Good God help me I’m back on my Garmari again. AGAIN. Class salt, but not Alya, Alix is neutral (so minor Alix salt?). Chloé redemption, but it’s not mentioned. Also, members of the new team at the end are PV Félix and his Gucci Gang
Marinette never thought she’d thank Chloé Bourgeois, of all people, for her boyfriend.
A year and a half ago, their end-of-year class trip was the best one they had had or ever would. Funding, from Chloé’s father, went to a weeklong trip to San Francisco. They toured Alcatraz, the different neighborhoods, the Ghirardelli factory, and walked the Golden Gate Bridge.
None of those events even came close to the Teen Titans’ tower in San Francisco Bay. They didn’t go inside, obviously, but almost every day, in their allotted free time, she found herself at a harborside café, sketching the tower and designs that came to her from it and its team.
It was those quiet times that, incidentally, got her into contact with the team shapeshifter, Beast Boy.
Marinette had been sitting on a dock for a change, doodling idly as her legs swung from a bench — she was still too short for her feet to touch the ground at fifteen. Tikki dozed in her purse, stuffed full of chocolate.
As the sun began to make its way toward the horizon, she got up and placed the sketchbook in her backpack. Then, like the sun, she began to head home.
That journey would quickly be delayed. A man, hood up and all in dark clothes, snatched her purse and took off like a shot.
The Parisian girl sprinted after him, shouting for help. If she had been transformed, perhaps she would have taken him down faster.
But perhaps it was for the better. A green blur shot out of an alley and knocked into the would-be thief with a forceful missile kick, quickly apprehending the man. Marinette skidded to a halt to avoid running him over, and was caught in a pair of dark brown eyes.
Oh, hello there.
He grinned toothily, and held up her clutch purse. “Does this happen to be yours?”
“Oui!” Marinette’s hands flew to her mouth, and she couldn’t help but flush in embarrassment. “Oh! I am sorry, yes, it is.” Despite years of learning English, she couldn’t help but stammer with her accent.
The green boy fished out a pair of cuffs and locked them around the thief’s wrists, and kept a hold on them with his left hand as he held out his right. “I’m Beast Boy. Nice to meet you, though it would’ve been better under different circumstances.”
She shook his hand, and couldn’t help a sheepish smile. “Well, um, if you would like to try again,” Marinette suggested, already flushing, “I will be close to Hyde Street Pier, on the waterfront, close to three o’clock tomorrow.”
His grin only widened. “Can’t wait!” Beast Boy hauled the man to his feet, and glanced back at her. “Oh, hey, by the way — what’s your name?”
“See you tomorrow, Marinette!”
That fateful encounter sparked a close friendship, which blossomed into an even closer relationship.
Marinette was grateful that the stars had aligned that day. She wouldn’t be where she was in life without him, if she was being completely honest.
She and Gar were open about their identities to each other, and when he came over on his bimonthly visit via Zeta tubes, they spent their days inside cuddling, watching movies, and playing video games.
The only thing that irked both of them was the fact that their relationship was one-hundred-percent secret from the press, as neither wanted that publicity.
Ergo, they couldn’t be seen in public together.
Therefore, they couldn’t go on dates, no matter how much they wanted to.
At least they had reached a compromise. Until Hawkmoth was defeated, on her own terms, they couldn’t be seen together. Even if her own terms, which would take more time, involved no outside help.
When Lila Rossi entered Françoise Dupont for the first time, Marinette didn’t have to be Ladybug to see through her lies. She claimed extravagant tales of meeting American superheroes on her mother’s travels — of the Teen Titans in New York City, of the Batfamily in Gotham, and of some group she had completely made up — the Gems of Justice, of all names.
Yeah, no. She didn’t have to be a superheroine to spot the bullcrap a mile away.
She tried to keep the whole situation quiet, though, she really did. Marinette didn’t want to burden Gar with class drama. After all, she was well aware that they only had so much time together.
But just like how she had tried to keep being Ladybug from him, that plan fell through in a matter of hours.
He held her when she sniffled over Lila’s threat, and let her slump back into him as she described how her classmates (sans Alya, bless her heart) were riveted by this Italian liar nobody who somehow held their attention.
She held onto the hope that they would all see reason, sometime.
That hope shattered when Alya moved away. Her parents wanted out from the living nightmare of Akumatown, as all four of their daughters had been akumatized at least once apiece.
Marinette sobbed, for the first time alone in the city of love.
It was midnight when she called him on her first night without her bestie, bawling into the phone line.
It was twenty minutes past when he showed up on her balcony, and she almost tackled them both over the railing. She let her emotions pour out onto his shoulder and he held her tight; and when she ran out of tears to cry, he held her until she fell asleep in her bed.
In the morning, he let her sleep in a little bit, and made her pancakes (with green food coloring, of course, because how else would he?). She cried again upon seeing the food, but there were thankful tears mixed among the sad ones.
Marinette left her house with her head held high.
Without her rock Alya at her side, Lila’s digs and jibes became worse. She took the mental hits, took the comments. Snide words turned into sneering faces turned into trips in the hallways, turned into destroyed work.
She resigned from the class presidency, choking down tears.
How could she have let it get this bad?
She should have stood up to it, so it could have stopped before it all began!
Trips in the hallways turned to shoving at the steps, turned into stolen things.
Garfield, in the Titan Tower, had had a slow week. He’d only gone to visit Marinette a few days ago, but when Raven flicked his shoulder and told him he was moping, he headed off to the tubes to pay his girlfriend a surprise visit.
He emerged in Paris and immediately morphed into a bird, flying high above the city. He didn’t want the attention that came with his ability, not today.
As her school wasn’t out yet, Gar soared around Paris, taking in the sights. No matter how many times he came to the city, the views still left him amazed.
And Marinette with him, when they could go to those places, would leave him breathless.
As the hour wound closer, he headed over to Collège François Dupont, and took a perch on one of the flagpoles, content to wait for the time being.
The bell rang to let the classes out, and he shifted on his seat, eager to catch a glimpse of his girlfriend.
She was one of the first out, and he readied his wings to swoop down to her and sweep Marinette off her feet. He was almost in flight when he stopped dead, dread washing over him like a tidal wave.
A tall Asian boy with an undercut and bleached hair hurried after her, his sneakered feet hitting the cement with a self-righteous purpose.
And a pack was following him.
Her classmates — a pale girl with long black hair, a dark-skinned boy with close-cropped hair, a short blonde girl, a tall blonde boy, and more — were in close pursuit.
And behind them strode a brunette, her wedged heels clicking with her own purpose. Green eyes watched all as her lips curled into a deadly, sickly smirk.
All attention was on Marinette, who hurried to go home, shoulders hunched.
He had left her alone like this.
“Hey!” the Asian boy called, and a robot whizzed in front of his girlfriend, bringing her up short.
She froze, and slowly turned to face him. Marinette was dwarfed by his massive frame, and she was terrified of what might happen next.
His hands came to rest on his hips, and he cocked his head in a leer. “Don’t think you’ve gotten away with what you’ve done.”
“Huh?” Her tone was shrill, it was panicked. “Kim, I didn’t do anything!”
An ugly frown twisted his face. “Then maybe you’ll remember!”
Faster than she could react, his hand raised and descended.
But Garfield reacted faster.
In a blink, he took off like a shot and dove down at the Asian boy, then shifted back to human form midair to launch himself at the boy feet-first like a missile. His boots hit the boy in the back of the neck, and man, was he satisfied to see him fall.
“G- Beast Boy?!” Marinette’s panicked whisper told him she was only a hair away from a complete breakdown.
The classmates hurriedly backpedaled, clearing a ring for him in the crowd that was quickly forming.
Gar hauled the boy — Kim — up by his hoodie collar. Despite his scrawny figure, he was lean, and packed a punch.
“I don’t like bullies,” he hissed as his eyes narrowed to slits. Kim quaked in his grasp, catching a good look at his fangs. “And if I catch you even looking at her wrong, you’ll wish you had never met her.”
Someone in the crowd was foolish enough to step forward and speak up. It was the dark-skinned boy with glasses, and his robot had flown back to be at his side. “My calculations prove that there is a ninety-percent chance that Marinette is the one at fault.”
He felt his girlfriend shrink beside him. It was tempting to shift into a tiger and intimidate the lot of them.
But instead his lips twitched into a smile, instead he grinned. The hook in his mouth had never been so cold.
“Then I suggest you check your calculations, buddy boy.” The class flinched back from his tone alone — it flashed knives, razor-sharp and ready to cut.
“All of you better watch your backs, ‘cause I’ll be waiting for an opening.” His voice spilled from his throat in an angry growl. If he had been a tiger, his tail would have lashed.
“I’m giving you one warning. Scram.”
The class took off and scattered, one of them even darting into the street.
Gar didn’t spare them a second glance before turning back to Marinette and hugging her tight. “I’m so sorry,” he murmured, closing his eyes and inhaling the scent of her perfume. “I should be there for you, not an ocean away.”
Her arms snaked around his sides and clutched him tight. Her entire body was shaking like a leaf, so he gently rubbed her back.
“Hey, hey. Marinette, let’s get back to your room, okay?” Any trace of the snarl he had bared at her classmates was gone; his voice was gentle now, it was soothing.
She sniffled, and hiccuped once as she tried to get her breathing under control. “Okay.” Her voice was quiet, subdued. There was no trace of the sassy girl he had met who loved life fiercely with all her heart.
Anger built inside him but he dispelled it, thanking Raven for forcing him to learn meditation.
After he picked up her bag, Gar wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling her close. “It’s not that far. You can make it.”
Another subdued “okay” was all the response he got.
He led her across the street, ignoring the looks passers-by threw him and even the phone cameras.
Once she was inside the bakery, a shocked gasp let him know Sabine Cheng had seen them. She rushed out from behind the counter to hug her daughter tight, then led the two of them to their living room upstairs.
After he had set down her bag and the three of them were seated on the couch, Sabine with her arm around Marinette and Garfield holding her hand, his girlfriend finally broke down, sobbing into her mother’s shoulder.
“Do you want me to make tea?” he offered, knowing Sabine didn’t want to leave her daughter’s side.
The older woman nodded. “Please. Peony.”
He gave Marinette’s hand a squeeze and got up, finding the kettle and mugs easily. While he waited for the water to heat up, he sat back down next to her.
Sabine looked to him, gray eyes piercing. “What happened, Garfield?”
He told her everything. How he had watched her come out of the school and saw Kim go straight for Marinette on an offense she hadn’t committed.
“It’s Lila,” his girlfriend muttered, her voice muffled by her mother’s shirt. “She’s influenced them all except Alix.”
That didn’t help matters.
“But Alix didn’t defend you,” Gar told her gently. “They all, one way or another, abandoned you.”
Marinette hiccuped, finally looking up at him. A bolt of pain shot through his heart at the face looking him in the eyes — red-rimmed eyes, tear-stained cheeks, and a running nose.
“They abandoned me,” she repeated, her voice hollow. “I have nobody.”
“You’ve got me,” Garfield reminded her, taking her hands and squeezing them tight. “You’ve got two parents who love you more than anything in the world. And, if I called them now, you have the Teen Titans. All of them would stand for you. Every last one of them.”
The kettle whistled, and he got up to steep the tea. He heard Sabine murmur to her daughter in Cantonese, things he didn’t understand but knew the intent. He returned to the couch with three mugs balanced carefully on a tray, and set it down on the table.
“Mrs. Cheng, I don’t know if you’ve considered it, but have you thought of moving schools?”
She nodded, and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear. “I have. And I think that it would be best.”
Marinette didn’t even flinch, just numbly nodded. His heart broke to see her so lifeless, and he pulled her into a tight hug. He almost had to blink back tears of his own, and rested his chin on the top of her head.
“Let me help with this, Mrs. Cheng. Please.”
Sabine nodded. “I will. How long are you going to stay in Paris?”
“As long as I’m needed.”
And he did. He stayed.
Garfield was the one to march into Françoise Dupont to deliver the paperwork to Damocles, his chin up and shoulders back. Even if he was at average height — and shorter than a good half of the school — they cleared a path for him, the school yard silent enough to drop a pin.
He didn’t spare them a parting glance.
Gar was the one to walk her to her new school, where she was mobbed by Kagami, Luka, and Chloé. They thanked him, each thank-you heartfelt, and he grinned, knowing his girlfriend was in good hands.
He was there for her first week, and went back to the Tower knowing she had friends to support her there.
And when Hawkmoth was finally defeated months later, with a new team and a new Chat Noir, he pulled Marinette into a searing kiss as the rain began to wash Paris clean.