Actions

Work Header

le fils du papillon

Chapter Text

“So we figured that you two would like the honors of finally unveiling the identity of the villain you’ve been fighting for a year, and that you’d personally like to collect the Miraculous,” the guard said as he swiped his ID card, slowly opening a heavy door. “The cuffs you gave us that nullified the powers of his Miraculous have worked, keeping him disguised but not allowing him to use his powers.”

“And there’s going to be a press team there to cover this?” Ladybug clarified, although by the sounds of loud chatter coming from down the hall she could safely guess the answer.

“If that’s alright with you two, yes,” the guard answered. He stopped them at the end of the hall, in front of another looming door. “Just through this door we have him ready for you. The press teams are safe behind bullet proof glass.”

“Once we remove his Miraculous, he will be fully stripped of his powers,” Chat Noir assured him. “Ladybug and I will be able to handle any tricks he tries to pull, although in this situation I’m pretty sure he’s not going to try anything.”

“Alright, well then I’m going to go alert the Warden that we’re about to start. The door will open for you in a minute, then you’re free to go and do your thing,” The guard said. Ladybug and Chat Noir both nodded to him. The guard slipped through a different door, leaving Ladybug and Chat Noir by themselves.

“It’s hard to believe that after all this time, it’s finally over,” Chat Noir chuckled. “We finally have Hawkmoth and we’re about to know who he is.”

“No more akumas,” Ladybug nodded in her own disbelief. “All this time we spent saving Paris from Hawkmoth, and now he’s about to be powerless.”

“We did good,” Chat Noir stated. Ladybug smiled and nodded. Ladybug opened her mouth to respond but was cut off by the sound of the door creaking open in front of them. Chat Noir reached down and grabbed her hand, squeezing it lightly before letting go as the door opened fully. The room was larger than what Ladybug expected, although considering how there were at least 20 guards lining the perimeter it made sense. As the guard had said, to the right of the room was a viewing area sealed off by glass. Ladybug could see at least 10 different news outlets, some Parisian and some international, all with cameras and recorders in hand. And then, seated in a large chair securely chained to the ground was him. Hawkmoth.

Ladybug and Chat Noir slowly walked into the room. Immediately they were hit with flashes from the press cameras, and they could hear a thousand questions being spewed from behind the glass. However, today was not an interview day. Ladybug and Chat Noir had one goal in mind, and that was to expose Hawkmoth to the world.

The two superheroes approached their enemy, who was still clad in his purple suit. Hawkmoth’s eyes were glued to the ground, although he had a sickly smile on his face. Ladybug and Chat Noir stopped just a foot away from him, both with stoic looks on their faces. Ladybug couldn’t quite name the emotion coursing through her veins at that moment. Was it anger for this man and the trouble he’d caused? Relief that he could harm no other? Regret that it took so long to finally bring justice to Paris? Ladybug was shaken out of her overwhelming thoughts by a light hand on her shoulder. She didn’t have to look to see who it belonged to. Chat Noir was always more in tune with Ladybug’s emotions than she liked to admit, but in this moment she was glad.

“It’s over, Hawkmoth,” Chat Noir stated, his voice low and strong. Hawkmoth laughed, quietly at first but growing louder. He raised his head up to look at Chat Noir straight in the eyes. Ladybug felt his grip on her shoulder tighten.

“Oh, little chaton ,” Hawkmoth teased. Ladybug cringed at the nickname she so often used for her friend. “How naive of you to think this is over.”

Ladybug’s blood started to boil. “You’re caught, Hawkmoth. You’ll be locked away forever and you’ll never escape.”

“I know,” The masked man answered plainly. “But my influence reaches much further than you will ever realize.”

Ladybug glanced sideways at Chat Noir, but her partner’s gaze rested firmly on Hawkmoth. “Once your identity is exposed, any of your accomplices will be found,” Chat Noir promised. This statement only caused Hawkmoth to chuckle again, although he offered no counter response. Chat Noir looked over at Ladybug. It took no words for her to understand what he meant, and she nodded in response. Ladybug reached her hand forward and clasped it around the Butterfly Miraculous that sat on Hawkmoth’s chest. She took a deep breath before pulling it from his suit, feeling a pop as it disconnected. Everyone in the room winced as bright light flared out, signaling his transformation.

Nothing could have prepared Ladybug for what she saw; for a familiar man, her idol, the father of the boy she loved, Gabriel Agreste, to be sitting in front of her. Gabriel Agreste is Hawkmoth.

The whole room was silent. No cameras flashed. No report was spoken. No one moved as everyone processed what just happened. Gabriel Agreste, one of the most famous fashion designers in the world, richest man in Paris, modern icon loved by thousands, was the world’s most dangerous criminal who’d been wreaking havoc on Paris for over a year.

All at once, the room erupted into loud commotion. Cameras flashed at an insane pace while questions were all but screamed from everyone. Gabriel kept a stoic look on his face, one void of any emotion except for a hint of amusement, as if this was funny for him. Ladybug turned to Chat Noir, unsure of what to do next. However, instead of a shocked expression to match her own, she saw a dangerous anger in his eyes, one so intense it stopped her from asking what to do next.

Suddenly, Chat Noir turned on his heels and stalked out of the room without a word. Ladybug, shocked, turned towards the press and tried to make a statement, but found that no words could come out of her mouth. She squeaked out her best “sorry” before turning and running after her partner.

“Chat!” She yelled down the hall after him. Ladybug ran as fast as she could, taking each corner swiftly as she slowly but surely caught up to Chat Noir. “Chat Noir, slow down!”

“I have to go,” He responded curtly. “I can’t be here, I’m sorry.”

“I know it’s hard, but we have to say something -”

“No, we don’t,” Chat Noir cut her off. He huffed loudly, pressing his hands against his face and thinking for a minute. “You can go make a statement, I’m leaving.” He turned towards the exit door and took a step away, but Ladybug quickly grabbed hold of his wrist and tugged him back towards her.

“I’m just as angry as you are, Chat,” Ladybug assured him. “Being faced with the man who caused all of this, and for it to be Gabriel Agreste of all people! It’s hard to process, but we have to be there when he’s locked up for good.”

Chat Noir started to laugh. It took all that Ladybug had in her to not show the shock coursing through her body. Chat Noir looked at her. “You don’t understand. Of course you don’t, I can’t expect you to.”

“What are you on about, chaton?”

“Do not call me that,” Chat Noir lashed out, pulling away from her. “Don’t call me that after he did.”

Ladybug raised her hand and pressed it gently against Chat Noir’s cheek. “I don’t understand, you were so ready to know who Hawkmoth was and now you just want to leave?”

Chat Noir stared at Ladybug for one, two, three seconds. Then, he took his own hand, wrapping his fingers around Ladybug’s and pressing a gentle kiss to her knuckles before dropping them entirely. “I have to go,” He whispered quietly, though Ladybug could hear the hurt overtaking his voice. This time she didn’t try to stop him as he bounded through the doors. Ladybug watched him glide onto the rooftops for as long as she could before the doors shut in front of her, leaving her alone in a world that was turned upside down.

 

---

 

Needless to say, the world’s reaction to Hawkmoth being Gabriel Agreste was about as smooth as a cactus. Within an hour, every screen in Paris had a news article about the unmasked villain, some stories detailing every hint that linked the two identities together, others about how Ladybug and Chat Noir finally saved Paris, and a select few going into deep thought about Ladybug and Chat Noir’s quick exit after the reveal.

Marinette only had one thought on her mind, and that was of Adrien.

She’d tried to stop by his mansion on her way back from the prison, but swarms of people had already surrounded his house by the time she’d arrived. At first Ladybug considered making a statement declaring Adrien to be under her personal guard and that anyone who threatened him inadvertently threatened her too, but publicly declaring herself the bodyguard of a recently-exposed terrorist’s son would probably bring more bad publicity than good. Ultimately she decided to take a quieter approach, vowing to watch out for him at school and to add his house to her patrol route.

Wait, would she and Chat Noir even have to patrol anymore now that Hawkmoth was gone?

Regardless, Marinette decided to check up on him and make sure he wasn’t being harrassed unfairly by the media for his father’s plots. She also promised herself to try and be there for him more. She would have to learn to talk to him. Adrien would need someone, anyone.

Marinette gulped at the thought. Would Adrien even want to talk to her? Would he even stay in Paris? She knew he had grandparents out of the country, would they take Adrien to the US with them?

These questions swarmed Marinette’s mind as she sat at her dinner table. Tom and Sabine were clearly at a loss for words. Marinette noticed that they tried to shoot secretive concerned glances at each other through the whole meal. “Secretive” was a very, very loose term. More than once her parents would ask an easy random question, such as if she had homework or what Alya’s weekend plans were. Each time, Marinette gave no response. Soon they stopped asking.

The heavy silence became too much of a weight on Marinette’s exhausted shoulders. “May I be excused?” She asked quietly. Tom and Sabine glanced at each other once more before nodding in unison. Marinette got up slowly, not bothering to bring her untouched dishes with her.

“Marinette,” Sabine called out softly. “Would you like to skip school tomorrow?”

Marinette shook her head. “No, I need something to distract me.”

Sabine smiled sadly as she nodded in agreement. Marinette continued up towards her room. As soon as her door was shut, Tikki immediately flew out into the open.

“Oh, Marinette,” She cooed. Marinette couldn’t stop the flood of tears that began to fall steadily down her cheeks. Tikki nestled into Marinette’s cheek, and Marinette in turn placed both hands gently on her Kwami as she sobbed.

“What am I supposed to do, Tikki?” She cried. “How do I help Adrien get through this?”

“Be a friend for him,” Tikki responded simply. “He’s going to need friends right now, and after today I’m sure he’ll lose many simply because of things he had no control over. But you can be his friend.”

“I’ll always be his friend,” Marinette stated firmly. She sat up straight and forced her chest to stop racking. Marinette took a deep breath. “I’ll be there for him.”

Tikki smiled at her master. “I know you will be.”

Marinette managed to smile for five seconds before the emotions washed over her again, leaving her sobbing quietly in her bed with Tikki beside her.

 

---

 

Marinette was woken up the next morning by a gentle hand prodding her shoulder. She blinked her eyes open to see her mother standing over her with a gentle smile.

“Marinette, it’s time to get ready for school,” She murmured. Marinette sat up in her bed. She looked down and realized that her clothes from yesterday still clad her aching body, and her face felt sticky with dried tears.

“You can still stay home if you’d like,” Sabine reminded her daughter.

“No,” Marinette responded. “I want to go.”

“Alright, but your father is going to drive you today,” Sabine said, leaning forward to place a kiss on Marinette’s forehead. “If you want to come home, just call one of us and we’ll come get you.”

Marinette smiled. “Thanks, mom.” Sabine left her daughter alone, Tikki reappearing as soon as the woman was safely out of range.

“Do you think Adrien will be at school today?” Tikki asked.

Marinette frowned. “I don’t think so, Tikki. Not today, maybe not for a while.”

“Will you go visit him?” The kwami buzzed.

Marinette pondered on the question. While every ounce of her being wanted to go check on Adrien, she was reluctant to disturb him. “Maybe in a few days, once everyone’s had some time to process.” Tikki nodded in agreement.

Marinette quickly got ready for school, throwing on a fresh change of clothes and washing her face with cool, refreshing water. She fixed her hair and threw on a light layer of foundation to cover her cheeks, which were red from crying, and under her eyes, which were dark from a fitful sleep. Marinette’s heart started to race as soon as she sat in her father’s car. She had no clue what the kids at school would be saying, or if most of them would even show up. Her class was all close to Adrien, maybe they felt the heartache for him as strongly as she did.

Or maybe Chloé Bourgeois was going to being a horrible person.

“I can’t believe Adrien’s father was Hawkmoth,” Her voice rang so loudly that Marinette could hear it from outside her classroom. She peeked in to see Chloé standing at her desk, facing all of her glum-looking classmates. “I mean seriously, do you really think Adrien never knew? He lived in the same house as that mad-man, he must have been in on it!”

“Shut up, Chloé!” Marinette growled, coming into the room and stomping over to Chloé’s desk. “Adrien knew nothing about it.”

“Of course you’d defend him,” Chloé rolled her eyes. “But you can’t prove he knew nothing!”

“Just like you can’t prove he knew anything,” Marinette pointed out. “Adrien is one of the kindest, most considerate people in this class. He helped almost all of you during Akuma attacks, right?”

“Uh, actually, he usually disappears during them,” Juleka quietly interjected. Marinette cocked her head in confusion. Adrien would never abandon his friends during an attack. Come to think of it, though, she never did see him much, unless he was a victim of the akumatized villain.

“Either way, Adrien would never let his father do those things,” Marinette insisted.

“She’s right,” Alya agreed, moving to stand by her best friend. “If Adrien knew what his father was up to, he’d have reported it a long time ago. You’re supposedly his ‘best friend’ Chloe, are you not? Shouldn’t you be defending him?”

Chloé glared at Alya, but gave no response besides an aggravated huff while she sat down, arms crossed and eyes closed. Alya grabbed Marinette’s hand and led her over to the desk they shared.

“Have you talked to him?” Alya asked her. Marinette shook her head.

“No, has Nino?”

“No,” Alya responded sadly. “No one’s heard from him since yesterday.”

“I’m really worried about him,” Marinette admitted. Alya nodded slowly in agreement, but left whatever response she had unsaid for at that moment Madame Bustier walked into her classroom. The teacher, much like her students, appeared to be in a state of mild shock from yesterday’s events. She carefully placed her purse down on her large desk and turned to face the room of students.

“Good morning, class,” Madam Bustier announced weakly. “I thought instead of lessons today, we’d have a fun day. I will order some food and we will vote on some movies and games to play, and we’ll resume our lessons tomorrow.”

The announcement immediately perked up the class, with many students whispering excitedly about what they hoped to watch or play or eat. Marinette, however, suddenly wished she had skipped, for a simple movie or game would never be enough to block her powerful mind from her worries.

The day passed by excruciatingly slow for Marinette. She refused to touch any food, even when Alya presented her with a beautiful slice of hot pizza. She barely paid attention to the movies, and only played her turn in a game when nudged by Nino. Marinette almost felt guilty; she didn’t even know Adrien that well. They were friends, of course, but she could barely squeak out a full sentence without massive stuttering and here she was being worried for him and silently hating that no one else seemed to feel the same way.

The final bell rung hours later, and Marinette was the first one out of her classroom. She quickly ran around the back of the building and opened her purse where Tikki stayed.

“I’m going on a quick patrol,” Marinette explained quickly. “Tikki, spots on!”

Ladybug shot up into the sky, landing gracefully on her school’s rooftop. It only took her a few minutes to reach the Agreste mansion. Ladybug hid behind a small group of trees, trying to avoid being seen by the swarms of media still hounding the building, demanding any and all information from the estate. Ladybug carefully peered around the trees, trying to get a glimpse of Adrien in him room. Her eyes scanned up and down, left and right. No sign of Adrien. Sighing, Ladybug retreated back to her own residence.

She detransformed, and Marinette walked in the front of her parent’s bakery. She noticed the sign read “Closed”, which was odd for this time of a weekday. Usually the bakery was open until night. Her parents were nowhere to be found. Marinette shrugged it off, assuming they had a meeting or an errand to run. Her stomach let out a faint growl.

“You should eat something,” Tikki’s muffled voice came lightly from the pink purse. “You haven’t eaten all day.”

“All right,” Marinette conceded. She bounded up the stairs, unlocking her front door and immediately going into the kitchen. She switched on the stovetop, throwing a pot with water on it and setting a container with noodles nearby. The vegetables were ripened from when her parents bought them a day ago, so Marinette threw them onto a cutting board and sliced carefully, throwing a few into the hot water for flavor and the rest onto a plate. A loud noise from her living room directed her attention to behind her for the first time.

Her plate dropped to the floor, shattering, sending vegetables and shards flying in all directions. For there, sitting on her couch, watching her TV, in her house…

Was Adrien Agreste.

Chapter Text

“Uh, Ad-Adrien?!” Marinette squeaked, mentally kicking herself for the stutter. “Uh what- what are you doing here in my house? Oh my god you’re in my house, my house! Oh my god, are you okay? I know this can’t- can’t be easy but oh my god I’m so sorry and I-”

“Marinette,” Adrien smiled weakly. The girl clamped her mouth shut and took in Adrien’s disheveled appearance. His cheeks were red and puffy, although dry of tears. The circles under his eyes were a dark grey, and his forehead was devoid of any color. Adrien’s normally perfect hair was scruffy, tangled with knots and clearly unbrushed. His clothes were wrinkled, as if they’d been slept in, and overall he looked so much smaller than his usual confident self.

“Adrien,” Marinette whispered softly. The pair stared at each other silently, interrupted only when the front door was swung open.

“Oh, Marinette!” Sabine exclaimed. “I didn’t think you’d be home yet.”

“Adrien’s here,” Marinette responded, not daring to tear her eyes away from the boy for fear that he might crumble. Her voice was suddenly much more hoarse than usual.

“Yes, we know,” Tom said. He set down a large bag that Marinette just noticed he was carrying. “Adrien, why don’t you come help me grab the last few things from the car?”

“Yes, sir,” Adrien answered quickly, shuffling past Marinette and following Tom out of the door. Sabine walked over to her daughter, pulling her gently onto their couch and grasping her hands.

“Why is Adrien here?” Marinette asked.

Sabine sighed. “His home is being constantly surrounded, and apparently he was not eating or sleeping, or really doing anything except for sitting locked in his bathroom. Nathalie asked us to take him in for a while, since you’re in Adrien’s class and she knows you through your work with…”

“Yeah,” Marinette nodded, not making her mother say the seemingly cursed name. “How long will he be here?”

“We don’t know,” Sabine replied honestly. “It could be days, it could be months. Nathalie is trying to figure out which family members to send him with, but none of them live in Paris and the city has to terminate his parental guardianship before he can be adopted by someone else.”

“Wow,” Marinette breathed heavily.

“It’ll be a change, but I think he will do well with us here,” Sabine continued. “He’s going to need a friend, especially in school.”

Marinette smiled softly in response, but said no words. Sabine gave her daughter a quick hug before standing up.

“Since we don’t have a spare room, we’re going to put up a cot for Adrien in the office, but we are going to have to put some of his things in your room.”

“That’s fine,” Marinette responded. Sabine gave her daughter a quick peck on the cheek before standing up.

“I’m going to go see if they need help, why don’t you go clear some space in your room?” Sabine asked. Marinette nodded. She watched as her mother exited the room, staring at the door as it closed ever so slowly.

Finally, it clicked shut. “Oh my god , Tikki!” Marinette explained. Her whole body was suddenly overtaken in sheer panic. “What am I going to do?”

The red kwami emerged from her hiding spot. “What do you mean, Marinette?”

Adrien Agreste is living in my house!” She gasped. “Oh my god, I have to tell Alya!”

“Don’t you think he wants to keep his location secret?” Tikki suggested, flying up to Marinette’s face. “I know you love Alya, but she is a journalist and this is part of a huge story.”

Marinette contemplated Tikki’s words before sighing in acknowledgment of her valid words. Alya wasn’t the best at keeping secrets, Marinette knew. “You’re right, Tikki. Now come on, let’s go clean up my room.”

“And take the pictures of Adrien down.”

Ohmygod the PICTURES- what if he already saw- oh my god Tikki I’m actually going to die of embarrasment-”

“Come on, Marinette.”

Tikki!”

----

 

It took Marinette only five minutes to rip down every single Adrien Agreste poster from her walls. Normally this would be impressive, but Marinette had never moved so fast in her life. For the first time she realized her obsession may be just a bit unhealthy.

“Note to self, too many posters,” Marinette muttered, earning a soft chuckle from Tikki. “Alright, now to make room for-”

Marinette was interrupted by the sound of her door opening.

“Adrien!” Marinette exclaimed once she saw his familiar blonde hair emerging into the room. “I uh- I was about to clear out some room for your things!” Marinette quickly threw her blanket over the large stack of pictures that had amassed on her bed. She dashed over to her closet, grabbing the nearest group of clothes and chucking them on top of her dresser.

“Marinette,” Adrien’s soft voice sounded, drawing the girl’s attention towards him. “You don’t have to move your things, I have bags.”

“But don’t you want to hang up your clothes?” Marinette asked.

Adrien stepped fully into the room, placing two duffel bags on her floor. “I was just going to keep everything in these, if it’s okay.”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” Marinette said. “Whatever makes you comfortable is totally fine! No worries at all, none at all.”

Adrien stared at Marinette, and she allowed her eyes to focus on his face again. Instead of the sadness she expected, Adrien’s face was surprisingly empty. Marinette wasn’t sure what to do next. On one hand, she wanted to ask him all of the questions that had been burning in her mind since Hawkmoth’s identity was revealed. On the other hand, she was vastly afraid of breaking whatever semblance of composure Adrien somehow was operating with at the moment, fearing that even referencing the incident would break him.

Adrien broke his gaze at Marinette. In a few quick movements, he disappeared back through her door, leaving the girl alone once again. Marinette couldn’t help but stare at her door, the ache she’d been feeling for the past few days growing exponentially stronger.

 

---

 

“You’re joking, he’s staying at your house?!” Alya exclaimed.

“Shh, Alya!” Marinette chastised. She glanced around the locker room, praying that it was empty. “I’m not supposed to tell you, but I’ve been freaking out for the past day and I needed to talk to someone about it.”

Alya nodded slowly. “Is he okay?”

“No,” Marinette sighed. She sat on a bench, elbows digging into her knees and her face perched on her hands. “He’s not okay, but he pretends to be.”

“Sounds like Adrien,” Alya mused. “He always has been good at hiding his feelings.”

“What do you mean?” Marinette questioned confusedly.

“Like when Chloe says one of her rude comments, and Adrien pretends like he doesn’t want to yell at her,” Alya said. “Or when you get all stuttery around him and he acts like it doesn’t make him just a bit upset.”

Marinette gaped at her best friend. “Adrien, upset at me? Oh, no, no, no, this is horrible!”

Alya giggled. “Relax girl, I’m just messing with you. But seriously, he’s gonna need a lot of help to get through this.”

“I know,” Marinette murmured. Her mind flashed images of Adrien’s blank face, and a strong pang of sadness hit her chest. Alya must have sensed it, as she put a comforting arm around her best friend.

“Hey, it’ll be okay,” Alya said quietly. “If anyone can help Adrien through this, it’s you.”

Marinette bit her lower lip, offering no verbal response. How on Earth was she of all people supposed to do this?

 

---

 

When Marinette returned home from school that day, she was ready to face an upset Adrien and start to help him heal. She’d already ran a whole script through her head, words carefully chosen to convince Adrien that he’d be okay and that she would help him. After slowly pushing the door to her apartment open, Marinette scanned the room until her eyes finally landed on the blonde boy.

He was sitting on her couch, still dressed in his pajamas from the night before. The television was on, playing some sort of Japanese anime that Marinette didn’t recognize. A bag from a nearby fast food place had been discarded onto the ground, which meant that her mom or dad likely bought him food that remained untouched.

“Adrien?” Marinette announced her presence softly, not wanting to scare him. The blonde turned his head towards her voice, his mouth breaking into a soft smile.

“Hi, Marinette,” He muttered softly.

“Can I talk to you for a second?” She asked. Nerves flooded her body. Did her hands always shake this much?

Adrien shrugged. “Sure, what about?”

“Uh…” Marinette’s mind raced with how she wanted to start. She took a seat next to Adrien on her couch, folding her hands in her lap and silently begging them to stop shaking.  “I wanted to talk to you about everything, I guess.

“I can’t even imagine to begin what you’re going through, but I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. Losing a parent, in any way, is horrible. I’m sure you’ve read some of the articles, and you know all the terrible things being said about your father. I want you to know that I’m here for you, my parents are here for you, and we’re going to do everything we can to help you.”

Adrien sat silently as he processed her words. “I haven’t,” He finally responded.

“Haven’t what?”

“Read the articles,” Adrien answered. “I think part of me is afraid to, because reading them would make it… real, I guess.”

Marinette nodded. “That makes perfect sense. I mean, when my hat was published in that one magazine, I refused to even touch my computer for a whole day because I was so scared of getting hate comments! But in the end, everyone loved it and it was okay.”

Adrien stilled. His eyes were locked on the moving TV screen in front of him, although he wasn’t watching. Marinette kept her focus on Adrien, but with every silent second her heart beat faster.

“I’m glad your fear of a couple hate comments on a hat is the same as my father being incarcerated for terrorism,” Adrien said flatly.

“No, that’s not what I-”

“It’s not what you meant,” Adrien cut her off, looking at her with a piercing gaze she’d never seen before. “But it’s what you said. I appreciate you wanting to help, but don’t pretend like you have any clue what this is like for me.”

“Adrien-”

“Unlike with your hat, I doubt that everything is going to turn out okay for this one,” With that, Adrien stormed out of the apartment, door slamming almost as hard as Marinette’s tears started to fall.