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Fanfic / Burning Bridges, Building Confidence

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Ever since Lila Rossi returned to Collège Françoise Dupont, Marinette's life feels like it's been steadily sliding downhill. Despite her best efforts, Lila's fabulous-sounding fibs have most of their classmates mesmerized, and she's got every intention of keeping her promise to ruin the fashion designer for the cardinal sin of standing up to her.

To make matters worse, Chat Noir is still persistently pursuing Ladybug, ignoring all of her efforts to get him to ease up on the flirting and take their work as superheroes even a little more seriously.

Enter Collette Sullivan. Another new addition to their class, but this face is both familiar and much more welcome to Marinette, as it belongs to her cousin, who's just moved back from America. And just in time, too, as with Hawkmoth still at large, Lila working hard to tear down all she's created and those she used to trust proving less than reliable, she's going to need all the help she can get.

Burning Bridges, Building Confidence is a Miraculous Ladybug fanfic series by BeanWritesStuff which was once available on Archive of Our Own but has since been removed from public view. Like many other fanworks inspired by "Chameleon", it explores Marinette having to weather the storm. In this case, she has her cousin Cole in her corner, along with forming a new group of friends.

This fanfic series contains examples of:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: Adelaide's thoughts in The Night After make it clear that she sees Principal Damocles as one. While he does act after Alya assaulted her daughter, he's only doing so for fear of facing legal recourse after having allowed the situation to go on completely unaddressed until circumstances ensured that he couldn't turn a blind eye anymore.
  • Achilles in His Tent: Chat Noir decides to start sitting out of battles, watching from the sidelines, and waiting for Ladybug to admit that she needs him... not just as a partner in fighting akumas but as a boyfriend. This blatant Blackmail does not go over well with Cole or Master Fu.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Compared to her Canon counterpart, Chloé is shown to be taking her Heel–Face Turn more seriously by working on her behavior. She isn't especially interested in mending fences with her other classmates, but she isn't bullying them anymore either. She has reached out and apologized to others, and she is already tentatively building a better relationship with Marinette before Cole shows up. She also acknowledges that outing herself to all of Paris makes giving her the Bee Miraculous again a risky proposition.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: Lila's influence makes most of Marinette's classmates significantly worse, with Alya, Kim, and Adrien's worst traits getting amplified.
    • Alya goes from Marinette's 'best friend' to Lila's personal attack dog by fully buying into her lies. Her strong sense of justice and willingness to pursue answers is negatively focused upon Marinette, and she refuses to accept any truths that clash with her assumptions.
    • Kim gets the most focus of their other classmates due to his willingness to get physical with his bullying. One of his very first actions in the story is to attempt to trip Cole on her first day, and he only gets worse from there. Like Alya, he's operating under the presumption that Cole is part of the problem and 'deserves' to be treated poorly.
    • Adrien's pursuit of Ladybug as Chat Noir escalates to the point where he stands aside during akuma battles in the hopes that this will force her to 'admit how she really feels' about him. He also stands aside and watches Lila turn the rest of the class against Marinette and Cole, blaming them for it and buying into her lies enough to believe that Cole is faking her vision issues.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Alya officially crosses over into this when she sharpens her fingernails before outright assaulting Marinette and Cole, aiming for their eyes.
  • Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged; several adults prove reasonable and willing to listen (Marinette's parents, Cole's mom, and her Grandpa), but a few play this painfully straight:
    • When the Squad is brainstorming ways to deal with Lila's threats, Mireille suggests talking to the principal. Chloé dismisses him as a pushover who'd cave in the face of Lila's Crocodile Tears. Though with that said, even he is clearly disgusted by Ms. Bustier's blatant favoritism and winds up suspending her for trying to punish Cole for defending herself from an attack that damaged her eye socket even further. The only reason why he doesn't outright fire her for this offense is that teacher employment lies in the hands of the school board, and the whole incident caused them to launch a major investigation into how Ms. Bustier has been conducting her class, which is definitely taking a while. However, Adelaide views this as Damocles just attempting to save face for both himself and the rest of the school when the incident forced him to realize that he can’t ignore the students' misbehavior anymore.
    • Ms. Bustier proves even worse. When Alya attacks Marinette by trying to scratch her face with her specially-sharpened nails and Cole intervenes, Ms. Bustier reacts with horror, only caring about the fact that she struck Alya while ignoring the fact that Alya ripped some of Cole's stitches open. Unsurprisingly, she winds up getting suspended from her job for it, and Cole's very pissed-off mom is suing her for trying to victim-blame her daughter for defending herself.
  • Ascended Extra: Aurore and Mireille go from minor recurring characters to two members of Marinette's new circle of friends.
  • Attention Whore: Chloé explicitly refers to Lila as such. Rather accurately, too, given her tendency to make everything revolve around herself as much as possible.
  • Batter Up!: Cole uses a baseball bat when assisting Ladybug with Nightify and later carries one as Vexxin.
  • Betrayal by Inaction:
    • Chat Noir combines this with Cavalry Refusal when he decides not to help against Nightify unless Ladybug 'admits' that they're meant to be together. A comment Marinette makes to Tikki before transforming reveals this isn't the first time he's pulled this stunt, either. It's just the first time that Cole and Master Fu witness it.
    • Adrien is fully aware of how Lila is manipulating his classmates, but he refuses to help Marinette or Cole out, insisting that he's 'taking the high road' by staying out of it and blaming them for supposedly causing the conflict. As far as he's concerned, it's their fault for not just letting her lie unchallenged.
  • Betrayal Fic: Much of the main story revolves around Marinette dealing with being let down by her friends and classmates, with Cole's entrance back into her life providing a valuable ally and support when she needs it most.
    • During the Seisquake Trio's attack, Chat Noir refuses to help Vexxin while Ladybug goes for backup, preferring to stand by and watch her deal with being outnumbered while hissing that she deserves it.
  • Big Sister Instinct: When Nora, Alya's older sister, learns that Alya was in a fight, she's initially mad at Cole because she thinks that she's the one who started it. However, once she learns the whole story, Nora gets pissed off at Alya instead for attacking an innocent, disabled classmate, then shoots Cole an apologetic look before dragging Alya home and telling their parents what really happened. Alya sees this as a betrayal on her sister's part.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Lila claims to have been the 'mysterious vigilante' that assisted Ladybug against Nightify, despite not bearing any physical resemblance to them at all.
    • She also claims that Cole doesn't have any vision problems and is just faking it for attention. Despite Cole wearing an eyepatch over her injury.
    • In fact, many of Lila's accusations are based on things that she's done — and wanted to do — to Marinette and Cole.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Lila appears in one during Marinette's Catapult Nightmare, having just fatally stabbed her while her uncaring friends accuse the dead Marinette of 'faking it for attention'.
  • Blunt "Yes": When Alya and Cole are both in Damocles's office:
    Alya: She's been nothing but trouble, Professor Damocles! She's been rude to Lila, lying about having a disability, and she was insulting the class!
    Damocles: And that gave you the right to physically attack her?
    Alya: Yes! [Damocles sighs and presses the bridge of his nose]
  • Broken Pedestal: Though Marinette's regard for Adrien was already weakening, the pedestal completely shatters in The Worst Day So Far when he tries to convince her that she's only suffering because she hasn't 'taken the high road' like him. Seeing just how determined he is to pin the blame on her leads her to lament her former crush, wondering what she ever saw in him in the first place.
  • Brutal Honesty: Cole does not mince words or sugarcoat anything. This, paired with her refusing to play along with Lila's tale-spinning and calling her followers sheep, doesn't make her many friends among her classmates.
  • The Brute: While Alya serves as Lila's Dragon and primary enforcer, Kim is the second-most physical amongst his peers when it comes to 'defending her honor'. The very first action he takes in the story is to try and trip Cole, and he later attempts to grab and physically force her to face them while she's chatting with Marinette.
  • Bullying the Disabled: Lila ends up claiming that Cole is faking her vision issues, which causes her followers to hate Cole more than before. After Alya's attack on Cole, Adelaide aims to get it labelled as an ableist hate crime because Alya uses her insistence that Cole has been faking her missing eye as a reason for the attack.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Revengance swings a giant hammer around.
  • Cast Full of Gay: In spite of their canon counterparts' sexualities, Marinette's circle of friends are all portrayed as queer; Cole, Chloé, Kagami, Aurore, and Mirelle are all lesbians while Marinette is pansexual.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Burning Bridges, Building Confidence opens with Marinette having one where Lila hijacks her wedding and marries Adrien, with all of her friends turning against her.
  • Caught on Tape:
    • Thanks to Marinette telling Cole about Lila, she audio-records every confrontation with Lila and also geotags pics of her and her friends whenever they're doing something fun together. For example, she takes a picture of herself, Chloé, and Marinette when they are eating lunch at a fancy cafe and geotags it, which proves to Principal Damocles that they did not threaten Lila in the girls' bathroom at the same time. So far, the collected evidence has been used to expose Lila's lies to Nino. Cole also gives the evidence to her mother so that she can press charges against Lila for everything she's done to Cole and Marinette.
    • Luka also inadvertently did this while trying to record on the houseboat, catching snippets of toxic exchanges through the boat's thin walls.
  • The Confidant: Before Cole returned to Paris, she served this role for Marinette, via chatting online. Though Marinette naturally didn't tell her anything about her work as Ladybug, she still told her about how things were going at school, including how they were going downhill thanks to Lila turning her classmates against her.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Downplayed and Justified: Cole arrives at Françoise Dupont with a game plan for dealing with Lila and her new classmates because Marinette had been confiding in her about her problems at school well before Cole learned that she was going to be moving back to Paris and attending the same school. In addition, it takes time for her to gather evidence of what's going on, and even though she knew what she was walking into, the stress and frustration still wear on her.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: When Alya attacks Marinette and Cole with deliberately-sharpened nails, Ms. Bustier immediately takes pity on Alya and blames Cole for the incident because she reflexively punched Alya to protect herself. She doesn't even bother to get medical attention for Cole despite the fact that her eye socket stitches got ripped out because of it. Fortunately for Cole, Ms. Bustier finds herself in serious trouble for this because everybody else is utterly disgusted with this flagrant favoritism and victim-blaming. She gets suspended from her job with the school board conducting a major investigation into how she's been running her classes, and then Adelaide sues Ms. Bustier for child abuse/neglect towards both Cole and Marinette. This makes it very likely that she'll lose her job no matter what.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Mireille immediately squeals upon seeing Dottie for the first time and rushes to pet the puppy.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Lila's constant claims that she's Ladybug's best friend get her taken hostage by Rena Rage, who's convinced that this will bring Ladybug in faster.
    • During an akuma attack, Vexxin makes a Mirage of Marinette to serve as a distraction. This has the unintentional side-effect of the real Adrien going after the mirage, making matters significantly more complicated.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Adrien/Chat Noir decides to stay out of akuma fights for a while, withholding his aid until Ladybug agrees to start dating him. He completely fails to consider how Master Fu might feel about this. Turns out the guardian doesn't approve, and the guardian appoints Vexxin as another permanent hero, giving Ladybug a more reliable partner.
    • Alya reacts to the appearance of a new Fox by leaping to all the wrong conclusions and writing an article accusing them of stealing the Fox Miraculous. She then goes on a one-woman crusade against Vexxin that only serves to cement Ladybug's decision to not trust her any further, especially after she compromises her own identity as Rena Rage.
    • Lila tells her classmates that she's going to be traveling during summer break, only to realize a little too late that unless she comes up with a good excuse as to why she's still in Paris, she's going to effectively be stuck inside the whole time.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Alya does this by insisting that she's done nothing wrong even when the consequences of her actions (such as getting her attack on Cole labeled as an ableist hate crime, getting grounded by her parents for the attack, Nino breaking up with her to escape her toxic behavior, losing most of her Ladyblog fans and having it blacklisted by most news media outlets when she starts turning it into a trashy tabloid) start biting her in the butt.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: It's revealed that Benigna Rossi isn't the lead ambassador, as her daughter claims; thus, her diplomatic immunity only applies to her. However, Marinette comments on how Lila clearly thinks that her mother's immunity extends to her and that her actions are just proof of how rotten people can get when they think that they're completely shielded from the consequences of their actions.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Rena Rage has the same outfit as their former superhero identity, just in black and purple.
  • Evil Gloating:
    • Lila engages in this while warning Cole that if she continues supporting her cousin, she'll turn the whole class against her as well.
    • When Revengance thinks that she has Ladybug on the ropes, she sneers and mocks her long enough for backup to arrive.
  • Exact Words: Lila cherry-picks information from an article she found about Cole Sullivan. Specifically, the article shows 'Sullivan' being found guilty of child abuse, assault with intent to kill, corruption, and obstruction of justice. Lila makes it sound as though Cole was the perpetrator instead of the victim, telling Alya that Cole's picture is included with the article and feigning concern that she 'escaped custody' in order to rile Alya up further.
  • Extreme Doormat: Cole sees Adrien as one, describing him as having "the moral backbone of a chocolate eclair."
  • Eye Scream:
    • Cole somehow lost her right eye sometime before moving to Paris. A Night With Friends reveals that her abusive father attacked her with a hunting knife.
    • Alya attempts to inflict this on Marinette, but gets Cole instead, ripping open several of the stitches that were on her eye socket and pushing her recovery back by a few weeks.
  • Failed a Spot Check: When Chat Noir bluntly informs Cole that he's not going to assist Ladybug until she 'admits that they're meant for each other', he fails to notice that Master Fu is right beside her.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: The bulk of Marinette's classmates are characterized like this due to how easily they have turned against her.
  • Fairytale Wedding Dress: Marinette dreams about getting married in one... before Lila appears in a wedding dress 'made of dime store materials and hatred'.
  • False Friend: Lila in regards to Alya and all of her other pawns. At one point, she pretends to be listening to her vent but secretly has her muted and only turns it back on so that she can pass on some 'juicy' cherry-picked info.
  • Femme Fatalons: Alya has a Downplayed version when she sharpens her fingernails before attacking Marinette and Cole in class. Revengance has a pair as well.
  • Flipping the Bird: Cole salutes Chat in this manner when they first meet. She does the same thing to Lila after she threatens her.
  • Flower Motifs:
    • Marinette's favorite flower is noted to be the apple blossom. Fittingly, apple blossoms can signify good fortune, or the promise of better times ahead, something that happens thanks to Cole moving to Paris.
    • In Creation's Curiosity, Tikki examines a list of flowers that Marinette has been compiling for a project and realizes that all of them have meanings related to warnings or rebuke.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Nino teeters on the line between this and Rejected Apology after approaching Marinette and her friends. While they hear him out, even offering advice on how to break up with Alya, they're still a bit leery, with Mari stating afterwards that they need to see that he's learned his lesson and is sticking to his guns before they can start truly forgiving him. Later chapters show that Nino is genuinely doing his best to make it up to everyone.
  • Foreshadowing: During a casual chat about how far the Ladyblog has degraded, Cole mentions three other blogs she prefers: The Heroine Report, Spotlights-On and Miracu-Looking Glass, noting that the last one is still too new for her to make a solid judgment about yet. In a later chapter, those three blogs have formed the Miracu-Media group, and news outlets have started working with them, while also blacklisting the Ladyblog.
  • Freudian Slip: Marinette makes a typo on Discord when trying to convince the Squad not to kill Lila yet. Everyone rolls with it.
    Saltinette (Marinette): Gays no killing yet!
    Saltinette: *guys
    Nick Fury's Bat-Wielding Skater Child (Cole): gays
    Weather or Nah (Aurore): gays
    Sword Lesbian (Kagami): gays
    BumbleBitch (Chloé): gays
    Azureille (Mireille): gays
  • Girl Posse: A benevolent example. Marinette forms a new group of friends at school, including Cole, Chloé, Kagami, Aurore, and Mireille.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Cole finds a copy of the Grimore in a second-hand store while searching for information.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Alya is not happy about being replaced by Vexxin, leading to her posting inflammatory articles on the Ladyblog about her and getting akumatized into Rena Rage.
  • Gullible Lemmings: Most of Marinette's classmates prove to be this, as they follow Lila's lead and turn against Marinette and Cole, ramping up their aggressive behavior as the story progresses.
  • Handicapped Badass: Cole only has one eye, but she’s willing to fight to protect people, both physically and mentally, even before becoming the next Fox Miraculous bearer.
  • The Heavy: Lila considers Alya to be something like this to her, having manipulated her into being her "most proactive attack mutt."
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Before Cole's arrival, Chloé decides to solidify hers by standing with Marinette and making a sincere effort to become a better person rather than falling back into her usual habits.
    • When evidence of Lila's harassment of Marinette and Alya's compliance in the same reaches Nino, he dumps Alya and begins making efforts to repair his friendship with Marinette.
  • Heroic Bystander: During Nightify's attack, Cole leaps into action to help protect other civilians, like Master Fu, which is one of the reasons why he decides to give her the Fox Miraculous.
  • Hoist by Her Own Petard:
    • Chat Noir's decision to stop helping Ladybug until she admits how much she needs him causes Master Fu to choose a permanent holder for the Fox in order to compensate for his inaction while reevaluating his ability to serve as the Cat.
    • Alya's single-minded crusade to get the Fox Miraculous back from Vexxin causes her to unintentionally ensure that she can no longer use any miraculous, as she outs herself as Rena Rouge during her rampage as Rena Rage.
    • Lila's love of Evil Gloating only serves to create more evidence of her plotting and scheming, thanks to Cole making a point to record her threats and save them in her electronic cloud. So far, these recordings have helped Nino realize just how badly Lila's been manipulating him and the others when he contacts Cole on Discord, breaking him out of the toxic environment that Lila has created. Later on, when Adelaide is filing lawsuits against Alya and the school for Alya's attack on Cole, her daughter gives the recordings to her mom to also sue Lila and publicly prove that she's a Consummate Liar.
    • Alya bullying Cole for "faking" her missing eye eventually bites her in the ass when Adelaide gets the law to officially label Alya attacking Cole as an ableist hate crime because she used her belief that Cole has been faking her vision issues as a reason for it.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • In Chapter 4, Ladybug and Vexxin discover each others' identities when they make a Discord server for communicating when not transformed, only to find that they already have that contact information saved.
    • Chapter 5 has Alya learning that there's a new Fox Bearer, and subsequently outing herself as Rena Rouge while akumatized as Rena Rage.
    • Adrien himself reveals to Cole and the rest of Marinette's Girl Posse that he already knew that Lila was lying in Chapter 6.
    • In Chapter 6, Cole's Grandpa spots Trixx leaving her backpack to help him get Cole through a panic attack. Cole's Grandpa reacting calmly to this indicates he already knows about the Miraculouses and about Cole being Vexxin.
    • As of Chapter 7, Cole's mother and Grandpa have been made aware of just what their daughter/granddaughter has been dealing with at her new school. Nino also contacts her to get her side of the story, and Alya has been grounded by her parents when they discover what's been going on.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure:
  • Is That a Threat?:
    • When Vexxin rips into Chat Noir, pointing out that he might be in danger of losing his own Miraculous if he doesn't shape up:
      Chat Noir: Are you threatening me?!
      Vexxin: It's a promise. Because even though I don't have full vision, it doesn't take 20/20 vision to realize you are riding that line like a cowboy. And if you don't get off, you'll be thrown.
    • A similar exchange happens between Adrien and Cole when she warns him that by standing aside and letting Lila get away with lying, he's running the risk of going down with her once the truth comes out.
  • Jerkass Realization: Nino has one once he decides to contact Cole on Discord and get her side of the story. The more evidence he's presented with of just how Lila's been manipulating them, the harder he's struck by just how badly he and the others have been behaving.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • After turning on Marinette and slandering her and her cousin, Alya sees herself replaced as the Fox Heroine. Her reaction to this ensures that she will never be trusted with a Miraculous again due to outing herself as the former Rena Rouge.
    • Not long afterwards, when she outright assaults Marinette and Cole in class, she's given a much more severe punishment (three weeks' suspension once school restarts along with seven weeks of detention, versus Cole getting a single week's suspension). Her parents also get involved, grounding her and posting an announcement on the Ladyblog that it would be on hiatus during her grounding, as well as why she'd lost her rights to maintain her blog in the first place. Meaning that all of her readers then know that she attacked another classmate.
      • The students of Ms. Bustier's class besides Chloé and Marinette are put under watch after the attack. The temporary teacher, Mendeleiv, also puts her foot down on their behavior and is clearly planning on making sure that Lila and her followers can't hurt Marinette and Cole anymore.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Vexxin ends up nicknaming Chat Noir "Shit Noir" to call him out on his entitled and selfish behavior.
  • Malicious Slander:
    • Lila subjects Marinette to this, making her out to be a bullying Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
    • When Cole refuses to abandon her cousin, Lila naturally expands this to her as well. In particular, she accuses her of faking her vision problems much like how she's feigned having health issues, and gets their classmates to judge her sexuality as well.
    • Alya transforms the Ladyblog into a tabloid trashing Vexxin, accusing her of being a lowly thief. Lila feeds the flames by claiming that Vexxin is a Streetwalker, with the fact that Alya, Lila, and Chat Noir all judge her for this being shown as further proof of their awfulness.
  • Mama Bear: As Alya, Lila, and Ms. Bustier learn the hard way starting in Chapter 6, messing with Cole is not gonna go over well with her mother Adelaide, especially when Adelaide was a lawyer before becoming a CEO of a cybersecurity company and is all too willing to resort to litigation to make sure that people get punished for their actions. When Alya attacks Cole in Chapter 6, Adelaide gets it officially labeled as an ableist hate crime and also sues the school for enabling it. She also sues Ms. Bustier for her attempt to blame Cole for the attack and is also aiming to make sure Ms. Bustier loses her job, and when Cole reveals that she collected evidence proving that Lila is a Consummate Liar, Adelaide ends up using that same evidence to build a lawsuit against her so that Lila can never hurt anyone ever again.
  • Meaningful Name: The new Fox Hero, Vexxin, draws their name from several terms: vexing, vixen, toxin, and Trixx, with the latter even inspiring the double-Xs.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Chat's attempts to force Ladybug into a relationship with him directly led to Vexxin becoming the new Fox, as Master Fu heard him openly admit what he was doing without remorse. He immediately cops a condescending attitude towards Ladybug, attempting to blame her for everything:
      Chat Noir: [after hearing that Vexxin is a permanent hero] But why!? We were doing just fine. [folds arms] Until you kept denying our love.
    • Even after Ladybug tells Alya that Rena Rouge and Carapace have been permanently retired due to her actions, Alya blames Vexxin for her misfortune.
    • Adrien is so locked into this mindset that when two of their schoolmates get akumatized immediately after a heated conversation with him, he frantically searches for Marinette just so that he can accuse her of causing it.
  • New Transfer Student: Cole enters Ms. Bustier's class this way.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Cole's not particularly interested in making nice with her new classmates since she's already heard all about how they abandoned and turned upon her cousin. Lila exploits this to turn them against her as well.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Averted. Lila accuses Cole of faking her vision problems, much like how she secretly faked her 'tinnitus'. Most of the class believes this. Including Adrien, despite knowing how much she's lied about other things. Cole, of course, is not, and even takes her eyepatches off in front of Adrien to prove her point.
  • The Oldest Profession: As part of her Malicious Slander, Lila tells Alya that Vexxin was a hooker before she was given the Fox Miraculous. Alya immediately latches onto this as more 'proof' that the new Fox is unworthy. Chat Noir latches onto this as well, gesturing to Vexxin while dismissively referring to her as 'that'. Their judgmental attitude is shown to be yet another moral failing on their part. In contrast, more sympathetic characters such as Nino don’t see anything wrong with sex workers as long as they’re old enough to consent to sex and willingly chose that line of work.
  • Omniglot: Lila claims to be one. Cole and Aurore make fun of this by making mocking comments in English, Spanish, and German, aware that she can't understand them.
  • Original Character: Collette 'Cole' Sullivan, along with a few others to help fill out the story.
  • Out of Character: As a hallmark of the "salt fic", several of Marinette's classmates are subjected to this to varying degrees — up to and including Alya deciding to attack Marinette and Cole.
  • The Perfectionist: Idealizer just wanted her family's Parisian vacation to be absolutely perfect. Her dismay over her plans falling apart makes her prime Hawkmoth bait, and her powers allow her to alter her surroundings to be practically picture-perfect. Including transforming anyone caught by her magic into living props.
  • Playing the Victim Card:
    • One of the ways that Lila turns the class against Marinette and Cole is by accusing the former of threatening her in the bathroom... just like she actually did to Marinette in the show proper.
    • Alya attempts to do this after attacking Marinette and Cole, blaming them for all of the recent classroom drama and insisting that she was fully justified in attacking them.
    • Ms. Bustier does this on Alya's behalf after said assault, fussing over her and only giving her medical attention... and when called on this, replies that she was more concerned with the 'victim'. Unsurprisingly, this flagrant favoritism gets her suspended from her job.
  • Plot Parallel:
    • Adrien/Chat Noir betrays Marinette/Ladybug in both of her identities through inaction and blames her for the fallout of all of his actions. This self-righteous behavior ramps up until he, both in and out of the mask, is focused solely on accosting and berating her for her supposed mistakes during akuma attacks, showcasing just how skewed his priorities are.
    • Chat Noir and Alya are shown to be equally deluded and insistent on having things their way. This gets driven home by how Chat openly sympathizes with Alya while she's akumatized into Revengance by taking her side over Ladybug's.
    • The Seisquake Trio are members of a Seismology Club whose university has been cheating them out of funding and support. After purifying them, the heroes advise them to go public, as the threat of potential scandal should get them to comply... much like how Principal Damocles only acts to deal with the blatant bullying in Ms. Bustier's class when faced with the threat of legal action.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • While threatening Cole with the same fate as Marinette, Lila casually calls her a homophobic slur. She later thinks of her using the same term while alone in her room.
    • Lila, Alya and Adrien/Chat Noir are also shown to be biased against practitioners of The Oldest Profession, in comparison to the more sympathetic characters not caring about what consenting adults get up to in their spare time.
  • Precious Puppies: Cole's dalmatian pup, Dottie. As Mireille can certainly attest.
  • Queer Colors: Cole is a lesbian and has a bracelet in the colors of the lesbian pride flag.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • When Chat Noir is sitting on the sidelines during Akuma attacks because "Ladybug has to admit we're meant for each other first" before he'll lift a finger to help. Due to her disgust with him, Cole, Marinette's cousin, assisted Ladybug as civilian in an Akuma attack which led her to become the new Fox miraculous holder (permanently).
    • Chat subsequently attempts to lecture Ladybug about bringing Vexxin onto the team, only for Ladybug and Vexxin to give him a proper example:
      Chat Noir: "My Lady, you didn't need to borrow the Fox from the Guardian; all you had to do was admit we were made for each other and I would have helped you."
      Ladybug: [scowling at his condensation] "Chat, it's your job to help no matter what. Paris should come first. I've told you multiple times I don't feel the same way. And Vexxin isn't temporary. She's permanent. Fu gave her the Miraculous yesterday."
      Chat Noir: "But why?! We were doing just fine." [folds arms] "Until you kept denying our love."
      Vexxin: "For someone who proclaims you were doing just fine, you sure don't contribute to the work. Especially considering I had to jump in yesterday. As a civilian with no powers. Even just now, you sat back while Ladybug and I executed a plan that we made specifically because you can't be counted on to fight."
      Chat Noir: "Yeah but—"
      Vexxin: "But nothing! Your inaction has caused the Guardian to take the risk of making a Miraculous permanently active! If we follow the logic, the next step he'd take would be taking your Miraculous. So either sort out your priorities or be prepared to be permanently benched."
    • Ladybug confronts Alya after her outrage over being replaced as the Fox leads to her making wild, baseless accusations on her blog, getting akumatized into Rena Rage, and outing herself as the former heroine:
      Ladybug: "Alya, you are in very big trouble."
      Alya: "I kno—"
      Ladybug: "No, you are going to listen and listen only. You have shown me time and time again that you are no longer trustworthy with a Miraculous. Today's events only confirmed this. You have betrayed me both in and out of my mask. Your blog has become nothing but gossip and unsubstantiated stories. Your pride has gotten in the way and has made you into someone untrustworthy. Vexxin wasn't chosen by me because I can only loan out Miraculous. Vexxin was chosen by the same person who chose me and Chat Noir, she's permanent. She's staying. Before today, I wasn't sure if I could trust you with a Miraculous again, but today you not only proclaimed a Miraculous was stolen, you revealed you were Rena Rouge and claimed that the Fox belonged to you. You put not only yourself but your entire family in danger. I wish I could say I'm sorry, Alya, but I'm not. You brought this upon yourself."
      Alya: "Ladybug, please. I'll do anything, I'm begging you."
      Ladybug: "No Alya. From now on, Rena Rouge and Carapace are permanently retired."
      Alya: "But Ladybug, I—"
      Ladybug: "Get back to school, Alya. We've wasted enough time here as is."
      [Ladybug and Chat leave; as Vexxin follows, Alya spits at her.]
      Alya: "You, you did this."
      Vexxin: "No, this is on you, traitor."
    • Cole gives a brief one to Kim and several other classmates when they attempt to intimidate her into 'apologizing' for things she never actually did:
      Cole: "I don't think so. I owe nothing to any of you. My respect is something to be earned, and you lot will never earn it. Once you stop thinking like a mob, then maybe I'll consider any of you worth my time. Now leave. Us. Alone. I’d rather not have my IQ lowered any more than it already has."
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Downplayed. Principal Damocles is clearly taken aback at how Ms. Bustier mishandled Alya's assault attempt. While he punishes both girls involved, Cole's punishment is much less severe than Alya's, and it's suggested that he only punished the former reluctantly. He also suspends Ms. Bustier from her job as a teacher and notifies the school board about the incident, with strong implications that she will be fired. That said, Adelaide sees him as an Accomplice by Inaction, as he allowed the situation to go completely unchecked until his hand was forced on the matter.
  • Relative Error: Adrien dismissively refers to Cole as Marinette's girlfriend at one point, unaware that their closeness is because they're cousins. Chapter 7 reveals that Nino also thought they were in a romantic relationship until he overheard Cole confronting Adrien.
  • The Scapegoat: While Cole's arrival does shake things up, she finds herself getting blamed for all the drama that starts unfolding in her new class after she transfers in. Not just by Lila and her followers, but by Ms. Bustier, who even goes so far as to blame her entirely for Alya assaulting her and her cousin and neglecting to give her medical attention. She winds up temporarily losing her job for it, and it's heavily implied she'll lose it entirely once the school board is done reviewing the case.
  • Selective Obliviousness:
    • Chat Noir refuses to acknowledge Ladybug's repeated assertions that she's just not interested in him the way that he'd like.
    • Adrien lectures Marinette about how she needs to stop 'antagonizing' Lila by attempting to expose her, claiming that her lies aren't hurting anyone... while also telling her that Lila turning their class against her with said lies is her own fault. He also chooses to believe Lila's claims that Cole is faking her vision problems despite knowing exactly how she operates.
  • Shared Family Quirks: Like her cousin, Cole proves to be highly creative and resourceful with a penchant for planning things out and putting a lot of thought into matters.
  • Shell Game: In a sense. Anticipating that she might have to deal with opponents who know what the Fox Miraculous looks like, Cole asks Tikki and Trixx to change its form to an armlet, then adds a decoy pendant to her costume so that anyone familiar with its former appearance will go for that instead of figuring out where the real deal is.
  • Shipper on Deck: A dark example. Alya supports the idea of Ladynoir becoming canon so much that she fails to see anything wrong with Chat opting to sit out of fights until Ladybug agrees to date him.
  • Shout-Out: While recognizing how much Alya has changed, Nino states that she's become more like J. Jonah Jameson than Lois Lane.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: On the Topic of Suits shows that Marinette is considering one before the events of Burning Bridges, Building Confidence, sketching out some designs to see what she likes most. She goes through with it in chapter eight.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • Chat is so dead-set on getting together with Ladybug that he starts actively Blackmailing her by sitting out of fights, claiming that he'll only step in to help if she 'admits her feelings for him'.
      • Disgustingly enough, when Alya overhears one of these threats, she actually agrees with him:
        Good ultimatum, Alya thought. She better do it quick, or else they might get her miraculous.
      • Even when facing bad odds against several akuma at once, Chat is more concerned with blaming Vexxin and telling her that she deserves to be hurt than he is with defending himself against that same assault.
    • At one point, after Kagami and Chloé are akumatized, Adrien decides to focus on tracking down Marinette over dealing with the threat... so that he can blame her for said akumatization.
    • During the confrontation with Revengance, both Revengance and Chat Noir are distracted by Ladybug changing her look, with both complaining about her doing so.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Cole ends up becoming this for Lila's manipulations, partially thanks to her cousin Marinette warning her beforehand. She records Lila's private gloating so she can gather evidence to publicly prove that she's a Consummate Liar (which ends up being good for helping Nino to escape Lila and Alya's toxicity and to help Adelaide build a case against Lila as she's drafting the lawsuits against the people who hurt her daughter). Her unwillingness to tolerate any of the crap Lila's "sheep" produce and her refusal to be cowed by them also proves to be a major thorn in Lila's side.
      • Cole also ends up being this for Chat Noir once Master Fu decides to make her the next permanent bearer of the Fox Miraculous. After accepting the role, Vexxin proves to be a much better partner for Ladybug than Chat Noir and actually respects her wishes even before Vexxin and Ladybug discover that their cousin is the other's secret identity. Between this and Adrian's refusal to lose his entitled behavior towards Ladybug, his status as a Miraculous bearer is threatened.
    • Adelaide becomes this once Alya attacks Cole and she learns the full extent of what her daughter and niece have been through. Shortly after the attack, Collège Françoise Dupont gets slapped with a lawsuit because she was able to get the law to recognize Ayla attacking Cole as an ableist hate crime. This ends up with Ms. Bustier facing the possibility of being fired, Alya's reputation and that of the Ladyblog going up in flames, Lila being slowly but surely getting exposed as a liar, and Lila's goons ending up in extremely hot water with both the law and their parents as they learn of the situation.
  • The Starscream: Even as she patiently waits to be akumatized, Lila considers the idea of taking Hawk Moth's miraculous for herself.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The side story The Storm on the Horizon has Master Fu comparing the distorted energy thrumming throughout Paris and the growing disruption between Ladybug and the other Miraculous holders to a storm.
  • Superior Successor: Vexxin is regarded as one to Rena Rouge by some, including Ladybug herself.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: The Ladyblog descends into this as Alya gets increasingly worse about not checking facts and letting her bias show. After Vexxin's debut, she posts an article claiming that the Fox Miraculous was stolen and proceeds to become a hate-blogger posting all manner of Malicious Slander about the new heroine. This ends up getting the Ladyblog blacklisted by most major news sources in Paris.
  • Teasing from Behind the Language Barrier: Cole and Aurore make fun of Lila by making mocking comments towards her in English, Spanish, and German, aware that she can't understand them despite claiming to be an omniglot.
    Cole (in Spanish): I wanna make S'mores when they burn her on the pyre.
    Aurore (in German): I'll bring the chocolate.
  • Theory Tunnelvision: Downplayed; when Lila's spin on the Vexxin situation doesn't jive with Alya's immediate assumption that the new Fox stole her Miraculous, Alya still hears her out, even seeming to calm down as she hears her version of events. However, she snaps back to her original theory once her anger overwhelms her, opting to ignore how this fails to line up with anything she's being told or shown.
  • There Is Another: While searching for information, Cole comes across another copy of the Grimoire in a secondhand store. Fu explains that that one was used for ceremonies while the other was kept in the Guardians' libraries.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Nino realizes this and laments as much regarding his plan to break up with Alya. But this doesn't stop him from following through with it anyway.
  • Trust Password: When meeting Vexxin for the first time, Ladybug asks her the names of both of their kwamis in order to affirm that she met both of them.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Cole is a lesbian and she’s also missing one eye.
    • Marinette is half-Chinese, half-French-Italian, and pansexual.
    • Kagami is Japanese and lesbian.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • During Nightify's attack, Chat Noir decides to sit things out in hopes that Ladybug will be forced to admit how much she needs him. He brazenly admits as much to Cole, who immediately calls him out on it.
    • Ladybug gives him another dressing-down when he confronts her about Vexxin, claiming that they don't need any more help. Vexxin jumps in as well, declaring that he's only got his own inaction to blame.
    • Cole, Chloé, Kagami, Aurore, and Mireille are all furious when they learn that Adrien knew all along that Lila was lying, but he chose to stand aside and let her turn the others against Marinette while insisting that he was 'taking the high road'.
    • Adrien attempts this on Marinette after two of their schoolmates are akumatized, while opting to ignore any part he might have played in it. Both akuma turn it around on him.
  • Woman Scorned: Alya does not take it well when Nino breaks things off with her.
  • You Are Grounded!: Following a violent confrontation, Alya is grounded by her parents, who also post an announcement on the Ladyblog about it being put on hiatus... and why. This is noted to have caused several akumatizations as a result. Some pro-Alya. But most not. Alya also ignores her grounding to keep posting.