Luka hissed, forked tongue flicking out as he limped painstakingly slowly away from the latest Akuma battle. Chat Blanc had been particularly vicious today, bone-white claws turning a sludgy black as he cataclysmed the Bourgeois Hotel’s bottom floor out from under it. Thankfully, the building had been evacuated the moment that the Akuma-Sirens went off, but Viperion had taken a nasty blow to the side nonetheless, and he was paying for it now.
Luka leapt frantically across the street, left half of his torso jarring agonisingly as he landed. Behind him, he could hear Chat Blanc calling out, voice echoing through the eerily silent city. Everyone was locked away safely in their houses or, if they could afford it, shelters- everyone but Luka, that is.
“Come out, come out, little Snake. I just want to chat…” Luka pushed forwards, every move sending a fresh wave of pain over him, he threw himself onto the next building, landing on the balcony of a bakery and ducking low. “I just want your miraculous, and then this whole ordeal can be finished.” Luka almost snorted at that, but self preservation kept him silent. Chat Blanc was close, too close now, Luka could not outrun him. He sunk lower, lying almost flat on his stomach and held his breath.
There was a creak behind him, the smallest of noises that made him flinch violently, he had been found. He felt his fangs extend, his bracelet beeping hopelessly, a mocking chant reminding him that he was out of time. He pushed up into a squat, ignoring the grunt of pain that came with the action and spun around preparing to lunge, only to be faced with the pale face of a girl poking through the previously closed trap-door.
“Get in here!” she whispered, and then dropped out of sight. Luka didn’t need to be told twice, forgoing any ladder, he threw himself through the trapdoor. It swung shut behind him, and the girl caught it before it banged, lowering it slowly and sliding the bolt across it.
Not a moment later, there was a thud on the roof and the sound of footsteps.
“Don’t hide from me, silly Snake, I will find you!” the last word was drawn out, almost sung as Chat Blanc danced across the rooftop. Luka held his breath and listened as the footsteps slowed, and then faded away. The cry was repeated a few moments later, but it seemed more distant. Luka sagged in relief and his miraculous let out a final woeful beep and detransfromed him, barely giving him time to frantically hiss,
“Don’t look.” before he was standing, on a stranger’s bed, in his Jagged Stone pyjamas. His eyes snapped to the girl who had saved him, her hands were over her eyes and her face was turned away,
“I’m not looking!” she cried, Luka sagged in relief before letting out a groan of pain and collapsing onto her pink sheets. He pressed his hand against his side, feeling the hot stickiness of his t-shirt. The girl didn’t turn to face him, but she removed her hands from her face, arms windmilling wildly as she asked,
“Oh god! You’re injured! I have- do you need?- let me get you a first aid kid!” The girl ran from the room, sock-clad feet silent on the wooden floor. Luka shut his eyes and clenched his teeth, breath coming out in a hiss,
“Well that was a close one.” Sass murmured, and Luka felt the weight of his kwami settle on his shoulder, “perhaps this hatchling has some eggs? We could attempt to make it home, but I wouldn’t advise it since Chat Blanc is still on the prowl…”
“It doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere in this state, I can barely stand.” Luka replied; before Sass could respond, the bedroom door creaked open and the girl returned. Her eyes were fixed firmly on the floor as she entered, allowing Luka to get a good view of her. She was small and delicate looking, as though crafted out of fine-china, with dark hair tugged into two loose bunches that only made her look sweeter as she padded over arms straining as she hefted a large white box with a red cross emblazoned across the lid, onto the bed. She continued to avoid looking at him as she flipped the lid off the box,
“I know it isn’t perfect, but I found an old halloween mask you can use to hide your identity.” her cheeks flushed as she spoke, and she thrust a rubber mask in his direction. It unfurled as he took it, and snorted at ghoulish pumpkin visage.
“Thanks.” he said, tugging it on. The girl looked up at last, and Luka felt his breath catch in his throat. Her eyes were huge and dark blue, framed by thick lashes. His mouth barely had time to open before he let out a hiss of pain as the girl jabbed at his injured side.
“Sorry!” she said, arms flailing in panic, “Can you… Would you mind lifting…?” her face was a fiery red, Luka tugged up his shirt, revealing the large slash on his side. He winced at the sight of it, this was definitely one of his gorier battle scars. The girl’s face seemed to drain of blood, “We need to get you to a hospital.” she said frankly. Luka shook his head.
“No hospitals.” he replied, “It would expose my identity.” the girl bit her lip,
“That looks like it needs stitches.” as she spoke, her hands flitted over the injury. Pulling cotton pads from the box and dousing them with alcohol, she warned, “this will hurt.” before she began to clean the wound. Luka clenched his teeth, despite his frequent run-ins with Chat Blanc, he never got used to the clean-up afterwards. When she finished, she pressed a bandage against the cut clumsily, clearly unsure of how to proceed. “I really think this needs stitches.” she said, Luka was inclined to agree with her.
“I can do it if you have a needle and thread.” he said, it wouldn’t be his first time stitching himself up. The girl poked about in the white box before pulling out a kit. He raised his eyebrows, not that she could see it under the mask, “you have an awful lot of first aid equipment…” he said. The girl nodded,
“This is a bakery with lots of hot stoves, we have to take precautions.” she said by means of explanation, “Besides, I fall over a lot.” this second part was muttered, clearly not intended for his ears. Luka nodded and tugged the needle and thread from her hands. His palms had already begun to sweat in expectation of pain. Clumsily, he made the first stitch, grinding his teeth together so hard he was sure he was making sawdust. The girl peered on anxiously, leaning over him on the balls of her feet. At the third stitch she stopped him.
“Let me take over.” she said, “those stitches wont hold.” Luka glanced at her warily, but she wasn’t looking at him, her eyes lay on the messy stitches with an analytical eye. Finally, he nodded, handing her the needle. She leant over him, “Sorry in advance.” she said, before plunging the needle into his red-stained skin.
She worked in silence for a few long minutes, wincing occasionally and wiping away fresh beads of blood, before he asked,
“How do you know how to do stitches?” she didn’t look up.
“I sew a lot.” she said dismissively, pausing for a split second to gesture vaguely at a mannequin standing in the corner of the room, a half finished dress draped across its frame. Luka stared at it, trying to distract himself as the needle pierced the skin of his side over and over. His eyes scanned the room, she had several posters up and cutouts from magazines. He noted several Jagged Stone posters with approval. His eyes were just alighting on a pin-board above her desk when she withdrew,
“All done.” she said. Luka glanced down, smiling slightly at the stitches, far neater then anything he could have done himself.
“Thank you.” he said, the girl nodded.
“It’s nothing. You save Paris every day, I’m just happy I could do my part.” she replied. Luka felt his cheeks heat at that. As a general rule he stayed out of the public eye, but it was always nice to hear that he was appreciated.
“It wasn’t nothing, but thank you for the compliment none the less.” Luka smiled, “May I ask my heroine’s name?” the girl laughed and Luka noted in the back of his mind that it was as clear as a musical note (he could hear Juleka laughing at him for that one already).
“You may,” she replied, “My name is Marinette Dupain-Cheng.” Luka blinked, he had heard that name before.
“No way.” he muttered, “You designed Jagged Stone’s album cover!” he cried, internally reprimanding himself a moment later for sounding more like a twelve year old boy then a seasoned hero of Paris. Marinette flushed,
“Yeah, it was a real honour, I’m a huge fan.” she said, running a hand through her hair awkwardly. Luka’s eyes flickered back to her wall, assessing her posters with renewed interest. As his eyes landed on her pin-board, his heart stopped. There, surrounded by classmates, was Juleka; this girl was in his sister’s class. He felt a smile creep onto his face unbidden, he was definitely going to see this girl again.
“I don’t suppose you have any eggs, do you?” he asked with a smile at this new thought, Marinette looked startled at the rapid change of topic before shaking her head,
“No. You somehow came to the only bakery in France without eggs…” she sat dryly. Luka snorted and she continued, “Yeah we do, how would you like them?”
“Raw, please.” Sass seemed to have tired of staying quiet, floating out from behind Luka. Marinette’s eyes widened and she staggered back, mouth opening in a whispered scream,
“Mouse! Bug-mouse-rat-snake-thing!” her hand scrabbled behind her for some kind of weapon, though she didn’t take her eyes off of the Kwami, who had puffed up at the word ‘mouse’, clearly offended. Luka winced, catching Sass in the air and pulling him back as he floated towards Marinette, small green fists raised.
“Wait! Please Marinette, it’s not a mouse, it’s a Kwami, Sass is what gives me my powers.” Marinette paused in her backing away,
“A… Kwami?” she asked, eyes resting on the small green creature with apprehension, “It gives you the ability to transform into Viperion?”
“I’m not an ‘it’” Sass squawked, sounding more like an angry bird then the God of Repetition in that moment, “my name is Sass, Sass! You got it yet? Foolish human-child?” Marinette blinked several long blinks before rushing forwards, all previous hesitation forgotten. Luka began to absentmindedly wonder if, pretty as she was, Marinette was also deranged as she extended a finger for Sass to shake.
“I’m terribly sorry, Mr Sass.” she said, eyes wide and apologetic, “I didn’t mean to disrespect you in any way! You must be mighty powerful to be able to turn humans into heroes.” Sass accepted her extended finger with a sniff.
“Of course! I am the God of Repetition, after all.” He stated, chest puffed now with pride rather then indignation.
“A God! You don’t say!” Marinette exclaimed, “Well, I suppose I couldn’t have expected any less from such a fine specimen.” Sass turned to Luka, previous rage forgotten as he said,
“I like this one, youngling.”
“You would.” Luka responded, rolling his eyes before returning his attention to Marinette, who was watching the exchange with clear interest.
“Sorry, but Sass needs eggs in order to transform, raw preferably.” Marinette nodded,
“Of course!! Would you like anything?” Luka shook his head as his stomach let out a low grumble.
“I’m fine, thank you.” he replied, Marinette smiled,
“Okay, Raw eggs and a croissant coming right up!” she cried, before disappearing into the darkness of downstairs silently once more.
“I think I’m in love…” Sass murmured to Luka, who snorted at the small God.
“You’re such a sucker for flattery.” he muttered, not needing to express with words how much he shared the Kwami’s sentiment.