What had tipped Ladybug off to the akuma's identity, was how closely the bite-sized villian's outfit resembled an all-too familiar uniform she had been forced to wear in her youth. Her suspicions had been confirmed when, upon her arrival to the same preschool she had attented in the past, she did not fail to notice how the wall of a specific classroom had been destroyed.
"Madelyn's a sweet girl, really," the pretty kingergarten teacher's brows had been furrowed, clearly distraught by the whole ordeal. "I've rarely even seen her upset."
She was a newer teacher, Ladybug had decided, considering her age and how wholly unfamiliar she appeared.
"We all have our days, Miss DuBois," she said, with an understanding nod and a comforting smile. "Even if that someone is a sweet little five year old."
The red-head tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and crossed her arms. Her eyes, brimming with concern, had strayed toward the low table that the rest of her class was seated at. Seated with them, of his own volition, was Ladybug's partner, Chat Noir. He was sitting back on his haunches on the floor at the head of the table, but it was still low enough that the knees of his gangly legs poked up over the top of it. It didn't look like a particularly comfortable position, but Ladybug had seen him move in ways during combat that she wasn't entirely convinced he even had any bones to speak of.
Orignally, the cat themed superhero had been standing at Ladybug's side when they had first entered the classroom to speak with the distraught Miss DuBois. The children had been watching them with such wide eyes that held a concerning combination of fear and excitement that, in a matter of no time at all, Chat Noir had broken away to mingle among them.
While Ladybug was in no way opposed to taking on the role herself, it was usually him who took to calming panicked civilians as well hanging back to speaking with former akumatized victims while Ladybug spoke with presses- at least on the occasions that his ring wasn't screaming it's five-minute-warning at him. This was just something that he had decided early on in their akuma-fighting career was his part to play in their tiny team of two.
"Do you know what might have gotten her so worked up?" Ladybug asked, drawing Miss DuBois's attention back to the matter at hand.
The teacher sighed as she thought. "I really don't. Well, wait..." She visibly winced as she remembered something. "I do remember her getting into another fight with one of her classmates earlier."
Miss DuBois chewed her lip. "She... she gets picked on sometimes. I do all I can to prevent it, but there's just one of me. Little Madelyn never holds a grudge, though. She goes right on like nothing ever happened in the first place," she added quickly.
"Who picks the fights with her?"
"Thomas, usually," the teacher said after a moment's thought. "He's the little blond boy over there. Their fathers work together and the fights usually start because of something Thomas's father said about Madelyn's. I think there's quite a bit of bad blood between the two families."
Ladybug followed her finger to pin point the student she was talking about at the table and the hero found herself smiling indulgently at the scene before her. Chat had only been sitting with the class for a few minutes and had already been accepted as one of their own.
To keep everyone distracted until the akuma was taken care of, Miss DuBois had brought out a hefty stack of paper and a couple of tubs of crayons. When the Miraculous pair had arrived on the scene, however, the students were just sitting at the table, scared and confused, a few of them even crying. Chat had approached them and plopped down next to them, his back facing Ladybug and the teacher as they talked, his full attention on the frightened children.
At first, they had just regarded him with wide eyes, almost reverent. Now, however, they were all drawing, happily distracted. The red and black crayons were seeing the most use and a couple of children, who were waiting patiently for their turn to use them, were crawling all over Chat.
One girl was sitting on top of the table- something she was only bold enough to do now that her teacher was understandably distracted- and had her hand up, braiding a lock of his shaggy, golden hair. Another was hanging over his back, arms coiled around his neck as he peered down over his black-clad shoulder at what the superhero himself was drawing. A third was giggling and watching, eyes huge, as he swished his tail across the floor, knocking over the small obstacles the little boy had stacked just to see them toppled over by the unexpected, yet anticipated movements of an appendage that clearly only functioned through the use of magic. Every time they were knocked down, he'd set them up in a new formation, looking for something else to add to the growing pile of miscellaneous objects.
He didn't seemed bothered by any of it and, in fact, looked fairly happy to be interacting with them. He'd occasionally help someone who couldn't pick between colors- typically siding with blue, if that were an option- and even shot the girl braiding his hair a grin, causing her to blush and giggle shyly.
A couple of the students at the table showed him their artwork for his approval, all disproportate Ladybugs and Cat Noirs. He'd even already learned a few of their names, as he used them to give his heart-felt compliments of their work a touch of personability. The children in question beamed and grabbed a fresh sheet of paper.
One of them passed their drawing to him, which he more than happily accepted. Upon further inspection, Ladybug came to notice that he had several sheets of crayon-covered paper tucked through his belt for safe keeping.
A second girl joined the first on the table, this one armed with stickers and glitter.
"Thomas, can you come here, please?" Miss DuBois called the boy over, catching Ladybug's attention once more. The boy in question froze and turned his head toward her slightly, gazing up at her timidly over the tops of his eyes. "Yes, you," the teacher confirmed when he tentatively pointed his finger at his chest.
Thomas slowly pushed himself away from the table and, shuffling his feet, approached them.
Ladybug knelt to his level. "I heard you and Madelyn got into a fight today."
The little boy's brown eyes drifted toward his teacher and, with her nod of approval, nodded his own head in confirmation. "Yeah," he sniffed. "I didn't mean to turn her into an akuma, though."
"I know you didn't," Ladybug said gently, "Can you tell me what the fight was about?"
He scuffed his feet on the floor, looking away from the polka-dotted superhero. "I don't know..." he trailed off, but with a stern look from Miss DuBois, he sighed. "Papa always talks about how her dad is lazy and never does the work he's supposed to. And Madelyn wasn't doing the spelling work we were supposed to and I got mad."
"So what did you do?" Ladybug asked.
He looked up at her, eyes wet. "I pushed her and her necklace broke and she stared crying," came his quiet reply. "I didn't mean to break it though."
Ladybug gave him a gentle smile. "I know you didn't, but you really shouldn't have pushed her."
"I know..." Thomas sniffed.
"Can you do me a favor, Thomas?"
The little boy looked up at her, with a nod.
"Chat Noir and I really don't like it when people fight; we like to see friends being made, not enemies. When Madelyn is back to normal, do you think you could apologize for pushing her and try to get along?"
Thomas seemed to give it some thought, but ended up nodding in agreement.
"Thank you," Ladybug gave him a smile and he timidly returned it.
Standing, she turned to Miss DuBois. "Thanks for the help, I think I have an idea when the akuma might be hiding."
She approached Chat's back. "Come on, Chat Noir. Let's go-"
He turned to face her and she snorted with stifled laughter.
On one side of his head, his hair was peppered wth several tiny braids. On the other side, his mask and one of his ears was covered in glittery star and smiley face stickers. He had a single, crooked frowny face sticker stuck to his chin and tiny handprints of glitter on either cheek, as well as sprinkled throughout his hair.
"What's the matter, my lady? Cat got your tongue?" He grinned, waggling his eyebrows.
"It's nothing, Chat," she responded, gathering her composure. "You just... you look really purr-dy."
He beamed at her and his oh so genuine grin at her pun was infectious.