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?”
“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?”
“We- we cleared him. The Collector, remember? So- so he CAN’T be Hawkmoth. He CAN’T BE!”
Plagg flew up to Adrien, putting a paw on his mouth. “Shhh! Do you want him to hear you?!” He whispered.
Adrien just started laughing hysterically. “There- there must be a reasonable explanation! Maybe Father just really likes secret hideaways. A-and that whole speech he gave… it must just be bad wording that makes it sound like him failing means our success! Or maybe it does, but for totally innocent reasons. He can’t- he can’t-”
“Kid, he CAN,” Plagg told him softly. “We know Hawkmoth has an accomplice. He could have had her akumatize him to throw us off.”
Adrien just gaped at him a moment before closing his mouth, a resolute look upon his face. “Plagg, I think we need to know where that secret passage leads.”
For once, Plagg didn’t complain about working. He quickly darted into the floor.
A few seconds later he resurfaced. “There’s an elevator down there. I don’t know where it leads, but I doubt it’s good.”
“Can you get it to work?”
“Get a measly little elevator working? Pfft. Are you joking. I’m the god of destruction, remember? No way something like THAT’S gonna stand in my way.”
Plagg darted into the floor again, causing the floor to open up and the elevator to descend. Adrien looked down the hole. “Uh, Plagg? I don’t fancy jumping.”
“Oh. Right.” Plagg looked a little sheepish. He brought the elevator back up. “Just stand where the floor opens up. The elevator will lower you down. After that… I don’t know.”
Adrien closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. When he opened his eyes, all trace of doubt in his expression had been erased. “Ok. Let’s do this. One way or another, we find out what my Father is hiding today. Find out whether my worst enemy was my father all along.”
He stood on the floor elevator as Plagg dived down and activated. As he descended he absent-mindedly stroked Ladybug. She purred comfortingly. It was all she could do.
The elevator descended. Adrien gasped as a huge underground chamber unfolded beneath him. “This… this was under my house?! How the hell did this get built without me noticing? Has it ALWAYS been here? What- What’s going ON?!”
He shouted his final word, “on” echoing throughout the chamber.
As Adrien walked down the center walkway, lights gradually came on until the whole room was illuminated. Hesitantly he walked forwards, towards the pod at the end, dread filling his stomach. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to know. He just wanted to go back to bed and pretend that this was some bad dream, that everything would be back to normal in the morning. Ladybug would be human, Gabriel wouldn’t have a massive secret underground chamber, and at the end of this walkway…
Adrien stared at his feet as he got closer, hesitant to look up, to see just WHAT was in the pod. Maybe- maybe if he didn’t look, then it would just be a fashion mannequin showcasing some old clothing style! And- and this underground chamber would just be some special meditation chamber that his father retreated to in order to come up with new designs! Yeah! And that speech earlier was just father trying to put himself in Hawkmoth’s head, because he wanted to know how the supervillain thought so that he could make akuma-esque clothing designs. That made sense, right? Right?!
Ladycat bopped him on the nose. Belatedly he realized that he was hyperventilating, on the verge of a full anxiety attack. she meowed at him worriedly.
She wasn’t the only one. Plagg snuggled against his neck. “Kid, I’m here, Ladybug’s here, YOU’RE NOT ALONE. Whatever happens, we’ll BE here. BOTH of us will be. I won’t say it’s okay. It’s not. But we’re in this together, no matter what happens.”
Adrien sank to the ground, cuddling Ladybug like his life depended on it. Gradually his breathing slowed down to something approaching his normal rate.
He stood back up, took a deep breath, and walked forwards, eyes still on his shoes, until he was just a few feet away from the pod. He opened his eyes.
A woman lay in the pod. For all the world she seemed to be sleeping peacefully, as if she might wake up at any moment and greet Adrien with a brilliant smile and ruffle his hair.
But Adrien knew better.
His throat closed up. He backed away slightly, shaking his head, unable to speak. Only Ladybug’s purring and nuzzling against his chest kept him grounded.
She was here. His Lady was here. Maybe she wasn’t herself at the moment, but she hadn’t left him. WOULDN’T leave him.
Plagg flew forwards, through the pod’s casing, examining Emilie directly. A moment later, he spoke. “She’s not dead. It’s some sort of enchanted sleep. I wish I could tell you more, but this really isn’t my department. It’s more Tikki’s sort of thing, or Master Fu’s. They’re the ones who keep track of all the magic stuff, I just keep track of cheese.”
Adrien’s heart felt like it was about to burst. Mom… alive?! And here, right in front of him.
She hadn’t abandoned him. Hadn’t left him. Not of her own volition, anyway.
“Why… why didn’t he tell me?” he whispered, squeezing Ladybug tightly. She made a slight ‘mmrrr” noise, but otherwise didn’t respond.
“I don’t know kid, I don’t know,” Plagg told him comfortingly as he stroked Adrien’s hair. Adrien leaned into the familiar affection, a reminder of when his mom used to do the same for him.
They stayed there for a moment, Plagg stroking Adrien’s head, Ladybug purring, and Adrien trying not to disintegrate.
Something flew across Adrien’s vision. He looked up, startled by the sudden movement.
A white butterfly flitted across his sight, accompanied by another, and another, emerging from the cocoons in the bushes around his mother’s pod.
Numbly he held out his finger. One of the butterflies landed on it, crawling down it. Adrien dropped his hand and the butterfly flew off. “Bye-bye, little butterfly,” he said dazedly.
“Well he’s definitely Hawkmoth,” Plagg muttered. Adrien didn’t reply. What did you even SAY to that? Especially since- since it was true. His father was Hawkmoth. Okay.
Well, NOT okay, but whether or not it was okay wouldn’t change anything. He’d have to deal with reality, one way or another.
He heard a whirring noise in the distance. Crap. That sounded a lot like the elevator.
He was NOT ready to face his father yet. Really he wasn’t sure he would ever be ready, but especially not now!
“Plagg, is there a way out of here?” he hissed.
Plagg quickly fazed through the floor. “There’s another elevator here, leading someplace else. Just stand on this patch of floor and I’ll activate it!”
Adrien shot his kwami a quick, grateful smile. “Thanks Plagg.”
He hurried over to the patch of floor. Adrien sank out of sight just before Gabriel came into view.
As they traveled, Adrien wondered. “Where could this lead? How many secret rooms could my house possibly have?”
Then the elevator went sideways, then up. Adrien startled. “Wait, seriously? What kind of weird elevator IS this?”
Adrien rose up out of the floor. This new room was pitch black. Adrien panicked for a moment. How big was this room. Was- was it really small? Was he trapped?!
Then the lights turned on. Turned out the room was pretty large. That was the good news.
The BAD news was that the light was red, blaring “INTRUSION. INTRUSION. ELIMINATION MODE ACTIVATED.”
Missiles launched out of the walls, heading for Adrien and Ladybug.
Ladybug wiggled free, dodging the missiles on her own. Adrien dodged and weaved. “Plagg! Claws out!”
A moment later (and several hasty dodges during his transformation sequence), Chat Noir ran to one of the walls of the dome. “CATACLYSM!”
The entire dome turned brown and brittle as his destruction spread, weapons breaking as the corruption reached them.
The whole thing cracked and disintegrated, leaving a massive hole in the mansion.
He snatched Ladybug up, carrying her with him as they made their escape.
He gave one long, last look at his childhood home, at the massive hole his Cataclysm had torn in the walls, and the white butterflies fluttering out into the wider world.
He turned around and vaulted off into the distance. He didn’t look back again.
After putting a few miles between himself and the mansion, Chat found a secluded rooftop and detransformed.
Adrien sank down, burying his face between his knees. Ladycat nuzzled him, purring.
“I wish you could talk,” he told her. “You always know what to do, no matter how dire the circumstances. And even if you didn’t, at least you’d be able to talk with me. You’re one of the people I’m closest to. I think the only one who knows me better is Plagg. I miss you, My Lady. I know you’re trying your best to cheer me up however you can, but... it’s not the same. As adorable as you are like this,” he reached down to scratch her head, “you’re not really YOU right now. And I- I really need you.”
Plagg peeked out from Adrien’s shirt. “We need to get to Master Fu’s. I don’t know how much he can help you with, but you CANNOT go back to that house.”
He breathed out slowly. “Okay, just tell me where to go.”
He arrived at Master Fu’s place a few moments later. It had been tricky making his way to Fu without being recognized (he was getting REALLY sick of that perfume ad being plastered everywhere), but he was pretty sure he’d managed it. Luckily for him, Ladycat seemed very amenable to the idea of draping herself on top of Adrien’s head in order to help conceal him slightly. Leading Hawkmoth to Master Fu was NOT something he needed right now.
He burst into the room, “Master Fu!”
Fu jumped, startled. “Adrien! What are you doing here?”
Taking in Adrien’s wide eyes, short breaths, and overall freaked-out expression, he grew even more alarmed. “Did something happen?”
Adrien burst out into wild, crazed laughter.
Ladycat jumped down from Adrien’s head, making her way over to Master Fu and rubbing against him.
He reached down to pet her. “Ladybug, I presume?”
Plagg answered, since Adrien wasn’t exactly coherent. “Yep. Unless you know of any other superpowered girls who could’ve been turned into cats. Or a regular superpowered cat.”
He shook his head. “None that I know of.”
He frowned. “I assume you came to see whether I could set her right? But you seem more frantic than I’d expect for that...”
Plagg opened his mouth, about to answer, when Adrien finally stopped laughing. He let out a deep, shuddering breath. “My father is Hawkmoth. And if he doesn’t know I’m Chat Noir yet, he will soon.”
Master Fu stared for a moment, then shook his head. “Why don’t I put on some tea and start on a cure for Ladybug while you tell me what happened?”
Fu started grabbing ingredients, mixing them together and heating them over a stove.
Adrien blinked. “Cure for Ladybug? You can cure her, then?!”
Fu nodded. “Indeed I can. It will take some time for the full cure to take effect, however. It’s hard to dispel magic using normal means. Ladybug will be stuck as a cat for the next three days, I’m afraid.”
“WHAT?!” Adrien yelped. “THREE DAYS?! She’s going to be stuck like this for THAT long?!”
“I’m afraid so. And the other people who were transformed are stuck until she can turn back. I don’t have enough ingredients to cure all the people who were struck by Catwoman.”
Adrien started hyperventilating again. “But what if an akuma attacks? How will we repair the damage? And- and her parents! They must be worried sick! She could wander off and fall into Hawkmoth’s hands! And what if-”
Fu pressed a finger against his lips in a ‘shushing’ gesture. “Calm yourself, Chat Noir. First of all, all damage that occurs during any intervening akuma attacks will be fixed after Ladybug uses her Miraculous Cure. In the meantime, I recommend trying hard to avoid collateral damage when possible. As for her parents, I have it on good authority that they knew their daughter was going to be near the park at the time that the akuma attack occurred. It will not be difficult for them to draw a line from that to her disappearance. They will be worried, but will at least believe that their daughter is relatively safe in the care of the city, along with all the other people-cats.”
Fu took the pot off of the stovetop. “As for your last point, you will not have to worry about her randomly wandering off. While it will take three days for the FULL cure to take effect, it will start PARTIALLY working within a few minutes of taking it. The cure dispels magic around the mind first, then the body. Mentally, she should be back to herself within minutes.”
Fu poured the cure into a small cup, holding it out for Ladybug to drink from. She took one sip and turned up her nose, stalking away. It smelled TERRIBLE. That thing was NOT going in her mouth.
“Ladybug, you must drink,” Fu told her firmly. She gave him a disdainful look, hopping onto a counter and proceeding to groom herself. Fu frowned. “This might be more difficult than I thought. We cannot force her to drink, she’s too strong.”
Adrien’s heart dropped. He couldn’t let that happen! He couldn’t force her to drink, but maybe... hopefully... “Fu, can I try please?”
Fu handed the cup over, smiling at him. “Ah yes. If anyone could get her to drink, it would be you.”
Adrien blushed slightly.
Slowly, he made his way over to Ladycat. She saw the cup and gave him a Look. Adrien didn’t need to speak cat to get the message; do really expect me to drink that?!
Adrien just gave her a soft, sad smile. “I know, Ladybug. I know it’s nasty. I know you don’t want to drink it. And I can’t make you. But it’s the only way. I need my partner back. I need my friend back. Please. I- I don’t want to try to do this without you.”
She looked at the cup, and at his pleading eyes. Tentatively she stepped forwards, giving one experimental lap of the nasty-smelling liquid. Immediately she recoiled. It was just as bad as she thought.
She looked up at Her boy again, wanting to let him know exactly what she thought of him trying to give her this horrible substance... and then stopped. He was giving her the most heartbroken expression, like all his hopes and dreams had just died in front of him.
She wasn’t sure what he was talking about before. Understanding Human speech was... difficult, and understanding what it MEANT, even more so. But she knew that he wanted, more than anything, for her to drink this nastiness.
She lowered her head and started drinking. She had to pause between every lap to let the bitter taste die down a bit before taking another drink (after a few rounds of this, Fu brought some water out, which let her get rid of the taste far faster), but she eventually got through the whole thing.
She didn’t understand why it was so important to Her boy that she drink that. But his fond smile as she slowly drank it made it all worth it. She’d do anything to protect that smile.
She crawled into Her boy’s lap, purring, and curled up. She felt a little strange after drinking all of that, but not bad.
Adrien stroked her, continuing to give her that loving smile.
Not bad at all.
Fu watched the two of them for a moment, then cleared his throat. “It will take a few moments for her to come fully to her senses. In the meantime, the tea is ready. Why don’t you tell me what all led to you charging into my house? Don’t worry, you don’t have to get up.”
Adrien blushed again, but started on the story of what had transpired this eventful afternoon.
Marinette dozed a bit. This bed was so nice and warm and comfy, and the PETTING... she wished it could continue all day.
Her eyes snapped open.
Fu looked back at her, a little concerned.
Ok... not too alarming. Not sure how she got here, but fine.
But he was in front of her. She looked down.
She saw someone’s legs folded underneath her. As for her own legs...
She waved one of her ‘hands’ experimentally. A little cat paw waved back.
She was a cat.
SHE. WAS. A. CAT.
“Ladybug? Are you okay?”
That voice! She knew that voice!
She looked up.
Adrien Agreste stared back at her, worried.
WHAT WAS ADRIEN DOING HERE?!
She bolted up right, catapulting (she nearly groaned to herself. Chat would LOVE that one) about three feet into the air.
How- why- he should NOT know about this place! And he called her Ladybug. How did he know she was Ladybug?!
Her eyes went wide. She knew that voice. She knew those words. But why were they coming out of Adrien’s mouth.
Oh right. Because Adrien was Chat, of course.
It all came flooding back. Being hit by Catwoman’s laser, breaking the akumatized object, jumping around following Chat like the world’s cutest bouncy ball (she just KNEW that there would be a few viral memes featuring her Superkitty form)
Jumping into the manor, seeing Plagg, finding out he was Chat... Being petted and stroked as he stared at her softly...
She felt her cheeks go red. Oh. Oh no. How was THIS fair. She was a CAT! CATS DON’T BLUSH.
Except, apparently, superpowered humans magically transformed into cats DO blush. Because the world hated her sometimes.
Okay. Okay, she could work with this. Adrien was her kitty. Chat was the Love of her life. She could work through this. She HAD to work through this. Because right now he needed her more than ever. Because...
Her eyes bugged out.
GABRIEL. ADRIEN’S FATHER. HE WAS HAWKMOTH.
And Adrien’s mother... she wasn’t missing! She was in that pod-thingy! (She tried desperately to forget how much it looked like a coffin).
Oh hell. Gabriel had a defense system that tried to MURDER them. They almost died! What if Adrien HADN’T been Chat Noir? HE WOULD BE DEAD.
She was SO gonna use Hawkmoth as a scratching post.
But for now she had to get a hold of herself. Her boy needed her.
OH GOD. SHE’D SCENT-MARKED HIM. SHE’D CLAIMED HIM.
Okay, getting a hold of herself starting now.
“MY LADY! Please, are you alright? Did something go wrong?”
She shook her head. A relieved smile broke out on Adrien’s face. “She’s responding!”
“She was nodding and shaking her head before,” Plagg observed, “but she had a cat mind. This might not mean anything.”
A concerned look crossed Adrien’s face. “Plagg’s right. Fu, do you have a computer for her to type on? If she’s all the way back, she should be able to type us a message.”
Fu nodded. “Ladybug made sure I got one. She even showed me how to use it. Hold on, I’ll retrieve it.”
A moment later he returned with a small laptop, opening up a Word document. He turned the computer towards Ladybug, clearly offering it to her.
She tentatively reached out a paw. Fortunately for her, the keys were large and far enough apart that she could press each of them with ease.
Unfortunately that ALSO meant that she had to move around a little in order to press all the keys. This would take awhile.
As she pressed the first few keys, Adrien’s face lit up. “My Lady! You’re back!”
She smiled at him and let out a quick meow before turning back to the computer. As much as she wanted to bask in his affection, he needed her to keep a level head right now.
It took her a couple minutes, but she was able to type out a few short sentences.
I understand you. Remember everything. What now?
Adrien stalled. “I’m- I’m not sure. You’re usually the one with the plan milady.”
Ruefully she typed out another message. Again, it took her a few minutes.
Typing’s hard. Takes too long. You know your father best. You take lead.
Adrien took a shaky breath. “I’ll try, Milady.”
He paced around the room. “ So, what do we know? My father wants the Ladybug and Black Miraculous especially, but he seems to regard other Miraculous as a bonus, but one he’s willing to let others have if he believes it will allow him to obtain those two Miraculous in particular. So he IS probably after the Wish primarily, as hinted at on Heroes Day. I don’t know whether it’s the only thing he wants, but it seems like the main thing.”
“Another thing we know; M-Mom’s alive,” he stuttered slightly, still not used to the idea. “She’s in some sort of enchanted sleep in a pod thing. She looks well taken care of.”
Adrien’s brow creased. “As far as his accomplices go, we know he has a woman who he gave the Peacock Miraculous too. The only person I could think of who he’d trust enough to give it to... is Nathalie.”
His gaze dropped. He muttered quietly for a moment, but Marinette’s new cat hearing caught his words easily enough.. “Her too. She’s in on it as well,” before looking up and speaking at a more normal volume. “Father also has several hidden areas. Such as that chamber with Mom, his lair, and his safe behind the painting of Mom.”
“Safe?” Fu asked, suddenly curious.
Adrien nodded. “Yeah, I saw him unlock it a few months ago. Plagg opened it for me. I actually took something from it.”
His eyes widened. He groaned. “The book! There was a book with some really weird writing and lots of pictures of past Miraculous holders! I bet that book’s important somehow.”
Master Fu nodded. “It was. Luckily, Ladybug obtained it and was able to make copies of its contents. In fact, the recipes for the transformation potions for your kwamis and the recipe for the magic-dispelling potion that I just used on Ladybug both came from that book.”
Plagg winced. “Oh. THAT’S why it looked familiar.”
Master Fu turned to him, surprised. “You saw the Miraculous Grimoire? And you didn’t instruct Adrien to bring it to me?”
“I- I forgot what it looked like,” Plagg cut in weakly.
Fu raised an eyebrow. “Even when Adrien opened it, showing pictures of previous Miraculous wielders? Even then you didn’t remember that it was important?”
“I- I was busy thinking about cheese, okay?” Plagg said.
Fu stroked his beard. “It seems that you need some refresher lessons on what all the Miraculous artifacts look like and what they’re for. As soon as there’s time, I or Wayzz will give you a refresher.”
Plagg hung his head. “Please no. I HATE school. There’s hardly anything about cheese!”
Adrien watched the exchange with some bemusement. He’d known his kwami was lazy, but he hadn’t realized he was that ignorant of even things directly related to the Miraculous.
The memory of his discovery of the vault floated into his mind. He buried his face in his hands and groaned. “There was a pin shaped like a peacock’s tail! I bet that was the peacock miraculous! It was RIGHT THERE! I could’ve grabbed it and then he wouldn’t have had Mayura!”
Fu shook his head. “You couldn’t have possibly known what it was. Am I correct in guessing that Plagg hadn’t told you of the existence of Miraculous besides the Black Cat, the Ladybug, and the Butterfly at that point?”
Fu continued. “Then you would have had no reason to think that it was related to the Miraculous, and certainly not that it WAS a Miraculous.”
He eyed the small cat kwami again. “Plagg, on the other hand...”
“Remedial lessons, I know, I know.” Plagg muttered.
Adrien grunted. “I know, it’s just so frustrating! If I had-”
“There are many things people wish they would have done differently,” Fu cut in. “Believe me, I know. But we must work with what HAS been done, and what can be changed.”
Adrien slowly nodded. Fu was right. He needed to focus on what to do next, not on what he could’ve done differently if he knew then what he knew now.
He exhaled. He needed to focus. “If Mom’s in some sort of magical coma and Father’s taking care of her... maybe he wants to heal her with the Wish? When we confronted him on Heroes Day, he talked about us not knowing whether his Wish might actually be beneficial. Ladybug and I both brushed him off at the time, but what if he was telling the truth? What if he had good intentions?”
“The Wish has consequences,” Fu gently reminded him.
“There must be balance, so in order for my Mom to be healed, someone else would have to take her place, I know. That’s not where I’m going. What I’m saying is that if his goal is to save my mother, then maybe we can appeal to that. Resolve this peacefully, mostly. He’d still have to go to prison - he’s been terrorizing the city for nearly a year now, there’s no way he’s getting away with that - but maybe there doesn’t have to be a fight.”
Adrien looked hard into Fu’s eyes. “If you saw Mom, were able to find out what happened - do you think you could heal her?”
Fu hummed for a moment. “I don’t know. I can make many powerful potions, but without know exactly what’s wrong, I can’t say.”
He turned slightly, directing his next words at a certain kwami. “And I don’t exactly trust Plagg to have the most accurate idea of what’s going on with your Mother, considering his lack of knowledge on magical matters.”
Adrien’s heart felt like someone had grabbed it and squeezed. “So- so Plagg might be wrong? That- that could have been a coffin?!”
He sat down heavily. Ladybug jumped down and rubbed against him, purring comfortingly. After being this hope amid all the bad news, then to have that taken away - he wasn’t sure how he’d cope.
Plagg’s eyes widened. He flew over to Adrien. “Kid, NO. I may not remember everything about the Miraculous, I may get distracted by cheese a lot, but something like this? I made SURE. I checked her brain to make sure. There’s activity in there. She’s definitely sleeping, NOT dead. I wouldn’t do that to you, give you hope unless I was sure.”
Adrien’s chest slowly loosened. His Mom was definitely alive.
“So I guess you need to get close enough to examine the pod,” Adrien told Fu.
Fu frowned, but nodded. “Indeed. And somehow do so without Hawkmoth capturing me. Do we know that this pod is still in the same location? Hawkmoth knows that we know where it was, he may have moved it at this point.”
Adrien considered for a moment. “I don’t think he could. That pod didn’t look very portable. I don’t think he could move it without hurting Mom. He’s not going to do that. And by now he should know that I’m Chat Noir, and that I wouldn’t purposely put Mom’s life in jeopardy. He might have some guards, but I don’t think he’s going to be too worried about me harming her. We might be able to persuade him that we mean no harm, and that we really do want to just take a closer look, see whether we can fix her.”
He sighed. “But I wouldn’t completely count on it. Father - I didn’t think he’d be capable of this. Of the things he’s done to the city as Hawkmoth. And the things he’s done to me. I don’t understand him as well as I thought I did. Plus, if you CAN’T fix her... well. He’d probably try to go back to Plan A, and kidnapping the Guardian would help with that.”
Ladybug thought for a moment. How could they do this, give Fu a chance to examine Emilie and perform any needed tests while minimizing the chance of his capture?
Then it hit her. She left Adrien’s side (sadly), and made her way over to the laptop again.
Fu uses Turtle. Get Rena. The four of us head to Manor. Chat talks to Hawkmoth. Rena disguises Fu while talking, allows to examine pod. Fu uses Shellter to protect if necessary.
Ladybug gratefully let her paws rest after typing all of that out. It wasn’t NEARLY as quick and easy as when she was a human. She had to be very precise about pressing down keys, and some of those keys were pretty far from each other. She hoped there weren’t too many questions about the plan, she couldn’t type much more.
Adrien read her message, then nodded. “That makes sense to me. It’s still risky, especially with both him and Mayura potentially wanting to fight, but it’s doable. Hopefully with Rena concealing you, Fu, and herself, you guys can at least get inside without a fight. And maybe I really CAN talk him down. Who knows? A miracle might happen and he decides to listen to me.”
Adrien’s brow furrowed, as if he’d just thought of something. “We’ll need to retrieve Rena first though.”
Ladybug typed up another message. I can do it.
“Are you sure, Milady? You might have superpowers, but you’re still a cat right now.”
She turned around and gave him a LOOK. He put up his hands. “Okay, okay, you win! I guess you can just carry the box in your mouth or something. I’ll write a short message explaining what we want her to do. I still don’t like the idea of you just running around the city by yourself with no way to contact anyone else or what might have happened to you, though. Wait! I know! Plagg, Claws Out!”
Marinette watched as her gentle, kind classmate transformed into her punny, flirtatious partner. She’d almost been able to forget for a moment about THAT particular revelation.
She shook herself. She could figure out how exactly she feels about that and what to do about it later. Probably scream into a pillow. For now, she needed to stay focused.
Chat opened his staff, shaking out a small loop of cloth with a little pawprint in the middle. She leaned her head forwards, allowing him to put the collar around her neck. “There. That should serve as a tracking device so I know where you are and can make sure you get there and back safely. Plus it looks quite nice, if I do say so myself.”
Fu brought out the Miracle Box, retrieving the Fox Miraculous from it. Adrien scribbled out a short message and stuck it inside the box, then handed it over to Ladybug. She gently took it in her jaws and raced off.