marin... Mari..." he mumbled, eyes falling closed as he felt the chains on him stiffen and tighten.

Mar...

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When Adrien woke, his throat hurt and his head was dizzy and heavy. Sitting up and rubbing his throat, he frowned when he didn't feel anything wrong under his fingers. His hand slid up, running his fingers through his hair like that could wipe away the fog that settled over his mind.

What happened?

Looking around, he found he didn't recognize the street he was laying in...

Why was he even laying in the street?

What, what happened?

Grimacing, he tried to remember, but only fog and splotches of color came to mind. Colors like pink, and black, and blue, and... and red... white...

And he remembered of a smell.

A smell he couldn't place...

Shaking his head, Adrien slowly stood up on wobbling legs, arms stretched out to keep his balance. Only for him to teeter as vertigo batted at his head. Before he hit the ground, a hand grabbed his wrist and held him up, steadying him. Looking over, he met the patient brown eyes of an old man, smiling softly at him. "Thank you," Adrien managed out when he wasn't so dizzy and could stand on his feet.

He winced at the sound of his voice.

It sounded hoarse and croaked.

And his throat still ached.

"Your welcome," the old man bid, keeping a hand on him, just to make sure he was steady. "You alright son?"

"I... I don't..." He didn't know. His voice was raw, his throat hurt, he couldn't remember what happened, and there was... there was something wrong. Something missing and just focusing on that had him searching up and down the street, like what was missing would appear. Nothing did. And his gaze settled on the blue sky above.

...He couldn't ever remember ever thinking that the color was so lovely.

But it was.

Eyeing him, the old man gave a thoughtful hum. "Let's get you home," he suggested.

"Home?" Adrien repeated with a confused croak.

Home.

That's right, home.

What was he doing out of his home? He, he didn't remember ever leaving...

"Come," the old man implored, gently tugging him along. "I'm sure you'll feel better soon."

Adrien provided a weak smile, and allowed the old man to pull him along. All the while Adrien tried to remember what happened, tried to shape the pieces that came to him, being as elusive as butterflies. Just in his reach, but darted away just as he moved to grab them.

All he could grasp so far was a smell he couldn't place... his fondness for the color of the sky and... some association with home and warmth and...

Adrien jerked to attention when red flared out in the sky. "A-are those...?"

Ladybugs?

He jumped when a small group dove towards him. He squeezed his eyes shut, bracing for prickly legs. Only to end feeling a soft, warm tickle sweep over him before they flew away, leaving him dazed and surprised. There was a pleased hum beside him, and Adrien turned to the old man, wide eyed.

With a knowing smile, the old man asked, "Feel better?"

Blinking, he confirmed, "I-I do." Adrien jolted. "My voice! My, my throat..." It didn't hurt anymore! And his voice was better! He turned to the old man in wonder, asking, "What, what was that?"

The old man's smile turned proud, brown eyes gleaming. "That, my boy, was Ladybug."

Adrien turned to the sky, watching the swarms of ladybugs zip and buzz about, wrapping buildings and diving between them and out of sight. "Ladybug," he repeated in curious wonder. The name had a familiar taste in his mouth. His body twitched, and he felt like he should find them, see them.

The old man stood, waiting and observing him, letting Adrien decide if he did want to see this Ladybug.

Tired and a little unnerved by the sensation, Adrien chose home, where things made sense. Where he'd be safe, be able to collect the situation and sort it.

Sparing a glance at the old man, he half expected to see disappointment in his eyes.

But he only met his gaze with patience.

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Adrien stared up at his home. It was as big and pale as he remembered.

Though the walkway seemed new.

Adrien wondered why.

Also wondered when and why he left. How he ended up out of the building when his father was set on him never leaving.

At the reminder of that detail, the blond paused for a moment and considered just walking off. He goes back, he knows he'll be locked up again. Not allowed to leave the house unless it was work related. If he had a chance to slip away, explore and have a free day, this would be his chance.

Especially since it didn't look like they were looking for him... he would think they would be.

Shaking his head, he pushed the button, his want for his bed and answers overpowering the whispers of freedom in the back of his mind.

"Yes?" Nathalie's voice rang out, as dull and tired as ever.

With a weak smile, he greeted, "Hey Nathalie."

He was surprised when she didn't answer. He was alarmed when the connection was suddenly cut off, and the gates slid open. He just moved to step in when the front doors burst open and there was Nathalie, wide eyed and shocked at the sight of him.

Adrien paused.

She gaped at him, her lips uttering what he suspected to be his name.

Warily he took a few steps forward, snapping Nathalie out of her daze. He stopped, watching wide eyed as she scrambled down the steps and rushed to him. He wasn't expecting the hug.

"You're back," she said, breathless.

"I am?"

She drew away, touching his face like she could still scarcely believe the sight of him. "You're back, you're really here."

"I am," he repeated, eyeing her warily. "What happened?"

She blinked at him, surprised. "You don't remember?"

"No?"

She withdrew, looking him over. "You need to see your father," she declared.

"He's here?" he asked, surprised. Père was here?

"He is. He'll be delighted to see you home." She paused, meeting his skeptical eyes. She admitted honestly, "I'm glad to see you back, Adrien."

He stared back, unable to utter a reply.

Again he wondered just what had happened.

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Meeting up with his father, he had another surprise.

He expected a harsh, cold scolding. A scold for leaving the household, for disappearing for an apparent long time. He was expecting a punishment, a restriction, and a sigh of disappointment for his behavior.

What did he get?

Adrien got a hug.

A hug tighter than Nathalie's.

A hug that shook like weak leaf in in the wind, struggling to stay latched to the tree. Like Père was scared that if he let go, Adrien would be gone again. "P-Père?" His father didn't answer. He just held him tightly, face buried in Adrien's hair, shaking as he simply held him. It was almost like he couldn't believe that his son was here.

Adrien gave his father's quivering arms a reassuring squeeze. "Père?" he repeated, imploring and confused.

"You're home," his father uttered. "You're finally home."

"I am," Adrien confirmed, pressing his forehead against his father's shoulder. Blinking at the pinkish white suit, he sheepishly asked, "...When did I leave?"

Père stiffened, and slowly withdrew, frowning as he looked him over. "You don't remember?"

"I don't," Adrien stressed, grimacing. "I, what happened? Did, did I go somewhere? Did, no, something happened for sure! What, what happened?"

Frowning, his father shook his head. Taking his elbow, he guided Adrien to a near seat and beckoned him to sit. Adrien followed, watching his father impatiently. It feels like he's been waiting for this answer for forever now.

Père sat across from him, looking him over critically. "You really don't remember?"

"No! Can you please tell me?"

"Adrien," Père started, clasping his hands together, "for almost a month, you've been an akuma."

Adrien stared at his father.

His father gazed back.

"I've... I've been an akuma?" the blond managed out, eyes going wide.

"You have."

Shakily, Adrien pleaded, "Y-you're kidding right? A rare joke?"

Père didn't answer. Instead he slipped out his iPad, tapping it a few times, then slid it over to Adrien. He took it gingerly, stiffening at what stared back at him.

That was him. That was definitely him. Dressed in a white cat suit, with bright, evil purple eyes. He looked scary. He looked unstable. He looked wild. "D-did I..." Adrien couldn't even finish, unable to tear his eyes away from what was his akuma.

Chat Blanc.

That was the name below the picture.

That had been his name.

He jumped when a large hand wrapped around his wrist. Looking up, he met Père's calm stare. His father gave him a reassuring squeeze. "You didn't hurt anyone."

"I didn't?" Adrien asked, hopeful.

"You didn't."

Adrien slumped in his seat, gazing tiredly at the grinning akuma. "What did I do?" he asked quietly. Shakily, he slid along the page, taking in the few shots taken of Chat Blanc. It seemed he either had a twisted smirk, or a frightening snarl on his lips.

Adrien felt sick.

"The worst you did was property damage," Père said. "Maybe startled a few people here and there, but that's all. You actually calmed down after a while."

Adrien gave a weak nod at that, frowning at the pictures.

Though he did pause when he noticed a small difference in detail.

While all previous had his eyes were entirely purple, this last one, his irises were green.

Why was that?

Why did his chest hurt and ache?

"Adrien?"

He looked up.

Père stared down at him, concerned and tired. "Would you like something to eat?" he asked, "Or-"

"I'd like to go to bed," Adrien said, closing the app and hiding away Chat Blanc from him. "I'm, I'm tired. And my head is foggy and-"

"Of course," Père reassured. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Surprised, Adrien could only nod before numbly rising and going to his room. It didn't look like he had left it for almost a month. Nothing was touched or changed. He was happy to see something familiar, something that was still the same to him. The big space offered him a small semblance of peace. Some normalcy. One he couldn't wait to relax in.

Only when he climbed into bed, he couldn't fall asleep.

It didn't feel right. It didn't smell right. The color was wrong. It was too big. And... and Adrien has never been so aware of the empty space at his side. He stayed awake longer than he would have liked, struggling to fall asleep.

It felt all wrong.

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His tail was twitching. Partly in fond agitation, partly in boredom. He huffed, "Why pink?"

"I like pink."

"...You do know I'm a dangerous villain, right?"

"Mmhm."

"...I do not need a pink scarf. And it'll ruin my image!"

"Well the cold's coming soon! If you're going to be running around on the rooftops, you should be warm."

He scoffed loudly, his cheeks pink.

"Ok Kitty Cat. If not pink, though I think it'd look charming on you."

He growled softly.

"What color would you like?" A pencil was twirled, and he could see a sketch of him, scarf wrapped around his neck. He eyed it, then he eyed her.

"Blue," he breathed.

"Blue?"

"Blue like your..."

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He still felt off when he woke the next day. Heavy headed and still tired, Adrien flopped into his desk chair, turning on his computer to check out more pictures and information on Chat Blanc. Learn what he did while he was an akuma.

There wasn't much.

It was just as his father said.

He did basic damage. He destroyed a lot of Père's billboards and signs. He had evidently attacked both remaining Bourgeois family members, though he hadn't hurt them. He just destroyed Chloe's closest and the mayor's prized car.

He felt horrible.

At least he didn't scratch them...

Sighing, he scrolled through the few pictures, frowning when he caught a few about his eye color change.

Why the eye color change?

He found that when he first became Chat Blanc, his eyes were entirely purple.

Why did he have green irises in some?

Catching one small post, he blinked at what had to be Chat Blanc on the top of Notre Dame... and was that someone with him?

Just as he was about to skim down and read the paragraph below, Père slipped in, folder in hand. Adrien quickly closed the page, turning to him with a tight smile.

"How do you feel?"

"Still a bit tired," Adrien confessed.

"Do you still not remember anything?"

"I don't..." He frowned, trailing.

Humming aloud, Père held out the folder to him. "Perhaps this will help."

Adrien blinked at it, then eyed him oddly. He took it, and cracked it open. He gave a start at the first document.

An acceptance letter.

An acceptance letter to Collège Françoise Dupont. He turned to his father, wide eyed. "I'm," he started.

Père nodded. "Going to school."

A slow grin spread over Adrien's lips, taking the document and staring at it in disbelief. "I'm really, why?" he asked.

Père's lips pursed as he considered the blond. Finally he said, "A lot happened while you were an akuma. I... my flaws were pointed out to me. How, how unideal this whole household was, the faults to it..."

"By me?" Adrien asked nervously.

"Not just you," Père said. "That's another reason why, you met someone very important to you. And she goes to this school."

Adrien stiffened, turning to his father slowly, his eyes wide while his heart pounded unevenly in his chest, and a giddy warmth filled him. "I, I met my..."

"You did."

"And she goes to-"

"She does."

Adrien's hand shook as he held the acceptance letter, being filled with excitement and nervousness. His soulmate. He had found his soulmate. And he knew where she went to school, he was going to meet her!

Only, he met her as an akuma... and he didn't...

"Her name is-"

"I want to hear it from her," Adrien cut in, the words tumbling out before he could even really stop and think about it. He could feel his father's surprised stare.

"You don't remember her," Père argued.

"I'll recognize her," Adrien said confidently.

"But you don't-"

"She's got the lightest, loveliest blue eyes," Adrien told him, turning his gaze to the window. "Sort of the color of the sky. A sky you could get lost in. And she's got freckles on her nose, near invisible, but there. You have to get really close to see them. She's got black hair, hair she likes to keep it in pigtails. Though she used to have it in a bun. And she likes pink. That's her favorite color. She likes cookies. Likes to design and draw and-"

"I thought you didn't remember," Père cuts in, looking very baffled and intrigued.

Adrien blinked, equally surprised. "I, I don't," he said, baffled. And he didn't. Despite the description he provided, he couldn't quite fully recall what she looked like. He knew the basic facts, a fair idea of her when he thought about her; but she wasn't clear to him. Like everything else, she came fog in pieces, clear enough that he could make out, but hard to grasp.

And what he told his father, it had just rolled off his tongue in a mirthful burst. He didn't even have to think about it to share what he evidently knew about her.

It was strange.

Père's eyes flickered humorously. "It sounded like you did."

"I, I kinda do?" Adrien offered. "It's like looking at some dirty glass. I, I can see some but, I can't see it all...?"

His father stared down, patient and calculating as he looked him over, a soft smile on his lips. "Maybe it's the bond," he reasoned.

"The bond?"

"Your bind through red string of fate. The closer you are, the stronger it is. And you spent most of your time with her. Perhaps because of that you were able to remember some at least." He paused, asking, "Are you sure you don't want me to tell you her name?"

"I want to hear it from her," Adrien repeated. It's what sounded right... and familiar...

He doesn't think she knows his real name either.

They'll both know when they first officially meet.

It felt fitting to him.

Eyeing him, Père gave a calm nod. "Very well."

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The air was getting colder like she warned him it would. It wasn't cold enough that they would need to hide away inside, or dress warmer; but the change was coming. Faintly. But it was coming.

Not that it would stop their cuddles.

The two lounge chairs were pressed side by side, and they each laid in their respective chair, pressed side by side. Her head on his chest, him leaning against her and enjoying the soft tickle of her dark hair curling against his jaw.

He breathed in deep, taking in the smell of sweets, vanilla, butter, and flour.

His listened to her faint breathing, the quiet hums that whistled out as she dreamed.

He felt every twitch of her body, purred when she pressed and snuggled closer.

Her name was an earnest whisper on his lips.

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"Are you ready?" Tikki asked, patiently watching the girl busy herself before her mirror, shuffling with clothes, make up, hair, and anything else she could think of that she needed. Or at least declared that she needed. The little god knew that she wasn't doing this just to look nice, her chosen was stalling.

Marinette didn't answer, fretting before her reflection.

Tikki tried another approach. "I know it's a bit scary-"

"He's not going to remember me at all," Marientte cuts in.

"Yes."

Marientte bit her lip, not satisfied with her honesty. Instead she went to her mirror and started to redo her hair.

"He's still your soulmate," Tikki voiced.

"I know."

"He'll still love you. He'll still be drawn to you."

"I know."

"You know, he may even be looking for you-"

"He doesn't remember me, Tikki."

"There is a chance," the little god voices.

"...Really?"

Tikki frowned, not answering. She pressed, "You should go to him. There is a chance. And he may be looking for you. And if not, I'm sure he would love to meet you!"

Marinette winced as she tightened the tie a little too tightly and it pulled at her hair. She took a shuddering breath as she spared a glance at the little being. "He wouldn't be," she mumbled. "I, don't think I could even see him. I, I told Gabriel off, he, he probably hates me, he, he probably didn't even tell Chat about me and... what if we don't reconnect?"

"Marinette," Tikki sighs.

"It does happen Tikki," Marinette said. "Soulmates get separated, and they never see each other again. They never end up truly happy, especially after their separation. Or or they just don't click. I'm, I could never end up happy. He, he may. He doesn't know about me, what he missed and, and he'd meet someone else, fall in love with them and-"

"Now you're just being delusional," Tikki snipped, pursing her lips.

"It does happen," Marinette repeated.

"I know," Tikki said, floating up and coming to her side. She wiped a leaking tear away from her chosen's pinched up face. "And yes, it may. Though unlikely." Marinette opened her mouth to argue, and Tikki quickly cut in, "But you approach him, you find him, it won't happen." She drew in front of the girl, poking her nose. "Gabriel could try and keep you two separate. But it's hard to severe bonds. And you two had a close bond." Her smile grew as she encouraged, "And just think, you'll be meeting him for who he truly is! Not warped by negativity, it'll be just him! And his devotion to you will be the same I promise you."

"But what if-"

"Well, you won't know till you meet him," Tikki said.

Marinette bit her lip.

Tikki drew near and nuzzled her nose. "It'll work out fine, I promise." She encouraged her nervous chosen, "Just go meet him."

"Ok."

Sparing one last glance at herself in the mirror, Marinette rebound her hair in pigtails, keeping with the familiar look. Sparing a fast look at the time, she turned to Tikki nervously, asking, "Could, could Ladybug get me there faster?" Then she fretted. "Or do you think I would be coming too early? Should, should I give him more time to recover? Should-"

"Let's just go see," Tikki pipes in.

With a sheepish smile, she summoned the transformation and rushed out the window, flying towards the Agreste manor. Dropping the transformation in a near alley, she rushed over, pushing the button before she could stop herself.

"Yes?" the woman greeted on the other end.

"Uh, um, hi!" Marinette greeted, "It's, it's Marinette Dupain-Cheng? Is, is he-"

"Mlle Dupain-Cheng."

"Y-yes?"

"He's already left for school."

"Sch-school?" Marinette croaked, drooping.

"Yes, he..." There was a persistent beep on the other end, and Marinette heard her sigh. "I'm sorry, I have to go."

"B-but-"

"Just go to school Mlle Dupain-Cheng. Have a good day."

The connection was cut, and she was left standing before the gate feeling like she had just been punched in the gut. The purse snapped open and Tikki turned to her worriedly. "Marinette?" she called softly.

The dark haired girl didn't reply.

Tikki floated out, coming to press against her cheek and nuzzled her gently, apologetically. "I," Marinette finally uttered, "I think I want to go home..."

Meeting her shining eyes, Tikki gave a small nod. "Alright," the little god concedes. "Let's go home."

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In all honesty, she didn't look that pretty. And she wasn't that impressive.

The pigtails were childish.

She was a little lanky.

She shook like a mouse in front of a lion, and held tightly to the spray bottle in hand, like that would be enough to keep him away. A very amusing thought.

But she... this, this was his soulmate. This lanky, scared little girl, that would no doubt drop that bottle and flee into the house if he made any sort of aggressive gesture.

This was the person who would make him happy.

Who he would love.

Staring into her scared light blue eyes, he couldn't quite see it. She was amusingly cute, yes, yet so scared of him. And he had an objective. A purpose. And with this discovery, it may be as binding as Hawk Moth swears it will be.

He should leave.

He should leave and never come back, soulmate or no.

He already had what made him happy, how could she make him happier?

But... he couldn't deny that he was intrigued, and curious.

He couldn't deny that he did want to know her. Did feel urged to be near her. Licking his lips, he voiced, watching her jump as her eyes widened. "I find I'm... at a disadvantage."

Just who was she?

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Adrien eagerly pressed against the window as the limo drew near the school, taking in all the students in age, watching them group up and chat as they headed into the school. Some were settled on the steps, pouring over notebooks or drawing.

A bubble of nervousness and excitement coursed through him, leaving him fidgety.

He was going to school.

He was officially going to school, with other kids his own age.

And his soulmate was here.

She was here!

And he was going to be in class with her!

A loud grunt caught his ears, and Adrien turned to his driver who was staring at him expectantly. "Oh right!" Adrien uttered, scrambling to get out, staring up at the school excitedly. To the driver, he called, "Wish me luck!"

The Gorilla gave him a thumbs up.

Reassured, Adrien slipped towards the school, eagerly glancing at every student he passed.

Especially those that had dark hair.

And the lightest blue eyes.

And near invisible freckles he'd have to bump his nose close to see them.

He knew for sure that his soulmate had those features. It was just a matter of finding them. Only, it was far harder than he had expected. All dark hair he saw was either too long, or wasn't worn right. Or had the wrong glare of color to it. She had blue that glinted off her dark strands. He has yet to see another flare of blue.

And anyone that had light blue eyes, had the wrong hair color.

Drooping slightly when he couldn't find her, he slipped towards his first class, up the stairs, taking them slow as he tried to keep to his search. He was frantic enough that he turned at every flicker of pink and every sweet, buttery whiff he caught.

But she wasn't there.

Père said that she attended this school, right? And Adrien was sure he had had it set up where he would be attending classes with her...

Maybe she was already in the classroom?

Hurrying up the stairs, he came to the first class of the day, bursting into the room and looking at all the faces expectantly.

They all turned to him curiously.

All wrong.

No one here matched what he knew of his soulmate.

She wasn't here...

"Adrikins!" a familiar voice in the front exploded, and Adrien jerked, noticing Chloe grinning at him from the middle front row. "What are you doing here?!"

Giving her a weak smile, he said, "Père finally let me attend." He hurried to the closest empty seat before Chloe could bully the redhead next to her out and give him the open space. He didn't want to sit next to Chloe. An echo of agitation and bitterness nibbled at him, something he's sure was related to his soulmate. Till he found out about the matter, he felt it best to keep a wary distance.

Turning to the bespectacled boy he sat next to, Adrien offered him a shy wave and smile.

The boy returned it, eyeing him curiously.

As the teacher came in and called the class to attention, Adrien gave one last desperate twist in his seat, searching the room one last time for her.

She wasn't here.

And as class started, she still didn't appear.

Where was she?

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Hurrying out before Chloe could sink her nails in his arm, Adrien gave one last desperate search in the thrall of students that piled out, trying to spot her face in the crowd. Only to see nothing. Nothing that sparked familiarity to him.

She did attend this school, right?

Père was never wrong, he wouldn't put Adrien in a school that his soulmate wasn't in.

He wanted Adrien to meet her.

Surely, he would've had at least one class with her.

But no matter how many faces he searched, he couldn't see her.

He couldn't find her anywhere.

It left him stressed, tired, and jittery.

Just, where could she be?

Adrien slowly slipped out of the school, feeling exhausted from his first day, and the failure of being unable to find her. He checked his cell to see if his driver was coming, only to blink when he saw that he wasn't. Not till a few hours later.

It seemed Père had planned on Adrien successfully finding her, and letting him enjoy a few hours catching up.

Which would've been amazing, if he had found her...

Sighing as he slipped his cell back in his pocket, Adrien stopped to consider his options. He could try and find where she lived. If he spent a lot of his time with her, he should know where she lived. If he couldn't remember, maybe his body would? Maybe it would be just like getting on a bike and letting his feet carry him there.

He frowned at a sudden nervous thought that touched his mind.

What if she didn't recognize him?

What if she didn't want to see him because of what he did while an akuma? He... he didn't think he did anything, he couldn't recall or feel like he did. But, there was a chance. He didn't remember everything. He had only a small grasp on what he did.

What if she didn't like him? She largely only knew Chat Blanc, and he couldn't remember what he was like as the akuma.

Did she even like him?

Did he terrify her?

Would she even want to see him?

Would she-

Adrien gave a start, nose twitching as he caught a familiar, delectable smell. Turning, he caught sight of a bakery down the way, a bakery that felt familiar... maybe she hung there a lot? He could recall sweets. Maybe they ate a lot of sweets together?

"You look to be doing better."

Adrien jumped, turning and meeting the pleased gaze of an old man. His smile was soft and... a little apologetic? Tilting his head at Adrien, he notes, "Yet you still look a little lost."

"Hey," Adrien greeted, rubbing the back of his neck. "Maybe a little? It's uh, it's still pretty wild learning I was an akuma for almost a month."

He had to be the longest akuma to hang around Paris.

And maybe the least destructive one. Selectively. From what he had skimmed through, he really did calm down the damage after he met her.

The old man hummed in agreement, contemplative. "Would you like some help?" he offered.

"Help?" Adrien echoed, surprised.

"I am in debt to you," the old man explained, "Chat Blanc, you did quite a service for me. You saved someone that was very important. Someone I didn't think you would save."

Adrien blinked down at him, uttering, "Ok?"

Closing his eyes, the old man murmured to himself, "I am very pleased with my findings." Opening his eyes, he flashed Adrien a proud smile. A smile that left Adrien fluttering, standing up straighter under that gaze. Reaching into his pocket, the old man pulled out a small black box, with red Chinese inscriptions on it. He held it out to Adrien. "This will help you find her. Open it when you're alone."

Adrien took it, wide eyed and filled with wonder at the little trinket.

He felt a slight tingle coming from it, an energy he couldn't name.

One he wanted to grasp and hold onto.

Tightening his grasp on it, Adrien looked up, a question on his lips. Only to find the old man gone. Looking around wildly, Adrien rolled his thumb over it, feeling the ridges of the red symbols before hurrying into the first hidden away space he could find.

This could really help him find her?

Making sure he was alone, he cracked it open, eagerly looking in.

He caught sight of a black ring before light burst out of the box, startling him back. It dimmed down, shaping a small cat like creature that released a big lazy yawn, flashing little fangs at the blond.

"Woah," Adrien whispered in awe.

Slanted green eyes blinked at him as the creature looked him over lazily. "I'd say you're the more awing one than me, kid." He raised a brow at the blond. "You used to be an akuma, and you actually learned to love."

Gaping at it, he reached forward, lightly poking the tail. "Should akumas not know love?" he asked as the creature drew away from his curious touch.

The being shrugged, "Akumas aren't known for being loving."

"Are you similar to akumas?" Adrien asked, reaching for the floating cat once more.

He drew away once more, face pinching up in annoyance. "I'm similar in origin," he said, finally just floating up and perching on a fence, out of Adrien's reach. Setting a paw on his chest, he bid, "Plagg, kwami of the black cat miraculous."

"Miraculous?" Adrien repeated.

"A magical item that Hawk Moth and Ladybug uses, mine makes you a black cat hero."

Adrien gasped excitedly.

Plagg adds, "And the partner of Ladybug."

"Ladybug," Adrien repeated, turning away and frowning at the name. "She's the one that fixed me, right?"

"She cleansed you yeah."

He held up the box, staring in at the little black ring. "This'll be a good way to repay her then."

"Sure," Plagg said, floating down towards Adrien. He flashed the blond a grin. "Ready to stain your coat black?"

Setting the box away in his bag, Adrien slipped on the ring, finding that it fit perfectly. It felt right. Rolling it slightly, he asked, "And this will really help me find her? My soulmate?"

Plagg just grinned, green eyes gleaming. Instead of answering or confirming it for Adrien, he said, "Let's start with the command. Claws out."

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"Would you like a cookie?" Tikki asked, floating above the bundle of sheets. Marinette could be hardly seen, curled up in bed, her large white cat plush dragged under it where she held it tightly. She didn't move or breath a sound to the kwami's question. Tikki sighed, dropping down on the mattress and sitting next to her. Her human seemed to take the failure of this morning as a poor sign for the future of her and her soulmate.

Tikki thought it was very unlikely to be true.

It took more than simply missing each other a few times to sever the bind fate tied.

She should know, she's had bugs and cats that have been torn apart, separated by different continents and cultures and societies; they still found each other. Were still able to live largely happy together.

It was rare for the tied chosens of ladybug and black cat to not be together.

Out of all matches, they were almost always set.

It just took a cruel twist of fate and luck to sever them.

But this was not one of those times.

Finishing the cookie in a big gulp, Tikki floated up and glanced towards the school, seeing students pile out. Swallowing, she asked, "Do you want to go try again?"

Still no response.

Sighing, Tikki floated over to the bed and dove down into the covers, wiggling about till she found Marientte. The girl laid in a trance, biting her lip as she stared at nothing. So convinced and set that she had entirely ruined her chance. Tikki could almost hear the mantra of her failures playing in Marinette's head, scolding her for her decisions, declaring that she lot her future over and over again.

Shuffling closer, Tikki nuzzled her forehead, jerking Marinette out of her daze and sparking a shuddering breath from the girl. "It'll be ok," the kwami whispered to her, running her paws through her hair and playing with it. She promised, "You'll see him again."

Just as she was about to press a kiss to her chosen's forehead, Tikki paused, feeling a familiar presence coming their way. She smiled. "Real soon," she said. "You'll see him again real soon."

Marinette didn't believe her.

She curled up tighter under the sheets, smearing her face into her fists and shaking a little.

Tikki continued to soothe, waiting for the cat to arrive.

She'll be glad to see this over.

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From what he could see, his costume as Black Cat... as Chat Noir, was very similar to what he wore while as an akuma.

Only difference was coloration. And he had a ring and silver staff strapped to his belt. Flexing his fingers as he eyed the clawed tips, Chat looked about, leather ears twitching on his head while his tail rose up.

It all felt natural.

All the features, the suit, his sharpened hearing; it all felt natural.

Maybe it was due to being Chat Blanc before?

That seemed to be the idea Plagg was going for, since the kwami was very limited in explaining stuff. Actually declared that Adrien already knew all of this. The blond couldn't say that he did. It certainly felt familiar. But he couldn't remember all he was able to do as Chat Blanc, all he had to go on was what he saw in pictures.

Maybe it would be like riding a bike for him?

He just hopped to it and it would come back and he wouldn't even have to think about it.

That appeared to be the same answer for finding his soulmate as well.

Just move.

And "follow his nose".

Tail twitching anxiously, Chat tensed as he crouched, then jumped up, heading for a roof like he had done as an akuma. He landed easily on the rim, tail raised to balance him. Standing up, he trailed to the center of the roof, to the highest point, completely unafraid at this point.

Here, he did as the kwami bid and breathed in deep.

That sweet delectable smell brushed against his nose.

The smell of the bakery.

He turned to it, ears up at attention.

It was familiar, seeing it from a rooftop.

Without even thinking about it, he started to run towards it. A familiar path traced out for him, one only his feet knew. He jumped over gaps, slid down roofs, leapt over railings. All the while he kept the balcony top on the bakery in sight.

In mere seconds he landed on the railing and froze at the wave of familiarity. A little garden that was spread across the balcony. A table in the center that they, they used to frame on either side, a plate of cookies with hot chocolate set on top between them as they watched the sunset or enjoyed evening air. There was a large white tarp rimmed with colorful lights, he, he used to sit under that during the rain... and below it were twin lounge chairs, black and green, and pink and white. Their lounge chairs. The one on the left she got for him.

And next to them was a trapdoor.

It led to her room.

He sucked in a sharp breath, gripping the railing in a nervous rush.

He was here.

He was right above her.

He was here and was right above her.

Shakily, he stepped down from the railing and onto the balcony floor. He froze for a moment, eyes locked on the latch. He took a step forward, and then another. He kept moving till he was above that latch, staring down through the window to the rumbled up bed below.

A bed he used to sleep in.

A bed they used to share.

Heart pounding, he shook as he reached for the latch, and gave a shy few taps to it.

For a moment, nothing moved in the room below.

Still nervous, he gave another set of knocks, pressing a little harder this time to secure that he was heard.

The bed moved.

The pile of sheets were moving below him, revealing her as she popped her head out.

Chat's breath was ripped out of his throat as he stared down at her, wide eyed.

She gaped up at him, equally surprised, like she couldn't believe the sight of him.

"Princess," he whispered, taking her in, having all figments of his memory cleaned and sharpened as he soaked her in. This was her. This was her. She was here, right below him. He found her. He actually found her!

It seemed to click for her too that he was here, for she scrambled up, almost tripping on the sheets that tangled around her ankles. Chat drew away just in time as that latch flew open and she gasped out, "Chat?!"

"Princess," he repeated, breathless.

Her face pinched, her body shook, and before he was ready, she jumped out of her hatch and tackled him to the floor, babbling and crying into his chest as she held him tightly. "I-I thought I," she babbled into his chest, heaving and croaking out words he could barely catch. He caught "lost", "my fault", and "cleansed" before he snapped back to reality.

His soulmate was crying.

Shakily Chat sat up, wrapping his arms around her tightly as he gave her an affectionate nuzzle. A natural purr bubbling out of him as he held her, trying to calm her and express his relief to have finally found her again. "It's ok," he murmured into her soft her, tightening his hold slightly as she cried and jerked against him, face pressed against his chest. He breathed in, his purr getting loud at the familiar scent he buried his nose into. "It's ok."

She shook in his arms, gripping his suit tightly as she tried to calm down.

He rubbed his cheek against her head, reassuring, "I'm here. I'm here now."

"I-I, I thought," she bubbled out.

"I know," he said. "I'm sorry, I'm here now."

She jerked back, startling Chat as she shot him a weak glare. "You're sorry?!" she cried, shaking her head wildly and smearing her hands over her cheek. "I'm sorry! I, I cleansed you... I, I broke us. You, it's my fault that you, that you..."

He wrapped his claws around her wrists, drawing them away from her pinched up, wet face. He stared at her with wide eyes. "Ladybug?" he asked.

She just gave a loud sniffle in his lap.

She was Ladybug.

His soulmate had been Ladybug.

"I should've stayed," he uttered, recalling the first time he woke, his decision to go home. "I should've stayed."

"I-I'm sorry," she croaked.

He pulled her close, burying his face into her hair as she grabbed his suit again, trembling. Brow furrowed in concentration, he tried to grasp what he knew, what he remembered. "Mmm. Ma, Mar..."

He felt her still against him.

"Mar... Mari... "

She withdrew, wiping her cheeks and sniffing. "Marinette. Marinette Dupain-Cheng," she confirmed with a weak smile.

"Marinette," he repeated breathlessly, a pleased, relieved smile growing over his lips. "It's a lovely name," he swore.

She jerked and giggled, her head coming to rest on his chest. "That's what you told me the first time we talked," she mumbled into the black material.

Bashful and giddy, he said, "Well it's true."

She withdrew slowly, looking over him and tilting her head. She a small smile, she said, "Chat Noir. I, I find I'm at a disadvantage."

He blinked at the familiar words, ears perked expectantly.

She lightly poked his nose, stating, "I don't know who you are."

His smile grew, warmth flashing through him. "You want to know who I am?"

"I would like too. I've been waiting since we met."

Nervous and giddy, he gulped and smiled shakily. "Claws in," he uttered, watching her as the magic washed away, leaving him bare and human before her, watching her eyes widen as she took him in. Neither noticed Plagg as he darted away, joining Tikki into the room below.

For the next few minutes, they sat still, gazing at the other.

Slowly, Marinette reached for him, cupping his cheeks and curling her palm around soft, bare skin. Her thumb came up, rubbing the space where his mask had covered in both forms. Adrien gently and shyly wrapped his hand around her wrist, stroking the inside and relishing the feel of her soft, warm skin under his. Without gloves in either form to buffer him, Adrien found that it was an addictive feeling.

She giggled, eyes gleaming as she took him in. "You weren't lying," she declared.

"I would hope not?" he offered, unsure what she was talking about.

"You really don't have any markings on your face. No moles or freckles."

"Unlike you," he returned, leaning closer and grinning when he found the pale constellations scattered over her nose. "They really are cute."

She gives a soft snort and lightly boops her nose against his. Peering into his eyes, so relieved and blissful, she finally asked, "What's your name?"

He closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers, breathing in deep. "Adrien," he told her. "Adrien Agreste."

His face was tilted down and soft, warm slips pressed against his in chaste kiss. Adrien shuddered, and quickly followed those lips as they drew away, taking in the surprised him and pulling her closer, soaking in her warm, breathing in her scent, and just taking her all in. When they separated, she murmured, "I'm happy to finally meet you, Adrien."

"And I you," he whispered back, unable to stop the smile as he cracked his eyes open and took her in.

He found her.

He hadn't left her.

They were together again.

And by how tightly they held each other, they would never separate again.

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'What's a soulmate?'

'It's like a best friend but more. It's the one person in the world who knows you better than anyone else. That someone who makes you a better person.

'No, actually they don't make you a better person. You do that by yourself because they inspire you.

'A soulmate is someone you carry with you forever. Its the one person who knew you, accepted you and believed in you before anyone else did or when no one else would.

'No matter what happens, you'll always love them and nothing could ever change that.'

-Dawson's Creek

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This has been an interesting and enjoyable write. I hope everyone has enjoyed this as much as I have.

I hope to see you all in future stories! Thank you for reading!