Couldn’t Hawkmoth take off ONE DAY?!
Ladybug dodged Catwoman’s beams, narrowly avoiding them. She winced as one of the stray beams hit a bystander, transforming them into a calico cat.
Catwoman - wow was Hawkmoth lucky no one knew who he was, or DC Comics would sue him into oblivion - had evidently been upset at someone mistreating one of her beloved felines. So naturally the akuma’s solution was to just turn everyone into cats. Because akumas are like that.
Marinette had just been minding her own business, strolling around the park hoping for fashion inspiration to hit her, when she saw Catwoman leap over a building and start firing laser beams from her laser gun (which she highly suspected was the akumatized object) at everyone in the park. She dove for cover behind a nearby tree, only barely making it in time.
“Tikki, spots on!”
Ladybug swung towards the villain, taking note of all the cats milling around where humans used to be. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what this villain’s powers were.
Which led her to the present. Catwoman was annoyingly fast and agile, taking after her comics counterpart. She was mostly a distance fighter and MIGHT be easier to defeat in close combat, but that was a moot point if she couldn’t REACH her. Plus Chat was more of the close combat specialist.
She groaned slightly as she thought about all the cat puns her kitty would fire off. He’d have a field day with this akuma. Still, she hoped he’d arrive soon. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could keep this up.
She dove behind a car as Catwoman fired wildly, attempting to hit anyone she could. Ladybug would be her first priority of course, but she wanted to hit anyone she could, she wasn’t picky.
Ladybug checked her bugphone and gave a sigh of relief. Chat was on his way. She only needed to hold out another minute-
A flash of light invaded her vision.
Ladybug had forgotten to account for something about lasers; they could be reflected off things. This included windows. One of Catwoman’s wildly fired beams had hit a nearby window, bounced off it, and hit Ladybug.
The small gray kitten blinked, overwhelmed. Where was she? What was going on? Why did everything feel so wrong?
She spotted a weird woman in a black catsuit jumping around, firing off light. Immediately she scurried under the car. Whatever this woman was doing, she wanted no part of it!
“I’m fe-line your anger ma’am, but I’m afraid your little light show is over!”
Marinette peeked out from the car. That voice sounded familiar.
She saw a second person in a catsuit, but this one was a young teenage boy instead of a woman. She meowed at the sight. This boy - he would help her! With what she wasn’t sure, but she knew that she HAD to get to him.
She dodged and weaved, making her way closer to the fight. The catboy was holding off Catwoman pretty well, pressuring her into close-quarters, forcing her to abandon offense in favor of evasion. But he was alone, and it was obvious he was used to some sort of back-up
He shouldn’t be alone. She had to help him!
She crept closer until she was only a few meters away from the fight. As Catwoman fired another beam at the catboy, she bolted towards the strange lady.
She jumped at the lady’s hand, knocking the laser from her grip. It clattered to the ground.
Marinette snatched it up, breaking it in her jaws. A small black butterfly fluttered out.
Alarm bells rang in her head. That butterfly could NOT be allowed to escape. She spat out the pieces of the laser pointer and jumped into the air, snatching the purple butterfly before it could escape.
She heard clapping coming from behind her. She turned around, coming face-to-face with the smirking catboy. Next to him was the woman from before who’d been attacking him, but her strange outfit was gone and she seemed confused.
Marinette ran up to the catboy, offering him the struggling butterfly. She didn’t know why, but she just knew that he’d know what to do with it.
Catboy chuckled, taking the butterfly from her mouth. “Thanks little kitty. You were a big help! Now I just need to find Ladybug. It’s weird - I know she was here earlier.”
He looked troubled for a moment, then shrugged. “Maybe she had to detransform. I’m sure she’ll be back soon. In the meantime...”
The catboy poked his head into a nearby shop. “Hey, do you have any mason jars? It’s kinda urgent.”
A minute later the catboy had forced the akuma into a glass jar where it fluttered helplessly against the glass.
“Now we just have to wait for Ladybug,” catboy said, plopping down on the grass.
Marinette felt weird about that. Ladybug wouldn’t come. She was sure of it.
She sat vigil with him in the meantime, feeling very reluctant to leave him for some reason. She inhaled his scent, frowning. He smelled strongly of something. Something almost rotten, but mixed with a sweet scent, as if trying to cover it up.
Well at least she didn’t have to worry about losing him. His scent was so strong she could track him halfway across the city.
After a few minutes of waiting, he frowned, checking his stick. “Still nothing,” he murmured, sounding worried. “Where could she be?”
Sighing, he started talking into it. “Hey Ladybug? I defeated Catwoman with some help with a feline friend, but now I have an akuma, a ton of cats, and no way to fix things. Where are you? Please call me back. I have the akuma trapped in a jar, I can take it to you. And... please. Let me know you’re alright.”
He put the stick away. “Where could she be?” he murmured.
Marinette bumped her head against catboy’s legs, rubbing up against him and purring. She didn’t want him to be sad. She didn’t want him to worry.
He chuckled, stroking her head. “Yeah, she’ll be alright. She’s Ladybug! Nothing can keep her down for long. She’s just a little delayed, that’s all.”
He stood up. “But in the meantime, I need to help take care of this. I don’t know how long Ladybug’ll be tied up, and in the meantime, I need to wrangle some cats.”
An hour later, Chat Noir (Marinette had heard his name said by several humans during this whole debacle) had all the stray cats in the area quarantined in a large pen some helpful civilians had created. It wasn’t certain which of the cats were actually cats and which were simply transformed humans, so until the Miraculous Cure could set everything right again, the city had deemed that all the cats in the area be treated as if they were Catwoman’s victims unless an owner could come forwards with proof of ownership of the cat in question. They weren’t taking on faith that a person was the owner just because they say they are; too high a risk of human trafficking in this instance.
Chat collapsed on the ground exhausted. “Phew! I hope that’s all of them.” Then he frowned. And groaned. “Okay, I give up. How do you keep escaping?!”
Marinette waved her tail smugly. He thought that little pen would stop her? She just jumped out the top whenever his back was turned. For some reason the other cats didn’t, which she found a little weird. It was only about twice as tall as Chat himself, she could jump that high easily.
Chat shook his head. “Look, I don’t know if you can understand, but it’s for your own good. The city will make sure you’re safe until Ladybug comes through.”
She meowed and headbutted him. She was NOT going to just wait around locked in some cage. She wasn’t sure what she should be doing, but that was definitely NOT it.
He picked her up, carrying her gently as he leaped into the pen and let her go again.
“Stay here,” he told her. “This will be fixed soon, I PROMISE, but I can’t do it while worrying about you - whoever you are. I’ll be back as soon as I find Ladybug. It’ll be okay.”
He extended his stick, vaulting into the distance.
Marinette jumped out of the pen, running after him.
Luckily Chat had a very distinct, strong scent. She had no trouble following his scent trail, even with it extending into the sky, him touching down on the ground only momentarily. She raced after him, going as fast as her legs would carry her, jumping over cars and people when necessary. She felt a small niggle in the back of her mind - should I really be doing this? I’m not supposed to know - but ignored it. Chat needed her. She didn’t know much, but that? That was an incontrovertible truth.
In a few minutes, she arrived at a massive mansion. She stalled, trying to figure out how to get inside. Following the scent trail, she leaped onto the small ledge by one of the windows, meowing and bumping against the glass. The boy on the other side startled, staring at her with slack-jawed amazement. She meowed and bumped the window again, which seemed to startle him out of his stupor. He opened it.
She leapt in, immediately sauntering over to him and rubbing against his legs. This was definitely the same boy as before, she could smell it.
“What- how- you should NOT be here!” he whispered to her quietly. “You can’t be here! How did you get from there all the way to here? The park’s a few miles away!”
She just chuffed. So what? He managed to get here fast enough, no way was she gonna be far behind him.
He groaned. “Is there any point in taking you back?”
She shook her head.
He froze. “You can understand me.”
He flopped onto his bed. “Ladybug. Is. Gonna. Kill. Me.”
“Yep! You’ve really done it this time!” a new voice called out.
Marinette’s ears flattened against her head. What was that?
A small black cat - even smaller than herself - floated out from a cabinet. She stared. On closer inspection, the... creature looked more like the IDEA of a cat. It had the cat ears and tail, but its proportions were all wrong. Still, it was cute, if weird-looking. Her ears pricked up a bit. She had a feeling that this was a friend.
“Plagg!” Chat called out.
“What? If she made it all the way here then she already knows who you are. And I’m not gonna hide if I don’t have to.”
Chat buried his face in his pillow again.
A moment later she heard his muffled voice. “So what do I do with her? If I take her to the pen she’ll just break out again, and I’m worried about her getting hurt coming here. And she’s one of the transformed people so...”
He froze. “Oh god... you’ve got people missing you, don’t you? Parents, siblings, friends... they probably have no idea whether you were caught up in the akuma attack, or were kidnapped, or what! And even if they figured out you were in the akuma attack, they don’t know that you’re okay now! Well, mostly okay,” he corrected, looking her over.
Parents, siblings, and friends? Faces flitted through her vision. A small woman with raven hair helping her wither her schoolwork. A large mustachioed man teaching her how to roll out dough. A girl with brown hair and glasses laughing at a joke with her. And...
She took a closer look at the boy in front of her. His blond hair, emerald eyes, his soft expression... she knew him. She knew him well.
He handed me an umbrella to protect me from the rain.
She purred loudly, a warm feeling glowing in her chest.
Adrien muttered, frustrated. “Where IS Ladybug? She’s never out of commission this long! Not when there’s an akuma attack to clean up!”
“Maybe she got hit,” Plagg said.
“That’s...” Adrien’s face went slack. “That... that would explain everything! Why she was there at the start and then vanished. Why she hasn’t reappeared. And...”
He turned towards her, wonder on his face. “My Lady?” he asked breathlessly.
She tilted her head and meowed. That seemed familiar. Not her name exactly, but something close to it.
A wide grin spread across Adrien’s face. “Plagg! My Lady helped take down the akuma as a cat! She stayed with me the whole time I was waiting for her, then followed me home!”
Plagg rolled his eyes. “There’s no guarantee that this IS Ladybug. Cats meow sometimes.”
He floated over to his cheese stash. “Well whoever you are, you can’t have any of my cheese! It’s mine!”
She turned around, sticking her nose in the air in distaste. Why would she want some of that smelly old cheese? Especially when there was something MUCH more interesting to pay attention to. Namely Adrien’s face.
Adrien seemed to think for a moment, then headed over to the computer. “I know! Let’s see if she can type stuff. If she can, she can tell us who she is for sure. Maybe even how to get in contact with her parents.”
He pulled up some sort of mostly white screen. He plopped her on the desk. “Can you type?”
She looked at him for a moment. Then curled up on the keyboard and meowed at him to pet her.
He sweatdropped. “I guess not.”
He turned to Plagg. “If Ladybug WAS hit, how can we fix this?”
Plagg shrugged. “Dunno. This is the kind of thing the Guardian would know about.”
“Great,” Adrien muttered. “I’m not set to have another Chinese lesson with him for three more days.”
Plagg gave out an exaggerated sigh. “But I SUPPOSE I could head over to his place and ask him about this. If I really have to. I’m not heading out until night though. I’m exhausted and hungry, it can wait that long.”
Adrien grumbled, but assented.
He turned towards Marinette, frowning. “Now what am I supposed to do with you in the meantime? Father would have a fit if he knew I was keeping a cat - even one that used to be human.”
She purred and headbutted him. He should pet her. Now.
He chuckled, stroking her head. She collapsed into a puddle of goo. “I know I should hope you don’t remember any of this so that my secret identity isn’t compromised,” he observed, “but I sorta hope you do - at least, if you really ARE My Lady. You are just too adorable.”
She just purred some more, eyes closed, soaking in the affection.
After several minutes, Adrien stopped stroking her. She got up unsteadily, blinking. “Sorry kitten,” he apologized, “but I’ve got a test to study for, and I really CAN’T stroke you all day, as much as I want to.”
She made a slightly annoyed sound, but relented.
She took it upon herself to explore the room instead. It was large - VERY large - with two stories and a lot of parts to explore. Yet while she wandered around, sniffing at everything (not that it did much good, most of it was covered up by the stench from that... substance the strange not-cat had been eating) she felt something niggling in the back of her mind. There was a bigger house to explore outside of the room. She knew Adrien didn’t want her to leave his room though. But... it was important. She had no clue why, but she needed to investigate.
Her instincts had led her to finding and helping Her boy. She would follow her instincts again.
But how? She knew that before, when she wasn’t a cat, she could just grab the handle and open the door. But she couldn’t do that now with her paws, and even if she could, she couldn’t reach the handle. She’d have to find another way out.
Her eyes wandered upwards. Maybe... ah! There!
She scrambled up one of the bookcases on the second story, reaching her objective. But how to open it?
Carefully, she grabbed the metal grate with her jaws. It tasted kinda gross and part of her protested at how unclean it was, but it was drowned out by the curious part of her that NEEDED to know where this mysterious passage leads. She tugged, the grate coming off with a BANG, then leaped into the now-open vent.
Adrien startled. “What was that?!”
Plagg flew over to the disturbance. “Looks like your little kitten friend has flown the coop again,” he observed.
Racing up the stairs, Adrien observed the damage. The grate that covered the vent in his bedroom laid on the floor, visibly dented by tiny toothmarks.
“How- cats can’t DO that!” Adrien protested. “They’re not that strong!”
“Huh. I think you were right,” Plagg observed. “Normal cats aren’t. But a superpowered cat is.”
“A superpowered...? So she really is Ladybug! Wait, she still has her powers?!”
Plagg shrugged. “Well, her super-strength at least. She can’t speak, so Lucky Charm and Miraculous Ladybug are out of the picture, and she doesn’t have her yo-yo. But she should have everything else.”
“So My Lady’s wandering my house as a cat WITH superpowers, while having the mind of a cat?!”
Plagg yawned. “Seems like it.”
Adrien went pale. “Oh no. Father has cameras inside the house. He might see her! I’ve got to find her before Father does!”
He raced off through the house.
Marinette slunk through the ventilation system. These things were PERFECT for letting cats move about!
She soon came upon another vent, this one evidently in the ceiling. She pushed, sending it clattering to the ground.
Elsewhere, Adrien heard a loud clanging sound. His stomach dropped. “Oh no, if I can hear that, then Father-!”
He raced off towards the noise, praying that somehow, his father won’t have found his feline partner.
Marinette jumped down from the ceiling, landing gracefully on her feet. She looked around. A large monitor stood in the middle of the sparse room. The main other focal point being the large, somewhat abstract painting on the far wall.
She stared at it, enraptured. This woman... she was Adrien’s mother. She was so beautiful. Adrien looked so much like her.
A door opened. Marinette jumped.
Adrien rand down the steps, his heart falling. That noise had come from his Father’s office. He’d locked himself in there all day, there was no WAY he could miss that noise!
Adrien tested the knob. Locked, like he’d figured. Which meant that LadyCat (ooh, that was a good one, he was sticking with that!) was trapped in the office with his Father.
“Plagg!” he hissed quietly. “Can you take a peek and see what’s going on with LadyCat and Father? Make sure she’s alright at least.”
Plagg sighed. “If I have to. You owe me SO much cheese after this.”
He flew up, slowly sticking his head through the wall so as not to attract attention.
There LadyCat was, staring at the painting of Emilie. But...
Plagg retreated, returning to Adrien. “Ladybug’s fine, but your father isn’t in there.”
Adrien frowned. “That’s strange. This door only locks from the inside. Unless he climbed out the window, I don’t know how he’d manage that.”
He shook himself. “I can’t think about that now. I need to retrieve LadyCat. Plagg? Can you open the door?”
Plagg flew into the lock, opening the door. Adrien quickly ducked in, closing it and locking it behind him. If his father DID come back from wherever he was, best he didn’t know immediately what Adrien had been up to. If he got into trouble later due to the security footage, fine. At least Ladybug would be safe by then.
Ladybug jumped slightly at his entrance.
“You can’t run off like that,” Adrien told her. “You could get hurt, or lost!”
She rubbed up against his legs and meowed, staring up at him soulfully.
“Oh no, that won’t work on me,” he said. “I practically invented the kitten eyes, I’m immune to their power.”
He picked her up. “Come on, I’ll get you out of here.”
As he was about to leave, he saw a panel open in the floor. He quickly ducked behind the nearby curtains.
Internally he was panicking. There was a secret passage in the floor?! Since when? WHY?! He could sorta understand the painting-vault, wanting to hide that so thieves couldn’t find it, but why was something in the floor?!
He heard the mechanical whirring stop and a noise like two metal plates coming together. Then footsteps.
“Failed again,” he heard his Father’s voice mutter. His Father walked to stand in front his Mom’s portrait. Adrien prayed that he wouldn’t glance down at the bottom of the curtains. They were long, but they didn’t quite cover his shoes.
“But I will keep on trying, Emilie. I must. Adrien... he needs you. I need you. I will keep our promise. Just wait a little longer. I may have failed today, but Ladybug and Chat Noir did not totally succeed. Ladybug has not set everything right yet. The time for my success may be close at hand.”
Gabriel walked out of his atelier, unaware of the stunned boy, cat, and kwami he had left behind.
“Plagg?” Adrien whispered as he extricated himself from the curtains. “I- I didn’t just hear that. That didn’t mean what I thought it meant. Right?”