Alya was furious.
“It’s not about competition, it’s about journalistic integrity!” The redhead shouted at an unfortunate classmate, who was eyeing the nearby table and contemplating whether it would offer any protection from the irate teenager. “I spend hours documenting Ladybug’s fights, interviewing the victims… Not SNOOPING.”
She jabbed her finger at the phone’s small screen, which displayed a series of blurry photographs. Alya selected one and zoomed in until the pixels resembled abstract art.
“And I certainly don’t fake material for attention! See here, and here,” she gestured at the screen. “This is clearly a costume, and not even a good one at that.“
Marinette held back a giggle. She felt sorry for the unfortunate ninth year student, who was shrinking under Alya’s rage, but wasn’t about to become the target of her friend’s… attention.
A bell rang, signaling the start of school. Alya’s victim took off running, and the two girls made their way to the morning’s first class.
Alya threw her bag down on the desk. "It’s nothing more than a gossip column, and a bad one at that. I can’t believe everyone is falling for this - this trash.”
Adrien and Nino simultaneously turned around to face her, startled by the loud smack of books on wood next to their ears.
“What’s going on?” Adrien whispered as Ms. Bustier walked into the classroom.
“Good morning, everyone! Now, as I mentioned yesterday, we are beginning the new history unit today,” the teacher announced, cutting off Alya just as she took a deep breath in preparation for another rant.
The Ladyblogger’s anger hadn’t faded by the end of the school day, and she ranted to Marinette as they walked back to the Dupain-Cheng bakery. Alya criticized every aspect of the new website, Chatwalk, that had appeared online last night, from the design (“Lime text on a black background? Are they trying to make readers go blind?”) to the content (“Selling creepy photos is a massive abuse of the journalistic platform!”).
Marinette sympathized. She really did. As Ladybug, she’d dealt with enough unwanted media attention, from wannabe stalkers to badly written explicit fanfiction submitted to the Ladyblog (Alya rejected each piece, but not before making her friend read excerpts from the more amusing stories). Still, it was funny to see her friend’s obsessive anger as she refreshed the website, checking for new content to pick apart for flaws, which was already pretty amusing in itself.
Alya froze in the bakery entrance and held out her phone. “You gotta see this.”
Marinette took it, and immediately felt the photo burn itself into her retinas. She wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. The screen displayed a surprisingly well-photoshopped image of a blond boy (Adrien, his figure was unmistakeable), pinned against a brick wall by Chat Noir… who was kissing him passionately.
Adrien leaned back in his chair, admiring his work displayed on the computer. Who knew that the photo editing he’d been forced to learn (“It’s important to understand all aspects of photography, even after the model’s work is finished,” his father had lectured) would come in handy?
He didn’t know who had created The Chatwalk, and he was sure it wouldn’t be up for very long - copyright complaints were already pouring in from irate photographers whose work had been ‘borrowed’ by the site - but, as Chat Noir, Adrien felt an obligation to ensure that it lived on in memory.
After all, it wouldn’t do to disappoint his fans.