Canary, Part 31
Tw for a pretty nongraphic murder scene in the italics while Emma and Marinette are digging
Tim handed her her suitcase and she smiled at him, pushing herself up onto the tips of her toes in order to press a kiss to his nose.
You would assume that she would have retreated back into her shell after the stuff with Penguin, she had actually been far more open with her affections. And, as much as he would like to think that it’s because she suddenly realized that Tim was a trustworthy person, he wasn’t stupid. No, she was moving in a stilted, almost robotic way. The light was on but no one was really home.
Part of him wondered why this was her default. What it meant about her. Because he couldn’t think of anything good.
He pushed the thought from his head, at least for now.
He rubbed the back of his neck, mustering a tiny smile of his own. “Would you like me to walk you all the way to your apartment or should I just leave you here?”
“I’ll probably be okay, Timmy, it’s just four flights of stairs.”
Tim fought the urge to pull out the statistics of how many people die in stair-related accidents every year. But he didn’t. It wasn’t the stairs that he was worried about.
She scrutinized his face for a few seconds before sighing, rolling her eyes. After a moment’s consideration, she knelt down to pick up a fallen pine cone. She weighed it in her hands before suddenly throwing it at a third-story window.
He made an embarrassing squawking sound in his surprise. “Marinette, you can’t just –!”
The person who owned the apartment poked their head out angrily and Tim looked around quickly, trying to find a place to flee to, only to double-take.
The woman that looked out was the one that Marinette had talked to outside of the bank. Emma, he was pretty sure.
She glanced back inside, yelling something that sounded like ‘AAA’. That done, she ducked out the window and then, for some insane reason, decided that she wanted to jump from a third-floor balcony (do fire escapes count as a balcony)?
She was quickly followed by a girl who Tim instantly liked more because she decided to actually walk down the fire escape. Sure, she was going down them far faster than was advisable, but his standards for fire escape safety had just lowered drastically.
But he could hardly think about that because the woman was already running over. She took his friend’s face in her hands, a scowl on her face.
“You had us worried sick, y’know? You said you would get here last night and – and –.” Emma’s eyes narrowed just slightly and she sighed, some of the anger bleeding out of her. She tried again, a lot softer: “I was starting to believe Aaron’s dumbass theories about how the Waynes have a secret dungeon under their house where they keep future adoptees.”
Tim’s brain temporarily shorted out. “He – we – what?!”
The younger girl (AAA?) grinned widely from her new place at Marinette’s side. “Don’t mind that. Aaron’s been bitter about the bats and their affiliates ever since a bat stole his bones.”
“Since a bat what?!”
Marinette snickered and slowly leaned into Emma, sending Tim a halfhearted smile. “Yeah, apparently Red Hood was an asshole in his early days. I wonder if he kept his ribs.”
Tim was getting more questions than he was getting answers. He decided to just accept defeat.
Marinette pulled a bag from her shoulder and handed it to the younger girl. “Right, here’s the dress I promised, Ara. I’ll see if I can find a tailor for you.”
“We have the same body shape, don’t we?” Ara asked, frowning as she took it. And, while Ara was about the same height and width as Marinette…
“Not at all,” Emma, Marinette, and Tim all said in unison.
Emma and Marinette looked at him. Tim’s face burned red.
He cleared his throat awkwardly, tugging at his collar. “I – uh – I’ll be going. I have… work… things? You guys have fun.”
He was suddenly glad that he was a bat. The ability to disappear in the middle of a conversation was pretty handy.
Leave it to Adrien to do something so stupid it pulls her out of her slump.
Thanks to his previous experience with Ara he had decided not to go up the normal way and instead opted to climb up the fire escape, lest he get attacked by another feral teenager.
Unfortunately, he had forgotten about the traps that were still up.
He got glitterbombed. In the ‘stomach’. Again. Marinette was pretty sure that she could take sole responsibility if it ever turned out Adrien had gone infertile.
She laughed so hard she fell off the couch.
He managed to get inside the apartment, his arms crossed over his chest in a weak attempt at distracting from the pallor of his cheeks (which was only heightened by his newly blackened hair).
This of course, only made her laugh harder.
He scowled and started wiping the glitter off of his shirt… directly over her. Purple flecks filled her vision and she was quick to shut up and sit up to avoid the sparkly attack.
“I’m putting arsenic in your milk.”
“Jokes on you, arsenic actually tastes kinda nice.”
She hummed, considering. “True. Cyanide, then.”
His face screwed up in displeasure.
She grinned victoriously despite the purple flecks on her face and laid herself down on the couch. He gave her an unamused look, pointedly staring at her legs, but she didn’t move. He sighed.
“So… is it safe to assume that it didn’t work?”
“It didn’t. Which means…” She toyed with the seam of her gloves. “I don’t know, really. The bats are even better at covering their tracks than I am… maybe the invitee list will help? Maybe they just didn’t show up to this specific one?”
He stalked across her apartment to the fridge. He pulled the gallon of milk out and, after checking it, took a couple of sips. Straight from the jug. She hated him.
“Do you have a plan for how to get the list?”
She pressed her lips into a thin line. “You aren’t going to like it.”
“I never like your plans, M’lady. Lay it on me.”
“Alright, I need you to finish up the fake identities I asked you for… hack the Wayne Gala invitee list… hack into Penguin’s finances…”
He frowned. “Why are we going after Penguin’s finances?”
“Because he’s a bitch and I want to hit him where it hurts.”
He opened his mouth, clearly curious about what made her go from ‘I want to kill this guy and be done with it’ to ‘I will ruin this man’ so quickly, but he seemed to think better of it. “Okay… and what is it that I’m supposed to be upset about?”
She picked at her gloves. “I was thinking, since you’ll probably need access to Penguin’s personal devices, it would be best if we could get you in and out of his office without anyone noticing.”
“Wh –?” He looked down at the half-empty milk jug in his hands as he worked through what she was asking of him. “You want to get the fox miraculous from Fu.”
She nodded. Pulled out her phone to play some Candy Crush so she wouldn’t have to meet the eyes that were trying to bore a hole through her skull.
“... well, you were right, I don’t like it.”
Her eyes narrowed. “That’s not a no.”
“It’s not,” he said with just a hint of reluctance. He took a long swig of her (well, his, now) milk. “I’m assuming you have a plan to beat him?”
“And you won’t tell me everything I need to know?”
“Not a chance.”
“Man, I really know how to find every prick in existence.” He ran his hand through his hair, pushing his bangs away from his eyes. “Fine. What will you tell me?”
She smiled a smile as cold and sharp as her knives.
It was noon in New Jersey, which meant it was eighteen hundred hours (6pm) in Paris. A reasonable time for both parties to make a call.
The two of them sat on the counter, phone placed between them. Marinette leaned back against the fridge, idly twirling her karambit around her finger. Adrien had taken to sitting cross-legged, staring at his phone. The number was proudly displayed on the screen, it would only take one click to call Master Fu.
Marinette was tempted to just press call and toss it over, she had never been one for sitting idly (especially in the literal sense), but she wasn’t that mean.
Only mean enough to rush him.
She crossed one leg over the other, her foot bouncing just slightly. “Chaton… the longer you put something off the harder it gets to do it.”
He snorted. “Easy for you to say. You always do things as soon as you can.”
Marinette kept track of all of her lies and occasional truths obsessively, cataloged everything mentally. It was why she was so good at her job. It also meant that she could come up with many examples off of the top of her head to counteract that claim. She thought about how Edward and Jonathan didn’t know her real name, thought her real name just another alias. Thought about how Emma only had suspicions about what she had really been doing when she had ‘died’. Thought about how Tim didn’t know that their first meeting was a farce. Thought about how they all deserved to know. Thought about how she would never tell them.
But he knew her well enough to know that. And she knew him well enough to know he was just stalling.
So, she grinned and said: “True. Doesn’t mean I’m stupid enough not to know. Now hurry. In case you’ve forgotten, this job has a time limit.”
He looked a little annoyed, but the expression dropped the moment he caught sight of his phone again.
Reluctantly, he tapped the call button and put it on speaker.
“Adrien?” Master Fu’s voice filtered through the phone. Marinette used to find it comforting. Now, it sent a chill through her. “Did you get her miraculous?”
“I thought I told you not to call unless you had it.”
Adrien winced. “Or if it was important…”
There was a beat.
“What did you do?” Master Fu’s said, suddenly louder.
Not harsher, though that was certainly his intention, she could hear the traces of amusement edging into his tone.
Adrien shrunk in on himself. “I… lost the horse miraculous to her.”
Another beat, longer this time.
Master Fu heaved a sigh. “I see. I suppose I should have expected that. She always was the smarter of you two.”
Christ. Even Marinette winced a little at that. The old man could at least try and be subtle.
“I will be on the first plane I can find to Gotham so I can fix your mistakes.”
“Yes, Master,” Adrien said, his voice soft. “I understand.”
Marinette reached out and hung up for Adrien. His hands were a little occupied covering his face.
She paused, her hand still out. He looked like he could use some kind of comfort…
A tidal wave of emotions washed over her and she quickly drew back, swallowing down her disgust.
He looked up at the sudden movement and sighed, rubbing his red-rimmed eyes. “I know it was fake and that he was playing it up for you, but… it still hurts, for some reason.”
“Still hit too close to home?” Marinette suggested quietly.
He shrugged helplessly.
They stared at the phone between them. Message after message came in of Master Fu congratulating himself for his ‘amazing performance’. Marinette wanted to laugh.
“He’s really bad at acting, huh?”
Adrien laughed as much as he could manage at that moment. “Terrible. How did we ever fall for his act?”
“To be fair, we were kids,” she said, sending him a halfhearted smile.
He did his best to return it.
She hesitated, glancing to the side. “If you want, you can stay here. I mean, it’s always nice to be around someone that understands –.”
“You just want to make sure I don’t double-double-cross you.”
She didn’t even have the decency to look sheepish. But, really, he should just be glad that she didn’t try and gaslight him for calling her out.
Instead, Marinette frowned a little and asked: “Is that what it’s called?”
“English is stupid.”
She had to give him that.
She huffed. “Well, whatever it’s called, don’t do it. I’m the only one out of the two of us that has a thing against killing.”
He held up his hands in mock surrender. “Fine. Monitor me all you want… I’m taking the bed, though.”
“Oh, you, bitch –.”
“Emmaaaaaaaa,” Marinette called, resting her chin on the windowsill and smiling oh-so-prettily.
Emma walked over, the exasperation on her face plain as day. “You want something.” It wasn't a question.
“Just a little bit of help from someone I trust.”
The older woman groaned softly and tossed the oven mitts she had been wearing onto a priceless vase. “You’re the worst. But fine. But, if this runs too long, I’m going to have to head home. Hanukkah starts tonight and some of my other kids are Jewish.”
She pouted a little. “I’m no longer the favorite?”
“You’re no longer a child,” Emma corrected. “Now, c’mon. Before I change my mind.”
Marinette scowled as her phone died, cutting off Magnus Chase’s rant about how cool Alex was. She groaned and tossed the phone out of the hole to join their water bottles and still uneaten lunches.
Emma looked up, panting, leaning against her shovel heavily. “Good?”
Marinette nodded just slightly.
And, with that, they brought their attention back to the grave of one Nathalie Sancoeur.
They were only about halfway even after a good five hours. She felt like dying. The way every muscle in her body strained and the sweat were hardly new to someone as active as her, but when you add the dirt sticking to her skin and the fact that they had done everything with very little break it was hardly surprising that she wanted this over with as fast as possible.
And, now, she didn’t even have an audiobook to distract her from the boredom that would surely make her thoughts race soon enough.
She grit her teeth and got back to work.
Back to work, she thought numbly. There was still a blood stain on the cuff of her jeans from her friend. The crowbar she had beaten him with had been discarded beside him, right outside the GCPD. A message, courtesy of her boss, Oswald Cobblepot, telling the GCPD that snitches wouldn’t even be able to get stitches if they happened to cross him. A promise that she was still loyal, that she hadn’t known, that she wasn’t affiliated with Riddler in any way. Which was why she was allowed to go back to work.
She could hear her own panting, hear Emma’s whispered curses.
She could still hear his pleading, ringing in her ears on repeat. He didn’t do it! They were friends! He had a family! Let’s run away together! How could she frame him like this? Was the money really worth it? Please! She couldn’t bring herself to bash in his face like she should have. Couldn’t break his teeth. Couldn’t tear out his tongue. He deserved to say all of those things. But he fell silent soon enough. And she realized that some of the sobbing she had been hearing had been her own.
She wanted to go home so badly.
She wanted to go home so badly. But she couldn’t. She had a reason to be there. But, still, she wanted to go home so badly.
Someone yelled at them that they shouldn’t be robbing a grave. Graveyards were sacred in Gotham, after all. Everyone knew someone that had died, everyone wanted that to be respected.
Marinette glared at him. “This is my old alias… I’m just getting something I left here…”
Whether he believed her or not, he left. It was probably due to the giant shovels in their hands and the glares they gave him.
She turned her glare onto the headstone.
Nathalie Sancoeur. As if summoned by her thinking about her, she had appeared. There was no mistaking her. That red streak in her hair. Those glasses. That pencil-straight posture. Those cold blue eyes that widened the moment she caught sight of her. The woman was the reason she was even in Gotham. Sure, she had come in hopes of finding a job, but there was nothing stopping her from going home once she had realized that that wouldn’t work. Even losing Tikki would have been better than diving through the trash at the local Dunkin’ Donuts for something, anything to eat. But she stayed, remained on the off chance that she would find her. Had even taken her name in hopes that she might get a hint of where the woman was through someone else. And now, completely by coincidence, she was there. Nathalie Sancoeur.
She wiped the sweat from her forehead, grit her teeth, continued on.
She continued on, chasing her through the streets. No one cared, only moved out of the way as the two women sprinted as fast as they could. Marinette would catch her, she was still active. Nathalie was already beginning to reach her limit. The exhaustion was getting to her. She turned in the wrong spot. That alley was a dead end. Marinette slowed, swiping her sleeve across her forehead and baring her teeth in a mockery of a smile. Nathalie was looking around wildly in search of a way out. There wasn’t one. Marinette continued on.
She stabbed her shovel into the dirt, over and over. No slowing. No stopping. Not for anything.
She stabbed her knife into her chest, over and over. No slowing. No stopping. Not for anything.
Her hands were bleeding, staining her gloves. She didn’t care. She continued to work her hands down to the bone.
She continued to work Nathalie down to the bone. It wouldn’t do if someone found a dead body hidden in her apartment thanks to the smell and she definitely didn’t want to risk a bat finding it. The amount of stab wounds indicated it was a crime of passion, it would be linked back to her. So, she had to make sure it didn’t draw any attention. She dipped it into the acid, struggling to ignore Riddler watching over her shoulder to make sure she did it correctly. Her hands burned even through the rubber gloves. Riddler said it was just her imagination, her guilt, playing tricks on her. But that couldn’t be true, it felt so incredibly real, and she swore that before long she would work her hands down to the bone.
Marinette hit wood far sooner than she thought she would. Weren’t graves supposed to be six feet down?
… maybe it was just higher in Gotham. That would make sense. Can’t spend too much time on anyone, there are a lot of bodies in Gotham.
There are a lot of bodies in Gotham. But she wasn’t one of them, yet – despite what her friends might have thought. Marinette looked down at her own casket, three hours before it was scheduled to be buried. It was a closed casket funeral. Marinette had supposedly gotten shot in the head by Riddler, no one wants to see that. It was easy to toss the bones in there, along with a few things she wanted to keep buried for a while. No one would ever be the wiser, no one would ever check. There are a lot of bodies in Gotham.
They stopped, the last of the dirt gone. Emma groaned and climbed out of the hole, not wishing to look into the coffin of her dead friend even if said person was right next to her. Not that Marinette would disagree with the coffin nor the headstone. Certainly, at that particular moment, she felt dead.
She was dead. Marinette Dupain-Cheng was dead, even if her body was still moving around. Maybe she had been dead long before and she was only realizing it now. But she definitely knew that she was no longer the same person now. It almost felt wrong to use the name her parents assigned her when she had to fake being the person she was back in Paris whenever she called them. Maybe that was why she no longer complained when Riddler used that dumb nickname of his. She was dead.
Marinette opened the coffin and pulled out the things she would need: a spellbook she had stolen from Master Fu before leaving and the peacock miraculous.
She hopped out of the hole, items held close to her chest.
Emma looked at what she had gotten and an exasperated look crossed her face. “Really? A book and some weird pin thing? That’s all?”
“They’re magical, Emma,” she said in a sarcastic tone, rolling her eyes.
“I hate you so much sometimes.”
“That’s fair. Help me rebury the coffin?”
“Yeah, sure, give me a minute to eat my food, though.”
Marinette trudged back into her apartment. The book and brooch were hidden safely away in her pocket dimension, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t anything weird for Adrien to take notice of.
Namely the dirt and sweat caking her skin.
He looked up from his computer. He sat up as quickly as his waterbed would allow, eyes wide. “The heck happened to you?”
“Got buried alive,” she chirped.
“The heck –?!”
Yummmmmm: @/TheBetterCanary What did you do to piss of Ra’s
TheBetterCanary: oh wait youre talking about old man number two
Yummmmmm: Nevermind I think I figured it out
TheOneTrueRobin: Old man number two?
TheBetterCanary: he and one other guy are both way over three hundred which makes them old men and i met him second therefore hes number two
TheBetterCanary: tell him that if he wants to be old man number one then he can always kill the guy
TheOneTrueRobin: I highly doubt that it is the numbering that has irritated him.
TheOneTrueRobin: I stand corrected. He wishes for a name.
TheBetterCanary: check your dms it should be between the video of the dog wearing booties for the first time and the picture of the pig in a teapot
TheOneTrueRobin: I have located it. That is a very generic name, and likely an alias, but thank you.
@jayjayspixiepop @unoriginalmess @miraculousfanfic127 @probably-a-hologram @iloontjeboontje @mystery-5-5 @flyhighdreamer @starlit-dreaming @aespades @lowhangingtreebranches @twsssmlmaa @queenz-z @patton-ly-absurd