Actions

Work Header

Marinette and Adrien go to China

Chapter Text

Trip to China

 

Marinette has inherited the miracle box and was the next guardian. Every evening, she would ‘take a few kwamis for a walk’ as she called it. She would put on the jewellery, kwamis would appear and then Marinette would spend considerable time giggling at the games they played. She already had amounts of different kinds of food stashed in her room. Each kwami had their favourite and some kinds were difficult to get.

After they ate and played, she would encourage them to tell her stories of their former owners. At first she tried to memorize the stories, but soon it became too much, so she made another magic box to hold a second diary. There she wrote down the notes from the stories kwamis had told her. Tikki and Sass complained at her taking notes at first, but gave up after a while.

However, kwamis were mischievous and when she took them out, one or two would rather continue to have fun of their own around her room and not sit and listen to the stories of old times. They could exchange stories between themselves while inside the miracle box.

One evening, Trixx and Pollen were telling a story or arguing (it was not always clear) and Marinette was busy taking notes. Tikki went down to the desk for cookies and noticed something turquoise sticking from Marinettes diary. She frowned and pounced on Sass.

“She forgot to lock it.” Sass offered an excuse.

“You are spying on my chosen.” Tikki hissed.

“She is really into this guy that was Aspik? My one time holder?” Sass asked with pure curiosity.

“You should not interfere.” Tikki whisper shouted.

“She has all these pictures of him in her room.” Sass looked around to stress his words “And that one above her bed even has little hearts on it.”

“Do not get into that subject, do you hear me?” Tikki frowned.

“Alright.” Sass conceded.

“And do not read her diary again!” Tikki tried to sound threatening.

“Alright.” Sass nodded.

The argument between the kwamis on the loft bed intensified and they could hear Marinette tried and failed to calm down the discussion.

“What is this all about?” Sass floated over and asked calmly.

“Everything is going to be alright, let’s not wake up Marinette’s parents.” Tikki chirped in an entirely different manner than she used for Sass just moments before.

Marinette was poking her diary with her pencil feeling a bit absent minded.

“I got lost at the re-creation of the temple or something.” Marinette gave a tired look to her kwami. Some evenings were easy, some kwamis would even tell her exactly what she should note. Some evenings were like these. She felt as if she was babysitting and not learning.

“Re-creation of the temple?” Tikki asked incredulously.

“Yes the restoration of the curse.” Trixx pounced excitedly.

“There is nothing positive about that.” Pollen crossed her tiny arms.

Sass sighed.

“Have you told her the story, or you were just arguing as you usually do?” Sass spoke calmly.

The two kwamis looked at each other.

“She started it!” Trixx pointed her tiny had towards Pollen.

“But you had to get so engaged into it.” Pollen put her tiny paws to her hips.

Marinette was becoming more drowsy.

“You are very tired Marinette, perhaps we should do this some other time.” Tikki went to her chosen and patted her cheek.

“Actually, how long has it been, a few weeks already?” Sass asked.

“Yes but...” Tikki protested.

“Already? So long? And we are not in a caravan already?” Trixx sounded incredulous.

“They do not use caravans these days” Pollen rolled her eyes.

“Okay, what is it?” Marinette jawed. “Short version, please.”

“Master Fu made an error as a child and the temple of the Miraculous in Tibet got burned. But then, you and Chat noir have beaten Feastin and the temple is restored, right?” Sass was calm, short and up to the point.

Marinette nodded.

“There were more miraculous stones in that temple than there are in that box.” Sass spoke very slowly waiting for Marinette to comprehend what he wants to say.

“There are also other powers related to the temple.” Sass continued and waited for Marinette to nod. She was not making notes this time. “The temple was restored and that was in the news, right, for everyone to see.”

“Including Hawk Moth.” Marinette whispered.

“Exactly.” Sass nodded pointedly.

“And he probably knows about other stones and the temple powers?” Marinette asked hoping beyond hope that the answer is no.

Sass nodded with a sad look in his eyes. Tikki looked worried. Pollen and Trixx nodded rapidly and eagerly.

“And he might be after them?” Marinette was worried.

Sass have half hearted nod.

“But the monks in the temple, they can defend it?” Marinette switched her eyes between all the four kwami.

They all waved their heads.

“They need Ladybug and Chat Noir to defend them from evil.” Tikki gave Sass a resigned look and admitted the fact to Marinette.

“So I should go to Tibet?” Marinettes eyes almost popped out from her head.

“You and Chat Noir.” Trixx added “And perhaps a few more heroes.”

“We expect Hawk Moth would be going there soon, too.” Pollen explained “Because he could find the cursed stone.”

“He could be after it if he knew about it.” Sass spoke calmly. “We should focus on going there. We should not anticipate what would we find there.”

Trixx sighed. Pollen crossed her tiny paws again.

“How could I go to China? With Chat Noir? We can use Peagasus and be there in not time.” Marinette smiled. “We can investigate and be back in a few hours. That would be perfect. We would leave Paris only for a few hours at a time. We could do it instead of patrols.”

She stopped her happy rambling when she saw the four kwamis wave their head.

“You can’t just teleport there do the research as a Ladybug and then come back.” Sass crossed his arms.

“It would draw the attention of Hawk Moth.” Tikki warned.

“You cant find the cursed stone.” Trixx waved her head.

“It has to reveal itself to you.” Pollen whispered.

“So I have to go to China? But I can’t leave Paris!” Marinette whined. “I have to find another Ladybug.” she sighed.

“No. Ladybug has to travel to Tibet.” Sass was calm and deadly serious. He gave Tikki a look. Her chosen was difficult.

“Who would defend Paris then if I can’t teleport there and back?” Marinette asked incredulously.

“Nobody said you cant teleport there nor from there.” Trixx raised an eyebrow (or something).

“The cursed stone will not reveal itself to a person while transformed.” Pollen nodded wisely.

“But I could teleport, de-transform, find the stone, transform and then return.” Marinette whined.

“The cursed stone should never be teleported. That could damage or destroy the Horse miraculous.” Sass spoke slowly. “But that is not the issue here. The temple might be in danger from Hawk Moth and Mayura. You have to get there and warn them.”

“oh” Marinette was deep in thought.

“The cursed stone should stay where it is.” Pollen rolled her eyes at Trixx.

“If I cant teleport there, can I teleport back to Paris in the case of an akuma attack? And then back to Tibet?” Marinette was timid and here eyes watched Sass with more fear.

“Yes” Sass nodded twice.

Marinette sighed.

“I do not see how is that different, but okay.” Marinette shrugged.

“It will all become clear in time, Marinette.” Tikki chirped happily.

“But how am I to travel to China and Tibet? I am a child. I have parents. I can’t travel alone. And, you said that Chat Noir should go too?” Marinette looked at the kwamis full of questions.

“This is why I thought going to the temple could wait.” Tikki spoke quietly.

“It can’t wait that long.” Trixx waved her head.

“She is fourteen. It would take years.” Pollen added.

“I will think of something. I will also tell Chat Noir about this.” Marinette sighed and took her phone.

“You are communicating with that?” Sass asked.

“Don’t ask.” Tikki sighed.

“How cool.” Trixx came closer.

“You do not transform?” Pollen asked.

“We have agreed recently to communicate through this application, my number is hidden, he can’t trace me. And I can’t trace him.” Marinette typed in the message.

Bug: Need to talk.

“Now, tell me more about that temple.” Marinette sighed leaving the phone to the side.

Trixx and Pollen entered the argument about the cursed stone. Tikki giggled to their antics. Sass rolled his eyes.

Marinette’s phone lit up with a message.

Cat: now, where?

Bug: can wait till morning.

Cat: before school, Francois Dupont rooftop.

Bug: see you then. Good night.

Cat: Good night.

Sass spied on the text exchange and nodded in approval. When Marinette put the phone away, he silenced the arguing kwamis and started the story in his slow and calm speech.

Marinette fell asleep after a few minutes. The kwami joined her on the pillow.

“She looks so tired.” Sass whispered. Tikki silenced Pollen and Trixx.

“She is getting exhausted. And, she is sad about Master Fu. She blames herself.” Tikki whispered.

“Well, Wayzz explained to her that it was not her fault, we always cheer her up.” Trixx chirped.

“She laughs at our stories.” Pollen noted.

“How many kwami she takes for a walk every evening?” Sass asked worriedly.

“Three to four.” Tikki answered. “But it is not just that.” Tikki sighed.

“Is it about this boy?” Pollen asked floating to the picture of Adrien on the wall.

Tikki nodded.

“I knew it. I saw how she looked at the picture from time to time.” Trixx nodded.

“She loves him so much she let him be with another girl because she saw him happy with her. And she is a friend to the other girl.” Tikki sighed worried for her chosen.

“Oh no.” Trixx whispered.

“So she would never even try to be with him not to ruin the friendship with that girl.” Pollen whispered.

“Does the boy really love that other girl?” Sass asked calmly.

“It is more complicated than that. We can’t interfere.” Tikki warned.

The other three kwami looked at Tikki questioningly.

Tikki sighed “I can’t tell you, okay?” she looked at all three kwami.

Trixx and Pollen sighed and looked at each other then back at Tikki.

“If it is complicated, then it is not a no.” Trixx whispered happily.

“But it is not a yes either.” Pollen whisper shouted.

The two kwami were in an argument bout what Tikki said and what it actually meant.

Sass, on the other hand, kept silent radiating ancient wisdom. But Tikki knew better, Tikki knew that most of his wisdom came from just an hour ago and the diary he read.

“You were not supposed to read her diary, Sass.” Tikki warned.

“But I did.” Sass crossed his arms.

“That is only for her.” Tikki whisper shouted.

“She did not keep it locked.” Sass argued.

“She forgot. She is tired.” Tikki threw a worried glance towards her chosen, sleeping peacefully.

“She should not do such mistakes.” Sass warned.

“We should hep her. She is just a girl with a lot on her mind.” Tikki whispered still looking at her sleeping chosen.

“We are helping her.” Sass continued. “She is doing a good job as a guardian.”

“And she trusts us completely, so she did not lock her diary. We should not abuse her trust, Sass.” Tikki scolded quietly.

Sass bowed his head.

“You are right. But, there are things in there, things we should know if we want to help her.” Sass whispered.

“She should tell them to you. We should not be talking like this about her. I would be breaching her trust if I did.” Tikki scolded gently.

The four kwami finally snuggled on the pillow and fell asleep.

 

Chapter Text

That morning, four kwami patted a raven haired girl until she woke up. Tikki and Sass reminded her of her meeting with Chat and she quickly dressed up and grabbed her things. It was Sass who hopped on her bracelet to remind her to take it off.

“You have to take this off.” he looked at the girl, her eyelids giving away that she is only half awake.

Marinette stared at the bracelet. “Oh yes.” and a pang of emotions ran through her. She almost made an error of carrying the Snake bracelet that Ladybug gave to Adrien once and he would certainly recognize. On top of that she had the Fox pendant around her neck that Alya would recognize and the Bee comb in her hair. Thinking of how would Chloe react the moment she recognized the Bee miraculous in Marinette’s hair sent shivers up her spine. She quickly greeted the three kwami, removed the jewels and stored them.

Marinette ran through the bakery grabbing some pastries on the way 45 minutes before school.

“Good morning maman, papa.” she greeted on the run.

“I thought you were still sleeping.” Sabine looked at her daughter with surprise.

“Have you moved your clock one hour forward for the daylight saving time again?” Tom laughed.

“No, I have this thing in school.” She ran out. Technically, she had a meeting on the school rooftop, semantics.

She ran in the nearby alley and transformed. She took the brown paper bag with croissants and swung to the roof. In a few jumps she was on the roof of her school. Chat was already there.

“Good morning, My Lady” Chat bowed, took her hand and kissed her knuckles.

“Good morning Chaton.” She returned the greeting and tapped his nose with her index finger. She smiled, but he could see that she was tired.

“Oh, the croissants and pain au chocolate from the Dupain Cheng bakery, how did you know.” he smiled widely taking a croissant from the bag Ladybug offered.

“Good morning to you too Chaton.” Ladybug smiled.

Chat took a large bite from his croissant and watched Ladybug intently. She nibbled on her own nervously. The last few days she appeared sad and lonely and have even looked for solace in him. He was even hoping she started to develop feelings for him.

“What’s wrong Bug?” Chat asked with concern. “I see how taking the duty of the Guardian has taken its toll on you.”

Ladybug shook her head. The day she became Guardian, she let Adrien go. There was no way she could ever maintain a relationship, go to school, save the city as Ladybug and be the Guardian of the miracle box. She had to let go of Adrien. He deserved someone who could give him more. Kagami was making him happy.

Ladybug took in a heavy and shaken breath. That was not what she came here to talk about. She wiped a tear from her eye and Chat saw it.

“Remember Feastin?” Ladybug asked.

Chat nodded.

“A temple was restored in Tibet after we defeated Feastin and I used Miraculous Ladybug.” Ladybug spoke quickly.

“That temple that was missing for hundred and something years?” Chat asked.

“Yes, that one. It was a temple of the guardians.” Ladybug nodded. She sniffed in her sorrow from before and focused on the conversation.

Chat nodded for her to go on.

“Well, there are more miraculous stones there and we have to go to Tibet.” Ladybug raised her eyes and looked him straight in the eyes. She was too tired to wrap the story in more sentences. She was not in the mood to go around and around before she finally hit the target.

Chats mouth fell open, but he was smiling.

“They spoke about the temple on television, Chat. The whole world saw it. Including Hawk Moth.” Ladybug continued. “He might be going there too, maybe even now as we speak. And the monks there can’t protect themselves. They would not know what to expect. We are the only Chat Noir and Ladybug.” She started rambling, speaking quickly and waving her hands. “You know I am the guardian now, and the kwami told me we should both go there, to the temple.”

Chat grinned. He looked happy. He smiled widely at the thought of going somewhere with his lady. Perhaps they would reveal their identities now. Perhaps this was more important than keeping their identities a secret.

“Chat, I do not know what to do. This will endanger our identities. We should both go. I will have to take the miraculous box and we can use the horse miraculous to teleport back to Paris in the case of an akuma attack, and then teleport back. But, we can’t just teleport there and do our thing.” Ladybug spoke so quickly Chat barely followed. But he smiled.

“We will go to Tibet together?” he smiled. His mother loved Tibet and always spoke fondly of the place. He always wanted to go there.

“Chat, get serious. How are we going to Tibet?” Ladybug looked at him and he grinned.

“By plane?” he smirked.

“Chat” she clenched her fists “I cant fly to China alone. I am fourteen.” She winced, she just gave a detail about her identity she should not have given him. She looked away from Chat.

“You are fourteen?” Chat grinned, his smile could split his head.

“Forget about it.” Ladybug turned away.

“You’re fourteen.” Chat was more subdued.

“Stop it Chat. I lied about my age. All women lie about their age.” Ladybug spoke quietly and sniffed. She kept her back to him.

“You’re fourteen and you have been defending Paris for more than a year and now you are the Guardian of the miracle box.” Chat spoke to himself and put his clawed hand on her shoulder. He slowly turned her around and pulled her into a hug.

“I do not know how to do this Chat.” Ladybug cried. “I do not have a plan yet. I just needed to tell you this.”

“Thank you for telling me. You always find a solution, Bug.” Chat Noir spoke quietly.

“Yes, in a battle. But this is the real world. I need plane tickets. And I need something to tell my parents, probably take one of them with me.” Ladybug felt this was also giving away more information about her but far less than the last slip up.

“But, this time, I might help you with that.” Chat Noir offered. If there was anything he had, it was money. Or, more precisely, it was his father who had the money. And, his father did not mind if Adrien spent the money as long as the boy left his father alone and obeyed all his overbaring rules.

“You can’t buy me plane tickets.” Ladybug said incredulously. She had no idea how much money it was but the plane tickets must be something expensive, right?

“I might help, please let me help.” Chat Noir grinned. His head was already in the clouds, or even above them, in a passenger jet flying to China.

“Okay.” she whispered in his chest.

“Okay, we still have some time. So kwami told you we should both go, but how have you found out about this? Was it an idea from Master Fu? What can you tell me about that temple?” Chat Noir asked excitedly.

“Kwamis told me, not Master Fu, not even his kwami.” Ladybug shrugged and started explaining.

“Kwamis? As in plural?” Chat Noir asked.

“Yes, I let them out and learn from them every evening.” Ladybug looked at him. “They tell me stories and there is a lot to learn.” She looked at him, he was concerned, she thought he was unhappy because she was ‘hiding’ something from him. “Chaton, I am sharing all the information with you, here.”

“Isn’t that draining you?” Chat Noir was worried. Plagg told him that wearing more than one miraculous can be draining on the bearer. Chat thought it was just during battle, but perhaps it was valid all the time? He did not think about wearing two miraculous outside the battle.

“I have a lot to learn.” Ladybug shrugged. She wanted to return to the subject and away from his worry about her. “Hawk Moth have seen the temple was restored. It was on television. I would not have known it if I have not spoke to the kwamis.” Ladybug told him.

“So what else have they taught you.” Chat Noir asked a bit harshly. More harshly than he intended. He was merely curious, and one tiny bit jealous. He valued Plagg and his company a lot. He could never imagine his life without the little cat god who kept him company in that large and lonely room in the Agreste mansion. He might like to have a few more kwami for company. Plagg was grumpy and teasing. Tikki, although he met her only briefly during the second Reflekdoll akuma and amok attack, seemed much nicer. Perhaps Plagg would appreciate some company too?

“Much of it is just stories, it is not as if they are giving me lessons. I have to pick out the useful information. Sometimes they just go about and play or bicker and I just spend my evenings getting no useful information at all.” Ladybug voiced her frustration quietly.

“Oh, Bug.” Chat hugged her once more. He would love to see kwami play and bicker, but he understood Ladybug’s frustration. “If I can help you with that, let me know, please?” Chat begged.

“It is my duty.” Ladybug replied and clenched her fists. “It was my mistake.” she whispered.

“Don’t talk like that, Bug. Don’t think like that, either, okay.” Chat looked into her eyes. Ladybug looked at him back. There was not so much guilt in her look as he expected. There was so much sadness. Sadness about loosing Master Fu? Was she so tied up with the old master? Probably. He missed him too although he did not see him as frequently as Ladybug.

Ladybug was looking at Chat feeling sad. She let go of Adrien and she knew how much it hurt her. She knew Chat liked her, perhaps not as much as she liked Adrien. He flirted with her as Marinette too and probably flirted with many girls in his civilian life. But the thought that he might have suffered this much, or even a tiny bit of this much, because of her, because he liked her and she loved Adrien. That thought was making her sad even more. She could not tell him.

“It is time for us to go.” Ladybug whispered.

They separated, said their greetings and went their separate ways.

Chat Noir went straight into school, through a toilet window and de-transformed into Adrien.

“Tikki is having fun with all the other kwami while all I have is you.” Plagg teased.

“But I have Camembert.” Adrien winked and produced a cheese triangle.

“Well, you have your good sides too.” Plagg wiggled his tail in anticipation, but Adrien kept holding the cheese triangle.

“What do you say?” Adrien wiggled the cheese triangle.

“I’m hungry?” Plagg tried.

“Nah Nah” Adrien wiggled the cheese some more.

“Cheese.” Plagg whined.

“What is the magic word?” Adrien smirked.

“I am the god of destruction and your fingers are on my food.” Plagg groaned.

“Those are many words, but I feel no magic.” Adrien wiggled his eyebrows.

“Would you really like to taste some of my magic?” Plagg put his paws on his hips.

Adrien heard someone entered the toilet. He quickly threw the cheese triangle into the air and Plagg swallowed it whole. Adrien caught Plagg and hid him in his shirt, then he pressed the water tap and got out of the stall where he was hiding.

“Hey Dude.” Nino greeted.

“Hey Nino” Adrien greeted washing his hands.

“Did not see you come in to school.” Nino noted.

“I was here early this morning. I wanted to check something in the library before our history lesson.” Adrien shrugged with his best model smile, dried his hands and went to the locker room.

 

Chapter Text

The History Book

 

Ladybug swung her yo-yo in the opposite direction from the one Chat took. She jumped from the rooftop and de-transformed in an alley close to school. She knew the place well and could not remember the number of times she used it when she rushed to school after an akuma attack. There were no windows in the ground floor and there were several dumpsters to hide behind.

Marinette caught Tikki in her hands after she de-transformed and offered her a pink macaron. The little red goddess with three black spots took the macaron looking at the girl gratefully and nibbled on it thoughtfully. Marinette started running towards school instantly.

“Going to China was a bad idea. I already told Chat Noir too many details.” Marinette whispered to Tikki.

“Everything will be okay, Marinette.” Tikki patted her chosen on her cheek and floated into her purse with the macaron in her little paws.

“I have no idea how to pull this through and I have revealed too much about myself.” Marinette repeated in frustration.

“Don’t worry, Marinette, he might have guessed what you told him already.” Tikki tried to put the girl at ease.

“But now I have confirmed his guess.” the girl groaned. Tikki blinked her blue eyes at the girl from her purse holding the macaron in her tiny paws.

“There is no use to be so concerned about it now. It is done.” Tikki chirped. She wanted Marinette to focus on the problem to solve, not on the errors she did. Besides, Tikki knew who Chat Noir was and Ladybug telling him her age and the fact she had parents did not reveal too much that he would not find out or conclude on his own during the travel anyway.

“I was talking too much. I can’t crumble like that.” Marinette waved her head as she ran towards school and looked at Tikki in her purse.

“That is why you have a partner.” Tikki peeked from her purse.

“But, we have to keep our identities a secret.” Marinette whispered.

“You will be late for school, Marinette.” Tikki got deeper into her purse and Marinette ran faster up the stairs.

“Yes, school.” Marinette gasped. One more duty for her. Well, that was a normal duty, all the kids went to school, you have to go to school and learn and … her string of thoughts was disturbed again by the tiny voice from her purse.

“Don’t forget your history book.” Tikki chirped from her purse. Right, she has to pick up the history book from her locker for the first class. She took a sudden turn towards the locker room and ran there. The hallways were mostly empty of students as the first class of the day was about to start in a few minutes and everyone was in their classrooms chatting with their classmates.

Marinette burst into the locker room. She quickly ran over to her locker. Her feet operated on muscle memory as her head was too full with information on kwami and too lacking on information on travel arrangements that she forgot to use her head to process what was going on just in front of her.

And, of all people, she bumped into Adrien.

Truth to be told, he was leaning on her locker as if he was waiting for her (he was).

“Good morning Marinette” he wrapped his arm around her waist when she bumped into him but released her the moment she stood firmly on her own two feet again. He smirked. He felt Plagg snickered in his pocket and kept looking at the girl in front of him waiting for her reaction. And she never disappointed him.

“Adrien! You too good, morning.” Marinette flailed her hands. Why did she run into him? Why him of all people? Why did he have that smirk on his face. Why he watched her so intently with those warm green eyes? Why was she lost in his eyes again? She let go of him. It hurt so much, and still, the moment she bumped into him, all the feelings were back. The butterflies in her belly, the warmth in her cheeks, the weakness in her knees. And why was she waving her hands so much? She finally used her hands to cover the blush in her face with the palms of her hands.

He liked it when she got flustered. It was funny. He gave her a cheeky grin. He felt so warm inside when she was near him. He wanted to wrap his arms around her again, but resisted the pull of his feelings and settled to just stare at her. He wanted to spend more time with her and get her to feel more comfortable around him, but he enjoyed her funny reactions when he pulled a prank on her just like he did this morning. And it was not hard to do, all he did was to lean onto her locker and wait for her.

“I mean, good morning to you too, Adrien.” she clenched her fists on her face while she spoke. Success. She managed to wish him good morning. Her eyes open wide and a large smile forms on her face. The blush is still there and she looks happy. She is looking at him like she just won a match of video game (except she is not dancing). Adrien is happy for her.

“How are you this morning?” Adrien asked stepping away from her locker so she could open it. She looked tired. She has looked tired for several days now, come to think of it she looked tired ever since they escaped the wedding anniversary of Chloe’s parents. Marinette was there helping her parents who were doing the catering. Were her parents mad about her escape since she avoided her duties. He knew his father would be mad.

“um, okay.” Marinette fiddled with the lock on the door to her locker. Her hands were trembling as she tried to concentrate on the lock in front of her. For the first ten seconds she was trying to remember what her code was. She kept thinking of the boy standing beside her. He wrapped his arms around her when she bumped into him. Does that count as a hug? And now he stood beside her and watched her every move.

Adrien audibly sighed as he stood on her side and watched her. He noticed her hands were trembling. She was hunched over the lock and she was fiddling with it as if she did not know what to do with it.

“I mean great, I’m great.” Marinette corrected herself, squared her shoulders and jerked her head up but her voice was giving her away. She felt Tikki pat her thigh through her purse so she put her hand over the purse and stroked it lightly.

“Mhm” Adrien leaned onto the locker next to hers. Adrien saw her move and concluded she was nervous about something. Her eyes looked tired and the circles around her eyes revealed she did not sleep much in the last week or so. Her eyes were slightly red, she might have been crying.

Marinette fiddled with her lock but failed to open it. She let her hands fall as she took in a deep breath.

“Marinette” he whispered and it sent shivers down her spine, pleasant shivers that made her knees unstable and turned her brain into jelly. He leaned into her, smelled her hair and felt the smell of bakery. His stomach grumbled audibly in a silent locker room.

“You almost got akumatized last week.” he whispered into her ear and put his hand on her shoulder. His breath touched her ear and her hair drifted in the breeze and tingled his nose. She took one deep breath, then another one. She finally felt ready to speak, at least when she was not looking at him.

“That is okay, I can resist akumatization. It was not the first time. Don’t worry.” Marinette whispered while looking at her lock.

“I know, you told me.” Adrien spoke quietly. He remembered when she admitted that a violet butterfly went after her after being cornered in the bathroom. Just the memory of her story sent shivers down his spine. He made it his mission to keep an eye on her. He really did not want to fight akumatized Marinette.

Marinette nodded. She was glad he was there and her lips formed a small smile. Adrien saw it and felt a small victory. It was working.

“Let me help you.” Adrien patted her shoulder. He decided to be there for her, to be her friend, to take her mind of things that were bothering her, from things that were stealing her sleep, from things that made her cry. He wanted to ask what it was, but at the same time he did not want to pry.

Marinette whispered her code and Adrien opened the locker without looking inside. He turned away while she took out her history book. She sighed in relief when she saw that the history book was on top of the other books. She was sure that if she was to take it from some place lower in the pile, all of it would end up on the floor. She closed the door of her locker and locked it.

Adrien turned back towards her.

“Hey, Marinette.” he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. That put back colour in her cheeks, a bit too much of it, maybe, but he liked it when she blushed. And her eyes were instantly more alive.

“Yes?” she raised her face towards him.

“Have you ever been to China?” Adrien asked without any warning.

Marinettes history book dropped from her hands straight on Adrien’s foot.

He winced in pain.

“Um sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry Adrien.” Marinette crouched and put her hand gently on his foot.

“Are you injured? Should I take to the nurse? Do you need to see a doctor?” Marinette panicked and spoke quickly.

Adrien crouched and took her book in his hands. They were extremely close as she kept her hand on his orange sneakers.

“I am okay, Marinette.” he smiled so close to her face that she got lost. She stared in his warm green smiling eyes.

“Come on, let’s go to the class.” Adrien took her hand from his shoe and got up pulling her up with him.

They walked side by side, but he could not help but notice her lost expression, her tired eyes, the absence of her bubbly energy.

Her mind wandered back to the problem she was facing. How is she going to travel to China, and Tibet, and finally find the temple?

“So.” Adrien really wanted to repeat the question so he could hear the answer, but without repeating what just happened so he took the history book from her hands. “Have you ever been to China?”

“Um, no, why?” Marinette stared at him.

“Well, because of your maman and your uncle, I thought, maybe you visited your family there.” Adrien shrugged. He was not sure why he asked her that, it was the first thing that dropped on his mind. Probably because Ladybug told him less then fifteen minutes ago that they were about to go to China.

“Maman went once and uncle came for a visit.” Marinette shrugged. She felt at a loss. She had relatives in China, but had never been there and could not speak Chinese.

“Have you ever been there?” she asked back, perhaps he wanted to talk about that.

“No” Adrien waved his head. “But, my parents have been and my mother always spoke fondly of China and Tibet. I hope I will go there some day.” Yeah, how about next week?

At that point they entered the classroom and Chloe threw herself on Adrien. His eyes followed Marinette as she quietly greeted her classmates and went to her seat. He tried to push Chloe away not even paying any attention to what she shrieked straight into his ear.

What was making Marinette so tired? Why she worried so much?

The teacher started by taking attendance and soon they were immersed deep in the ancient history.

Ancient Chinese history.

 

Chapter Text

Lets play a game

 

After the class, Adrien turned to Marinette and asked about travelling to China again. But this time the whole class got involved. While Chloe spat her insults, and Lila sweet talked the insults of her own, Marinette saw the opportunity in not being the centre of attention and walked away. She asked to ‘borrow’ the attention and services of Markov. Max borrowed his robot gladly on the condition that he could also observe. She asked about how much would a travel to China cost and Markov quickly sipped the average prices from the tourist agencies. Adrien sneaked up to them as he was interested in the same information.

Adrien noticed how Marinette’s eyes went wide at the numbers. He had no idea if that was cheap or expensive. On the other hand, he was sure he had sufficient means to cover the costs for him and his lady. He felt slightly guilty for being a rich boy.

But then Markov dug out the information available on the internet some more and reached a solution in purchasing the plane tickets and organizing the rest of the stay on your own. That seemed like a good idea to Marinette. Mostly because Markov said it was more affordable. Marinette asked if the robot could find some flights but Markov was already searching. The little robot took the task with much enthusiasm. Max beamed at his little robot with pride.

Soon, Markov recommended several return flight options for less than 450 EUR per person and Marinette perked up. If she used all her savings, she could buy two plane tickets, for her and her mother. She would have to produce an excuse why she suddenly wants to go to China, but she was already good at making excuses of all sorts, mostly related why she was late or not where she was expected. Being a Ladybug required her to develop all sorts of skills. She just never expected that inventing believable half lies and excuses would be so demanding part of being a superhero.

But then Markov rotated his blade much faster and bounced up and down in excitement. The little robot found there was a prize draw game on the internet. Max grinned with pride in his little robot, he knew the little guy could do it. Markov quickly explained the rules of the prize game and Marinette nodded eagerly as she was listening. Max stood straight and tall as if he grew for a few centimetres. The little robot was becoming very excited about being able to help and appreciated and sent a link to her mobile phone. Marinette praised Markov for all his help and both Markov and Max were feeling over the moon because of the praise. She opened her phone and confirmed that she got the link. She held the phone to her chest and expressed her gratitude once more. Adrien wandered how her attitude changed upon receiving this information. Marinette finally finished her praise of the little robot and turned around to examine the link and the flights.

Moments later, Adrien sneaked up towards Markov, careful not to be noticed by both Marinette and Max. Adrien asked the little robot to send him the flight information and the link with prizes, not for himself, he said, but for his friend. Markov was not asking questions except if he wanted exactly the same flight information and the prize game and Adrien nodded. He wanted Marinette to win, he really wanted all the good luck on her side, but his Lady needed it too. He just hoped they were giving away more than one prize. He received the message with the links to the prize game and another message with the flight information, prices and carriers. He thanked Markov and made a mental mark to ask Max what kind of batteries would the little guy (Markov, not Max) prefer. Adrien copied the link for the prize game and sent it to Ladybug through the messenger application they were using.

“All right class.” Ms Bustier clapped her hands. “We will continue on our previous lesson by covering ancient Chinese texts. The first known texts are describing religious beliefs, ancient rites, social forms, administrative and legal procedures and court ceremonies.” the teacher recited. Two students were all eyes and ears.

 

Marinette bolted out from her seat the moment the bell rang for the lunch break only to find Adrien was one step in front of her. Both were followed out of the classroom by confused eyes of Alya and Nino. The couple decided against following their friends. They planned to spend the lunch break together while their friends obviously went home for the lunch break, although they were never in a hurry to do so. Adrien always lingered in school, postponing the inevitable separation from his friends for a lonely lunch at home. And Marinette lingered just because Adrien was there.

But, today, Marinette was a woman (well girl actually) on a mission. She was determined to win the prize game and get the plane tickets for China. She ran as quickly as her feet would carry her. She was surprised that Adrien was in a hurry too.

“Hey Marinette.” he greeted her as she caught up with him on the school stairs. “Are you excited about that prize game?”

“Yes.” she nodded.

“Well, if you will need any help, don’t hesitate to contact me.” Adrien smiled widely.

“You in a hurry?” Marinette was confused and swallowed half of her question, if he was in a hurry, he should be too busy with something during the lunch break to have time to help her.

“Um, yes, I have this thing, yes.” Adrien waved and jumped into his car.

Marinette waved back, tripped and almost fell to her face, but managed to catch balance and then she continued to run.

“Tikki, if only I could win us the plane tickets, then I could persuade maman to go to China.” Marinette sighed.

“You will need some luck with that.” Tikki chirped from her purse.

“Chat sent me the link too.” the girl breathed.

“And Chat Noir really helped too, Marinette.” Tikki chirped.

“Yes he did.” Marinette sighed, to her, it was obvious that a simple internet search could lead anyone to the same information. “We have to win this, Tikki.”

She opened the web page in her browser and read the rules. The prize was a coupon of 1000 EUR to be spent on plane tickets for return flights to the Far East. One had to pick a country and answer a number of questions related to the destination. And the condition was that the person has never visited the country. There were twelve prizes to be awarded.

“Maman, would you like to travel to China for the holidays?” Marinette asked. School holidays would start in less than a week and her parents were always discussing of travelling, but never actually going somewhere for a holiday. These particular holidays were two weeks long and she could really make this work.

“Why? How? Where did this came from?” her mother asked.

“Well, Markov, the robot Max built, he found that I can get us these tickets from Air France for the direct flight to China.” Marinette pointed to the prices. “And there is this prize game that we could play and win the amount.”

“I have been to China before, dear.” Sabine said.

“Yes, but I have not.” Marinette smiled.

“Okay dear, but it is your competition and it is you who have to answer all the questions.” Sabine smiled and went to the bakery.

Marinette smiled and sat in front of the computer. Tikki hovered next to her and they answered all the introductory questions quickly.

“Why do you want to visit China?” Marinette sighed reading the question. “Well, I have a family there and I have never been there.” she shrugged and looked at Tikki. Then came other questions and she checked all her answers with Tikki.

“I want to learn the culture of my family and see how they live.”

“I did not visit China before because my family always talks about going but never actually go?” Marinette shrugged. “Let’s be honest.” she winked at Tikki “They have to leave the family business to go on a holiday. And this time, if I win this reward they might actually go on a holiday.” Marinette looked at her answers and seemed happy.

“Oops, time for school.” Marinette submitted all her answers. Checked if everything went okay, checked for the confirmation message that her submission was successful and then ran to the school.

 

Adrien sat at his desk typing the answers. Plagg watched the boy from his place on the desk having just finished his portion of Camembert.

“Why are you filling out these questions kid?” Plagg asked.

“To win the award and fly to China?” Adrien smiled.

“But you have the money, why would you want to win a game?” Plagg asked incredulously.

“I could give the reward to Ladybug.” Adrien smiled.

“But you sent her the link, she can play it herself.” Plagg complained.

“If she wins the reward herself, I can use this one.” Adrien smiled.

“What do you think your father will say once he hears about your plans to go to China for the school holidays?” Plagg raised his eyebrows (or whatever equivalent that would be on his face).

Adrien sunk. He looked at the screen. The whole morning, ever since he heard the news from Ladybug, he never stopped to consider that obstacle. It did not occur to him. He could not believe that he completely forgot about his father. Maybe there was a way to persuade his father. His bodyguard would go with him. It would serve as a good practice in Chinese. What else could he think of?

“Well I am finished with this form I might as well submit it.” Adrien shrugged and clicked the necessary buttons.

Nathalie was at the door and Adrien got up and went out of the mansion with her. On the way she informed him on his schedule and plans.

“As for the school holidays. Your father and me are going on a business trip to China and you are to follow your curriculum strictly. You are not allowed to meet anyone outside your schedule unless specifically allowed nor to leave the house without permission.” Nathalie recited her lines without stopping. She knew very well that what she just described was an open type prison for a two weeks. At least in prison, there are other prisoners. Adrien would be alone.

Adrien gaped.

“Um, Nathalie, could I go with you?” Adrien was looking at her, his best model smile. Nathalie turned at the question. She was expecting some begging to visit his friends or go somewhere, but not this.”I have been studying Chinese for years and I want to practice there. I want to visit the country. My bodyguard would be with me at all times. I would not be in the way.” Adrien begged.

“I will ask your father to consider it.” Nathalie finally answered. Adrien grinned. Maybe, just maybe, he will not have to run away from his father and the Agreste mansion.

Adrien ran up the stairs and into the school running into Marinette. She was out of breath but smiling. She seemed better than she was in the morning.

“Feeling better?” Adrien asked.

“Yes, thank you Adrien. I filled in that online competition to win the prize for the plane tickets. Perhaps I could spend my school holidays in China this time.” she smiled. “I did it on my own, maman refused to help me, she said she has already been to China and that I should to it on my own.”

“I am sure you did amazing, Marinette.” Adrien smiled.

Marinette blushed and smiled widely.

They reached the classroom and took their seats and Ms Mendeleev entered a moment after them.

Marinette sat and took her phone out. She still had to message Chat.

Bug: thank you Chaton. The form is filled in and submitted. Keep your claws crossed.

She read, clicked on send and put away her phone.

She frowned when she saw Adrien checking his phone during Ms Mendeleev explaining an experiment. He usually did it when Nathalie sent him some urgent request and then he escaped school to some emergency obligation his father put him up to. But the boy checked his phone, smiled, typed something quick back and put away his phone. She felt her phone vibrate shortly after but decided to ignore it. It was chemistry, after all.

 

Chapter Text

Planning in an overdrive

 

They say planning a travel is half the fun of travelling. ;)

It was past bedtime, but Adrien was still at his computer desk learning what he could.

Plan A was that he goes to China with his father and Nathalie and bodyguard.

Adrien was making a plan B.

He did his research on foreign travel and assembled a checklist.

He had his passport in his room, it was not in the safe in his fathers office. Check!

He needed a visa for China, but as a famous supermodel working for a family brand, he could easily get one at a local embassy once he had the return tickets. Check!

He was a minor. That was a major issue. Could he possibly persuade his bodyguard to travel with him to Tibet? Some other adult would need a signed confirmation from his father and his bodyguard already had one.

Money? I mean really? Check!

Language? A huge grin on his face. Check!

Accommodation? Check! Little surfing offered plenty of websites where you could book something from a few euros per night to … sky is the limit. Although his father would probably find something more expensive. No, he was wrong. His father would make Nathalie find something more expensive.

Clothes? Okay, where did this come from, of course he had clothes. Check!

(Check the weather and climate? It has never occurred to him that Tibet might require something other than designer clothes.)

With a self satisfied smirk he sent his checklist to Ladybug through the messenger app.

He leaned back in his computer seat and raised his arms up and folded them so his palms were on the back of his neck. He rolled the chair left and right watching Plagg snore on his desk next to an empty plate. Then he checked the time. It was late, but Adrien was too excited for sleep. He went to the Chinese web pages on Tibet and read. Then he opened a web page listing first hand experiences of foreign travellers to Tibet.

 

Marinette, on the other hand, had different issues.

Plan A was to win the prize and buy the plane tickets.

Plan B was to buy the plane tickets and make her parents think she won them as a prize.

Summing up all her finances and savings, she could collect sufficient sum for the plane tickets and maybe the train tickets to Tibet. And she would have to dig into the sum she got for designing the Jagged Stone album.

Therefore, the only solution was to sell something she already had prepared and perhaps take few quick commissions that she could do before the holidays. She created a few ads and looked at possible customers sending an offer or two.

Soon, she got a really long message from Chat with his checklist for the travel to China.

“So, he is also a minor.” Marinette sighed. She was a bit disturbed by the sharing of personal information. She replied with thumbs up and good wishes and he sent a picture of fingers crossed.

Marinette sighed. It was getting late. It was time to take the kwami for a walk. She opened the miracle box and took the miraculous of the Mouse, the Turtle and the Horse. She was tempted to take the Monkey too, but Tikki waved her head.

“We are both too tired for Xuppu.” Tikki sighed.

Marinette put on the jewels and the glasses, Mullo greeted with nuzzling her cheek, Wayzz bumped her index finger and Kaalki simply greeted.

Kaalki and Mullo chased each other around her room and nibbled on their food from time to time. Wayzz was far more used to being in the world of humans.

Marinette asked Wayzz on what Master Fu ever said about the temple and what the little magic turtle god could remember himself and took notes carefully. Wayzz was way more cooperative than most of the other kwami, he spent more than a hundred years with Master Fu.

“You want to know about the temple, Guardian?” Mullo nuzzled Marinette’s cheek. “I know many ways and cracks there.”

“That will be very useful once we get there, thank you Mullo.” Marinette nodded and smiled.

“I can get you there I no time.” Kaalki bounced on her lap.

Marinette smiled gratefully, she wandered why she should not teleport there right then, but then she saw Tikki waving her head.

“Thank you, Kaalki, but that might not be the best idea right now.” Marinette smiled. She did not understand enough to have a complete picture and would not risk unknown consequences. It was Chat Noir who was taking great risks without considering the consequences.

“But, I have not been there for such a long time.” Kaalki bounced and pleaded. The little kwami was more than eager to help.

“You know you should not, Kaalki.” Tikki jumped into the conversation.

“We all want to visit the temple.” Mullo added shyly. “Will you take us with you?”

“Of course.” Marinette smiled. “But we are going more conventional way.”

“It must be Trixx. She would prefer to use horses or camels and then create mirages all the way.” Kaalki grumbled.

“It is not just that.” Wayzz sighed. “You were not supposed to go there this young.” the green turtle looked at the girl.

“What is waiting for me there?” Marinette asked. “Yesterday, Pollen and Trixx were talking about the cursed stone.” She was not sure if she should ask about the subject.

“Ah, I would expect them to. It is an old legend. That stone is harmless.” Kaalki waved his hand (or front leg, whatever).

“It is not harmless!” the three kwami replied in unison.

“It is an old folk tale. There used be a stone in a village.” Kaalki started his story dramatically floating around and stressing each word carefully. The other three kwami sat down and sighed in unison. “Villagers who believed to be cursed could go to the stone and release the curse to the stone. But, in return, they had to pick up the curse that was left to the stone by the previous visitor.”

Marinette rested her head in the palm of her hand while her elbow rested on her knee. She tapped her fingers on her face deep in thought.

“How is that useful? They thought they were cursed before they came to the stone and then they left being sure they were cursed with something else?” Marinette shrugged as she raised her hands in defeat.

“Exactly!” the three kwami acted as a choir.

“She should focus on defending the temple and its monks, not on finding that stone.” Tikki scolded Kaalki gently.

“She should know about it!” the other three kwami replied to Tikki.

“Okay?” Marinette looked at the four kwami. “Are you going to tell me?”

“There was a magical villain.” Mullo started talking checking the other three kwami who nodded in approval. “And they took the stone from the village and put it into the temple.” The other three kwami nodded in approval. “They said a curse that would affect only those who are transformed.” The other three kwami nodded again.

Marinette sighed and listened intently, but there was silence.

“Okay?” she tapped her face with her fingers. “There is more.”

“Nobody knows which stone it is.” Tikki chirped.

“You should not enter the temple while transformed.” Mullo shrugged.

“But you just said you knew a lot of passages?” Marinette was confused.

“Yes.” Mullo lowered her head. “I know many paths to the temple and many ways inside. And I still remember all the different passages in the temple and have memories of my chosen wandering the temple from before the cursed stone was brought there.”

“What was the curse?” Marinette asked curiously.

“Nobody knows.” Wayzz finally spoke. “Nobody heard it just as nobody knew which stone it was.”

“The point is that you should go to the temple and enter it as Marinette.” Tikki spoke, while Wayzz and Mullo nodded in unison.

“I still think it is rubbish and she could teleport there and de-transform as soon as she arrives.” Kaalki crossed his arms (front legs?).

“There are other miraculous stones in the temple. They are not as magical as those in the miraculous box. The monks in the temple make sure those are guarded and safe.” Wayzz was anxious to change the subject.

“What are those stones used for?” Marinette asked pulling out her notebook.

“There is a stone can help you make you healthy.” Mullo spoke eagerly.

“Or sick.” Wayzz added nodding his head.

“Another stone can help you make people happy.” Mullo bounced on her knee.

“Or sad.” Wayzz sighed.

Kaalki was a bit disappointed since they did not teleport to Tibet that night. Patience was not one of his virtues. He had power of teleportation, how could he possibly be patient.

Marinette listened carefully and continued to take notes until she fell asleep on her bed with the notebook in her hands. Tikki and Mullo took the notebook and stored it in her special locked box.

“We do not much about the cursed stone.” Mullo sighed quietly.

“But we have to explain to her that she and Chat Noir have to travel to the temple as civilians.” Wayzz whispered.

“They should not transform on the was because they would draw attention of Hawk Moth to the temple. News travel really quickly these days.” Tikki chirped.

“I can go faster.” Kaalki muttered more to himself, but the other three kwami gave him a look.

The kwami arranged themselves on a pillow around Marinette’s head and slept.

 

The next morning, Adrien was taken by Nathalie to his fathers office before breakfast without any explanation.

Adrien kept his fingers crossed and hoped for the best.

It was not what he got.

His father made him sit and towered above him. The answer was no. Without any explanation. He just wanted to say it into Adrien’s face and dismiss him.

“But father, why do I take all these Chinese lessons if I never practice it for real.” Adrien argued.

“I have ensured you only the best teachers, Adrien.” His father was relentless. How could Adrien even dare to ask to travel with him to China? It was a nuisance. He was going to the temple in Tibet with Nathalie and he really did not need Adrien in his way.

“But father, I want to be able to use the language in the native country in its natural environment.” Adrien was looking for a straw to hold on to. But he made a crucial error, in order to speak with people you should be spending time with them, and here, Adrien wanted to spend time with complete strangers, not background checked and verified by his father company employees nor approved by his father himself.

“Adrien, you have not been brought up to commit such atrocities.” And with those words, Gabriel dismissed his son.

So much for the plan A.

Plan B.

Adrien entered the car. He looked at his driver in the rear view mirror and sighed.

“Have you ever been to China?” Adrien asked his driver.

His driver waved his head.

“Would you like to go to China?” Adrien asked again.

His driver shrugged.

“I would really like to go to China. Would you like to go with me? All expenses covered?” Adrien pleaded.

His driver gave him one long look in the rear view mirror and then one firm nod.

Adrien smiled like the sun in the sky. He lit up the car and his driver twinkled his lips into a small smile. Well there was one more detail. His father was never supposed to know. He will deal with that part of the information later. Or, maybe now?

“Ahem.” Adrien braced himself. “My father might object me travelling to China with him, but I want to go. Do you think he would mind much if we go anyway?” Adrien tested the territory.

His driver grunted and then nodded.

Yes, of course his father would mind.

“But what if we go and he never finds out. I could do it you know?” Adrien clenched his fists in suspense.

His driver shrugged and pointed his index finger to his head. Then he pointed his index finger outside. They were already in front of school.

Adrien put his index finger over his mouth.

His driver nodded.

“Thank you and have a nice day.” Adrien greeted, took his school bag and got out from the car.

 

Marinette had different plan B.

Marinette appeared in the bakery kitchen at 5:45 AM. The original plan was to be there at 5 sharp, but well, that was Marinette. She helped her parents with everything they asked. It was a busy day with lot of orders and she knew her parents appreciated the help.

“It was really nice of you to get up so early and help out. I do not know if we would make all the orders in time before the morning rush hour.” Sabine praised her daughter.

“Really, darling, you were a great help. Once the shop is open, your mother will be able to handle the customers only and not jump into the bakery to help out.” Her father patted her hair, leaving some flour in her hair.

Marinette beamed at her parents while her father washed his hands to start the next assignment on his list.

“Maman, I would really like to travel to China for these holidays. What do you think if I purchased us the plane tickets, could I get some of the savings money for the train tickets to Lhasa?” Marinette dropped between putting two trays of cookies in the oven.

“Tell you what” her father turned to her wiping his hands “If you get that prize, all three of us are going. Your mother and me will hire temporary replacements and bakery is always far less busy during the holidays.” Tom winked at Sabine. Sabine nodded.

“That is great papa, but what if I do not win?” Marinette was concerned.

“Well I guess you’ll need a bit of luck, won’t you?” her father winked.

 

Chapter Text

And the winner is

The winners of the competition will be notified at noon. They will receive a discount coupon that they could use while purchasing their plane tickets.

The morning classes were finishing at noon.

Two students in Miss Bustier class were hyper aware of every second that passed for the last five minutes.

The bell rang.

Nothing.

The same two students reached for their phones put them in front of them and sat motionless each staring at their phone.

The rest of the class got up, chatted, packed their things.

Kim poked Alix, she blew a raspberry. Then she teased him, he chased her out of the classroom.

Ivan and Mylenne already left, holding hands.

Juleka and Rose followed after them through the classroom door chatting.

Max was discussing travel and tourism statistics with Markov floating nearby. Markov was particularly concerned about the carbon dioxide releases coming from the airplane traffic.

Nathaniel studied his last drawing, he decided he was satisfied, he got up and left.

Chloe glanced towards Adrien (who was staring at his phone) and stomped out dragging Sabrina in tow.

Alya met her eyes with Nino's and motioned with her head towards Marinette and Adrien.

Nino shrugged.

Alya and Nino packed their things and waited.

"Girl?" Alya called.

No response.

"Hey dude, what's up?" Nino shifted in his seat and touched his hat.

The rest of the class already left.

Alya was getting ready to pounce on Marinette.

Adrien was typing something on the phone.

Cat: any luck?

Nothing.

Marinette sat and bounced her feet off the floor while looking at her screen. In order to keep herself sane (and obviously fail) she was considering her plan B in her head. She already sold two pieces she placed for sale and two more received slightly lower offers than she hoped for so she did not seal the deal yet. She took one commission and was hoping for one more. That would cover the basics, the cheapest flight tickets and train tickets. She is getting them today. Somehow. Perhaps she could tell her parents that she won the prize? Uh, another lie.

Adrien's heart sunk a little. He had money, but he was worried to use it because he knew he was supervised. Purchasing two plane tickets using his credit card might not go under the radar. It was more complicated to get them separately because he was a minor. However, purchasing two plane tickets and drawing the same amount of cash to give to his lady for the same purpose would definitely not go under the radar. He was not really counting on this prize, that was for his lady. She needed it more than him.

Marinette wandered if Chat got his prize. She took the phone and typed her message.

Bug: no code for me, how about you?

There was no response.

Alya gave up on pouncing when she saw Marinette typing on the phone.

The room was silent and the tension was palpable.

Alya took out her phone to check her messages or do something, anything to distract herself.

"How are you able to send messages? I have no signal" Alya practically screamed and sliced the silence like a knife.

"Dude" Nino complained and put his hands over his headphones.

Adrien and Marinette looked at Alya with their eyes opened wide. Their brains processed the information they got and its meaning really slowly.

"No signal? Do you understand? There is no signal?" Alya screamed.

The two of them looked at their phones in sync and then raised their heads back to Alya.

"No signal." Adrien repeated.

"Means no messages." Marinette sighed.

This is why they got no message from the prize draw. And this is why there was no reply from the messenger app.

"Dude, we better go before she turns into Lady Wi-Fi again." Nino told the two staring teens.

The prospect of having to fight an akuma at this moment was treacherous.

The prospect of fighting a really difficult akuma was worse.

They really did not want to deal with akumatized Alya right now.

They got up and walked out from the class like zombies.

"What is it with you two anyway?" Alya demanded.

Marinette gave an empty stare to Alya and looked around then back at Alya. She took a long breath. Her eyes suddenly became focused and she perked up.

"I, um, entered this prize game to win the money for the plane tickets." Marinette said. "I wanted to go and visit China over the school holidays." She smiled shyly and shrugged. "The condition was that the participant never travelled to China. There were many questions to answer. Maman made me answer them all by myself. Papa said this morning that if I get the prize, we will all go." The girl smiled nervously.

"Aaw Marinette." Alya cooed. "I am so happy for you. You will finally go to that family vacation your folks talk about all the time but never go to."

"And you dude?" Nino bumped Adrien in the shoulder.

"Well, me too." There was no point in hiding it. He would just give the code to his lady and purchase the tickets himself.

"Dude? What?" Nino and Alya said incredulously. How on Earth was this rich kid entering a prize game to buy himself something? Anything?

Marinette looked at Adrien with her eyes wide open. She produced no reaction. She probably heard it wrong. She was slightly nervous right then and maybe she heard something that Adrien did not actually say?

Adrien stood there, smiling his awkward nervous smile that still looked good enough for the magazine cover and rubbed the back of his neck. How was he going to explain it? Well the audience was waiting.

"Well, I would need your help with that." Alya and Nino looked at each other for a second. Picture of utter confusion. Adrien knew he had to hurry with the explanation before Alya pounces on him or explodes or whatever. He could see something coming. "You see, my father is going to China actually, but wants me to stay locked up in the house for the holidays, so I sort of persuaded my bodyguard to go with me and I can't really buy two plane tickets with my credit card and hope my father would not notice. It is not the sum, it is the purpose, someone might notice." Adrien rambled and then trailed off.

"What? Locked up? For two weeks?" Nino gaped at his friend. He was used to his friend not being allowed to go out of the Agreste mansion nor receive friends there, but to be practically locked up alone in an empty house?

"Tell us what we need to do." Alya crossed her arms. Mission rescue Adrien from the house arrest has a go.

Marinette blushed like crazy. Was she about to fly to China with Adrien? Forget about the temple, Chat Noir, Master Fu, kwami and some obnoxious cursed stone. Was Adrien going to China as well?

"Well, first of all, they will not check up on me that often. To make it believable I will pretend to answer calls from home. I can deal with that." Adrien was not so sure the latter was accomplished but he was working on it.

"But, if I do not get this prize, could one of you purchase the tickets with your credit card and I give you the cash?" Adrien was ready to show that he already had the amount having accumulated cash over some time just in case.

Alya and Nino looked at each other and shrugged.

"I have a limit on my card." Alya tried to remember how much it was but could not.

"I know my credit card limit is lower than that." Nino adjusted his hat.

"Um, I can ask my maman to help you with that." Marinette was blushing and staring at the stairs they were standing on. She was so determined, her hands formed fists, her shoulders squared and her eyes proudly looking at a pair of orange sneakers.

"That's my girl." Alya wrapped an arm around Marinette and pulled her into a side hug. Adrien grinned. That is what friends are doing.

"Thank you Marinette." Adrien smiled at her gently.

Marinette raised her eyes and saw his warm green eyes looking back at her. Then she reminded herself to inhale. Then she reminded herself to exhale. This was going great. She was not screaming.

Then they discussed further details of the scheme.

Suddenly, the phones started beeping like crazy.

"The network is back up again." Alya grabbed her phone. She was the first one to notice.

As in perfect synchrony, Marinette and Adrien took their phones from her purse and his shoulder bag unlocked and opened the incoming messages.

"Yes" Marinette clenched her fist. She showed her code around with a victory dance, she wiggled and danced and Adrien could not take his eyes off from her. Alya pounced onto the smaller girl and screamed with her. Nino was repeating "Dude" from time to time. Finally, Alya pounced back on Nino (who did not complain at all) and screamed her joy out (he might complain about that later, but not now, it was useless).

Then Marinette stopped to type a message Chat.

Bug: I got the code!

Adrien looked at the performance before him with his eyes and mouth open. After the girls settled a bit he finally looked at his phone again. A new message popped up.

First he checked the messages from Ladybug. She was also waiting for her code to arrive but she got it. He grinned.

And the other message from an unknown number contained a string of eight letters and numbers, it was his code.

"I got it too." Adrien smiled and flashed his code to his three friends. There was more screaming and hugging, he pulled Marinette into a hug. Alya was screaming and taking pictures. They separated and Adrien bumped fists with Nino.

Then he replied to Ladybug.

Cat: Great, me too. Noodles here I come.

Marinette burst into laughter once again as she was looking at her phone.

"I can't believe this. My parents said they would both go if I won." Marinette smiled and waved her head in disbelief.

"Let's all go to the bakery and tell them." Alya waved. The hidden motive of getting stuffed with pastries was rather obvious but who cared.

Adrien went to his driver who waited patiently in the car. The blonde boy grinned and cheered while he showed him the code and explained what it was. His driver grunted, but there were traces of a smile and he nodded when Adrien said he was going to the bakery to celebrate.

Once there, the cheers continued. Marinette quickly purchased three return tickets leaving next Friday after school for the three of them and Sabine typed in the credit card details needed to cover the difference.

Sabine quickly called her family in China.

Marinette was explaining to her father the situation with Adrien as well as she could.

Adrien purchased the two plane tickets for himself and his driver for the same flight, but there was even some money left and Adrien continued searching for the connection to Lhasa. The only affordable option was to purchase the train tickets through an agency related to the airplane carrier company so he did.

"You won't believe this." Sabine said once she disconnected. "They are very busy right now I will hear for them in about an hour. Uncle Cheng is having a culinary performance in Lhasa and they invited us to join them on the way."

Marinettes great uncle Cheng was also a world famous chef and he often searched for inspiration in different parts of the world. And he had just planed to go to Lhasa for a culinary performance and to spend a week in Tibet looking for the new ingredients.

Marinette patted her purse. She knew this was a strike of good luck even the Lucky Charm could not match.

The kids left for school chatting and full of pastries.

"Alya and Nino, this is where you come in. The food is being delivered from a restaurant, you should pick it up. You are also taking pictures of me in Paris and posting it on my Instagram account. But only when I tell you I am allowed out. I will also send you the photos from the Agreste mansion. That way, Nathalie will think I am in Paris." Adrien grinned. Both Alya and Nino nodded. "Chloe is visiting her mother, so I do not have to worry about her noticing."

Chapter Text

Takeoff

Marinette spent most of her evening and night taking the kwami for a walk. She even released Xuppu. She asked the kwami about the temple and its monks, but the answers were different from one kwami to another and often resulted in funny arguments and a game of tag around her room.

In the morning, Marinette was packed and her parents were giving the last set of instructions to the replacements they employed in the bakery during holidays. There were plenty of university students with sufficient training and experience in baking eager to find a temporary job over the holidays that Tom and Sabine had no issues in finding replacements. There were no special orders, there were no special treats, only the basic functioning of the bakery with few basic products will be maintained with shorter working hours.

It was Friday, the last day of school before the holidays. Adrien packed his small suitcase as Ladybug instructed. Only the basic essentials. The bag was in the trunk of the car already last night. His driver made sure of it. The man was showing more enthusiasm for the trip.

Nathalie informed Adrien during breakfast that her and Gabriel will not be available for the lunch break and that he should keep to a strict schedule she sent him as soon as he gets home from school and fencing. Adrien smiled and thanked. He was grateful for his training as a model, except this time he had to hide his grin instead of to force his perfect model smile.

His driver took him to the school.

The students were excited about the beginning of the school holidays, but the two most excited students were exceptionally calm.

Anything could go wrong.

What if his father catches him?

What if he is recognized at the airport and someone posts a picture on the social media?

What if …?

Marinette walked over straight to him in the classroom and produced a brown paper bag. It was a black hoodie. She grinned.

"You are really prepared for this secret agent mission, Marinette." Adrien grinned.

The last bell rang.

Alya and Nino waved Adrien to his car. They kept silent on what was going on. His driver was not taking him home for lunch. His driver was taking them to the airport.

Marinette ran home, her parents were waiting just inside the building with suitcases, waiting.

They all got into Adrien's car quickly and went for the airport.

Passports? Check!

Boarding passes? On the phones! Check!

Cash and credit cards? Check!

Marinette's heart was beating like crazy.

Adrien grinned in the back of the car and put on the black hoodie.

Tom sat in the front next to the driver and the two made friends instantly. Because Tom gave him a croissant before he buckled his seatbelt.

Marinette sat between Sabine and Adrien in the back. Adrien could not hold his excitement any longer. He wrapped his arm around Marinette and squeezed her. The girl squeaked and blushed severely. Sabine gave her daughter a look but turned her eyes through the window quickly.

Adrien poked her in the ribs with the index finger from his other hand. His legs were jittery and he could not hold his excitement any more. He was nervous because he could get caught. He was happy because he was going, escaping the prison of the Agreste mansion, spending holiday with a friend and he will even meet Ladybug.

Tom and Sabine were aware that Adrien was sneaking behind his father's back but the boy was going with his bodyguard, so they accepted it as fun and games. They made jokes about crossing the border control like spies and asked Adrien how many passports he had.

Finally, Adrien calmed down, but his arm never left Marinettes shoulders. He was looking through the window thinking about Ladybug. He knew she was on the same flight. But he should not search for her. He wandered if she was taking a train and a metro to the airport or she was in a car just like him. He wandered if she was as excited as him.

Marinette could not help herself. She kept quiet and mostly kept calm by concentrating on her breathing. Adrien wrapped an arm around her and poked at her and she kept telling herself that she was going there on a mission, not a romantic adventure. She focused her thoughts on Chat Noir, that did not help much, then she remembered Master Fu and the temple in Tibet and the task ahead. She kept repeating the task in her head like a mantra.

They reached the airport, left the car on a long term parking and went straight for boarding.

The security check was strict, they basically unpacked their luggage and then packed back. Watches had to be taken off, belts, coins and phones from the pockets.

The automatic border control machines did not complain.

And then, there were shops. High fashion, expensive jewels and watches, and then there was a large shop with wine and food, specifically cheeses, specifically Camembert. Adrien felt scratching and pulling in his shirt and he knew, if he does not go there, Plagg will float out there on his own. He excused himself and went to the shelf with cheeses. He bought as many wheels as he could hide in his school bag and then a few more for his hand luggage. Plagg kept whining about each wheel that was left on the shelf, but Adrien paid and left the shop. He silenced the little god only when he stuffed him in his school bag together with the cheese.

They reached their gate and found seats where all five of them could wait.

They were calling for the business class passengers to take priority boarding and board the plane first.

Suddenly Marinette put the black hood over his head and his bodyguard hunched down and put a nondescript black beret on his head. Tom suddenly had an urge to shift his seat so that he was blocking the view towards his bodyguard. The silent agreement between the two men became obvious.

At the boarding gate, the attendant was polite and professional, but obviously annoyed. She was pointing to a specific box held between very elegant couple. Both were slim and tall. His white hair combed meticulously, his glasses the picture of class, he wore a white jacket, grey vest underneath and red trousers. The woman who stood next to him was wearing elegant black suit. The picture of business class passengers. Between them they had a box holding insects.

"I am really sorry sir, but you can't take this on board if you do not have the proper paperwork." A woman on the counter was explaining to a business class passenger.

"My boss needs this with him on this trip." Nathalie was explaining. Adrien recognized the voice among the murmur of the other passengers. They sat a few rows of seats away, but the discussion at the boarding gate became sufficiently loud that they could hear it.

"We can not guarantee that you would be able to enter the country with these once you arrive." The airport official took her stance.

"Then it is under my responsibility." that was the voice of his father, Gabriel Agreste, the same tone he used when he scolded his son for his behaviour.

Adrien was opening the layout of the seats on his phone. What if he and his bodyguard had to pass by his father and Nathalie? His back was turned towards the boarding gate and his hair was hidden in the black hoodie, but his orange sneakers were rather visible. While he browsed Marinette was fussing with her luggage and suddenly one bag found its way behind his sneakers.

"The sign these forms, please, sir." The official pulled out some forms and Gabriel signed them quickly. The man was so annoyed, he never bothered to look around. He felt the anxiety of the people surrounding him as was expected before a long transcontinental flight. People with less self control than him might try to fuss, but not him. He did not want any attention on this voyage. Nathalie was focused on the boarding attendant and the paperwork the whole time. She expected to be scolded for missing out on preparing the paperwork for the transport of the butterflies they carried in a small bug container. She took a copy of the forms and they passed the boarding gates and entered the tube that lead to the airplane.

Adrien sighed in relief and showed his phone to Marinette. The business passengers were seated in the front of the plane and economy in the back and the tube was connected in the middle. Him and his bodyguard will not have to pass by his father and Nathalie.

Tom bumped fists with Adrien's bodyguard and both men smiled. Tom with a wide grin, Adrien's bodyguard a bit awkward but happy. It was obvious the man did not smile often, or in a long time.

Finally, the economy passengers were boarding through the automatic gates and going towards the back of the airplane. When they finally got to their seats, Marinette sat next to a window, Adrien in the middle and his bodyguard next to a passage with Tom and Sabine just behind, Sabine sat next to the window.

Then Tom started to produce food straight out from his bag that he put below Adrien's seat. He was nervous and had too eat. The others were too nervous or excited to eat.

'Boarding complete' the speakers said. Soon the plane started to move slowly backwards. Marinette leaned back to allow Adrien to look through the window. They were seated in the back of the plane and had a good look at other airplanes and many strange vehicles that operated around the airport.

'The passengers are kindly requested to switch their phone into the airplane mode.' the speakers said. They finally remembered that they had phones and found the function they used for the first time.

"Hey, I could use this one with Nathalie and say that I did not know the signal was bad." Adrien snickered. Marinette rolled her eyes. Adrien switched on the camera to took a few photos but then put it away. He was bursting from excitement. He wrapped Marinette into a hug and put his chin on her shoulder to look through the window.

Marinette would have asked him if he wanted to change seats and look through the window, but at first she was a bit intimidated by stewardess who ordered to go to the exact seat as designated on her boarding pass. Right now she was speechless. Which was probably for the best considering the history of past conversations with Adrien.

It was a huge plane and normal planes looked tiny as they passed by. The plane moved very slowly towards the runway. Their seats were buckled up and stewardesses and stewards walked by the aisles checking if everything was okay.

They moved slowly in a row of planes waiting for their turn to take the runway. They could watch how other planes were accelerating and taking off. They watched as small vortices formed behind their wings. Adrien spoke excitedly about everything until someone from the row in front of them produced shushing sounds and they were both quiet.

They looked at each other and then at other passengers. Some of them kept their eyes closed, like Adrien's bodyguard. Others were chewing something, the guy on the other side of the aisle probably stuffed a whole package of chewing gums in his mouth. Tom was stuffing himself with pastry. Sabine nibbled on the same cookie for at least twenty minutes now and Tom was teasing her about it for the last ten.

Finally, it was their turn, the plane turned, they could see the other planes waiting in queue and then their backs got glued to their seats. The kids looked outside with curiosity. They could hear prayers mumbled in several languages from rows before and behind them. They smiled to each other and looked out.

They took off and watched Paris from the air. Marinette and Adrien remembered how many times she saw Paris from the air with Chat but they seldom got this high, then they got higher and then even higher again.

Chapter Text

Above the clouds

Marinette peeked through the airplane window. Adrien rested his chin on her shoulder looking through the same window. She felt his torso move due to his breathing breathing as he leaned onto her. His breath was tickling her neck. His arms were around her. Her face was burning and it took everything in her just to breathe. Tikki was in the purse she put underneath the seat in front of her. Marinette kept her foot touching the purse and she could feel Tikki hopping inside.

Adrien's expression was pure bliss. He was excited, relieved he boarded the airplane and absolutely happy to have his friend by his side. He let go of his inhibition and grabbed the girl and squeezed as if she was his teddy bear.

The buildings and houses got smaller and smaller. The rivers cut the green area below them with specks of rugged grey in place of cities. Adrien was excited to see the nuclear power plant and surprised how it formed its own cloud just above it. Then there were windmills above the green fields. The ground was covered in a layer of clouds further in the distance. They watched the clouds, especially several tall shapes that were sticking out from a monotonous white layer below them. They recognized different shapes from those clouds.

"Hey, that cloud looks like Mme Mendeleev head." Adrien pointed to a cloud. The cloud really looked like there was a profile of someone with rather distinctive nose.

Marinette laughed. The laughter escaped her lips before she could think about any other reaction. She was relaxing into Adrien's embrace.

"Let's see who else could we find." he whispered. Her pigtail tickled his neck, but he did not mind. Suddenly, nobody expected certain level of his behaviour and he felt free.

"And that one looks like Chloe pouting." he pointed to another cloud. It was a tall cumulonimbus cloud with a trail of cirrus on the top.

"It even has a pony tail." Marinette laughed.

Then a noise behind them forced them to turn around.

Technically, Adrien was seated in his seat as he was buckled up, but his whole upper body leaned on and over Marinette. The stewardess gave them a wide smile and a lunch package. They unfolded their tables and put the food on them.

Adrien's bodyguard audibly grunted when he saw the size of the portion. Tom passed forward a quiche and the man was instantly in a better mood. They studied and ate their food when they were offered drinks, the adults took glasses of wine while the kids took juice. After the stewardess went to tend some other passengers, Tom offered more food.

Marinette sneaked a cookie into her purse and lifted the purse to the window so Tikki could admire the view she kept a watchful eye on Adrien who was rummaging through his school bag that he put under the seat in front of him. He was mumbling something to himself with his head almost under the seat.

"Plagg, you ate everything that I put in the school bag! You are such a glutton. I do not want to give you any more Camembert on this flight." Adrien whispered.

"Those stewardesses totally forgot to deliver food for hungry kwami." Plagg grumbled back.

Adrien snickered. "I can't believe what kind of glutton you are." Adrien whispered.

"I can't believe we are flying economy. I bet they have some fine cheeses in business class." Plagg crossed his arms.

"Yeah, and my father too." Adrien sighed.

"Perhaps I should go and see?" Plagg proposed.

The little black cat-like god could easily phase all the way to the airplane food storage and create a void in the cheese box and Adrien felt a bit uneasy.

"I will get you more Camembert as soon as we land. You had enough. Please do not make any trouble." Adrien took his kwami and stuffed him in his shirt. While Marinette was looking through the window and checking something in her purse, Adrien dared to open his white shirt a bit so that Plagg could peek through the window too. Plagg peeked through the window for a short while and then he gave Adrien a look that was saying 'Those clouds remind me of cheese.' With that he curled back inside his shirt. The little god of destruction still peeked out through a small gap, careful not to be caught peeking by the boy who held him.

Soon, the adults were sleeping with their full stomachs and the kids were back on the window with Adrien holding his chin on Marinette's shoulder and his arms around her. It was darker and taller clouds were spreading long shadows above the lower ones. It was silent, the constant rumbling of the engines was slowly lulling them to sleep.

Marinette woke up to a sound coming from the seats in front of her. Someone was trying to wake up someone else to go to the toilet. Slowly she blinked her eyes open and saw the seat in front of her from a strange perspective. The different pitches of snoring were surrounding her supported by the background noise of the airplane engines. She discovered that she could not move her body. She was completely wrapped up into something, no someone, that someone was breathing. She could not move to see but her brain told her it was Adrien. He wrapped his arms around her and used her as a pillow. His torso rested partially on her back and partially on her side. She felt his every inhale and exhale. His head rested on her ear, while her head rested on her arm that she could not feel any more. Her arm went numb. She tried to pull the numb arm from under her head using her other arm, but when she did it, her head dropped, and consequently Adrien's head moved too. She stiffened.

He opened his eyes, stiffened, relaxed and tightened his arms around her.

She breathed again.

Only then he realized that he was holding something alive, somebody, he remembered sitting next to Marinette. He smiled. Then he slightly opened his eyes and raised his head up to see her. She quickly shut her eyes. Her breathing was uneven and her eyes squeezed shut unnaturally. She was clearly awake. But he was still sleepy, he smiled and leaned his face into her back onto the side of her head.

"Marinette." He whispered quietly. He wanted her awake. Just like he would find grumpy Plagg n the middle of the night in his dark and spacious room. But now, he would not pull Plagg out in the crowded airplane, but had a better replacement. He had Marinette.

She felt more than heard him calling her name. She nodded weakly. He straightened up and pulled her up with him. Marinette made a painful expression at the sensation of blood rushing back into her arm.

"Sorry I fell asleep." Adrien smiled his model smile.

Marinette smiled back and blinked. "Me too."

"We, um, this is an overnight flight?" Adrien blinked his eyes to keep them open.

Marinette was feeling her arm.

"Are you okay, did I crush you?" he asked and offered his gentle smile. His warm green eyes looked at her gently.

Why did he use the word crush, she wandered. He was her crush. He was also expecting an answer. She waved her head.

He noticed her limp arm that she was still holding.

"Your arm went numb?" he asked worriedly.

Marinette nodded.

"Sorry." He smiled sheepishly. He rubbed her shoulders and pulled her close. He liked using her as a giant cuddly teddy bear. She was warm and her closeness made him feel warm inside. After a while he looked at her hand. "Better?" he asked. She nodded in response. She hoped the weak night lights in the plane did not reveal the full extent of her blush.

"Hey" he whispered "Can we see the stars?" and he leaned over her again. Soon they were able to recognize few stars but not whole constellations. But the Moon was fantastic. They stared at the moon and breathed in silence.

For Marinette, breathing steadily was a major achievement. Her breath hitched or fell heavy when ever Adrien wrapped his arms around her, but she could hide her reaction with the excitement of the travel. Now they were breathing steadily and she concentrated on having constant steady breaths. Soon, both teens were sleeping again.

They were woken up by a stewardess serving breakfast and coffee. It was still dark outside and it felt too early to wake up, let alone have breakfast. The kids were eating their breakfast. Marinette quickly slid the cookie she got with her breakfast in her purse. Adrien took a piece of cheese and felt his shirt pocket. Plagg was not there although Adrien was sure this was the last place where he put his little black kwami. Plagg probably escaped his shirt pocket when Adrien leaned onto and fallen asleep on Marinette. He sneaked a piece of cheese in his school bag without checking the insides.

A stewardess behind them was on the fixed airplane phone talking to her colleague in the front.

"I am telling you, Roger, none of us from economy were nowhere near the business class storage." she explained, she was obviously annoyed. She listened to the other side.

"You should check your list. Have you ordered cheese anyway and was it even loaded?" she continued.

Adrien ducked under his tray table and opened his school bag. Plagg was there, but he was motionless, save the heavy breathing of his little body. Adrien poked him but received no response as the little glutton was probably unconscious and the piece of cheese Adrien put there half a minute ago was untouched. Adrien poked at the little god of cheese gluttony and destruction again and snickered. Then he straightened up. He gave Marinette one more smile and kept eating.

Marinette found his behaviour awkward. But one smile and she forgot whatever she found awkward in him.

Tom shared the last of the food from the bakery with Adrien's bodyguard as others decided they were not hungry.

Stewardesses collected the trash as the pilot announced they would be landing shortly. The sky lit up and soon, Marinette and Adrien watched the sunrise from the plane window. The red and the orange glow and finally a glowing orange disc peeked above the horizon. They could see about a quarter of it at one point. But as they descended, the orange disc of the sun disappeared as it was below the horizon again.

The touchdown woke up everyone who fell asleep after breakfast. Marinette's head bumped into Adrien's.

"Um sorry." she muttered holding her head.

"It is okay, Marinette." he smiled back. "I should be sorry for hitting you."

"um, no no no" She protested. But Adrien grinned and pointed through the window. The plane has turned around as it moved away from the runway and was now taxiing to the airport terminal. They could see the sunrise again. They both watched smiling sleepily.

Adrien held Marinette, leaned his chin on her shoulder and looked through the window all the way to the terminal. Marinette relaxed and leaned into him. He felt complete, like there was nothing missing, nothing needed, nothing to worry about. Marinette was happy, just happy, simply happy, nothing more and nothing less. There was no mission, she was not Ladybug at the time. She was not thinking about herself as just a friend nor of him as her future husband with three kids and a hamster. It was just then and there and the two of them.

Tom nudged Sabine and they both peeked at the kids in front of them. Adrien's bodyguard watched the two teens with soft eyes. Although Tom's eyes glistened with mischief with the idea of teasing the two kids and Sabine smiled knowingly, none of them teased the kids nor disturbed their peace.

Chapter Text

Meet the relatives

The moment the plane stopped, people around them unbuckled their seatbelts and got up stretching their legs. Adrien did not move, he looked at the neighbouring plane and vehicles around it through the window. He did not want to let go of this live and warm teddy bear. Marinette, on the other hand, did not want him to let go. So they kept sitting like that even when people who stood up tens of minutes ago finally started to slowly drift towards the exit carrying and pulling their hand luggage.

Only when his bodyguard grunted and Tom patted his back, Adrien finally, slowly and reluctantly let go. Instinctively, his body stretched. Marinette too as she turned around. She saw her parents watching her and she blushed. Suddenly she became aware that her parents were sitting just behind her and could see show they cuddled most of the flight.

Adrien noticed his bodyguard watching him and then Tom towering above him. He knew how much the man was protective of his daughter and Adrien has been all over her all night, cuddling, using her for warmth and pillow. He blushed too and bent over to take his school bag from underneath the seat in front of him and hide his blush at the same time.

"I am glad you two have such healthy colour after this long flight." Sabine cheered with a glint in her eyes and a smirk on her lips. The kids were both bent over their seats collecting their school bag and backpack from below the seats in front of them when Tom and Sabine exchanged looks with Adrien's bodyguard.

"Come on, let's go out." Tom grinned at the kids as soon as they straightened up.

They collected their things from the hand luggage compartment and walked out. They soon caught up with the rest of the passengers who were in the queue and slowly leaving the plane.

The business class passengers were the first to leave the plane so Adrien thought he was safe from being spotted by his father, but he put his hood over his head just in case.

Marinette wandered how Chat Noir was doing. She checked the messaging application they used to communicate when they were not transformed and saw his message.

Cat: landed in Beijing, noodles here I come.

She laughed at the message and quickly replied.

Bug: me too, good luck.

Then she checked the messages from Alya, no akumas and lot of teasing about travelling with Adrien. She blushed and replied about having her parents and his bodyguard with them all the time.

Adrien sent a message to Ladybug on the messaging application as soon as he got network. She replied that she was there too and he felt relieved. After that he sent messages to Nino and Alya. He did not reply to their messages, they seemed strange and full of code words. Were his friends teasing him about Marinette? He must have misunderstood something. He was probably tired from the jet lag and the time shift and sleeping on an airplane probably did not help.

They walked by the customs office completely ignored by the officials who were rather busy with one couple.

"What do you mean you have to put them in the quarantine? How long will it last. We have a connecting flight." the voice of none other than Gabriel Agreste protested. Adrien and his bodyguard nudged their heads down and did not look. The custom officers took the elegantly dressed couple behind a paravan so there was actually nothing to see.

"I am sorry sir, you do not have the proper paperwork for importing animals into China. You can get the paperwork done and your animals can stay in the quarantine while you do it." The official replied calmly but obiouly enjoying himself and his authority.

"I refuse to part with them. I insist on having them with me on our voyage." Gabriel protested.

"You can reschedule your connecting flight and stay in the hotel on the airport but your animaly are going to the quarantine." The official insisted.

They missed the rest of the conversation as they entered the arrivals area. Adrien wandered what kind of animals would his father bring with him. Animals as in plural. He did not remember ever having a pet. Was his father having pets? The boy saw his father so rarely that it was possible his father actually owned pets that Adrien did not know about. (And yes, that part was totally true).

Master Chang Fu was waiting for them. He put them in his mini van and drove away from the airport. It was foggy, or perhaps hazy, the visibility was poor and the famous chef explained this is because of the pollution so he will leave the van and they will continue with the metro.

The metro was crowded. It was full. They were all squashed together for several stops. Adrien and Marinette were side by side and did not separate once the train became less crowded.

They met the rest of the family on the train station. There were two couples with two kids who arrived from different parts of the country. They were Sabine's relatives. Adrien insisted on practising his Chinese. They insisted on practising their French and even English. The conversations quickly became really funny as one would begin in one language, continue in another and finish in third. And everyone laughed.

Marinette and Adrien quickly connected with the two Marinette's cousins. The girl and a boy were few years older than them. They also did not know each other well as they did not live close.

They left they luggage at the train station and walked the city to visit the sights. It was already busy with tourists but the great uncle has taken them on a long walk to see the main sights.

"I am sorry that we have to leave already this evening. There are so many things to see, perhaps when we come back." Marinette's great uncle explained.

They spent the whole morning walking around Tiananmen Square and the sights around it. They grabbed a quick lunch on their feet and went to visit the Forbidden City later. They visited several pagodas and monuments on their way to the train station.

Adrien often wrapped his arm around Marinette and took a selfie. Marinette was slowly getting used to him doing that. She blushed for each photo all the same. She was making photos of her own, of her family and the sites they visited and the goofy stuff they did during lunch to send to Alya as soon as she had Wi-Fi. They chatted with her relatives, especially the kids.

Both of them were dresses in jeans and red t-shirts with black straight hair and brown eyes. The girl, Ling, was as tall as Adrien and the boy, Ye, was even taller. They were few years older and felt like the hosts so they often explained what they could see and what important events happened there in the past. Although they both claimed they were not interested in art and history, they both knew a lot and were sometimes competing who will dig out more interesting fact. Ling was learning French and was trying to translate their conversations to Marinette, but it often happened that Adrien had did the translation first while she was still in the middle of bater with Ye.

Sabine chatted with her relatives while Tom was talking with Adrien's bodyguard. It started with Tom saying a stupid joke and Adrien's bodyguard gave him a surprised look. The next joke from Tom drew the corners of his lips up, then the great uncle Cheng joined in with his own cooking pun, Tom threw in another bakery pun and so on until the silent man was full time laughing.

Marinette noticed her mother and her relatives watching her while they talked. At one moment Adrien blushed. He understood what they were saying.

"You also brought Marinette's boyfriend with you." one of the relatives has said as a matter of fact.

Sabine laughed before explaining that they both won the competition and bought these plane tickets. But then Sabine said something else "They are just friends, but they could have fooled me too the way they behaved on the way here."

"So, tell me about yourself. I want to know everything about my cousin's boyfriend." The boy took a few steps towards Adrien and told him quietly in Chinese while they walked Tienanmen Square.

Adrien gaped.

"I have noticed you speak Chinese much better than her." he winked.

"I, um, had private Chinese lessons for few years now." Adrien answered a bit louder than his conversation partner was expecting. "And, Marinette is my friend."

The boy gave him an incredulous look.

Adrien felt his heart sank. His heart belonged to Ladybug. He loved Marinette as a friend not the way he loved Ladybug. At the same time, he felt an urge to wrap his arms around Marinette and spin her around right here in the middle of this fantastic, huge and rather crowded square.

"You two must be really good friends then." the boy sighed and looked Adrien straight in the eyes.

"We are." Adrien perked up. "She is awesome." the boy raised eyebrows at Adrien. "She designed an album cover for Jagged Stone." Adrien spoke excitedly.

"I did not know that." The boy smiled.

"She won a fashion competition that my father organized." Adrien smiled at the memory. "And I wore that hat at a fashion show."

"Okay, so your father organizes fashion competitions and you wore her hat." the boy said thoughtfully.

"Yes, I am a model." Adrien shrugged. He suddenly became aware that these kids do not know anything about his fame, about his reputation. They met him as a normal kid. They do not even know who his father is.

"I am sorry, I am really not interested in fashion." the boy apologized. "Tell me more about yourself, then, please."

Then Adrien briefly mentioned his father and missing mother, and all the activities he is into and the fact that his father does not actually know he is in China with his bodyguard.

"Wow" the boy said. "I thought he was your father. So you have not actually run away from home if your bodyguard is here." he stroked his chin. "Well I will go to university to study physics while my cousin Ling is preparing for chemistry. I used to train football, but now I only run on my own. I would like to run a marathon in a few years."

Marinette had a conversation of her own.

"I like your boyfriend." Ling told her in French.

"He" Marinette blushed "is not my boyfriend." she squeezed out the words and looked at her feet.

"You want him to be your boyfriend?" Ling asked.

Marinette nodded "please don't tell him."

"Why? Why don't you tell him?" Ling smiled at the blushing girl.

"He is incredible. He is so perfect. His father is famous fashion designer and very rich. He is a supermodel and there is a statue of him in the wax museum." Marinette looked at Ling and spoke quickly and quietly. Ling was not used to conversation in French and barely kept up. "And he loves some other girl." Marinette dropped her head, her chin on her chest.

"Only the last part is against you." Ling smiled. "Are you sure?"

Marinette nodded.

"But you are really good friends." Ling smiled.

Marinette was fighting not to cry. She was so happy for the last 24 hours.

"Hey, don't be sad. He is here, with you right now. Enjoy the time you have with him." Ling pulled Marinette close.

"Hey, let's take a photo of the four of us together." Ling said to the boys in front of her.

The boys turned around. Adrien instantly pulled his phone with one hand and wrapped his hand around Marinette's shoulders as if that was a necessary precondition for any photo. The two other kids stood behind them and he took the photo. Then Adrien asked Marinette if he could take a photo with her phone and she gave him her phone. Her eyes were still glossy from the unshed tears but her smile took over her face.

Marinette checked her purse from time to time and kept it opened so Tikki could peek at the sights. And Tikki appreciated it. She admired silently and gave Marinette a grateful look whenever Marinette took additional effort to allow Tikki to sneak a peek at something beautiful. And there were many things.

Adrien poked at Plagg from time to time with almost no response. The little cat god would just shuffle in his pocket. Plagg slept most of the day. He was probably experiencing what a food coma was. Adrien wandered how much cheese the little glutton obliterated on the plane. Well, his father certainly covered the costs with the business class tickets worthy of Gabriel Agreste and his assistant Nathalie.

Chapter Text

Come on, ride the train

The train was leaving in the evening and the group raided the grocery shop her relatives chose for this purpose.

Marinette had packed sufficient amount of cookies in her backpack to last her a week (well, not her, but Tikki) if there were no akumas so she was not worried about finding food instantly. She also did not understand anything written on the labels and most of the packages were not transparent. Her parents, Adrien and his bodyguard were much more interested in the grocery shop where they stashed themselves for the train journey.

"The train from Beijing to Lhasa is 40 hours, kid." Plagg woke up as soon as Adrien asked where could he find cheese in the shop. The glutton obviously understood at least those words in Chinese.

"And you intend to feed me with this?"

"We are tourists. We are supposed to try local food." Adrien smiled teasing Plagg, but he worried how would he survive travelling with a hungry little god that is supposed to stay in hiding.

"I am not eating tofu!" Plagg protested.

Adrien finally managed to find the kind of cheese that would satisfy the little god of destruction and some snacks for himself.

Marinette was in trouble. She packed small snacks for all the different kwami, and she wanted to stash more, just in case. But this was difficult. She studied different packages of dry food and wandered what was inside.

Her mother has basically collected food for the whole group with the help of the great uncle and the rest of the relatives and currently Tom, Adrien's bodyguard and the great uncle had a competition who would pay for it as all three wanted to pay. In the end they all contributed.

"Tikki, what are these?" Marinette whispered holding a small sealed paper bag. The little red goddess peeked out only to disappear again because of the other shoppers around them. Marinette tried using her phone to translate the text but she was not sure how to turn the package, let alone to guess which characters are important.

In the meantime, Adrien stashed his basket with several items of cheese that Plagg did not particularly complain about. Weather it was for the actual lack of complaint or the fact that another shopper passed by, the boy was not sure, but he took a few pieces of cheese hoping to survive until their arrival to Lhasa.

Then, he found Marinette baffled by a paper bag of raisins. Well he knew those were raisins, it was written on them, but the package was not transparent and Marinette was trying to feel what was inside with her fingers.

He leaned on the shelf and above her.

"Need help?" he whispered in her ear.

She jumped and flailed her hands. The small plastic bag of raisins flew in the air. She blushed.

Adrien winked and grinned while he caught the bag of raisins before it fell to the floor.

"Looking for raisins?" Adrien smirked looking at the small paper package he held in his hand.

"Those are raisins? Oh thank you Adrien." she put them in her basket.

"Anything else?" he bowed "Your own shopping assistant at your service." He almost added My Lady.

Marinette stared at him for a moment, then she perked up. Why not?

"A...Actually yes." Marinette stuttered a little. Come on mouth, I am being confident here. "How about mixed nuts and dried bananas?"

Soon they had a full basket of small paper packages and Marinette happily danced to the register to pay for her purchase. Adrien followed with his cheese.

There they found the rest of the group who finally stashed the food in the bags.

After they finally left the shop they ran to pick up their baggage and then to the train.

They got two cabins with six beds each. They could pull small curtains on the side of the bed for privacy. The kids got the top bed each from the three levels on each side of the compartment. The beds in the middle level could be folded towards the walls of the cabin to make more space. As soon as the kids entered the cabin, they stored thair luggage on the top shelf and climbed onto their beds, then without a blink, let alone a word, they took out their phones and searched for Wi-Fi.

"Kids" was the only comment they got from the adults.

Bug: on the train, good night

Cat: chu chu from me too.

Cat: wanna meet later?

Bug: not this night,

Bug: nobody should see us transformed on the way

Bug: secret identity and stuff

A sighting of Ladybug and Chat Noir in China, on a train for Lhasa of all things, published on any social network would certainly be tracked down by a certain Ladyblogger on school holidays and she would definitely connect the dots this time. There was no way out from that and both teens were aware of that now.

After exchanging messages with Chat, Marinette sent a few pictures to Alya and then engaged in a long correspondence through the text messages where Alya was full of teasing questions and Marinette was full of one word or emoji answers. Alya was bored due to school holidays and the absence of akuma. She was even more bored by the fact that now she was in charge of babysitting her twin sisters even more often than usual.

Adrien replied to anything Nathalie sent him during the day and now he was in a chat with Nino. He sent his friend almost all the photos he made that day with long comments on which building was in the background. Adrien felt happy he could share the pictures with someone, grateful to have friends such as Nino and Alya. He had to keep his happiness about this journey away from everyone else he knew. Nino was engaged in answering and asking more questions so the messaging continued for more than an hour.

Needless to say, few hours later, Nino showed those photos to Alya. She could not care less about the monuments and buildings in the background, Adrien had his arm around Marinette in each of them.

The adults were fast asleep on the beds below, exhausted form the travel they already experienced.

Marinette was reading something, it looked like a notebook and from time to time she was making notes. Adrien watched her and missed holding her in his arms to fall asleep. He thought of Ladybug and how she was probably on the same train as him. What if he walked up and down the train and checked all the passengers, he could find her, he could recognize her. But that was not what his lady wanted. His eyes finally closed and he drifted to sleep.

He woke up soon, he checked his phone and concluded that his short nap was probably less than twenty minutes. He was disappointed to see that Marinette has pulled her curtain. The small reading light was lit up above her bed and that was as much as he could see through the curtain and he could hear some quiet noises, as if someone was talking quietly. Adrien smiled, she probably could not sleep yet because of the time difference and was watching some show on her phone. The wireless network on the train was said to be excellent, at least the message on the wall said so.

He closed his eyes and listened, he heard whispers, but could not distinguish more than few individual words that told him nothing. Adrien wandered if he could ask Marinette to join her and watch the show together. But that would require him to sneak into her bed. Then he remembered the size of her father and how he got akumatized so he gave up. Then again, he did not complain on the airplane? He kept himself entertained by the thought a little more.

Adrien almost drifted back to sleep when he felt Plagg move. Plagg floated directly towards Marinette and was centimetres from phasing through her curtain. Adrien had really good eyes and reflexes if he managed to grab the little black kwami. He did not phase through his hands.

"I thought you were sleeping." Plagg hissed and crossed his arms.

"Where do you think you are going?" Adrien looked incredulous but whispered softly.

"Pigtails is having a party and you had fun all day." Plagg turned to look towards Marinette.

"Were you invited to the party? Besides, you slept through the whole day." Adrien teased.

"I have seen it all already." Plagg rolled his eyes. "And the answer is yes" Plagg teased back.

"What?" Adrien was perhaps a bit to loud. Plagg escaped into his pyjama.

"Just because your girlfriend did not invite you, does not mean I am not invited." Plagg snickered from his shirt.

Meanwhile, Marinette was reading her notes from her conversations with kwami and thinking of which kwami to wake up and what to ask them. The adults were snoring in the beds below but she waited for Adrien to fall asleep. Once she noticed his beautiful sleeping face she had to psyche herself before she pulled the curtain and took out the bracelet. She decided to wake up only one additional kwami at a time and avoid possible quarrelling.

"It was so nice to see the Forbiden City again and the temples. I wish we had more time." Tikki whispered dreamily. "But the city changed so much since the last time I was there."

"The temple should be the way it was before Master Fu made his mistake?" Marinette inquired. She was focused on the task ahead.

"Yes. Will you go to visit the temple in Lhasa?" Tikki asked her blue eyes blinking with hope. "I want to see how much it changed too."

"Haven't you been reading those texts on Tibet on my computer at home?" Marinette asked.

"Well, yes, but it is not as if you would look at it in person." Tikki sighed.

"Well you can find the time once we get there." Sass interfered, perhaps a bit disappointed that he was kept dormant in the bracelet.

The adults below snored rather loudly so she relaxed and talked quietly with Sass. Sass was calm and answered all her questions without too much fuss and secrecy.

"You should not reveal your identity when you get there." Sass advised and Tikki nodded.

"I told you that before." Tikki scolded quietly.

"You should always be devoted to your task but you should not forget that you are also a living being with your needs and dreams." Sass preached quietly.

It was Sass who proposed to get Mullo for one of her questions. So, she also got the Mouse miraculous and included Mullo in the conversation. Perhaps it was because Mullo was really needed and perhaps it was just because Sass wanted to hear stories about modern Beijing from Tikki.

"The temple serves as a sanctuary for the pilgrims." Mullo explained. "My holder often lead the lost pilgrims to the temple in the evenings and bad weather."

"That was long time ago." Marinette sighed. "I wander if I could enter again that way."

"Do not worry, everything will become clear once you get there." Mullo smiled.

Once again, she got more or less the same answer from each kwami. It would help if Mullo did not seem distracted by Tikki talking about Beijing with Sass.

"And how do I talk to the monks?" Marinette asked.

The three kwami shrugged. They never experienced a language barrier themselves, but were aware that their holders spoke different languages and sometimes could not make a conversation with another humans (and more often than not it was not only due to the language barrier).

Soon she was making notes and wrapping up offering some food she brought along. Tikki, Mullo and Sass ate quietly understanding the need to hide. She thought of few more questions and they resumed talking stories about past wielders.

At one moment she heard "What" from behind her back and froze. She felt some movement and some quiet hassle and then again it was only snoring of the adults below.

The kwami hid below her sheet and she pulled the curtain a little to see. Adrien was moving and then he turned around towards her, his eyes opened wide.

Marinette hitched a breath and covered herself up to the chin hiding her arms below the sheet.

"Hey." he whispered.

"Hey" she smiled, a bit nervously, but she hoped it was dark and he would not see it.

He saw it but did not show. He wanted to ask but did not want to pry. He wanted to hold her again and did not bother to ask himself why he wanted it. It just felt good, he felt calm, he felt safe.

He stretched out his arm and offered his hand.

"It is late, let's go to sleep." he said sleepily.

She contemplated for a moment on what to do. She did not want to refuse him, she really wanted to take his hand. At the same time, she had the snake miraculous around her wrist and was sure Adrien would recognize it. Then she turned and stretched out her arm (the one without a bracelet) and held his hand. They fell asleep holding hands. Three kwami snuggled onto her back. That is until a certain black kwami decided to join them.

Chapter Text

A day on a train

The next morning arrived too early.

Adrien was woken up when his bodyguard and Tom got up simultaneously to go for the toilet. The two large men in the confined space between the three-level bunk beds were a recipe that should wake up anyone around. Marinette's uncle was already awake reading, Sabine woke up and ordered the two men out in quiet tone – before they wake the kids.

Adrien laughed silently at Sabine's antics. He was awake as soon as the two men produced the first sound. On the other bed at the top level, Marinette slept quietly, her hand outstretched just like when she held his hand before they fell asleep. How could she be so sound asleep with all these noise and hassle was beyond him. But, he was used to sleeping in controlled environment without any noise or movement around. Marinette was sleeping soundly even when her father bumped into her bed just before going out of their compartment.

Adrien took her hand in his and smiled. He heard Sabine exchange morning greetings with her uncle and then they both got out from the compartment too. The moment the door shut, Plagg floated up from behind Marinette's back rubbing his green eyes. Adrien's eyes went wide. He quickly glanced at Marinette's face checking if she was still sleeping and was relieved to find that she was. Then he glared at Plagg who floated over to him slowly and lazily as if teasing him. Adrien glared some more, annoyed that that was the only reaction he could produce at the time without waking up Marinette.

However, as soon as the girl sleeping next to him sighed in her sleep, Plagg was gone into Adrien's pyjama. He snickered in Adrien's shirt. Adrien waved his hand to swat him, but thought better of it as he would also swat himself.

Plagg went there last night to talk to Tikki and hear the news about how the palaces and the temples changed since the last time they were there. They chatted about the old days and the holders they had. He fell asleep and was woken up by Tikki who poked him several times, tougher and tougher until the little god of destruction took the message. But when he was ready to float up, Tikki pulled him down and put a finger over her mouth. Tikki was angry because Plagg had overslept his welcome and could be caught by Marinette. But, he was supposed to return to Adrien without being noticed by other passengers. Tikki was, perhaps for the first time, happy that her chosen was such a heavy sleeper.

Marinette opened her eyes and the first thing she saw was green. It was the warm green of Adrien's eyes. She blinked a few times and smiled, she was certain she was still dreaming, and it was a nice dream, she was in no need to wake up. So she smiled at the green eyes she was looking out without moving or talking.

Adrien saw her open her eyes and smiled. He did not say anything. Her eyes were so blue and calm. And she smiled so gently at him. He felt so nice and warm inside, perhaps a little bubbly and perhaps there was a hint of butterflies in his stomach, but he ignored them. Marinette looked so happy and at peace that he did not want to disturb her.

The moment was disturbed when his bodyguard returned to the compartment. He did it wordlessly, both of them turned to the large man, he nodded and they nodded in return.

"Good morning" Adrien greeted as he nodded and then turned to Marinette.

Marinette on the other hand, nodded automatically, without thinking and then quickly switched her eyes back to Adrien. The head of Adrien's bodyguard was below the level of her bed and there was Adrien apparently holding her hand. She felt him squeeze her hand slightly tighter before she heard him again.

"Good morning Marinette." he smiled at her widely and continued to look at her. He was only half expecting her to answer, he did not mind the silence.

Then, she finally woke up, she realized this was real, it was not a dream and it was Adrien's hand squeezing hers and they slept in beds not even a metre apart. She spent the night before cuddled with him sharing their two seats in the airplane and now they were here. Then she felt Tikki pat her back, and then she felt the two other kwami. Oh yes, she was talking to Sass and Mullo last night. She should find a way to meet with Chat Noir on the train.

"Good. Good morning Adrien." she greeted back, her voice hoarse. She had to find a way to remove the additional jewels of the Snake and Mouse miraculous. Her other hand was hidden under a blanket so the bracelet was not visible and she was covered almost up to her ears. She should have been more careful. It was not a wise idea to sleep with the kwami through the night.

Marinette's father entered the compartment and there was some more hassle.

"Good morning kids" Tom greeted. You should go to the bathroom and then we could have some breakfast."

"Good morning papa." Marinette and Adrien let go of their hands.

"Good morning Tom." Adrien greeted. He quickly grabbed a small bag with his toiletries and his phone and jumped down from the bed straight to the floor.

Marinette was thankful for that, she quickly removed the bracelet from her hand. Marinette expected he remembered the bracelet quite well since Adrien saw the bracelet and used it as Aspik. Then she took off the Mouse miraculous and put them both to safe keeping in the box wrapped in a colourful cloth bag in her backpack. Then she grabbed her things and jumped to the floor too. She noticed how her father and Adrien's bodyguard flinched when she landed. Just when she was about to go out, she found Sabine and her uncle talking in front of the compartment door.

Marinette quickly typed the message on her phone. She was warned by Tikki not to transform on the way bud decided there should be a way to arrange a meeting just this once.

Bug: Can we meet today?

Her phone chimed with a returning message quickly.

Cat: just name when and where.

Bug: okay, I'll find a place.

Adrien looked at his phone where he stood in a tiny bathroom. It had a shower, a toilet and a wash sink and even a mirror and an electric plug, but everything was squeezed into less than one square metre. He wandered how they did it. Then he received Ladybug's answer. Perhaps it was unfair to ask Ladybug to organize everything. He quickly finished and got out from the bathroom. This was men's bathroom. Next to it was women's bathroom. Both were marked with drawings of a man and a woman as well as Chinese symbols. There was additional door with no sign. It was locked but he found it was easy to open it just by sticking in a toothpick he had in his toiletries. He grinned and typed his idea to Ladybug.

Marinette was in the tiny bathroom when she finally read the answer from Chat. She got out of the bathroom and found that there was third door, barely recognizable in her sleepy state and that indeed if she stuck her hair pin in the hole she could move the bolt just enough to open it. It was small and dark supply closet but is would do. And the two bathrooms were close by so they could transform there.

Bug: meet me there in an hour.

Marinette rushed back to her compartment. She typed the code from her phone to open the door to enter. And met her father's back.

The compartment was completely full as all her relatives squeezed in to enjoy some time together. The word 'enjoy" might have not been the most appropriate one to describe the experience. They stood or sat cramped together and there was no possibility to eat anything.

"I can climb up and eat on my bed. And Ling can join me." Marinette proposed. Her father moved to the corridor so she could climb and the girl joined her.

Adrien motioned to Ye and the two boys climbed up to his bed. They sat with their legs pulled up and crossed on the bed while the adults shuffled beneath them and distributed the food. Tom passed the food to the kids and everyone finally ate.

Marinette bent down, practically hanging upside down to grab some milk. Adrien remembered how clumsy Marinette could be and admired her bravery for a second before he quickly put his bowl to the side, leaned over with the intention to grab her shirt and prevent her from falling down. However, the back of her shirt slid down and his hand was on her naked back. Marinette stiffened and squeaked and at that point it was necessary for Adrien to hold her and prevent her fall. So he pressed her back into the edge of her bunk bed.

"Calm down and pull yourself up." Adrien almost laughed at her. His grin almost split his face in half. Ling and Ye almost spilled their food while laughing. They were too entertained to interfere.

"Um. I can't?" Marinette replied. She was red in the face, but she was also hanging upside down.

Adrien put one leg on Marinette's bed and bent over grabbing her shoulder with his other hand and pulled her up.

She was completely red in the face and was holding a carton of milk in her hands.

Ling and Ye applauded and cheered.

"Listen" Ye started quietly "Ling and me applied for an excursion to see that new temple that magically appeared in the mountains. Would you like to join?"

Marinette and Adrien nodded eagerly.

"Okay, it is meant only for the young Chinese, how will we do this?" Ling cocked her head.

"We will just fill in that form. Look." Ye showed his phone to Adrien who nodded. The form on the phone was in Chinese and required some basic input. "I think your Chinese is good enough to pass that." Ye winked.

"I am not so sure about this." Ling complained as she showed her phone to Marinette. Marinette opened the web page and Ling leaned over.

"So you need a Chinese name, I guess." Ye whispered to Adrien.

"Can I be Marinette Cheng?" Marinette asked Xu.

"Better make it Ma Cheng." Ling sighed.

"And I will be ..." Adrien tapped his chin with his index finger "Rien Cheng!" he smiled to Marinette who stopped breathing.

"You can be brother and sister." Ling nudged Marinette to click on one part of the form. "That way you will be in the same group."

"And my little sister forgot to speak proper Chinese while she lived with her French father in Paris for a few years?" Adrien asked Ye, but he winked to Marinette.

"Don't use that excuse unless you absolutely have to." Ye waved his head with a smile on his face.

"We will also mark you two as part of our group." Ling waved her head as she was doing that.

"Time to train you some spoken Chinese." Adrien grinned at Marinette. The girl hid her face in her palms.

"Okay, you are on the list." Ling checked the phone.

"We will know the rest when we get there." Ye shrugged.

After that, they played a game of making Marinette talk in Chinese. She tried and tried and mostly made the other three laugh.

Most of the adults left the compartment, Tom and Adrien's bodyguard admired the view through the window while the kids chatted on the top bunk bed.

Adrien was checking his phone and typing while Ling tried to train Marinette to say one simple sentence. Marinette felt her phone vibrate for an incoming message. It was too early in Europe for Alya. She checked her phone. The time was passing quickly and she was about to meet Chat Noir in that tiny storage room.

Cat: let me know when to escape my company

She quickly tapped back her reply.

Bug: can't do it right now, have company.

Marinette let go of her phone and tried again. This time she was good and all three teens applauded.

The rest of the morning passed in looking through the window, talking about life in China and training Marinette in speaking more Chinese.

Marinette went to the bathrooms before lunch and concluded there was too much traffic to try meeting with Chat there and sent him a message.

After lunch she got a reply from Chat that the bathroom area was still rather busy.

Bug: perhaps late in the evening then.

Ling and Ye invited Marinette and Adrien to join them in their compartment and play a game. They learned a new game and Marinette had to speak more Chinese. Their attention often wandered towards something they could see through the window as the scenery changed quickly from meadows to villages and huge cities.

Chapter Text

Late night conversations

The night came and Marinette still had no time alone to talk to other kwami than Tikki. She planned to take kwami for a walk every evening, just like she did at home, and now it was hardly possible. Every bit of space was busy and crowded, there was no privacy. Being a superhero with a secret identity was much easier in France than in China. Marinette lied on her bed with an open purse next to her head.

"You should not transform on the way Marinette." Tikki warned from the purse, again. Marinette sighed, she did not want to be caught talking to her purse by Adrien who was on his bed less than a metre away. How awkward would that be? She took her phone and typed.

Bug: Meet you in 20 minutes. I will wait for you transformed in the storage. Knock before you enter to make sure I turn my back to you and transform only once you are inside.

Marinette turned her phone to Tikki who sighed and nodded. She will send the message later.

Marinette took the Bee comb and the Fox pendant in her pocket and went for the storage. If the corridor is not busy with people waiting in queue for the bathroom, she will message Chat to meet her, but she wanted a quick talk with Trixx and Pollen.

The bathroom was not busy, there was nobody in the corridor. She locked herself in the storage and put on the comb and the pendant. Then she sent the message she prepared earlier to Chat.

Adrien played a game on his phone when he hard Marinette moved in her bed and then he heard the compartment door open and close.

"Camembert?" a voice from his shirt spoke. Adrien sighed and reached for a bag that hung from the edge of his bed. He retrieved a cheese triangle and gave it to Plagg with no words. Then he patted the head of the little cat god. The little kwami swallowed the cheese in one bite and stared at Adrien. He stopped the game and checked for messages from his lady. He returned to the game, lost and put down his phone.

"Having fun with pigtails these days?" Plagg teased, but Adrien gave no response. Plagg frowned.

"What is bothering you, kid?" Plagg asked quietly.

"Yeah, Marinette is funny." Adrien whispered the answer to the first question and smiled gently. One of the adults below snored a bit louder than usual. "I'm so happy. It is so nice. I met new people." Adrien sighed.

Plagg let him be. Adrien tasted normal life only in school so far. This journey has exposed him to other people outside school and his father's company. He saw how Marinette's parents interacted with their daughter. They treated him just the same as they treated their daughter. Her relatives accepted him really quickly. There were four adults sleeping in this compartment right now and at least two of them were snoring as if they were competing who would be louder and it never occurred to him to complain about the situation. The last two nights were in complete contrast to sleeping in his vast, empty and silent room.

His phone chimed. He checked the message, glanced towards Marinette's empty bed and sneaked out of the compartment.

"Hello Marinette" Pollen and Trixx greeted as soon as they appeared from the comb and the pendant.

"Are we on our way?" Pollen asked zooming around.

"Is this how a caravan looks like today?" Trixx asked pouncing on the objects in the storage.

"Yes. Please do not phase through the walls. It is crowded." Marinette pleaded as Tikki flew out from her purse to meet the two kwami.

"Are you going to look for the cursed stone?" Trixx pounced on Marinette's shoulder.

"She will not look for it, it will reveal itself to her." Pollen raised her nose, annoyed she had to repeat everything.

"Stop with the cursed stone." Tikki scolded, but then the little red goddess continued in her most cheerful tone. "We visited the Forbidden City and the temples in Beijing." Marinette sighed. Not Beijing again, that was so not the reason to summon Pollen and Trixx.

"Actually, I know I should not enter the temple while not transformed because nobody knows where it is and it should affect only those who are transformed." Marinette spoke quickly. "What is not clear to me is how will I defend the temple if I can't transform." They should know considering how many warrior wielders they had.

"We cant tell you that, Marinette." Trixx sighed.

"There are things we kwami do not know." Pollen spoke quietly as if defeated.

"Like the recipe for a potion that would enhance our powers." Tikki added.

She took out the food for Pollen and Trixx. They ate and asked questions to Tikki about two different temples and argued which one was more important and who of their wielders from the different temples was more important and … Marinette rolled her eyes.

She realized there is only one way to stop them questioning Tikki and transformed into Ladybug. Pollen and Trixx continued talking about their warrior hosts which was more entertaining and useful. She wished she had brought her notebook.

Adrien knocked the door to the storage in few minutes.

"Okay, he is early." Ladybug muttered to herself and turned her back. "Come in." she said.

"Good evening My Lady" he greeted as he entered and closed the door behind him. "Plagg, claws out." A flash of green light lit up the small storage room.

"Good evening Chaton" she replied. There was almost no space between them as she turned around.

Trixx and Pollen flew from behind Marinette on her shoulders.

"I thought you might like to meet them yourself." Ladybug whispered checking his face. It was dark and she knew rather well that he could see her much better than she could see him.

"I did not want to bring more than two in here." Ladybug waved her hand as much as she could to explain what she meant.

Chat grinned and she could see pure joy in his eyes.

"I can't believe we are here, Bug." he raised his claws to the sides of her shoulders.

"Hi Chat Noir, I am Trixx" the little fox kwami greeted.

"Hi Chat Noir, nice to see you again." Pollen added from another shoulder.

"Hi Trixx and Pollen" Chat looked to her shoulders and then back to Ladybugs face. They were so close, he could hear her breathing over the noise of the train. He could feel her breath on his neck as she raised her face towards him.

Her bangs moved with every breath he exhaled. They were so close. He was pleased. She was a bit annoyed.

"Chat, what I learned so far is that there is a cursed stone in the temple. It affects only those who are transformed and nobody knows where it is. Also, if anyone spots us transformed on the way, it would soon be on the social media." She recited quickly and quietly.

"So we have to travel to the temple and enter it as ourselves." Chat finished for her. His excitement bubbled inside. Was he about to meet the civilian her?

"There are magical stones in the temple and we should protect it, somehow. And there are things kwami do not know and we will have to learn there." She lowered her face as a sign she was finished.

"Huh." Chat was processing the information. "How do we do that without revealing ourselves?"

"I don't know. We will have to find a way." Ladybug shrugged and the two kwami slowly floated back onto her shoulders while Chat kept holding her.

"And I was so happy to come here and tell you that I have the way to reach the temple from Lhasa." Chat Noir grinned. "I could send you the link to fill in but it is in Chinese and I do not know if you would know how to do it so I could help you with that now. If you want."

"Chat I" Ladybug sighed.

"Identities, I know. You can invent a name." Chat smiled apologetically.

"It is not that, thank you Chat, I already did that, and wanted to tell you the same." Ladybug laughed breathlessly. "It is okay. I am glad you are doing this well."

Chat rubbed her arms from elbows to shoulders.

"We could tell you about the cursed stone." Trixx offered with a lot of enthusiasm in her voice, Ladybug felt the little fox pouncing on her shoulder. "If you tell us about Beijing."

"There are several kwami who doubt the stone exists." Ladybug smiled "But we should be careful."

"Oh it is real." Trixx insisted.

"Maybe it is as real as your illusions. It exists as long as we believe in it." Pollen teased.

"Now you sound like Xuppu and Kaalki." Trixx pouted.

The two kwami continued to banter about the stone and then switched back to talk about Beijing.

"Oh, well. How are you Chat?" Ladybug sighed and asked Chat cheerfully.

"I am great. The flight was awesome." Chat stopped for a moment as he remembered how he used Marinette as a teddy bear on the flight. He swallowed and continued to talk. "I have excellent company, we talk and play games and stuff."

Ladybug looked at him with sad eyes. Chat was so excited, so thrilled about having nice company who played games with him. He reminded her of Adrien and his excitement the whole day. The boy practically pounced where he was sitting on the bed the whole afternoon.

"Except, I have excellent company and we play games and it is not easy to escape and have a meeting like this." Chat finished and shrugged.

"It is also very crowded and busy with people all day." Ladybug added.

"Yeah, people stand in line for the bathroom." Chat whispered.

"I propose we send each other messages and meet only if it is absolutely needed." Ladybug was back to business and looking up straight into his face.

"That is fine, Bug." Chat looked at her with his lovesick expression.

Finally they kept silent, amused by the talk between Trixx and Pollen. The two kwami were arguing about two female monks who wielded their miraculous in the same battle.

"Are they always like this?" Chat asked.

"Oh, this is just fine, they can be much worse." Ladybug smirked.

"Is this information of any use?" Chat smiled as the kwami discussed the middle age war tactics. The conversation sounded like something her read from Sun Tzu.

"It could be, you never know. I usually make notes. It helps with the history tests." Ladybug shrugged.

They stood there in silence and then Chat heard steps coming along the corridor and stiffened. Ladybug felt a change in his posture and listened intently but she heard the heavy steps just in front of the door. The door to one of the bathrooms opened and closed.

"We should go." Ladybug whispered.

"Yeah" Chat sighed heavily.

They both stood there for a moment.

"Okay, I will turn around so you can de-transform here. I will wait for two minutes before I get out. Okay?" she whispered.

"Okay" Chat whispered and nodded in return.

Ladybug turned around and waited.

"Claws in" Chat Noir whispered and the compartment was filled with green light for a moment while he transformed into Adrien. "Good nigh Ladybug" Adrien greeted and got out closing the door behind him carefully. She de-transformed and waited in silence while the three kwami chatted quietly. She waited for full three minutes before she got out of the bathroom and went to her compartment.

Chapter Text

take care of your blood sugar levels

Calling home

Adrien returned to the compartment and noticed Marinette's bed was still empty. He wandered where she had been and started to worry. She was a young teenage girl in a foreign country on a train in the middle of the night and the four snoring adults were not aware she was not safe in her bed. And he might have watched too many films.

"Plagg" Adrien whispered. "Marinette left long time ago. Should I search for her?"

Plagg looked at Adrien with his green eyes and sighed. The little black cat-like god knew very well that Marinette was Ladybug and Adrien had just talked to her. Plagg rolled his eyes and smiled mischievously.

"I have a feeling she will enter the compartment quite soon." Plagg took an air of prophecy.

"Plagg" Adrien rolled his eyes.

Marinette was in the corridor standing in front of the compartment and unlocked her phone to read the entrance code, but when she was about to type it in, three kwami floated into her face.

"Ugh, right. Thank you Trixx and Pollen" she said her greetings, the two kwami nuzzled her cheeks and she took the comb out from her hair and the pendant from her neck and stored them into her purse. The two kwami disappeared in the jewels while Tikki floated back into her purse. Then she finally typed the number and entered the compartment.

She entered the compartment as quietly as she could and closed the door behind her. She was certain her uncle and father snored louder than any noise she could have made. But when she looked up she faced Adrien fully awake and staring at her. She smiled sheepishly and slowly climbed up to her bed. She was careful not to wake up any of the adults sleeping on the lower levels.

"Hi" he greeted her quietly when she climbed up and turned around. She was wearing her usual pyjama. The same pyjama she wore the day they escaped his fans to go to the cinema.

"Hi" she greeted shyly and settled on her bed. He was still staring at her.

"Um, I was worried about you. You have been away for some time." Adrien whispered.

Marinette was not aware he even noticed when she left. She blushed holding the phone in her hand. What could she possibly tell him.

"I, um, the bathroom was taken so I searched for another one in a different part of the train and I um" Marinette rambled.

"You got lost? On a train? In the middle of the night?" Adrien whispered incredulously.

Marinette lowered her shoulders forward, she felt guilty for making him worry.

"It was not that bad. All compartments look alike." she shrugged and smiled hoping to relieve him from his worries.

At that moment, someone below them snored louder than usual, the noise that followed was indescribable. The two teens looked at each other and laughed silently. Then a sound like a loud snort reached them from below. They were clutching their stomachs in laughter and cried their eyes out but struggled to stay silent.

"You are not sleepy?" Adrien asked her. She looked tired. Her eyes looked tired for more than two weeks now.

Marinette waved her head.

"Me neither." he smiled gently. "So many nice things have happened to me." A loud snore, louder than he spoke, interrupted him. Marinette put her hands over her face not to laugh.

"You mean like sleeping in a mill?" she asked quietly once she was able to speak and control her voice.

"Yeah, that too, actually." Adrien smiled so genuinely that Marinette believed him. "The whole way, in the car, on the plane, in the city, with your family, and on the train with everyone. Nobody ever scolded me for acting inappropriate or not up to their standards."

"But you never act inappropriate." Marinette smiled. He was so perfect, how could anyone ever scold him for his behaviour? His manners, his smile, his hair, everything was perfect to her. She just wanted to tell him that so much. Instead, she produced a few mumbles and then stopped trying to speak. She looked to the side in shame and blushed.

"Marinette, what I did to you on the plane, my father would never allow that." he was worried that someone might have taken a photo of him and put it on the social media tagging him. But Alya sent no warnings and there were no urgent phone calls from Nathalie. There were actually no calls from Nathalie. Only several brief messages and he replied to all of them.

Marinette took in a deep breath. This was injustice and she was there to fix it. She was on a mission to save her crush from such suffering and nothing in the world, not even her own crush, is going to prevent her. She looked at the boy straight in his eyes.

"Adrien, you did nothing wrong. If you did, I would have told you and my parents would have interfered." and that was it. She did it. She has spoken. Victory.

"And you, you said nothing, you did not mind at all?" Adrien asked shyly.

Marinette waved her head but she also blushed remembering just how they woke up.

Adrien was happy the see the colour in her cheeks.

"Hey, um, what is the time in Paris?" he asked.

"I think about six in the afternoon." Marinette checked her phone.

"Let's call Nino and Alya." Adrien waved his phone. "The network signal is excellent and I guess most of the passengers are sleeping so the connection might be good for a video call. What do you think?"

Marinette nodded eagerly.

"Okay, come over here." he said while he opened the application on the phone using the thumb of the same hand he held his phone with and then he patted his bed next to him.

Marinette stared at the spot.

Adrien was picking on his phone. He patted the spot again.

Marinette stared at the spot, motionless.

Adrien got the phone ready and pressed the invitation for the video call.

"Come on" he waved his head.

Marinette finally took in a first breath.

Adrien was waiting for the connection and looked at her.

"okay" she breathed. 'It is a one small step for a woman, but one giant leap for Marinette' passed through her brain while she was crossing the small gap between the two beds. At one point she wiggled a bit and Adrien did not hesitate one moment to wrap his hands around her waist and pull her onto his bed. The next moment she was sitting next to him. Her heart was pounding as if she just finished running 400 meters at the Olympics. With hurdles.

Adrien established a connection.

"Hey Nino" he greeted and waved his hand. Marinette raised her hand and moved it a bit.

"Hey dudes" Nino waved back "hey Alya, Marinette is there with him." Nino called to the side of the screen. Alya got next to Nino in no time.

"Marinette, Adrien, hi!" she greeted enthusiastically.

"What is the time there?" Nino asked.

"About midnight." Adrien answered. He held the phone in his right arm and his left one was wrapped around Marinette. Marinette wrapped her arms around her knees and just looked at the screen. She could see how Alya stared at the picture on the screen taking in every detail.

"Where are you?" Nino asked. Alya was almost screaming as her brain was processing what she saw.

"In China." Adrien winked to the screen.

"Dude" Nino pulled a face.

"On a train." Adrien looked up and about as if he was trying to determine himself.

Nino changed his expression. Alya was almost pouncing on his back by now.

"To Lhasa." Adrien nodded as if he just remembered.

Nino and Alya stared at the screen.

"Okay, but where, what is that place where you sit?" Alya squinted her eyes as she spoke.

There was only small night light switched on above his bed. Adrien raised the phone to the ceiling and tilted it down a little bit towards them.

"We are on my bed." Adrien smirked.

Alya fell off Nino and disappeared from the screen.

"Dude" Nino grinned.

Then Adrien tilted the phone towards the gap and then he rotated it towards Marinette's bed.

"And that is her bed over there." Adrien rotated the phone back to them.

Nino was adjusting his hat. Alya was nowhere to be seen.

"This is the top level of three level bunk beds in a tiny compartment." Adrien grinned. He was so proud he was there.

"And we are sharing it with Marinette's parents, her uncle and my bodyguard." he smiled to Nino who was picking up something heavy from the floor. Oh, it was Alya.

"Um, could you briefly repeat that for Alya, please?" Nino pleaded holding Alya up.

So Adrien repeated.

Alya was blinking onto the screen.

Adrien lowered the hand with which he was holding the phone and pulled Marinette even closer.

"Hi Alya! Hi Nino!" Marinette waved her hand again.

Alya was blinking.

"This is considerably different to my room in the Agreste mansion, isn't it?" Adrien winked at Nino.

"Dude" Nino waved his head "it is definitely different."

"Hey, hear this." Adrien lowered the phone to the gap.

"What is that noise, dude?" Nino asked.

"Snoring." Adrien whispered snickering.

Marinette rolled her eyes at Adrien.

Alya gaped.

"You two look like you are having fun." Nino said smiling.

"Oh, you have no idea." Adrien replied with a smirk.

Alya disappeared in the general direction of the floor. Nino followed her with his eyes, waved his head and looked back to his phone.

"We met Marinette's relatives, the six of them are sleeping in the other compartment. We are travelling together to Lhasa. The two of her cousins are taking us on an excursion." Adrien rambled squeezing Marinette closer and closer.

Marinette looked at Adrien then back to the screen.

"Um, we had fun in Beijing yesterday, I sent Alya few pictures last night." Marinette added.

They could hear Alya yelled something from the floor but did not understand what.

"She is complaining that Adrien sent much better pictures to me." Nino smirked.

Marinette looked at Adrien who wiggled his eyebrows to the screen and then back at Nino and shrugged.

"Thank you Nino, I guess the camera on this phone finally proved worth of whatever my father paid for it." Adrien smirked.

"It was not the camera." Alya pushed her face into the phone. Nino raised the phone up and pulled Alya closer to him and away from the screen.

"How is Paris?" Adrien asked.

"Paris is fine, no akumas so Alya is a bit jittery." Nino laughed.

"I am bored." Alya dragged her fingertips from her eyes down her face to her chin.

"We are babysitting." Nino suddenly turned the phone around and walked to the door of Alya's room and showed them her living room where Ella and Etta were trying to pounce on Chris.

He closed the door.

"Great" Marinette whispered and raised her thumb up. Adrien nodded to Nino.

"Listen guy, we should probably stop before we wake up someone." Adrien spoke quietly.

"Okay, dudes, it was nice to hear you." Nino greeted.

They all waved to each other and quit the video call.

Then Adrien dropped the phone on his bed and wrapped his other arm around Marinette. He took in a deep breath and exhaled in satisfaction. He pulled her closer so her head rested on his shoulder.

"Is this okay?" he whispered.

She nodded.

He smiled, leaned his head over hers and closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

Trekking equipment

The next morning breakfast preparations were almost a routine. Well, almost.

Adrien woke up first and nudged Marinette awake. They fell asleep on his bed. Marinette was probably still in her dream world, definitely not fully awake when he helped her go to her own bed before the adults woke up and noticed. He would not like to find out how would Tom react upon finding his daughter in a boy's bed.

The adults got up and after the usual morning routines, they sent teenagers to the bathroom to change for breakfast. They returned to a full compartment with Ling and Ye waiting on the top level of the bunk beds.

"So, you are going on an excursion to visit the new temple." Tom grinned as he passed the food to the kids.

"Do you have any ideas what you need to get there?" Sabine smiled.

"Um?" was Marinette's early morning answer to most questions so this was not really an exception.

"Don't worry aunt Sabine and uncle Tom, we will get the equipment in Lhasa. There is a shop that rents everything." Ling explained and showed a long list she had on her phone.

"It is an excellent trekking equipment shop and it is stupid to buy it and carry home where you do not need it." Ye added.

"Great." Adrien exclaimed with a wide smile.

"So I guess you have everything covered, then, Ling?" Sabine asked the older girl and she nodded.

"Don't worry aunt Sabine, we will take care of them." Ye replied.

"Then you give us no choice." Tom looked at Adrien's bodyguard "We will have to let you go."

The rest of the breakfast they spent in planning the rest of the day. Adrien's bodyguard has chosen to stay in the same accommodation with Sabine and Tom and other adults which was a small hotel far from the main sights. They packed their things and were just about ready when the train finally arrived to Lhasa.

They first left their luggage at the mini hotel. It was a large house and the owner lived in it. The adults decided to stay and settle and make some lunch in the kitchen. The teenagers were practically out of the door before they even entered.

Adrien put a black cap on his head and the hood from his hoodie.

"We will take our equipment first." Ling was determined with her list opened on her phone.

"Can we use your list?" Marinette asked cautiously. She was preparing herself by talking to the kwami who did not mention anything about tents and sleeping bags. Well, except Trixx, she definitely talked about that.

"Of course!" the girl answered proudly. I have sent it to you this morning.

Marinette checked her phone and opened the list. It was written in Chinese.

"Don't worry, I will help you." Adrien smiled when he saw her puzzled face. She turned the screen towards him. "And I can help you with that too." He scrunched his eyebrows. His Chinese lessons were more about the culture and etiquette, not about trekking equipment. Some signs he did not recognize.

"Can you read it?" Ye asked with mischievous glint in his eyes.

"Um, yeah, most of it?" Adrien smiled.

Ling and Ye laughed watching Adrien.

"Okay, if we want this to work, at least one of you should know what is written there." Ling smiled.

"Let me have some fun." Ye winked.

"What is this?" Ye pointed at one sign.

"It looks like a sign for weapon that we call the Greek fire in Europe." Adrien smiled expecting he is wrong.

"It probably is, I am not an expert in Sun Tzu." Ye winked. "But please do not ask for a Greek fire, it is a small flame cooker and we can share one, just take additional gas chambers, okay?"

Adrien and Marinette laughed.

They walked to the shop laughing at Adrien's interpretation of modern signs that was related to classical texts.

"Well, I am glad my Chinese teaching was useful. I might be able to equip the whole ancient armada using this list." He joked. Marinette, Ling and Ye pretended to be warriors and chased him down the street. They reached a storage in the back street.

"This is where we get our equipment from." Ling said and stepped in with confidence, the other three followed.

The queue was long, but it moved rather quickly. Although the building itself and the interior did not look promising, they were pleasantly surprised. They had efficient system with barcodes and the four of them quickly had their turn.

"We booked our equipment last week." Ye explained. "Ling made me plan everything." They got their stuff in one go.

Then it was turn for Adrien and Marinette to get their equipment. The attendant typed in the numbers they were assigned for the excursion in the computer and she was ready. Adrien managed not to get a flame thrower nor the Greek fire, but he did get a small gas container and a standard dry food package. He dared asking for some cheese and even got some. Then he managed to get water cleaning pills in place of the magic potion. When he asked for clothes the attendant waved her head.

"The warm wear and the shoes are all taken. You should go to the shop." the attendant answered briefly.

Then Adrien asked for two sleeping bags and the thin mat to go underneath. The attendant waved her head while typing in her computer and muttered something under her breath.

"Ah, you are brother and sister." she smiled. She disappeared and brought back a single sleeping bag and a single rolled mat. The sleeping bag was much larger than those Ye and Ling got. The mat roll was also twice as long.

"You can share this bag." The woman gave the sleeping bag to Marinette and continued her conversation with Adrien.

Marinette took the mat in her hands and hugged the sleeping bag hiding her blushing face.

"You know, I think she understands Chinese pretty well." Ling spoke quietly to Ye. Both of them snickered. Then they started whispering quickly between themselves.

They managed to get rubber trousers and jackets to wear over their clothes to protect them from the wet weather. The attendant never asked them for their preference, she eyed them to guess their size and brought one back black rubber suit for Adrien and one red rubber suit for Marinette.

When there was time to pay, Marinette somehow pulled out her card from her pocket and offered it before Adrien even pulled out his wallet. But the attendant waved her head.

"Cash only" the attendant smiled.

Adrien paid for the rent of the equipment as well as the insurance for the equipment and left a deposit for it.

"Let's leave all this back in the hotel and then go to the shop." Ye proposed while he carried his sleeping bag. Marinette was stuffing all items into a large backpack (one, because they are brother and sister and can share, but Marinette brought her own from Paris) avoiding to look into anyone's eyes. When she was finished and closed the mostly empty backpack, Adrien grabbed it and put it on his back smiling gently at her.

She took the mat and waved it at him. She was supposed to fasten it on the top of the backpack so he had to turn around. He even bent his knees to make it easier for her. She took the sleeping bag and they walked out from the storage. She has not spoken since they got one single sleeping bag.

"Marinette" Adrien whispered. "Is this okay?" he pointed to the sleeping bag she carried in her arms. The girl stared in front of her and walked a few steps more before mumbling something.

"I can buy another one in the shop, don't worry." Adrien whispered.

Marinette stared in front of her and walked further.

"Marinette, please." Adrien extended his arm to grab her shoulder. She stopped and lowered the sleeping bag.

"How would we carry two of these?" she asked finally collecting courage to speak. The pitch of her voice was a bit higher than usual and she was completely red in the face. But she formed a completely legit question.

"She is right." Ling intervened. You will get more stuff and food. You have to carry it all after we leave the bus and the air up here is thinner than what you are used to.

"She is out of breath as we speak. Look how red she is." Ye added. Ling showed him with her elbow. She had just explained to him in the storage that Marinette likes Adrien and the boy is completely oblivious.

"Okay then" Adrien smirked his signature Chat Noir smirk and they continued towards the hotel.

They ate there a quick meal of rice before leaving for the shop.

Adrien took a turn towards a large shop they passed by but Ye quickly pulled him in the opposite direction.

"That one is for the rich tourists." Ye explained his action.

Marinette burst laughing and looked Adrien in the eyes for the first time.

"That is what he is." She said in Chinese.

The three other teens applauded and bowed.

"Okay, you may work on your accent." Ling raised her hands.

They went to the shop and copied what Ling was doing. When Adrien took the same package of thick socks, Ye laughed and took the socks out from Adrien's basket and gave him another pack of socks.

"Those were the girl's socks." Ye winked. Adrien blushed.

They got rice and more dried food in bags, energy bars and then they were finished with the items on the list.

"You two might look for something warmer to wear over there." Ling pointed with her finger. "The two of us will stand in line with your baskets."

Marinette wandered the lines and took some insulation underwear (more like a whole body tight suit in two pieces). Adrien followed her examples but took a different turn. There were two fleece onesies hanging abandoned and alone. One black and one red. He could not resist. He took them both. He wandered if Ladybug got her equipment and if she was okay.

When he got to the line Marinette was standing with Ling in front of Ye. There were no people behind them yet. Marinette was typing on the phone. Adrien smiled. She probably had many messages from Alya.

When Marinette returned to Ling, the girl was already on the phone, so she took out her phone. The first thing was to message Chat.

Bug: got my stuff to travel to the temple. You? Need help?

Bug: also, we should not transform!

Bug: and there might be no phone signal on the way.

Then she took a deep breath and opened the other messages. Alya sent a lot of them last night, but most of them were just random letters. There were several 'girl?' and 'what?' messages and then silence. She typed a quick reply 'hi from Lhasa, I'm good' and clicked on send. She decided to reply to other messages once she is on the hotel Wi-Fi.

Adrien took out his phone since that seemed what everyone else was doing. He smiled, he got messages from Ladybug.

Cat: fully equipped with a bed heater.

Cat: no transform, no phone signal? How do we talk?

As soon as Adrien sent the second message he noticed Plagg was peaking at him from his shirt.

"Will there be any space for me in that sleeping bag?" the little black god teased.

Adrien blushed. He could not argue with Plagg here. Fortunately everyone was checking their phones.

"Perhaps I should find Ladybug and sleep in her sleeping bag?" Plagg teased further satisfied with the double meaning of his words.

Cat: I have something for you

Bug: really thank you Chat but I have all that I could carry

Adrien patted the shirt and covered Plagg.

They left the things they bought in the hotel and went to visit the large temple in Lhasa together with the adults. Marinette has promised Tikki they would visit, after all.

Chapter Text

Note: you might have noticed, nobody actually stops and thinks 'What am I doing here? What is actually going on here?' Also, Adrien is painfully oblivious in the next few chapters, but he is depicted in a similar way in Troublemaker and Pupeteer 2.

Almost there

That evening the group enjoyed their common dinner in the hotel. It was a small hotel and the owner let Marinette's uncle prepare the dinner. The kids packed their backpacks and Adrien realized he had to leave most of his clothes and his small suitcase with his bodyguard. He felt elated with leaving his designer clothes behind. As if he removed weight off his shoulders and a bandage around his chest that prevented him from breathing with his lungs full.

Marinette quickly packed her things into her smaller backpack leaving a lot of space for Adrien in the large one they rented. She changed into her pyjamas. Then she considered what to do with the miracle box. It was wrapped in a cloth bag in the middle of her clothing so she decided that was the way for it to go. But first, she decided to take a few kwami for a walk. She took the choker for the Dragon miraculous, the glasses for the Horse miraculous and the Mouse miraculous. The noises from the dinner table reached her easily so she knew they had to stay silent. She sneaked behind a curtain that divided the room in two and put on the jewels.

Mullo, Kaalki and Longg all greeted Marinette quietly. She was holding her notebook and offered them food. The room was dark, even darker behind the thick red curtain and it was not possible to read so she sighed in disappointment and put the notebook back in the box.

"You are missing your meal." Longg stated eating the food.

"I ate some dinner and left to pack." Marinette whispered.

"Are we close to the temple now?" Mullo asked eagerly.

Marinette shushed the mouse kwami and whispered "Closer than the last time we spoke." she smiled and the mouse kwami nodded in understanding.

"Almost there." Marinette smiled to herself.

The horse kwami finished the food and floated around peeking through the holes in the curtain.

"Kaalki, what are you doing? You will be seen." Tikki scolded.

"I am just being curious." The little kwami bowed his head in shame.

"It is okay to be curious." Marinette petted the little floating horse and it floated around her happily. She sighed.

"What is bothering you?" Longg asked and floated close to her face.

"Um, it is just, I still have so many questions and I do not know where to start." the girl sighed. The truth was she was insecure. She knew deep down that Master Fu was not a guardian when he left and anyone in the temple can claim the miraculous box back as well as the earrings she wore. But who would defend Paris from Hawk Moth then?

"Perhaps we should just play a little." Mullo proposed.

"You know, have fun." Kaalki zoomed quickly around her head.

Marinette laughed quietly.

"I know, I would like that too." she sighed dreamily. She had fun the whole day, although she was preparing for further travel, the action took her attention away from permanent overthinking and raising concern. Each task was fun, even when it mortified her, like the shared sleeping bag. She was hoping beyond hope that Ling would give up her sleeping bag to Adrien and share the double one with Marinette, but the older girl refused.

She had small smile on her face and a dreamy look in her eyes.

"Remember, the monks in the temple have not seen a miraculous holder in many years." Longg explained.

"You are knew to them as much as they are new to you." Mullo was nodding her little head while she spoke.

"Perhaps it will be bigger shock for them than it would be for you." Kaalki added.

But the girl was in her own thoughts.

"What is bothering you?" Longg asked in determined voice to solve any problem.

"How will I speak with them?" Marinette whispered "I can barely speak any Chinese."

"Do not worry about that, Marinette." Mullo answered "There is a way."

"Do you really think Hawk Moth will try to attack the temple or steal something from there?" the girl asked worriedly. "What would he go for?"

"He can take by force only those things of which he knows." Longg spoke in the tone of ancient wisdom.

"He can create akuma, he might not do it himself." Marinette warned.

"Each power can be used to do something good or something evil." Kaalki nodded.

"Anything can be used to do something good." Mullo added.

"And you always find a way Marinette." Tikki chirped.

All three kwami snuggled around Marinette and she curled herself on the carpet. Few breaths later, she was asleep.

Adrien entered the room carrying the few belongings he intended to put into the backpack. The backpack stood in the middle of the room and he dropped few small bags in it. He was about to leave when his bare foot kicked something hard wrapped in a cloth bag. His small toe hurt and he sat down to let it pass rubbing his foot.

"Are you hurt, kid?" Plagg floated out and asked him.

"Mostly my pride." He poked the offending item with his good foot and wandered what was inside the box. Adrien was curious to unwrap the cloth bag and open it to see what is inside. He looked at the bag and rubbed his toes. Plagg phased partially into the bag and then phased out. The little black cat had its back turned towards Adrien. Otherwise, Adrien would not hesitate to open the bag. Plagg was pleasantly surprised, then he had a mischievous smirk and then he put on a face of pure innocence and floated straight into Adrien's face.

"What is it?" Adrien asked curiously.

"Nothing." Plagg was an illustration of nonchalance.

"So my little toe hurts because of nothing?" Adrien raised his eyebrows smiling at his kwami.

"It is not cheese." Plagg shrugged.

Adrien laughed.

"Let alone Camembert." Plagg floated around Adrien to the other side.

"I have some cheese for you if you tell me what it is?" Adrien tried to bribe the little cat god.

Plagg put his paws on his ears and phased through the curtain.

Adrien crawled after him pushing the curtain away. And then he saw Marinette from her back lying in the dark corner behind the curtain. She was curled on the floor sleeping on her side. Plagg hovered above her head. Adrien glared at his kwami and tried in vain to swat the little black cat away from the sleeping girl.

Adrien did not dare to call him, nor to whisper his name and the tiny floating cheese terminator hopped up and down floating in the air just beyond his reach. The only good thing was that the tiny creature was silent.

Adrien sat and looked at Marinette curled up on the carpet. She looked so small. It was dark behind the curtain her hair covered her face and neck. He wanted to move her hair away, but he did not want to wake her up. It did not look very comfortable at a first glance, but she was sleeping so peacefully. She was probably cold.

Adrien turned around. He saw a blanket, he lied behind Marinette and covered them both with the blanket. His hand went over her body and found her hand. She was cold. Adrien decided that he was doing this only to keep her warm and closed his eyes. His mind wandered to Ladybug. How was she? What was she doing right now? She was probably planning. Yes, that was his lady, she was planning. What was his plan? Throw himself into it and hope for the best? His kwami was the embodiment of bad luck. Well, whatever awaits for him in the temple, he only hopes he does not lose his lady nor his kwami. Nor Marinette.

A little black cat floated above the two teens with the paws on his hips with an expression of pure disbelief. Plagg was still shaking his head with his eyes wide when Adrien started breathing evenly and his body relaxed, a clear sign the boy was asleep.

"Plagg" three cheerful voices and a scolding one could be heard as the four kwami phase up through the blanket.

The five kwami looked down at the two sleeping teens.

"Is that Chat Noir" Longg asked.

Plagg and Tikki confirmed both.

"And she is Ladybug and now a new guardian." Plagg whispered softly.

"Do they know?" Kaalki asked.

"No" Tikki and Plagg both waved their heads.

"My kid is oblivious." Plagg drew and exasperated sigh from himself waving his head.

"Sometimes it is for the best." Tikki consoled him. "They can't reveal their identities to each other."

"Yet?" Longg asked.

"We'll see." Tikki nodded her head knowingly.

"But, they are in love." Mullo whispered.

"Or almost there." Kaalki zoomed around their heads.

"It's complicated." Both Tikki and Plagg answered at the same time.

"Would a reveal help?" Kaalki was hopping in the air his face showing mischief on his mind and his body releasing the air of impatience.

"It is not our task to interfere." Tikki warned.

"I do not want to be in the middle of that mushy stuff." Plagg crossed his arms.

Kaalki made few circles in the air instead rolling his eyes like the other two kwami.

"She might be wearing your miracoulous at this moment but she is not your wielder." Tikki warned.

"Yeah, Sugarcube, why did you get company to hang out in the evening while all I got is this lovesick oblivious dork?" Plagg nodded his head to make a point.

"Stop calling me that" Tikki protested while the other three kwami snickered.

The door to the little room opened again.

"Knock Knock" Ye said.

"Are we interrupting something." Ling asked laughing.

The five kwami phased through the blanket.

Both Adrien and Marinette were startled in their sleep.

Marinette lied on her right side with her face in the palm of her right hand. The moment she woke up she felt something on her nose and her hand snatched to object away.

Glasses.

Then she remembered taking kwami for a walk and felt the choker around her neck. She quickly removed the additional miraculous and held all three in her right hand.

Then she felt someone move behind her back.

"Hey" Adrien whispered and moved his left hand that was draped over her. "You fell asleep on the floor. You were freezing."

Then the curtain moved abruptly.

"Hey you two, you will freeze to death sleeping on the floor like that. It is time to test your sleeping bag." Ling chided the two sleeping teens.

Marinette had only one thought.

Where is the box?

She raised her head and turned around hiding her right hand below the blanket. There it was, her cloth bag wrapped around the miracle box. Now she only has to store the miraculous inside and hide the box in the backpack.

"Come on, let's occupy some space." Ye grinned grabbing his sleeping bag.

"You always take the best spot." Ling complained as she took her own sleeping bag.

Adrien crawled for their sleeping bag.

Marinette bolted for the box.

While the three negotiated how to arrange the three sleeping bags in the tiny room cramped with luggage, Marinette hid the bag with the box behind a backpack and put the miraculous inside. Then she wrapped the box and stuffed it in her small backpack together with the diary on top.

When she was finished, she had to hop over Ling's legs to reach the space they left her. Marinette collapsed next to Adrien too stressed and too tired to be flustered, much.

She was stressed because she was almost revealed and tired and ready to fall asleep. She felt where Tikki hid in her pyjama and hoped the tiny red god did not produce a visible bump on her belly. Adrien covered them and zipped the sleeping bag carefully. When he was finally satisfied with what he's done he turned to Marinette.

"What do you think?" he asked proudly.

And found the girl was already fast asleep.

He smiled and put his hand around her. His mission was to protect Ladybug. His instinct was pushing him to protect this girl too.

The two older teens were smiling to themselves, they looked at each other.

"We are almost there." they whispered and bumped their fists just like Adrien was showing them to do it.

Chapter Text

On the road again

It was dark when the alarm rang. The air in the room was cold. The sleeping bag provided only so much insulation from the cold coming from the floor, the walls and the air itself. Each breath produced a small foggy cloud, but it was too dark to see them until Ling switched her mobile phone light. Then she switched on the dim light in the room.

Ye was rolling in his bag next to her almost tripping her as he rolled into her feet. He rolled back and forth "Finally some space" he teased, his voice hoarse. Ling kicked him gently with her foot.

"Come on, I bet our mothers are already in the kitchen." Ling nudged him with her foot. "I am taking the opportunity to enjoy the normal toilet."

"How have our little love birds sleep last night." Ye said jokingly and turning around.

"Oh leave them be." Ling scolded while she wrapped her sleeping bag.

Adrien scrunched his eyes when the room light went on. He felt Marinette pulled her head below the cover of the sleeping bag and smashed her face into his chest. He felt her breath on his chest. He moved his hand towards her shoulders and felt she was cold. Her shoulders were bare because she wore her usual pyjama from home. He rubbed his hands over her shoulders and back to warm her and to wake her up. She merely snuggled closer into his warmth.

Ling and Ye wrapped their bags and took their clothes.

"I will just put these over my pyjama." Ling said and put on her set of clothes quickly, then she opened the door and went out closing the door carefully.

Ye looked at the two teens and pulled the curtain.

"You two can have a minute of privacy." he teased while he changed. He was finished quickly and pulled the curtain back.

"Kids" Ye smiled. "You have to get up." Ye sang song in awful hoarse voice. "You will miss the bus. We are leaving for the temple today." he continued his teasing by singing his wake up call.

Adrien blinked his eyes open and squinted at Ye as soon as he removed the curtain. He smirked at the older boy as soon as he started singing his wake up call. He was considering sitting up but without removing the cover from Marinette, which was impossible. And then Ye mentioned the bus. Marinette stiffened and opened her eyes. Then Ye mentioned the temple. Marinette was on her feet.

The next moment she squeaked and hugged her shoulders.

"It is cold." she complained in her hoarse voice.

"You can put your clothes over your pyjamas. That is what Ling did." Ye said laughing. "I think I am wearing more underwear than all the clothes you are wearing right now."

Marinette was too cold to blush and too sleepy to be mortified. She took a few steps to her pile of clothes and just put them on. Even the fact that two boys watched her and laughed did not disturb her. Then she bent over her backpack and shifted a few things inside so that miracle box would sink to the bottom.

In the meantime, Adrien got up to his feet and was getting dressed behind her. By the time she was finished with the backpack he was ready for breakfast. She tied her pigtails while he ran his fingers through his hair. The kids used the shower the night before as they were warned there would be no hot water in the morning. Adrien's hair was going wild, but he already got used to it. He enjoyed not having to style his hair into a perfect look demanded by his father. He did not dislike his hair that way, but not having to do it before he was presentable to the outside world was as if he was set free from a boring chore.

He played with Marinette's pigtails as they were going out from the room. Marinette followed Ye on autopilot. She was not fully awake nor aware of her environment. Tikki was still hiding in her clothes. She was wearing a pink hoodie and warm trousers lined with fleece she bought yesterday but her feet were bare and she curled her toes to minimize the surface and warm up.

They ate the breakfast quickly and took the food that was packed for them to eat on the bus. There were hugs and a few tears as the teens greeted the adults and left. Even Adrien's bodyguard had given him a hug when he saw all the other parents do it.

"Please take care of my little girl." Tom said as he wrapped his arms around the blond boy.

"And remember how big her father is." Sabine threatened teasingly when she gave him a hug.

Adrien put on his black cap to cover his blonde hair and they walked away.

"Ling and Ye, we hold you responsible." one of the adults yelled after them before they returned to the hotel. The kids were getting used to their new trekking shoes under the weight of all the food and equipment they carried.

The buses were old. Several government officials were taking in the data of the passengers and checking if they have proper gear to go into the mountains at all. Marinette felt her heart sink into her gut. What if they would have to provide some documents? Fortunately, the official was more than happy to see their printed confirmations (thank you friendly hotel owner) as well as Adrien's best model smile and was far more interested in their shoes and wet gear.

"New shoes. They all have new shoes. They will all cry before tomorrow evening." the official waved her head.

Adrien let Marinette sit next to a window. The sky outside just started to become a little brighter when the official entered the bus and announced that the bus is full and they will wait for clearance. She was going with this particular bus and everyone was to obey her, the woman announced standing in the middle of the bus. There was no microphone. There was probably no working speaker system on the bus.

There were, however, small windows on the bus and several of them were open giving a mixed blessing of fresh and cold night air. The people in the bus warmed the insides and soon the windows got steamy. The official was called outside and they could hear an argument.

"I am sorry sir, but you can't board this bus." another official started talking not sure what was the argument about.

"I do not want to board your bus." a man's voice could be heard. The tone was harsh and disgusted. Adrien stiffened. It was the voice of his father. They found him. Now Nathalie will board the bus and take him away. He pulled his black cap slightly lower to cover his ears and all of his hair. Then he pulled Marinette into a hug and hid his face in her neck and hair. He felt Plagg scratching him gently on his chest under his clothes. He will not go to the temple. He will fail Ladybug. What if Hawk Moth attacks the temple and he is not there with his lady?

Marinette wiped a small hole in the mist on the window and peeked out. Yes, it was Adrien's father, definitely. And the woman standing next to him was Nathalie. Marinette turned away from the window and wrapped her arms around Adrien. 'Please, oh please, do not take him away now.' Marinette prayed in her head while Tikki patted her belly under her hoodie.

"You do not have the paperwork needed to go hiking outside of Lhasa, sir." the official informed the elegant couple.

"I would like to express my utter displeasure with this treatment. These papers were just fine the last time." Gabriel protested.

A glimmer of hope lit in Adrien's eyes.

"I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience of your displeasure sir." The official sounded a bit sarcastic. "But even with the proper paperwork, you would not be allowed to go to the mountains dressed in the clothes like these." The official motioned to the way the elegant couple was dressed.

"How do you dare?" Gabriel groaned "I have the perfect equipment and all I demand is to rent a vehicle, a driver and a guide to take us to our destination."

"You are not allowed to go anywhere without a special permit. Which you do not have." the official sounded dismissive.

"We can assure you that we will get the proper paperwork." Nathalie could be heard from the outside.

Adrien smiled into Marinette's neck, he was still hiding his face.

"You need proper paperwork and proper hiking gear. And I would indeed recommend you rent a driver with your vehicle. You will be assigned a guide. I would advise you to get the necessary information in the local tourist office." another official recited.

"Thank you." Nathalie replied.

After that, they could hear steps on the gravel outside and the woman who was assigned to this bus returned.

"Another tourist wants to go to the temple. We sent him to the tourist office." she said to the official who waited on the bus with a smile.

The caravan of buses crawled out of Lhasa through a beautiful mountain scenery. The sun was coming out and produced wonderful colours on everything around. It took Adrien considerable time to move his head and turn his face to see through the window. At that moment Marinette widened the clear patch she has made in the mist on the window so both of them could peek through.

The bus was full of Chinese teenagers and university students. There was some quiet chatter and slightly louder snoring in the background.

"I thought they came for me again." Adrien whispered.

"Me too." Marinette nodded.

"From what I've heard, they were going to the temple too." Adrien whispered. "But they have not mentioned me once. I do not know for sure if they are going after me at all."

"Perhaps your father wants an additional source of inspiration, besides that book." Marinette replied and jawed.

Adrien stiffened.

Then Marinette realized what she just said and stiffened too.

"Book?" Adrien pronounced it as a question. "How do you know about the book?" Adrien whispered his question and hugged her tighter as if she could escape somewhere just because he asked the question.

Marinette kept looking through the window and sighed. It was time to come clean. So she told him how she saw Lila steal his father's book and throw it into the trash. How she retrieved the book and returned to his father begging Gabriel to release Adrien back to school.

Adrien listened without interrupting. "It was you!" he nuzzled his cheek into hers. "Thank you!" he whispered with a shaky breath. She felt how he raised his hand and wiped something from his cheeks. Tikki kept patting her belly to the point it started to tickle her.

They continued to enjoy the scenery in silence.

She was relieved. The truth was out, he knew it and he did not mind. He did not question a single word she told him although she was not perfectly honest. It was Tikki who retrieved the book, not her.

Adrien had a lot to process this morning. His father and Nathalie were in Lhasa and were probably going to travel after them in the same direction. He started to feel the black cap on his head as a shield, as a mask and not so much as an item that is there just to keep him warm.

And he just learned that the girl he was holding was such a good friend to him. She stood up to his father and won. That was brave. He seldom tried that himself. But then again, was not he defying his father just by being there, on that bus?

The scenery was wonderful, there were green meadows with patches of brown with yak herds on the fields and they could see several tent camps and villages on the way. The buses were slow and the ride was monotonous. Their eyelids started to go heavy. Before long, they were both sleeping.

Chapter Text

The bus to the heavens

They woke up when the bus tilted to the side and straightened up suddenly as it was going through a long and deep hole in the road. They have just reached the end of the asphalt and were on a dirt road swinging left and right as the bus swayed.

The official guide stood up and took a few steps from the front seat to the centre of the bus holding the seats to the sides with both hands and bumping into the seats with her thighs anyway.

"We are having a short break for the toilet. You will not have another chance for that stop for several hours." the short but sturdy woman warned as the bus came to a stop.

Marinette met a few girls who chatted with Ling in the queue for the toilet. She revealed only some basic information. All the girls were preparing for the university or already started and enjoyed their school break. Marinette managed to pronounce her name, lied that she was currently from Beijing (and tried to remember how to say my mother moves a lot) and 'I would like to study art' in acceptable Chinese. At least the girls did not inquire further.

Adrien chatted with Ye. He explained how they saw his father from the bus and how he was worried he was caught as he practically run away from home to be there. Ye told him that it is almost impossible for a foreigner to get the proper permit to travel to the temple on their own, but 'money could buy anything these days' and 'everything was possible'.

The bus continued by climbing on the slope of the mountain. The road was narrow and cut into the side of the mountain. The inclination of the slope increased and increased as well as the inclination of the road they took. But the view was amazing. The bus swayed the whole way and they could hear the engine struggling to provide sufficient power for the bus to climb. Once they were on a particularly steep slope the bus stopped. They could see people going out from the bus in front of them.

"The next two kilometres are too steep for the bus to carry us. We will walk that part." the official announced. Everyone grumbled and got up from their seats. They started walking with chatter but trekking uphill and the low density of air made them all quiet and concentrated on their breathing.

"City kids." the official waved her head.

After about one hour they reached the waiting buses and boarded again. There was a sigh of relief followed by a hassle of opening backpacks and unpacking the lunches they packed with them.

Nobody slept after their meal.

They were driving on a narrow road cut into the cliff of the mountain. The river glistened in the valley, hundreds of meters below them. Much lower than the Seine was when looked at from the top of the Eiffel tower. And they could not see any surface of the road left between the bus and the abyss. There was no road fence on most of the road. Everyone gripped their seats with their hands. Adrien, on the other hand gripped on Marinette. He was not afraid of the heights. But what if the bus fell of a cliff? He would definitely transform and save the bus from the fall. He was useless to his lady if he ended up crushed somewhere below.

Marinette studied the exterior while her brain was making plans. She would transform, smash the side window with her yoyo, Wrap her yoyo around that stone and held the bus from falling. And save Adrien and all the other passengers but also revealing her identity. Well, it was still better and more useful than going down with the bus.

They watched as the bus in front of them navigated a particularly nasty curve. The back wheel on the right side hanged over the edge of a cliff for a short while before it returned to the road. It was time for their bus to do the same.

Some passengers were filming with their phones. Other passengers closed their eyes and gripped to their seats. Adrien gripped Marinette closer. The girl was barely breathing. And then they have made that turn and could see what was awaiting them further down the road. Adrien released his grip slightly and Marinette took in a deep breath.

"Sorry." he whispered.

"It's okay." she whispered back. She would have held her breath anyway, just like most of the other passengers.

There was a waterfall. The water was falling straight onto the road.

"Close the windows." was an order that echoed throughout the bus.

They watched the valley below and later they watched how the bus in front of them went through the waterfall. Then it was their turn.

It was loud. The water banged on the bus rooftop. The banging started from the front of the bus and then spread to the back. Of course, water found it's way into the cabin, but it was bearable. Few passengers moved their belongings not to get wet. They could see nothing through the windows. The driver navigated slowly but blindly. Soon, the banging in the front stopped and the driver saw where the bus was going again. When the banging stopped they could see the view far more clearly.

"That was a car wash." Adrien grinned.

Marinette rolled her eyes, but laughed at his joke.

The far edge of the narrow valley seemed closer than the river below. The scenery was in all the shades of brown. From time to time, they could see a bird flying and at one point they could see some goats balancing on the cliffs on the opposite side.

They were driving slowly, but nobody ever thought of complaining or asking the driver to speed up. Most of the passengers have never experienced such a ride.

The terrain flattened as they reached a plateau and the buses finally stopped at the edge of something that would resemble a military base. At least a temporary one. It was composed of tents, with one small solid building with a pole in front proudly displaying a Chinese flag. There was no wall nor fence around so it was not intimidating.

"This is the end of the bus ride. You will be given dinner in the camp and then you can proceed to sleep in the tent number two. We will continue tomorrow morning after breakfast, at seven, get ready for the walk." and with that the official turned around, picked up her backpack and went out from the bus.

Adrien released Marinette from his arms and got out from the bus. His arms felt empty so he quickly grabbed the backpack and put it on his back. His arms still felt empty. So he grabbed their sleeping bag and hugged in his arms. Marinette looked at him with her eyebrows raised.

"I can take this to the tent." he offered with a smile. She walked by his side to the tent carrying her small backpack. He left their things and they went for the dinner. It was a simple meal with a lot of rice with some sauce. After that, it was possible to use the showers. They had separate blocks for men and women. The queues were moving really fast, and soon they knew why. The water was cold. Most of the kids just ran through or stepped in on the side careful not to get their hair wet and wiped themselves off.

Freezing and wearing only her pyjama from Paris, Marinette found Adrien already inside their sleeping bag. He smiled at first but his eyes were worried. Soon the official appeared behind Marinette.

"Comrade, you can not sleep like that. You will freeze before the morning." the woman scolded but in gentle and worried tone.

Marinette's teeth were shaking too much for her to from words.

"That is okay, my sister just forgot to take this." Adrien sat up and revealed he was wearing his black fleece onesie. He reached into the backpack and produced a red fleece onesie and gave it to Marinette. He intended to give it to Ladybug, but it was too risky to transform and meet on a rooftop in Lhasa so he kept it. And it was useless to keep it in the backpack while Marinette was freezing.

Her eyes almost popped out from her head. What was this? That was not hers! She had not time to process the information. The air was getting colder quickly and she put her legs and arms inside and zipped it with her shivering hands.

Adrien smiled. The official nodded in approval and turned around to scold someone else.

"It looks good on you and fits you perfectly." Adrien whispered to her and smiled gently. Marinette blushed due to his compliment. She felt Tikki snuggle in her onesie as she phased through from the pile of clothes Marinette brought with her.

Adrien felt Plagg growl in his onesie. The little black god of destruction was frustrated because he could not tease Adrien and sought any other way to transfer his frustration, perhaps through touch.

Once she settled, she had to ask.

"Um, thank you for the onesie Adrien, but where did this come from?" Marinette whispered her question carefully and tenderly not to hurt his feelings.

"Um, from a shop in Lhasa?" Adrien smiled in the darkness. His thoughts were completely messed up. What would his lady think about him sharing a sleeping bag with another girl? But they were just friends. Yes, in fact, he was a friend to both Marinette and Ladybug. And why would she be bothered by that? And why did he think she should or could be bothered by that? Yes, he have bought that onesie for Ladybug, but Marinette needed it more.

Marinette, on the other hand listened to his answer (which was not answering her question at all) and exhaled in frustration. She took a moment to think.

"Yes, but why have you given it to me?" Marinette insisted on getting an answer.

"Because you were cold?" he smirked in the darkness, she could not see it, but she could feel it.

At that moment, Adrien reached for his phone which reminded Marinette to do the same.

"There is some signal here." Adrien whispered.

Marinette was trying to reach her purse and take the phone out while keeping inside the sleeping bag while Adrien typed on his phone. His face was lit up with his screen when she finally unlocked her phone. She ignored all the applications save one. There was a message from Chat.

Cat: greetings from the mountain cat.

She smiled widely. She missed not meeting him last night. She felt Adrien move behind her and she moved her phone just a little bit to be able to type the reply.

Bug: greeting from the heaven

Then she switched to the messages from Alya. They were many text messages and more the half of them were that the picture is not available at the moment. Marinette typed a short reply where they are and that she will probably have no signal for the next few days.

She felt Adrien sigh happily behind her. It was the moment he read the message from Ladybug.

They switched off their phones, put them aside and pulled their arms under the covers. She felt her kwami snuggle beneath her onesie. The miracle box was safe in her backpack near her head.

Adrien automatically wrapped his arms around Marinette and pulled her closer. It was cold. He had an excuse if anyone asked. The truth was he simply felt good that way. And he would admit that much. Then he remembered what she told him on the bus, about the book, and wanted to pull her even closer, perhaps even a kiss on the cheek? Nah, not then, in the middle of the night, while they were sharing the sleeping bag. He should have done it on the bus, right when she told him. He was sorry he did not do it then.

She did not ask why he was holding her again. She was turned with her back towards him. She put her hands over his and closed her eyes. Her thoughts drifted towards a rainy afternoon when a boy gave her his umbrella in front of her school. She dismissed all the other thoughts, even the fact that he admitted to love some other girl and who that other girl probably was. Right now, she was in heaven.

Chapter Text

A walk in the park

It was dark when they were woken up the first time. The loudspeakers in the camp announced the start of the day for the proud people serving in this camp. A small light was all they had in a large tent that housed more than forty people sleeping in the sleeping bags. It was the whole group from the bus.

"The breakfast will be in one hour." the official who also served as their guide announced authoritatively with a hoarse voice as she was getting up.

It was cold. The moisture from their breath condensed on everything. The tent was covered in tiny icicles from the inside. Adrien was glad he was keeping his black cap on his head the whole time. He was also happy with the fleece onesie. He could feel with his hand how the sleeping bag was not warm on the inside, although it provided good insulation from the cold air, the ground was frozen and their thin mat and sleeping bag were insufficient. And most of all, Adrien was glad there was someone else helping him keep the sleeping bag warm. Marinette was yet to show any sign of waking up.

"Come on you city kids." the guide encouraged the kids to go out from their sleeping bags. "You had enough sleep, it has been nine hours."

The kids were not eager to catch more sleep. They just wanted to stay in their sleeping bags as they were obviously warmer than the outside.

Adrien moved his hand to tap Marinette's shoulder. The movement caused the top cover of the sleeping bag to go up slightly around their necks and some cold air entered the sleeping bag.

"No, cold." she protested. Then she blinked her eyes open. "It is so cold." she moved as if she was trying to find a position that would keep her warmer. Adrien searched her hands and felt them. Her hands were cold.

"Come on, get up, get dressed and move. That will warm you up." the guide made a show of getting dressed herself. She took her clothes and dusted the icicles off before putting it on. The move was followed by several shrieks and groans from the students around.

"Hey, you two awake?" Ye whispered.

"Yeah" Adrien replied. "Good morning."

"It will be good in a few hours, right now it is neither good nor morning." Ye groaned.

Marinette laughed.

"I totally agree with you." Ling spoke hoarsely.

"Aren't you a morning person?" Adrien teased. It was clear that the problem was not in the number shown on the clock but in the number shown on a thermometer.

All around them the students were stirring in their sleeping bags, but only the bravest did as their guide.

"You know, getting that double sleeping bag was probably a very good idea." Ye said regretfully looking at Ling.

"I do not feel my hands nor my feet." Ling complained. "Nor my nose." she added after a short pause.

"I am not moving out of this sleeping bag." Ye said as he took one hand out of the sleeping bag and reached for his clothes that sat on top of his backpack between his head and the edge of the tent. He swiped the icicles away and pulled the clothes inside the sleeping bag. And then he muffled his scream.

"This is cold." he screamed through his teeth.

Ling laughed. "What did you expect? It was not stored on the bathroom heater."

Meanwhile, Marinette discovered what was the warmest object and snuggled into Adrien even pulling her face under the covers.

"You warm." she muffled into his chest.

Adrien felt Plagg move around his onesie away from Marinette and then snicker.

"You warm too." Adrien replied to the hair on top of her head.

All around, students started to get dressed, they mostly slept in the warm underwear with long sleeves and leggings and thick socks and the pyjama over it. Nobody left the tent to change somewhere else. There were a few muffled screams coming from students putting on cold clothes on.

"Come on, you sleepy kids." the guide nudged their sleeping bag with her foot.

Adrien took a few deep breaths to collect the courage and stood up. He was in his onesie and the cold shock was not imminent.

Braved by the fact that Adrien did not scream when he got out from the sleeping bag and encouraged even more by the fact that her heating pad was now absent, Marinette got up too.

Marinette fished out her warm underwear from her backpack. She had to remove the onesie before putting it on. Tikki hid in her pyjama and Marinette took one deep breath. The cold air was not so much as a shock as putting the cold long sleeve undershirt on her upper body. Then she put the long johns over her pyjama.

Adrien was already dressed and rolling up the sleeping bag when she reached for her third layer of clothes.

One student was putting on his cold clothes and did not abstain from screaming how cold it was. Apparently, he decided to make a show of how much cold it was and how many different kinds of noises he could produce just to illustrate his suffering. The small woman that was their official guide gave the boy one look and he stopped instantly. The whole show earned a few laughs.

Then the guide stopped in front of Ling.

"Get up and get dressed, comrade!" it was an order.

Ling looked up to Marinette.

"You are a seamstress, right?" Ling asked.

Marinette nodded while she was not absolutely sure what the question was.

"Could you make holes in my sleeping bag for my feet and put my shoes on? I can walk in it." Ling asked very slowly.

Adrien whispered the translation to Marinette until he snorted, bent over and laughed his heart out.

Marinette, on the other hand, crouched by Ling's feet to examine her sleeping bag.

"I admire your helpfulness, but you will do no such thing." the guide patted Marinette on her shoulder.

Ye jumped in and dragged Marinette away.

Ling made a show of shivering, squealing and complaining about the cold while Marinette and Ye helped her get dressed.

In the meantime, Adrien was digging through the backpack to find more cheese for his hungry kwami. It must have fallen to the bottom. He dug deeper and deeper until he felt the package he was looking for. While he was extracting the cheese out, he discovered that he accidentally leaned on Marinette's small backpack. He was concerned he crushed something inside and felt it a bit more with his fingers. It contained something hard and incompressible. It was a one single object and to his amazement he discovered that it was probably the same object he hit with his pinkie toe. What was that? Why was she carrying that in her backpack?

He gave Plagg one triangle while stuffing the rest of the cheese in his jacket pocket.

The breakfast was quick and big. They ate and drank a lot of hot yellowish-grey salty liquid that was explained to be the Tibetan tea. Students stood in line to fill in their thermos bottles with the warm liquid and get a cup more.

When they started to walk, the sky was just turning to grey. The dawn was yet to come.

For the first hour they walked uphill. Rare and cold air made them breathe quickly and reduce conversation to a minimum. When they reached the saddle in the terrain they could see another valley below. The sun just raised above the mountains and the valley was partially lit up by the sun and partially in the shadow. The upper portions of the terrain were brown with patches of green in the deeper parts of the valley. It was beautiful.

Further walk was not so beautiful. They were about to go downhill. Students started to chatter and joke about the way being downhill from there. The path was steeper and steeper, the large stones were slippery from the moisture while the gravel would simply slip under their feet. They had to watch every step. Going down also put a lot of pressure on their feet and toes in unfamiliar new shoes. Several students complained about their feet even last night after a short walk from yesterday. The fear of falling, the adrenaline of facing the steep slope while going down and the scenery they could admire took their minds from the pain in their feet.

The path they walked became less and less steep and soon they reached a stream they had to cross.

"Okay, everyone, take your shoes and your socks off!" the guide ordered.

There were huffs. There were sighs of relief when the shoes were taken off. There were scrunched faces at the sensation of the bare feet on the cold stone. And there were regular complaints when they walked the gravel as the small stones were hard on their bare feet. And then their feet entered the water. The cold water of the stream felt pleasant against the bruised skin on their feet and just when it started to feel painfully cold in their ankles, they were out from the stream and could put back the shoes.

"It was a really god idea to get bigger shoes, thank you Ling." Adrien said examining his feet.

"Mhm" Marinette voiced her agreement while using words as little as possible "Thank you!" she added in Chinese, very proud of herself.

"This is not fair. I just warmed up and then this." Ling whined while she put back her socks and shoes. "Can I exchange my sleeping bag to have her as a heating pad, Adrien?" Ling pointed at Marinette.

"Nope." the boy replied wrapping his arm around Marinette. "She is all mine."

Oh, how much the girl in question wanted to hear those words. She looked at Adrien thorough her bangs and blushed. He let go to be able to tie up his shoes.

"She may be quiet, but she understands." Ye whispered to Ling.

"And I can't believe he could be so oblivious." Ling whispered back.

"He is just a boy, what do you expect." Ye nudged Ling with his elbow.

Their thermos bottles were mostly empty so they took the water from the stream to drink.

They continued to walk and chatted.

"This is so beautiful." Marinette admired the scenery and whispered.

Adrien quickly turned around, the group behind them was about ten meters away and in front of them were just Ye and Ling and then a similar gap to the next group. They could speak in French quietly.

"Yeah, I can't believe I am here." Adrien replied his eyes practically glowing.

"I can't believe you escaped your father." Marinette nudged him with her elbow. "I cant believe you had to escape your father." she said looking down. "I can't believe he would not take you with him." she finished.

"Oh, I can" Adrien whispered gently. "Don't worry about that Marinette."

"But it is wrong." Marinette complained. Adrien hushed her.

"Listen, he is not that bad. He even made me this scarf" Adrien pointed to the light blue scarf around his neck. "This is how I know he cares. He is just difficult sometimes."

It was the scarf Marinette made. It was the same scarf she had given him, but somehow Adrien thought it was from his father. And because of that, Adrien was ready to accept such wrong treatment from his father. Suddenly, Marinette knew she was wrong to let him believe that. She turned towards him with all the determination she could muster, she put her hands on her hips and raised her face towards him looking at him straight in the eyes.

"Well, your father did not make that scarf. I did." Marinette had to take a few breaths while Adrien gaped at her. "I made it. I delivered it to your home on your birthday." She averted her eyes away from the boy and towards the path they were walking. She increased her pace and was now walking in front of him. Adrien increased his pace to catch up with her. He walked on her side and looked at her face from time to time. She stared at the path in front of her with such determination in her blue eyes that it reminded him of his lady.

"You should not let your father treat you the way he does just because you think he made you a present." Marinette spoke quietly glaring at the space in front of her. She scolded him (her crush, could Alya ever believe that?) but she was angry at herself. How much mistreatment did Adrien suffer because he believed that scarf was made by his Father?

"Marinette" he whispered gently "Thank you for the scarf." There was no reason for her to lie about this. His eyes got moist and his vision a bit blur. He turned to watch where he was going.

They continued in silence for several minutes.

"So, the book, the scarf, what else should I know?" he asked with a smirk as soon as Marinette turned her eyes towards him.

She groaned. "I never should have told you that!" Adrien laughed.

"We are stopping for a break here." The guide announced.

They reached a stream, unpacked the cooking gear and soon they prepared four meals of instant noodles. Ling put more water to boil to prepare more tea for the way. They chatted about the stones and the grass, about the scenery and the Sun, about the cold and the sleeping bags and about their feet. The four of them were doing much better than most of the group.

"I did not expect you two to be in such a good condition to walk this long at this altitude." Ye complimented.

"And they even managed to have an argument." Ling winked.

Chapter Text

The temple above the clouds

Marinette was staring at the gravel unfocused.

Adrien removed his black cap briefly and ruffled his hair. He felt warm under the cap and wanted to get some air to his scalp. Marinette stared at him half aware what she was doing.

"Like what you see?" He smirked.

His hair was as messy as Chat's. That was the first thought on Marinette's mind. And he smirked the same way. He waved his head so his hair flew all around his face. He leaned in closer. She poked his nose before she even gave a thought on what was she about to do. He pulled back slightly and stared back at her before he put the black cap back on his head.

They both made sure to sneak a peek at their kwami in their jackets and feed them before they continued. Both kwami just blinked back aware of the other's proximity.

The walk continued after lunch. There were different noises heard from the students who chose the shoes of the right size instead of one size larger, but the guide was relentless.

They started with chatting about nothing until the group spread out and the distance between smaller groupings was sufficient to allow private conversation.

"So" Adrien started "Anything else you want to tell me?" he inquired with a smirk and mischievous tone. Marinette waved her head looking to the ground in front of her. There were many things to admit, how she stolen his phone, how she lied to him in the wax museum and a few other times that she did not like him that way. But the way she waved her head told Adrien that there was more stuff to be told, she was just not ready to say it.

"Perhaps it is your turn." she turned to him proud of herself and the way she invented this reply without considering what she could get in return.

Adrien gave it a thought.

"I am just beginning to realize how much I do not like the life my father wants me to live." Adrien said bluntly. Marinette stared at him speechless. "And it is a secret, because I was not aware of it."

Marinette laughed at his last sentence. Perhaps the others were more aware, but she kept silent.

"I mean I like fencing, but probably just because I got to make friends like Kagami." he continued. Marinette felt her stomach twist a little at the mention of the other girl but then there was a word friend involved so she released a stronger breath than her normal breathing.

"Yeah, at least that." Adrien reacted to her change in breathing "And I do not enjoy the Chinese so much except it helped me get here." Adrien gestures to show the scenery. "And I like playing the piano, but not the compositions my father wants me to play."

Marinette nodded in understanding.

"And I like going to school, but I do not like when Lila hurts you and you tell me nothing." he scolded her. Marinette bowed her head. Her eyes were getting moist. She might blame the rising wind for that, but she was not sure it would really work.

"At least, you have never lied to me Marinette." Adrien threw his arm around her shoulders to pull her closer, but it was awkward to walk that way with all the things they carried on their backs so he let go.

"But I have." Marinette spoke quietly, her chin on her chest. Adrien turned his face towards her and stared with his mouth open.

"I lied to you in the wax museum." she whispered and let him conclude on his own what the lie was, and what the truth was.

The biggest lie, or the truth she was hiding was attached on her ears and hiding in her jacket and her backpack and she could not tell him that.

They continued walking in silence. They had to stop a few times to wait for the slow ones in the group and admired the view.

Marinette went to the side to speak with Tikki.

"Why did I say all that, Tikki?" the girl whined.

"These mountains sometimes make you be more honest than you would like to be." Tikki smiled knowingly.

"I should have kept my mouth shut. Or stumbled and stuttered and he would not ask me anything." Marinette stared in the distance while Tikki looked out from her jacket to enjoy the view. She peeked out many times during their walk but Adrien had his eyes on Marinette so often she could not see much except through the part of the jacket that was made of a net to let the air through.

"Everything will be okay Marinette. We should reach the temple in the evening." Tikki chirped. Marinette's thoughts wandered off towards the temple and what awaited her there. How is she going to approach the monks without revealing herself?

Adrien had different problems. He was on his last piece of Camembert from France.

"There you go, you glutton." Adrien chided the little black cat kwami giving him the cheese triangle.

"You are just angry because of your little lover's quarrel with pigtails. Besides, I need more calories. The trekking can double your need for the calorie intake." Plagg teased and munched on the cheese.

"She is not … " Adrien trailed off. Marinette admitted she lied to him but not exactly what the lie was nor what was the truth. He wanted to think about it but at the same time, her refused to return to the wax museum in his thoughts, it reminded him of Adrien Agreste, the brand, and here he was, the boy. Instead, he looked back towards the group that was catching up with them. Somewhere in this whole large group was Ladybug as a civilian. And this group was considerably smaller than the population of Paris. He thought how he could identify her if he really tried. But that was not what she wanted so he pushed the idea out of his thoughts. They should reach the temple this evening.

Later in the day, the slow ones were becoming slower and lagged behind. The quick ones were waiting in something that resembled a village. It was a group of tents formed around one small stone building on the edge of a large green field of grass. Those were Tibetan nomads herding their yak and goats. The nomads were very interested in the group of youngsters walking through Tibet and soon they began talking.

They talked and soon they were collecting dried yak manure to fuel the cooking stove and make some Tibetan tea. Marinette was so brave to join several nomad girls, Ling went just because Marinette did. They went to fetch the water from a stream nearby. Adrien chatted with the boys and soon discovered that they had some cheese made from yak's and goat's milk. Adrien felt Plagg scratching his chest under his jacket and offered to buy something. He was refused the purchase but offered to try some so the boy accepted. It was not particularly smelly. He tasted it. The taste was really strong, just the way Plagg loved it. Adrien nodded his head in approval and sneaked the rest to Plagg.

The girls made the tea and they were all drinking it when Adrien felt more scratching.

"Get me more" Plagg demanded. The little glutton obviously did not even care if someone might have heard him. But the chatter around was loud enough. In the end, Adrien traded one of his solar power charging units for the cheese. Actually, he was given the cheese, so he gave them the unit to somehow pay them back, they would not take his money and he bought several of those units in the shop in Lhasa as he could not resist the new gadgets.

"Come on, let's go!" the guide called. "We have to start now or you will sleep outside tonight."

It was still a few hours walk to the temple and the sun was getting low.

"Hey, what do you think we will do once we get to the temple?" Adrien asked the three other teens.

Marinette almost froze, she bowed her head and hoped that no answer was a good answer. Suddenly, she had no clue. Tikki told her not to reveal herself, so at least she knew that. With her severely limited knowledge of Chinese, how will she communicate with the monks? She could not ask Adrien to translate. Whenever she asked the kwami about that, they would answer something vague as if the problem will be resolved by itself.

"Eat" Ye answered and smiled.

"Sleep" Ling sighed.

"And you?" Adrien smiled to Marinette.

"Um yes, me too, eat and sleep." She mumbled quickly. Well she definitely intended to do that too.

"Yeah, me too, but there must be something interesting to see too." Adrien was rather full of energy for someone who spent the day walking in the high altitude.

"We'll see about that." Ling shrugged. "I mean, there will definitely be something interesting, but right now, hot meal, warm bed and hot water would be the most interesting." She actually gave Adrien a look under the eye for the 'warm bed' part. Adrien actually blushed (although his face was already red due to the physical effort).

"It also depends how much we will be allowed to see. The monks are only beginning to face the modern world. We are practically the first civilians there, save the researches, and only because the monks persuaded the authorities that they would meet young students." Ye explained wide and clear.

The mist started to form close to the ground and soon they were walking through a thin layer of clouds that reached up to their knees. Soon it reached up to their thighs and later waist. They were practically leading the group, the eagerness and energy of Adrien and Marinette only increased as they could see the temple in the distance. As they stirred the air while they moved through it, they left a path slightly clear of fog just behind them.

"It looks as if we are walking on the clouds." Marinette admired the scenery.

"It definitely does not feel that way. My shoes are beginning to kill me." Ling complained, but her pace was just as quick. The sun began to set behind the mountains in the distance.

They reached the bottom of the stairs that lead to the temple above them and sighed with relief. They switched on their torches and started to climb. They were leading the group now. When they climbed for some time, they could see a trail of lights from flash lights lit by the students behind them. They climbed some more and then more and more until they suddenly reached the gates that lead to the temple.

There were several solders and government officials posted in front of a tent close to the entrance.

"Where is your guide." the man flashed his torch in their faces and blinded them temporarily.

"She is taking care of the slow ones behind us." Ye answered quickly after the standard greeting.

One monk got out from the door and stood before the kids. He carried no flash light. The same solider blinded him by pointing the flash light into the face of the monk. The man was not old yet, but he carried an air of ancient wisdom. He waited for the solider to remove the flash light from his face.

"You may enter once they let you." the solider said quickly and turned to the stairs to meet the other students who could be heard climbing up the stairs.

The monk eyed them in the darkness. The students lowered their flash lights. The moon was climbing the sky and the man studied them in the moonlight.

"You have arrived." the man spoke solemnly.

The four youngsters confirmed the obvious. But there was something in the man's tone that told Marinette and Adrien there was more to it.

"You have been awaited for." the man continued in the same tone. He was looking at Marinette in the darkness and she could tell it. She could feel it.

The man opened the door and fastened it to stay open.

"You may proceed inside." he motioned for the teens to enter the temple. There was a man standing inside on the side of the door.

"Please take them to the hall and tell the master that those we waited for have arrived." the monk continued in the same solemn tone.

They left their shoes at the entrance as requested and proceeded to another door nearby that lead to a large hall.

"This is where you will sleep tonight." the monk said motioning for the whole hall and turned around, probably to pass the message he was given.

The teens took a place in one corner, removed their backpacks and unfolded the mattresses and the sleeping bags. The floor was made of stone and was definitely not warm. They were wandering the large hall admiring the decorations on the floor while lighting them up with their torches when another monk took their attention. Other students started to arrive and take more space on the floor.

"You will receive a meal." the man informed them simply and turned around.

The first group of students followed the man into another large room. This one had carpets on the floor. They took their bowls with their meals, still steaming and hot and sat down on the carpets forming long rows.

"You can eat. You had a long day. We will proceed with our prayers." the monk said and turned around.

The kids ate their food and watched several monks chanting and eating in turns. Soon, one monk motioned for them to get some more tea. The room was filling up with students and they went out to make space.

But, they did not go straight back to the large main hall where they left their belongings. Adrien noticed Plagg was unnaturally calm and did not ask for food once since they have arrived. Perhaps the little glutton was finally full? Or it was the temple? Plagg claimed he was always hungry. Adrien felt his pocket where Plagg slept. Plagg was still there.

Marinette wanted to roam around as much as she was allowed and perhaps getting caught by the monks and separated from the group might work in her favour somehow. She felt Tikki pat her belly a few times and felt assured she was doing the right thing.

They walked along a corridor and watched the murals assembled by the monks from the colourful stones. Marinette stopped near one mural showing nothing in particular, except there was one particular shape, red with black spots. She stared at it and stared. It was tear shaped. It was linked to another tear shaped object. It was black with two green stones inserted. She stood there and stared at the image in front of her. She opened her jacket so Tikki could see it, but she did not ask anything.

Then she heard someone else unzip the jacket right next to her. She turned and saw blonde hair sticking out from under a black cap. Adrien gaped at the image just like she did moments ago.

"Your arrival is much appreciated." A solemn woman's voice came from behind the two teens. "You should rest now."

They returned to the main hall and navigated between the sleeping bags back to the corner where they left their things. Adrien noticed Marinette felt her backpack and was satisfied to find that firm object that offended his foot two nights ago still in there.

They chatted about the cold and the night and the walk and everything and nothing while they took off the top layers of clothes. They put on their onesies and wrapped themselves in the sleeping bags.

Marinette zipped up the sleeping bag and Adrien pulled her close. None of them gave it a second thought any more. Few minutes more and they were both fast asleep.

Chapter Text

A wake up call

Adrien woke up in the darkness feeling a presence of a person standing next to him. The feeling was unpleasant as if the person stood there for some time watching him sleep. How much could they see in this darkness anyway? Probably it was just one of the monks curious about the newcomers in their temple, he thought to himself to calm himself down. The large hall was full of sleeping students and more than a few of them were snoring. He was trying to shake the awkward feeling of being watched. Then he felt Marinette warm and breathing in his arms and pulled her slightly closer. It felt better, it felt good and comforting and safe so he smiled. Then he entertained himself with different thoughts, he wandered what would happen in the morning. Would Ladybug find him? Should he approach the monks? She told him not to reveal himself. He tried to locate where Plagg was without moving much. He felt a lump on his chest between him and Marinette. But, the lump was almost motionless, Plagg was breathing softly and slowly, not snoring like usual. Perhaps Adrien's heart was beating too hard for the little glutton to sleep? The boy could hear his own heart pounding in his ears after he heard the person standing above him taking in a breath slightly louder than usual.

Marinette woke up when Adrien pulled her closer. She remained motionless because she assumed he did it unconsciously in his sleep. She smiled to herself. She was Ladybug. She was proud of using her head to make her decisions. What was the last time she used her head to decide anything? (Or for anything else for that matter.) She was the one whose duty was to protect and defend from evil, everyone, not just Adrien. Although she was constantly thinking about protecting him, both as Ladybug and as Marinette, now she felt protected by him (well, he protected her from the cold, that's for sure), warm and safe. She felt more than heard someone was hovering above them. Then she could even distinguish the sound of their breathing above her from all the other sounds of breathing and snoring students in the large hall. Then there was a movement above her. She pulled her arm up and grabbed onto the cloth bag containing the miraculous box lying on the floor just above her head. It was a small movement considering the same hand was below her head just before, but there was a reaction.

"Your attention is desired and appreciated." the voice of the monk that met them at the entrance spoke quietly from the darkness above them.

Marinette did not understand the words so well and she was not absolutely sure what was asked from her, but she felt it was her cue to get up and follow the owner of that voice. She considered how to extract herself from Adrien's embrace without waking him up. If only she could fulfil her task here (for whatever it was) and return to the sleeping bag before he wakes up in the morning. She wandered what would happen now and would she be allowed to return at all, both to Adrien and then to her parents. Probably not. She was becoming aware what this journey was. Master Fu never completed the training in the temple. But, she would have to return to Paris and protect it from Hawk Moth. Oh, how will she do all this?

Adrien heard the words and understood. The monks, somehow, they knew. They knew who he was even without him revealing his identity. He hoped he will join Ladybug and here they will learn and train to be better superheroes. He might even learn her true identity. The thought made him giddy. But then, he should also leave this warm girl he was holding and it made him kind of sad. She made him feel warm inside, he felt more at home and safer by her side than he felt in the Agreste mansion. But now, he had to let go of her and sneak out from the sleeping bag. He just hoped she will not be too cold sleeping alone in it until the morning.

The owner of the voice has trained patience for years and was feeling no hurry, but there was one more person next to him and they moved one step closer.

Both Adrien and Marinette moved at the same time and sat up. Only then Adrien removed his arms and realized they are both awake. Marinette wanted to say something, to say thank you for knowing you, to say goodbye, she was not sure what this was and what was she supposed to say to Adrien right now. So she kept silent. She shot to her feet and took her cloth bag with her. Tikki was holding onto her pyjama under her onesie.

Why is she getting up, Adrien thought while getting on his feet himself. The sleeping bag will get cold again. He felt a hand on his shoulder. The man before him put his hand onto his shoulder. Adrien nodded. He is about to follow him.

Marinette felt a hand on her shoulder and nodded. This was it, she was going away. She only hoped Adrien would understand. But she felt Adrien was approached by another person. Perhaps it was because she gave him the snake miraculous and he was Aspik once? Yeah, it must have been that. She will have to explain them to let him go. The boy should not give up on his life for her failed judgement that day.

Adrien made a few careful steps steered in the darkness by the monk who walked behind him and held his hand on Adrien's shoulder. Then he felt Marinette was steered by another person, another monk just beside him. Why were they taking her? She was Multimouse just once. Ladybug told her she will never get the miraculous again.

They walked in silence and complete darkness. Their feet felt the cold and hard stone floor below through the thick socks. They walked slowly and carefully, tentatively making each step forward and turning whenever the hand on the shoulder would signal them to. They could feel the other was walking just next to them. Soon they were steered to a stop and then nudged gently. One foot tentatively extended forward and they hit something. It was a step. Then there was another step and another. They climbed about twenty steps before they were on the top. They continued walking and soon the stone beneath their feet was replaced by softer and warmer surface of a carpet. At one point they were aware they got separated. They were lead to a stop and the hand pushed them to sit down. So they sat on a carpet. They could hear the sound of the door closing. And then there was light.

Adrien squinted his eyes. It was weak light of a candle lit up by the monk who lead him to the room. The face of the same monk who met them on the temple entrance nodded to him and moved to the side as the monk sat down. Further behind the candle, an old man sat on a bench near the wall. He watched the boy with careful eyes. He was wearing the same robes as every monk they saw since they arrived and Adrien could vaguely remember seeing the same monk at dinner last night and feeling being watched by him. Back then, he did not give it too much attention as he expected the monks would watch all students with interest. The man was sitting with his legs folded before him, he was small and reminded Adrien of Master Fu. He had long white beard and hair (unlike the monks he saw in Lhasa).

They were sitting in silence and watched each other for quite some time. Adrien moved his hands and took his black cap from his head, he ruffled his hair and scratched the back of his neck without moving his eyes from the old man. The old man gave one firm nod looking Adrien straight into his eyes and Adrien gave one firm nod in return. He had no idea why, but he felt that was the right thing to do. He felt Plagg clutch onto his chest rather desperately and fought off the urge to raise his hand and pet his kwami and calm him down. He did not know why he felt like this might be him saying goodbye to the little black cat-like god of destruction and it broke his heart. He fought the thought away from his head just like he fought the tears out from his eyes. He blinked them away while his view became a little blur but he never averted his eyes from the old man. If they take Plagg away from him, he was not sure how he could continue to live. Who would defend Paris then, alongside Ladybug? Someone should. She should not do it alone. What if they would also take her miraculous from her. Would he ever find her? Would he ever see her? Would he ever meet her again? Adrien did not look around but felt Ladybug was not here. It was only him facing this old man. Perhaps it was for the better. Identities and stuff. Perhaps, if they did not reveal their identities he would be allowed to keep Plagg and return to defend Paris together with Ladybug.

"You have arrived." the old man spoke quietly.

Marinette bid goodbyes in her thoughts to everyone she knew. She felt grateful for having such loving and understanding parents. She was saying goodbye to Alya and Nino, Ye and Ling, her relatives, her friends, her teachers. In her thoughts she was saying goodbye to Adrien. She hoped she would return to Paris and defend it again with Chat once this whole adventure in the temple is finished. She wanted to return and make sure Adrien was safe. She was taking step after step on the cold and hard stone without feeling the chill. Her brain was overthinking everything yet again. The miracle box was wrapped in the same colourful cloth bag she hugged in her arms and carried with her to this meeting in the middle of the night, or whatever this was. She went up the stairs as they steered her, she was deep in her thoughts, about all the people she fought as akumas, about Paris and her home and the bakery and Adrien. She felt a tear coming to her eye and slipping out. She bid goodbye to Adrien with each step. The surface she walked on was softer now and warmer and she was steered to make a few more turns before the hand signalled her to sit down.

A light blinded her at the first moment. It was a single candle placed before her. She held her cloth bag closer to her chest while she waited for her eyes to adjust. The person who guided her was a woman dressed in monk's robes. The woman sat on the side. Marinette searched the room with her eyes, there was no one else but an old lady sitting on a pile of cushions on the other end of the room. Her hair was grey and long and her body was wrapped in the same robes as the other monks she saw. Marinette tried to remember if she saw the old lady at the dinner last night. She tried to entertain her thoughts with anything to prevent herself from panicking, from freaking out, from being a clumsy teenager she so often was. Right there and then, she was Ladybug, the protector of Paris and the guardian of the miraculous. The old woman watching her gave one firm nod. Marinette gave a nod back.

"You have arrived." the woman on the side spoke, in French. It was the same voice that told her and Adrien to go to rest last night.

Chapter Text

The talk with Adrien

"You have arrived." the old man spoke quietly.

Adrien nodded wandering what was he supposed to answer to that, it was an obvious fact that he had arrived, that he was there.

"Yes." he answered waiting patiently what is going to happen next.

"Your journey was long and hard." the old man continued.

Adrien could not help himself but smile. Perhaps the trip from Paris to the temple was long and hard for a spoiled rich kid, perhaps he should have felt more annoyed and more exhausted. But he enjoyed every moment of it.

"Not at all." Adrien answered with a smile and he meant it. "I enjoyed every moment of my travel over here."

The old man gave him a look. It was obvious he did not mean just the travel, but let him be for now. It was just a test anyway.

"You speak Chinese very well." the old man continued.

"Thank you, I had a private Chinese tutor for years now." Adrien smiled again.

The old man looked as if he was processing those words for some time.

"Tell me about yourself and the world you come from." The old man ordered.

And Adrien told him about Paris and France and the modern world and his school and his private education, the life in general. There were two subjects he avoided. And the old man asked about the first one.

"Tell me about your family." the old man inquired once Adrien stopped with his description.

And Adrien gave the old man an honest account as much as he could give him. He even described what Marinette did for him while he thought it was his father. He casually added that she had travelled with him to the temple and admitted her deeds to him only yesterday.

The old man nodded encouraging the boy to continue talking.

And Adrien described how he effectively ran away from his father's house to get there, how he flew the plane and took a ride on the train and bus and then on foot.

"You have many more means for travel these days." The old man nodded with certain glow in his eyes. Then, a long period of silence weighted over the room. Adrien was not sure if he was supposed to be quiet and wait for the next question or elaborate on the modern transportation system. Well, they would ask him, would not they?

The young man stared at the boy studying his features and watched every move. The old man stroked his beard, slowly and thoughtfully, arranging his thoughts and forming the next question. His eyes were gentle and never left Adrien's face, but they were sometimes out of focus revealing the old monk was contemplating his own thoughts. At one moment, his eyes glowed with a spark revealing a decision has been made.

"Tell me, young man, about the place where you live again. Is there some danger looming over there?" The man asked while his eyes seemed even more focused on the boy.

And Adrien told him about the akumas and Hawk moth, then about Ladybug and Chat Noir (from the third person point of view) and then some more about Mayura and amok and sentimonsters and finally described the temporary heroes who helped out from time to time. He was avoiding telling too many details that could give away his identity although he was sure that was the purpose of this conversation. These monks must have known by then who he was. Otherwise, why would they drag him to this interview in the middle of the night? But, where was Ladybug? He shifted a bit the position in which he sat, rearranging his legs in front of him. He put his hands on his knees.

The old man waited for some time, contemplating the next question. Perhaps he was just waiting for Adrien to become uncomfortable due to the heavy silence. Whatever it was, when Adrien moved slightly, the old monk spoke again.

"Tell me about your ring." the old man insisted while a small smile formed on his lips.

Adrien gulped. This was it. But he was not supposed to give away his identity? Or was he? He was told if his identity was discovered, he was loosing the ring? Or what was it again? Huh.

"I was given this ring. I found it one day in my room." Adrien stated simply. That was not a lie. And that was not giving away anything, at least the boy thought so.

"Who gave it to you?" the old man pushed further, this time without any pause, obviously encouraged by the partial answer he already got.

"An old Chinese man who told me to call him Master Fu." Adrien struggled to keep his voice steady. He was telling the truth without actually telling he was Chat Noir.

"So you were chosen." the old man said and looked away from the boys face for the first time during the whole conversation, his eyes flicked down to his own hands. He sat there silent for a few deep and long breaths.

"This temple was absent for some years." The old man continued when he looked at Adrien again. He stroked his beard again while he spoke and the tone of the words insinuated that it was expected for Adrien to continue.

"Yes, for many years. Ladybug and Chat Noir defeated a sentimonster called Feastin and the temple re-appeared in the mountains. It was in the news on the television." Adrien continued wandering how much he could say. The fact that it was broadcast was making the things easier. He chose not to mention what the sentimonster was after nor Master Fu involvement.

The eyes of the old monk went wide at the mention of the sentimonster and the younger monk shifted where he sat flinching his eyes between the boy and the old monk.

"And you travelled here then." The old man concluded with a nod.

Adrien confirmed with a nod. This was the age of tourism. It was common to see hoards of tourists swarming places that suddenly reached fame through the news and social media. He wandered if the old man really understood what television was.

The old man stroked his beard and looked at the boy deep in thoughts.

"Can you tell me more about those heroes and the battles with the evil beings?" the old man asked.

Adrien was thinking what to say. The whole conversation was lasting for more than an hour and suddenly his tired brain refused to cooperate. He was considering what to say.

"I can show you." Adrien replied. Adrien shifted and his hand felt over his onesie searching for something.

The old man was startled and even raised his hand to stop the boy. The monk who sat on the side waved his head and raised his both hands. Adrien produced his phone from his pocket.

"This device is a smartphone. I will switch it on. There is no signal here but I have a lot of pictures stored in it." and then he continued to talk about Alya and the Ladyblog and what a smartphone was and how it worked and how his battery was only half full and finally he showed the first image to the monk sitting on the side as the old man was too far.

The monk slowly lowered his hands and stared at the phone. Adrien explained what was on the picture then he moved to the next one and the next one. Then he played a short film Alya made of one battle. Then he intentionally skipped the photo of Ladybug and Chat Noir kissing on the rooftop of Montparnasse tower after Oblivio. The young monk stared at the screen that glowed at him in the dark room. His face was a mixture of awe, surprise and disbelief. Adrien was speaking and showing pictures for quite some time before the young monk shifted his eyes away from the screen, but only for a second.

The old man motioned for the two of them to come closer, they both moved and sat on the carpet before the old man and Adrien eagerly showed pictures again repeating the explanations. He was aware that his Chinese was getting worse, but less and less words were needed.

Soon, the younger monk was holding the phone on his own hands scrolling through the pictures. At one moment he stopped and stared at one particular picture. He showed it to the older monk without any words. The older monk looked at it for a long time and then averted his eyes towards Adrien.

"Tell me about Ladybug and Chat Noir." the old man requested simply.

And Adrien told him about the heroes and how nobody knew their identities and that they did not even know the identities of each other. The old man asked about the other heroes again and Adrien continued on how it was Ladybug who gave them miraculous and he did not know who they were, save Chloe. And then he explained everything he could about Chloe without mentioning that he himself had delivered her the comb miraculous as Chat Noir a few times.

The old man kept nodding and stroking his beard motioning for the boy to continue telling his story. And Adrien continued for a while until he abruptly stopped. He remembered Desperada and the failure of him as Aspik. The old man continued to watch him and stroke his beard.

"Give me your hand, young man, so I can see your ring better." the old man requested. The younger monk went to fetch the candle and Adrien obliged. Was this the moment he will loose the ring, will the old man simply take the ring off from his hand. Adrien would let him. He would beg to keep Plagg, he would argue to get back the ring and the little cheese annihilating god that comes along with it in order to defend Paris. Yes, perhaps he was a bit selfish and wanted Plagg for the additional freedom he got in the package, but he would solemnly swear not to use it for another selfish reason ever again, if only he could keep being Chat Noir.

It took a few minutes in silence. They remained motionless in the same pose as if they were posing for a painting. And they would have made a nice Rembrandt in that light.

"So you call yourself Chat Noir." the old man concluded while he kept holding his hand.

Adrien gulped. He remembered it quite vividly he was supposed to give up on his miraculous if his identity was revealed. His eyes were practically begging the old man not to take his ring and Plagg away. The old man blinked a few times.

"Tell me more about that girl you travelled with." the old man said as if re-considering the question once he started to speak and let go of his hand.

Adrien sighed, and then smiled. He was relieved that the ring stayed on his hand, and the subject has changed and what a nice subject it was. The gentle smile never left his face as he spoke about Marinette. The old man nodded to each sentence and studied the boy's face. The younger monk smiled observing the boy from the side while he would look at the phone screen from time to time.

"And now you tell me how do you feel about Ladybug." the old man repeated the same question from before but now it was merely phrased differently. Both monks understood by then that the boy in front of them was oblivious of his own feelings. And, consequently, there was little reason to believe he was able to comprehend the feelings of others.

"I love her. She is my partner and my friend. And I would like her to be more. But, she likes some other boy." Adrien admitted without hesitation. Both monks gave him a puzzled look.

"But you do not know who she is?" the old man pushed further. "You have no idea?"

"No" Adrien waved his head.

"And the girl you travelled with? How do you feel about her?" the old man observed the boy carefully.

"I love her as a friend. She is my friend." Adrien repeated, as if he had to persuade himself too. He had not stopped once in the last few days to reconsider that notion. "She wielded the Mouse miraculous once." Adrien smiled. "Unfortunately, as Chat Noir, I saw her de-transform and learned her identity, so Ladybug said that was a one time thing, that she would never wield a miraculous again." The two monks raised their eyebrows at the story but did not interrupt with any questions.

"So what would be more than a partner and a friend?" Asked the old man stroking his beard again.

"A girlfriend." Adrien whispered. At that point he wandered if that would indeed be an upgrade in the relationship. There were so many girls offering to be his girlfriends without even knowing him at all or knowing his artificial persona created by his father. Perhaps being a true friend and a partner meant more than being a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

"A wife?" the old man asked seeming a bit puzzled by the answer the boy just returned.

"Um, I am too young to be legally married, and she is too." Adrien explained awkwardly how these things are done these days, as much as he understood anyway.

The old man and the young monk exchanged a long look between themselves. They let the boy ramble while they were concerned by their next move.

"What are you ready to give up to keep this?" the old man asked slowly stressing every word.

"I would do anything to protect her, to protect Ladybug, and to protect the civilians and other heroes." he replied. He hoped his desire to keep the miraculous so he could keep the freedom it gave him was not so obvious because he considered it a bit selfish reason to hold on to Plagg.

"I would die for her." Adrien added. "I have died for her." He spoke more quietly. "She brought me back." he smiled.

The old man nodded and asked for the phone again. Then he showed Adrien the picture with the kiss. Adrien explained him what he knew about that particular akuma.

"So you won even though you lost your memory." The old man told himself.

"Yes, as far as I know, I do not remember, and Ladybug doesn't remember either." Adrien shrugged.

"Are you willing to complete your training here in the next seven years." the monk asked.

"Seven years." Adrien replied quietly. It was roughly half his life. It seemed forever. He might give up his miraculous and come back to Marinette. The thought of the girl made him warm.

"Otherwise, you can give up your miraculous and any memory of holding it." the old man warned.

To give up on the memory of his lady. Never. But then a thought occured to him, he might want to do just that, and go after Marinette. He could do that.

"But I would remember this voyage and how I got here." Adrien asked.

The old man waved his head. "No, you arrived here because you are Chat Noir."

"I would forget about Marinette?" Adrien asked desperately.

The old man nodded. It was absolutely necessary for the boy to forget everything about the girl.

"Then I want to complete my training." Adrien resolved. He would rather live with the memories than forget everything and go back to the Agreste mansion. Seven years was not forever. He will look for her after he completes his training. At least to explain her what happened. He owed her at least that.

"Very well, you will be taken back to get some more sleep before the morning." the old man concluded.

The young monk and Adrien got up and Adrien followed him out of the room and down the stairs and a hallway to the large room and his sleeping bag. The sleeping bag was empty.

Chapter Text

The talk with Marinette

"You have arrived." the woman on the side spoke, in French, with a weird accent but the girl understood. It was the same voice that told Marinette and Adrien to go to rest last night.

Marinette gave a surprised look to the young monk and then turned to the older woman again and nodded. She clutched to the cloth bag on her chest the whole time, and at the moment the old woman glanced at the cloth bag, she fastened her grip even more, her knuckles were probably white.

The old woman nodded again. Marinette slowly loosened the grip she had on the box then she slowly lowered her hands and put the box carefully on the carpet in front of her.

"Tell us about you and where you come from." the younger monk asked. And Marinette talked and talked, the younger monk nodded and stopped her from time to time to say something in Chinese to the older woman. She was translating and re-telling her story. The older woman would then motion for Marinette to continue, so she did.

"Now tell us about your journey here." the woman asked. Marinette told her story, but she was interrupted with questions very often. She had to explain what the airplane was and many other different things. At one point she took out her phone and started to explain what that was.

After a while, the two women asked her about magical villains and heroes and Marinette told them about Ladybug and Chat Noir and all the other temporary heroes (and all in third person point of view) and then more about Hawk Moth and Mayura and the monsters they created and how they were defeated and cleansed. She kept using the term how Ladybug rescued the akumatized victim and each time the younger woman would widen her eyes, stopped her and spoke to the older woman.

Marinette was often rambling about the different akumas. When asked how she knew all that, Marinette explained what the internet was, and Alya and Ladyblog and was not exactly sure the two women were following what she was talking about. Then she summarized how the information travel much faster these days and the two women seemed satisfied.

The next question was about the identities, and Marinette told the story as much as she could without revealing herself, which was awkward and confusing. She told about Chloe and stressed many times that Ladybug and Chat Noir do not know the identities of each other.

"Tell us about the boy you travelled with." the young woman asked.

Marinette blushed. She took a deep breath and admitted she loved Adrien. She explained they were friends and how they travelled there. And then she went on and on about Adrien, she spoke so much that the younger woman stopped her by raising both of her hands with a wide smile. The younger woman gave much briefer explanation to the older one who also smiled in return.

"How do you feel about Chat Noir?" the young woman asked.

Marinette was puzzled for a moment.

"I um, he rescued me from akuma several times and I even helped him with one who called himself Evilustrator." and then she continued to ramble about Nathaniel and how he got akumatized and the young monk stopped her again to translate.

"Is that all?" the older woman asked in Chinese, but Marinette understood the question and nodded at first. Then she changed her mind, waved her head and sighed.

Somewhere in this temple, there is Chat Noir having such an interview, or perhaps he had it already while she was sleeping, so Marinette admitted how she told Chat Noir she loved him once, without actually explaining why she said it, and then she told the story about the whole Weredad incident.

"So, Chat Noir refused to have a relationship with a civilian?" the younger woman asked without a prompt from the older one and Marinette nodded.

"He also said he loved Ladybug." Marinette added.

"And does she love him back?" the older woman asked slowly.

Marinette opened her eyes wide.

"They are not in a romantic relationship." Marinette replied quickly waving her head. It seemed that the older woman understood the answer even before it was translated. "They are friends and partners. The whole media and public is making speculations about them being a couple. They want them to be a couple. But I am certain they are not. It would be irresponsible, they have a duty to fulfil."

The older woman gave the girl an understanding look and repeated the question.

Marinette was baffled. She stayed silent staring at the woman.

"Okay, tell me again about your parents, they love each other, don't they?" the younger monk asked after a long discussion with the older monk.

"Yes, they love each other, they would do anything for each other, they are each other's best friends and partners at work and at home." Marinette explained cheerfully with a spark in her eyes.

The young monk gave her a satisfied smile and turned to translate.

Then her own words echoed in her head as the young monk was giving far longer speech than Marinette actually have spoken. Her parents were best friends and partners, okay at one point there was romance, there still was, but it was not the most important thing. She just admitted to herself that yes, she was in fact in love with Chat Noir. She may not have felt attracted to him nor had excessive romantic wishes as she did with Adrien, but she knew then that she loved him.

The two monks were having a slow discussion giving a lot of thought as if they were not sure how to proceed further. They also observed Marinette very carefully and noticed every change in the expression on her face. Apparently, they were satisfied with the result.

"How did you get those earrings?" The young monk asked.

"I found a box in my room. They were given to me." Marinette answered quickly but carefully. She was contemplating the answer on the was to the temple and concluded that particular formulation would be the best.

"By whom." the young woman continued.

"Master Fu." Marinette answered simply. Those words meant nothing to anyone who did not already know.

The two women looked at each other and nodded.

"So, it was given to you." the older woman concluded. Marinette nodded in understanding, although she was not entirely sure she caught the whole meaning. It might have been due to odd and a bit old French the woman who translated was using, and Marinette told herself she imagined there was more meaning in those words that was actually said.

"And you call yourself Ladybug." both women spoke at the same time.

Marinette felt her stomach tie into a knot. She has given away her identity. She felt like a failure. But she could not lie, not then and there. She felt as if it was time to tell the truth. She sighed and decided to accept her faith, whatever it was. She would have to give up Tikki. She would probably have to make the same sacrifice Master Fu did. She did not want to lose the memories. She cherished them too much. She understood the bravery of Master Fu when he did his own sacrifice.

There was a long moment of silence. The two women stared at Marinette while she switched between looking them in the eyes. Her eyes escaped to the wrapped box before her, just once and briefly.

"How is Master Fu?" the old woman asked.

And Marinette told them. She started at the end, but then she continued from the beginning. She cried through part of the story, but then she collected herself and continued. She was not interrupted once until she reached the end of it.

The young monk translated slowly and carefully and from time to time asked Marinette if she could confirm that she understood everything correctly.

"You have given away the miraculous to the temporary heroes and you got them back." the young woman asked.

Marinette confirmed. She explained how she had given the miraculous and to whom and why and that she had given the Snake miraculous to Adrien, but it did not work out.

"And Master Fu passed the miracle box to you." the woman continued.

Marinette nodded and confirmed.

"And you have brought it here."

Marinette confirmed.

"Can we see it?" it was a request, not a demand.

Marinette hesitated. She was revealed both as Ladybug and as a Guardian, and she brought the box into this room, but she was still not sure if she should just open it.

"Master Fu never finished his training here to become the guardian." the young woman translated what the older woman have said. "It was not his to give."

"He did the best he could." Marinette shrugged. It was not the selfish reasons that kept her from opening the box right then and there, she was just not sure it was the right thing to do.

"Yes he did." the older woman confirmed with encouraging look and gentle smile. "And you came here willingly and in peace."

"There was also a book. He, we learned from it." Marinette switched the subject and explained about the book including the fact she returned it to Adrien's father. She had to stop many times as the young woman translated and answer many questions after that. She even explained how she suspected him to be Hawk Moth but decided against it because Gabriel got akumatized. After the story was finished, the two monks exchanged a long look between them before they continued.

"Please, can we see the box?" they repeated their request.

And Marinette pulled the box out.

"Can you open it?" came the next request.

Marinette brought the box closer to the older woman while the young monk took the candle. She opened the box and explained how she wore all the miraculous when she was Multimouse and what she did to defeat Kwamibuster.

That story took a long time to tell as she had to repeat and confirm many parts. Yes, their kwami were taken, yes Master Fu allowed her to take all the miraculous left and then how she defeated Kwamibuster and finally how she tricked Chat Noir to believe Marinette could not possibly be Ladybug.

The two women even laughed at certain parts but continued to make questions and ask Marinette to explain. And yes, she also explained what was a banana.

Finally she also told them about taking kwami for a walk and how she learned many things from them but she knew there are things kwami did not know.

"Fu never became the guardian, he actually failed the test when the temple got destroyed. You want to become the guardian of the miraculous?" was the question she received once finished with her story.

Marinette gave it one more short consideration, if she was to give up, it was time, right then.

She nodded.

"Yes, I would like to learn." She confirmed.

"And what are you ready to give up for that? What are you ready to give up to continue being Ladybug and to be the next guardian?"

Marinette admitted with tears in her eyes how she already gave up pursuing Adrien (to the utter amazement of the two monks and she had to repeat that yes she had, in fact, travelled there with the same boy) and how she knew that it might mean giving up on her career and her dreams and even distancing herself from her parents, but she managed to juggle all those duties so far.

"It must have put a lot of strain on you. You must be really tired." the understanding voice of the young monk soothed her.

She mustered her most determined look.

"I can do it." She said looking them in the eyes, first the young one and then the old one when the young one translated her words.

The old monk nodded in understanding.

"Very well, you will be taken back to get some more sleep before the morning. We will take care of the miracle box. I was the guardian while Fu was having his training." the old woman concluded.

The young monk and Marinette got up went out of the room and down the stairs and a hallway to the large room and the sleeping bag. Marinette opened the sleeping bag, placed herself next to Adrien and zipped it back up.

The monk turned around, she nodded to another monk who was watching from the centre of the large room and left back through the same door she entered.

Adrien wrapped his arms around her and pulled her closer. She closed her eyes and in a few deep breaths the exhaustion overruled the stress and she fell asleep.

Adrien finally relaxed, he kept Plagg and Marinette was back. Why was she gone for so long? The boy contemplated for a short while. Well, he was asked many questions before they got to the part revealing he was Chat Noir and Marinette did not speak Chinese, so it took her much longer. Yes, that was the reason. For sure.

 

Chapter Text

The monks had a busy night

 

The monks had a busy night, before as well as after the interviews.

At first, the two older monks met and nodded to each other with respect.

"My respect Tenzin." The old woman greeted the old man expressed her satisfaction for getting the miracle box back.

"My respect Dolma, as I understand, we met two decent wielders as the boy showed immense trust in me and Dorje." the old man concluded showing his young colleague. When the woman who lead Marinette back to sleep returned the conversation became far less solemn and far more urgent.

"We are to assemble now. Have you sent for the others Pema?" Dolma asked the younger woman and she nodded in confirmation. The two women concluded that the matter is urgent and they should summon all the monks but two, and those two should stay and observe the two teens.

They met in the large room where they had their meals and lit up a few candles.

"They were the first to arrive, the two wielders." Dorje stated "They came willingly, on their own and in peace."

"We made a mistake by summoning them up at the same time." Pema waved her head "They kept their identity a secret even from each other."

"And even after they entered the temple!" Dorje replied stressing every word, then he continued more defensively. "But they are so connected, we thought they knew."

"I found them together in front of the miraculous mosaic." Pema was annoyed, mostly with herself. "Besides, they share their sleeping bag, they are impossible to separate."

"The girl wields the miraculous of the Ladybug and she has brought the lost miracle box with her." Dolma announced solemnly. The reaction was complete silence. Several monks nodded after a few moments, but many simply stared at the old monk.

Then the old woman uncovered the miracle box. The room was dark, lit up only by few candles. But everyone recognized it. It was the miracle box that was missing after the temple got restored. For the monks, they felt like Fu disappeared only slightly more than a month ago, although they knew it was 175 years ago. He was the only student that went missing after the temple got restored. They all remembered the chaos and the flames from before, but it was the Chinese government officials who explained them how many years have passed.

"Why we did not take their miraculous from them?" one of the monks from the audience, who was silent until then, asked.

"No, we decided not to take them, they gave us no reasons for that and we might need them here." the young woman answered.

"They were given the miraculous by Fu." Dolma continued. There were several gasps from the audience as a reaction to that statement. "they are wielding them in the time of need." These words were followed by more hassle from the audience.

"There are two miraculous unaccounted for, the peacock and the butterfly, and their wielders are using them to do evil things, they are creating sentimonsters and akumas." the old woman explained.

"Why? Is there a war going on?" one of the monks asked.

"This is not about a war, apparently, they want to take the Ladybug and Chat Noir miraculous, not to win territory or power." the old woman explained.

"But that is just the same!" one of the monks argued.

"How did they know about the temple, did Fu tell them to come here?" was the next question.

"Apparently not, they somehow concluded on their own what to do, they learned that the temple was restored on something called television that everyone could see." the old woman, Dolma, explained.

"So that means that the wielders of the peacock and the butterfly miraculous also know about the temple." the old monk Tenzin nodded while stroking his beard.

"Yes" several monks confirmed.

"And they may be on their way over here." the old man continued deep in thought.

"Yes, they probably already are." the young woman continued slowly.

"And we know who they are." the old woman gave a small smile while her eyes radiated pride and wisdom.

"How? Who?" the questions from the audience were coming as a choir.

"The boy's father. And the woman must be his mother or someone else close to his father. They have the book." the old woman aired superiority.

"The boy has stolen it from his father, he did not know what that was." Tenzin spoke.

"The girl returned in order to get the boy back to school." Dolma added.

"But they are on their way here, the boy told us about his father and his assistant." Dorje complained.

"Exactly." the two old monks confirmed.

"We do not have much time, then." the old man concluded.

"Therefore, we leave the miraculous with them. We did not risk to separate them from their kwami too." the old woman nodded.

"Can they do it?" one of the voices asked.

"Are they ready?" another added.

"Because, if the boy does not understand that the villain is his own father." third one cut in.

"The boy does not understand his own feelings. He is not able to recognize Ladybug even when standing next to her in this temple." The old monk Tenzin waved his head. "And yet, they have successfully fought the holders of the butterfly and the peacock miraculous in person and all the monsters they have created. And the only training he received were a few conversations with Fu. He did many fights with only brief instructions from his kwami. Plagg was good as always" Tenzin smiled knowingly.

"We have seen their fights." Dorje added. This was met by a reaction of disbelief from the monks. "They have some device that shows you what happened." Dorje smiled proud of the new knowledge and excited by what he saw. "We will ask more about it in the morning."

"You should know they are perfectly synchronised and work as one." the old man smiled remembering some of the pictures he saw.

"They are the ones who brought us back." the old woman, Dolma, nodded her head thoughtfully. "It was them who brought us back." Then she looked at the other monks. "It is obvious they are both clever, able, willing and resourceful. But they can't even comprehend their own emotions nor recognize each other."

"She can, with the right guidance." Pema countered.

"Perhaps the temple can not prevent the hiding magic any more?" one of the voices from the audience asked.

"Perhaps Tikki and Plagg grew stronger?" another inquired.

"We knew them the moment they stood in front of the gates to the temple." Dorje spoke while several other monks nodded in affirmation.

"Correct. So it works for us." one monk concluded and many other nodded. They could all feel the presence of a miraculous wielder last night at dinner and could recognize who they were once they looked at them straight into their eyes.

"Why can't they see it?" another monk wandered half in amazement half annoyed. "Once they get to the temple grounds, they were supposed to recognize each other as a wielder."

"They were told that they would lose their miraculous if they revealed their identity or learn the identity of the other." the young woman, Pema, explained.

"Yes, that is something that Fu could teach them." Tenzin raised his eyes from the spot in front of him he was staring at. "So they are fooling themselves then, to keep the miraculous." the old monk concluded.

"Fu never completed the training to be the guardian." another monk reminded everyone present "He could not have taught them any better."

"And the kwami would not advise them to go against the will of the guardian." Pema added waving her head.

"Plagg might" there was a mischievous glint in the eyes of the old man.

"Tikki would have told the girl that it is her decision to make." the old woman warned.

"Have we revealed them to each other?" the old man asked.

"Apparently, they are extremely good at fooling themselves and each other. She tricked the superhero him to think that she could not possibly be Ladybug." Dolma smiled proudly. "And she thinks the boy was summoned because she gave him a temporary miraculous once."

"You are right." The old man smiled. "And the boy thinks she was summoned because of that same trick and that she wielded only the Mouse miraculous once."

"He loves her and has the complete faith in her. He has admitted that sometimes his feelings get in the way. But he has sacrificed himself more than once to shield her and save her." Dorje added.

"They work as a true wielders of the Ladybug and black cat miraculous." Tenzin concluded.

"I know why they can't recognize each other." Pema exclaimed. "The magic allows us to recognize wielders. He knows she wielded the Mouse miracoulous, she knows he wielded the Snake miracoulous."

"So they do recognize each other as miracoulous wielders." the old man stroked his beard.

"Just not the right one." The old woman waved her head.

There were several noises of frustration coming from the other monks. Then, a long moment of silence followed when everyone contemplated the information they have just received.

"She was named as the new Guardian by Fu." the old woman explained nodding her head slowly.

"And she brought the box here on her own." Pema added "I think she did not bring it to us to leave it, but she gave it to us when we asked."

There was chatter of approval in the group of monks listening to the conversation.

"She used the miraculous from the box to get temporary wielders. She wore all the miraculous from the box, save three, once. Of course Fu chose her." Pema continued to account for everything Marinette did with the miraculous and the kwami.

At that moment, several monks started to complain about Fu allowing something like that. That was irresponsible. That should have drained the wielder. She was obviously careless or uneducated or both.

"She might have been a better choice than Fu himself." the old woman raised her voice a bit to stop the mumbling of the monks.

"She is talking to kwami each evening to learn from them." the young monk spoke with a smile but got several gasps of disbelief in return.

"That might be the same as if you ask the children how to take care for them." one monk smiled

"Or when they want to go to bed." another added.

"Or what they want to eat. "

"and what they want to do."

"She is collecting stories about the previous wielders from the kwami." the old woman smiled. "She is good."

"Except from Plagg." the old man smiled "She cant question Plagg, Nooroo and Duusuu.".

"They actually tell her about the previous wielders?" there was a question asked in incredulous tone. The old woman nodded in confirmation.

"They are operating on the short timer in the battles and they still win." the old man switched the subject of the conversation back to the more pressing issue. "And Chat Noir has used only Cataclysm." he added a bit saddened. "It seems Plagg is still able to give him only that power."

"She restores everything after each battle. This is how we were brought back." the old woman wanted to stress it again. "And now she is acting as the new guardian."

"That is too much." several people concluded at once.

"They were not trained." others complained.

"They are not the first untrained wielders, but they are very successful." Dolma warned. "They were summoned in the time of need and they responded."

"But to have an untrained guardian." another complaint arrived.

"They needed help from more heroes." Pema explained. "She did the job well, she has chosen the temporary wielders."

"They will need it when they return." Dorje added.

"Could they share the duty? It has been a long time, but they would not be the first." Tenzin proposed.

"You know what would have to happen for that." the old woman sighed.

"They already share everything else." Dorje smiled knowingly.

"The miracle box is with me now." The old woman continued. "It is safe to say we have their trust and we should trust them to protect us."

"We should talk to their kwami." The old man looked at the old woman. "I know it is risky, but you know it has to be done. And the longer we wait, the bigger the risk."

"It shall be done." Dolma stated solemnly.

Chapter Text

It is time to wake them up

Meanwhile, Adrien and Marinette were constantly observed by different monks. Both slept peacefully, exhausted physically by the long walk from the day before and mentally by the conversations they had during the night.

"They do not know about each other." one monk whispered to the other. Both waved their heads. "Masters can't believe it, but it is the truth." The other smiled.

"How is it possible? The magic that clouds their minds and prevents them from their identities being discovered should not be working in the temple!"

"They should have realized the moment they stepped through the gates." the monk smiled.

"Their kwami might have become more powerful." there was concern in their eyes.

"The boy is not only oblivious, he has persuaded himself into things." the monk waved his heads.

"She trusts him completely." they both smiled.

"And he trusts her." another added.

"We should examine the kwami." the third monk, Pema, told them when she arrived.

Then Pema approached closer to the sleeping teens. As she stood by their feet, she sensed the peaceful sleep and how their peace spread an aura around. She took in a deep breath, this had to be done.

"Plagg, Tikki" the woman called quietly.

The two kwami reluctantly phased out through the sleeping bag. Tikki raised all the way to the woman's face and bowed silently. He blue eyes pleaded to stay whit her chosen. Plagg hovered above his chosen, about half a metre in the distance, his green eyes glowed in the dark and reflected his dissatisfaction from both being awake and being taken away from his chosen.

The woman took them in her hands.

"You will have to move with me, no floating around in the temple for now." the woman spoke quietly as she took the two kwami and took them away. Once she was in the corridor, she added "And, don't give me that face Plagg, I know you wandered off from your chosen on your own and caused trouble."

"It is time to wake them up." Dorje whispered to the two monks who watched the two teens.

"They already are." one of the monks replied with a firm nod.

To tell the truth, both Adrien and Marinette were only able to fall asleep due to pure exhaustion. They slept peacefully and whatever they dreamed of placed an expression of peace on their faces.

At one moment during the morning, Marinette gained consciousness but her eyes stayed closed. She heard sounds of students waking up, talking and going through their things. She felt Adrien next to her and it was comforting as well as warm. She felt relieved. At least she knew he was safe and back. Since she could not have Chat Noir to be by her side through this whole ordeal, she was glad she at least had Adrien. A week ago she would have been mortified and flustered and probably squeaked and screamed, but she herself has changed. She was sure she still loved him, but now she was his friend more than anything. (And she never wandered if they are indeed 'just friends' any more.) And, for the first time, being his friend like this was more important than being his girlfriend, going on dates, getting dressed up and getting roses from him.

Her thoughts wandered to the conversation that took place during the night. She did not have the miracle box any more. If she was about to return to Paris without it, there would be no additional heroes to help her and Chat. At least, they allowed her to keep the earrings. Her stay in the temple had just begun and there was plenty of time to lose them too. The monks would probably insist on her completing some kind of training. But what it could be? It could take years. How is she going to explain her absence to her parents and her friends? It is not like she could use one of her "I needed to go to the toilet" or "I could not unlock myself from the toilet." excuses. And who would defend Paris during that time?

She wanted to ask Adrien about what they asked him, but how to do that without revealing her identity. For sure, they might have been finished quickly once they learned he wielded the Snake miraculous only once and that was it.

But where was Chat Noir? As much as she was anxious about possible reveal she hoped it would take place in the temple and somehow everything will be okay, just like Tikki often said it would be. But they did not meet, she could not know for certain that Chat even reached the temple. Where was that damn cat? He was probably chasing some other girl, the flirt he was. She smiled at her thought.

Adrien heard noises that students were making. The quiet hassle for young people getting up, whining about their aching feet and backs, rustling through their backpacks, walking around and talking about anything. Somewhere in the distance, someone was directing them to the area where they could wash up and then go to have their breakfast.

He felt Marinette in his arms changed the rhythm of her breathing but she did not move. She is probably still sleeping. He smiled and kept his eyes closed. They had a busy night. She stayed on her meeting longer than he did. He could not say how much longer. Every minute he missed her felt like an hour and he felt so relieved and elated when she returned. She should get as much sleep as she could, so he would remain there, next to her, holding her, just to keep her warm and asleep. She needed that.

'She was amazing as Multimouse.' Adrien remembered how he described her to the two monks last night. 'Ladybug and me both lost our kwami and she saved the day.' Both monks smiled knowingly and with approval. Did that mean that the monks would keep her and possibly train her to be a miraculous wielder? A permanent one? Would Ladybug agree to that? It was her who said Marinette would not get to wield a miraculous again. Adrien decided to ask Ladybug to reconsider that decision. She was extremely useful. Yes, that was the reason, nothing else.

Adrien imagined how he would ask Marinette about the conversation she had, but he realized he can't reveal he knew she was Multimouse without revealing himself as Chat Noir. It was frustrating, the curiosity in him was pushing him to ask her. He would have to find a way.

Where was his lady? She probably had an interview of her own last night. She was a guardian now, it must have taken her considerably longer to explain everything. He felt the ring on his hand. They let him keep his ring. He has revealed his identity somehow, but he has not failed his lady. He will be able to keep Plagg and fight villains by her side. What if she failed somehow? What if her miraculous was taken away from her? Would he never learn her identity, never meet her civilian self, never see her again? The thought made him feel cold shivers down his spine and he moved a little. But no, his lady never failed, she merely needed a little encouragement sometimes and she made mistakes, but she never failed. Right?

Marinette stirred in his arms.

"It is time to wake up." a woman spoke quietly and gently standing next to their feet.

They both sat up rubbing their eyes.

"You can both keep these clothes." the woman smiled looking at Adrien in his black onesie and Marinette in her red. "And go wash up, you will be given your breakfast after that."

They were both escorted to a room where they were given a small piece of cloth and a small bucket of water to wipe themselves up. They could use curtains to allocate some space for privacy.

Adrien was used to Plagg being uncharacteristically calm since they arrived to the temple and did not bother to panic before, but once he took off his clothes, he did. Plagg was gone. And he remembered rather vividly that he left the conversation last night with the kwami hanging on his undershirt below the onesie. It was possible that Plagg has phased out of his pyjama and the sleeping bag into his backpack and the stash of cheese stored there. Yeah, that was definitely what the little cheese eating glutton would do. Adrien smiled, he should have expected that.

Marinette, on the other hand, was disturbed by the absence of her kwami as soon as she became aware of it. She hoped Tikki was just hiding somewhere in her clothes. The girl pulled the curtain and searched her clothes frantically.

"Tikki" she whispered once into her onesie. There was no response, only the red cloth hanging from her hands. Have the monks changed their mind and took her miraculous from her? She felt her ears. The earrings were still there. Marinette sighed, feeling slightly reassured. Would Tikki phase out to find some cookies in the middle of the night and then she was not able to return because they were watched? Perhaps. It was not typical for Tikki, but it was possible. It was also highly probable she chased Plagg around the temple.

The water was cold, the air was not any warmer either and they were finished rather quickly.

"Um, can I get something from my backpack before breakfast?" Adrien asked as soon as he was finished.

Both monks waved their heads.

"Okay, it can wait until after breakfast then." Adrien sighed.

Marinette stumbled out of her space as she got slightly tangled in the curtain in the process. Adrien smiled gently. She was so funny when she did that. He reached for her.

"I um, have forgot to take um, something from my purse." Marinette watched Pema with her eyes wide and begging to understand.

"I understand your concern." the woman spoke slowly in French and Adrien gaped. "But it will have to wait until after the breakfast."

They went down a corridor to the same room with the carpets on the floor where they had their dinner.

The two teens got their bowls of rice and cups of tea and were sat next to each other at an end of a long row of students. The two monks sat at the opposite side.

They ate in complete silence. The kids would occasionally spared a glance towards each other and then to the monks before them and then continued to eat without saying a word. The two monks barely removed their eyes from the two kids while they ate.

Marinette ate slowly, her eyes escaped to the side and watched Adrien carefully through her lashes and her bangs that hung over her face, but each time she wanted to speak, she would check the two monks sitting on the opposite side. Once she realized she was watched, she would give up, she would take another mouthful of her food and sipped on her tea. But then, after a few moments, she remembered how she wanted to talk to him and the whole process would start over.

Adrien had no clue he was this hungry. He stuffed the food in his mouth and barely chewed before he swallowed. The empty space in his stomach was filling up slowly. But he was finished with his bowl already. He was used to not feeling full after a meal. Although Marinette's parents have revealed to him it is possible to fill a stomach of a growing teenage boy, he spent so many years on a model's diet, that he was well experienced in surviving on less. He reached for his tea when one of the monks motioned to another and a fresh bowl with rice appeared in front of him. He smiled and nodded gratefully. This time he took his time and ate slowly, he remembered how he wanted to talk to Marinette and shifted in his place slightly. She was eating, he glanced at the two monks before him. He was being watched. Of course, they knew and he should not reveal his identity to anyone on his own.

They were finished with their breakfast by the time their eyes finally met. Marinette glanced through her bangs while Adrien looked to the side. Once their eyes met they could not look away, glued to each other they turned their heads to look to their partner straight on. The green eyes met blue and in the daylight, there was finally so much more to see. They stared at each other for a while, their eyes examining what they saw and their brains slowly processing. They fought the obvious conclusion in their minds, they dismissed it, they pushed it back, and yet it would come back again and again. They stared at each other silently, for no words could be spoken, nothing could be told. They were sitting in a room full of people. They realized that if they acknowledge their sudden realisation, they would also reveal themselves. But the other knew, they knew that it was their parter who sat right next to them, and they knew. There was no need to say anything.

The two monks spared a glance at each other and exchanged on firm nod.

"Now that you are awake." the woman spoke gently with a smile and her eyes revealed just how much she meant by her words. "We should proceed. There might be too little time."

Chapter Text

The Reveal

Adrien and Marinette got up to their feet in silence, sparing glances at each other at any given moment. They followed the two monks through a passage in the wall hidden behind one tapestry, after several turns they reached narrow stairs and climbed.

Marinette felt her brain wander off. For a millisecond she was in the narrow winding corridor and in the next she was having a memory flash of any of her interactions with both Chat and Adrien, both as Ladybug and as Marinette. He flirted with her. Chat Noir. Adrien. Flirted. With. Her. She blushed. She shared a sleeping bag with Chat Noir? The narrow corridor upstairs winded in the darkness and they walked forward feeling the walls on the sides with their hands. Where were they taking them and why? Was she right? Was Adrien really Chat Noir? Was it really that hard to believe? Was she going to lose her miraculous now? The questions were popping up in her head. She felt dizzy and held on to the walls. Sleeping on high altitude can do that to you. Not sleeping, but talking most of the night can do that to you too, at any altitude. Discovering that you love two boys and then they are in fact one person can do that to you too. Was she really that blind? Alya had called it. She said Adrien was Chat Noir. It was Marinette who refused to even consider the idea. Does this make her inept to be Ladybug? Was she equally unable to defeat Hawk Moth? She spared a glance towards Adrien every now and then between her steps. He looked at her with soft smile, his eyes gentle and careful. He knew. She knew that he knew. But did he know? What did he know. Chat Noir could not possibly think she was Ladybug. She made sure of it. That meant her identity was revealed to a civilian. And why would Adrien be Chat Noir? It was a sudden spur of the moment revelation, but then again, she might be wrong. She probably was. Yeah, she probably was.

Adrien felt a bit dizzy the moment he got on his feet. The blood was busy digesting the breakfast in his stomach and was too lazy to bring sufficient oxygen to his brain. A few deep and quick breaths fixed the issue. He looked at Marinette for as long as he could, from the corner of his eyes, turned to the side, through his eyelashes, through his hair (as he forgot to put the black cap back on). Unfortunately, he had to also watch where he was going, meaning he would glance towards the monks and the narrow corridor. Finally, he decided to follow the wall with his hand and just watch over Marinette without straight on staring at the girl. So, she was his lady. He felt giddy. He felt guilty. He felt stupid (the slight remains of dizziness in his head contributed substantially to that feeling). He finally knew who she was. He hoped he would learn her identity on this journey, he would finally meet her and get to know her as a civilian. And that is exactly what he got. This was not what he expected. He knew her civilian identity. He got to know her much better on their way over here. He used her as his teddy bear and a heating pillow. This same girl has professed her love to him, as Chat Noir, and he had refused her for Ladybug. No wander she never believed his love for her was real! He smiled to him self and looked at her more gently. He wandered if that love confession was a test or just a stunt to hide her identity. Or both. Or maybe, he was wrong and Marinette was not Ladybug? The dizzy spell told him he was probably not able to reach any conclusions right now.

Finally, another tapestry was moved to the side and they got blinded by the light as they entered a room. Both old monks sat on a bench beside the wall, waiting (the same room and the same bench from the last night, Adrien noticed). The four arrivals came to a stop before them and all of them bowed their heads a little as a sign of greeting. Then the four of them sat. Adrien and Marinette sat next to each other while the two younger monks sat on the side.

The silence filled with the sense of anticipation was thick. The two teens stared at the elderly monks and wandered what was going to happen and why were they there.

Adrien glanced around. There were just the six of them. There was no other girl who could have been Ladybug. Or, Ladybug has failed, she had to return the miraculous and she was not Ladybug any more. However, he could not believe that his lady would ever fail, at anything. So she was there. She was definitely there, and there was only one person who could she be. Adrien took a few deep breaths before he finally turned to look at Marinette again in the broad daylight. She had arranged her hair into pigtails. He could see the dark earrings on her ears. They were so familiar. He wore them once, although briefly. He smiled. This girl was so clever she fooled him into thinking that she could never be Ladybug, that Ladybug could be any other girl but her. He had no idea how she did it.

Marinette was processing the information slowly. She had to give up on the miracle box. She was not a guardian any more. Tikki was gone and her hopes that the little red kwami with black spots was merely hiding in a bag of cookies were obviously not the truth. And she saw in Adrien's eyes at breakfast that he knew who she was. She had failed. She had revealed herself to the monks and now to Adrien. This is why both of them were taken up there in that room. She had failed. Adrien's eyes were so wild and warm and green just like Chat Noir had. And she did not find Chat yet. He would never give up on his miraculous. There was only one solution to that puzzle and she knew it she just refused to believe it. Yet. She felt Adrien turn towards her so she slowly took a few breaths and turned towards him.

He smiled, such gentle and encouraging smile. His hair was wild his eyes smiled to her encouragingly. She understood. She was looking at Chat Noir. He lifted one arm and put his hand on her shoulder. Her lips quivered and she took one shaking breath. With one swift move, he turned her slightly and put both of his hands on her shoulders. She looked at him. It was him. Adrien was Chat Noir. How and why and when and all other questions that accumulated in her head were put aside. Her vision became blur and a tear escaped her eye.

Adrien pulled her closer and hugged her the moment he saw a tear escape her eye. They were kneeling like that holding each other, until she finally collected herself enough to speak. She had to tell him.

"I have returned the miracle box." Marinette smiled. "I had to. I have failed." she looked down. She was not sure what was coming next. This was different than any battle she had fought so far. She was not sure what the victory was. She did not see the monks as enemies she should fight to get Tikki and the miracle box back. In fact, they might belong there, with them.

"You have not failed. We got here. We are here." Adrien whispered back.

The woman who sat behind Marinette translated quietly.

"I lost Tikki." Marinette continued. Adrien moved his head so that he could see her ears, yes the earrings were still there. He touched one of the earrings with his index finger. He waved his head. He did not believe they actually lost their kwami as long they had their miraculous. He lowered his ring hand and took her own hand into his. Then he lifted both of them up for her to see the ring on his hand.

"You have not. Plagg is not with me. I am sure they are creating havoc somewhere in the temple." Adrien smiled. He could not forget the Kwamibuster incident. That was the moment she fooled him. He did suspect her to be Ladybug then. He felt almost certain. And then she crushed his idea with a proof to the opposite. She fooled him. She had to. He understood.

The old monks on the bench unclasped their hands releasing Tikki and Plagg who wordlessly floated to their chosen.

Well, the old monk has lifted his index finger over his mouth the moment he released Plagg signalling the little black cat like god to stay silent. And Plagg rolled his eyes in response but obeyed. Although, it was killing him, he wanted to speak, he wanted to tease so much, he also wanted to exhale his frustration over everything he had to suffer because of his lovesick wielder. But he vented his frustration to the old monk practically the whole morning so now he was able to stay quiet. For one bit.

Tikki floated happily to her chosen with her blue eyes wide and a sigh of relief. Adrien was there for her and she indeed needed him. The girl had issues (to put it mildly) in verbal communication with the boy, but as the events unfolded, he was able to soothe her differently. And it was not as if she could have told him what was really bothering her. Her wielder did not break and the monks were rather satisfied with her both as Ladybug and as the Guardian. Tikki hugged her wet cheek and that was the moment the girl finally averted her eyes from Adrien.

"Tikki" she whispered with a knot in her throat.

"Plagg" Adrien greeted with a smile on his face.

"You are now given a choice." the old woman Dolma spoke. "You can stay here and complete your training or you can release your memories and leave as civilians."

Both teens turned their attention to the old monks fully and nodded.

"Before you agree, you should know that the usual training lasts for seven years." the old monk Tenzin continued.

"Seven years." Adrien whispered to Marinette. "The training takes seven years."

Marinette gasped. Master Fu had told her about the training, but he also told her she was a fully developed Ladybug. And then again, he never completed his training to be a guardian, did he?

"We used to train them since they were little." the old woman smiled. "You are much older and you have achieved so much already."

"We would take children here to study. Some of them would become artists, other would be administrators, several would train to lead prayers, and some would train to be able to wield the miraculous or become a guardian." the Pema explained slowly. "Then, in the time of need, we could use any of them."

"We have often sent teachers to the other ends of the world to teach and train the wielders when we anticipated the events." the old man continued explaining. Adrien whispered the translation to Marinette and Pema nodded. "Sometimes, we would resort to time travel to train the wielder before the events have unfolded, but that was not always possible."

"But, she has met the wielder of the Rabbit miraculous, she even knows who will wield it, she knows how we anticipated the events." Pema replied to the old man.

"Yes, this time the temple was missing and we could not do it." the old woman smiled. "And yet, these two managed to wield the miraculous and defeat the akumas and sentimonsters and even restore the temple. And us. I see no need to do it now."

Adrien translated to her and Marinette smiled gratefully. So she was not a failure.

"There is much left for you to learn and we do not have much time." Tenzin warned.

"The miracle box will stay with me until you complete your training." Dolma concluded.

"But, what about Paris? Who will protect it while we are here?" Marinette whispered.

"Yeah, we have a job there, sort of." Adrien rubbed the back of his neck with his hand.

"It might be under the attack right now and we would not know." Marinette warned.

"We used to check the notifications on out phones, but there is no signal." Adrien even took out his phone and waved it towards the monks. Dorje nodded in understanding. He played with the device during most of the conversation.

There was a look of concern and confusion exchanged between the monks.

The old man stroked his beard deep in thought.

The old woman sighed in frustration. Yes, there was one more fact to be revealed to the two teens and it was not hers to just say it. Paris was probably safe because those who were attacking it were on their way to the temple. The monks were perfectly sure they knew what was going on.

"I guess we should ask those officials outside to give us what is needed?" Dorje smiled.

"Yes, we are supposed to be trained in these new ways the world works anyway." Pema smiled.

Chapter Text

The Kwami Talk

Meanwhile … (the event before the reveal but put as a separate chapter)

That night, Pema has retrieved Plagg and Tikki from their sleeping chosen and brought them to the two old monks.

Pema entered a small room where Tenzin waited sitting on the bench.

"Hello Plagg." Tenzin greeted holding out his hands.

Plagg reluctantly floated to cross about half a meter between Pema and Tenzin.

"Hello Master Tenzin." Plagg greeted.

"I feel like it was only yesterday when we talked the last time." Tenzin spoke stroking his beard and smiling with the corners of his lips.

"I would have you know that it was several centuries for me." Plagg huffed and moved his tail nervously.

"I know. I know." Tenzin smiled teasingly. He loved teasing the old grumpy cat-like god. And Plagg obviously knew it. "So you have a new chosen." Tenzin raised his eyebrows.

"Yes, I have and I should be with him right now." Plagg was not in the good mood.

"Well, you know why you are here. I am sure you followed the whole conversation before." Tenzin smirked.

"Nope, I was fast asleep." the little black cat looked away and narrowed his green eyes.

"Plagg." Tenzin smiled.

"I was exhausted from the long and treacherous journey." Plagg exclaimed swinging his tail left and right.

"Plagg." Tenzin waved his head. "Adrien told us about the journey."

"Well, it was still exhausting." Plagg continued being annoyed and looked to the side while he was swinging his tail left and right.

Tenzin raised an eyebrow.

"I had to listen to my chosen being blind about that pigtail girl he travelled with." Plagg switched his eyes to the other side and continued flipping his tail left and right.

"I can understand." Tenzin nodded encouragingly.

"And I had to hear all his silly talk." Plagg rolled his eyes.

"Hm?" Tenzin smirked.

"And all the other girls that hang about him back home in Paris." Plagg continued pretending to be utterly bored.

Tenzin raised both eyebrows. The boy did not mention being popular with girls. Being a supermodel meant nothing.

"I mean, ridiculous, utterly ridiculous." Plagg impersonated Chloe.

Tenzin laughed.

"And all those other girls." Plagg shaken his body as if he is trying to shake off some dirt from him.

Tenzin raised an eyebrow.

"And I had to keep silent! The whole time! It was excruciating!" Plagg released an exasperated sigh.

Tenzin laughed again.

"I am so hungry." Plagg whined.

"Plagg, you never change!" Tenzin produced a piece of cheese and offered it to the hungry glutton who swallowed it in one bite.

Tenzin laughed once more and patted him on the head.

"Now it is better. Much better." Plagg patted his belly.

"Are you telling me that your new chosen is not feeding you properly?" Tenzin raised and eyebrow.

"To be honest, he feeds me more than his own father feeds him." Plagg replied angrily.

"How so?" Tenzin asked, his face a picture of curious old man.

And Plagg told him about the life in the Agreste mansion and his life with Adrien and he accidentally left out a few details when he put his chosen into trouble. Tenzin listened with undivided attention, teasing the old god from time to time and laughing at his antics.

But then, Tenzin asked Plagg how Adrien had stolen his father book. It took some quiet time for Plagg to admit his own role in the event. Then, Tenzin asked Plagg to remember anything he have seen in the safe and Plagg described every object. Tenzin listened carefully and stroked his beard deep in thought. The old man recognized the objects from Plagg's descriptions although Plagg did not know what they were.

"So you like the 'pigtails' girl?" Tenzin smirked.

"She is" Plagg pretended to look for the right word. "Tolerable." Plagg concluded his line of thought.

Tenzin laughed again.

"I just hate that human mushy stuff." Plagg groaned. "She makes my chosen happy although he is too blind to see it."

"There you go Tikki." Pema released Tikki to float into Dolma's hands. The old woman waited patiently on her cushion with her hand held out.

"Hello Master Dolma" Tikki bowed in the old woman's hand.

"Hello Tikki, how very nice to meet you again." Dolma smiled.

"It is nice to meet you too again Master Dolma." Tikki looked with her blue eyes wide. She wandered why she was separated from her chosen. The little goddess knew that the monks were not trained how to deal with the situation like the one they were in, but Tikki and her chosen were in situations they never dealt with all the time and she was a bit concern the monks would meddle too much.

"The time was much longer for you than it was for me." Dolma smiled gently.

"Yes it was." Tikki replied patiently. She was a goddess, the time was irrelevant, she has lived through thousands of human generations.

"What have you been doing during those years?" Dolma asked with a strange tone in her question.

Tikki raised an eyebrow and listed several events where she or her chosen have participated.

"I was dormant in the miracle box for most of the time." Tikki continued. "And Marinette has already told you about my time with her."

"That is true, indeed." Dolma continued.

"I was here, just moments ago, while you questioned her." Tikki continued in uncharacteristically cold voice.

"Well, we would like to hear your point of view." Dolma narrowed her eyes.

Tikki floated in the air and schooled her face in the most pleasant expression she could muster.

"My chosen is the best Ladybug for the task ahead of her. She had won every battle. She learns from her mistakes. She came here willingly and on her own. She has found a way." Tikki spoke solemnly in her high pitched voice.

"But the tone of your voice tells me there is something wrong with her." Dolma insisted.

"There is nothing wrong with her." Tikki narrowed her eyes.

Dolma raised an eyebrow.

"Why have you taken the miracle box away from her?" Tikki floated into the old woman's face with rather stern look in her blue eyes. She made it clear that she would insist on getting an answer.

"She is not a trained guardian." Dolma answered.

"Master Fu trained her and he made her a guardian." Tikki insisted.

"Fu has failed in one of his tests when this temple disappeared, you could hardly call him a master, let alone a guardian." Dolma warned.

"He has learned on his own, and so did she." Tikki insisted.

"Fu has lost the book when the temple was burned down. The next time he was the book was when you and your current chosen retrieved it and brought it to Master Fu." Dolma argued.

"They are both able to fulfil the duties that were passed upon them." Tikki pushed further.

"You can not be the judge of that. They both have to pass the tests." Dolma insisted.

"Well, your tests are stupid." Tikki put her hands on her hips and stared at the old woman.

"You can not be the judge of that either." Dolma finished in low voice.

The conversation was over and the old monk got to her feet and proceeded slowly towards the other room.

"They are very connected to their kwami." Dolma said instead of greeting while she entered the room slowly. "And vice versa, Tikki is strongly connected with her chosen."

"Yes they are." Tenzin nodded back. "We should return the kwami to their chosen."

"They will come over after breakfast. Pema and Dorje will bring them." Dolma gave a nod to the two younger monks as she issued the order. Both old monks waited for the younger ones to bow in greeting and leave before they resumed the conversation.

"You learned more bad news?" Tenzin asked cautiously.

"Not really, except kwami think they can chose and control their wielder." Dolma was uncharacteristically nervous.

"Well, they, can, it is what they do." Tenzin replied with a smirk. His face revealed that it was not the first time the duo had the same conversation.

"But the wielders should control them, they should control their power! Otherwise, they would not need the wielders at all!" the old woman raised her voice.

"I would say the wielders we have here have proven they can control their power, Dolma." Tenzin spoke patiently.

Plagg and Tikki both floated out from their hands and nodded.

Dolma waved her head.

"It is the ability of humans to use the kwami to do evil things that have brought them here." Tikki warned. "It is the ability of humans to seize the complete control over kwami that enables them to create the supervillains."

"All humans sometimes use their powers for selfish reasons. Are you going to tell me your current wielder have never used you to help her with something she should have dealt with on her own, without the help of magical powers?" Dolma nodded to stress her words.

Unable to deny it, because it would have been a lie, Tikki simply lowered her gaze.

"I did not think so." Dolma cut off. "Of course she did it. Everybody does."

"You are asking for perfection. Nobody is perfect." Tenzin warned.

"Besides, I do not want to hear how perfect they are. If we are to teach them anything here, I want to know what is wrong with them." Dolma insisted.

"If you put it that way." Tenzin sighed. It was a trick to make the kwami speak against their chosen.

Plagg and Tikki looked at each other. As much as they could easily find faults with their chosen, they certainly did not find it something that should be corrected. Sometimes you like someone for their flaws, not only their perfection.

"Someone's flaw is another person's virtue." Tikki chirped and put her nose up. "My chosen is the perfect teenage girl." The little red goddess looked at Plagg.

"Well, contrary to you." Plagg looked at Tikki with narrow eyes. "My chosen is a perfect teenage boy." Plagg grinned at Tikki's expression.

Tenzin winked at Plagg.

"Are you telling me he never abused your powers?" Dolma raised her eyebrows at Plagg. Plagg remembered cataclysm on the Adrien ad one Christmas. He lowered his gaze. "I thought so." Dolma exclaimed victoriously.

"We can't interfere with their growing up." Tikki begged. "It is part of the process and you know it." How would the little red goddess with three black spots explained to a Tibetan monk from almost two hundred years ago the reasoning behind stealing Adrien's phone just to remove a message?

"My chosen lives in extremely cold household, practically without any family love, and yet he is able to have love and compassion for others." Plagg groaned. He was annoyed whenever Adrien wasted hours staring at pictures of Ladybug in front of his computer screen(s).

"Hm" Dolma insisted.

Plagg narrowed his eyes. This old babe was not giving up. Okay then, let's give her what she wants.

"Well, there is actually one thing you could fix with my boy." Plagg spoke smoothly. "You see, he has those love problems."

"Plagg no!" Tikki whispered.

"The girls are practically chasing him, but he sort of got it into his head … " Plagg spoke slowly.

"We are not supposed to interfere with that. That is the part of growing up. They have to resolve their feelings on their own." Tikki hissed.

" … that the one he wants does not want him back." Plagg continued smoothly after Tikki finished. "And then he becomes all mushy and gooey eyes and ..."

"And then he feeds you Camembert because you whine." Tikki crossed her arms.

"Well, do you have such problems?" Tenzin asked Tikki with a smile. He enjoyed the whole conversation with a knowing smile. He knew exactly where the problem could be.

"I do. But it will be resolved soon." Tikki looked at Plagg and then at Tenzin. "I am sure there are powers in this temple that will help them both resolve the love issues they have." The knowing look and the tone of her voice said it all. Sooner or later, the temple will allow them to recognize each other. After that they will have to train how to hide it from Nooroo.

Plagg and Tikki were served their food while the two old monks meditated in silence.

"They do have a lot to learn, Sugarcube." Plagg whispered once he estimated it was safe.

"I know they do." Tikki whispered back. "But I do not want them to spend seven years in Tibet."

"My boy could use the time away from his old man." Plagg sighed. Tikki rolled her eyes in return. "But I could not possibly live seven years without Camembert." Plagg snickered.

Chapter Text

The teaching practice (s)

The morning had revealed many things.

The students were waking up slowly, tired from yesterday's trek over the plateau, slightly dizzy from sleeping and high altitude and mostly grumpy due to blisters on their feet. Applying any remedy required taking off socks the night before, in the dark. Tired students postponed the effort for the morning when several appalled gasps could be heard whenever a student would reveal particularly wounded feet. Fortunately, they were expected to walk around the temple with bare feet or wearing only socks.

Several monks were walking around the large room, advising students to go to the washing room for their personal morning hygiene. There they could also get some remedy for their wounded feet. The students were expected to participate in making breakfast so those who woke up early were ushered towards the kitchen together with the guides.

Ye woke up and nudged Ling awake. There were no complaints from Ling about the cold this morning. The large room filled with many sleeping students was warmer than the tent they had used the night before. They both got up and got dressed while they commented on the two sleeping teens right next to them. But, when they went to wake them up, a monk approached and waved his hand to stop them.

"Let them have their rest." The monk spoke quietly.

Ling shrugged, Ye smirked and both went to wash before going for breakfast. One of the monks followed them. The monk asked them a few questions about Adrien and Marinette. Ling and Ye were sticking to the same story they placed with the authorities feeling a pang of guilt for lying but also unsure if it was safe to tell the truth.

As the students aggregated in the room where they ate, the purpose of their travel was finally coming to life. Their guide has distributed them among the monks to talk. Once the temple was restored together with its inhabitants, it was important to somehow adjust the monks to the situation. Since the temple was used as a schooling facility, the government officials have chosen to collect student volunteers for the job, both to teach the monks and to learn their old ways as that was a unique opportunity (not to mention that option was the cheapest and fastest to organize).

The students were there to educate the monks on the changes that happened in the last 175 years and what were the current norms. The students were chosen as opposed to the army and the government officials. The first 'lecture' session was organized for the first breakfast (read it as the morning prayer time for the monks) and the hours that followed. They simply sat in the large carpeted room where all the meals were taken and chatted about the modern life with the curious monks.

The subjects varied from one group to another, but there was one common thing to complain. There was no signal and there was no internet. The students could not possibly do anything without that. Finally, they formed small groups where the students would show their phones and stored pictures and messages and complain how they can't communicate without the network.

In the meantime, Adrien and Marinette were brought back to the main room to join the other students for education as it was mandatory for the whole group. They greeted Marinette's cousins and sat next to them. Pema and Dorje stayed close by and watched over them, not so much as to supervise but more to provide guidance. Both teens wanted to talk. Alone. And could not.

The students were supposed to study and document the life of the monks (a once in a lifetime opportunity that was mostly considered as an interesting adventure by the students). Few were excited, most of them were tired from the long travel and walk from the day before. The only thing that kept many of them awake was the frustration that they still have not called home nor posted pictures on social media.

Monks, however, did not need help from modern technology to tell stories, so they did. Each monk would tell several sentences and then the next monk would continue. They talked slowly and solemnly in deep and calm voice, as if they chanted a prayer and often repeated a sentence.

They told stories from ancient mythology of the five elements, where the Azure Dragon of the East represented the wood element, the Vermilion Bird of the South represented the fire element, the White Tiger of the West represented the metal element, the Black Tortoise of the North represented the water element and the fifth element Earth was represented by the Yellow Dragon.

Ling audibly jawed and Ye nudged her with his elbow.

Adrien translated every word to Marinette and she admired his skill. At least she had an excuse to stare at the boy. Adrien concentrated on translating to put his other chaotic thoughts aside. Marinette was Ladybug, the shy and brave girl from his class. Concentrate on the dragons, boy!

Marinette was glad she could stay quiet. Adrien was Chat Noir. She blamed herself for not seeing it before. But, she did not want to know the identity of Chat Noir. Right now, the two boys were the same. Adrien's hair was messy. The skin on his face got darker from the exposure to the sun on the previous days. His eyes were wild and happy ever since they left Paris. His face showed all sorts of expressions, not only the proper schooled types he showed usually, afraid of the public eye.

Sometime, during the speech, several monks closed their eyes. The students were nudging each other and snickering at the monks with their eyes closed. One monk finished and the next one continued without a break.

They told mythological stories of the old days about numerous small kingdoms organized with vast bureaucracy, kings, judges, torturers, minor bureaucrats, recording secretaries, armies and generals as well as harems and concubines. (The mention of the last two were met with stifled laughter.)

The monks looked as if they fell asleep while sitting up, which was understandable, they probably heard the same story many times already.

"Sssh, they are not sleeping, they are meditating." the government official who acted as a guide warned. Students exchanged a few looks and shrugs between themselves and calmed down. They continued to listen to the long and monotonous speech of the monk telling a story.

Adrien leaned over towards Marinette and was practically whispering the translation into her ear. They both giggled at the students antics before turning their attention back to the story the monks were telling.

The next monk told a story of the world pillars and how Gonggong wrecked one of the world pillars and tilted the heaven and earth and caused all the rivers to flow from west to east.

Then, one of the monks meditated particularly well and produced light snoring noises. Few students snickered while other closed their eyes too. Several students were making notes in their notebooks, other would take turn in filming the monks with their mobile phone. Most of them simply struggled to stay awake.

The magical rivers from the mythology were passing equally magical landscapes and included mystical places such as the Dragon gates where fish would swim upstream and jump up the waterfall in order to transform into dragons.

Tired as they were, several students of them fell asleep rather quickly. Their heads slowly nodded down, some of them leaned onto their colleagues.

"Hey, pay attention." the guide called.

"They are meditating. See?" one of the students answered while other students snickered again.

The guide glared at the snickering students and gently nudged the sleeping ones to wake them up.

After that the monks spoke of heroes who invented fire and cooking, writing or building shelters and houses. The heroes were mostly human, but all of them had some animistic traits. They could be partially dragon or a serpent and sometimes made of several animals merged into a human form.

Adrien listened to that part of the story carefully and quietly translated to Marinette. He would keep quiet when the guide was near, but he also received several looks and nods of approval from Pema and Dorje. Marinette listened carefully to both Adrien and the monk who talked very slowly. She could recognize the descriptions of the past miraculous wielders. They both exchanged looks that revealed to each other what they were thinking. Adrien smiled. This history lesson finally did not look like a complete waste of time.

The story telling continued with the consequences of Gonggong tilting the earth and the sky. The sky pored so much rain that it caused the great flood. But that was not the only problem, it also caused fires and other devastating events. However, humans suffered from the flood for years that was remedied only when master Yu intervened and the old rulers were replaced by the new ones.

"This is as if we are back in Ms Bustier class." Marinette whispered to Adrien in one of the breaks.

"Dear students, please open your book to the page 324 and read that chapter." Adrien smirked after he impersonated their history teacher.

"Well, perhaps this is more interesting." Marinette smiled (and the fact that Adrien was literally talking to her during the whole 'class' probably helped).

"I think this story means Tikki did not always restore everything as it was." Marinette whispered. She felt Tikki pat her belly under her clothes in response and nodded to Adrien to confirm.

The story continued with the flame emperor who ruled for many generations and was often called yellow. Other parts of the known world were ruled by the black, green, red and white emperors who also kept their rule for many generations.

"Those are the colours of the miraculous." Marinette whispered excitedly. "Does that mean they were passed from one generation to the other?"

"Would you like to raise a hand and ask?" Adrien teased raising his hand. But, the guide approached him and lowered his hand.

"This is not a discussion. We are not asking questions here." the guide warned. Adrien nodded in acknowledgement.

Marinette put her index finger over her mouth and patted her belly to signal Adrien how they would ask Tikki and Plagg about that later. Adrien understood her signal and smiled. They were nervous when the lecture started as they felt listening to that was a waste of time, but they began to recognize the pattern. Perhaps there was something useful to hear. But then again, sometimes it seemed like a pure legend.

Then they learned of other cultural heroes who taught people how to grow crops, particularly the five grains, and how to collect and store them and how to prepare them (and how to make alcohol out from them which earned more attention from the general population of the students than the rest of the story).

"Ms Bustier is not teaching us such stuff." Adrien snickered while he translated briefly.

Marinette nudged him with her elbow to quiet him down. They did not need to attract attention.

They were back to the great flood and how One ruler, Yao was decadent and corrupt together with his vassal Gun did more to help himself indulge in improper behaviour than to help his people so the gods got angry and the flood lasted for years because Yao turned evil and unworthy.

Ling and Ye were snickering at the depiction of the improper behaviour as the events described were exaggerated beyond reality.

But Gun had a son named Yu who stopped the flood by defeating the evil, including his own father, and Yu became the new ruler, considered just and true and started a new dynasty.

Pema and Dorje observed Adrien carefully during that particular story. The boy listened carefully and translated the words to Marinette. There was no particular reaction, no pattern or recognition.

The next story was a bout a bad king named Jie. He mistreated his people, he imposed brutal punishments and he collected a lot of taxes, but not for the benefit of the people, or to build roads or schools. Therefore, his people were not happy and another ruler won a battle against him with the help of a dragon that created a thunderstorm with wind, lightning and rain (water).

Yet another ruler with bad history had a wife who was possessed with malevolent fox spirit and together they committed many cruel and evil deeds.

Marinette looked at Adrien with questioning eyes. Apparently what was going on in Paris was rather common occurrence in the human history.

There were also good and fair kings who built roads and schools, who lowered the taxes and supported science and those who helped the poor to survive the drought years by redistributing food and financial means. Then, the story told, one such ruler stopped the drought by calling on to the help of a dragon who created rains and raised water to the fields.

Marinette could easily imagine some ancient wielder of the Dragon miraculous helping out the people to grow crops. But, it was important not to overdo it because one could easily cause floods. It was not and easy task, indeed. A lot of balance was needed. And the abuse of the power had detrimental consequences.

But then the story switched to yin and yang, the complementary forces that interacted and formed a system that was greater than the parts it was assembled from. The system was dynamic, not static and if yin was seen as a shadow and yang as the sunny side, then, as the sun moved, yin can became yang and yang can became yin.

This part was lost for most of the students. They stared disinterestedly into the monk that stood and spoke that part of the story. Some of them leaned onto their hands, some of them closed off their eyes and drifted into sleep even under the watchful eyes of the government official who was struggling to keep them awake.

"All right, the hour for the history class is finished, let's do some practical work around here." the short but sturdy woman that was their guide clapped her hands and everyone was nudged from their daydream (or nap, or sleep, or whatever).

The two wielders were contemplating the last words and what could they possibly mean for the two of them.

Chapter Text

The art of war, part one

The true art of war is winning your battles without actually going into a fight. (Sun Tzu, 'The Art of War')

The students were distributed to do the cleaning, cooking, washing up and various different chores that were part of the everyday life in the temple. That allowed Adrien and Marinette to separate from the other students again as they were taken back to the old monks for more one to one teaching (you can read it as questioning). Pema and Dorje were both there and the atmosphere seemed more relaxed.

"We are supposed to be peaceful monks and not teach you warfare." Tenzin started solemnly. "But the true art of war is winning your battles without actually going into a fight."

Plagg floated around carelessly rolling his eyes at the words from the old monk.

"That is easier said than done." Adrien smiled. "How do you not fight an akuma? It is not as if they can be reasoned with."

Adrien switched on his phone again and showed the pictures to Pema, soon it was Dorje who continued explaining and showing pictures to the other monks.

"Hawk Moth and Mayura have the upper hand here. They are creating monsters that attack civilians and us. We have to defend and protect and fight the monsters, while Hawk Moth and Mayura can stay hidden and safe." Marinette spoke animatedly waving her hands.

"We understand your point of view. But akumatized people and the sentimonsters are not the real enemy. They are merely their weapon." Tenzin nodded. "And yet, they never won."

"But we can't afford to lose. If we lose just one battle, if the akuma gets our miraculous, then Hawk Moth won. That's it." Adrien looked at Tenzin incredulously.

"Strategically, you are in much worse position than they are." Tenzin nodded. "You always expose yourself in battle, while they seldom do it."

"They are fighting the wielders of Nooroo and Duusu." Tikki chirped. "They both give their wielders the power of controlling people or inanimate objects from distance."

"You know, I could easily destroy Hawk Moth and his lair." Plagg offered.

"Yeah, just like you helped with that problem in Atlantis?" Dolma raised her eyebrow.

"And removed the extra tiling in Santorini?" Tenzin laughed.

Plagg groaned and floated away.

They studied several battles that Adrien had saved on his phone and told stories describing their moves and how each of them behaved. After a while, the battery on Adrien's phone finally went dead and it was time for him to install the sun powered battery charger somewhere (once he gets back to his backpack anyway).

Tenzin was insisting on discussing the battles where Hawk Moth and Mayura were fighting in person. So Adrien and Marinette got on their feet and explained the battle on the Hero's Day with the help from Dorje and Pema.

Then they re-enacted the fight against the Ladybug sentimonster.

Marinette took her own phone out and showed whatever was saved on it (and there was some, the Ladyblogger was her best friend, she had to).

"You have let go of fighting Hawk Moth to save Chat Noir and he has let go of fighting you for your miraculous to save Mayura." Tenizin stroked his beard. "That means there is something they care for more than winning your miraculous, at least, Hawk Moth does."

Marinette had that battle saved for future reference as it was one of the rare battles where supervillains appeared in person.

"Marinette and I reached the same conclusion." Tikki chirped proudly.

"But I find it difficult to believe." Marinette mumbled.

"Yeah, me too." Plagg mumbled.

Adrien rubbed the back of his neck not sure what to say. It seemed odd to say that Hawk Moth cared about anything. Somehow, the word care did not fit the guy at all.

"And you also care more for Chat Noir than to take the miraculous away from Hawk Moth." Tenzin stroked his beard while watching the two teens.

Adrien blushed and looked at Marinette. She cared for him. This time, he did not translate. Pema had to do the job. Adrien looked at her lovingly, his eyes were gentle and his smile was soft. He wanted to grab her in his arms and spin her around. But then he remembered the subject of their conversation and his mood sunk. It was that day, that same day, when she got expelled and akumatized she also had to fight Hawk Moth in person.

Marinette took a deep breath and collected more courage than she ever needed whenever she fought Hawk Moth, Mayura and any of their monsters.

"I, um, I care for my partner." Marinette studied the carpet on the floor blushing almost as much as Adrien did. That was much to say. She was saying that she cared for Chat Noir. She was saying that she cared for Adrien. In front of them. Well, in front of him. Gah, that was confusing.

"Tactically, that move was an error. If you fought Hawk Moth and took his miraculous from him, you could have easily taken the miraculous from Mayura and then use the Miraculous Ladybug magic to restore Chat Noir." Tenzin spoke gently and full of understanding, his eyes watched the girl carefully, studying her reaction to his words as Adrien translated.

Marinette stared at the carpet directly in front of her feet.

"I could not have let Chat die. Again. I had to save him." Marinette spoke sniffling and looking to the floor. 'I had to save you.' she wanted to scream and cry, but the truth was, she did not know Chat Noir was Adrien at the time. How could she ever be sorry for making that decision?

Adrien waved his head and took a step towards Marinette, he put his hands on her shoulders. His eyes were full of tears. Pema was translating her words.

She would never sacrifice Chat, even before she knew he was Adrien. She would never put victory in front of the life of her partner. She would never put victory over Adrien's life. Probably anyone's life.

She squared her shoulders and raised her head. She wiped the tears from her eyes with her sleeve while she smiled weakly to Adrien. Then she turned her eyes towards Tenzin.

"That would be too great risk to take. What if I lost to Hawk Moth? If Chat Noir would not be able to fight him after his fall and we would lose?" Marinette looked at Tenzin straight into his eyes.

Tenzin slowly nodded and smiled.

"You weighted the risks well, with your head, right now, here, in this room." Tenzin smiled. "But in the heat of the battle, you made your decision with your heart. You followed your instinct. You did what was safe. You did well."

"Excuse me." Adrien started and all the heads turned to him. "But Marinette … " Adrien inhaled sharply. "That day!" He waved his head. "Marinette went through hell that day." Adrien looked at her teary eyed remembering everything that happened, how Lila framed her to get expelled. And then he told them. He elaborated step by step what happened to Marinette that day in school.

"I can only admire how you managed to fight that day." Adrien said looking at Marinette and waving his head slightly.

"So you got akumatized that day?" Dolma asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Almost everybody have." Adrien flipped his head towards the old woman and brushed her of a bit more harshly than he intended. "But the butterflies left their victims on their own. We do not know how Hawk Moth enhances his powers, but it must be hard because he did it only twice."

"Hm" the old man stroke his beard. "Could you tell us more about that girl who god Marinette expelled from school?"

So Adrien did. He was giving his explanation without asking Marinette to cut in as most of the conversation was in Chinese.

Marinette was in her own thoughts, she should have never allowed to become akumatized, never, ever, ever. Never! This probably meant she was not fit to be Ladybug nor to be the guardian.

But, Adrien felt her insecurity rise and took her hand.

"Is she in school at all?" Dolma asked sternly, impatient for the story to finish.

"Of course." Adrien smiled and explained what he did. Then Adrien asked Marinette to explain her side which was brief, but caused substantial amount of laughter from Adrien once he learned what was Lila's excuse for lying and once he translated, Tenzin burst into laughter too.

"It figures." the old monk sighed once he calmed down. "Do you have any idea where the girl is now and what is she doing?"

Adrien waved his head. "We did not bother."

Marinette shrugged in response.

"You should know your enemies." Tenzin waved his index finger.

Marinette looked at Adrien with questioning look. Why was that girl of any importance to them?

They have switched the subject and discussed further which powers their opponents had and how they used them.

"We, actually, we came here because we believed, well, we thought that, maybe, Hawk Moth and Mayura may be after the temple and after you." Marinette stumbled her words but Adrien made the statement short and clear.

"Oh, we know they do." Dolma exclaimed theatrically.

Tenzin glared at her. Dorje sighed. Pema rolled her eyes.

"We would much appreciate your help in such circumstance." Tenzin spoke slowly and carefully. "You are helping us already by explaining their tactics and their ways of leading battles."

Adrien was not sure they were explaining any tactics. Ladybug was the one with the tactics. Chat Noir might cataclysm them or annoy them until they gave up. Yeah, he would also like to kick Hawk Moth's butt with his staff, but the man was good with his stick and handled it like a sword.

The monks explained how the magic that hides the identity of the wielders was suppressed on the temple grounds. But they also reassured the two teens that it is only the trained monks and other wielders who are able to recognize them.

"It is also said that there is a stone on these grounds that can take away the powers from the superheroes if you touch it while transformed." Pema spoke while Dolma stared at her.

"They already know." Tikki chirped.

"I might be able to confirm its existence at one point in time." Plagg muttered. Tenzin looked at him gently.

"It supposedly robs the power from the kwami forever." Pema continued. "Their kwami have certainly warned them."

"He needs to be transformed and he needs butterflies to create akuma." Marinette explained. "We do not know how close he has to be to control the akuma but all of them were created on the territory of the City of Paris."

Adrien remembers how his father carried pets and was stopped at the customs. The memory sent shivers down his spine. Why would he remember something like that in that moment?

Dorje and Pema received instructions from Tenzin and two miraculous from Dolma.

"Dorje and Pema will give your first lessons in history and warfare. Please follow their instructions carefully." Tenzin explained and sent the four of them away.

"We will have to tell them." Tenzin said quietly once the two old monks were alone.

"You know it is not ours to tell." Dolma brushed him off.

Tenzin smiled and stroke his beard. Knowing those two monks he sent with the two teens, it is going to take some time, but they will be prepared to know their enemy.

Chapter Text

The first lesson or how you should never teach history

Marinette and Adrien followed Dorje and Pema as they climbed down the cliff from the top where the temple sat. They got out from the temple on the excuse that these two students will be shown and participate in some of the chores executed by the monks. It was worded in such a way that none of the army and government officials felt the slightest wish to follow them. The monks carried some food with them and Adrien and Marinette were told to change into their clothes for wet weather (although it was sunny late morning outside).

They descended down a narrow path, partially natural partially cut into the cliff. They kept quiet as they walked and watched every step. After one sharp turn they reached an indent where they entered into a small cave. The entrance was well hidden, they might have passed it if the monks did not know exactly where to go. They unwrapped the packages they carried and carefully disposed a ceramic pot with cooked food and some more dishes wrapped in cloth as well as several vessels with water. They examined the amount of food. It was sufficient for a few days for the four of them, but Adrien remembered rather vividly how the monks have explained that they would be back before the dinner. That was odd.

"So it is you." Adrien smiled to Marinette while the two monks talked quietly on the side.

Marinette smiled. "And you." She looked him in the eyes and wandered how she has not seen it before. But then again, she did refuse to see it when Alya pointed it out.

He leaned over.

She poked him in the nose with the tip of her index finger.

They laughed.

"I should have expected it. I knew it. I was so sure it was you until you revealed yourself as Multimouse." he smiled. "You really tricked me well that time." Adrien shook his index finger and smirked.

"I never suspected you." Marinette admitted nodding. Adrien raised his eyebrows. "I have given you the Snake miraculous. And you took it. You were Aspik." Marinette rambled.

"And I failed miserably." Adrien looked down.

"No, you have not, you have saved me, so many times." Marinette reached for his hand.

Adrien remembered the number and sighed.

"You brought me back so many times and you were not too proud to give up and let someone else try." Marinette looked at his face, but he still looked down. "I am certain we failed because we missed you, as Chat Noir." Marinette smiled. Adrien finally lifted his face and smiled back.

Two flashes of light filled out the cave. There was a rabbit superhero and a horse superhero in the place of the two monks.

Pema was dressed in white and light blue and carried an umbrella. The clothes were not the classic monk robes, but much more practical to move. She wore loose white trousers and a white shirt with a long light blue scarf over it. A light blue mask covered her face and she had white ears.

"Hello, you can call me Rabbit for this occasion." Rabbit smiled.

Dorje transformed into Horse. He was checking how he looks and touched his face, as they did not have a mirror in the cave. He wore brown head to toe, but the clothes were of similar shape, as for Rabbit. Horse was still checking himself, his mask, lose brown pants and shirt with a brown scarf when Rabbit nudged him.

"We will start with a lesson in history." the Rabbit told them and waved the umbrella creating a portal. All four of them passed through the portal.

They were in the same cave, but there was no food, it was much darker, they could barely recognize each other as shapes in the darkness and some stones were in different place.

"It is good that this place has not changed at all during the millennia." the Horse told them. Rabbit de-transformed, gave some food to the rabbit kwami and hid the kwami in a small bag on the side.

"We should stay hidden and only observe the events unfolding, there where we are going." The Rabbit holder explained. "The best way to do that is to stay untransformed and observe as civilians. Remember, you should not interfere, whatever you see going on there. You should not interfere."

The two teens nodded to confirm they understood.

The Horse created a portal and the whole group went through.

They were in a forest. It was warm and it was dark. The moon was shining while the sun just started to make the skies lighter.

"The sun has not come up yet. Let's go." Horse said as he de-transformed into Dorje. They ran through the forest lead by the horse. "I could not get us too close. We should never be seen. If possible."

"We are close to the edge. Let's go up." Pema stopped them. "We should not get caught." She looked around and pointed a direction where she saw something that satisfied her. "In case we get caught, we all transform and Horse creates a portal back." Everyone nods in acknowledgement. "You should not fight them and you should not interfere."

They walked for a few minutes until they found a tree that seemed satisfactory to the two monks.

So, they climbed the tree. When they reached the upper branches, a view of a valley spread before them. There was a fortified settlement. One could hardly call it a fort. The fortifications were made of mud and sticks that stuck out of it and just the top few meters were made from wood and stone.

"This is the siege of Wu that had lead to the downfall of Ch'i." The whole group looked at the green meadow before them.

"The citizens of Wu were kept under siege for months, but they were never given any terms of surrender. The leader of the Ch'i wanted them defeated and annihilated. And they knew it. So they fought until the last one standing." Pema explained.

"On the other hand, the solders of Ch'i could not go home or they would be killed on the spot. But after the months of siege, and the atrocities they committed, many were not willing to return to the normal life while the fresh reinforcements, the young people brought from the Ch'i homeland, they did not want to fight once they heard the stories from the more experienced solders." Pema continued.

"We have never seen this battle, it was one of the many. The king of Wu knew a lot about the Ch'i kingdom because of the trade. The king of Ch'i did not go to the battle himself. He made decisions from his home trusting the information he got from messengers that always came for more reinforcements." Pema spoke quickly as the scene became brighter and brighter. The sun was raising behind their backs. "You can see the king of Wu there watching from the reinforcements."

They watched the battle unfold. One could hardly call it a battle, it was more like a carnage. With many solders from Ch'i escaping the battle unnoticed.

The four observers stayed hidden on a tree, but they could see the battle unfold with in all its gruesome details.

Marinette screamed at one point, unable to stay at the side and not intervene. She firmly believed in the saying that Alya taught her: 'The only thing needed for the triumph of evil is for the good people to do nothing.' Adrien muffled her scream and she hid her face in his chest. He shed a few tears while Marinette sobbed on his shoulder.

Tikki sat on her shoulder, she was silent through the whole ordeal.

Plagg initially whined for cheese, and Adrien obliged. Then he hid in the boy's clothes mumbling how he saw it all so many times before. Finally, feeling the distress of his chosen, the little cat like god sat on Adrien's shoulder whispering his own words of comfort. Well, that was comfort if you find the words Plagg used comforting.

For two superheroes, watching a battle where many innocent civilians were suffering without being allowed to interfere was a pure torture.

They resisted begging to stop this torture, they decided they would go through the training so they suffered watching the carnage before them.

Marinette screamed a warning to a group of children to hide. She was loud enough to be heard by the kids and they indeed hid in a hole in the ground.

The two monks were not satisfied.

"We are not supposed to interfere. We could change the course of history if we do." the two monks warned.

"But why are we here? What are we supposed to learn from this?" she begged at least for some understanding, some purpose of this suffering.

"We are not used to stay aside and watch. We interfere. We help. That is why we were chosen." Adrien explained.

"You are here to learn from mistakes from the past." the two monks shrugged, they merely followed the instructions given by the two older monks.

"We are here not as your teachers, but merely as guides." Pema added. She began to see that this way of teaching must be very frustrating if you are a kind person who would always interfere and protect those who can not do it for themselves.

"Our duty is to bring you here for you to see for yourself." Dorje shrugged his shoulders. They heard stories of the battle that unfolded many times over the years of their training, but never witnessed one.

"Whatever you learn from this is your own doing." Pema warned. She could see the two teens were frustrated. Perhaps the whole point was to train their patience.

And the two kids forced themselves to watch.

"There are no superheroes involved in this battle." Marinette whispered once she managed to turon on the analytical part of her brain.

"Nope" Plagg replied. "We did not bother with this dispute." he lowered his little head in shame.

"There was no magic involved, there was no need for our intervention." Tikki added quietly.

"Nobody will bring them back." Marinette cried. Both teens were so used to the fact that they were active in every battle, and they would win and then Ladybug magic would restore everything as it was, including revitalizing those who were caught and suffered.

Once she was able to set the overwhelming feelings slightly aside, Marinette noticed the main flaw in the strategy. And that was that the attackers had no strategy at all. That side was waiting for the other side to became exhausted and give up. The solders of the city under siege were waiting patiently for the attackers to fall in their traps. And they did. The attacker side had merely solders, their families were left at home, and nothing bad would happen to their loved ones. They had access to food and water but their motivation was diminishing as the battle unfolded.

"How long has this siege lasted so far?" Adrien managed to think of a reasonable question.

"Three and half months. The inhabitants of the town are starving right now but they renew their supplies after every battle." Pema waved her head. It was obvious that watching all this suffering had made her anxious. Both Dorje and Pema wandered what was the point of bringing two kids to watch this particular battle.

"But if they lose, they lose everything, their lives and their homes and there is little hope their loved ones would be spared as the attacker is known not to take prisoners. The people of the town, they have nothing to lose by continuing to fight." Marinette nodded her head while tears continued to fill her eyes and flow down her face.

Finally, the evening came and there were no Ch'i solders left on the battlefield while there few Wu solders wandering around half crazy. The families got out from their hiding spots and few supplies reached the city under siege as the attacking solders diminished.

"Nobody won." Adrien waved his head. "Nobody can win a battle that is lead until extinction."

"Actually, Wu won." Marinette sighed. "They survived, so they won. Just like we do."

"But, in order to really win, they should go after the solders and attack Ch'i." Adrien whispered.

"And that is something we were never able to do. Their leader is hiding. We can only win against Hawk Moth and Mayura when we fight them face to face." Marinette whispered.

"So we wait for them to come to us." Adrien whispered.

"Just like Wu did." the girl nodded.

Once it was dark, they climbed down a tree and Dorje transformed into Horse and brought them back to the cave, where Pema transformed into Rabbit transformed and brought them back to their time.

All four felt sick to their stomachs and not hungry at all, but the monks motioned for all four of them to eat. It was necessary to eat. They have not been eating for twelve hours although they were gone for only a few minutes.

Chapter Text

The art of war part two – know yourself

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

They all just wanted to forget what they saw. They were far from the battle, but still saw the gore details. It was hard to remove that from their minds.

The two monks chatted quietly between themselves, careful not to be overheard by the two teens, or at least Adrien, who would catch up on the conversation. Both Pema and Dorje concluded that the previous lesson forced the wielders to remain passive and observe while they were prone to act. It might have been a good training to stay patient and hidden, but it did not work, Marinette practically failed. They both agreed not to report the incident and were discussing what to do next.

Marinette filled the two bowls with cooked rice and took them towards Adrien. He sat with his head in his hands. He enjoyed the akuma battles alongside his lady. She would restore everything back to how it was before. This was different.

Marinette sat beside Adrien and nudged him to take one bowl. He looked up, his face and eyes were red, but he smiled gratefully and took the bowl. They have not eaten for twelve hours while they were observing the battle, but in the time they left, only one minute has passed.

They took a few spoonfuls in silence, chewing and swallowing with effort. But, when rice reached their stomach, the pained knot loosened a bit and it was easier to breathe.

"Why?" Adrien started "Why you never suspected me to be Chat Noir?" he used the opportunity to continue the conversation they had in the same cave before they went back in time. It was also to put his mind somewhere else. Anywhere else. And the two of them could finally talk.

Marinette shrugged at first. She took one more spoonful of rice and chewed for a long time to prolong the time that she needed to think of an answer.

"Alya called it." Marinette shrugged again. "I told her it was impossible." she smiled.

"You think it is impossible that I am that charming cat?" Adrien smirked and raised his eyebrows.

"You are definitely that cat." Marinette laughed.

"But not charming?" Adrien smiled at her as he took one more bite. She stared at her rice. "Princess?" he whispered and took one more spoon of rice. Marinette blushed. She picked on the rice with her spoon.

"You do not think I am charming, Princess?" Adrien whispered again and put more rice in his mouth. She stared at her bowl and tapped the rice with her spoon.

"You" tap tap "You are" tap tap tap "You are more charming as Adrien." she squeezed out quickly and then bowed her head low and pulled up her knees to hide her face. He grinned happily, all his dreams were coming true. Actually, none of his dreams were coming true and everything was even better. But, she was curled into a ball, hiding her face from him.

"Marinette" he whispered, he put the bowl in his lap and put the free arm around her shoulders. "You are charming too." He stroked her shoulder then squeezed it. "You make me very happy." he whispered into her ear.

She raised her head a little, sufficiently to see him through her bangs, but when she saw the pure joy in his face she raised her face completely. Adrien was happy. She made him happy. He said so. That was all she ever wanted. She smiled gently at him.

"I was so sure it was you. I hoped it was you. But you crushed it after Multimouse. I should have seen it. I should have know how far would you go to protect your identity." Adrien whispered softly, sighing in the end. He continued to eat and Marinette remembered she had rice too.

"I'm sorry." Marinette mumbled and took some food.

"Don't be. I understand." Adrien smiled. "I am just so happy that Ladybug is you." And perhaps slightly concerned. While he was still in Paris, he planned to profess his undying love to Ladybug as soon as they met in the temple (and hopefully he would learn her identity by then). But that plan crawled out from his mind the longer he spent time with Marinette. And now, he dismissed the plan entirely. He expressed his feelings towards Ladybug so many times and yet he refused the girl who was behind the mask (for her with the mask, but it did not matter). No wander she never took him seriously and told him they could never be together.

"I … " Marinette took a deep breath. "I am also happy that Chat Noir is you." she spoke quickly and forced the words out so she had to fix it. "Confused, but happy." she sighed. Adrien relaxed and smiled back. She pushed back all thoughts on her crush for days now, ever since they left Paris so she stopped rewinding every moment they interacted in her head.

They ate in silence for a minute. Adrien was finished with his food and got up on his feet to take more. Plagg floated out from his jacket.

"So, what do you think about pigtails now, kid?" Plagg crossed his arms.

"Shut up Plagg." Adrien was in no mood to be teased by the little cat like god of destruction. Destructing the mood, yes that was what he was an expert in.

"You are doing really well." Tikki chirped to Marinette. "I am sorry masters gave you two no time to adjust, but we have to hurry. Hawk Moth and Mayura might be here at any moment."

And that put Marinette back to reality. She was there to fight, not to explore her love life. She put that aside when she was leaving Paris. Yes, she enjoyed Adrien's attention, it created a fluttering feelings in her stomach, she blushed and had to remember herself to breathe from time to time, but all in all, she took it as it was, friendly gestures and nothing more. And that is what they are going to be, until they reach home. She started to eat her food faster.

Adrien returned with more rice and ate beside her.

"So, you think I am charming?" Adrien teased some more leaning into her space even more. His Chat-like grin, teasing look in his eyes and raised eyebrows made Marinette roll her eyes.

"We are sharing that sleeping bag." she groaned, then she turned her face towards him and pushed her face into his "Chat!" she stressed the word. Then, she instantly pulled away and looked to the side. "We can't resolve our feelings for each other right now." she waved her head. She could not go back to that stuttering mess around Adrien, he was her partner and she was supposed to fight alongside him. No wander she was told they should not know each other's identities. She was such a mess around Adrien. She was annoyed by the self-sacrifice of Chat Noir. And if she knew his identity, it would have been much worse, she wandered if she would have been able to concentrate and win any fight.

"Yeah." Adrien sighed looking around, taking in their surroundings and the two monks who now stared at the teens. "We can't talk about our feelings right now." he sounded disappointed. "There is something more important to do, right, My Lady?" he asked a bit harshly. There never was any time to talk about feelings with his lady, she always rebuked his advances, there was no point in forcing her now that he knew her identity.

"Actually, you should." Pema smiled widely. "You should know yourself, otherwise, you will loose every battle."

"Oh" Marinette looked at Pema with her mouth opened in an 'o'. Then she turned towards Adrien. Okay, so this has to be done, otherwise they will loose to Hawk Moth and Mayura. This has to be done for the common good, for the benefit of everyone, not just her. She had to admit her feelings to save those two monks in the cave, and all those monks in the temple, and all the students, her cousins Ling and Ye, everyone's lives depended on her finding the courage to speak right now. So, she did.

"Adrien, I love you since the day you gave me your umbrella." she told him quickly as she faced him. "And I love Chat too, perhaps not exactly the same way, but I do." She lowered her eyes to the bowl of rice she still held in her hands. She has not eaten for an equivalent of a whole day and apparently she is never going to finish it.

"I love you too, Marinette, Ladybug, I love you both." Adrien whispered and put his bowl of rice to the side. "I am so sorry I refused you as Marinette." he whispered. "I was so sorry that day, even before your dad got akumatized. I knew I messed up. And I thought, you did not like me as Adrien." he took a few deep breaths. "I would do anything for you. I would die for you. That photo-shoot, the day you got expelled, I did it to make her get you back into school."

Marinette's vision was blur, there were warm tears rolling down her cheeks. Adrien went on his knees took the bowl of rice that she was not even aware she was holding away from her hands and put next to his. Then he pulled her up from where she was sitting into a hug. They both cried happy tears.

They stood like that on their knees for minutes, calming down their breathing, holding each other tight and enjoying each other's company.

The two monks nodded to each other with satisfaction and continued eating. The sounds of their spoons on their bowls was what made the two teens become aware of their surroundings again.

"Perhaps we should eat now." Adrien spoke quietly into Marinette's shoulder. "I have a feeling the next lesson in our training is going to put some strain on us."

Marinette nodded into his shoulder and they slowly separated.

They took their bowls with rice and sat back down. They glanced at each other and smiled when their eyes met. Plagg and Tikki floated towards them.

"Finally." Plagg exclaimed.

"Oh, you!" Tikki chided Plagg.

"You know I was out there the whole day without any food, I am so hungry." Plagg whined.

Adrien smiled and patted his mouth with an empty spoon pretending to consider what to do. Then he offered Plagg some rice. Plagg made a disgusted face at the rice and then a this chosen.

In the meantime, Marinette produced a cookie from her pocket and gave it to Tikki.

"Oh leave him alone if he has no cheese on him." Tikki scolded and munched on her cookie.

Adrien then pretended he just remembered something and produced a cheese triangle from his jacket pocket. Plagg grinned happily. Then Adrien waved it around a few times to tease Plagg. Plagg crossed his arms. Adrien finally threw the cheese in the air and Plagg caught it, swallowing it whole in one bite.

Pema and Dorje watched Plagg swallow the cheese with their eyes and mouths wide open.

"Always such a glutton." Adrien smiled.

"You have no manners Plagg." Tikki chided.

Marinette scratched Plagg's head.

Plagg burped.

Marinette quickly retracted her hand and everyone laughed.

They continued eating in silence for a few moments.

"Seriously, I do not know how will we fight the next time." Marinette sighed. "I could not possibly see you get hurt."

"You have to, Marinette. We have to continue fighting as we did. I have to protect you. I want to protect you. I have protected you both as Ladybug and as Marinette." Adrien spoke quietly. "Seeing you akumatized that day made me promise to myself that I would do anything in my power to not to see that again. Ever! I would do anything to protect you. Literally. Anything!"

Then he took a deep breath.

"I should have thrown myself in the way of that butterfly." Adrien sighed. "I can't believe I let it happen, I was just there." the boy sounded desperate and blamed himself. The truth was, now that he knew Marinette was Ladybug, the memory of her getting akumatized was far worse.

"A butterfly would still find me. There were too many of them. And I was through too much that day." Marinette replied simply stating the facts. "But, thank you, Adrien. And thank you for dealing with her." she did not want to mention the name, she just pronounced the word her in a weird way.

"Don't mention it." Adrien smiled and meant it in so many ways. "My father would have made me do it anyway, probably, he likes her for some reason." Adrien shrugged.

Pema listened carefully to the conversation and whispered something to Dorje. He nodded.

"If you are finished with your food, we should probably go to our next point in space and time." Pema announced, then she got up and put away the food bowls.

Chapter Text

The second lesson

 

Pema and Dorje were already on their feet waiting for Marinette and Adrien to get up from where they were sitting on the floor. The two of them still have not processed all the information they got that morning. Adrien was Chat Noir. Marinette was Ladybug. And they just admitted to be in love with each other. And yet, they were about to travel to a different point in space and time and witness some other event. The last one was gruesome and they were expected to watch on the side and not interfere. That was pure torture for the two teen superheroes who were chosen because they interfered and helped a man who appeared to be in trouble.

“I hope we do not get to witness another carnage and sit still.” Adrien whispered as he got up.

“And keep our mouths shut.” Marinette added remembering how she failed in her first lesson. She could not just stand by and watch, the warning scream was out from her lungs before she was even aware what she was doing.

“Actually” Pema smiled “We were thinking of taking you to a battle where you could interfere.” “But first you will have to witness why that happened.” Dorje added.

Adrien sighed relieved that this would at least require some action while he translated to Marinette. She smiled back at him. She was on such an emotional roller coaster that morning that some physical action on her side would help her release at least some of the tension that accumulated inside. Although, she had to admit, she felt lighter ever since she told Adrien how she felt about him.

They took the food packages to pack additional cheese and cookies for their kwami.

“Where are we going?” Plagg asked Pema as he flew straight into her face. “I have a feeling it is that place. I told this every time they took me back there. I do not want to see that ever again.”

Pema blinked at Plagg a few times.

“They have to learn about that event too.” Pema sighed and looked to the side.

“They asked to witness no battle. You do not need to show them the battle. At least not the first one.” Plagg was annoyed and worried and utterly resolved to persuade the two monks to avoid seeing a specific event.

“Plagg is right, they do not have to see the fist battle, you can tell them how it unfolded while they watch the events in the palace.” Tikki chirped. Plagg raised his nose at the ‘Plagg is right’ part and Tikki regretted saying that. Who will ever put his ego back to a normal lever, at least ‘an ancient god of destruction’ normal level.

“Fine, we can show them the consequences.” Pema accepted defeat when she saw how annoyed Plagg was and how concerned both Adrien and Marinette were. It was not as if she wanted to see that particular incident.

“Thank you Pema for taking us there.” Tikki bowed. “They have to learn and it would be a good training ground for them.”

After that Pema and Dorje discussed exactly when and where they should go with Kaalki and Fluff as well as with Plagg and Tikki. The discussion was rather lively, but Marinette and Adrien took a step or two back and away to have some small talk of their own.

“Remember the Clara Nightingale video?” Adrien whispered to Marinette over her shoulder while she watched the discussion. She first instinctively waved her hand to shush him as she thought that the discussion before her was what she should be paying attention to. But she could not understand the discussion completely and then her brain processed the words Adrien said and she burst into laughter.

“I can’t believe that. It was us!” she put her hands on her face and turned towards him.

“Yeah” he leaned in over her and smirked. Then he put his arm around her waist and pulled her closer and into a hug. “I can’t believe us.”

“Ahem” four kwami and two monks pretended to cough in their fists.

Marinette and Adrien separated and looked at the monks sheepishly.

“We are taking you for a funeral.” Pema announced. (The error in English is intended).

The two teens looked at each other and shrugged before they turned back to the two monks. How was this better than watching the battle? It probably was, but, well they’ll see.

“We will explain everything once we get there. You will have to transform and join the battle. It should be good training for you.” Pema continued.

“Fluff, clockwise” Pema called and transformed into Rabbit.

She waved her umbrella and made a portal. All four of them (plus three kwami) passed through a time portal, re-entering the same cave. It was daytime, late afternoon.

Dorje transformed into Horse and made a different portal that teleported them straight in front of the gates of a palace. The outer walls of the palace were painted white with black and red decorations while the gates were painted black with gold decorations. There were two Chinese signs, for ‘yellow’ and ‘dragon’ painted in gold letters on the door and two dragons were painted above them. Adrien quietly explained the marks to Marinette as they were entering through the outer walls. There was a lot of people entering the walls and many of them chanted the same words:

“A girl was raised to wield a miraculous and she was given the ring.”

“A boy was raised to wield a miraculous and he was given the earrings.”

Adrien felt Plagg sigh where he sat on the boy’s shoulder.

“She was one of my favourite wielders.” Adrien would swear Plagg spoke through tears. “You remind me of her, sometimes.”

“At least you got to be with them when it happened.” Tikki sighed quietly from Marinette’s shoulder. The kwami were not hiding, but nobody around them paid any attention to that, nor the face that the two teens wore modern clothing in ancient China (or wherever they currently were, but they would guess it was still somewhere in China).

“I did not appreciate the experience.” Plagg groaned.

“You helped them both in their last moments.” Tikki whispered. “Thank you Plagg.”

“The king you are about to see was very vain. He had many wives and they gave him many sons (and daughters). But, that meant they should either divide the kingdom into many parts or conquer more land. So he sent his sons into battles to conquer more land.” Pema stated clearly. “Since he was vain, the advisors in his court ascended in their importance by giving him presents, not by their competence.” She stopped talking for half a minute not to draw attention from two guards they were passing in the queue that winded the outer courtyard towards the entrance to the inner courtyard. They were passing a few fancy buildings in the outer courtyard, coloured in red, white and black.

“These are the houses of the king’s advisers.” Dorje explained in the break.

“As you can hear in the chant, a boy and a girl were raised to wield the Ladybug and Black Cat miraculous. In order to raise his position at the court, the boy’s father took away his earrings and gave them to the king.” Pema explained. “Then, the king decided he could win against any army. He had four sons left at the time. He divided his army into four armies and sent them to the different sides of the world to be lead by his sons who should conquer the lands for themselves. The man who took the earrings from his son got the position of the high adviser and sent his son to one of the battles. The ruler used the power of creation to create weapons never made by the human hand and enjoyed to abuse his power. All of his four sons engaged in battles and died as a consequence, leaving no heir. The king was an old man and none of his wives could bear him more children.”

They passed through the second gates into the inner courtyard. It was filled with people.

“We should find some place on the side.” Dorje whispered as he lead them to one side, close to the inner wall.

“The girl’s father wanted to improve his position in the court too, so he had given his young daughter to marry the old man and yield him more sons. He also got a position of the high adviser. The daughter used her miraculous and transformed. She escaped her father and her future husband and run into the battle that was already lost. There she strived to protect the young solders who were ordered not to retreat. She destroyed the weapons that the enemy took from them, but after days of fighting, she became tired and made a mistake. She was protecting one particular boy solider when both of them got hit. They both died in the field. The boy was the one whose miraculous earrings were taken by his father. And here we are at their funeral.” Pema finished the story. The sun has set while they walked and it was slowly becoming darker. Several fires and many torches lit the area of the inner courtyard that was filled with people.

“You know, we could prevent the whole battle thing.” Plagg suggested.

“That would just postpone it and make it worse.” Tikki chirped. “It has been tried.”

They saw the king giving an order from his high chair on the top of the grand staircase leading to a small but richly decorated building. A man got down the stairs to one of the bodies laid down before them.

“There are his four sons, and the boy and the girl.” Dorje whispered.

The man reached for the girl’s hand and took the ring of her finger.

“She is not any older than us.” Adrien whispered to Marinette. Both their eyes were blur. Adrien stood on his toes to see better. “Is he, the Ladybug miraculous wielder, that younger boy?”

Dorje nodded. The other four looked like full grown men with beards. The boy had no beard.

“The king has both the earrings and the ring now.” Marinette warned.

The woman sitting to the right side of the king had a mask on her face that seemed familiar to the two teens and her dress was – was it made from the peacock feathers? She did a small move with her hand, but somehow, everyone noticed it. And then, a dragon landed at the inner wall of the courtyard.

“That is a sentimonster, she is a wielder of the peacock miraculous.” Marinette whispered.

“So it begins.” Tikki and Plagg spoke in unison.

The king put the ring on and called for both unification and transformation. His robes changed colour into a combination of black and red with black spots.

“He is not a legitimate wielder, he is abusing the power, he called for black transformation, why is he dressed that way?” Dorje asked.

“That was his choice of colour.” Tikki explained.

Another dragon landed on the inner courtyard wall, on the opposite side.

The king spoke and made a wish.

Four rays of light lit up the bearded bodies and they stirred awake.

At the same time, there were numerous screams from the crowd around the lifeless bodies that suddenly dropped to the ground.

“Way to acknowledge your children out of wedlock.” Plagg muttered.

The third dragon landed on the wall.

“How have his sons died in the first place, if their armies had all this power?” Marinette asked.

“He sent them to their battles without any of the miraculous, they could not loose what they did not have.” Tikki chirped.

The four sons of the king got to their feet and walked towards the stairs below the throne of their father and bowed.

“We have to fight them.” Dorje pointed towards the throne. “And get their miraculous.”

They heard a flap of wings behind their back.

“We transform now.” Marinette ordered and there were four transformation lights. Ladybug and Chat Noir stared at each other as their transformation lights faded.

“Quick, the dragons.” Chat Noir yelped still staring at Ladybug as his ears have picked up a movement of wings behind them. Ladybug flung her yoyo and took Rabbit with her. They landed lightly on the back of the dragon as it landed on the wall. Chat Noir took Horse and they followed on his extended baton. But as the dragon moved they ended stumbling down the neck of the dragon. Chat Noir stopped himself from falling off with his claws and swung himself to the dragon’s back while Ladybug caught Horse with her yoyo. The four of them sat on the dragon while all four dragons slowly flapped their wings and rose to the night air.

 

Chapter Text

The battle of the gods

 

The dragons circled above the palace and landed again. There were more words spoken by now de-transformed king.

“They are sending the dragons first … and then the army?” Chat Noir asked Rabbit who confirmed.

“They are going after all the miraculous wielders. They want to collect them all.” Horse warned. “They will go after us if they recognize us.” Rabbit warned.

“Remember, this is your fight, we are here as a safety net.” Horse reminded Ladybug and Chat Noir.

The full moon was raising and the dragons flew higher than before. They could see the palace lit up by fires, the dark forest and the fields and the sea in the distance to the east as the moonlight reflected from the surface of the water. Then, the dragons flew around in larger and larger distance until they returned again.

“She is testing how far she can control them?” Ladybug concluded but it was toned as a question.

“Probably. She is getting on one of the dragons. See?” Chat Noir asked. But it was only him who could see that with his enhanced night vision.

The four dragons raised high up in the air, made one more circle towards the sea. This time they ventured further from the palace and the ancient city. They could see numerous small wooded islands sticking vertically from the sea surface. The dragons flew low, their wings would touch the sea surface occasionally. They took sharp turns left and right as they navigated between the islands and blurted a bit of fire before they turned back up and moved away from the sea and flew inland.

The terrain below them was first flat and then there were a few hills. The hills were becoming higher and higher. The moonlight made it easier to recognize the terrain below. Chat Noir could describe it in many details, so he did. They flew in a formation, with the peacock riding the first dragon, the two dragons without any load followed flying in parallel and the dragon that carried the four heroes was the last..

The hills were rising higher and higher until they were flying among numerous vertical cliffs. They were sticking out from the ground like pencils from a cup, raising vertically, some higher some lower, with sparse trees sticking out from the almost vertical surfaces.

The dragons navigated slowly between the cliffs.

“She is ordering them to land.” Chat Noir whispered. “I could hear her.” He had enhanced hearing after all and could hear a voice very far away in the quiet of the night. The dragon they were clinging on to landed on top of one high cliff and folded its wings.

“Can she hear us?” Rabbit whispered.

“Peacock miraculous does not give you enhanced hearing, only Chat Noir has that.” Ladybug replied. (Although rabbits in nature have excellent hearing too.)

“It is few hours until sunrise.” Horse whispered.

“We wait.” Ladybug replied.

“What is the plan?” Chat Noir asked.

“We need to get the object or objects that are used to control the dragons from the peacock holder and then we return to that palace. The king should be there, right?” Ladybug replied.

“Actually, he might be interested to go himself and try to get an eternal life. He believed he coud do that.” Rabbit answered. “Using the powers, he can go rather quickly up the river.” Horse added.

“Okay, then, can we attack her now?” Ladybug looked up. “Chat, can you see her?”

“As clear as the day.” Chat grinned, his night vision allowed him to spot all three other dragons and which one carried the wielder of the peacock miraculous. “She and her fan are right there.” he pointed towards a dragon in the darkness. The other three merely stared into the darkness.

“Horse, could crate a portal to transfer me there and I can grab her miraculous.” Chat grinned.

“And then we would have no dragons to use for transport.” Ladybug waved her head.

“We have him.” Chat noir pointed towards the Horse in the darkness, but nobody could see his black hand clearly. “He can teleport us.”

“Yes, but we do not know where!” Ladybug groaned. “We need the object or objects that she uses to control the dragons.”

“Okay, I’ll see if I can spot something.” Chat grinned at Ladybug and then looked into the distance. “She travels light.” he grinned again. Ladybug rolled her eyes. “I have a fantastic view to her weapon. Otherwise, she is dressed feather light, very similar to Mayura, actually. Except, she has a thin chain around her neck with several small charms hanging from it.”

“Are charms in the shape of dragons?” Ladybug asked.

“Might be. Hard to tell.” Chat shrugged.

“Okay, let’s go for it.” Ladybug whispered.

Chat stared at her in the darkness.

“We?” he asked incredulously.

“Of course.” Ladybug answered raising her eyebrows.

Chat waved his clawed hand in front of her nose.

“You are as blind as a bat.” Chat laughed.

“Bats see very well in the dark thanks to their hearing.” Ladybug teased.

“But your hearing is no better than usual.” Chat teased back.

“Look” Ladybug started and Chat laughed again. “Only I can actually look.” he replied teasingly.

Ladybug groaned.

“I have to tie her up and ride that dragon with her in tow. You have to take the chain with charms and steer the dragons. We could fly them in the night.” Ladybug crossed her arms.

“Okay, now you make sense.” Chat smiled, and without further warning, grabbed her around her waist and vaulted into the darkness.

“I can’t believe they win any fight like this.” Rabbit waved her head.

“Perhaps it is because of the reveal?” Horse shrugged.

“It must be.”

Chat and Ladybug landed hard, straight onto the wielder of the peacock miraculous and then rolling over each other on top of the dragon.

“This was not precise and gentle landing.” Ladybug complained, but as they came to a stop, Chat waved his claw.

“I have the chain with charms.” he said and put it around his neck using the same arm still lying on top of Ladybug. She tried to push him away but he yelped “Fan” and ducked down pressing them both to stay low. Ladybug could see the fan outline as it flew between her eyes and the moon. Chat perked his ears up to detect the movement with his ears, he quickly sat up and caught the fan on its trajectory back to the peacock wielder. They both jumped to their feet. Chat stuck the fan in his belt while Ladybug wrapped her yoyo around Peacock (after several attempts due to the darkness and it saw Chat who signalled when she was successful).

“Okay, you have her now.” Chat grinned. “Let’s go.”

The dragons flew up awkwardly and clumsily at first, as Chat was unsure how exactly to control them, but were soon steered to fly between and above the cliffs.

The peacock wielder decided not to detransform as then she would be a powerless civilian. This way, she might get loose from the strings and get back in control.

After the cliffs, they got to an area that was almost flat, the smooth surface raised and lowered in gentle waves.

“Could those be the sand dunes?” Chat asked. “There are deserts in China.”

“Then I am really glad we are covering this area in the middle of the night.” Ladybug replied.

After a while the sky was becoming lighter and the surface below was becoming darker as the sand was replaced by a grassy surface and fields. Just when the sun was about to rise, they reached a wide river.

They found the king transformed and running upstream on a small but fast red boat with black spots.

“Why do I always get something I have to figure out how to use it, while he got that?” Ladybug muttered.

They flew over to the king, but he spotted them. He called for the unification and another transformation. Ladybug swung her yoyo, it wrapped around the transformed man and she lifted him into the air. Chat Noir has already launched himself at the man aiming for his ears. Just when his claws touched the man’s ears, four rays of light hit Ladybug, Chat Noir, Rabbit and Horse.

They all disappeared.

Ladybug opened her eyes. It was dark, it was difficult to move and hard to breathe. She wiggled a bit, but the more she moved the harder it became to move.

“Tikki, where are we?” Ladybug whispered. There was no answer. Ladybug tried with her fingers. She felt she had her gloves on meaning she was still transformed.

“Stay calm, Ladybug.” she heard Chat Noir beside her. “We are buried alive. The more you move, the more soil prevents us from movement.” he breathed out heavily.

“Maybe we could wiggle ourselves out?” Ladybug asked.

“I could try to dig ourselves out with my claws, but it would take a long time.” Chat Noir pondered what to do. “On the other hand I have a hand for these things.” He could feel Ladybug roll her eyes even while she was compressed by the layer of soil over them.

He reached with his left hand and found her then he reached out with his right hand and spoke.

“Cataclysm.” he barely whispered under the weight that pressed over them. The soil above them crumbled into a small pile of dust and they dug out themselves from the remaining soil and dust. They were at a bottom of a very deep crater.

“You did gear job, Chaton.” Ladybug whispered, amazed how deep they were. “We should not stay here for long, it could cave in.”

Adrien detransformed and gave Plagg one piece of cheese.

“Be quick, Plagg, we might need you on the top.” Adrien whispered.

She launched her yoyo and it attached onto something then she pulled Adrien close and pulled them up. They both grinned at each other on their way up.

“We are lucky he did not wish us dead.” Ladybug sighed with relief. “At least something.”

“You should not wish your enemies dead, Pigtails. Other enemies might rise instead. And trust me, this guy had a few.” Plagg retorted.

“Where are Pema and Dorje? Or should I say Horse and Rabbit?” Ladybug asked.

“I would not worry too much about them, look!” Adrien pointed whit his finger. A portal formed above the ground about thirty meters away from where they were standing, on the edge of their crater. Soon, Horse and Rabbit got out from the portal with some dirt.

“Hi” Rabbit greeted dusting herself off. “Horse teleported us out. I’m glad you found your way out.”

“Us too, for you I mean.” Adrien replied. “And us too, I guess.”

Horse detransformed into Dorje and fed his kwami.

“Do you have any idea where we are and where did he go?” Dorje asked.

“Well, if he had not wished us very far, then he is probably still close, we should be able to find him.” Ladybug replied cheerful now that everyone was okay.

“Actually, could you hold on to this for a moment?” Adrien asked as he transformed back into Chat Noir. “Let’s see if it still works.” he said as he took the chain back and called upon the dragons.

“Wait, Chat, that could have brought them straight to us.” Ladybug groaned.

“This cat learns fast.” Chat Noir grinned.

Two dragons with no load landed.

“I guess the other two are taken with our lovely opponents for the day, My Lady.” Chat motioned for them to climb the dragons.

“Are you able to control their dragons?” Ladybug asked when they took off.

Chat Noir gave it a thought and then nodded. “I can’t tell where they are exactly, but.”

“That is okay, as long as they do not know where we are.” Ladybug spoke quietly.

“I have an idea.” Chat grinned.

“Can you make them produce some noise?” Ladybug asked.

“Exactly.” Chat put his index finger over his mouth.

Then he pointed in the general direction of – behind them. They turned around.

“We have to surprise him, to surprise them.” Chat whispered. “Any ideas, My Lady?”

“He can’t make a wish if he can’t speak.” Ladybug replied.

They were flying over the Tibetan highlands.

“You should hurry up, we are getting closer to the temple.” Horse warned.

“It is much easier with the akuma, when they want to catch us.” Ladybug was thinking out loud. “How come he did not try to take our miraculous?”

“He already has both of yours.” Rabbit answered. “And I am not sure if he recognized the two of us as wielders, these two were fairly unknown.”

“Lucky charm.” Ladybug called and got a towel.

“Don’t panic!” Chat grinned.

She looked around and saw Chat’s baton and the fan he had taken from the peacock and Chat himself.

“Horse, you can teleport the two of you to safety when needed?” Ladybug asked and got confirmation as an answer. “Good. Chat, you are going to take the peacock miraculous from her first.” She took the fan from his belt.

Chat stared at her. “Okay My Lady.”

They approached the dragon that carried the peacock from the back.

She held his baton on one end while he extended it and held the other end. Chat dropped on Peacock, she grabbed the necklace while he went for the brooch. Ladybug spread the fan and waited, she threw it the moment the dragon disappeared. Then she spread the large red towel with black spots and used it to manoeuvre her fall. As she assumed, the transformed king first extended the baton to slow down his fall, but the fan hit it and it broke. He was falling straight down and was just about to yell, Ladybug ran into him and wrapped the towel around his mouth. She held the towel with one hand while she took the earrings off him, one by one with the other. His hand was too far to reach to take the ring off.

But, Chat used the woman and her robes to manoeuvre his fall and landed straight into them, he went for the ring first. The king detransfromed back into his normal clothes.

Finally, Chat extended his baton to slow down their fall and all four of them stumbled to the ground. Chat put away all the miraculous in his pocket, took Ladybug and vaulted away, they were very close to the temple already. Ladybug’s earrings beeped their last warning.

Ladybug was looking into her towel.

“Do I?” she asked no one in particular and shrugged. Chat shrugged back as he carried her.

“Miraculous Ladybug” she tossed the towel in the air. After that Ladybug detransformed into Marinette. They saw Dorje and Rabbit waiting for them on the cliff and Chat went that way. When they landed, Dorje ran up to give the retrieved miraculous to the monks up there and then returned quickly.

“You did it!” Rabbit smiled. “You can detransform too.” she told Chat.

“Claws in.” Chat whispered and transformed into Adrien.

They went into the cave in silence. Adrien and Marinette exchanged few looks of admiration between them, mixed with disbelief and surprise. They knew it, but now they saw it. Adrien wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. He raised one hand and put it protectively over her had hiding her below his chin. Now that he knew, the urge to protect her was even stronger. They waited for some time, tired and quiet, until Dorje returned. Rabbit circled her umbrella and they went through the portal to return to their own time, to return to the future.

 

Chapter Text

The art of war part three – know your enemy

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

"I think we were awake for three days." Marinette sighed exhaustedly.

"That would be about correct." Pema tilted her head as if computing in her head, smiled and nodded in confirmation.

Adrien smiled sheepishly. He had been awake for longer, as Aspik. But then, he was transformed the whole time. This time he was himself.

Pema and Dorje exchanged a few looks and even less words and then turned to the two teens.

"I think we all had enough. We can just sit and talk here until it is time for us go back up there for our dinner." Pema suggested as she sat down, exhausted from the ordeal.

Dorje plummeted to sit beside her with a loud sigh of relief.

Marinette produced one more cookie for Tikki and checked her pockets.

"It is the last one." the girl smiled.

"Thank you Marinette." the little red goddess bowed and looked at her chosen gratefully with her blue eyes.

"See Adrien, food first." Plagg groaned pointing his arm towards Tikki while he stared at Adrien.

"Mhm" Adrien replied his head in the pot where they brought rice, the lid to the pot in his left arm a spoon in his right filling his mouth with the food.

"Great minds think alike." Adrien teased between two bites.

"I mean food for me!" Plagg groaned.

Adrien scraped one more spoon of rice from the bottom and offered it to Plagg.

Plagg returned a disgusted look, then he crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow while his tail flipped left and right nervously.

"If you don't want cold rice for the tenth time in a day then you are not hungry." Adrien teased some more before he stuck the spoon in his mouth.

"There is no appreciation here." Plagg whined. "No reward for my troubles." the little cat like god zoomed around rolling his green eyes. "I am to suffer in pitiful existence of hunger and the complete lack of understanding for my ..."

Marinette grabbed one small package wrapped in cloth and smelled it. It was cheese. She scrunched her nose due to the smell and tossed the package, still wrapped in cloth at Plagg. Plagg stopped talking the moment the cloth touched him and phased through the cloth. The cheese that was wrapped inside disappeared in the process. The empty piece of cloth gently floated towards the ground, empty.

Pema and Dorje were already used to Plagg's tricks, but this was new for everybody. So everybody stared. But Tikki. She knew what the old god of cheese gluttony and destruction was able to annihilate.

"… needs." Plagg finished what he was saying.

Adrien gaped at the empty cloth on the ground.

"I could have saved myself days of time of unwrapping your Camembert." Adrien spoke in disbelief.

"Ah Camembert." Plagg sighed dreamily while he floated around the cave. "My precious Camembert."

"It is good for you that neither Nathalie nor my father ever bothered to check how much money I spend on cheese." Adrien waved his head.

"If you only listened to the two of them, we could have enjoyed Camembert for full two weeks." Plagg teased.

Adrien rolled his eyes. He could have spent the last six days in his room, locked up in the mansion, with no live company, save few video calls with Nino. Adrien tried to compute.

"Which day it is?" he asked suddenly.

"Thursday." Marinette sighed. "I was just thinking the same."

"And the last time we contacted Alya and Nino was two days ago. That was the last time I sent a reply to Nathalie." Adrien was worried.

"Alya and Nino will write responses on your behalf through that application, don't worry." Marinette smiled tiredly. "I am more worried about the akuma."

"What business does your father have here?" Pema asked. Dorje was listening attentively.

"I actually do not know. Nathalie and him went alone. He did not let me go with them." Adrien clenched his fist. He was still hurt by the treatment and he felt more comfortable expressing his feelings now than ever before (except maybe when he was Chat Noir).

"At the Charles de Gaulle airport, he was stopped for carrying something without proper paperwork." Marinette reminded.

"Yes, in Beijing airport, he was stopped at the customs for carrying pets without proper paperwork." Adrien replied remembering what he overheard while they passed. At the time he did no pay too much attention to what was said and just wanted to get away without being caught by his father.

"Pets? Your father has pets?" Marinette asked.

"Yeah, I did not know about it either. It took me to escape from home and eavesdrop on him at the Beijing airport to learn that my father has pets." Adrien shrugged.

"He carried a very small plastic container. I saw it on Paris airport. It must be some small animal." Marinette bit her lower lip deep in thought. What kind of a man would hide from his son that he had pets.

"It was pets, plural. And I think they said something about bugs or pests or ..." Adrien was looking for a right word. "You did not see what was inside?" Adrien asked Marinette.

"No, it was not transparent." Marinette waved her head.

"Anyway, they took his pets into the quarantine in Beijing." Adrien shrugged.

"I can't believe he never told you about having pets." Marinette sighed.

"I can't believe you did not tell me how you returned the book or made this scarf." Adrien replied. "I am not surprised by my father. He never tells me anything. He has so many secrets." Adrien waved his head. Marinette hung her head down at that. That was not what Adrien wanted.

"I broke into his safe once." Adrien smiled as he continued talking after a short period of silence.

"Technically, I broke into his safe once." Plagg crossed his arms and raised his nose as he floated in front of his chosen. "And what a pile of garbage he had in that safe."

"That is when I have stolen that book that you returned." Adrien elbowed Marinette playfully.

Marinette smiled back.

"You know, I suspected your father to be Hawk Moth back then, because he had that book." Marinette smiled.

"You did not suspect me? It was me who brought the book to school." Adrien reminded her smiling playfully.

"Um, I refused to believe that." Marinette admitted. Pema looked at the girl with her eyes wide. Then she explained the conversation to Dorje who rolled his eyes.

"Just like you refused to believe I am Chat Noir when Alya suggested it." Adrien winked.

Marinette groaned.

"But then your father got akumatized and that laid suspicion away from him." the girl sighed.

"Are you sure Hawk Moth is not able to akumatize his civilian self?" Pema asked carefully.

"I, um, the two of us can only use our powers when transformed. I assumed the butterfly would automatically be de-evilized or disappear once Hawk Moth de-transformed." Marinette shrugged her shoulders.

"But the consequences of your doing exist after you de-transform." Adrien piped in. "If I cataclysm something and de-transform, it stays that way unless you fix it." he smiled at Marinette.

"So if he evilizes a butterfly and de-transforms, the butterfly will still carry evil." Adrien concluded.

"So Hawk Moth can akumatize himself." Marinette nodded in satisfaction they have reached a conclusion.

"But why would he do that?" Adrien asked himself thinking out loud.

"To create the strongest akuma yet? To produce an akuma when nobody was angry or sad enough to be akumatized? To … I don't know?" Marinette guessed the best she could.

"To remove suspicion from himself?" Pema added with a raised eyebrow.

The two teens sighed under the weight of their thoughts.

"Why have you returned the book?" Dorje asked. They discussed it last night, but he wanted to push the conversation just like Pema did.

"My father pulled me out from school as a punishment for stealing the book. Marinette brought it back and somehow persuaded my father to return me to school." Adrien explained.

"How did you persuade Adrien's father to return him to school when you returned the book, Marinette?" Pema asked.

Marinette told the story how the events unfolded, every detail that she could remember.

"He met you in person?" Adrien asked surprised.

"Yeah, he was standing on the grand staircase in the lobby of the Agreste mansion." Marinette laughed. "He took the book and said it was a source of inspiration for him." she said thoughtfully. "Then he asked me about my earrings." she added casually.

"Your earrings?" both Adrien and Pema exclaimed in unison, so loudly that Dorje jumped up where he sat.

"Yes." Marinette confirmed firmly. "Then he asked about my earrings." she added thoughtfully looking into her hands.

Everyone was staring at Marinette.

"What else was in that safe, Plagg?" Tikki chirped.

"Ah, some book on Tibet, a leaflet from a hotel, some junk." Plagg counted in his head.

"What junk? How did it look like?" Pema pushed with her questions.

"Some ugly piece of jewellery, it looked like the tail of that big fancy chicken." Plagg waved his hand.

"You mean the peacock?" Marinette exclaimed.

Adrien lost any ability to speak.

Marinette wrapped her arm around the boy and reminded him to breathe.

"Yeah." Plagg confirmed thoughtfully. The little black cat like god of destruction was feeling stupid. He was a god. You should know gods seldom feel stupid. Gods should never feel stupid. Gods should never be stupid. And yet, this time, he was.

Marinette held Adrien for a long time. The boy wrapped his arms around her waist and buried his face in her neck. He struggled to breathe. Once he caught a few breaths, they quickly turned into sobs. He cried his heart out, holding the girl like a lifeline, like the only sort of comfort he could possibly have. He was crushing under the weight of the information. He tried to reason it wrong. He tired to find something wrong in their reasoning, he wanted to plant a seed of doubt, to show how the conclusion they reached was not certain. He wanted to hope.

Pema and Dorje collected the things they brought silently. Plagg and Tikki phased through the jackets of their wielders and hid in any warm and cosy place they found inside on their own. Marinette held Adrien as they climbed back up on the narrow ledge. Dorje helped substantially by making sure none of the teens slips and falls.

Adrien let his feet move on their own. He let Dorje raise him to his feet. He allowed Marinette to lead him along the narrow ledge. He let Pema stroke soothing moves on his forearm as she helped guide the boy over the treacherous cliff. Marinette held him and guided their direction towards the entrance to the temple. Dorje put the black cap back on the boy's head.

"They are very tired. They are not used to the chores we do." Pema explained their behaviour to the government officials at the entrance to the temple. Adrien hid his wet and red face in Marinette's neck.

They met Ye and Ling in the corridor.

"What happened." they both asked in unison.

"Young man" Dorje spoke to Ye. "Would you be so kind as to help me get this man to the bathroom and clean him and change him before the dinner.?"

Ye nodded and the two of them took Adrien away.

Only then, it has became obvious to Pema and Ling that Marinette is not any better, so they took the girl to the bathroom too. Ling run for the fresh clothes, while Pema removed her clothing, helped her get washed with a wet cloth and cold water from the bucket.

The cold water helped both teens become more aware of their surroundings so they were able to put back fresh underwear and their onesies. They were taken to the meal room and were given their food. They ate automatically, like robots, their exhausted bodies asked for food and their hands provided, their mouths chewed and swallowed yet another meal of rice that day, that endless day that last for several days already for the two teens.

"That was too much for them in one day." Pema spoke as she waved her head. Dorje agreed.

"But we had to do it today, we do not know how much time we have." Dorje whispered.

"What happened to them?" Ling demanded from the two monks, half worried half angry.

"There was too much of everything, the physical exertion, the information they learned, everything was just too much. Please let them have their rest." Pema pleaded.

Marinette thanked Ye and Ling for taking them to their sleeping bag while Adrien was clinging to her. The girl tried to reach the zipper and close the sleeping bag, but could not. Ling zipped it up and wished them 'good night and sleep tight'. Marinette managed to turn while being held by Adrien and wrap her arms around him. She knew they were extremely tired, and yet, they would be lucky if they managed to fall asleep at all.

Chapter Text

The art of war part four – deception

All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

They laid awake in their sleeping bag, holding each other tight and just breathing. Too many things have happened. Too many facts were revealed during the day. The other students chatted sitting around. It was still early, it was not completely dark yet.

Adrien felt like he knew more about Hawk Moth than about his father as a person. What was the truth anyway? And did he even care? Yes he did, in a strange way, but he did. He moved a little bit in their sleeping bag so his nose was close to Marinette's ear.

"I would like to know why he is doing all this." Adrien whispered. Marinette made a small movement herself and hugged him tighter. "But only because it might help us beat them, I mean us as Ladybug and Chat Noir."

"Yeah, we still do not know why." Marinette whispered. "But, we should rest, Adrien, we need some sleep."

One monk brought a cup with herbal tea and offered to the two teens. Marinette nudged Adrien to untangle and sit up. It took some persuasion but he gave in and they shared the cup of tea. They felt calmer as they drank it. Obviously, the monks decided the two teens should get some herbal remedy to calm down and possibly get some sleep.

As soon as the cup was empty, Adrien showed it back to the monk and pulled Marinette closer. He practically lost his family. He needed her. He wished her parents were there so he could tell them everything and hope for some parental love from them.

"We will think of that when we wake up." Marinette whispered while she tried to soothe him by rubbing circles into his back.

"They told us to check on you." Ling spoke quietly as she touched their foreheads. "Would you let us know if you need anything?"

"Thank you, Ling." Marinette nodded in response and Ling turned away to let them have their peace.

"Adrien, we will find a way how to go on after this all this discoveries, we are in this together okay?" she cooed.

"You and me, together?" Adrien whispered back, his eyes closing and his head tilting down.

"Yes." Marinette smiled. They both fell asleep.

Adrien stirred awake. He was not sure what woke him up, it might have been a nightmare, but he forgot all about it the moment he woke up. There were many noises around him, but none of them was very loud. He looked around, as much as he could see without moving.

It was the middle of the night, but there were many students awake, their faces lit up by their mobile phones. They typed and few of them apparently called someone. Several students were laughing, weather they were talking on the phone or simply reading messages. One was crying about his wounded feet. Another took a photo of his feet and posted it on social media.

Adrien extended his arm for his phone and discovered a girl sleeping on his shoulder. It was Marinette. It was Ladybug. Ladybug was sleeping on his shoulder in their sleeping bag. He forgot about everything else and smiled. He was already so used to her by his side that he did not register the weight on his shoulder.

Since he moved, Marinette woke up too. She fluttered her eyes open and saw Adrien staring at her in the weak light. His face was gentle, there was no trace of sadness or anxiety. Even his eyes were not that red nor puffy as when they fell asleep. It might have been the darkness or it might have been the tea. She was feeling much better too.

"What are you looking at?" Marinette smiled.

"A sleeping bug in a sleeping bag." Adrien smirked.

Marinette rolled her eyes. And then she smiled widely. He was probably better, she hoped it was not an act. His eyes smiled at her in the darkness.

"Hey, you two awake?" Ye asked from the side. Ling was talking very quickly on her phone. "The army and the government officials, they installed network and gave us access a few hours ago. You can try."

Adrien switched on his phone and logged into the network using the Id number he got when applying for the excursion. His face lit up when he saw the inflow of messages.

"Alya handled everything." he smiled. There were many messages from Nino and he scrolled through and read them all quickly. The pictures would not read in and he did not even try to open the links to different songs that Nino sent.

Marinette fetched her phone and switched it on with an intention to write to her parents. The amount of received message notifications prevented her to type anything for a while. She saw many of them were from Alya. She sent a quick message to her parents 'Hi, reached the temple last night and reached network an hour ago. Everything is fine.' and then decided to start the message to Alya with the same text. She typed quickly a few things about the temple as she promised to Alya. She also wrote her to state her source as Chinese student and explained the general situation a bit more before she finally clicked on send. Alya insisted she sent some information about the temple for the Ladyblog. Marinette was worried about hiding her identity and fooling the authorities and the whole deal. She felt cold, but more like cold because she was so tired not because it was actually too cold.

"Hey, we should give them one more video call, what do you think?" Adrien moved his head up from his phone only to see Marinette smiling at him. She was relieved that he was recovering from the bad news. At least, he appeared that way. He pressed the button for the video call and pulled Marinette closer with his other hand. She kept under the cover and snuggled closer for warmth. He moved too quickly for her to ask how he really felt.

"Hey there." Adrien greeted as soon as Nino answered. "We got network after a few days. How are things at home?"

"Dude, I'm glad you called. Fortunately, there was only one call per day and we used your recorded messages to post as a voicemail reply. And they bought it. Just how much time you spend in the shower, dude?" Nino laughed. "And it is really good that you gave this job to Alya, because there are no akuma appearing at all and she is boooored!"

"Okay, thank you, she could write a piece about the absence of akumas." Adrien retorted sarcastically.

"Yeah, she did it already, a few times actually." Nino replied. "Ah yes, you could not have read it, the fantastic pieces of literature titled 'Is Hawk Moth on vacation' and 'Do we expect akumas on some exotic tropical islands or in ski resorts?' and so on." Nino laughed as he remembered what Alya wrote. Adrien's face changed through several emotions as he remembered why there were no akuma in Paris.

"Nino, hi" Marinette greeted waving her hand and then pulling it back under the cover. "Were there any sightings reported of Ladybug and Chat Noir on a patrol?" she asked quietly. It was also a good change of subject without really changing the subject.

Adrien grinned. Of course, they were not there, but this did not mean someone was not passing some old photos.

"Yeah." Nino replied. "Alya is just going nuts about those, she did not see them once herself but there is a bunch of photos posted around and submitted to the blog."

"Well, perhaps she could write up something on Ladybug and Chat Noir possibly doing patrols, you know, just to kill time?" Marinette proposed quietly.

"Great idea" Nino yelled to the phone.

"Great idea" Adrien whispered to her ear. If Hawk Moth sees that, he might believe they are still in Paris.

"I have sent some information about the temple to Alya. Please check how she named her sources, she can get carried away." Marinette continued with her scheme. It was also a change of subject from Adrien's father and Nathalie. She felt his approval in the way his arm tightened around her.

"Yeah, I think she is reading it right now, she is screaming onto her phone over there." Nino turned his phone around and they could see Alya sitting on the sofa in her living room. Her twin sisters were chasing Nino's brother around. Again.

"So how are the two of you doing. How it is over there?" Nino asked casually.

"Well, it is cold … and dark." Adrien smiled. "It is the middle of the night, but almost everyone is on the phone, look around." Adrien raised the phone and turned around so Nino could see.

"Dude it is too dark over there for me to see anything." Nino laughed.

"Well, it is a huge room, almost like our gym at school..." Adrien spoke.

"Dude you are at least used to that." Nino joked.

"...and there are many of us, perhaps almost a hundred, in the sleeping bags on the floor." Adrien continued.

"Well, that is different." Nino winked.

"Some of them are sleeping in the hallway. And it is cold. There is no hot water." Adrien tried and failed to sound as if he complained about anything.

"The monks are really nice." Marinette chipped in. "They are teaching the students about their ways of life and their mythology."

"That is great, you should write to Alya about it." Nino put a thumbs up. Marinette rolled her eyes, she just did, but she smiled anyway.

"Hey babe, they phoned, look." Nino finally sat by Alya who put her phone away.

"Hi Adrien." Alya leaned over and squinted her eyes to the phone. Then she tilted the phone a bit to get a better angle and view on the screen.

"Hi Mar… where are you and what are you two doing?!" Alya practically screamed.

"Um, it is rather dark in here." Marinette stumbled her words out pretending to check her surroundings.

"We are lying down in our sleeping bag." Adrien grinned.

Niho whistled. Alya screamed in a pillow.

The picture on the phone flickered.

"Listen, the signal is quite bad, if we go off that means it is gone." Marinette piped in.

"Don't you signal me, young lady!" Alya groaned but Nino removed the phone from her face.

"Dude!" Nino grinned and showed a thumbs up.

Adrien smirked back. Marinette switched her eyes towards his face but could not really see him because of the bad angle. She looked back into the phone.

"It is killing her that she can't gossip about the two of you." Nino winked as he turned the phone to show Alya holding a pillow in front of her face.

"Hey, I left my reputation in your hands." Adrien complained. "Don't ruin it!" he warned mockingly as he winked while he talked. Nino stared at his friends face on the phone. Adrien looked exhausted and happy. He said they were sleeping in a room full of people. Marinette was just there, he could not ask questions, at least not those he wanted to ask. Those will wait for written messages.

"Don't worry, as far as the public and your father is concerned, you are safely locked up in your tower." Nino winked back. Adrien winced at the mention of his father, both Marinette and Nino noticed. Marinette moved to put her arm around him and Nino noticed that too. So Adrien was hurt by his father, for being left out from the journey and he found comfort in Marinette? Well that was great if it worked out for the two of them.

"Nino, how are you doing?" Marinette asked and Nino started about his playlists and being annoyed by his younger brother whom he had to take care of more often than not. While he spoke, Alya removed the pillow from her face and blurted some words out. The words themselves were obscured by Nino's talk about music, but Marinette recognized the meaning and blushed.

"Listen I will have to cut this call." Nino evaded a move from Alya. "Otherwise she will go nuts again." And then the call was finished.

Adrien could not and would not make himself go through the messages from Nathalie nor attempt to write any additional reply to what Alya already did. He was even more grateful now that his friends would pick up on messaging back, because he was not sure what he would write himself.

He sent a few messages to his bodyguard that they reached the temple, but mostly had no phone signal and everything was hunky dory.

And Marinette did send one more message to her mother just a moment before her phone rang. It was Alya.

Alya screamed loudly, but the words were beyond comprehension.

"Alya, calm down. I am fine. We are fine." She jawed. Nothing was fine, they just discovered Adrien's father and her idol for her chosen future profession were the very villain they fought. They also discovered each other's identities, but even that seemed irrelevant at that point.

"Listen, why don't you tell me about those sightings of Ladybug and Chat Noir on their patrol?" Marinette tried to change the subject. There were more screams in response. "Yeah, why don't you write an article about that for the Ladyblog and ask people to report if anyone have seen them. Yeah, they must be really bored too. They probably got fat for the lack of physical activities. And they ate a lot of cookies being nervous and expecting the next attack. Yeah, they probably learned how to play chess." Adrien was barely preventing himself to laugh out loud. Then Marinette talked a bit about the temple and how she saw no superheroes inside the temple but promising few photos and so on. "Yes, you can do that. Okay. Bye Alya" Marinette greeted and cut the connection.

"Do you want to play Chess, My Lady?" Adrien grinned in the darkness.

Marinette rolled her eyes.

"It is late, it is dark, I am tired, I want to sleep, you should sleep too, Chaton." she whispered.

"Yeah." Adrien grinned, he laid on his back and held Marinette so that her head was on his shoulder, she put her arm over his chest and closed her eyes.

He wrapped his arms around her and sighed. His father was a psycho creating monsters and engaged his assistant into the business. But also, he learned the identity of his lady, ant it was the best girl possible, the one he loved already, and she was right there, by his side, and that was all he really needed right then, wasn't it? He closed his eyes and concentrated on Marinette's breathing. Soon, he fell asleep again.

Chapter Text

The Gabriel and Nathalie chapter

In his office, Gabriel watched the news footage of the temple taken from the Chinese government helicopter. He rewinded it so many times and yet he was not satisfied with what he saw.

"There must be more information there than in the Book of Lore. There might be more miraculous stones there. We have to go there. I trust you to organize everything, Nathalie." he concluded. It was an order. Nathalie replied with one firm nod and strolled out from the office.

 

"Sir, I mentioned our travel to China to Adrien and he would like to join us." Nathalie said in one breath and then got ready to receive an answer.

"That would be most inconvenient. It is out of the question." Gabriel dismissed the notion.

"Would you care to tell him that yourself?" Nathalie asked patiently. She did not want to resolve this with Adrien on her own.

"Fine, bring him in here before breakfast." Gabriel snarled and dismissed her with a wave of his hand. He was annoyed he would have to deal with Adrien himself instead of making Nathalie do it for him, she deserved such treatment if she could not handle the boy on her own.

 

The next morning, Nathalie led Adrien to Gabriel's office instead of the breakfast room.

"I was informed of your whim to go to China with us. Well, I am here informing you that we are going on a serious business trip, very important for our business in China and we can not take care of a mere child on our way there." Gabriel spilled insults in his stern voice as he stood tall above the boy who sat in his 'hot chair'.

"But father, why do I take all these Chinese lessons if I never practice it for real." Adrien argued back. How dare he? Gabriel schooled himself to show the most caring face he could muster. It was not much. Adrien continued to whine and take up his time, Gabriel bothered with a few more rebuttals before he had enough.

"Adrien, you have not been brought up to commit such atrocities." And with those words, Gabriel dismissed his son.

 

He left it to Nathalie to settle the paperwork and pack, to book the plane tickets and to organize accommodation. He spent his days going through the information from the book (finding nothing new) and frantically rewinding the news footage over and over again. He could not be bothered for a meal with Adrien in this condition.

He spent hours staring at the container that held Emilie.

Friday finally arrived and he collected about twenty white butterflies in a small plastic container together with sufficient leaves and flowers for them to eat, but not enough space to fly. At the boarding gate, the attendant was polite and professional, but completely unoriginally dressed. Who designs those clothes, anyway, and what is the purpose of that uniform? It was a disgrace for an airport of the city that was the world fashion capital. She dared to point her finger at his plastic container.

"I am really sorry sir, but you can't take this on board if you do not have the proper paperwork." She held her polite smile, but she collected all her courage to approach a business class passenger with some authority.

"My boss needs this with him on this trip." Nathalie was explaining. What kind of explanation was that. It was her job to secure the paperwork. And she had failed.

"We can not guarantee that you would be able to enter the country with these once you arrive." The airport official was becoming more courageous. How ridiculous her courage looked in that suit, utterly ridiculous.

"Then it is under my responsibility." Gabriel Agreste decided it was time to bother to speak and take the things into his own hands. Everyone else was apparently unable to be of any use.

"Then sign these forms, please, sir." The official pulled out some forms and Gabriel signed them quickly, he did not even bother to read them. Nathalie was not happy about them, she was getting ready to read the documents carefully, but Gabriel did not intend to spend one more second being stared at at the boarding gates of an airport terminal He could feel how they all looked at him. The man was so annoyed, he never bothered to look around. People with less self control than him might try to fuss, but not him. He did not want any attention on this voyage. Nathalie was focused on the boarding attendant and the paperwork the whole time. Finally, she was focused on the paperwork, he made a mental note to scold her for missing out on preparing the paperwork for the transport of the butterflies they carried in a small bug container (not that he notified her about that). She took a copy of the forms and they passed the boarding gates and entered the tube that lead to the airplane. Fortunately, in an airplane this big, the business class passengers were well separated from the economy and he will not have to watch all those commoners pass by his seat while going to the back of the plane and their economy seats.

 

The flight was … long and blissfully uneventful. However, on the airport he had to face the next menace in the shape of the customs officials. One of them dared to take the precious plastic container away from Nathalie's caring hands.

"What do you mean you have to put them in the quarantine? How long will it last? We have a connecting flight." he protested where he stood, hidden from the rest of the passengers by some hideous paravan that held a touristic commercial to visit some obscure and crowded place.

"I am sorry sir, you do not have the proper paperwork for importing animals into China. You can get the paperwork done and your animals can stay in the quarantine while you do it." The official replied calmly but obviously enjoying himself and his authority. That was just too much. Just who does this guy thinks he is.

"I refuse to part with them. I insist on having them with me on our voyage." Gabriel protested. He was ready to pull his political connections. His production line was made in China, he was giving jobs to these people.

"You can reschedule your connecting flight and stay in the hotel on the airport but your animals are going to the quarantine." The official insisted and that was the moment when Nathalie suggested they do just that.

He signed more paperwork and they looked for a taxi. The taxi was smelly and they spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon crawling through traffic from one hotel to another as they did not make a reservation in advance and Nathalie could not arrange it over the phone from the taxi.

Finally they found some acceptable hotel with acceptable suite of a person of his calibre. He insisted not to take that particular hotel at first, because he knew the owners daughter made herself famous and still wore clothes designed by other designers, and not just his.

 

The next morning he expected to be reunited with his plastic container with butterflies and board the next flight to Lhasa, but then he learned that a veterinarian (of all people, who would ever consult such a person?) have recommended that the butterflies be examined by another expert from the university and this expert required for his precious bugs to be kept imprisoned in the airport quarantine for seven days. That was unacceptable, utterly unacceptable and everyone responsible should get fired.

So he made a phone call.

Apparently the same factory that produced garments for him, also produced about two hundred lines of clothes for about twenty different designers and not only him and they actually had a waiting list and would be more than happy to cut the contract with his fashion industry (with due regret etc.).

That went down the drain. Well, as long as they were there, he made Nathalie to search for a different factory to produce his items. He had to kill some time. And perhaps a vet.

He stared through the hotel window at the city covered in fog. The tall buildings were rising above, but the street below was not visible. He found that arrangement rather fortunate.

What was not fortunate was that in the city of more than twenty million people there were always candidates to be akumatized. And he had no butterflies to do that. It was awful.

 

Nathalie informed him that the booking to their room expired tomorrow and that she could not reschedule their plane tickets for Lhasa any more so they should simply continue, and then they would came back for the butterflies once they were cleared from the quarantine.

So they boarded a propeller plane to Lhasa. The space was tiny. He sat in the front in the business class seat and literally all the passengers passed in front of him and even few tripped over his feet (they dared to touch his shoes with their plain hiking boots). He remembered wearing completely different clothes while in Tibet, but he left Nathalie to organize that. Emilie did that the last time he was there. Besides they were only at airports and hotels. He should not be seen in anything but his classic designed clothes.

The passengers were all Chinese and several had small plastic cages where they carried small dogs or cats and one even carried a chicken of all things while he missed his poor butterflies who suffered immensely in some cold and grey quarantine office.

Finally, they landed in Lhasa, quite shaken, but not stirred and proceeded to their accommodation. The hotel was stylish but it was full of loud tourists so he chose to confine himself into his hotel room. That was not sufficient for him since the tourists also used the hallways and produced the noise even there. They rolled their suitcases on the floor in front of his door. His sensitive ears and soul could not possibly bear that. The only good thing was that the people and tourists in Lhasa were vaccinated from bad emotions so he missed his butterflies much less.

Although he would often seek comfort in Nathalie and she would readily offer it, he was becoming more annoyed by her. Apparently, she could not organize any means of transport for them to go to the temple.

 

Another day has passed and he stared at the giant temple in Lhasa through his hotel room window. The view was excellent, he had to admit. Nathalie informed him that she overheard a conversation that a group of students is going to the temple with buses.

"Buses?" Gabriel snarled. "A helicopter would have been a better solution."

"The area is restricted. It is already too late in the day, the best would be to try that in the morning." Nathalie insisted.

So there he was, before the dawn, on some muddy parking lot full of dirty and old and smelly buses. And they said they would not take him in the bus. As if! He could at least rent a proper vehicle and a driver for that. They got directed to the tourist office.

The woman in the tourist office was firm, no going to the temple, no tours organized, no nothing, the special research team is going there, as arranged by the government, the army and the monks themselves agreed on the scheme. And that was that.

The man who presented himself to be her boss, on the other hand, was a different story. After a few bills were passed, he got out phrases like 'anything could be arranged' and he will 'make sure to answer all the gentleman's needs'.

They did not hear from him again (at least not later that day nor the next one when they finally went back there to check on him).

The same lady said that her boss was in Beijing for a week.

His shoes and his suit were ruined from the walking in the rocky and muddy street and he was not in the mood for anyone. He wandered about how the things were going in the Agreste mansion, back in Paris. Nathalie persuaded him that everything was business as usual in the house and that she checked with Adrien regularly.

 

Nathalie tried to persuade him to go visit the Lhasa temple the next day. She even brought some trekking shoes and trousers and a jacket to go with that. She lamented how these items were unique and from the most expensive shop she could find in Lhasa. After a few hours of sulking and Nathalie's persistent insistence, he changed into the 'proper outdoor clothing' and walked out from the hotel with Nathalie.

It was noisy and crowded with tourists, he remembered visiting the same place with Emilie and missed her.

He was annoyed by the crowd and finally settled to catch some peace and more breath on one open space inside the temple. Nathalie went somewhere to see something. The view was bad (hence no tourists taking pictures) but there was some fresh air and he breathed.

And then he saw it.

A white butterfly landed on a plant nearby, just out of his reach. It was the same shape and similar colour to his butterflies, just had a few additional black veins in its wings.

"Aporia crataegi" a loud woman's voice spoke from his back.

"What?" he turned around and saw a short and sturdy woman wearing too many colours at once. The pink jacket with yellow accents (that probably reflected light in the dark), the red waterproof trousers with black vertical lines on the sides and a huge company logo on her thigh. The light blue climbing shoes with lime green shoelaces. And, on the top of all that, a cap with a huge cartoon character face imprinted on the space above her forehead, the cartoon character was smiling widely at him.

"I said Aporia crataegi." the woman smiled widely. "The black-veined white." she smiled again and motioned towards the butterfly. "It is a large butterfly of the family Peridae."

Gabriel Agreste schooled his face and stood straight watching the silly looking woman from above, very high above, towering above, for he was exceptionally tall, and she was exceptionally short.

"It is very common butterfly in Tibet." she grinned.

"A very common butterfly?" he asked incredulously. A butterfly, that was obviously related to his exceptional and exquisite butterflies, was called common by this woman?

"Yes, you can find them everywhere." the woman smiled and gestured widely with her hands.

He held his hands firmly behind his back and furrowed his eyebrows.

He busied himself by staring at the funny looking woman until Nathalie interrupted him. She dragged over a male person dressed in some kind of grey uniform.

"This is my boss, he can help you if you help him." Nathalie stated simply. The funny looking woman who knew her butterflies finally turned around and left them to their business.

The man wanted to be employed as the organizer of work in Gabriel's sewing facility in China. He had some experience in the industry but chose to change it for a better paid job. Now he would prefer to go back to the more developed east of China if he could only have a better paid job again. And yes, his current job was to organize the delivers of supplies for the army. They struck a deal. Gabriel returned to his hotel room feeling not really satisfied but with a conclusion that today was at least acceptable and not a complete waste of time.

That was until some rude tourist rolled another piece of luggage along the corridor in front of his room followed by rather noisy steps of someone who obviously wore climbing boots and a heavy backpack.

Chapter Text

The art of war part five – Strengths and weaknesses

I will force the enemy to take our strength for weakness, and our weakness for strength, and thus will turn his strength into weakness. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

Marinette woke up because the body next to her was breathing erratically and shaking. She managed to take one breath and remember where she was and what was going on. Her brain knew it was Adrien who was sleeping next to her even before she woke up, she just had to remember why he could have been so distressed in his sleep. Okay, he has a nightmare.

She held him tight and squeezed a little bit to wake him up. She pressed his face into her to muffle his scream as he woke up. She expected he had nightmares after they realized Hawk Moth was his father and all of the other events from the day before. She did not expect what she heard next.

Adrien woke up from the same nightmare he had since his mother disappeared. But this time he was held by someone. He felt the hard surface he lied on. He felt the arms holding him tight and he felt he held the same person back. Then he remembered where he was and that it was Marinette. This time he did not wake up alone in his room to hear the echoes of his own screams. Plagg would soothe him and recommend to take some cheese before going to bed. The little god of destruction recommended cheese for any remedy.

"I'm glad you're not cheese." Adrien smiled and relaxed a bit. Marinette stiffened.

They both heard Plagg groan from beneath the sleeping bag cover.

"I have this same nightmare about my mother, and whenever I wake up like this, Plagg always recommends eating some cheese." the boy concluded some explanation was in order. Marinette relaxed. She thought the nightmare was about his father (and possibly cheese). She decided against telling him that. It was probably better not to remind him of that issue too.

"Hey, it helps me." Plagg retorted.

"Cheese helps you with anything." Tikki chirped from under the cover. "It does not mean it works for everybody else."

"The nightmare is, she is leaving and I am there but like I am not, she is just slowly fading away and then she disappears. And I can scream and call her or do anything, she fades away each time." Adrien whispered. Marinette relaxed and tried fall back asleep as she was still tired, but Adrien wanted to talk. So she held onto him and hoped he will not drift into some desperate state after he remembered his father. He was not given a chance to do just that. Neither she got a chance to catch some sleep.

"The morning is coming, it is time to prepare the food for breakfast." One monk approached them. Marinette grunted as she got up, but Adrien followed with more cheerfulness in his moves. They got up and walked in the general direction of the kitchen in the dark corridor when they got pulled aside and urged to climb the stairs again. This time they knew what to expect.

When they got into the room, the sky outside was not completely black any more. They sat down on the carpet and were handed a cup of tea each. They both sipped their tea and took in their surrounding. Dorje and Pema looked tired and held on to their own cups like lifelines. The old monk Tenzin had a satisfied look on his face and stroked his beard gently as he observed the four people sitting on his carpet. Dolma, on the other hand, stared at them.

"You did everything I expected from you yesterday." Tenzin spoke but Dolma interrupted him.

"Even more than expected." she put her nose up.

"May I compliment you on your progress." Tenzin gave one firm nod. Pema and Dorje gave a nod back so Marinette and Adrien followed suit after Adrien translated the words.

"Today we discuss strengths and weaknesses." Tenzin announced. "What are your weaknesses?"

Adrien translated the question and sipped from his cup.

"My biggest weakness is that it is not yet today in my time frame." Marinette mumbled. Pema snickered and nodded her head in agreement. Then she said something short.

"I understand you are tired. And that is a weakness indeed." Tenzin confirmed.

"We know each other's identities." Marinette spoke.

"That could also be our strength." Adrien countered.

"You are right. It can be both. So which one is it going to be?" Tenzin hummed as he stroked his beard and watched the two teens.

"We have to turn it into our strength." Marinette mumbled.

"My father is Hawk Moth." Adrien spoke solemnly.

"Yes, but now you know their identity, that is also your strength." Dolma retorted. Tenzin waved his head.

"It means I was fighting my father, this whole time." Adrien whispered.

"Hey, you should have stood up for yourself against him more." Plagg cut in. Adrien smiled and scratched Plagg between his ears.

"They do not know our identity, that is our strength." Adrien hoped that was the case at least.

"Gabriel suspects me, for sure. He asked about my earrings." Marinette added. "Would he fight so hard if he knew you were Chat Noir?" she turned to Adrien.

"He would have locked me up in my room and took away my ring." Adrien waved his head. There was no way his father would not have used that for his own benefit.

"We do not know why they are doing this. That is out weakness." Marinette whispered.

"That is probably your biggest weakness." Tenzin nodded.

"They want to make a wish." Dolma exclaimed. "Why else?"

"Yes, but what wish? What could your father possibly wish for?" Marinette looked at Adrien. The boy was puzzled. "He is already rich and powerful. World domination? Have I seen too many films?"

"I don't know. He might wish my mother back, but that is something I might wish for and right now I am not sure if that is what he wants at all." Adrien replied. There were too many emotions swirling inside him. The tea has woken him up completely and the whole whirlwind was playing inside of his head and his chest.

"And would you wish for that too?" Dolma pointed her eyes directly into Adrien as if she was boring holes into him. "And what would you do to make that wish come true?"

Adrien was puzzled. What would he do to have his mother back? At one moment he was ready to do anything. But what was he really ready to do? If his mother was back, would he continue to go to the public school and see his friends? Probably not. The only friend he had while she was alive was Chloe.

"What would you do to make his wish come true?" Dolma stared at Marinette. The truth was she would do anything to make him truly happy. But she also had a duty to protect Paris and the World against Hawk Moth. And he had the same duty and she doubted he would be happy if he betrayed himself as Chat Noir.

"If my mother never disappeared, I would never go to public school, I would not make friends save Chloe, and I would never meet Marinette." Adrien whispered. "As much as I love my mother, I like my life now better than the life I had before, I like my friends, I love being Chat Noir and I love Marinette." He whispered, his eyes got blur. Dolma changed the expression on her face to something less victorious. Plagg danced a small victory dance. Tikki flew to Adrien and patted his teary face.

"And that is, even without thinking of the price I would have to pay to make that wish come true." Adrien turned to Marinette and took her hand.

"I just want you to be happy, Adrien. And I know you would not be happy knowing what your father did to bring your mother back." Marinette smiled gently and squeezed his hand. That is when he pulled her into a hug.

"I would not be happy even if I would not know, even if he made me forget. I just would not know that I could be happy." the boy replied.

Marnette hugged him back.

"I might not have a home to come back to, or at least that I want to come back to." Adrien whispered. "But I did not have a home there for a long time now, just a house, just a room in a house."

"Well it is a big room." Plagg cut in teasingly. "You can store a lot of cheese in there."

"Plagg" several people and one red kwami groaned.

"Plagg" Adrien laughed through his tears.

Then they continued with the strengths and weaknesses game. They concluded that Hawk Moth and Mayura must know the identities of each other. Then they turned to the subject of what they know, and everything they knew was probably limited to what was written in the Book of Lore. And that was if one would know how to decipher it.

"Will they know our identities when they come to the temple?" Adrien asked.

"Probably, but not necessarily." Dolma answered. "They were not chosen, they took the miraculous by force."

"There is magic in this temple that we do not know and control completely." Tenzin spoke lost in thought.

"Do they know about the cursed stone?" Marinette asked out of the blue.

"Hm" Tenizin hummed and stroked his beard and hummed some more.

"That is the reason not to transform in the temple?" Adrien added.

Dolma huffed.

"Do not even try that kid." Plagg crossed his arms.

"On the temple grounds, you should not transform and try to use your magic. Something always goes differently than you intended." Tikki warned.

"You have been warned about the cursed stone by the kwami?" Tenzin asked. "Well, we are not aware of such stone. There are legends, of course, spoken between the kwami."

"My experience is not a legend." Plagg crossed his arms.

"What happened?" Adrien asked.

"You know how you have enhanced all senses and the power of destruction while Ladybug has lucky charm and the cleansing power and the power to restore everything, but her senses are normal human?" Plagg asked. Adrien and Marinette nodded in response.

Tenzin took in a deep breath. Pema and Dorje listened intently. Dolma sighed and looked at the ceiling.

"Well, we used to restore everything together, she would create what was destroyed and I would destroy what was created." Plagg started with his explanation.

"That actually makes sense." Adrien nodded.

"It was not much different, Ladybug could restore Chat Noir, but not vice versa." Tikki warned.

"But I can still cataclysm it?" Adrien asked.

"Yes, but it is not actually the same. You have to touch it first. This could work from a distance on many things, but only for items created by evil magic." Plagg explained.

"Until, one day, a cursed stone was created and brought to the temple." Plagg continued to explain.

"Pollen and Trixx said it existed in one village before." Marinette cut him.

"Let's not bother with such details." Plagg waved his head. "Our wielders defeated the villain, and released our magic. And after that my wielder could not destroy magical creations from distance but Tikki's wielder could restore everything as it was before."

"As if his power or the 'curse' was transferred to me, which was apparently what the cursed stone was doing." Tikki piped in. They could see the first rays of the sun through the window and the sun disc started to appear above the mountain in the distance.

"But that meant my wielder destroyed the stone." Plagg whined.

"Or not." Tikki chirped.

"This is exactly why the guardians rely on the knowledge from the books, not only the kwami." Dolma warned.

"But, you said that the temple distorts your usual magical powers?" Marinette asked Tenzin and he affirmed with one nod waiting to hear where she was going. "And the stone was in the temple?" the two kwami nodded, the others mostly shrugged.

"Tikki, have your wielders lost any powers?" Marinette inquired further.

Tikki waved her head. But, she was the goddess of good luck, she had no curse to transfer to the stone. She looked Marinette straight in her eyes and saw that the girl understood that. Except, maybe, there was that enhanced senses issue.

Pema quietly reminded them of the time for the breakfast and the morning prayers and the four of them left the elderly monks to quarrel between themselves.

Chapter Text

The breakfast prayers

 

One man’s strength is another man’s weakness. (Unknown)

 

There were few people in the breakfast room and all of them were monks. Pema, Dorje, Adrien and Marinette took their food and sat and ate in silence. It was not a wonder the room was so empty. The students were mostly asleep having chatted on their phones throughout the night until their batteries were dead.

Adrien felt shaken by the conversation. The information from yesterday has not sunk in. It was questionable if it ever will sunk in completely. How could a person accept such a fact. Is there some manual on how to cope with the fact that your father is a villain. There probably was. He will have to look for that. Once he gets the time.

Plagg peaked at his chosen with worry written all over his face. The truth was, he had been in such situations before and it seldom ended up well for his chosen. There was always suffering.

Marinette felt her heart ache for Adrien. It was so unfair. The only thing she knew was that she would be there for him. She did not know how to solve his problems but she will try to find the way.

“I think you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses enough to get a break.” Pema winked while they carried their rice and salty Tibetan tea and found a spot to sit at.

Marinette took out a cookie and gave to Tikki who sat on her lap and ate, half camouflaged in the read onesie the girl was wearing. Plagg took his cheese and landed on Adrien’s shoulder, but the boy put him down on his knee, and as far away from his nose as possible.

“The most important thing to determine right now is” Dorje spoke to Adrien. “Has revealing your identities changed the way you fight your battles?” And the importance of switching the subject that obviously occupied the boy’s mind was not small.

“Nope, I don’t think so, judging by yesterday.” Adrien was determined to confirm nothing wrong came from revealing their identities to each other. He was very happy with that and replied smiling his eyes glowing with happiness. His mind flickered to the fight with the king from history they did yesterday. Then he asked Marinette to confirm.

“Nothing changed.” Marinette waved her head. Yeah, except she was not wearing her spots and discussed how she fought as Ladybug, yesterday. And she knew her parther was Adrien, sitting beside her and he knew her identity. The fact she could even have this conversation was a big change. The the way they fought villains? Not so much.

“You are both very poor liars.” Pema smirked.

Adrien stared at his rice.

Marinette bit her lower lip and looked to the side.

“The thing is” Adrien was explaining the problem to the bowl of rice. “Now I know it is her and I want to protect her even more.” Pema nodded more to confirm to Dorje what they suspected than to acknowledge what Adrien said.

“Well, at least you did not die this time.” Marinette whispered. “I can’t stand that. It is awful when I have to bring you back.” She spoke heavily, weighted by the responsibility of bringing him back so many times and now she added the fact that Chat Noir was Adrien to that wieght.

“Yeah, we just got buried all together.” Adrien laughed to himself.

“I made a mistake.” Marinette groaned.

“But we fixed it.” Adrien smiled and looked at Marinette.

“The truth is, I do not want you to get hurt too. You went after Peacock in the darkness. I was scared!” Marinette spoke to her bowl of rice. “But I was scared for you even before I knew you were … you! And … ugh!” It was just so hard to speak.

“So you did it the same way, it just felt differently?” Dorje asked when Pema explained what was going on.

“Um yeah?” Marinette mumbled with her mouth full. Everything felt differently, her memories of previous fight rewind in her head and felt differently now.

“Yes” Adrien confirmed and nodded. He looked at the girl sitting next to him, she slumped her shoulders, bowed her head down, looked smaller than she was and stared at the rice. He expected Ladybug to be older, to be larger than life shining star that he would recognize the moment he saw her as a civilian. He was so wrong. Marinette was modest and shy and yet he was impressed by the girl.

“Good.” both monks smiled and continued eating their breakfast.

They continued eating. Adrien enjoyed having the company although they were silent. He thought of nice company he had for every meal, he did not eat alone once since he left Paris. Everyone was open and friendly, even when they questioned or teased him. He was not openly criticized nor informed on his schedule in stern voice. Nobody judged him by his looks. He was not there for someone’s entertainment.

Three humans and two kwami could clearly say when Adrien thought of his father.

Because Adrien sunk.

But that was a cue to continue, for some.

“Tell us” Pema prepared the terrain for the question. “Even if your father wanted the same thing you do, and that is to bring your mother back, you would not side with him? You would not bring your mother back?”

“Sometimes I think I would give anything to bring my mother back.” Adrien sighed in melancholy. “I miss her so much.” His voice was giving away his pain. “But, that is not true any more. I realized when they asked me before what would that mean for me. And the sight of my mother would remind me of all the akumas and all the evil things my father did. I would not be happy.” Somewhere in the middle of his speech, Marinette held his hand. Adrien looked broken.

“You would fight your father, then?” Dorje asked for confirmation.

“I would. I already have.” Adrien raised his eyes toward Dorje and revealed how determined he was. “This is not about my mother. How could I ever live with my father after everything he did? Even if my memory got erased somehow, I do not want to live like that. I will gladly spend seven years here training to be a hero.” the boy exclaimed with a grin on his face. “I only hope I would do it with my lady by my side.” he spoke gently as he turned to Marinette. This time the girl’s eyes were glossy with tears.

“About those seven years” Pema looked at Dorje and they exchanged encouraging look. “You do not actually need them. That is just how it is usually done.”

Adrien actually sunk a little bit after he got that information.

“You could stay here if circumstances allowed.” Dorje tried to comfort the boy.

“We will think of something.” Marinette offered.

“Everything will be okay.” Tikki soothed.

“Kid, I would accept some cheaper brand of cheese, it does not have to be the finest Camembert all the time. Just once in a while. And over weekends. And after akuma fights and … ” Plagg comforted Adrien his own way.

“Plagg” several people and a kwami warned.

“Plagg” Adrien laughed.

They exchanged a few amused looks and then Adrien sighed.

“What if you had to go back to the house and live with your father?” Pema tested the waters. “What if that was needed?”

Adrien shuddered. Then he took a deep breath.

“If that was needed to win over them?” the boy asked himself. “If it was absolutely needed, then I guess I would, but I would really prefer not to.” Marinette put her arm around his back and her other hand over his and glared at Pema. Was this woman asking a teenager to live with his monstrous psychopath of a father?

“It might be necessary to fool your enemy that way.” Pema shrugged. But then Marinette remembered something that might be even worse and her grip on Adrien stiffened. He felt it too. He turned his face towards her and he saw it all over her face and in her eyes.

“If he is to be revealed publicly. If I am to be known as the son of Hawk Moth, then so be it. As long as I can keep you at least as a friend.” Adrien smiled back. He was determined to accept any fate as long as they wanted him on this side of the battle.

All three of them looked at him with amazement and admiration. Marinette’s eyes were filled with tears.

“Don’t cry. I am already the son of Hawk Moth.” Adrien smiled. “My position in society can only improve from here.” he smirked and raised his eyebrows, but Marinette could tell he almost cried. So, she got to her knees and held him tighter. Tears started flowing from their eyes and down their faces.

Most of the monks were already there chanting their prayers and eating in turns ignoring the events around them and hoping to transfer their own tranquillity onto others through their chants.

The students started to fill the meal room.

Ling and Ye appeared at their side and sat down.

“Have you slept at all?” Ling asked.

“What is wrong?” Ye inquired gently.

“He discovered yesterday that his father is a bad person.” Pema offered as an explanation.

Marinette was grateful for the explanation. It was the truth, just not the whole truth.

“Well, that is not new.” Ye shrugged. The older boy was already having fun (together with Ling) watching Adrien being oblivious to Marinette and their mutual feelings, it was not a surprise for him that the same boy would be oblivious to just how abusive his father was.

“He refused to take his own son for holidays and decided to leave him practically locked up in his house during the school holidays.” Ling explained it in such a tone of voice as if that was the worst crime ever committed.

“He had to hide from his father on the way here.” Ye added.

“The boy is scared to use his credit card and yet he worked for that money himself.” Ling cut in.

“He filled the boy’s schedule completely.” Ye remembered to add.

“He is controlling his life to an extreme level and yet shows little interest in the boy and spends almost no time with him. And even that is only to assess his progress.” Ling took a position she saw in some show about lawyers.

“He did not allow him to go to a public school. We could list you the children’s rights from the United Nations, it was signed many years ago, but it would be new to you.” Ye nodded his head.

“Basically his father is a criminal.” Ling waved her rice sticks threateningly.

‘Okay, this went smooth.’ Marinette thought. Adrien listened to the thrashing of his father and she felt him shake. She relaxed her grip to see him better and realized he was laughing quietly.

“Yeah, he is a criminal.” Adrien spoke while he laughed.

“The problem is, his father might be coming here. With his assistant.” Dorje explained.

“We will help you.” Ye promised.

“We will hide you.” Ling said, then she produced a cap from her pocket and stuck it on Adrien’s head. She tilted her head while she looked at him and produced dark glasses and stuck them on his nose. They were laughing almost hysterically.

“We will defend you.” Ye flexed his muscles. That only increased their laughter, so much so that they got a few stares from people around to quiet down.

When they finally settled down, Adrien removed the cap and the glasses and returned them to Ling. Then they resumed eating their breakfast and enjoyed the chanting of the monks. The melody was slow and repetitive and most of all, it was calming.

 

Chapter Text

Gabriel and Nathalie Chapter two

After all these years, Nathalie was ready to take it all in stride.

Truth to be told, the paperwork needed to import the butterflies to China was new. There was practically no paperwork needed before. It was not like they carried a giant or red panda or Ili pika. Pandas can not be bought, they are merely borrowed from the Republic of China. These were butterflies. They were quite common from what she could see. Plain paperwork should suffice. But now she had to have the paperwork that would state if and how the animals were genetically modified. And she had none. Gabriel would never accept his precious butterflies to be genetically analysed, anyway. It was a lost cause from the start. During the flight, he was cold and unapproachable (as if anyone would notice a difference) and she dealt with the flight attendants for the both of them.

The further issue at the Chinese border was that they did not accept a simple statement that the butterflies are not genetically modified organisms. The generations of inbreeding of the insects (they generally needed about two months to complete a cycle) plus keeping them in special conditions has raised a breed that looks differently than their natural counterpart and the Chinese authorities insisted on doing the analysis themselves. And her boss has signed the documents approving the analysis without even bothering to read them carefully and just think through what each word meant. She dreaded the moment the genetic analysis results are brought back.

Besides, who needed butterflies? She could create sentimonsters now that the brooch was fixed.

While running his errands like arranging meetings to replace the factory contract her boss so easily dismissed, Nathalie had travelled across Beijing and had some time to contemplate.

She loved Gabriel. She was sure of it. She dreamed of seeing the man happy, or at least barely satisfied. She met Gabriel as a young intern, a mere apprentice assistant assigned to a young aspiring designer who was about to make his own brand. Everything was new and exciting. He was determined to do what had to be done to become successful in the cruel world of high fashion. And he did it with glamour and style. She was overwhelmed, swept of her feet, by his energy and determination, by his sense of style and glamour. But, Emilie was already there.

Emilie was his shining star. She was a young model but she had this million dollar look that helped anything Gabriel designed (or anyone else for that matter) look priceless. Gabriel realised her potential and made an exclusive contract with her as soon as he could. Young model was happy to have a contract with young and dashing, self confident and proud aspiring designer. Emilie really wanted to be an actress, she had this pose and attitude of Audrey Hepburn. She wanted to act in artistic films, not to be a pretty face in a blockbuster. She had class. She was sophisticated. It was impossible to be jealous of her, she was just natural at it.

And then Adrien was born. A crying baby annoyed Gabriel, but Emilie somehow balanced her life between the two of them (and having staff to babysit helped considerably) and the family was happy. Not the cliché film happy where everyone bursts into singing somewhere high in the Alps, but the solemn and dignifying kind of happy. The appropriate kind of happy, worthy of a fashion magazine.

The boy looked like a copy of his mother and he had a smile that would conquer anyone. And sell his father's creations. So Gabriel loved him. Emilie seemed unaffected by Gabriel's outbursts and would retort back and pushed her own will. Emilie handled it all somehow, with grace and dignity, and a sprinkle of attitude from time to time. Until she didn't.

Adrien was raised to be a copy of his mother. He looked like her (save some body parts). He was expected to be sophisticated and classy, with a lot of training from Emilie, the boy achieved the same pose and attitude of his mother. But he was a boy. And now, even worse, he was a teenage boy. His position in society held certain responsibility. Chloe, as annoying as she was, understood that from an early age. Adrien was well trained, he just needed guidance, and supervision.

Nathalie was there, in the middle of the congested traffic in a city of over twenty million inhabitants, pondering on her own life after the last words she heard from Gabriel were less than pleasing to hear. She lived for his subtle praises and restrained gentleness. He was a gentleman, after all. And he appreciated her, in his own ways. A woman that would be any less than her would not see that. But Nathalie learned her ways in the society of high fashion and appreciated any small gesture of restrained kindness that she received, weather the kindness behind it was real or perceived.

After all, he let her know on his secrets. She knew he was Hawk Moth. She knew the code to his safe and the passcode to his computer. He let her use the Peacock miraculous (from time to time, at least). But she even took the miraculous without his permission and used it and lived to see another day. Anyone else would be fired for touching his pencil without asking for permission (and being granted one). Therefore, she concluded, he cared for her, he trusted her, he earned her love.

The hotel in Lhasa was less than glamorous, but it should have been sufficient. Nathalie wandered how Emilie managed to take Gabriel on trekking in Tibet. The man could behave like a spoiled brat. But then again, she would see in his eyes how everything reminded him of Emilie. He would stand there in front of the window lost in his thoughts and release a quiet sigh from time to time. A man who loved so much must be a great and kind person. He deserved all the love she could give him (and he was willing to take). He cared for her, he was so worried for her when the broken miraculous made her ill. She had to steal it back to use it and he barely scolded her for that. He was such a gentle person. And she told herself that. Quite often.

Things were not going smoothly on this journey and he was showing how nervous that had made him. Emilie had a gift to calm him down, but she was not there. And the fact that she was not there was making him even worse. Nathalie strived to fix it all and finally made a breakthrough by running into that army supply officer near the temple in Lhasa. She finally had some luck like their arch nemesis seemed to have on regular basis.

So she got them a ride, now the only remaining problem were the butterflies. Gabriel smiled to that. He actually smiled. It was not a gentle smile. Oh no. It was a smile that was hiding a secret.

"Aporia crataegi." he said. He left her to her own devices to figure it out. A short search over the internet revealed few basic facts, but it was sufficient for her.

Finally, that evening in Lhasa, he seemed less annoyed. They will meet their connection in the morning after breakfast. (I wanted to insert some romance here, but I failed.)

"It might be wise to make an electronic message to ourselves. We do not know all the tricks they have up their sleeves in that temple. I want an option to restore my memories." Gabriel required of her with the most gentle voice she ever heard of him.

"Are you sure that is wise, sir?" Nathalie questioned his decision. She was that brave after all.

"I trust you to do all the necessary precautions. If we forget, please see to it that Ms Lila Rossi reminds us to check the messages. It might be needed." Gabriel concluded.

So they created two recordings and protected them with all the ways known to Nathalie. Gabriel explained to himself what he did and what to look for on his computer and Nathalie made a similar set of video instructions. Then Nathalie assembled a message to be sent to Ms Rossi automatically in one week time. That should be sufficient.

Gabriel was showing her the same signs of affection he would show to Emilie, except she never exercised to test him with her temper. She did not have that. She secretly hoped that they would get Emilie back for Adrien, while Nathalie might, just might, keep Gabriel. When she caught Gabriel staring at the picture of Emilie she told herself he wanted her for his son, not for himself. The man should be able to recognize and appreciate the love and devotion he received from his assistant. Of course, she was his employee, but he even treated his own son as an employee. It was just his way of showing love. And so she told herself. She never questioned his feelings. She never expressed her own. It was unprofessional to have feelings. And she was professional, head to toe. Heart included.

Fortunately, she had little time to dwell on issues such as Adrien. She checked on him regularly, in her own ways. The exchange of messages was steady and fluent. The boy wanted to visit his friend. Nathalie would ask Gabriel and he would say no and she would pass on the message. She would call him at the same hour each day, but apparently the boy changed his usual routine and tended to be under the shower when she called. She would get a voice message back. She had no time nor the nerves to be bothered on it. As long as he stayed in the house and complained about being bored and wanting to go and see his friends, it was fine.

The next morning, after breakfast, they were loaded onto a supply vehicle, sharing the cabin with the same man from yesterday. They were warned to carry cash, and a lot of it, so Nathalie made sure they had those. They managed to get some papers that should help them go through checkpoints and stated they were doing some government approved research in the area. Their man at least knew how the papers were supposed to look like. When they finally left Lhasa it was past noon.

The journey was treacherous, but the driver navigated the small supply vehicle along a narrow winding road with ease. He did it on a weekly basis and knew every curve. They reached some obscure military post of some sort in the middle of the night. At least, the military maintained it.

More than several bills had put them into a heated container instead of a tent.

The next morning, they should have boarded a helicopter. They have not. The paperwork was insufficient and it took a lot of persuasion. After a while, sufficient compensation was offered and given for the services of a one-way transfer. When and exactly where were still matters to discuss.

There was one more tiny issue to resolve.

Gabriel stood by the window in their container and watched a butterfly flutter on the outer side of the window and out of his reach.

"Are you sure it is safe to create akuma here, it could give us away sir?" Nathalie dared to ask.

"This area is so isolated from the world, there is barely and media coverage." the man replied so self assured leaving no space for an argument. Yet, she found some.

"The appearance of the temple was covered by the media." she stated carefully. To her, it was obvious that the appearance of Hawk Moth, Mayura and akumas and sentimonsters would not be missed by the media.

"The temple itself has been connected to the sentimonster in Paris. The media can always blame the monks there for creating more monsters." Gabriel replied sternly. "Besides, nobody knows we are here. We are in Beijing making business deals for our new production line."

"I have to do this. For Adrien. And for Emilie. I just miss her so much." Gabriel replied with some undefined emotion in his voice.

Nathalie felt something cut her inside. She almost winced in pain. But she was strong, she could handle the pain without ever showing her emotions on the outside.

"I will help you sir. I will do anything." if only she could make him see who was standing right next to him.

Chapter Text

The visit

The morning after breakfast went according to plans. Considering there were none made. The time that was scheduled to be used for education, was well spent in a rather informal was of exchange of information. Someone might call it idle chatter, but when the people holding up the conversation are more than a hundred and fifty years apart, you can bet it can be educational.

Plagg had a different educational idea. He decided to educate Adrien on the benefits of the Tibetan cheese. Particularly the smell of it. Somehow, the little black cat god did not eat the cheese completely, but left one small chunk to be heated by Adrien's skin. When the boy felt the smell that was coming out from him, he knew what happened and glared into his onesie.

"Your body temperature gives it a special aroma." Plagg spoke quietly with a mischievous grin knowing Adrien can't do much about it. Adrien rolled his eyes at the culinary escapade of his kwami when Marinette leaned into him.

"Has your kwami just invented a new perfume add?" She teased. Adrien had tu suppress loud laughter and felt better instantly.

The plan was that the students introduce the monks to the modern ways of life without actually lecturing them. However, students were simply chatting and telling stories during breakfast, but they could not use their phones (save a few of them) because they used them all night. The phones had empty batteries and the students too, due to a lack of sleep.

The absence of caffeine was much noted and several herbal tea remedies were prepared on behalf of the monks (and more than a few of them needed that, badly).

The monks started chanting their own stories, taking turns like the day before. This time it was about various mythical beings. The other remedy for the lack of sleep was to keep themselves busy by having their own commentary of the events that were described in the chants. A normal person seldom falls asleep while snickering. Fang Feng was a giant who fought the great flood.

"That was the name of the janitor in our school." Ye cut in quietly. Marinette felt Tikki snicker at that.

There were plenty of other beings that would control the wind and the rain throughout history.

"Hey, I bet they caused the ice ages … and the climate change." Ling whispered back.

They heard stories of different creatures who could tell the truth from the lies either using their third eye or other means of detection.

"These creatures had to be exterminated so that lawyers and politicians could do their job."

The students were slowly losing attention when one monk started telling about the mythical intelligent beings, particularly the tortoise, the phoenix, the dragon and the unicorn.

"I need that for the next Kitty Section outfit." Marinette jawed. Thinking about anything that awaited for them in Paris looked so far. It has been a week and they felt as if several years have passed.

The stories about the deeds of Daoji, a folk hero who was made famous by his wild and eccentric behaviour were far more interesting. And to help that, several monks tried to re-enact the hero's deeds making fun of themselves in the process.

The monk was finishing the story about the warder of evil spirits who visited the temple several times and was respected and loved and known as the King Monkey. Marinette did not get to hear the end (although this story was more interesting than the others). The monks lead her and Adrien out from the room. Ling and Ye followed, curious to see what was going on.

The helicopter left them on a flat surface about quarter of an hour walk from the cliff on top of which the temple sat. Nathalie and Gabriel got out from the helicopter and then the army unloaded a lot of different boxes, as many as could fit the transport helicopter. The ride was unpleasant and noisy, but they both took it stoically. Gabriel smiled wickedly at the sight of the temple. Finally, they were there.

They walked towards the small camp site built by the army below the cliff. There were several ship containers refurbished for accommodation. Nathalie successfully negotiated to get one whole container for themselves. That was of the utmost importance. He would need to transform and steer the akuma from somewhere. Her boss did not intend to get his hands dirty if he did not absolutely have to. The army would rent them their 'lab and accommodation' space for a compensation and she settled for that.

In the meantime, Gabriel was on a hunt of his own. There were butterflies. But they were wild and summoning one of them in his palm while untransformed has proven to be a problem. He stood with his palms open calling, begging, whining and threatening. Needles to say, none of the butterflies landed obediently into his hands. Perhaps it is easier when he is transformed.

His purple suit probably emits some pheromones that butterflies respond to, or perhaps the suit reflect the sunlight in the part of the spectrum that attracts them. Gabriel will have to ask Nooroo about that

He ran around the campsite and wandered away chasing butterflies. It was a silly scene and Nathalie had to suppress a smile forming on her face. Oh, how she loved him for that. Gabriel was far less amused by his own demise. They will have to lure the butterflies to their container, somehow. He had a few tricks up his sleeve.

Nathalie contemplated further. It was strange how her mind have wandered in the last few days. That was uncharacteristic for her. She stood in front of their assigned container and felt sorry they took a ride in a helicopter. The scenery looked so romantic. Walking the route, just the two of them, surrounded by this scenery, talking their souls out, maybe Gabriel would finally see her. But, he was not like that. She was not like that. What was she thinking? They were professional. They were perfectionists. And they were on a mission. She scolded herself.

Gabriel returned with no butterflies. His face was expressionless, his back straight, his shoulders squared, his walk confident and his attitude proud, but she knew he was anything but happy,

"My negotiations were an acceptable success, considering the circumstances, we got this." she showed him into their container.

"Hm. Gabriel stood in the middle of the container with his hands on his back. "We might try negotiations first. Let's pay them a little visit."

"You are not allowed in, sir." a government official, the same guide who handled the bus Adrien and Marinette took, was explaining in stern voice. The short woman stared at the tall man and squinted her eyes. Gabriel and Nathalie were wearing dark shaded glasses and Gabriel stood in such position that the short government official had to stare against the sun to look into his face.

"You can not disturb the government recovery programme." the short woman insisted.

"I assure you we ..." Gabriel could not finish the sentence, he was about to say 'do not mean to cause any disturbance.'

"We have the paperwork here." Nathalie offered the papers they had hoping that those might be sufficient. And if some money is asked on the side, so be it. The woman took the papers without hesitation or asking for money.

"Very well, I will have to consult the coordinator in Beijing about your permit during our afternoon regular phone call in an hour. Would you be so kind as to wait in the camp below the cliff until then?" The official glanced at the papers. "And I would even have the time to read them myself before the meeting." The guide finally remembered where she had seen them before. They were dressed differently and they had no sunglasses, but she was sure it was them, the same couple she met at the bus parking lot in Lhasa.

That triggered Gabriel to snatch the papers away.

"I do not trust you with these documents." he snarled. "For what I know you might claim they were forged, not return them and not let us in. My assistant will contact your supervisor."

Gabriel showed the papers into Nathalie's hands and turned around on his heel.

Nathalie swiftly put the paperwork back in her bag and followed her boss down the steps.

The guide eyed them as they were leaving. They had clothes that was at least sufficient for the short visit to Tibet countryside. It was obvious everything they wore was new and practically not used, they definitely did not walk much in those shoes. And she was sure those papers were not valid.

In the meantime Adrien and Marinette were ushered together with Pema and Dorje towards the main entrance to the temple. Ling and Ye followed them in step. They used a dark and narrow side corridor and were close to the man entrance. The door was open and they could see the light come in the main corridor while they were hiding behind a carpet, or a tapestry, that hid the entrance to that particular corridor. They were hidden in the darkness and looked to the scene outside, lit by the blinding sun.

They could clearly hear the discussion outside. But Adrien understood every word his father had said. His body reacted to every word. He reacted even to Nathalie, but he managed to keep that inside. He got used to being away from them and seeing them again made him feel as if he was back in the Agreste mansion again. Except, while he would sneak around and spy on his father and Nathalie, as he sometimes did, trying to overhear their plans for him, he was not held close by a girl with pigtails and blue eyes who looked at him with so much compassion and care.

And he was not painfully aware that right then he was listening to Hawk Moth and Mayura. He pushed that thought out from his head, he did not need a panic attack.

The fear of being discovered almost overwhelmed him again. That was his father. That was Hawk Moth. He clenched his hands into fists. Adrien concentrated on his breathing. He could hear his father was not allowed inside by the same guide who was on their bus. He smiled thinking of the small woman full of energy. He smiled gently at Marinette and wrapped his arms around her. She was his anchor. He will fight his father or flight away or hide or whatever she tells him to do. He began to feel safe, half hidden by the darkness.

Marinette felt like she knew what happened the moment they were called from the breakfast prayers. Were they to fight instantly? What was going on? Suddenly she realized, nobody knew what was going on. It was her call to decide on the fly once she realized what was happening. She heard their guide and peeked through a narrow gap between the tapestry and the wall. Then she heard Gabriel. She could not see him. But she instinctively wrapped her arms around Adrien.

Pema and Dorje looked at Adrien and Marinette and needed no confirmation. They sneaked out into the main corridor, leaving the two teens to hide behind the tapestry. Dorje needed one look at the couple outside to know for sure. They were wielders, they were not chosen and they used their miraculous for evil and selfish means. He assumed everyone could see that as easily as he did, but one look at Pema squinted eyes told him it was not the case. He was named the guardian of the temple gates for some reason, and apparently that was the reason. After half a minute, Pema saw it too, and nodded. So it worked.

"Is that his father?" Ling whispered to Marinette and the girl nodded in approval. Ling turned around and gave one firm nod to Ye. The older boy stood between Adrien and the tapestry and crossed his arms. The same way Adrien's bodyguard sometimes stood between the boy and his fans. Adrien almost laughed at the resemblance. This time it was a slightly older teenage boy standing between him and his father. And Nathalie.

Fortunately Gabriel was preoccupied to sense the presence of Adrien and the emotional whirlpool inside him (which was nothing new to be honest). When Gabriel and Nathalie left, they looked at each other. They could not discuss their strategy nor the option to attack right there and right then. Ye and Ling were there. Instead, they both decided it would be an excellent strategic move to head for the bathroom.

Chapter Text

The Field Reporter

Marinette had an idea. She was not sure where that could lead them, nor if that was a plan A or plan B, she could not even decide if the idea was good. She would try to make it into a full fledged plan.

"My friend Alya, from Paris, asked me to send her a few photos from the temple for her blog." Marinette was explaining to Pema. "Would it be okay if I take a few photos to send her?"

Adrien listened and looked around, probably all the students around them already posted some photos from inside the temple to their social media. At least they posted photos of their wounded feet and destroyed shoes, selfies of them waking up and their breakfast.

Marinette showed her phone to Pema and what was Ladyblog. The woman read it with interest, she had already seen the pictures before, but there were Alya's texts. Ling opened the same blog on her phone and followed. It was something completely new to both of them. Of course, there was stuff about guessing Ladybug's identity that made Pema laugh and Marinette asked them to skip interviews (for a number of reasons).

Pema finally accepted and guided them throught the temple, Marinette took pictures of tapestries on the walls, of the mosaics on the floor and the walls, including the one they saw on their first evening. In the end, Pema and Dorje posed for a few photos and Marinette decided she had enough material. She roamed the temple and studied different corridors and rooms and Pema was happy to show the kids all the secret passages. Almost every tapestry on the wall hid a room, a storage or a corridor.

Marinette found a spot with a good network signal and uploaded the photos for Alya with brief comments dictated by Pema. Marinette knew Alya was still asleep in Paris and did not expect an answer. But then, her idea pressed into her mind and she schemed to do it.

"Adrien, I'd like to take a few pictures of your father and Nathalie and send them to Alya too." Marinette spoke quietly as if she was asking for a permission. Adrien was having fun until then, his thoughts were busy with memorizing all the passages and his mood sunk a little as he was reminded of his father.

"That is excellent idea, Marinette." he whispered and did not finish his thoughts out loud. He understood the plan. In the case he started creating akuma there, that would reveal Gabriel as Hawk Moth to the public. And he understood why she asked him. Alya did not have to publish the pictures right away, but she could keep them and use them if needed.

They quickly organized a small group of monks and students to go outside and walk to the nomads that had set up their tents about an hours walk away. Adrien insisted on going along and caused Marinette to panic. But Ye and Ling persuaded her that with a dark cap and sunglasses, he would be safe.

The problem was, it was not that easy to sneak up to a world famous designer and his assistant and snap a few photos. The man was trained for the professional paparazzi, and Marinette was no Alya, her phone barely had any zooming capacity. Ye and Ling offered help as they could not be recognized. Together, they managed to snap a few photos from a distance, in the container camp just before they entered their container.

The group was happy to be outside and enjoy the scenery in the sun. Plagg was so excited that Adrien was sure he got a few scratches on his chest when he got offered some cheese. This time, he was allowed to pay for it, through the services of Dorje. It was amazing how the monk easily got into trade with the nomads although the money used was completely unknown. Adrien sneaked a piece in his jacket pocket and took more with him, wrapped in a package.

When they were returning back to the temple and chatted with no apparent worries in their mind, Marinette suddenly froze and stood in place. Just in front of her, on a tiny flower in the field they were crossing, there was a familiar white butterfly. Adrien could almost hear her saying 'Bye Bye little butterfly." He felt his insides freeze. They exchanged a look of mutual understanding. Marinette's eyes narrowed, her face was determined and she looked around. There were a few more butterflies in the distance.

They continued walking, but a little bit to the side.

"If they create an akuma or a sentimonster, we will have to transform to fight it. That would be the same as revealing our identities to Alya." Adrien whispered.

"Chat Noir and Ladybug could have teleported from Paris?" Marinette offered as an excuse. Adrien smiled and remembered her excuse for being on the Startrain.

"Yeah, that could work for Alya." Adrien sighed and crossed his fingers. Just like they wanted to expose Hawk Moth and Mayura, they might get exposed themselves. Fortunately, his lady had a plan. He looked at Marinette lovingly. He was so blind. That thought repeated in his head like a mantra. He wanted to talk to her, but she was more interested in determining the route they took to the cave and check if there are any other options to climb the cliff as a civilian.

While they returned, there were more photos taken of the cliff and the temple on the top.

Marinette sent the photos to Alya as soon as they were in the temple with a short message to store that for future reference.

Her phone rang for a video call almost instantly.

"Hi Alya" Marinette greeted.

"Hi girl!" Alya greeted. Her voice was hoarse and she was obviously still in her bed, but her eyes were alive and determined. Her brain was obviously full of questions.

"Are you awake this early?" Marinette asked genuinely surprised. There was no school, Alya was in her bed, not taking care of her little sisters (who were probably still asleep).

"Girl, don't you early on me!" Alya groaned in a hoarse voice. She sat up and cleared her throat.

"Is he with you?" Alya demanded.

Marinette took a few seconds to actually remember Alya must be talking about Adrien. She looked around. Adrien was not there, he probably went with other monks as he helped carry some stuff from the tent village/settlement. She remembered he bought cheese.

"Um, no?" Marinette answered, very clearly and fluently.

"Good. So what is going on between you two. Girl, spill!" Alya ordered. She sat on her bed, her legs crossed before her, she leaned her elbow on her knee and her chin oh her hand and held the phone in the other hand.

Marinette was puzzled on what to say. What was going on? There was so much going on and so little she could possibly tell.

"Um, we were out today?" Marinette spoke. Alya raised an eyebrow and put a knowing smirk on her face. "With my cousins and monks and few other students. We went to the nomads who set up tents nearby and ..." Marinette rambled. Alya raised both eyebrows.

"As much as I would be interested in that story and you did send me the pictures, that was not what I was asking, girl." Alya insisted as she cut in.

"I, um, what were you asking?" Marinette stammered out.

"I saw the photos Adrien sent to Nino. That boy has his arms around you on each of them!" Alya half scolded half exclaimed. The point was, she was not sure herself if she should congratulate Marinette or warn her.

Marinette lowered her gaze and her face fell. How on Earth could she explain that. She enjoyed his attentions without giving them any meaning because, until yesterday, Marinette believed Adrien liked Kagami.

"Then he made a video call to Nino, it was middle of the night for you and you were in his bed." Alya continued.

"That was on a train. I" Marinette blushed severely. "Was there because of the video call." Yeah, she also fell asleep there, better not tell her that if she wants out of this conversation. They cuddled practically from the moment they entered the car last Friday. The memories flashed through her head.

"It was the middle of the night and he had his arm around you again!" Alya smiled mischievously and waved her index finger and put her chin back in her hand.

"And then" Alya smirked. "Last night, he called Nino again." Alya stressed each word. Because it was Adrien calling Nino. It was not Marinette who called Alya, oh no. She had to learn this through her boyfriend. "Again in the middle of the night and you were sharing a sleeping bag?" Alya practically screamed out the last words, her voice broke back to hoarse.

"Are your parents aware of what are you doing? You are fourteen girl!" Alya scolded again. "As much as I am happy for you and you should know that I am, I am extremely happy for you, you should know that I am worried." Alya sighed. "And I am also extremely frustrated that this journey of Adrien is a secret and I can't tell any of this to Rose, Alix, Juleka and Mylenne." Alya groaned out the last part. The secrecy was taking the best of her.

"Alya" Marinette laughed at her antics. "Don't worry and there is not much to tell. We have not even kissed. We are still friends." Yes they were, they have not discussed their status at all. They were definitely friends, they were also partners, but she could not tell that to Alya, and they were definitely not a couple yet, he has not asked her anything and neither did she. Although they both admitted to love each other.

"We did not chose to have one sleeping bag instead of two. We lied that we are brother and sister so we got one." Marinette was explaining. Alya burst into laughter.

"Oh, this is getting better and better, now he can't kiss you because it would be awkward." Alya waved her head. How did this girl manage to mess up any opportunity? Marinette on the other hand blushed severely. Did Adrien want to kiss her? He did tell her he loved her. She wanted to kiss him. But the duties of Ladybug and a Guardian (if she was that at all) and learning the identities managed the impossible – she did not think obsessively about kissing him the whole time. It might have passed her mind from time to time, and got pushed back quickly as it came.

"And it gets so cold here in the night that I am grateful for it, I would freeze Alya." Marinette warned. "We sleep in a large hall with more than fifty other people." If she could only have made her understand the feeling of waking up when the Celsius was in the minus.

"Oh, so he is just there to keep you warm. How romantic and practical." Alya cooed. She was teasing, after the 'brother and sister' stuff, to Alya it was clear as day there was no romance involved. Except, did those two even see themselves and how they looked together?

"It is not like that. We are dressed like bears. He got us some thick fleece onesies and I would freeze without that Alya." Marinette continued in serious tone, but Alya could barely suppress her laughter sufficiently to hear what the girl was saying.

"He got you a pyjama, an onesie, to sleep in, while sharing a sleeping bag, with him?" Alya raised her eyebrows. That was just too good to pass.

"Yeah" Marinette patted her foot nervously. "It is not lace underwear Alya!" she warned. "We are sleeping in a room full of people. There is nothing going on between us."

Alya shook her head in disbelief. "You are becoming worse than him."

"Hey, there you are." Ling approached with Pema.

"Hi" Marinette greeted. "This is my friend from Paris, Alya, she runs the Ladyblog and this is Pema, a monk from the temple who actually speaks French, and my cousin Ling." Marinette spoke the introductions quickly relieved and hopeful for a switch in the subject. And a switch in the subject happened instantly as Alya had many questions for Pema and chatted with Ling for a bit. It took some time, but Marinette's phone finally issued a warning for an empty battery and they all waved Alya goodbye.

Ling and Marinette searched for Adrien and his solar power unit to charge their phones. They found him quite blushed putting away his phone.

"Nino called me." he said, turned and walked away. Marinette plugged in her phone and was not sure if she should run after him. The boy stopped and looked at her over his shoulder. Marinette hesitantly walked after him.

 

Chapter Text

A chat in a hallway

 

Adrien stopped in an empty hallway and turned around. He saw Marinette approach him hesitantly so he smiled to encourage her. When she was close to him, he could see some awkwardness and shyness that she carried in Paris got back to her.

“Nino” Adrien started carefully studying Marinette’s face. “He told me a few things.”

Marinette has turned beet red. What did Nino tell him? She already admitted she loved him. It could not have been that bad. Right now she would admit to everything and anything. Her mortification was irrelevant. This boy was her superhero partner and they were about to face the supervillains, one of them was his father. She loved him, she needed him strong and brave and on her side.

“We are friends, right, you would tell me off?” he whispered as he put his hands on her shoulders.

Marinette nodded. Her face was still red. There was again that f word that used to hurt her so much when it came from his mouth. It did not hurt her any more. She was just not sure why. He told her that he loved her the day before. Perhaps that was the reason.

“You would have told me if I made you feel uncomfortable, right?” He asked looking in her eyes.

Marinette nodded. Nope, she would not, she would blush, stammer and run away.

“I can see you are uncomfortable now.” Adrien sighed. She avoided eye contact, she was red in the face and she was silent. Oh, yea, she was looking very comfortable for having that conversation, indeed.

“I am not … It is not because of you!” Marinette admitted. And it was the truth. It was mostly because of herself and because of her talk with Alya. “I just had a really awkward conversation with Alya.”

Please, oh please, pretty please, do not ask me what it was so awkward. I do not want to talk about that with you. I do not want to make things awkward between us. Not now.’ Marinette begged in her mind.

Adrien was deep in his thoughts, the conversation he had with Nino still echoed in his head. ‘Are you together or not? What are you doing to that girl? You are with Kagami. Chloe is all over you. Lila said you are secretly dating.’ Nino has told him. Adrien rebutted everything Nino suggested. And he suggested a lot. Adrien could not blame him. It looked that way. The problem was, deep inside, Adrien knew he wanted what it looked like to be real. Nino praised his seducing skills, of all things. ‘I knew you were a model, Dude. And the girls are after you. And all the boys are jealous. I mean, I have Alya, but still. But this was too much. That is Marinette, Dude. She is fourteen. She is not one of your models.’ Nino half praised him half scolded him. ‘And I know she would do anything to be with you, do not use her and leave her.’ Adrien blushed as he remembered the rest of the speech.

That makes two of us.” he finally spoke. Marinette raised her eyes to his. So he had an awkward conversation with Nino. It made sense. It was probably about the same stuff.

He smiled softly, his green eyes were so warm and loving. She lost the ability to speak.

“I do not want to make things awkward between us.” Adrien whispered. “And if talking about what they told us would make things weird, then, let’s not.” He looked at her pleadingly. He wanted to talk with her, but not at all cost, not if he would lose anything of what they already had. He will call what they had a friendship if that was what she wanted and he hoped she would not push him away nor start to keep distance.

Marinette was taking deep breaths, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out.

“Not talking. Okay. Got it.” Marinette was maybe slightly disappointed. She had just got used to talking to the boy. “I mean, we said how we felt yesterday.” She looked him in the eyes, her blue eyes were so open, she loved him so much, even more, much more than on the day they left Paris.

“I want to kiss you so much.” Adrien whispered as he leaned in close to her face, his lips close to her ear, he should just turn his head slightly.

“I want to kiss you too but may I remind you that we are pretending to be brother and sister?” Marinette spoke quietly and sighed moving away slightly. She was Ladybug on a mission, spots on or not, and the boy in front of her was Chat Noir, whom she loved, but could not have, at least she believed that.

“Yeah, it could get awkward if we got caught.” Adrien smirked and looked around. They were miraculously alone in this corridor in a rather overpopulated temple.

“That would be pure weird!” Marinette laughed. What possible excuse could they have for their current behaviour, let alone if they kissed.

“I forgot about that.” Adrien smiled.

“I used that to explain to Alya how we got to share a sleeping bag.” Marinette smiled proudly.

“Oh, I should have used that, perhaps I should call Nino and ..” Adrien trailed off, he left the phone with the charging station.

“I am sure he already knows.” Marinette smirked. Adrien smiled back lovingly. She was right. Whatever Alya knew was passed to Nino in a matter of seconds.

“We will have to talk about us one day.” Adrien spoke gently, his face was so tender and loving, he was so open and vulnerable.

“Yes, we will, but now, I am still confused.” Marinette wanted, really wanted them together. But she did not feel able to talk about that with him, not right then, at least she had an excuse that they were there to fight Hawk Moth (well, his father actually, how complicated can her life get?) and not to pursue romance.

“Yeah.” He understood. “Okay, I just know that I love you, but right now I am probably not in the right state of mind for anything more than this. And right now means right now, today. Everything has changed so quickly.” He tried to explain that even to himself.

“You are Chat.” Marinette whispered.

“And you are Ladybug.” Adrien whispered back with a huge grin on his face. His happiness has not subdued at all.

“This is so weird.” She waved her head. “But good weird. In a positive way.” she had to add.

“It is not weird, I love you and you love me. We are two kids.” he smiled at that, he could be repeating that whole day.

“We are two superheroes who are expected to save Paris and the world against supervillains.” She spoke but she regretted reminding him of that. “We are in an ancient temple that resurrected after almost two hundred years.”

“Because you did your job well.” Adrien smiled.

“I am fourteen, I am not supposed to have a job, you heard them this morning, United Nations, children’s rights and all.” Marinette winked.

Adrien’s face fell a bit “I have a job for as long as I could remember.”

“We are being trained by monks who had missed the last 175 years on Earth.” Marinette smiled, that was a change of subject, she wanted him away from the dark thoughts. Hawk moth was establishing his lair in a container, just below. She should be making attack strategies. This time they had an opportunity to strike first.

“Because you kicked the ass of that 175 years old sentimonster.” Adrien winked.

“And you dressed in a banana costume.” Marinette laughed.

“That costume was cool.” Adrien pouted.

“My outfit was cool, your was weird.” Marinette smirked again. Good a change of subject.

They were talking about anything. They did not know if and when they are coming back to Paris and when and that seemed very far away. Gabriel and Nathalie appeared at the temple door that day and they will have to fight their monsters and them in person. Adrien had no home to come back to (not that he had that in the first place, but at least he had a house to live in). Everything flashed through their minds, nothing came out from their mouths.

As relaxing as the conversation was, something was bothering him to get out.

“If you want to talk about the weird stuff, we can talk about my father being Hawk Moth.” Adrien’s face darkened. “And Nathalie being Mayura.”

“Yeah, I should be making the plan of attack.” Marinette whispered. Her eyes narrowed and became more determined. “This is the first time we can attack him. We actually know where Hawk Moth is and who is he.”

“We should just go and transform and go for him.” Adrien clenched his fist and flexed his muscles. Marinette laughed at that.

“What?” he pouted.

“Yes, we could, but then he would instantly know we are already here.” Marinette reminded him.

“We have an element of surprise.” Adrien pushed his idea further.

“Yes we do, but the moment we burst into the camp, they will transform.” Marinette waved her head. “I want us on a safe road.” And she did not want to see Chat Noir hurt. Especially now that she knew he was Adrien. Which in itself, proved that the reveal had some bad consequences. But she was worried about Chat before. Right? Was she fooling herself? The reveal has impacted her judgement.

“Okay, what is the safe road?” Adrien smirekd.

“So I was thinking, we deflect a few attacks on the temple and then he leaves. Alya could expose his identity on the Ladyblog or I could even ask Nadia. But, that would be bad for you.” Marinette whispered. She knew the flaws already.

“The important part plan is that we wait for the first akuma, transform and fight, claim that we teleported from Paris and disappear. He will not think that we are in Tibet.” Marinette whispered.

“But he will know that we know that he is here and that we can get here in no time.” Adrien noted.

“Yeah, I was thinking of maybe telling the akuma, that would be the same as telling Hawk Moth, that we think he teleported them from Paris?” Marinette proposed. The plan was maybe a bit childish but she was forcing her brain to work in front of Adrien, while he kept his hands on her shoulder or waist.

Adrien nodded. His lady was making plans.

“Okay, then if we look for him after that, we would not be exposing our identities. We can teleport back in the cave or straight into his lair.” Marinette whispered.

Adrien nodded again. He took a shaky breath. They were making plans of attack on his father. He understood why not knowing identities was a blessing, it would be much easier to make plans of attack against Hawk Moth that was not his father.

“Adrien, do you know what it means for you if we win?” Marinette whispered. “Because I do not. We have to stripe them of their miraculous and I do not know what the authorities would do with them afterwards.” She took in a shaky breath.

“Nothing like that would be bad for me. Would you like to live with Hawk Moth and Mayura? Me not.” Adrien waved his head. “There are just moments when I can’t believe it is true. There are moments when I am angry at them and angry at the world.” But I look at you and the anger passes quickly. He smiled at the thought. “There are moments when I get sad because it happened to me, but then I remember I am also Chat Noir and I can do something about it. I can fight them.” Adrien held her shoulders for his own reassurance. “And there are moments when I understand all of this would have been much easier if I did not know the identities of everyone involved.”

Marinette looked at him, shy and insecure. Was this about her? She did not have a firm plan yet. She did not have her lucky charm in a form of a screwdriver that should somehow help her to fight against a flame throwing ghost akuma.

“You know kid” Plagg finally could not hold it inside himself. “We could just stay here and enjoy the smelly goat and yak cheese those nice nomads make down on the plain.”

“You know they have to resolve this on their own.” Tikki scolded. “Adrien you are right, you were keeping your identities hidden for a reason. But you had to come over here. The temple would not allow you to keep your identities hidden. Now you will have to fight with the weight of the knowledge upon your shoulders.”

“Yes, I can do that, I will do that.” Adrien confirmed. “Actually, if I learned all this in a middle of a battle, I do not know what I would do. It is easier to decide like this.”

“And nothing will change your mind?” Tikki chirped.

“Nothing will change my mind.” Adrien replied firmly and full of self-confidence.

The two kwami hid in their clothes while Adrien pulled Marinette in a hug.

“Ahem” someone coughed behind Adrien’s back.

 

Chapter Text

Not really a surprise

"Ahem" someone coughed behind Adrien's back. Their guide from the bus, the government official that took their papers, the same woman who told Marinette that she would freeze in that tent (it was all the same person) got out from behind one of the tapestries.

"You are wanted upstairs." The guide told them with a wide grin on her face.

Adrien let go if Marinette as if he was touching electric wire.

Marinette briefly thanked with a nod and quickly turned around and walked away. She focused on moving her feet and did not notice what happened just behind her.

Adrien was much more fluent in expressing his gratitude for passing the message and would follow Marinette instantly, but a hand grabbed him around his wrist.

"You and your sister are wanted upstairs." She spoke gently and pronounced sister affectionately

Adrien turned around. With the way she pronounced sister he knew they were busted.

"You and your sister are both over eighteen right?" She smiled knowingly.

"Well I can assure you that we are both responsible and reliable persons." Adrien returned his best model smile.

"And you are both Chinese citizens." The guide made a show of looking him over.

Adrien scratched the back of his neck. "Well I really wanted to practice my skills in speaking Chinese." Adrien changed to a different model smile, perhaps that one would work better.

The guide tilted her head and gave him a look. "I can assure you your Chinese is excellent." She smirked.

"My father is French. I mean her father is too I mean ..." Adrien stumbled the words out until she cut him off.

"You two better have more than one father! And, young man, you better watch what you are doing because you will wish her father caught you instead of me." the woman was smiling and winked at him.

Adrien remembered Weredad for some reason.

"I can assure you my intentions are honourable and I treat her with respect." he summoned his courage and looked her in the eyes without plastering any of his fake smiles. But she was smiling and he smiled back.

The guide raised an eyebrow.

"Neither of you are 18?" she asked next.

Adrien sighed and confirmed.

"Do her parents know?" she inquired.

"Yes they do" Adrien sighed relieved that he can at least confirm that and then he briefly explained how they got there.

"Good. It seems you are what these monks were looking for. We are supposed to study them and get some information on what actually happened here. I have a feeling you could help?" The woman raised an eyebrow. She smiled in a friendly way, it did not look as if he was in particular trouble. The woman knew she was in trouble too, it was her who let them on the bus.

"The two old bats refuse to tell us when they are born, could you help us with that?" she tried with an easier task.

Adrien accepted the offer to try to get more information (actually to get an agreement what story to tell). Then he finally ran after Marinette, he knew the way well.

When he entered the room, Marinette looked at him with eyes full of worry.

Adrien greeted as he entered and Tenzin nodded to reply to the greeting.

"Finally, you are here. Plagg tell him how your previous wielders fought supervillains that were actually their parents." Dolma spoke first.

Plagg phased out from Adrien's clothes.

"Don't listen to her kid." Plagg was quiet but very determined.

"Plagg, tell them both." Tenzin said encouragingly and nodded his head. "They should know the odds."

"He will fight his father and he will win." Plagg exclaimed putting his hands on his hips.

Tikki floated next to Plagg and nodded her head.

"At what price?" Dolma insisted.

Plagg lowered his eyes.

"Only one of his wielders won a fight against his parent and lived, but he was much older than you." Tenzin spoke gently.

"This kid can do it." Plagg insisted.

"They all won if they chose to fight, but they lost their lives as a consequence." Dolma explained patiently but her voice trembled a bit.

"Because you chose a safe route I lost two. Because the guardians advised to take a route without a fight." Plagg insisted.

"They went back in history to prevent what happened." Plagg continued in a dark tone. "One prevented herself being born and the other was not saved by his mother from something, I actually do not know."

"Is not that a paradox?" Adrien asked.

"They created a new timeline without a villain and without themselves" Tenzin shrugged. "We can not really know what happened."

"Except I remember they existed." Plagg retorted.

"Dear young man." Dolma was pleasant for the first time after the initial talk with Marinette only. "Tenzin have told me and Marinette has told me that you have died for her before."

"Yes, and she brought me back." Adrien smiled gently to Marinette.

"That might not always be possible." Tenizin warned.

"She brought you back, after so many years." Adrien waved his hands to gesture to the whole room.

"Yes, after so many years." Tenizin nodded thoughtfully.

"It does not matter, I will do it anyway." Adrien looked with determination in his eyes.

"You should understand, it might happen that she will have to chose to bring everyone, you and Hawk Moth and Mayura back or leave you all as you are at the end of the battle." Tenzin spoke quietly. Marinette felt her heart sink. They were doubting Adrien, while in fact they should doubt her.

"And are you ready to accept his sacrifice?" Dolma turned to Marinette reading the expression on her face.

"I want him to be happy. He said he would be miserable if he returned to his father." Marinette spoke to the carpet hiding her eyes that were filling with tears.

"But alive." Tenzin whispered.

"He might not have to sacrifice anything." Tikki chipped in. For her there was always hope, everything would be okay.

"Young man" Dolma said affectionately. "You two are amazing wielders. You brought us back. Your father has much to promise you if you join him."

"I feel as if I had no life before this." Adrien looked at her and meant it, honestly coming back to the life he had before he went to school and became Chat Noir seamed like a destiny worse than death.

There was a sense of conclusion at those words. Everyone fell silent and contemplated. Marinette fought the tears away. Adrien took her hand and held her.

"The two of you fought a sentimonster without powers." Tenzin spoke.

"Yes but not all the way." Marinette confirmed in the calmest voice she could muster.

"That is understandable." Dolma nodded.

"We expect you to defend us then." Tenzin said solemnly.

"I just wish you were a little older." Dolma continued. Tikki and Plagg raised their eyes to the two old monks in understanding.

"This temple will be attacked tonight." Tenzin whispered.

"We can feel the evil doing." Dolma warned.

Gabriel managed to catch a butterfly that landed on a torch once the daylight faded and brought it into the container. Finally he had a butterfly and transformed into Hawk Moth while still holding it. All he needed was someone to akumatize. And the best victim he could sense was a homesick solider in the same camp.

"Well, he will do for the start." Hawk Moth snarled and evilized the butterfly.

The butterfly flutters to an unsuspecting young solider and enters his belt.

"Homesicker, I give you great strength and power to cross long distances with great speed. I want you to go to the temple and find magical stones that they are hiding." Hawk Moth placed his offer.

The solder accepted and his uniform turned purple, his belt turned violet and glowed. The solider walked out and moved his belt a little. He instantly floated upwards and towards the temple.

"We can feel the evil doing." Dolma warned.

At that moment noise could be heard from the outside as the akuma zapped to the window. Marinette grabbed Adrien's hood and covered his hair.

"Take the two of them out." Adrien spoke to Dorje and the strong young monk grabbed the two older ones one on each arm and carried them away. Pema extinguished the candle. They hid to the side, in the dark. All four of them wrapped their heads in scarves that Pema produced from where they were neatly folded on the side.

Adrien and Marinette went towards the window, their instincts told them to go and fight, but Pema pulled them back and waved her head for them to go to the corridor. Marinette agreed and pulled reluctant Adrien by his hand. They found Dorje who hid glasses in a small pocket in his robes.

"Let's make him follow us." Marinette whispered and everyone nodded.

The akuma appeared just behind them as he moved with great speed.

"I am Homesicker. Give me all the magical stones that you have here." The akuma spoke.

Both Adrien and Marinette noticed the change of the usual request the akuma had.

"Ask him why does he need them." Marinette whispered to Adrien.

"Why to you need them." Adrien asked loudly.

"I need them to go home." the akuma replied. "Now give me any magical stones that you have."

The four of them were running away from the akuma that followed floating after them. They ran down the stairs and down the wide corridors where many students walked with their phones and more than a few took pictures of the strange creature passing through the hallway before they escaped and hid. The akuma tried to get magical stones from them.

"You want some magical stones. Than follow us." Adrien chanted every time the akuma directed his attention to one of the students or other monks.

They walked out from the temple and the akuma followed them. Marinette picked a stone from the ground and gave that to the confused akuma.

"Now you can go home." they told him.

While the akuma stared at the stone in his palm, a violet mask glowed on his face as Hawk Moth spoke to him. Adrien dragged Marinette away. Dorje and Pema were close. They ran towards the ledge and carefully climbed down in the darkness. They stood in front of the cave entrance waiting to see what the akuma will do.

The akuma moved his belt in one direction and floated away from the temple quickly but argued with Hawk Moth on the way. After a while, he moved the belt again and moved back but then he finally stopped a few hundred meters in the distance. His suit glowed in the darkness while his belt was shining.

"He controls his movement by moving his belt." Adrien spoke.

"That must be where the akuma is hiding. Okay, we will need teleportation right there." Marinette whispered to Dorje and pointed to the spot right below. They went to the cave.

The akuma moved around the whole time with great speed but was frequently in the area that he occupied just before the trio entered the cave to transform. Pema stayed outside to watch.

After three transformation lights, Marinette called her lucky charm.

She got a torch. She turned it around in her hands a few times, switched it on and then off and smiled.

"Here is the plan." Marinette whispered. "Horse, hold on to the portal for as long as you can, I'd like to come back before I have to detransform."

Horse created a portal close to the ground while the akuma was flying in the air. Homesicker argued with Hawk Moth, he wanted to head home and Hawk Moth wanted stones.

Ladybug and Chat Noir stepped out from the portal. They looked up. Chat Noir extended his baton and put one end to the ground. He flicked his tail towards Ladybug who turned on the torch and pointed it upwards towards the path that akuma took high up in the air. The light has blinded the akuma slightly and Homesicker stooped in the spot. Ladybug held on to the tail, the staff was between her and Chat, while she pulled herself off the staff with her feet. Chat extended the staff and they were rising in the air. She was rather visible in her suit, but Chat was slightly higher and on the other side of the staff and not lit up by the torch. The akuma looked down towards the Ladybug and the portal. She knew they had only one chance before they had to retreat. It seamed that the only weapon this akuma had was the speed. And she assumed there was some enhanced strength to add to that. It made sense if Hawk Moth wanted someone who would quickly search through the temple and escape. She threw her yoyo and wrapped it around the akuma to keep it still while Chat activated the cataclysm and touched the belt.

"You are really fast." Ladybug spoke to the confused victim who did not understand a word of French. "How did you get here? Teleportation?"

The belt disintegrated and a dark violet butterfly flew out from the belt. Chat quickly caught the dazed solder while Ladybug used the torch to find the violet butterfly. She unwrapped her yoyo from the solder and launched it after the butterfly. "Enough evil doing for you little akuma." she called and caught the butterfly "Gotcha!" then she retracted her yoyo and released a white butterfly. "Bye bye little butterfly."

Chat was already retracting his staff and they touched the ground. They patted the back of the solider. Chat did not want to speak Chinese to the solder to help him recover afraid that would give a hint to his identity although Hawk Moth could not listen, Gabriel could ask the solder later in the camp.

Ladybug and Chat Noir quickly retreated towards the portal and Ladybug threw the torch in the air with "Miraculous Ladybug" to restore any damage.

They returned to the cave and detransformed.

"This one was quick." Adrien smirked.

"Hawk Moth forgot to give him weapons, he was fast and strong but was not created to fight." Marinette warned. "That will not happen the next time."

They gave their kwami some food and walked out.

"How? Why? They teleported here? But how did they know?" Hawk moth whined in the container as he detransformed.

Nathalie opened the Ladyblog and found there was a submission done by a guest user about an akuma near the temple in Tibet with a GPS location marked. As she updated the page, she could find a few photos and even a short film. Gabriel groaned and damned the new technology.

Chapter Text

Alya calling

The small group of two monks and two teens discussed the fight excitedly and high on adrenaline all the way back to the temple. The fight was short and none of them felt exhausted. Except Marinette was worried. She did not want to be relaxed in this situation.

In the temple, they were way more quiet. When they finally got to the charging station to pick up their phones, both Marinette and Adrien had missed calls from Alya. Adrien also had missed calls from Nino. They exchanged one look and Adrien decided to call Nino first. However, as in almost every video call he made, he wrapped the other arm around Marinette.

"Hi Adrien." Nino greeted happy and cheerful. "Are you two having fun there?" The double meaning of the sentence made both of them blush. The fact that Nino wiggled his eyebrows at them one the screen did not help.

"Hi Nino." Adrien greeted in a slightly restrained tone giving away how he was annoyed.

"Hi Nino." Marinette greeted in a pitch an octave higher than usual. Her face was completely hot.

"Have you two been busy with something and could not answer?" Nino teased.

Marinette froze, that was the truth but she could never admit what they were doing. But Adrien had an idea. He smirked and looked at the screen mischievously.

"Actually, yes we were very busy here." the tone of his voice was equally teasing. Marinette wanted to plop down. Adrien kept her on her feet and next to him by holding her tighter. Nino noticed the move.

"Really? What is the time of the day with you?" Nino asked, but the tone of his voice revealed he already knew.

"It is already night time, see." Adrien rotated the phone a bit, weather he recognized the joke and played along or not was anyone's guess.

"And what have you two been doing in the dark?" Nino sing-songed his question dragging every vowel.

"We went outside for a while." Adrien played it cool. Everything he said was the truth. Marinette was mortified. Her usual excuse was that she was on the toilet or preparing a birthday cake for her grandpa's rats, whatever. This was not something she would do to hide her identity.

"Did you have fun?" Nino asked and pushed his face closer to the camera.

Marinette covered her face, she could not handle this kind of pressure right then.

"Oh, yes, I had fun. How about you Marinette, did you have fun too?" he answered with a smirk and nudged Marinette to answer. She peeked between her fingers ad Adrien and groaned.

"Come on, it was not that bad." Adrien moved the hand he was holding her up and down her shoulder.

Marinette nodded.

Nino pretended to scream into the air.

"Actually, there was an akuma. It got into the temple so we ran outside" Adrien said in more serious tone.

"Oh, I know. Alya is editing the Ladyblog." Nino smirked.

"She called us both, but we could not answer because we left the phones to charge." Adrien spoke quietly.

"Yeah. Don't tell me about the fight, you will have to repeat everything to Alya anyway. Tell me how is your little sister, Adrien?" Nino teased.

It was time for Adrien to blush. Marinette removed her hands from her face. Okay, so Alya told him. That was all just teasing. She looked at Adrien's face and smiled.

"I think she is okay. Perhaps a little tense from the whole experience, but okay." Adrien spoke while he looked at the blushing girl lovingly.

Nino almost melted at the sight. Then they heard a telltale sound of a screenshot and turned to the phone screen instantly.

"Oh, don't mind me." Nino smiled.

"So how are things in Paris?" Adrien asked to change the subject and make Marinette more comfortable.

"Well, you know there are school holidays. Here we have picnics in parks and music in the street and evening festivals and, you know, the usual boring stuff of Paris." Nino smirked. "Most of the class went somewhere. Alya and me are both stuck here babysitting and getting messages from our nice classmates." Nino rolled his eyes and turned the phone to show them. They were in a park and Ella and Etta were chasing Chris around a merry-go-round. "Alya is finally busy with the Ladyblog." He turned the camera to show Alya sitting on a bench nearby. "Both of her parents and my dad are working extra shifts these two weeks replacing colleagues who went on holidays." Nino shrugged. "The weather is nice, we walk around all day and sometimes visit Juleka, Rose and Luka on Liberty. Anarka made pancakes yesterday."

"Is that them?" they heard Alya in the background and saw Nino nod.

"Give them to me!" she stomped over to Nino and snatched his phone.

"Hi Alya." Marinette and Adrien greeted in unison.

"Hi you two." Alya took a moment to study what she could see on the screen and the picture she saw made her smile gently. But then she schooled herself and made a more serious face.

"Girl, I called you!" she waved her index finger.

"I left the phone on the charger Alya." Marinette whined a bit.

"We escaped out of the temple while the akuma chased us." Adrien smirked.

"Okay, what were the powers? What did he do? Who got akumatized? You know the drill." Alya shoved the phone back to Nino while she took her own phone to type.

"Um, he could go really fast." Marinette shrugged uncertain how far should she go with the description.

"He moved by moving his belt." Adrien added. Marinette looked at him. He shrugged. "I mean, we saw that he moved his belt before he started to move really quickly."

"So he moved around really quickly." Marinette concluded.

"And we think it was a solder because of the uniform." Adrien nodded. Brief and to the point. Alya should be happy.

"Okay, did you see how Ladybug and Chat Noir teleported?" Alya asked.

"Um yeah?" Marinette shrugged. Alya apparently knew already.

"One user sent a picture that he claims was a portal. I am not sure if I should post it or not." Alya shrugged.

"If Ladybug and Chat Noir were in Paris, they could only teleport here, right?" Adrien raised his eyebrows.

"Yes." Alya confirmed. "How long was the fight?"

"Less than five minutes." Marinette replied confidently.

"More like about two?" Adrien asked.

Marinette shrugged.

Ling and Ye approached proudly waving their phones. Then Ling noticed who was on Adrien's screen.

"Hi Alya!" Ling greeted and waved her phone. "I put a picture of an akuma on your blog." the girl squealed in excitement.

"It was you?" Alya squealed back. "Oh, how about an interview?" Alya asked quickly.

Adrien handed Ling the phone and the two chatted about the akuma for a short while with Ye jumping in with a few notes.

Adrien looked at Marinette's cousins and waved his head. "Alya never changes."

Marinette sighed and smiled. That was good distraction. Perhaps they should have ran down to the container immediately after recharging their kwami and attacked Hawk Moth instantly after they defeated the akuma, but perhaps showing him that they could intervene even there might be enough to discourage him from further attacks on the temple. It was difficult to defend a place where you can't be a superhero.

Marinette's phone rang. It was a call from Nino.

"Hi Nino" Marinette greeted and looked at Adrien.

"Hi Marinette." Nino greeted. "Listen, I need to talk to you."

"Okay."

"Are you okay with Adrien?" Nino asked.

Marinette nodded forgetting that this was not a video call.

"Yes" she breathed out. Adrien put his ear close by to be able to overhear the conversation and Marinette let him.

"I know Alya talked with you this morning and I spoke with Adrien, and I told him things." Nino started to appologize.

"It does not matter, okay." Marinette cut him off.

"I said some thingy and I am sorry. I did not know you were pretending to be brother and sister." Nino was apologizing although he knew very well how the pictures looked like. And he also knew how his friend was oblivious. That morning he probably said a bit too much to Adrien.

"Can I talk to Adrien for a minute?" Nino finished.

"Okay." she replied quietly.

"Okay, thank you Marinette." Nino greeted.

"Thank you Nino and good night." Nino was a bit confused and looked at the sunny noon skies over Paris.

"Good night?" he asked. Marinette confirmed and passed the phone. She did not eavesdrop, but she guessed the conversation was rather similar.

Nino understood his comments made things awkward for Marinette and probably Adrien although he joined the teasing. He saw the picture on his phone and did not want to spoil whatever was going on between his two friends. Apparently him and Alya have jumped to conclusions the day before.

"Thank you both very much for the photos and the interview." Alya greeted. "Please give me Marinette back." Alya asked when she finished asking questions to Ling and Ye.

Marinette held the phone in her hands and feared what was coming next.

"Girl, your cousins are unbelievable." she squealed excitedly.

Marinette smiled relieved they would not talk about what she dreaded the most.

"Yes, they got interested in your blog this afternoon." Marinette confirmed.

"They said I can't mention you." Alya raised an eyebrow.

"That is complicated, we should not have been in the temple in the first place. We cheated in our application forms and this is how Adrien became my brother." Marinette explained briefly.

Alya was practically shaking the whole time. She wanted to laugh. She wanted to ask questions. Like how it was to share a sleeping bag with her long time crush with whom she could barely speak. But Alya decided to be a stoic that day and resisted the temptation. The fact that she could busy herself with the Ladyblog instead of her best friends love life was also helping. And Adrien might be listening nearby. She did not know that they admitted to each other that they love each other. She saw the pictures and the video calls and assumed much more was going on. Then she got a cold shower about them pretending to be brother and sister.

"Tell me more about the temple." she asked instead. And Marinette told her about where they sleep and where they eat. But then she remembered one thing.

"Alya, please do not put all these details about the temple on the Ladyblog just yet, okay?" Marinette begged. This information could reveal more about the temple than Hawk Moth knows already. She did not want him to read that information from the Ladyblog. This was a media and information warfare. She had to be more careful. Alya promised to wait with that information. She had plenty of material on the akuma.

This time it was Alya who had to stop the call because her battery was nearly empty.

They went to eat dinner and change so they would go to sleep. They knew they needed sleep. The next akuma attack could be at any moment and the next battle would be exhausting.

Marinette went into the sleeping bag first and Adrien went after her zipping it shut. It was cold and he pulled her closer and cuddled next to her.

"Marinette." Adrien whispered. "The guide, she knows we are not supposed to be here, she knows we are not siblings, nor Chinese nor over eighteen." he said in one breath. Marinette stiffened. "She is okay. She just want some data for the government programme. She wants our help."

"Okay." Marinette whispered and relaxed. "We can stay?"

"Yeah. I was thinking. I think she is in trouble too if she tells on us." Adrien replied.

"What does she want?" Marinette removed her head to be able to see his face.

"Just some ordinary data, the years of birth etc." Adrien shrugged as much as he could.

"Okay." Marinette spoke in small voice.

They stayed like that in silence. The room was dark and they could barely see each other in close distance. They could hear the excited voices of the students around them who were telling and retelling the events of the day, particularly the akuma attack. They could even recognize the word Ladyblog from time to time.

They stayed like that, staring at each other and listening to the background noise for a long time until their eyes got tired and closed on their own while their owners were already asleep.

Chapter Text

Nightmares

 

Marinette had the same nightmare. Timebreaker. Same old same old. He disappeared. She held on Adrien tightly and woke up. He was here. He was her Chat. And he was alive and asleep. He was safe in her arms. She fell asleep. And the Timebreaker returned. This time she felt him even in her sleep. But he moved. He gasped for air. Perhaps she held him too tight. She let go. But then he grabbed her back in his sleep and held so tight he almost crushed her. He was shaking. He was crying.

“What was it?” she asked once his breathing became slightly less erratic.

“Desperada, but with my father in place of Vivica.” Adrien whispered. “And he laughed at me every time. He called me incompetent. He called me Adrien.”

Marinette rubbed his back.

“I am here.” she whispered.

“What about you?” he asked. He felt her sleep was restless too.

“Timebreaker.” she answered simply. Adrien never understood why was that particular akuma so bad for his lady. “I held you like this. She touched you. You disappeared. I went back in time and another timeline was created.”

“I am here.” he whispered.

They stayed like that and their breathing slowed down a bit, but none of them fell asleep. It was too dark for them to see the details on each other’s faces.

She closed her eyes and concentrated on her breathing and listened to his breathing. He was breathing steadily and she assumed he fell back asleep. She felt his arms around her, one under her head and another thrown over her waist, holding her. She held him back, feeling he was there was comforting after the nightmare she had. Chat was safe. At that moment it was more important to her to know that Chat was safe than to think of Adrien being there. But they were the same person. So confusing. Adrien looked more like Chat every day, his hair was a hopeless mess, his skin got darker because of the exposure to the sun at high altitudes and he behaved like Chat more and more each day.

Marinette contemplated when she had a shower last time, they have only used wash cloth and water in the temple. It was a blessing because the water was cold. The only smell she felt was some lavender oil sleeping bag freshener (that also keeps bugs away) that Ling recommended in the shop. They both smelled like lavender. Their hair and their onesies. Everything.

Adrien loved the smell of lavender. He did not appreciate it much before, but the smell of lavender was the smell of the sleeping bag. And she was there in that sleeping bug. Marinette. Ladybug. She was there safe in his arms and it was nice to be reassured that way. She was probably asleep because her breathing was so calm so he kept quiet and motionless. He refused to think about the future, everything was vague and undefined, even the morning seemed like a really far future. Another akuma might strike at any moment. He should probably should get some sleep while he could.

She moved. His breath hitched.

“You awake?” they both whispered and then chuckled in response.

“What do you think about doing some scouting? You know, spying on them?” She whispered.

“Yeah, let’s go, anything is better than laying awake waiting for the next akuma to strike.” he replied.

They sneaked out from they sleeping bags. Adrien grabbed his jacket that was on top of the pile and steadied the rest from falling down. He knew the jacket was black with green buttons and few surfaces, but these surfaces reflected any light and the jacket was not useful for sneaking around. Adrien got a small torch from the pocket and left the jacket there. The fleece onesies reflected nothing, they were perfect for sneaking out. The two teens padded their way between the sleeping students, few of them were awake with their phones on.

When they reached the main entrance, Adrien peeked out. The moonlight clearly shown a figure standing in front of the temple and watching the main path.

“The main entrance is watched.” Adrien whispered.

“What did you expect, kid?” Plagg retorted floating in the air next to Adrien. “There are more of them in that tent over there.” Plagg showed with his eyes because those were the only things on him visible in the darkness.

The monk that sat just inside gave them one look. He knew who they were and why they were there and decided to just let them be.

Marinette struggled to find her shoes in the darkness of the hallway leading to the main entrance.

“I know I left them here, but I can’t be sure these are mine in the darkness, Tikki.” Marinette whispered. Tikki jumped from shoe to shoe. Soon, a pair of green eyes joined her.

“Ugh, these are Adrien’s.” Plagg soon announced pretending to be disgusted by the smell, but nobody even saw how the black cat kwami held his nose with his paw in the darkness.

Adrien hissed and took the shoes.

“And these are yours, Pigtails.” Plagg hopped up and down on another pair. Marinette took them. But none of them put them on their feet, they would produce noise if they walked to stone hallways in hiking boots.

They sneaked around the temple carrying their shoes in their hands until they got to a more secluded way out that Pema showed them that morning. They had to feel they way there with their hands. Plagg helped with his night vision, but he also deliberately made them run into each other inside a small niche instead of a narrow passage that would lead them out. Adrien wanted to scold him, but Marinette grabbed his hand and shushed him.

“We have to keep quiet.” she whispered close to his ear.

As soon as they got out they put on their shoes to climb down the rocks.

“Kid, do you by any chance have any cheese on you for your benevolent guide?” Plagg hovered centimetres from Adrien’s face.

“Plagg, I did bring one piece but that was in the case of an akuma attack, you can live.” Adrien pulled his face back a bit.

“I am on mere survival rations here.” Plagg grumbled while they crawled over the rocks to reach the steps going down. The moonlight was barely sufficient to navigate them.

“You get plenty of cheese.” Adrien replied quietly.

“Really, I do not. The last time I had plenty of cheese was on that airplane.” Plagg patted his belly and sighed dreamily.

“You mean when you annihilated the cheese supply for the business class?” Adrien replied.

“shh” Marinette quiet them down and Tikki grabbed Plagg to quiet him down.

They were approaching the step that lead to the temple over the steep slope of the cliff. They took a wide way around the solder that was guarding the temple entrance and descended to the steps. Going down the steps in the darkness was much easier.

Plagg sat in Adrien’s hair and steered him by pulling his hair left and right. It was not the most pleasant way to communicate, but they avoided talking and Plagg’s teasing that way. Adrien took Marinette’s hand and lead her down the stairs. The steps on the stairs were of irregular size and winded down the face of the cliff without any fence so they both kept their free hand on the cliff wall.

Once down, they both sighed in relief but faced a different issue. They sneaked up towards the camp, but the camp was lit and there was a guard. They would risk getting caught in the middle of the night by the solider on the guard duty and this would definitely draw further attention to them, at best. The worst option was that Gabriel and Nathalie would realize who are they. And that was a bit too much to risk for both of them.

“Their container is almost in the middle of the camp.” Marinette whispered.

“At least it is well lit all around.” Adrien noted with a bit of disappointment in his tone.

“We might try a different approach.” Marinette looked at the cliffs above the camp.

“Yeah, I get what you mean.” Adrien whispered back.

They carefully climbed the rocks in the dark. They were tens of meters above the camp and well hidden in the dark watching what was going on below. They avoided to speak as much as they could during climbing. Their kwami kept silent and Plagg steered Adrien in the dark while Adrien helped Marinette as much as he could communicating throught touch, but she followed after him in the dark as best as she could.

Adrien pointed to one solder walking through the camp and Marinette nodded. Then after a minute Marinette pointed to another solder and raised two fingers. Adrien nodded. They crawled up the rocks slowly, careful not to produce any sound. Their only light was the moonlight and that part of the cliff was in the shade, so they relied mostly on their sense of touch.

“My Lady” Adrien whispered. “There is a small hiding spot here.” Adrien rolled to the side and pulled Marinette along. They rolled on top of each other for a few minutes. Adrien grinned as he ended up on top of her. But it seemed worn out at that moment.

“Do you think you could hear them all the way up here if you transformed?” Marinette whispered.

“You are reading my mind.” Adrien grinned. He was all Chat. With a few words, Adrien transformed into Chat Noir. The flash of light was hidden from everyone but the open sky as they were hiding in a small hole between the rocks.

Chat Noir sighed with relief. It was much easier this way. He could see everything, every little detail of their surroundings. Without missing a beat he scooped Marinette on his back and jumped the rocks soundlessly, holding onto them with his claws. In a few jumps, they were on a top of an exposed rock just above the camp. Even Marinette could hear the solders footsteps on the gravel.

A door squeaked being open.

“Sir.” a rush of footsteps was heard approaching a container. “You do not have the permit to wander around in the night.” An unfamiliar voice warned in a careful voice, clearly the man that spoke was running or walking quickly.

“Why am I not allowed out.” A very familiar voice of Gabriel Agreste spoke. It was not even toned as a question, it was more like a side remark disregarding the authority of the person who spoke.

“Sir, stop!” a completely different tone of the same voice meant business. “I have to stop you, it is my job.” the voice warned very seriously.

“What if I need to use your toilet facilities.” Gabriel spoke sternly.

“You have all the necessities inside. You have the pot next to your night stand, below the bed.” the voice warned.

Chat could hear Gabriel sighing heavily and retreating to the container. The fact that the given solder had his weapon on ready probably helped tame his father and made him return to his premisses. The door to the container shut down so loudly that Chat winced. Marinette held him tightly. He spied on his own father. She could only imagine how hard it was for him.

But Chat felt no issues. This was not the first time Adrien spied on his father, and this time he was Chat, using his enhanced hearing. Marinette calmed down her breathing as much as she could not to disturb him. Chat was trying to hear the conversation that unfolded inside the container.

“I could not get that butterfly.” Gabriel sighed in frustration. “That man almost pointed his weapon at me.” Like, how dare that solder, member of the army in this country try to keep someone like Gabriel in his contained during the night. “That was entirely unacceptable behaviour.” Gabriel snarled. He will make sure the person gets fired in the morning. The only problem was, Gabriel did tno employ the Chinese solders. How unfortunate the situation was. Well, he decided he will make do whit what he had.

“Do you feel anyone who would be prone to akumatization?” Nathalie asked.

“Actually, no, not so much, nobody is angry or sad, not even frustrated at the moment.” Gabriel was disappointed, utterly disappointed. The further he got from major urban areas, the worse it got. Beijing was like a paradise so many people, always some poor soul feeling desperate at the heat of the moment, but he had not butterflies.

“Not sufficient for a sentimonster?” Nathalie suggested.

“No, not even nightmares. I could sense a few only moments ago.” Gabriel waved his head.

Both Marinette and Chat stiffened a bit. Was Hawk Moth able to sense their nightmares? They would have to take good care of each other if they wanted to prevent being chased by a violet butterfly in the middle of the night.

“Perhaps we should go up there ourselves then?” Nathalie proposed.

“We could transform and search the temple ourselves.” Gabriel pondered on the proposal.

“On the other hand, it is more practical to use akumas and sentimonsters.” Nathalie continued their exchange.

“I would prefer not to be seen transformed here.” Gabriel dismissed the proposal.

“Especially since we could end up on the news in France.” Nathalie was tapping on her tablet. It was really annoying that the news on the akuma in Tibet were on French blog in a matter of minutes.

“I need more butterflies. I need to catch them. These wild butterflies are by no means tame. They are much harder to catch and control.” Gabriel complained in stern voice.

“But Gabriel, that only means you did a fabulous job on raising your own breed in Paris.” Nathalie praised him, probably only to push him in a better mood.

“That got stuck in a quarantine in Beijing.” Gabriel cut off. They both kept silent for a while and Chat was ready to signal Marinette that they were finished and could head back to the temple. His father and Nathalie were not going to try anything tonight.

“I am sorry Nathalie.” Gabriel spoke quietly.

“It is all right sir, you are under a lot of stress.” Nathalie replied barely above a whisper.

“I am asking too much from you.” Gabriel said in a tome that was half apology half telling Nathalie that he considered she was not able to do better.

“I would do anything for you sir.” Nathalie replied in a soft voice.

There was more talk and more sounds that made Adrien blush and conclude that his father has moved on after his mother disappeared. That meant that his father was not doing all that to bring back his mother. Then he blushed even more and decided to stop eavesdropping, Sometimes it was nicer to live without some knowledge or experiences. Chat put Marinette on his back and jumped up from one rock to another until they were in front of the small cave they used to transform before. They entered and Chat detransformed into Adrien.

“They are not attacking tonight, no butterflies and probably no candidates.” Adrien summarized what he heard. “They are not allowed to walk around once it is dark.”

“Okay, we can go back to the temple or make a plan for attack.” Marinette whispered. She would prefer to wait for them to bcome nervous and make an error.

Adrien was ready to go to attack, but had no plan. And he has learned so far that attacking without a plan was not a good idea. Unless you were cornered.

“We might sleep on that. But with no nightmares. That is important.” Adrien whispered back. None of them wanted to fight a nightmare akuma on the Tibetan plateau.

They carefully returned to the temple and to their sleeping bag. After they spied on their enemy a little, it was easier to fetch some sleep before the morning.

 

Chapter Text

The akuma of peace and tranquillity

 

There was nothing that would wake you up as efficiently as an akuma attack.

Gabriel did not sleep. Oh no. Sleep was for the weak. He advised Nathalie to rest as he wanted to make an efficient double attack the next day. He was to sit and contemplate. So he sat and contemplated. The attack by the akumatized solder he hastily set up in the evening was not efficient. He gave the akuma powers to move quickly expecting this would enable the akuma to go through the temple and find the magical stones. Unfortunately, someone of the students from the temple managed to announce the attack on a French blog and Ladybug and Chat Noir teleported and fought his akuma in no time. That meant his next akuma had to be armed. His next akuma should also prevent any pictures to be posted on the internet. How to do that? What kind of emotions was he looking for? He sat in the chair and contemplated. He dozed off. He took a cat nap. (And Chat Noir would enjoy so much knowing that.) That meant the man spent the night in an awkward position and a bit stiff in the morning.

The first rays of daylight that broke the night sky launched Gabriel from his chair. He stiffened a bit as he was getting up, but the drive to win this time was pushing him against the pain in his stiffened back and neck. Not that anyone would notice that he was more stiff than usual. It was his usual posture. The moment he got out from the container door, he located the first butterfly on the outer wall of his container The butterfly was sitting still on a nearby white surface below the lamp. Its wings were not moving yet as the butterfly needed the warmth of the sun to initiate its movement. These butterflies were not grown in the basement of the Agreste mansion. With the aid of his height, Gabriel could scoop the butterfly quickly into the jar he brought out. He searched his surroundings and caught a few more butterflies in the jar ‘for later’. Satisfied he checked the jar once more before he retreated to the container.

“Nooroo, dark wings rise.” Gabriel Agreste transformed into Hawk Moth. The small and packed container interior was not really the kind of environment he was used to working with. He watched Nathalie sleeping and decided to leave her to her rest. He cracked open the small window so the butterfly would have space to go out. Then he concentrated. He had to locate the perfect akuma victim.

One student was awake, breathing heavily, the disappointment was all over her face. The temple was old and untouched by the modern technologies, that was until they arrived. To her delight, the monks were the source of the ancient wisdoms that they offered to share freely and with delight, they told stories about the past and that was what she wanted to hear. But for the two days already, save a few hours in the morning when the monks have told their stories during the morning prayers after breakfast, the days were full of carrying water, washing in the same cold water, eating the same plain meals (but at least then she could experience their peaceful chants and hear a few stories). There were chores to do, so many of them. She absent mindedly played with a knitted friendship bracelet around her wrist and wished to go back in time to the period when being a monk meant enjoying peace and tranquillity (at least that was how she imagined it would have been). A violet butterfly fluttered towards her and entered the bracelet. A violet mask formed on her face.

“Peacemaker, I am Hawk Moth.” Hawk Moth introduced himself in the akuma’s head. “I give you power to transfer everyone to a time and place of peace and tranquillity. In return, I want you to get me the miraculous stones from the temple.” Hawk Moth offered.

“I accept.” The student accepted. Her clothes turned into the robes of a Tibetan monk, save they were violet and not red.

Adrien woke up to the sounds of screams from the further end of the large room they slept in. Marinette moved and his first instinct was to wrap his arms around her and protect her. When he opened his eyes, he saw a tall woman dressed in violet shooting rays from her hands at students around her and they disappeared one by one.

“She is making them disappear.” Marinette whispered and tried to jump up, but Adrien pulled her down. Just last night they both had the nightmares about the akuma’s that made the other disappear. It was as if their minds were anticipating something like this would happen.

“You do not want to get hit by her. Do not expose yourself. Do not draw attention to yourself.” Adrien whispered. They both looked frantically to the nearest way out. They both pulled the hoods of their onesies over their heads and crawled in the direction of the nearest exit. Several monks walked inside through the door. They felt guilty. They felt like cowards.

“I am Peacemaker. I will send you to the time of peace and tranquillity. Find me the magical stones hidden in this temple.” the akuma announced to the monks.

“We should stay here and fight.” Marinette whispered. She could not make herself hide from an akuma that was making other people disappear. Her instincts were telling her to stay and protect. But how should she do that without endangering herself needlessly?

“It is not like you have to hide and transform.” Plagg added. They were not supposed to transform in the temple.

“But you can get hit and disappear.” Tikki warned.

“We have to lead the akuma to follow us. We have to draw her attention.” Marinette protested.

Adrien wanted to say how his Lady will bring them back but one look in Marinette’s eyes has told him that would be wrong thing to say at that moment. His Lady was not wearing a mask this time and he could see how worried she has been. Seeing the girl behind the mask made him realize what was the weight of responsibility she carried and how this weight shifted when she had to bring back the victims of the akuma attack.

“Let’s stay low and observe.” he proposed. It pained him to see the students get hit, one by one. The akuma progressed slowly and appeared in not hurry. The akuma was shooting more rays and every time someone disappeared, both of them winced.

“We should all strive for peace and tranquillity.” The akuma shouted. But the eyes of the akuma glowed violet and her face was more distressed.

Marinette observed the akuma carefully. She was more inclined to act than ever.

“A place of peace and tranquillity?” she whispered, got up and narrowed her eyes. Adrien put a cap on his head and a hood and stood up too.

“Marinette” Tikki chirped hidden in the hood of the girl’s onesie. “Hawk Moth might see you through the eyes of the akuma.”

“I can’t just sit down and do nothing.” Marinette replied.

“What are you doing?” Adrien asked Marinette as he jumped to his feet. But one look in her determined eyes and he knew exactly what she was about to do.

“Kid, your father could recognize you.” Plagg warned from his hiding place in Adrien’s hood.

Marinette stood tall and determined.

“You strive for peace and tranquillity?” Marinette asked bravely. Adrien waved his head. Worry and a hint of ‘oh no, not again’ flashed over his face.

The akuma stopped what she was doing and slowly turned towards Marinette who was walking towards her.

‘Oh no. Just what does she thinks she is doing?’ Adrien thought as his eyes went wide. ’She will get hit and disappear on me, again.’ The memories of Desperada went through his head. Without a word he followed her closely ready to jump in front of her and protect her if she gets hit. He grinned, that was his place, by his lady.

“You should send yourself to the place of peace and tranquillity.” Marinette jumped towards the akuma just as the akuma raised her hand towards Marinette. Adrien leaped for both of them.

The akuma fired a shot.

Marinette grabbed the hand of the akuma.

Adrien managed to hold on to Marinette.

All three of them disappeared.

They reappeared in the same temple in the same large room surrounded by confused students, those they remembered were hit by the akuma previously.

“Is this a different dimension?” Adrien asked.

“Or a different time?” Marinette whispered too.

The akuma was confused herself for a moment. A violet mask glowed on her head.

Several confused monks were walking around in the large room studying the people that have just appeared there.

“More students?” one monk looked around. “Good, we have tasks for you.”

Several children ran into the large room studying curiously the new faces. They dispersed between the students and tried to ask questions who they were and what were they doing there.

They recognized Dorje as he entered the large room. Adrien and Marinette could see in his eyes that the young man has recognized them as the miracoulous wielders and the akuma but he did not recognize the two of them as persons he knew.

“The three of you can help little Fu over here to bring water to the temple.” Dorje ordered Adrien, Marinette and the akuma showing a boy of about twelve. Marinette and Adrien stared at the boy. The boy looked at them with curious eyes, open wide to take in all the information about these new and interesting people. They were dressed in a way that they looked like a black and a red bear in their onesies.

“Master Fu?” Marinette whispered. She thought she recognized the same benevolent curiosity in the eyes of the young boy that she saw so many times in the eyes of the old man.

Adrien nodded. The boy might have been the young Master Fu.

It was good they were sent for water, once out of the temple, Marinette and Adrien could transform and fight the akuma. They both looked at each other, the plan was almost formed without any words exchanged between them.

A violet mask glowed even stronger on the akuma’s head.

“It seems that Hawk Moth has not lost the connection.” Adrien whispered.

Marinette was worried that whatever they do might change the events in the future. What if they messed up something with Master Fu?

“You are not there to carry water but to bring me the magical jewels.” Hawk Moth snarled in akuma’s head.

“I am the peacemaker. I am here for peace and tranquillity, not to carry water for you.” the akuma shouted at the monk.

Dorje stepped in front of the akuma ready to negotiate.

“Listen, if this is young Master Fu, we could prevent all of this from happening.” Marinette whispered. “We could tell him, he would not create Feast and the temple would not get burned and he would not loose the butterfly and the peacock miraculous.”

Adrien gulped. They could prevent the existence of Hawk Moth. Would he ever be Chat Noir? Would he ever meet Marinette in that other future? Would she ever be Ladybug? Would he go to school?

“Would not we interfere with historical events like that?” Adrien asked quietly. He grabbed her hand, but his hand could not grab anything. It was semi-transparent. It was as if his hands has turned into a hologram. Adrien started to disappear.

“Yeah, I am not sure which historical events Master Fu was involved in.” Marinette whispered as she first noticed a worried expression on his face.

“We would interfere with whatever he did.” Adrien whispered.

“I guess we would, but would not that also prevent the existence of Hawk Moth?” she whispered, but then she noticed Adrien’s hands were semi-transparent as they started to disappear. Her eyes went wide. The choice was so simple. Yes, she could prevent the existence of Hawk Moth and at the same time, there would be no Adrien. He might have never been born. Her heart was beating painfully in her chest. She reached for him and her hand just went through. She raised her eyes to his. His eyes were warm and green. She saw Plagg looking down from Adrien’s hood, hiding below the boys left ear.

“Do what you have to do My Lady.” Adrien whispered, his voice sounded as if he was saying goodbye. He understood now what had to be done.

The akuma was arguing with the monk ans she did not want to go and bring water.

“I do not want to bring more water for you.” The akuma shouted.

“What is it that you wish for yourself?” the monk asked calmly.

“I want the magical stones you have.” the akuma demanded.

“Why do you need the magical stones.” the monk continued in the same calm voice.

“I want to give them to Hawk Moth so he can give me what I need.” the akuma replied matter of factly.

“And what do you need?” the monk asked calmly.

“I want to finally reach my place of peace and tranquillity.” the akuma screamed.

“You have to find that yourself.” the monk continued the negotiations.

The violet mask on the face of the akuma glowed with more intensity.

“The peace and tranquillity awaits for you as soon as you get those stones for me.” Hawk Moth snarled. “The miracle box might be in the temple containing all the miraculous, go and find it for me.”

“You have to find the place of peace and tranquillity within you.” the monk spoke but the akuma could not hear him. The voice of the monk could not be stronger than the voice of Hawk Moth in her head.

Marinette stared in Adrien’s eyes. Young master Fu stood beside them and stared at them. The boy’s eyes glowed as he was looking at their faces. But the two teens were not paying any attention to the boy. They looked at each other and their eyes and their faces showed how many emotions passed between them.

“I love you.” she whispered, her eyes were becoming a bit blur.

“I love you.” Adrien smiled the most loving and gentle smile. He wanted her to remember him that way. How he loved her. He hoped he would live at least in her memories if not for real. The year they defended akumas together were the only period of his life when he felt really alive. And he was thankful for that. At least, he lived to meet her, to know her, to learn her identity and to travel to the temple together with her. He knew what she had to do. He knew his lady was strong enough to do it.

He watched as Marinette straightened up herself and got ready to speak.

 

Chapter Text

That peaceful place

Ladybug always knew what was the right thing to do. She knew that there were sacrifices to be made in order to achieve your goal. You had to accept some losses. You had to focus on the goal. You have to think two, three or ten steps in advance (or sometimes backwards as with Backwarder). And she had thought about her following step and what would be the consequences. Ladybug was to make the decision with her head not her heart. But she was Marinette at that moment and her heart ached. She should be stronger than that. She was strong, she was confident, and she was Marinette.

She straightened up herself and got ready to speak. She had to speak and she had to speak in Chinese.

"Give me your miraculous stones." the akuma screamed at the monk. "I want to go to a place of peace and tranquillity."

"You want to go to the place of peace and tranquillity?" Marinette faced the akuma.

Adrien looked at her, astonished, then he looked at his hands and himself. He was becoming slightly less transparent.

Young master Fu looked at him and held out a hand but his hand passed through Adrien's hand. Adrien smiled to the boy and turned away from him to follow Marinette after the akuma.

Marinette made a few steps to close the distance between her and the akuma. Adrien followed as if dazed. Akuma turned towards them. The violet mask at the face of the akuma glowed violet as the akuma was listening to Hawk Moth and could not hear what the monk and Marinette were saying.

"You have to find the place of peace and tranquillity within you." Dorje repeated.

"That place is not here." Marinette whispered as she grabbed the hand of the akuma.

Adrien held out his hand and grabbed Marinette. His hand did not go through. He knew her next move and he knew she needed just a little bit of help with that. He hid his face behind Marinette and whispered her next words. He knew her Chinese was limited.

"Take us to the place where you felt peace and tranquillity." Marinette spoke confidently.

Adrien felt his body disappear again. He could not feel nor touch Marinette although he clearly remembered his hand held onto hers. And he did not remember letting go of her. Everything went blur. The three of them, Adrien, Marinette and Peacemaker disappeared again.

Marinette briefly panicked at the temporary loss of contact.

Dorje smiled and turned to the boy that was to become master Fu.

"Have you seen them?" Dorje asked.

"Yes, they are Ladybug and Chat Noir." Fu answered readily. "I could recognize them. But, why they had no masks on their faces?"

"That was because they were not transformed." Dorje smiled. The monk understood that they were coming from the future as they had no records of such a couple of superheroes from the past.

Marinette, Adrien and the akuma appeared at the settlement of tents that reminded them a lot of the settlement where he got the cheese for Plagg last time.

"This is the place where I felt peaceful the last time." the akuma said solemnly.

"Well it certainly looks very nice, no stress at sight." Adrien perked up. He was back, his body was there, Marinette was there and the akuma was there too. Everybody accounted for. But he was not sure when they were, what was the time, year nor century. Did they come back to the future they arrived from? Which future? He noticed Marinette scanned their surroundings and could not determine for herself.

A violet mask glowed on the akuma's head.

"There are no miraculous stones in there, go back to the temple." Hawk Moth ordered.

Akumatized woman started to slowly and reluctantly walk towards the temple.

Adrien and Marinette took the opportunity to sneak out and hide. There were no people on the path between the akuma and the temple and they had some time to plan their attack.

"Thank you Marinette." Adrien whispered as soon they were out of sight from the akuma. He waved his hand and then he threw himself on Marinette. He wrapped her in a crushing hug. He wanted to feel her to touch her to know that she was there and that he was there and they were both there together, there, wherever and whenever that was. He held her like that for a few moments and Marinette held him back. But they had an akuma to fight and they would have to deal with these feelings later. They loosened the tight hug to be able to look at each other and around.

"I have an idea where we are." Marinette spoke as she glanced around. "But, I have no idea when we are."

"Pigtails, you should have suggested that akuma some Camembert factory, I always find peace and tranquillity there." Plagg noted.

"Plagg" two teens and a kwami laughed.

Plagg quickly floated from Adrien's hood to Marinette's hood and patted her cheek.

"Thank you Pigtails." Plagg whispered. Marinette smiled and tried to look at him which caused her eyes to turn sideways and make a funny face.

Tikki patted Marinette's face from the other side and hid back in her hood.

"Hey Sugarcube." Plagg called. "I really like this Ladybug."

"Thank you Plagg." Marinette and Tikki replied quietly.

Adrien was still holding Marinette and Plagg jumped back to Adrien's hood. They peaked around the tent and watched the akuma walking towards the temple.

"Perhaps we should do something about that akuma." Adrien proposed waving his head in the directions of the akuma.

"We can't create a portal to appear from." Marinette whispered. "If we appear here and now, whenever we are, it might be suspicious."

"Leave that to me, I am the master of improvisation." Adrien smirked the way Chat Noir does.

They sneaked around until they found a place where they could transform unseen, behind a tent and a rock.

"Tikki, spots on." Marinette whispered and transformed into Ladybug.

Adrien watched the transformation with eyes and mouth wide open.

"What are you waiting for?" Ladybug smiled at him.

"I will never get used to this." Adrien smiled. "Plagg, claws out." And Adrien transformed into Chat Noir.

Ladybug waved her head. "You really make a show, do you?" she smiled at Chat.

"I like your performance better." Chat smiled gently.

Ladybug rolled her eyes.

"Chat, we have an akuma to catch." she warned, but instantly noticed her error and covered her mouth with her hand.

"You mean cat-ch?" Chat Noir grinned. He would never miss an opportunity.

"Urgh" Ladybug groaned.

They were running after the akuma and quickly caught up with her.

"Any ideas where the akuma is? I'd go for the bracelet." Chat spike quietly.

"Her clothes are all monk's robes but I would assume she is not a monk but a student and that the akuma is in the bracelet, it is the only other thing on her that I noticed." Ladybug replied.

"Okay, I could cut the bracelet with my claw." Chat Noir proposed wiggling his claws. "But I need some time for my performance."

"Lucky charm!" Ladybug called and got a pair of kitchen mittens. She caught them from the thin air and looked around. She saw Chat and akumas hands.

"I guess this should be straightforward." she shrugged, she gave the mittens to Chat and launched her yoyo.

"Chat, jump behind her." The yoyo wrapped around the akuma's body and her arms so she could not move her hands much. Peacemaker turned around. Chat vaulted and landed just behind the akuma's back. Chat quickly stuck the mittens on the hands of the akuma.

The violet mask on Peacemaker glowed violet.

"Where have those two come from?" Hawk Moth groaned in his temporary lair.

"Hey, purple lady." Chat greeted the akuma.

"I am the Peacemaker. I want for everyone to live in peace and harmony." the akuma yelled waving her hands in mittens slightly as her arms were tied to her body by Ladybug's yoyo.

"We had hard time to cat-ch you." Chat grinned. He put a special emphasis on the word time. "You time travel a lot?"

Chat clawed the robes slightly. "Nope the akuma is not in her robes." he pretended to think what could the akumatized object be.

"You know, Ladybug and I barely have the time for this." Chat Noir pretended to inspect the akuma. "And we would prefer if Hawk Moth gave us some space." he stared at the eyes of the akuma.

"Hawk Moth groaned in his lair. Nathalie woke up.

"Have you ever been to Paris? Very nice place. Has akumas too. It is much easier to locate them there." Chat grinned.

Ladybug smiled at his antics.

"Chat hurry up. The portal will not hold on forever." she warned.

"Ah, yes, we have to go back, otherwise we will have to stay here and turn into pumpkins." Chat grinned and cut the bracelet with his claw.

A violet butterfly fluttered out from the bracelet.

Peacemaker turned back to the student wearing thick pyjama.

Hawk Moth groaned again. Nathalie got up and stood in front of him.

Ladybug unwrapped the yoyo from the student. "Enough evil doing for you little akuma." She launched the yoyo after the violet butterfly. "Gotcha!" And released a white butterfly.

"You have been akumatized." Chat Noir explained to the student as he retrieved the mittens from her hands. "You are okay now, please go to the temple." He felt a bit guilty not to transport her there. The student was barefoot and in Paris they often transported akumatized victims to safety. Chat ran over to Ladybug and gave her the mittens.

"Here, let's hope it works all the way." Chat winked. Ladybug sighed. They were not sure in which time they were. Chat took her hand.

"Miraculous Ladybug" Ladybug threw the mittens in the air and a swirl of ladybugs washed over them.

The surroundings have changed a little. Some patches of green grass shifted and the tents were positioned differently and at a slightly different place.

"I guess if she transported us in time then the miracle cure brought us back." Ladybug shrugged.

Ladybug's earrings beeped and Chat knew they had little time.

He extended his baton and vaulted towards the temple but to the side of the cliff on the opposite side from where the army containers were stationed (and the stairs leading to the temple). They barely landed on the bottom of the cliff and away from any curious eyes when Ladybug detransformed into Marinette. That side of the cliff was in the shadow as the early morning sun was on the other side of the cliff.

Marinette caught Tikki in her hands and found one cookie that she kept in the pocket of her onesie. Tikki took it gratefully and hid in the same pocket.

Chat hugged Marinette and started to cry. His body was shaking with sobs. The tears flowed freely down his face and soaked Marinette's onesie on her shoulder.

"Thank you Marinette. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." he repeated over and over again. He wanted to express his gratitude. She kept him. She decided he was worth it. Someone in this world was considering him worthy of finding a more difficult path to achieve their goals. And that someone was his lady. That someone was Marinette. He cried happy tears and soaked her shoulder.

"It is okay, Chat. You are welcome." Marinette smiled and a few tears reached her eyes too. She stroked his back and his shoulders trying to calm him down.

"You could have got rid of Hawk Moth, and you did not." Chat whispered to her neck. His breath hitched and he hugged her even tighter.

"I needed you to beat that akuma, Chat." Marinette whispered back as she held him back. She needed to feel him there too. She needed to make sure he did not disappear again.

Marinette shifted on her feet. She was wearing only socks and she stood on the cold rocks.

Chat noticed she was shifting her feet and looked down.

"You are cold. I have to bring you back up there." Chat smiled and took her gently in his arms. He extended his baton and they rose up until they reached a narrow path cut into the face of the cliff about half way up.

"Okay, I think this is where we stop." Chat landed on the narrow ledge and retracted his baton.

"You should detransform." Marinette whispered. Chat crouched and hid as well as he could. They were in a shadow, but the transformation light might draw unwanted attention.

"Plagg, claws in." Chat Noir transformed into Adrien. He got up and they walked up the path towards the temple.

"What about that cheese now?" Plagg put his paws on his hips and stared at Adrien. Adrien laughed as he produced a small piece of cheese wrapped in a piece of cloth.

"I have not even used my cataclysm but I am glad to get rid of this from my pocket. You always keep me smelling like cheese." Adrien complained.

"You do not smell like cheese at all. You smell like that lavender oil you spray on everything these days." Plagg groaned. "Even my cheese started to smell like lavender."

"It keeps the bugs away." Marinette noted smiling.

"It did not keep you away." Adrien smiled.

Marinette rolled her eyes.

"Nor Sugarcube." Plagg cut in.

Tikki rolled her eyes.

"Okay, let's sneak back inside." Adrien whispered as they climbed all the way in to the temple.

Chapter Text

Panda Warriors

 

Adrien and Marinette walked the narrow path over stones and gravel and sneaked up to the temple. They found a hidden and not guarded entrance they have used before and stumbled straight up to Dorje and Pema.

The four of them just stood there and looked at each other. Now the two teens knew that Dorje had seen them before they arrived to the temple. He had seen them appearing in the temple together with an akuma.

“You saw the two of us back then?” Adrien finally asked.

Dorje nodded in confirmation.

“How long ago was it for you?” Adrien pushed for more information.

Dorje sighed. “Few months ago.” then he looked at Pema and she continued.

“The students appeared in the temple a few months ago for us but 175 years ago for you. They told us very briefly how they got to the temple. Then the miraculous cure removed them from the temple. The temple burned down and then got restored and we knew to ask the government to send us young students.” Pema explained. “We were not certain that you were the part of the package, but we assumed you would get here somehow too.”

“And master Fu saw us too.” Marinette whispered. “Do you think he had chosen the two of us because he remembered us after all those years?”

“That is possible.” Dorje repeated. “He could recognize the two of you as Ladybug and Chat Noir when he saw you in the temple. He even asked why your faces are not covered with masks.”

Marinette and Adrien looked at each other and their red and black onesies.

“I guess you really picked up our clothes well this time.” Marinette rolled her eyes.

“But you can’t say we do not look good in it.” Adrien smirked.

“That akuma took a good look at us. I am sure Hawk Moth saw us. He might suspects us too.” Marinette put her hands on her hips and stared at Adrien.

“We were dressed up in Chat Noir and Ladybug costumes for the Clara Nightingales video and he did not suspect us.” Adrien retorted.

Pema translated to Dorje with her eyebrows raised. They looked at each other confused from time to time. They shrugged and tried to follow the argument to the best of their abilities.

“Yeah, I guess you are right. And you put a show for that akuma.” Marinette smiled.

“You can count on me to put up a good show.” Adrien smirked, then flexed his muscle (which was particularly funny considering he was wearing fluffy, comfortable and spacious onesie) and finally grinned.

Marinette rolled her eyes.

“Why don’t we go to eat some breakfast.” Dorje smiled and motioned with his hands for them to start moving.

“I don’t like this waiting game. It makes me nervous. He is waiting for us to make an error and we might have made it already, we just do not know.” Marinette muttered as they walked down the corridor towards the room where they had their meals and monks chanted their prayers and told their stories.

“Should this cat do some spying again?” Adrien spoke quietly and wiggled his eyebrows.

“I don’t know. If he thought we were Chat Noir and Ladybug right away, he would probably tell the akuma to get my earrings and your ring.” Marinette bit her lower lip.

“Yes, that means he did not recognize us.” Adrien raised his fist in the air. Then he looked at his fist.

“You know, we forgot something.” he said looking at his fist and then directed his fist towards Marinette.

Marinette looked at his fist and smiled, she bumped her fist with his.

“Pound it.” they said quietly and entered the dining room. All the students sat and ate their breakfast. Most of them were chatting lively and animatedly waved their hands.

“You are okay” Ling and Ye got up from their places, walked over to Adrien and Marinette to check them. “We were worried about you when you did not appear back in the main room like almost everybody else.”

“Um, we were outside the temple when we got back.” Marinette answered and smiled. That was the truth anyway. She hoped it would be enough.

“The student who got akumatized, is she okay?” Adrien asked Marinette’s cousins. They looked at each other in confusion.

“I think she is not here.” Ling shrugged looking around.

“Was she supposed to return too?” Ye raised his eyebrows. He was not sure how all these akuma stuff with time travel and disappearances and then restoration even worked.

“Yeah, she was.” Adrien replied feeling down. Perhaps he should have brought the akumatized student closer to the temple. But that would bring him uncomfortably close to the army camp. Hawk Moth was there and he would expect a direct attack. Especially since Hawk Moth knew that Ladybug had to detransform and was out in the open.

“Perhaps she is still outside and walking towards the temple? Like we did?” Marinette said to Pema and the monk understood. Dorje and Pema quickly arranged for someone to go out and find the missing student.

They went to get their bowls with food and Tibetan tea and sat down just in time because the guide started to do a head count. Several students mentioned their colleagues who went for a toilet or to wash themselves.

“We know from the others that you travelled back in time. How was it?” Ling asked.

“Not much different.” Marinette shrugged and offered a small smile.

“Actually, we were not sure when we were exactly.” Adrien winked.

 

After breakfast they enjoyed more stories from the monks. But many students were checking their phones and the news about the akuma. Even the monks were interested to see the pictures of the akuma attack.

“Alya” Marinette panicked. “I need to check my phone.”

“It is well after midnight in Paris, she is probably sleeping.”

“She is hardly sleeping if there was a second akuma attack after more than a week of quiet time and she is on school holidays.” Marinette waved her head.

“You can go for your phones.” Ling whispered and motioned for other students who were getting up and leaving or returning to the large room.

Adrien and Marinette both bolted from the carpet they were sitting on, sneaked out from the large room trying hard (and sometimes failing) not to disturb anyone in the crowded room. Once they got out, they ran for their phones.

Marinette’s phone:

Alya: Just to let you know the akuma attack around your temple is trending :)

Alya: I guess you are busy keeping Adrien warm.

Marinette hitched a breath and blushed all the way to her hair. Adrien flicked his eyes towards her and notices how she was almost as red as her suit.

Alya: sorry, your brother ;)

Marinette waved her head and kept on reading.

Alya: ANOTHER akuma attack in the same temple? Is Chloe with you?

Alya: I am getting messages in Chinese. Your sunshine is not responding so I am stuck with internet translate tools.

Alya: I got a few pics submitted but none from you!

Alya: (emoji waving an index finger.)

Alya: I got a pic of two people strongly resembling you and Adrien facing the akuma. Just for you to know. I filter the images that go to my blog and I will not post that one in case someone here recognizes Adrien on it. You owe me big time. It is a great pic.

Alya: you and him in red and black onesies, just like Ladybug and Chat Noir, so cute. And you really look like two teddy bears.

Alya: omg, there is a ten seconds video of the two of you disappearing with the akuma.

Alya: Girl, please let me know you are okay, Ladybug fixed everything and brought you back.

Alya: Call me girl.

Nino: Marinette, please call Alya or me, do not look at the time, okay, just call.

Adrien’s phone:

Nino: Hey dude, just to let you know sorry for teasing you and sorry if I made things awkward with Marinette. Greetings to your little sister ;)

Adrien smiled to the phone, but then he hard Marinette hitch a breath. He looked at her lovingly. She was completely red in the face. He guessed Alya was still teasing her.

Nino: Alya called, there is ANOTHER akuma attack there?

Alya: (a number of messages in Chinese that she wants translated)

Nino: have you tried to FIGHT that akuma and it took you somewhere?

Nino: dude, PLEASE let me know you are okay

Nino: call, no matter the hour.

Adrien pressed the call button for Nino while Marinette was not yet finished reading all the messages. He did not put up a video call considering the time in Paris. It was only fair. And he did not want Nino to see his face at that moment. Nino answered during the first ringtone.

“Hey Nino.” Adrien greeted.

“Adrien. Dude!” Nino was loud but his voice was revealing how relieved he was. “Is Marinette with you?”

“Yeah.” Adrien spoke quietly, he looked at the girl and smiled. “She is here. We are okay.”

“Wait, Alya is waiting for a group call.” Nino pressed a button that caused a high pitched tone.

“Alya, Adrien called, they are both okay.” Nino yelled in the phone even before Alya said anything.

“They are okay?” she breathed in the phone.

“Yes we are okay.” Adrien confirmed. “Want to hear from Marinette?” He held out the phone to the said girl and she took it.

“Hi Alya.” Marinette greeted timidly.

“Girl, I was so scared for you!” Alya screamed into the phone. Adrien avoided putting his phone on speaker, but he heard every word anyway. “What were you thinking?”

Marinette glared at the phone then she rolled her eyes and looked at Adrien.

“Coming from a girl who chases every akuma? Jealous?” Marinette smirked. Finally something to tease her back.

Adrien grinned. That was his lady.

“Girl!” Alya sounded like a warning. Marinette sighed and rolled her eyes again. Alya could tease her about Adrien again and that would not be good.

“Tell me all about that akuma attack.” Alya ordered in place of teasing. She already guessed from messages she got and Ling even wrote her in French but this was information fro someone who got hit.

“Um, it was a student and she made people disappear.” Marinette partially stammered her answer. Adrien asked to take the phone back and he would handle Alya.

“Babe, let them be, let them recover, I am sure Marinette’s cousins wrote to you all about it.” Nino begged his girlfriend to let them be.

“We got dumped in some different time or parallel universe. Then Ladybug and Chat Noir arrived to the scene and won and Ladybug brought us back with her miraculous cure.” Adrien smiled at Marinette as he hugged her and pulled her closer while he was talking. The girl blushed and looked at her hands not sure what to do with herself.

“Are you feeling okay, dude?” Nino asked carefully.

“Yeah, it was bad during the fight but now I feel like I am in the clouds.” Adrien smiled as he spoke looking at Marinette the whole time. She was Ladybug, he dared to think she was his Ladybug and she decided to keep him.

Nino smiled knowingly. He remembered the video calls with Adrien. Judging by the sound of his voice, the boy was probably hugging Marinette again. Too bad Nino could not take a screenshot of this conversation again.

“Are you okay?” Adrien asked Marinette who was slightly blushed due to his attention. She nodded.

“Yeah, she is okay too.”

“Listen, Adrien, I have a really nice photo and a ten second video of you and your little sister over there with the akuma.” Alya spoke. Marinette rolled her eyes. Adrien sighed in anticipation what was coming. He did not any photo of him on her blog. “Can I blur your faces and publish it?”

That sounded like a reasonable request. Adrien looked at Marinette and shrugged. She shrugged back and then nodded. He nodded back. Okay, that was resolved very fluently.

“Okay, Alya, but please make sure nobody could recognize us.” Adrien begged.

“Don’t worry, I do not want you pulled out from school or something.” Alya tried to reassure the boy. Adrien thought of so many other things his father might suspect if he recognized him and what he might do.

“Alya, is it really worth that?” Nino asked.

“Don’t worry, I have a plan, nobody will think it was the two of them.” Alya reassured Nino.

“Okay, it is really late dude.” they could hear Nino jaw. “I want to catch some sleep as I have Chris duty in the morning.”

They all said their greetings and cut the connection.

Adrien discovered him and Marinette were both tired from the fight and decided to relax there on the sleeping bag for a few minutes before going to change in their normal clothes for the day.

Sometime later, Ling will arrive squealing excitedly and showing them the new post on the Ladyblog titled ‘As cute as pandas, Chinese students face the akuma’ featuring the photo and the short video.

 

Chapter Text

The Water Duty

 

“Hi maman.” Marinette greeted on her phone cheerfully. She genuinely missed her parents. Hearing her mother reassuring voice was enough to cheer her up as tired as she was after the early morning akuma fight and emotionally drained from the decisions that she was making. She had to call her parents and reassure them that she was well.

Adrien sat beside her and typed messages to his bodyguard. He could almost hear him grunt at a few of them. He smiled, he laughed and most of all, he enjoyed the fact that Marinette sat beside him and they exchanged a few glances between them. Adrien noticed Marinette’s worried and tired expression. The last akuma fight was emotionally draining. Maybe she had a chance to end it all.

“We are okay. I guess it is the same as in the school back home. Don’t worry.” Marinette replied to her mother’s inquiry. “How is papa?”

Adrien got quite a long reply from his bodyguard at that moment. The man was known to not speak much (let’s put it mildly). At least now he wrote extended messages. The boy smiled and typed back. They continued their conversation like that for a while.

Marinette laughed at his side while she listened to her mother talking.

“Okay you can give him the phone if he insists.” Marinette smiled and greeted her father. Then she kept silent listening to her father. She blushed and turned away from Adrien. The boy was sure her father was teasing her. His stomach twisted a bit. He remembered Weredad. What is going to happen once they meet again? Should he worry about that at all? It was only an hour ago, he was becoming transparent, erased from the course of history and hoped he would at least live in her memories. He turned his attention back to the phone as he got one more message from his bodyguard. He laughed at it and wrote a short reply. Marinette was saying goodbye to her parents assuring them everything was okay.

“Are your parents worried about the akuma?” Adrien asked curious how her parents reacted. Of course her parents did not know they have a Ladybug for their only daughter.

“Maybe a little, from their point of view, it is the same as if we go to school in Paris.” Marinette shrugged.

“At least here we do not go to the toilet so often.” Adrien laughed and Marinette joined him.

“Um, listen, my father wants me to tell you about how he got akumatized, to warn you … “ Marinette blushed all the way to her hair. She was looking to the side, obviously avoiding his gaze. The fact was, her father wanted to tell the story to Adrien directly, but Marinette did not let him. “that if you do something to hurt me...” she trailed off. She knew she did not have to tell him anything more, he got the message.

“I am really sorry for hurting you back then, for hurting your family, Marinette.” Adrien took her hand. “I have refused you for … you and you were right, I preferred the mask back then. But, not any more.” She was Marinette, not Ladybug an hour ago when she decided to keep him from disappearing.

Marinette flicked her eyes straight into his.

“I am sorry too. I … panicked. I did not really mean that, I expected you would not do anything but let me down, I never expected you to show up for that lunch.” She rambled as her eyes wandered out.

“Why would I do that to you?” Adrien stroked her hand gently.

“Because! Why would you ever look twice at a girl like me if you had eyes for Ladybug?” she turned to him and looked in his eyes. His gaze never left her. He pulled her closer in a side hug. He stroked her arms up and down.

“Because you are you.” Adrien wrapped both his arms around her. They both sat there peacefully listened to each other breathing as they took some time to sort out their feelings.

“I can’t believe this is us..” Adrien smiled.

“We left Paris for a short school break.” Marinette whispered.

“It feels like that was a few years ago.” Adrien replied softly.

They sat like that in silence for one more minute until they both decided it was time to change their clothes and go to the bathroom.

“You know.” Adrien whispered as they were walking through a narrow and dark corridor that was a shortcut towards the bathroom. “If you told young master Fu and prevented the occurrence of Hawk Moth, the akuma should have disappeared, you did not need me to fight her.”

“Don’t go there kid.” Plagg warned quietly from his hiding place in the pocket.

“Yes, she should have been de-transforming back into the student like you have ...” Marinette trailed off, she could not force herself to say what was needed to finish that sentence.

“But she was not, right?” Adrien wanted to make a conclusion.

“That means that telling Fu would not prevent someone to become Hawk Moth, but you would not … “ Marinette looked at him with her eyes wide. “If the akuma disappeared how would I get back? I should not have been there in the first place. This time travel stuff is a mess.” Marinette groaned.

“You made your decision, Marinette. It was the right one.” Tikki chirped. But Marinette was contemplating.

When they finally changed in normal clothes, they decided not to spend the day inside. The dark interior of the temple and gentle chants of the monks with intermittent story telling was making them sleepy. Fresh air and sunlight should wake them up. They walked out from the temple to enjoy some sunshine on their faces.

“Hey, you two, how about some water duty?” the guide asked offering several water containers.

Each of them was given two and they went down the stairs.

“Is there a cheese duty too? I might volunteer for that.” Plagg teased quietly from the pocket.

“Adrien, put on your cap.” Marinette whisper shouted as soon as they were out of earshot. “You could be seen down there.” Tikki floated out from the pocket on her jacket and enjoyed in the sun. Plagg phased out and sat on the boy’s head.

“Hey, I can pretend to be that cap of yours, look.” Plagg rolled in his hair. They all laughed. Adrien felt his pockets. He found a cap and the dark glasses that Ling gave him the day before.

“Hey, if you have any more cheese inside those pockets, I would be more than happy to relieve you of that burden.” Plagg offered. Adrien snorted and waved his head.

The glasses had few girly pink crystals on the upper part of the frame, but Adrien ignored the fact. He was actually proud to put something on his face that would make his father’s blood boil. But then again, his father’s blood would probably boil whenever he put his Chat Noir mask on, if he only knew.

“Would you take a photo of me?” Adrien asked offering his phone to Marinette and she laughed at the faces he made as she took more photos.

They reached a small stream just at the bottom of the cliff and positioned their load so that the water flowed in the water containers. They observed the surroundings while they waited for the containers to get filled.

The army camp was nice and regular assembly of the containers. One was perpendicular to the others and in front of it was a flagpole with a Chinese flag on top. Two rows of containers were arranged neatly and supported by stones on corners while there was obviously a hole underneath the middle, it would be possible to hide underneath.

“Do you think your father has any cheese in there?” Plagg teased as he pretended to float away.

“Plagg, stop that, you could be seen.” Tikki chirped as she pulled him back to Adrien who put the small black cat in his pocket. Tikki hid in Marinette’s jacket.

They paid attention where the lights were distributed around the camp for the night and made a few comments about that. Later they thought of trying to attack while both Hawk Moth and Mayura lounged in their container.

Except they were not there.

They heard footsteps behind their backs and fell completely silent and it was Gabriel with Nathalie, walking around, weather for enjoying the sun outside or checking their surroundings and making a strategy was anybody guess. They were probably doing a little bit of both. Gabriel held his hands on his back as he walked stiffly forward, his head flipped left and right while Natalie strolled on his side.

The two teens concentrated on the water flowing into their last container.

Gabriel looked towards two human beings filling the plastic water containers at a stream for a few seconds before removing his eyes from the total absence of style with disdain. His eyes simply suffered. He understood that these clothes had to be practical, but he knew that did not mean the clothes had to be without any style.

Adrien helped Marinette to take two containers while he took the other two. That was the order from the guide and the girl insisted she could take both. It was not possible to hold on two containers with one hand anyway. They exchanged a few looks and waved their hands slightly to communicate but kept quiet.

They did not speak while Gabriel and Nathalie slowly strolled behind their back. Adrien waved his head and they went towards the stairs and stopped at the bottom for a moment. The two teens exchanged one glance.

Adrien wanted to transform that very moment and attack, strip the butterfly miracoulous off his father and get it over with. He would also find the peacock brooch on Nathalie and take it off.

Plagg scratched his chest.

Wait, would he find where their miraculous were? How much time he needed for that. Their miraculous were never in plain sight. They were hidden. It was also possible they were not even on their bodies at that moment.

Marinette waved her head and they slowly climbed the steps one by one. It was uphill and they carried water. It was physically hard. But their bodies were well trained and they could do that. Carrying the heavy water containers uphill released the accumulated tension.

They climbed like that in silence for some time until finally Adrien decided they got far enough.

“This would have been so much easier in our other form.” he whispered.

“Carrying water or evading your father?” she replied between two breaths. The air was thin and she carried about twenty litres of water. Adrien laughed breathlessly.

“I was thinking of transforming and jumping onto them.” he admitted.

“Yeah, me too, but Tikki patted me so strongly I gave up.” Marinette whispered back.

After half a minute more of climbing, Plagg floated out from Adrien’s jacket and soon Tikki followed suit from Marinette’s pocket.

“You know, it would be easier for you to carry that if you ate more cheese.” Plagg teased.

“Plagg.” Adrien groaned. “If I liked your cheese, what would you eat?”

Plagg withdrew from Adrien’s face for about half a metre baffled by the boy’s response.

”Why were you scratching me so much when father and Nathalie were close?” the boy asked curiously.

“Your heart pounded so strongly, I had to take your mind away from him.” Plagg was a bit more serious than usual, and he usually spoke about cheese, and cheese meant food and there was nothing more important than food.

“What do you mean?” Adrien asked incredulously after a few steps.

“The wielders of the butterfly and peacock miraculous can feel negative emotions even when they are not transformed. It is only much less sensitive than when they are transformed.” Tikki warned.

“Hawk Moth and Mayura feed on people’s emotions, particularly the negative ones.” Plagg added.

“Perhaps it was not as bad as it looked. We were agitated by the prospect of carrying the water up the steps when we stopped below them?” Marinette shrugged and looked at Adrien curiously.

“That was probably what they thought.” Adrien smirked.

They met Ling and Ye when they climbed back up to the temple and the four of them went for one more round of water. The guide could not believe that those two would prefer carrying water to sitting inside dozing off while the monks chanted. Tikki and Plagg did not appreciate the company so much as they had to hide back into their wielder’s jackets. They chatted on the way down, they chatted on their way up and it took them more time, but the government official guide was really pleased with them when they offered to do one more round.

Chapter Text

Yeti

 

That morning, after the akuma attack, Hawk Moth detransformed in his lair. His anger at another lost battle slowly subsided. He believed he achieved some progress.

“We were actually very close this time. I believe that this akuma went so far back in the past that she could have brought me the full miracle box, including the Chat Noir and Ladybug miraculous.” Gabriel connected his hands behind his back.

“You have a new plan, sir?” Nathalie raised her eyebrows as she cautiously asked her boss what was his next idea.

“The plan is the same for now. I have to akumatize someone who will create an army who would search the temple for the miracle stones. But for that I need to akumatize someone who is inclined to create armies and give orders. Nathalie, please arrange a meeting with a local commander.” Gabriel smiled wickedly. He is going to make sure himself that the commander will be in proper condition to be akumatized after such a meeting.

“However, I would prefer that Ladybug and Chat Noir have a distraction. Someone to fight aside the akuma.” he spoke suggestively.

“You mean a sentimonster?” Nathalie smiled with a corner of her lips. “That can be arranged, sir.”

“Good.” Gabriel pronounced a rare word of praise and Nathalie lit up (on the inside) with her eyes and a smile that was schooled into something more polite and appropriate for the eyes of Gabriel Agreste. The tension released its grip on her body and she relaxed sufficiently to go about the usual daily routine. (Whatever that would be in the high mountains for two characters such as Gabriel and Nathalie).

Nathalie prepared a full presentation on what was going on in the temple from the information she could collect on the internet while Gabriel busied himself with staring through the window. She briefed him on the information and left him to browse himself while she went to arrange the meeting with the local commander. The man was not available until later so Nathalie proposed they take a walk and check the area themselves.

Gabriel met the commander at noon sharp. He played the man easily. The commander and the solders were not going into the temple to preserve its secrets and privacy of the monks while students easily published photos from the insides on the internet.

The commander assembled a small group of solders. They stomped up the stairs and reached the temple out of breath. Gabriel returned to the container.

“It is time to start with our plan.” he announced sternly. Nathalie transformed into Mayura and searched for desperation, but the most she found was boredom. She produced a feather and evilized it.

Gabriel transformed into Hawk Moth and released an evilized butterfly. Both of them fluttered to the temple. Gabriel wanted the commander to become angrier and stronger akuma.

“I demand to check the temple interior.” The commander ordered.

“It was agreed that the monks would communicate through students.” the guide explained.

“Why can you be inside and not me?” the commander demanded and the government official offered to go through the paperwork together.

Marinette nudged Adrien and directed him towards the argument in front of the temple door. They were just relaxing after they carried water with Ling and Ye. The four of them approached the temple together.

“Perhaps there is some way to let them go inside and see for themselves?” the kids discussed between themselves loud enough to be overheard. ‘Stay positive’ Marinette cheered quietly. She did not want another akuma in the temple again.

“Actually, the only thing that prevents you from entering the temple is – that there should be no weapons carried on the temple grounds.” The government official concluded with raised eyebrows as she studied the paperwork. Even the solders nodded that the condition seemed reasonable.

“But, we are solders, we are expected to be armed.” The commander complained meekly. He understood the logic behind the request. “Well, if we leave our arms, we can enter and inspect?”

“I do not see why not?” The government official shrugged.

They quickly made arrangements where the commander and few officers left their weapons with their colleagues and entered the temple.

“Argh, my creation obliterated.” Hawk Moth snarled. “Let’s see who else we can find.” he resigned and then smiled with evil look in his eyes. “Of course.”

One government official was studying his book on yeti. He suspected the temple would hold information on many mysteries including the elusive creature that roamed the Himalayas according to the legends. But Yeti was expected in the middle of cold winter, and there they had relatively mild weather for days. A violet butterfly landed on his pen while a violet feather landed on his book.

“Mr. Blizzard, I am Hawk Moth and I give you the power to recreate the cold winter conditions. All I ask in return are the secret magical stones from the temple.” Hawk Moth spoke in his head.

“And I am Mayura and I give you power to create the being that roamed these plains in the legends.” Mayura spoke in his head. The man agreed.

The book got absorbed in a creature that looked like a tall and hairy human being with wide feet, covered from head to toe in long white hair. It blinked at the solder a few times with its wide blue eyes before it walked away. The creature walked upright and stopped from time to time when it poked on some stones or turned them to see what was hiding below.

The akumatized man himself transformed into Mr Blizzard. His clothes turned all white while his pen extended into a wand. He flicked his wrist and the wand formed a circle. The sky covered in thick grey clouds. He flicked again and dense snow started to fall from the clouds covering the ground quickly. He flicked the wand once more and the snow was carried by a strong wind.

The four teens sat on stones in front of the temple and enjoyed the sun until it disappeared suddenly. When they looked around, the sky was completely covered with the clouds.

“Uh” Adrien groaned.

“Oh.” Marinette was fluent in her concern.

“When did this happen?” Ye shouted.

“Where have these clouds come from?” Ling asked incredulously.

“It is an akuma.” Marinette and Adrien concluded in unison.

Snowflakes filled the air around them and soon strong wind carried them everywhere, into their eyes and their clothes.

Yeti noticed the snowflakes and the quickly thickening layer of snow that covered the ground and turned happy. He jumped merrily on the snow and practically danced in circles with his arms outstretched, but he produced no noise.

Adrien nudged Marinette to look his way and then he pointed towards the Yeti.

“That must be the akuma.” he whispered. Marinette squinted her eyes trying to see the details through the dense snow that was entering her eyes.

Ling and Ye headed for the entrance to the temple and called for Marinette and Adrien to follow. But the two teens were already in the fight mode and stared at Yeti. Ling followed their gaze and soon discovered what they were looking at. She took out her phone and took a photo of the creature. She was sending the photo to Alya with a few strokes of her thumb on the screen without even looking at it, and then she took a few more photos. Ye was filming a short video before he switched off his device and pocketed it.

“What do we do now?” Ye asked. In Paris, everyone would simply run for safety and wait for Ladybug and Chat Noir to resolve any problem. But the behaviour was not yet coded in the local DNA. Marinette looked around and Adrien saw the gears running in her head as her blue eyes scanned the area. They needed to hide and transform.

“Why don’t you go inside and warn the others?” Adrien proposed to Marinette’s cousins. “We can stay here and see what happens.”

Ling and Ye shared a look between themselves. “I guess you know what you are doing.” Ye answered and they both went towards the main entrance to the temple. Both were a bit baffled by their younger friends behaviour. They did not notice any fear. So why would they, the older teens be afraid of that creature?

Yeti made a circle with his hand and created a whirlwind of strong wind and snowflakes that was heading towards Marinette and Adrien and the two of them jumped to the side and rolled on the snow. Once they stopped, they stayed low and observed Yeti from a distance. He created another whirlwind that headed their way and they scrambled to get up and run away jumping and rolling away to the other side. Yeti followed them towards the side of the temple with the main entrance.

A few monks and students ran out from the temple and Yeti created a few whirlwinds that went their way.

Adrien saw an opportunity to escape and pull Marinette to safety.

“No, we have to make him follow us away from the temple.” Marinette whispered. She was taking the winter gloves from her jacket and zipped it up completely. It became obvious why they had to wear their wet gear over their normal clothes. It was not just in the case they spilled water. Adrien did the same and took the gloves. They had to do this as Adrien and Marinette.

Most of the curious people that got out from the temple to see what was going on retreated inside. Marinette tried to get Yeti’s attention in vain when Adrien whistled sharply. The sound spread through the snowy landscape and took everyone’s attention. Ling and Ye called to them from the temple entrance and then ran after them. The two students were followed by Dorje and Pema, dressed only in the same robes the monk’s wore all the time.

Dorje and Pema dragged Ling and Ye back to the temple and reassured them that they would be going back for Marinette and Adrien.

However, the whistle did it’s job and Yeti ran after Adrien and Marinette and the two teens started to run away towards the place where they expected to find the stairs. Except, the stairs were now already buried in deep snow.

They dropped to the ground and crawled their way to the edge. They found the beginning of the steps, and tried to walk down, but the snow was waist deep after only a few steps and there was no way that they could run away quickly like that.

The wind blew so hard it almost threw them off the cliff and Adrien grabbed Marinette and threw them on the ground. Yeti sent another whirlwind in their direction and their crawled away for only a few metres before they had to lay down and wait for the whirlwind to pass over them.

More and more snow accumulated and it became hard to even try to walk in it. Their feet would sink deeper than their knees and they would not feel they reached any solid surface as they moved, their feet simply got stuck in the thick snow. Soon it was not even possible to crawl and they discovered that they could only roll on the surface of the thick snow as then they would not sink too deep and get almost stuck.

Marinette tackled Adrien to the side as another whirlwind went after them. Yeti followed the two of them with occasional distractions when he poked at snow, pulled a branch out and studied it or simply played with the snow.

More snow was falling and the layer accumulated to a few meters at particular places where the wind was slightly weaker. Marinette pointed towards one rock sticking out from the snow at the edge of the cliff and they both climbed it. The layer of snow around it accumulated rapidly.

Yeti looked towards them and sent more whirlwinds that only quickened the snow layer growth rate. They could barely see a few meters in the distance. Snowflakes entered their eyes and they barely kept an eye on where Yeti was going.

Another gust of strong wind almost pulled them of the rock they were clinging onto and threw them down the face of the cliff. Adrien bit his tongue, there were so many puns, so many, just pushing to go out, and yet he schooled himself to be silent. He could reveal his identity if he behaved more like Chat Noir in front of Yeti.

“How do we make them follow us without falling down?” Adrien asked as he looked into the abyss below them, he could not see what was below them save the snow.

“You will have to transform, kid.” Plagg warned from his warm and safe hiding spot in Adrien’s hood.

“Would Yeti follow us if we jumped?” Marinette asked as she peeked over the ledge only to see nothing but white.

“Do what you have to do, Marinette.” Tikki chirped.

Another whirlwind hit them when they were looking over the ledge and neither looked towards Yeti not held to the large rock tightly and the whirlwind threw them off the rock. At the last moment, Adrien pushed himself off the side of the rock and grabbed Marinette’s hand. They landed into the thick snow that accumulated on the ledge.

The next thing they heard was a loud scream.

And the snow beneath them gave way and fell down the cliff face in an avalanche.

 

Chapter Text

The Avalanche

Adrien and Marinette heard a loud scream through the wind and the snow. The thick layer of snow beneath them gave way and dropped down the side of the cliff in an avalanche. The thick snow all around them made it difficult to breathe and impossible to see at any distance. Adrien and Marinette held hands as they were falling not too loose each other.

"Plagg, claws out." Adrien squeezed out the air from his lungs. Once he transformed, the enhanced strength should make it easier to breathe. The green light of his transformation was lost to the outside world by the amount of snow in the avalanche. Chat Noir extended his baton as soon as he could grab it from his back. He pointed it towards the ground to slow down their fall.

"Tikki, spots on." Marinette shouted to the snow. Her pink transformation washed over her and Ladybug reached for the yoyo on her back. She launched the yoyo up through the avalanche and towards the edge of the cliff.

Yeti saw the avalanche forming and ran after the snow. He stopped at the cliff edge and looked downwards. As Yeti was not creating more whirlwinds he could see how the avalanche descended down the cliff face in a waave that washed over the rocks and bounced over obstacles. As the first and fastest rolls of the avalanche reached the bottom of the rocky cliff face a small red point emerged from the snow below him. The red point approached him with great speed and the chord wrapped around his body.

Mayura stiffened in her lair. "Yoyo, that has to be Ladybug." she groaned.

Hawk Moth grinned "More snow, Mr Blizzard, make more snow." he encouraged loudly.

Behind Yeti, Mr Blizzard screamed again and waved his wand. More snow started to fall and accumulate on the small plateau on the top of the cliff that hosted the temple.

Chat Noir extended the baton more and more below him and Ladybug until it hit the hard surface. He held on to her and retracted it slowly to slow down their fall. The avalanche passed by them with great speed, snow hit them hard and threatened to yank them off from his staff. Chat Noir held his grip on the staff with one hand while he held Ladybug with the other. She gripped to his hand.

Ladybug felt her yoyo caught something and yanked it. Instead of getting a firm holding point for the yoyo and hanging from it, the chord of the yoyo got loose as that something she caught fell off from the edge of the cliff. But, Ladybug expected it and retracted the chord of her yoyo to keep it tight. She smiled at Chat, her eyes glistened and he smiled back. She was aiming for Yeti and she was successful. She wanted him away from the temple, to be able to fight it while transformed.

"Chat, let go. Look out!" Ladybug screamed but they could not do much. Chat tilted and retracted his baton, Ladybug yanked her yoyo a bit to the side. And that was all they managed to do in the split second time they had.

Yeti landed right on top of the two of them and all three of them fell into the deep snow layer below the cliff face created by the avalanche.

"Scream, create one more avalanche." Hawk Moth encouraged.

Mr. Blizzard screamed again and created one more avalanche to the side that was falling on top of Yeti, Ladybug and Chat Noir burying them in an even deeper layer of snow.

Everything was black. Because her eyes were closed. And she could not breathe. The snow was in her face. She moved her head a bit to create some space to breathe in and then she opened her eyes, it was not so much black as dark grey, but she could still not recognize anything. Her body was in awkward position and she tried to determine which way was up. As the dense layer of snow pressed on her from all sides, that was much harder than one would imagine. A sound resembling a scream could be heard even through the snow layer. Her body wiggled in the snow making sufficient space for her lungs to spread allowing her to breathe fully. The snow was not yet packed, the porous layer allowed for the air to go through. She tried to move her arms and legs, one limb at a time while she kept making space for her head by moving side to side and up and down. Her left arm could move a bit and she felt something, no, someone who she could feel with that hand had moved too.

"Chat" she called to the snow surrounding her face.

But all she could hear back was the rumble of more snow falling onto the pile she was buried making the layer of snow above her thicker and thicker.

Chat Noir held onto Ladybug as fast as he could and as long as he could with one arm while he held onto his baton with the other. But all his efforts were futile when Yeti fell onto both of them. His hand gripped on a body part of someone else, he just hoped that someone was Ladybug. He retracted the baton in his other hand and braced for impact. He was proud that cats always land on their feet (although he often missed to do that in practice, but that must have been that human part of him). Once they stopped falling, he felt the snow pressing on him from all directions. His cat ears got flattened to his head but he still could distinctively hear a scream coming from somewhere high above their heads. The scream was muffled by the snow and it was not possible to determine the direction it came from clearly.

He tried moving his head to make some space and sneezed the snow from his nostrils. He could feel he was still holding onto someone with his hand while he still had his baton in his other hand. He wandered if it would be useful. He moved his arms and legs kicking the snow around him, he moved his body to make space for his lungs to expand. The loud sound of more snow falling onto him almost deafened him but his sensitive ears could detect Ladybug's voice calling his name through the snow. He opened his eyes, he cleared the space just a few centimetres before his eyes and could not see much. Everything was grey and becoming darker as more snow accumulated. The light that entered the snow layer was also reflected within it so the same shade of grey covered his whole view and he could not head for the brighter spot assuming it was up.

Ladybug tried to retract her yoyo, but it was still wrapped up around something, she assumed that something was in fact Yeti. She moved using more of her strength and made a little bit more space for her body in the thick layer of snow. She could not see anything, but now she could feel the gravity pulled her in certain direction and the snow was not pushing onto her from the other side so she assumed she knew which way was up. She had the chord of her yoyo in one hand and she could grab someone's body part with the other, but that body part was moving a lot so she merely followed where the body part was, ready to grab onto it. She could not unwrap her yoyo in her first attempts and contemplated if she should continue trying. It was not certain she could just launch it up through this snow, hook it onto something and pull them up.

Chat moved more and more creating more space and slowly determining which way was down. He could retract his arms closer to his body so he retracted the hand holding the baton. He moved his legs, something was obstructing the path of his right leg but he pushed to make more space. He extended the baton and it went through the snow layer below him. It extended slowly until he reached a firm surface again. He hoped that was ground. He grabbed the hand or leg whatever he could hold with his other hand and extended the baton further, pushing himself upward through the thick layer of snow. The snow has not settled yet so it was still possible to slowly progress trough it.

Ladybug felt sudden movement and grabbed that moving body part next to her left hand. She felt the object wrapped in her yoyo chord moved too and she held on to the chord. She held on and was pulled up through the snow layer.

Chat closed his eyes while he pushed himself up, first slowly, but then it was possible to go faster and faster. He opened his eyes as soon he recognized an increase in brightness and no pressure on his shoulders, the baton extended further pushing him all the way up. Finally his hand was out from the snow and he looked down to see who he dragged out.

He expected to see an elegant hand or leg in a red suit with black spots.

He saw a hairy limb. Long white hairs covered it completely.

He pulled himself all the way up looking down at Yeti only to discover a second surprise.

An elegant hand dressed in red with black spots held onto his leg. He smiled.

Yeti glared at him with his blue eyes.

Chat grinned.

He extended the baton further so that Ladybug would be all the way up.

He noticed Yeti was still wrapped up in the chord and could not really fight nor produce whirlwinds by waving his arms.

Finally, Ladybug emerged from the snow layer, holding Chat with one hand ad hanging from Yeti on the chord of her yoyo.

They heard another scream, but this time the sounds were not muffled with snow.

"I am Mr Blizzard." the voice screamed.

Another bulk of snow fell off from the top of the cliff, fortunately for the heroes, not directly above them. It piled up to the side of the cliff away from them, but some snow dust still reached them, hit their faces and entered their noses making it hard to breathe again.

Chat Noir looked into Ladybug's eyes and she looked back. They were both confused. They turned to look at Yeti, as Chat held onto him with one hand while Ladybug hung from Yeti on her yoyo. Then they looked back at each other.

Yeti looked dazed and confused, switching his gaze from Ladybug to Chat Noir and back.

"Ladybug and Chat Noir are here, they appeared in the snow together with Yeti." Nathalie spoke.

Ladybug mouthed "sentimonster" to Chat Noir and waved towards Yeti with her head. He nodded. "Akuma." Chat Noir mouthed and waved his head upwards. Ladybug nodded.

Okay, so now they both knew what they were dealing with, not than they were particularly happy about it.

They both studied Yeti, they looked at the hairy humanoid biped from all angles they could as they wiggled and moved around. They tried to determine where the amok could be hidden.

Chat Noir swung them and let go of Yeti so Ladybug and Yeti fell on top of the snow layer and rolled down the slope. He quickly retracted his baton and rolled after them.

Ladybug kept Yeti wrapped up in her yoyo and tried to find if there was any object on Yeti that could host amok. The only thing that looked like a possible hiding spot for amok was an odd hard rectangular object slightly sticking from Yeti's back that could hardly be noticed due to thick white hair of the creature.

"Where is my Yeti?" Akuma screamed on the top of the cliff.

"Your Yeti is busy with Ladybug and Chat Noir." Hawk Moth snarled in his lair. "You were supposed to look for the magical stones in the temple, not to look for your pet!"

"I want my Yeti." the akuma screamed.

"You can have your Yeti if you go and get me Ladybug and Chat Noir miraculous." Hawk Moth shouted.

Without a further word, the akuma shouted again and caused another avalanche, this time the snow under his feet let go and he fell down the face of the cliff carried by the stream of snow.

Chapter Text

Mr Blizzard

 

Ladybug rolled down the small hill of snow. She rolled along with Yeti tangled up in the chord of her yoyo and observed the creature carefully. She suspected a rectangular hump that hid in the long and thick white hair on his back was the object that hosted amok.

Yeti tried to set himself free, he wiggled, pushed and spread his arms, he grabbed onto the chord and the yoyo unwrapped setting him free.

“Chat, I think the amok is the object hidden in the hair on his back.” Ladybug yelled as Yeti caught her off his back, threw and tossed her away from him. Then he waved his hands and launched a whirlwind after her.

Chat jumped after Yeti and stretched out his arms and spread his clawed fingers. He aimed to claw Yeti’s back if the object was there. He considered using cataclysm, but only in the second attempt. However, Yeti turned just in the last moment and produced one more whirlwind that changed Chat’s trajectory and the hero missed the sentimonster completely. Chat landed in the snow face first. He quickly raised his head and spit some snow out from his mouth as he dug himself out looking around for his lady.

Ladybug was rolling and running away from two whirlwinds, she barely escaped the one that Yeti sent after her when another, the one sent after Chat caught her. She really missed the tall buildings of Paris, her yoyo did not have many things to hold onto on the Tibetan plateau, save the trees and a few rocks, the nearest pile of rocks that composed the cliff was preoccupied by hosting the avalanches down its side and there were no trees nearby to help her. She tried rotating her yoyo against the whirlwind but it backfired. Once the yoyo hit the whirlwind, it flicked back and hit her onto her head.

“Ouch” she screamed as she held a hand on her head and rolled away from the whirlwind.

“Here, Ladybug.” Chat shouted as he extended his baton. She wrapped her yoyo on the tip of his baton and he yanked her away from the danger.

And into another one.

Because she landed on the pile of snow behind him.

Just when another massive avalanche started falling from the top of the cliff.

Chat quickly yanked her again and this time she landed straight on top of him.

“You did this on purpose.” Ladybug groaned.

Chat grinned.

Then she blushed because she remembered that he was Adrien.

Chat nudged her out from her self-conscious mood.

She shook her head.

It was not the time for such thoughts.

“Let’s get away and not get buried again.” Chat proposed as he took Ladybug around her waist and extended his baton raising them above the snow wave that swept everything in its path. It was just the last moment to do so. Ladybug launched her yoyo and caught Yeti again to remove him from the way of the avalanche.

“You are saving Yeti? So cute.” Chat teased.

“It might be hard to find him if he gets buried in the snow.” Ladybug retorted.

“You know, perhaps Yeti could dig himself out from the avalanche.” Chat teased a bit more.

“I haven’t noticed this one dug himself up just moments ago?” Ladybug swiftly dropped Yeti further away, hopefully at a safe distance. But she did not unwrap her yoyo as she wanted to keep him still.

“Nope, that was me and my staff.” Chat Noir winked.

Yeti pushed and pulled at the chord until the sentmonster was free again.

“Go for them.” Mayura ordered in her lair. “Get me their miraculous.”

Ladybug had her yoyo back in her hands, but Yeti was free to attack and launch a whirlwind back at the two superheroes who held to Chat’s staff high above the first wave of the avalanche that rolled underneath their feet.

The massive avalanche hit the bottom of the cliff and the snow particles filled the air, the air filled with snow flowed beneath them. The whirlwind and the dust of icicles from the avalanche mixed up and created a mixture that was hard to breathe in while the staff tilted to the side.

When the snow particles started settling, a figure dug itself out from the large pile of snow.

“I am Mr Blizzard. Give me your miraculous.” the akuma yelled.

“Aw, Ladybug, doesn’t this make you homesick?” Chat Noir cooed.

Ladybug rolled her eyes.

“That is not something that could make me homesick.” she groaned. “But then again, missing buildings, especially the towers and other high leverage points definitely do make me wish we were fighting this akuma in Paris.”

“Yeah, I get it, not to mention the snow.” Chat Noir added as they watched the akuma on one side and the sentimonster on the other. “Schools could have a snow day and the kids would play outside and ...” Ladybug rolled her eyes. “Not now, Chat.”

The remains of the avalanche were settling underneath when the akuma pointed his wand towards the two superheroes and shot a lightning bolt. They both released the staff. The bolt of lightning hit the staff while Chat Noir and Ladybug fell onto the thick layer of snow and got partially buried in it.

“I guess the akuma is in the wand.” Ladybug groaned as she was digging herself out from the snow.

“Give me your miraculous.” they could hear Mr Blizzard demanded on one side. They could see Yeti wave his arms to create another whirlwind and set it towards them.

“How about a little luck My Lady?” Chat Noir suggested.

Ladybug quickly looked around.

“Lucky Charm” She threw her yoyo in the air and got a long string with Christmas lights.

Ladybug stared at the string.

“Well, we have the snow, all we need is a tree and we even have some guests.” Chat motioned for Yeti and Mr Blizzard.

Ladybug rolled her eyes and looked around just in time to tackle Chat Noir from his feet as another light bolt hit over her head.

“Okay, listen” Ladybug whispered as she untangled the Christmas light string, “Cut it here, please.” she asked and Chat cut it with his claw. Then she quickly tangled the wire around her wrists and head letting one end reach the ground and helped Chat do the same. “Okay now, we have them where we want them, more or less, we might want them a little closer.” Ladybug explained further while Chat Vaulted both of them using his baton away from another attack of whirlwind.

While they were in the air Mr Blizzard attacked with one more lightning bolt and they had to drop back to the ground.

“This is not good, we are their targets and we need to be there.” Ladybug pointed to a position. Chat noir vaulted them exactly at the spot Ladybug showed him.

Yeti created another whirlwind.

Ladybug launched her yoyo at Yeti.

Mr Blizzard was walking towards them and launched a lightning and it hit the two heroes but the electricity flowed down the wires leaving the two superheroes unharmed.

The yoyo wrapped around one of Yeti’s arms and she pulled strongly.

Chat Noir extended his baton.

Mr Blizzard made a few more steps closer before he shot another lightning.

“Duck” they both whispered in unison and got to the ground.

Ladybug yanked the chord of her yoyo.

The lightning passed over them and hit Yeti straight in the back.

A violet feather floated out of Yeti’s back while Yeti disintegrated and a book fell to the snow.

“No.” Mayura and Hawk Moth screamed in unison. Mayura detransformed.

Ladybug launched her yoyo again and purified the violet feather.

During the time Ladybug dealt with the feather Chat vaulted straight onto Mr Blizzard.

Ladybug prayed for the wire to keep him safe from the lightning attacks.

Mr Blizzard managed to shoot one more lightning that hit Chat straight on but the wire from the Christmas lights and his baton took the electricity to the ground.

Mr Blizzard produced more snow and strong wind waving his wand. The snowflakes were so thick Chat could barely see where he was going to fall.

As Chat fell onto Mr Blizzard, the akuma could not wave his wand in circles any more and the storm that kept him hidden subsided.

Chat grabbed the wand and snapped it in two.

A violet butterfly flew out from the wand and Ladybug caught it with her yoyo and purified it.

“You came here and ruined my plans again, Ladybug. But one of these days I am going to beat you.” Hawk Moth snarled in his lair.

Mr Blizzard transformed back to the official he was before. His appearance changed as he was wearing his usual clothes and the violet mask disappeared from his face. The man was confused and looked around in awe. Everything was covered in snow while the last thing he remembered was him complaining to himself about the sunny weather.

Chat quickly patted his shoulder and offered a comforting smile.

Ladybug earrings beeped a warning. It was the only sound in the quiet surrounding of the snow covered landscape.

She held the book in her hands. It had a picture of Yeti on the front page, but the text was in Chinese.

“Ladybug, we have to go.” Chat warned as he ran over to her.

Ladybug threw the book towards the previously akumatized man and he caught it automatically with a confused expression on his face.

Then he looked around and noticed a trail of footsteps in the snow. These were not the kind of footsteps a human would leave. They were slightly longer and much wider than from a normal human foot. The man checked his pockets to find his phone and take a photo of the footsteps.

“We have to explain them what is going on.” Ladybug whispered to Chat Noir as he was already standing next to her.

“Let’s go and find a place to detransform.” Chat Noir whispered as he scooped Ladybug and extended his baton.

Ladybug smiled to him. Things have changed after the reveal. Before, she would have launched her yoyo and went up by herself to find her own place to de-transform. Chat Noir knew that very well and enjoyed the opportunity to hold her close after the battle.

He detected a place between the rocks where they could both hide. Chat Noir unwrapped the wire from him and Ladybug unwrapped herself.

“Okay, now, I think it is time.” Chat whispered gently as he gave her the wires.

“Miracoulous Ladybug” she called and threw the wires in the air. A swirl of Ladybugs was washing over the landscape removing all the snow while Chat Noir and Ladybug detransformed back into Adrien and Marinette.

Adrien caught Plagg in his hands.

“Do you know how many more calories I need if I am working on an expedition in such winter conditions?” Plagg demanded his cheese, as usual. Adrien produced a piece of cheese and Plagg swallowed it in one bite.

Marinette caught Tikki nuzzled her cheek and gave her a cookie. Tikki thanked Marinette and sat on the girl’s shoulder.

Adrien offered his clenched fist and Marinette bumped it with her own.

“Pound it!” they said in unison.

And then they looked around.

“We are not on any kind of path. We have to climb the rocks to reach the temple.” Marinette was exasperated. They were supposed to do that as civilians.

Adrien smirked at her and stretched.

“Well then, it is a good thing one of us has a climbing wall in his room.” he leaned in and grinned.

She bopped his nose. She wanted to tease him about being a rich kid and having a father who would buy him anything but that would only remind the boy that his father was Hawk Moth and she did not want to bring Adrien down. She liked when he was happy. And right then, he was smiling.

 

Chapter Text

Climbing Rocks

 

After Ladybug launched her Miraculous cure that cleared all the snow, and they both detransformed and gave some food to their kwami, it became clear to both of them they were not entirely out of trouble yet.

“You can do this Marinette.” Tikki chirped. The little red goddess of creation sat on the girl’s shoulder and munched on the cookie. The girl stared at the rock hovering above her. With her yoyo, she would fling it up, find leverage and jump. She looked at her hands as she removed the gloves. Then she looked to the other side and took the two steps to the ledge and the long fall below her. She was used to heights and did not feel dizzy but it was a long way down and she shivered.

“I can’t possibly climb this on a full stomach.” Plagg teased after he gulped his cheese and plumped on Adrien’s shoulder pretending to fall asleep instantly.

Adrien ignored his kwami and studied the possible way out of the hole they got themselves into. They were in an indent, below an overhanging rock. It was excellent choice while they were searching for a place to hide and detransform. It was possibly the worst choice to climb out from without any safety gear. He took off his gloves. He will need his fingers for this. He tried to find leverage and climb but got only about a meter higher than he was before he realized he could not find anything to hold onto. The rock was overhanging and his feet were dangling in the air. Finally, he gave up his first attempt, he let go of the rock with his hands and dropped to the rock below.

Marinette watched him climb, give up and fall down.

When Adrien landed on the rock below just beside Marinette, Plagg fell off his shoulder and floated back up into the air.

“Hey” the little black cat like god of destruction yelled. “You! Mister I have a climbing wall in my room!” Plagg demanded attention from his chosen. “What was that?”

Tikki giggled. Marinette first grabbed Adrien and pushed him further from the ledge, scared that he might fall all the way down the cliff face. That way she yanked the boy from underneath Plagg who left hovering in the thin air.

Adrien fell straight on his but and stared at Marinette.

“What was that?” he inquired with his face twisted because falling on your but and hitting a hard rock was painful.

“Um sorry.” Marinette widened her eyes in horror. She had hurt him. She hurt Adrien Agreste. He survived all those battles as Chat Noir. He even confronted a few akumas as Adrien. And now she saw a pained expression on his face. She flailed her hands and took a step back. “You were falling and I mean I was … acting on instinct?”

She looked like she could fall back, she was known to loose balance in front of Adrien for no apparent reason, and merely one metre behind her was a deep fall down the cliff. So, without thinking, Adrien bolted, still in pain from his fall, grabbed her hand and pulled them both back. This time he controlled his fall and did not get hurt. Marinette landed straight on him (because he directed her fall there)

“This time I acted on instinct.” Adrien smirked at her. She was rather red in the face before and now she was completely flushed all the way to her hair. And he did not let go of her. He was having too much fun.

‘No, Marinette, No! This is Chat. Or better, this is Adrien that considers you his teddy bear. Do not panic. Nothing is happening.’ she mentally brought herself out from her flustered state back to the game.

“We should start climbing? Maybe?” she offered after a long pause in which she gained her composure and started breathing.

“Yeah.” Adrien replied and sounded a bit disappointed. He was surprised by his own tone. Was he disappointed? What did he expect anyway? He started getting up without letting go of her.

Marinette pointed to a small passage to the side of the rock above their heads. It was narrow. It was very steep. But there was no overhang. So they tried to go that way.

Adrien offered to go first, finding the leverage for each limb easily and climbed all the way up to the top of the rock, which was about five meters, almost the height of the climbing rock wall in his room. Then he stopped and looked down.

Marinette memorized his every step. Each point where he put his feet, which hand went where and where his feet went. She memorized the way he climbed with practised ease. She memorized every move Adrien Agreste made practically since the day she met him. This was no different.

But then she tried to replicate his moves, and the problem was obvious. He was not substantially taller than her. It was not as if she was a dwarf in his presence, but he was taller and the particular trail they took really showed the difference.

She put her right foot where his right foot had been. She stuck her left foot in the same hole. She grabbed the same jagged end of the cliff with her right hand and when she wanted to reach that small dent Adrien used with her left hand. She could not. She stretched and stretched and in the end, she jumped. She took hold on the dent with her left hand, but all other three of her limbs lost their leverage and she remained hanging. It took merely a second, but she stuck her left foot in the same hole and then she felt for the jagged dent with her right hand.

Then it was time to fish for that other hole with her right foot, and this one was rather high. Perhaps a little bit too high for someone her height, but she refused to give in and used it. She stuck her right foot into it and felt it stable, but her knee was pushing into her neck.

Okay, so now she had to hold on with her left hand and push up with her right leg (with her right nee in her neck) while letting go with her right hand and left foot simultaneously. And she did. When she straightened herself up, she discovered that her right hand can not possibly reach the next point of leverage Adrien used. It was just too high. To her desperation she could see it clearly. On the other hand (or foot in this case) she could not see the place for her left foot nor feel it through her hiking boot. She tried to find leverage by scrapping her foot on the rock, but there was nothing. She sighed.

Adrien could clearly see Marinette was in trouble. She followed what he did and was about half way through. But she really could not reach the next point. He already stiffened when he saw her jump for her previous move and was scared she would try something like that again. He wanted to climb down and help, but was puzzled how could that help her. So he looked hard to find a way to direct her. He could not see her feet but he could see another small dent that she could reach with her hand.

“Okay, go 25 centimetres to the left with that hand.” Marinette did what she was instructed. “No, my left, sorry.” he smiled sheepishly. She felt another jagged point to hold on to. Then she pulled herself up using her hands with slight help of her left foot. She still had to find something to put any of her feet. In the end, she put her right foot on the same point where her right hand was because she could find the next point to hold on to with her right hand and then she pulled herself up some more.

After that she was finding her own way. The whole climbing took merely a few minutes, but when she reached Adrien, it felt like hours.

“Where is jagged stone when you need one?” Marinette sighed the moment she reached him and he burst into laughter.

“Okay, it gets substantially easier from here.” Adrien smiled. They could already see one corner of the temple above them and they could easily scale the rocks.

They trekked and partially climbed their way, Adrien let her take the lead and even helped to scale one shortcut.

“How is Jagged Stone these days?” Adrien smirked. He remembered how Marinette designed his album cover and he wanted her autograph on it.

“Uncle Jagged? He is fine I guess. I have not heard of him for some time now, he went on tour, you know.” Marinette shrugged.

“Uncle Jagged” Adrien whispered. This girl over here called the most famous rock star in the world ‘uncle’. “It sounds so cool when you call him that.” Adrien winked. Marinette blushed again and swayed on her feet. Adrien took her hand to steady her (and just to hold her hand a bit too).

Marinette let Tikki go into her pocket and promised more cookies when they reached her backpack.

“Hey, kid.” Plagg called. “If you are so slow because of the immense load of cheese you carry, I am willing to help you with that.”

“Wasn’t your stomach so full you could not possibly climb?” Adrien retorted.

Marinette laughed. Tikki jumped out from the pocket.

“Just let them be, okay?” the little red goddess put her arms on her hips and glared at Plagg with her blue eyes.

They climbed for a few more minutes talking about Jagged Stone songs when they finally reached a level where they could be seen form the small plateau on top of the cliff on which the temple was built.

“Hey, you are okay.” Ling called as soon as she noticed them scaling up the rocks. She quickly went their way to meet them.

Ye turned around from where he was looking for the two of them and soon beaten Ling reaching the two teens first.

“Ling was so worried.” Ye said breathlessly, his whole composure showed that he was even more worried but decided not to admit to that.

“Yeah, we thought you fell down the cliff.” Ling added waving her head. “That government guide, she is crazy with worry for the two of you, she was really relieved when there were no bodies found at the bottom of the cliff.” She spoke quickly.

Adrien and Marinette looked at each other with confusion on their faces. People were always worried after the akuma attacks, but everyone in Paris was already used to that everything got restored after the fight.

“Even the monks were looking for you.” Ye added more calmly.

“Okay, you should know that Ladybug restores everything after an attack.” Adrien smiled to calm them down.

Marinette felt cold sweat on her back, these words were not making her feel less weight from her responsibilities.

“That does not mean you should endanger yourself.” Marinette cut him.

“That Yeti guy was really nasty.” Ye added.

“That was probably a sentimomnster.” Adrien feigned he was not sure.

“The screaming one was worse for me.” Ling added.

“That one was an akuma.” Marinette confirmed with more confidence, but Adrien nudged her.

“You know, you could give us lessons. You have so much more experience from Paris.” Ling proposed.

Marinette and Adrien froze as they looked at each other. Yeah, Ling and Ye as well as the rest of the students should learn how to recognize an akuma attack, a sentimonster or even Hawk Moth and Mayura themselves. On the other had, the two superheroes would prefer not to out themselves in any way.

“Erm“ Adrien voiced.

“uh “ Marinette fluently added.

“You know, we should not admit to that we know about akumas from Paris. Remember when we filled in those application forms?“ Adrien nervously warned.

“We are supposed to be Chinese“ Marinette reminded them.

“We are not big experts in avoiding akuma attacks.“ Adrien admitted, at least about what to do as civilians.

“I could not possibly give a talk in Chinese.“ Marinette shrugged.

“We could translate.” Ling offered.

“Yeah you could do that all the way, you already know the basics.“ Marinette encouraged.

“yeah, we could not possibly make good teachers“ Adrien nodded. “It is not like we know much about hiding away from akumas and sentimonsters“ (well as civilians at least he thought.)

“We even could not tell these two today instantly.” Marinette chipped in.

“But you could recommend someone. “ Ye asked.

“They could make us that web talk“ Ling patted her chin with her index finger.

“We could ask questions“ Ye perked in.

“Someone who was in many akuma attacks“ Ling pondered.

“Someone with experience“ Ye chipped in again.

“Doesn’t need to speak Chinese.” Ling encouraged.

“We would translate.” Ye continued.

What were they to do? Whom to ask to do the necessary lecture. They already agreed it was needed. They could and would not do it themselves, it was too risky to draw too much attention to themselves. The answer hovered above their heads. There was a certain blogger who had all the information needed (and even more information that was not needed) meticulously organized on her blog. If only they could make her focus on the akuma and safety and not on the identity stuff.

“Alya“ Adrien and Marinette replied in unison.

 

Chapter Text

The Teachings of Alya Cesaire

 

Ling and Ye wanted to organize a crash course on akuma attacks for the students and anyone interested in the temple. Adrien Marinette agree but do not want to do that themselves. The solution is rather obvious.

“Alya could give you a crash course.” Adrien wiggled his eyebrows. “If you are ready to translate.” He would not offer his services this time, he did not want to draw too much attention on himself.

“I am not sure she is the right choice.” Marinette pondered giving Adrien a pointed look that he missed.

“Why” the cousins asked in unison.

“She sort of, tends, to run after akuma, and into danger?” Marinette spoke each word carefully.

“Um, yes, she does.” Adrien rubbed the back of his neck.

“On the other hand, she is the ultimate expert.” Marinette looked at Adrien. He knew after the Miracle Queen who were Rena Rouge and other temporary wielders.

“We could ask her?” Ye proposed timidly.

“We should definitely ask her.” Ling concluded with determination.

“You do not plan to chase after akumas, don’t you?” Marinette inquired. She could not believe this, were her cousins to replace Alya? Nope. Not good.

“No, we do not.” Ling answered looking down. “We really just want to know more.” It was not ust the dread of danger. There was this new and fascinating phenomenon to hear about.

Once they reached the temple, Marinette looked for her phone, and found a load of unanswered messages. She typed a few responses when Adrien already placed a video call to Nino. She was still typing the last message to her parents when Adrien wrapped one arm around her and placed his phone in front of them. Was the boy even able to place a phone call without doing that?

“Hi Adrien, Marinette.” Nino greeted. He noticed how Adrien behaved and that Marinette was busy with something.

“Hi Nino” they both greeted.

“You two looking good.” Nino raised his thumb up.

“As always.” Adrien grinned.

“Dude, your hair is a mess and your face is much darker and you look so different.” Nino smirked. His friend looked much less polished and much more happy. Adrien looked free.

“And what is Marinette doing over there?” Nino asked.

“I was just replying to Alya.” Marinette added.

“Well, now you don’t have to.” Nino winked as he walked over to Alya. They were outside, Alya sat on a bench. “She is right here, busy with her blog, you know, as usual.”

He turned the phone to show Alya typing furiously on her phone. Then he turned the phone back and shrugged.

“You know, I prefer these akumas, I do not have to follow her while she cases them around.” Nino pushed his face really close to the phone and whispered conspirationaly.

“I get it.” Marinette smiled back. Adrien nodded in agreement.

“So, tell me, how are you two doing over there?” Nino asked while he had the chance, he expected the subject to switch to the akuma instantly once they got the attention of the Ladyblogger.

“We are fine.” Marinette smiled.

“Good. Fine. Excellent.” Adrien smirked while he glanced towards Marinette.

Nino watched the scene on his phone. “Dude” he smiled. Nino could not believe his friends. He waved his head.

“What” Adrien asked.

Nino looked at the phone and contemplated what he could possibly say without making the things awkward. “Nothing, I just miss you I guess.” Nino shrugged. What else could he tell them. ‘You two look like the cutest couple’ did not seem appropriate at the moment and it was probably too early to tell. Not safe. Alya might kill him. A slow and excruciating death, not a fast one.

“Hey babe, I have some surprise over here.” Nino tried to get the attention of his girlfriend once more.

“Oh, hi Adrien, Marinette.” Alya screamed the last word as she studied the was her two friends looked in the screen. “How are my favourite siblings? I guess you are not homesick with all those akuma around?”

“Dude, Alya told me. You really have some busy times over there.” Nino winked.

“A screamer and a Yeti?” she asked rather loudly.

“Calm down babe, people are watching.” Nino looked around the park.

“Yeah, we actually did not see much, perhaps you should talk to Ling and Ye over there. They have a proposal for you.” Adrien noted giving his phone to Ling who took it with her trembling hands. He was not in the mood for avoiding retelling the battle if he could easily pass the task to more eager hands.

The two soon agreed that Alya will give a short talk with photos and short videos from her blog. She already had the material ready so they will do it ‘soon’.

 

The moment Adrien gave his phone away, him and Marinette were consumed in a totally different conversation. A short study government official guide stared at them with her hands on her hips.

“You two will put me in an early grave.” the guide stared at them. “Where were you?”

Adrien winced, Marinette stiffened. Okay, it was time to invent excuses. And they had a whole arsenal of excuses that already worked on Ms Buster. Let’s see ...

“We were in the snow.” Adrien started. Marinette nodded then signalled to her clothes. “But properly dressed.” Adrien nodded to stress he perfectly understood the importance of being properly dressed in the snow. (After all, he was taught the importance of being properly dressed for every occasion from an early age.) Marinette patted her arm again. Adrien furrowed his eyebrows.

“We were climbing back.” she told him with raised eyebrows. Okay, perhaps the mind reading did not work perfectly for this purpose.

“Ah yes, it took us some time to climb back to the temple.” Adrien shrugged.

“Why have you ran away in the first place?” the guide insisted.

The two teens looked at each other a bit surprised by the question.

“You are supposed to run away from an akuma.” Adrien explained patiently.

Marinette whispered to him what to say next.

“We thought the akuma will go into the temple so we ran away.” Adrien smiled. It was a great excuse. At least he thought so.

There was a moment of silence. The guide contemplated for a while observing the two teens carefully. Finally, she took a deep breath.

“So you run away, not fight them?” The guide raised her eyebrows.

“Okay.” Marinette dragged the word how was she supposed to phrase this. Yes she was fighting them because she was a superhero, but ssh, it was a secret (although a questionable number of monks knew it and they might get akumatized and it sent shivers down her spine).

“Ladybug and Chat Noir fight them. Civilians flee.” Adrien kept the explanation as simple as possible.

“Who are Ladybug and Chat Noir? What are those akuma things?” the guide crossed her arms.

Adrien and Marinette barely suppressed an obvious sigh of relief. They looked at each other and smiled.

“Well, actually, there is an expert on the phone over there. Perhaps she could explain that to you better.” Adrien proposed motioning for the guide to join Ling.

Both teens humped with relief when the guide got engaged in the conversation and agreed to organize a small presentation session.

 

Less than a half an hour later, they were in the dining room, someone produced a miniature projector and someone else small speakers that could be stuck in the phone. Alya spoke animatedly and stopped after each sentence waiting for Ling to signal she was finished with translation.

“First of all, Ladybug and Chat Noir react to warnings. Thank you for sharing information on the Ladyblog.” she could never resist the urge to advertise her own blog and this was a perfect opportunity. Ling proudly announced how she personally sent messages to the blog that triggered warnings.

“My blog is a vital source of information on the past akumas and I often livestream the events.” Alya smiled smugly. The students mostly nodded in approval.

After the initial explanations Alya showed a few pictures and videos. These were supposed to be educational, but the videos were actually the most thrilling sequence Alya managed to film while chasing akumas and sentimonsters.

“Is she serious?” The guide bulged her eyes out.

“The important thing is to hide from an akuma. Otherwise, if you get hit, you can become a minion and superheroes will have to fight you.” Alya explained.

This advice was followed by a video where Alya is clearly chasing after the akuma.

“Aren’t you running after that akuma instead of hiding here?” Ling asked the first question.

“Um, I am a reporter and … well just do what I say not what I do.” Alya conceded.

But then, there was an avalanche of questions and remarks.

“But if I submit a picture on your blog, is not that a warning?” Ling asked confused.

“Yes, but you can also text.” Alya grinned. As if that made a serious difference. In her case the answer was no.

“Keep in mind the akuma or the akumatized person is also a victim, of Hawk Moth.” Alya reminded.

One particular student sighed in relief but then suffered the looks of pity from the surrounding students.

“Ladybug always fixes all the mess, but you are often left with the memories of what happened.” Alya reminded.

The students nodded.

“Have you ever been akumatized?” one student asked.

“Yeah, I was Lady WiFi. I wanted to expose the identity of Ladybug and Chat Noir.” Alya explained. “I do not remember that at all.”

The students reacted with stunned silence.

Ella and Etta run into the scene as they wanted something from Alya.

“And these little monsters are my little sisters and they were akumatized too.” she explained.

More stunned silence from the audience.

And then there was a shower of questions. Alya beamed and answered them one by one. It went slowly because of the need for translation. That did not discourage further questions.

After that, Alya explained about the power of teleportation and that was how the superheroes travelled to the temple. She described her own experience in Startrain.

“Thank you Alya!” Marinette whispered.

“She is good.” Adrien added and continued teasing Marinette.

The boy could not help himself, he was either holding his hand on her shoulder, or pulled her in a side hug or poking her from time to time. Marinette thoughtlessly swatted his hand away when he poked her in the ribs. She stared at her own hand in surprise. Had she just swatted away the hand of Adrien Agreste. What was she doing. She looked at his swatted hand and resisted the urge to grab it and pull it back closer. His other hand stayed on her shoulder the whole time.

Finally, he took his phone and noticed a few messages from Nino. Their friend wanted to know their impressions from the lecture Alya was giving over the internet.

“Well, the connection is not perfect.” Adrien was assembling his answer audibly expecting some input from Marinette, but the girl just smiled. She did not trust neither her voice nor the ability of her brain to form words let alone coherent sentences.

“She should give more time for the Chinese translator.” Adrien pondered what else to reply before he gave up giving any serious reply.

“Dude, I am tired of akumas” Adrien wrote, and he could not even write in how many ways. “Lets write about something else.”

And so they did.

Adrien and Marinette laughed at Alya’s stories and exchanged messages with Nino. The boy asked for a photo and Adrien sent him. And then Adrien took another selfie where he was hugging the girl close to him. He could feel how Nino waved his head and adjusted the cap on his head before he replied. Adrien blushed at the response but this time he hid the reply from Marinette. She was looking at Alya again so it was easier for the boy to get himself together.

Nino: what will you do when you come back?

Adrien stared at the message. First of all he did not think that far yet. There were too many things going on and returning back to Paris seemed as a distant future. He had no clue, the only thing he knew was that he was not letting this girl go. And he replied exactly that.

 

Chapter Text

The Questions of the Heart

 

Alya was in her element, talking more and faster and it became too difficult for Ling and Pema to translate.

Adrien and Marinette were in their own small world corresponding with Nino, not really paying attention to anything that was going on around them. Nino wrote about missing Marinette because he got stuck with babysitting Chris and Alya’s twin sisters. They laughed to his antics and wrote back their own jokes. They felt warm inside, relaxed and carefree. They were teenagers exchanging messages with their friend.

“And you should know that the temple you are staying at has exactly the same symbol as one of the sentimonsters had …” Alya continued her ‘lecture’ “And we think this is why the akumas started to appear around the temple.” The monk had years of training to prevent a slightly panicked expression from taking over her face, but she quickly asked Alya to wrap up the presentation as it was time for dinner.

“I think we should speak with the elders.” Marinette broke their little cocoon. Adrien stiffened as he remembered why were they there. He typed the last message to Nino minutes ago and it was a greeting with no reply. He was just staring into the empty space before him while leaning into the girl on his side. He sighed as she moved away and repeated what she said the first time.

“Yeah, I guess we should.” Adrien sighed and looked at her gently. He raised his eyes and did not need to look far, Dorje was just there. They exchanged a few looks and nods and everything was settled without words.

They picked up their bowls with food and ate in silence when the monk returned with his own food and ate quickly. There was something in moves that revealed the state of urgency. Finally, once they finished with their food Adrien and Marinette were pulled to the side by Dorje, and they went away. This time there was only one old monk waiting for them on the bench in the small room upstairs.

Plagg floated out from a pocket on Adrien’s shirt.

“You did very well.” Tenzin said upon greeting. “You finish your fights in less than a day.”

Adrien translated automatically, while the meaning sunk in him and Marinette looked at each other confused. Tikki phased out from Marinette’s clothes.

“We usually finish in less than an hour. There is Mr Pigeon and we often dealt with him in less than few minutes.” Adrien smiled proudly.

“Hey kid, did you get any cheese for dinner by any chance?” Plagg put his hands on his hips.

“This is not about food and you know it.” Tikki chided.

“I am sure we have something for you hungry little gods.” Tenzin motioned his hand to Dorje who produced two packages with food for the kwami. “You must be exhausted after such a long and excruciating battle.” Tenzin spoke slowly with strange accents on different words.

“Oh you have no idea what I have to put up with with this kid.” Plagg teased as he dived towards the smelly package.

“I have not even used my cataclysm.” Adrien glared at the little black cat got of destruction. Tenzin laughed. Tikki produced small noises of disapproval.

“You mean my cataclysm.” Plagg corrected teasing further.

“There were wielders in the past who took several years to win a battle.” Tenizin nodded his head deep in thought. These two kids were something different. They were really quick.

“Several years?” Adrien was baffled.

“Well, actually we are fighting Hawk Moth and Mayura for over a year, I guess.” Marinette shrugged.

“Oh I was thinking of fighting a single monster. And there were cases when a villain would pass a miraculous to a person who would continue their evil deeds.” Tenzin spoke quietly and slowly.

The two teens nodded as they listened.

“I, um, wanted to ask something.” Marinette even raised her hand as if she was in school.

“Yes.” Tenzin replied full of attention.

“Well, Hawk Moth can read minds of people and monks in this temple know our identity and … “ she trailed off, but it was enough.

“The training for a monk or a guardian takes so long because we are able to train our minds to resist being akumatized or even being read.” Tenzin smiled. “Only the fully trained monks are able to recognize miraculous wielders. Several of the others simply know you are here, because they are so far in their training they could be trusted and we could not hide that from them anyway. Our own apprentices do not know you.” Tenizin smiled.

Marinette visibly relaxed.

“So the monks can’t be akumatized.” she concluded.

“That is.” Tenzin looked at Dorje. “Not entirely true.” The two teens gaped. “They can be. Our methods do not always work.” The old man studied the carpet for a while. “You are the proof of it.” He looked at the two teens intently.

“What do you mean?” Adrien was the first to open his mouth.

“He means” Plagg took his head off his cheese for a moment to speak so it must have been important. “You are both here and you have not failed yet.”

“Don’t talk like that Plagg. Everything will be okay.” Tikki chirped from her sweet treat.

“I have a question. We travelled back in time to chase and fight that wielder who made a wish.” Marinette explained. “Haven’t we meddled with the timeline?”

“Yes you have.” Tenzin smiled. “You created a new one and as long as you won at particular moment and a particular way, the new timeline was not different than the old one.” The old monk took some time for the information to sink in. “That is temporally stable event.”

“What if we failed?” Marinette whispered.

“Rabbit would take care of you and the timeline would disappear.” Tenzin whispered. “We rarely have such events, do not count on that.” he warned.

“Okay, but when we fought the akuma and the akuma pushed us back in time, at one moment I started to disappear.” Adrien noted.

“That means you were about to do or prevent something that was essential for your existence.” The old monk looked at Marinette.

She knew they remembered that event in the temple.

“We saw Master Fu when he was little. I thought if we warned him … he would not have created Feastin, the temple would not have burned and there would be no Hawk Moth.“ Marinette trailed off.

Tenzin stroked his beard.

“That is an interesting concept. And your logic was right. Except, you never know what would be the result.” Tenzin continued to stroke his beard and watch the two teens.

“Without Hawk Moth, there would be no akuma that brought us there in the first place.” Marinette looked at Adrien.

“So there would still be one.” Adrien nodded.

“What made you change your mind?” Tenzin asked.

“Adrien was disappearing.” Marinette whispered. She could not remember if anything else strange was going on. Perhaps some other students were disappearing too. She was so focused on Adrien she did not look further. Remembering that experience was painful. She felt pain in her chest that throbbed her insides and made it difficult to breathe.

“You acted on your feelings?” Tenzin asked slowly.

Marinette nodded. “I have made many errors by making decisions with my heart.” It was the truth. She made that decision with her heart, not her brain. And she strongly believed a superhero should make her decisions with her brain. She made so many errors she made when she decided with her heart. She could easily number a few, one of them leading to Master Fu passing the miracle box to her. But how was she to decide anything else? Even if her brain was telling her to do otherwise? How? She would not do it differently. Her vision became a little blur, her eyes were wet, a tear escaped sown her face.

“You did all right, Marinette.” Tikki flew to the girl and wiped tears off her face.

“Pigtails” Plagg flew to her. “It is okay, Pigtails.”

“But I should have used my brain.” Marinette sobbed out.

“You can make a good decision with a healthy heart.” Tenzin smiled.

Adrien translated that sentence and cried with joy. He practically threw himself on Marinette and pulled her into a hug. He laughed into her shoulder. One look at the old monk told him that he approved the boys actions.

“Marinette” Adrien whispered into her ear while he held her. Was her heart aching before? Ladybugs heart was aching and she made mistakes? And she was okay now? Was it all because of him? Because he remembered when she told him that she loved him. They have not tried to resolve that, they have not acted on their feelings yet (oh yes they did act on them but would not admit that to themselves) nor developed their relationship into something more than friendship (although he was sure what they had could not still be labelled as just friends he did not bother to label it differently).

She smiled, her heart was full of love for this boy, weather he was wearing his catsuit or not. She loved him and she wrapped her arms around him. And all she wanted was for him to be happy. She did not droll all over him, she did not faint. The feelings she had for Adrien were different now. This was a different kind of love. This was the love she had for Chat, just stronger, calmer, soothing, just more of everything. There were moments when she would react to him as she did with Adrien before, because old habits die hard. But there was on overwhelming feeling that blocked all her senses.

“Should we practice that skill of self control then?” Marinette finally spoke. “It might help this kitty over here not to throw himself into danger.” Her words were teasing, but her voice wavered and reflected how worried she was.

Adrien pouted at her instead of translating her request.

“I do not. You were the one who threw herself at the akuma the last few times.” Adrien leaned back away from her and crossed his arms. And that was the truth. She was throwing herself into danger slightly more than before. She knew it was Adrien behind the mask and it pushed her slightly more than she would allow herself before the reveal.

“I did not!” Marinette countered.

“Yes you did.” Adrien leaned back into her space and into her face.

“Nope. I only did what was necessary.” Marinette waved her head.

They stared at each other for a moment before they both burst into laughter.

When they calmed down, Tenzin asked if they have any more questions.

“Um, that stuff about the heart.” Marinette blushed. Adrien blushed back. Tenzin looked at them with a loving smile. “That is how Hawk Moth finds his victims. Their hearts are not in the right place?” Marinette tried to make sense of it all.

“Yes.” Tenizin confirmed.

“He is using the negative emotions. But he managed to abuse the positive ones too.” Marinette warned. “She wanted to spread love. That was how our teacher got akumatized.”

“There must have been something wrong. You should not force positive emotions to mask injustice. You can’t hide something wrong behind something that was right. You can’t force people to love or be happy.” Tenzin warned.

“Nino’s party for my birthday.” Adrien whispered. “Nobody was particularly happy there.”

Marinette acknowledged.

“Is your heart at the right place, Adrien?” Tenzin asked.

Adrien looked at the old man and smiled then he turned and looked at Marinette gently and turned back.

“It is.” Adrien smiled. “When it is with her.” he looked at the carpet shyly and blushed. He was not sure how much of that conversation Marinette understood.

Tenzin told them they were free to go if they had no more questions so they got to their feet.

“My heart is not in the right place.” Plagg whined. “The cheese is gone and the closest Camembert is so far away.” The little black god of destruction put the back of his paw to his head and another to his chest and whined.

Tikki floated up to him crossed her tiny arms and gave him an incredulous look with her blue eyes.

“But my Sugarcube can make up for that.” Plagg added quickly.

“Don’t call me that.” Tikki warned.

The two teens walked out from the room the two kwami floated after them and nestled in their clothes.

“Hey Sugarcube?” Plagg called again.

“I told you not to Sugarcube me.” Tikki retorted.

“Got any cheese?” Plagg teased.

Two kids and a kwami groaned.

 

Chapter Text

No Rest for the Wicked

 

Gabriel was frustrated and angry on the inside, stiff and unapproachable on the outside (which was, according to the opinion of many who have ever met him, a normal state of mind for the man). Not only did his akuma fail, but the snowstorm it caused practically removed the butterflies from their surroundings. He wasted most of the afternoon searching for the butterflies in vain. He stood in the container stiff and tall staring at nothing in particular.

“We will have to postpone the use of a Catalyst.” Gabriel said to the window with his hands behind his back. “We can’t do that without butterflies.”

Nathalie had just returned from the outside. They had set up traps, colourful pieces of cloth soaked in sugar attracted all sorts of bugs but there were no butterflies. She returned empty handed and it did not improve the mood of her superior.

“We have these that we caught before the storm, sir.” Nathalie offered. She held a plastic container with several butterflies fluttering inside.

“How many do we have?” Gabriel demanded.

“Exactly five.” Nathalie replied punctually.

“I wanted enough to akumatize everyone in that temple.” Gabriel groaned.

“Literally everyone?” Nathalie was puzzled. “But how?”

“You would first create a sentimonster that would destroy the temple. That would make them all viable customers for akumatization.” Gabriel explained.

“That is new.” Nathalie smiled. “I am ready to do anything for you sir.”

Gabriel’s lips twitched into a small smile against his will. He turned away from her.

“I just do not feel anyone angry and wishing to conquer and rule.” Gabriel clenched his fists in frustration.

Nathalie got an amused smile on her face watching him (and she allowed it on her face because he was not watching her) she knew one person angry and wishing to conquer and rule, he was standing just in front of her.

“Perhaps you should akumatize yourself again?” Nathalie proposed.

“No” he refused the suggestion instantly. “That is not part of my plan.”

Nathalie sighed. ‘Where is Napoleon when you need one?’ she thought to herself.

They stayed like that in silence for some time.

“Nooroo, dark wings rise.” Gabriel transformed into Hawk Moth.

Nathalie schooled her face hid the way the transformation of her boss impressed her every time. But he felt it, it was his ability to detect other peoples feelings that gave her away to him. He knew but never showed that he knew. Her admiration (and perhaps some other feelings) have him internal satisfaction that he was not willing to show. When he looked at her, she raised her eyebrows.

“I am going to scan the area for anyone fitting the profile of the akuma I want to create.” he said flatly and turned his back to her.

Normally, he would be in his huge lair at a different level in the mansion, but they were in a small and cramped container and he could not make more than a few steps.

Nathalie raised her eyebrow, amused. She could see in his moves and his posture that he was not as self confident as he was in his lair. And, for some reason, it was more fun watching him like that.

“Nooroo gives me powers to detect other peoples feelings, do not ever think I do not know how you feel, Nathalie.” Hawk Moth warned.

Nathalie sighed.

“Perhaps I should transform too, sir?” she offered. If she was not allowed to amuse herself with her own feelings and imagination, perhaps she was able to do something.

“At this moment, that would not be necessary.” Hawk Moth dismissed her offer.

She sat in the chair and entertained herself by browsing through documents on her tablet. The signal for the empty battery worried her. The storm they created during the day prevented charging the device.

“You should have put it to charge earlier.” Hawk Moth interrupted her thoughts.

How did he know. Of course he knew. She was so stupid. Do not think in front of your boss. Do not think in front of your boss. Do not think …

“You should have thought about that in time.” Hawk Moth continued to pester her.

Was he trying to akumatize her? That made no sense. She would accept that willingly. Unless he wanted her in a different state of mind.

“Nathalie, you are so agitated I can’t sense anybody else.” Hawk Moth warned, his voice clearly revealing he was loosing his patience.

“I am really sorry sir. The solar panel works in the sun and we were in a shadow or covered with snow today.” Nathalie quickly offered her excuse.

He approached her from her back and placed his hands on her shoulders. She winced. Then he reduced his grip slightly and started to massage her shoulders. She sighed with relief. He held a trace of smile on his mouth.

“That is better.” he praised her in unnaturally gentle voice. Nathalie started to visibly relax and he continued holding her shoulders.

“You are under too much pressure.” Hawk Moth spoke when he concluded he was finished with her shoulders. But she stiffened as soon as she heard the words.

“I can handle the pressure sir. I want to help you.” she said determined, the last words voiced her devotion. “There is nothing that would ever stop me from being by your side sir.” She continued. She wanted to tell him how she felt.

The problem was, transformed, he already knew.

And he said nothing.

His hands were still on her shoulders. He squeezed her shoulders once again and then let go.

“Oh, I can feel something. In the temple. There is a really strong feeling.” A wicked smile adorned his face. “Someone is feeling criticized for acting on their feelings, someone is worried they have made a mistake … “

Nathalie sighed as he removed his hands from her shoulders. He moved towards the transparent plastic container with butterflies.

“Shouldn’t I create a sentmonster first?” Nathalie jumped to her feet. She interrupted his train of thought with her actions.

“No” Hawk Moth shouted. Nathalie jumped from the surprise and then looked at him with concern.

“The feeling is gone as quickly as it appeared.” Gabriel snarled.

Nathalie slumped back in her seat.

Gabriel returned his hands to her shoulders.

“We will wait for the nightmares then.” Hawk Moth concluded and resumed squeezing Nathalie’s shoulders.

 

It was getting dark and the students accumulated in the large sleeping room. The atmosphere was excited as they discussed the events of the day.

Adrien was in the bathroom washing himself up with cold water and wet cloth. He winced at each touch of the fresh water. He could not control that, it was a reflex to the cold water touching his skin.

“Getting ready for Pigtails?” Plagg teased.

Adrien blushed and swatted Plagg away. But his hand went through the thin air as the little black cat like god of destruction easily evaded his move and snickered.

“Making fun of you is the only pleasure I get from all the mushy stuff I have to suffer.” Plagg recited while zipping above his head.

“Be quiet, you could be heard.” Adrien whisper shouted.

“Nope, nobody here. Too dark.” Plagg snickered pretending to peek over the curtain.

Adrien sighed. That meant there was no way to avoid Plagg’s teasing until he got dressed and left.

He cleaned his hair as much as he could and wandered what he looked like. In the absence of mirrors, he used his phone. Instinctively, his face formed a smile because a camera was pointed at him. It was very dark so the phone flashed into his face.

“Oh yes, you have not really been in the bathroom if you have not taken a selfie there.” Plagg mocked. Adrien rolled his eyes and looked at the photo on his phone. The photo was strange as the flash was too close to his face, the red eye reduction did its job. His hair was ruffled at least as much as Chat’s and the skin on his face was much darker than on the rest of his body. He smiled at the photo. It was so much more him than any photo taken during his modelling career.

Plagg watched as his chosen tried to tidy his hair using his hands and his comb. The effort was futile because it seemed that the ends would escape as far away as possible from his head with the each stroke.

“Getting ready for one of your fancy events?” Plagg teased, he dropped ‘that your father organizes but never attends’ on purpose. The boy did not need a reminder about that.

“Nah, not that.” Adrien smelled his clothes. There were traces of lavender smell on everything, mixed with the smells of all the different cheeses he kept for his kwami in his onesie. He sighed because he was not going to sleep tonight without a stash of cheese in his clothes. He wandered how Marinette never complained about the smell while in his proximity (as if she ever would).

“This event is far more important for me.” Adrien grinned at Plagg as he collected his clothes in the darkness and got ready to return. He turned on the torch on his phone to see if he left anything. And then he saw a piece of his pants with the words of the designer company written in large letters on the rubber waistband, his father’s company, his father’s name.

Plagg guessed what was going on in the boy’s head. Adrien contemplated just leaving it there or even burning it.

“You need to take them kid, and wash them.” Plagg advised calmly. “Unless you start not wearing your underwear at all.” the little black cat god grinned, his eyes glowing in the dark. He could not resist teasing the boy, even in such moments.

“The letters would not go away in the washing.” Adrien sighed as he picked up the item from the floor. All his underwear were marked by the name of his father. He felt like a piece of property again.

 

“Why does it have to be so cold Tikki.” Marinette whisper shouted as she put the cold wet cloth on her body. She rinsed quickly if only to remove it as quickly as possible. “I swear this feels at least like minus twenty degrees.” The girl hissed. Tikki sat on top of a pile of clothes and munched on a cookie.

“You know that is not physically possible.” Tikki chided and laughed at the girl waving her head.

“I know, but I also know how it feels.” Marinette hissed again.

“That probably means to tell you more about how you are doing than the water temperature.” Tikki floated over and patted the girl’s cheek.

“I guess I am just too tired.” the girl whispered again.

“You should get some rest, Marinette.” Tikki made sure the tone of her voice would accept no objections as she returned to her cookie and resumed her dinner.

“Yeah, I know

“They do not have the benefits of modern life here.” Tikki chirped soothingly.

“Yes, I know, no warm water, no central heating, no … “ Marinette started laughing tired and slightly hysterical. “But apparently we have the internet and that is all that matters.”

Tikki floated up to the girl’s face.

“Someone might hear you.” Tikki whispered.

Marinette wiped the tears of laughter from her eyes.

“As long as they do not hear you, they’ll think I am nuts, or I could pretend I was on the phone.” Marinette was tired of the lies she had to tell to hide her identity.

She was finished and started to get dressed.

Tikki watched the girl silently eating her cookie. Ages have passed since she ate the last pink macaron. She would not complain. She would never complain about the food she got. She was determined not to behave like Plagg. But she had to admit, she was not always so lucky that her chosen or her family were able to provide such endless supply of sweet treats.

“Time to do some washing.” she commented on the state of her wardrobe. “Tomorrow.” She added as she put the last piece of clean warm underwear over her usual underwear and then the onesie.

Tikki was worried for her chosen. Marinette has not asked once if she looked okay for Adrien. That was a clear sign that the girl was immensely tired. Tikki clearly remembered how the girl checked each detail on herself before going to school because Adrien might see her, because Adrien might notice because she was hyper aware of everything the boy said or did. As much as that annoyed the little goddess sometimes because it made Marinette late for school, she missed that.

“Have you collected all your stuff Marinette?” Tikki chirped. Marinette felt the floor in the darkness and found nothing. The girl felt through her stuff in the darkness. It would be much easier if she used the torch from her phone now.

“I just can’t find my phone.”Marinette whined. She was so tired and now she could not find her phone and she needed the phone to find anything.

She felt through her clothes again. And then she heard a clunk as something hard hit the floor. She followed the sound with her hands and found her phone.

“It was probably in the jacket pocket, I just did not find it the first time.” Marinette whispered tiredly. She collected her things and left. One of her knee high socks left forgotten on the floor.

 

Chapter Text

The Cursed Stone

 

Marinette wrapped her arms around her clothes, hugging them close and held the phone in her hand but with the torch off. She wanted to save the battery for a few late night messages with her parents and friends. Well, she mostly corresponded with Alya now, the others only knew she left for China. And the rest of them were busy enjoying their own holiday activities so they did not ask too many questions.

“Marinette, you might want to use the torch on your phone to see where you are going.” Tikki warned quietly as she floated near her chosen. It was so dark that nobody would see her, and the background noise of the students chatting in the other end of the hallway clouded her own voice.

“The phone is really low on battery and I still need it for other stuff.” Marinette waved her head. With her clumsiness it was only expected that she would stumble and fall. But she could clearly see the faces of few students at the end of the hallway as they were lit up by the screens of their phones and after walking sufficiently far in their direction she should find the entrance to the large room where everybody slept. Once she was there, it was easy because it was fairly lit even without the phones.

She was thinking on what to write to her friends for today. There was always the akuma and sentimonster attack, and there was little else to write about without mentioning Adrien. And she had to keep him being with her a secret from her friends. Another secret to keep. That was just too much and then she run into something in the darkness.

 

“Kid, you are annoyingly cheerful this evening.” Plagg complained to his chosen.

Adrien was practically dancing along the hallway, his face was adorned by a stupid dorky grin as the boy allowed himself that hidden in the darkness. He is going back to the sleeping bag with Marinette, with his lady, and nothing else mattered. He will pull her close and feel her warmth. That will keep him warm on the inside. He will wait until she stops moving and wiggling about, until her breathing evens out and she falls asleep. He might put her head on his shoulder or just wrap himself around her or … anything and then he will fall asleep to the sounds of her breathing.

“I am cheerful, you are annoying.” Adrien retorted to his kwami looking at a pair of green eyes slightly glowing in the darkness.

“I chose to say the same to you.” Plagg muttered back, he was not even hiding the sarcasm in his voice.

“Plagg” Adrien said dreamily. “I just feel so happy.” the boy smiled looking nowhere in particular.

“I can’t believe that anyone could be truly happy while consuming so little cheese.” Plagg muttered to himself.

Plagg was never in that lovey dovey mushy stuff that his chosen were all about when they fell in love (and to his utter dismay it happened more often than not). It was just, the little black god of destruction lost so many of them that he stopped enjoying their lovesick smiles and the way they behaved on cloud nine. And that feeling cost them their lives more than once. Far more than once. Plagg was worried.

Adrien searched the darkness for the two green eyes that glowed in the dark when he heard someone tumble to the floor right in front of him.

 

Marinette followed the lights at the end of the hallway completely forgetting that the hallway itself was neither straight nor clear of obstacles. She ran into a statue of a sitting man that reached just above her waist and there was no way for her to see it in the darkness. She practically bounced back and slightly to the side when she hit it. Her arms flailed in the air as she instinctively tried to catch balance. Her stuff flew from her arms like the water from a fountain. The statue was practically in the middle of the hallway and she rolled over almost to the wall. Her phone flew from her hand in the process and she could hear it clatter on the stone floor. She consoled herself that the sound was clatter and not a crash that would indicate the phone got smashed in the process.

Adrien did not stop when he heard someone falling as he was in the middle of a step and then he tripped over something, or rather, someone. It was someone’s leg. He was falling in the darkness and he quickly let go of his stuff by throwing it into the air. And then he landed onto something softer than the stone floor. It was someone. He felt the fluffy fleece under his hands.

Someone squeaked.

“Marinette?” Adrien whispered. He was just about to apologize in the best Chinese when the squeak reminded him of his friend. The body underneath him felt familiar, very familiar. It was the same shape as the body he slammed into so often, he had rolled over and carried the same body, he had shared the sleeping bag with the same body. Her name was the first on his mind.

She hit the stone floor hard and then someone landed on top of her knocking the rest of the air from her lungs. The only warning that she was a living being was a tight squeak she managed to release from her lungs when she hit the floor. Her whole body was flat against the stone surface. The cold stone on her face was the only thing telling her that she was still conscious.

The person on top of her called her name. Her brain picked up Adrien as a first possibility on the list of suspects. Her body already remembered how his body felt whenever he had fallen on her (mostly as Chat Noir, but they were the same person). And combined with sharing the sleeping bag during the last week, she was rather certain who they might be.

Adrien felt the body underneath. His hands were looking for some sort leverage on the hard floor so he would push himself up from the person he had fallen onto. But his hands landed on other body parts before he felt the cold surface of the stone and shifted his weight on his hands.

“I am sorry. I am so sorry.” He whispered getting up. It was sufficient for her to confirm just who exactly was on top of her.

He heard a muffled whine from below him.

“Adrien? It is okay.” Marinette replied and he recognized her voice. That only confirmed he landed on her.

“I am so sorry.” He replied. “Are you hurt?” he tried to feel her in the darkness, he checked her arms how they felt and how she was positioned. She remained still on the floor and he was really worried that she got hurt. He wanted to grab her from the cold stone floor but that would be bad if she was hurt, if she had broken something.

She remained still. She mentally examined each of her limbs before she tried to move any of them. She felt dull pain in each part of her body that touched floor. It was probably the consequence of an impact and she was expecting to be bruised in the morning.

“Um?” she tried to move but sharp pain prevented her. “Yes?” she tried again but slightly differently and it worked with almost no pain. “No.” she added to reassure him. If she could move then she was probably okay. As she moved she felt more painful body parts. “I don’t know.” she whined quietly. A pair of green eyes watched them as they floated around them.

“She will be bruised but you are both fine.” Plagg informed them hiding the both worry and relief from his voice (and failing).

Marinette felt how Tikki patted her cheek and partially phased through her clothes checking the girl.

“I am so sorry.” Adrien pulled her to sit on his lap and put his head on her shoulder.

“It is okay, I ran into something over there.” She aimed her hand to the darkness and Adrien could not see nothing much.

“It is that laughing Buda statue.” Plagg said rather aware he was probably the only one able to see it in the darkness.

They both sat like that for a few minutes until they calmed down from the fall and cloud actually feel each of their limbs.

“You should collect your things and get some rest.” Tikki chirped.

“I dropped my phone when I fell, I have no torch.” Marinette whispered.

“My phone and my torch are in my jacket somewhere on this floor.” Adrien laughed.

They went to all fours tapping around with their hands and collecting their things to a single pile.

Marinette has not located her phone yet and Adrien had swiped most of the floor with his hands and did not find neither her phone nor his jacket. They widened the area of their search when Marinette reached one of the tapestries that hung along a wall all the way to the floor. She knew that each of them hid a passage or a niche or a small room so she wanted to feel the floor just behind the tapestry. But the moment she felt the woollen tapestry she stopped moving her hands. Something inside her told her that it was not wise to explore that space with her hands. She needed to use her eyes. But her eyes were useless in the darkness. Feeling rather confused by what her own instinct was telling her, she took the bottom part of the tapestry and lifted it up.

There in the dark she could see a stone the size of her fist glowing slightly red in the dark. She could clearly see it. The red was just intensive enough not to be completely dark, it was not sufficient to lit up the space around. She stared at that small rock.

“A cursed stone? It revealed itself? To me?” Marinette spoke quietly, astonished, remembering the stuff the kwami told her back in Paris.

She stared at the stone. Plagg hovered over the moment she spoke the words. Tikki followed.

“Adrien?” she called for the boy. She moved the tapestry to the side.

“Yes?” he replied.

“Do you see it too?” she asked.

Adrien crawled to her and put his chin on her shoulder to see what she was looking at.

“Um, what am I looking at.” He asked puzzled.

Marinette was silent. She was not touching that if the kwami were right in any way.

Adrien waited for a few moments.

“Is there something glowing faintly red?” Adrien widened his eyes trying to see anything and make sense of it.

“It might be that cursed stone.” Marinette whispered barely audible.

“Do you see it Marinette?” Tikki chirped.

“I see a stone the size of my fist slightly glowing red in the darkness.” Marinette described what she saw.

“Well, I do not see anything.” Plagg replied flatly. He was the god with night vision and yet there was something he could not see in the darkness.

“Wait here, let me find a torch.” Adrien replied as he turned around and crawled some more trying to find his jacket. Finally when he was close to the statue, he felt fabric touch his face. He raised his hands. His jacket was hanging from the statue. He got up and picked up the jacked going trough the pockets. He felt other items of his clothing on the jacket or falling down and he picked those up. He was turning around and retrieving a small torch from his pocket. He took a step towards Marinette when he tripped over something on the floor and his arms flailed in the air. He dropped his clothes again and it flew through the air while he held the torch firmly in his hand. He managed to keep himself on his feet and regained balance, but his clothes was all around again. Never mind, now he had a torch and he will find the rest of his stuff in no time.

“Wait, the stone reduced, or something fell on it.” Marinette whisper shouted. She felt at least one item flew by her head and into the small niche or whatever this space behind the tapestry was.

Adrien got back to all four and crawled back to her holding his torch. He put his left hand around her waist just because he could and his chin on her right shoulder.

“I am switching it on, be careful with your eyes.” He warned before he switched on the torch.

They both closed their eyes after his warning.

They opened their eyes slowly, adjusting their eyesight slowly to see a niche before them.

There on the floor lied Adrien Agreste’s boxers with the name of his father clearly written in huge letters on the wide rubber band. The boxer shorts covered a stone the size of a fist, the surface of the stone could be partially seen as it peeked on the side.

Adrien blushed because these were his (dirty!) boxers that lied in front of Marinette in plain sight.

Marinette blushed because these were Adrien Agreste’s (dirty?) boxers that lied in front of her in plain sight.

Adrien unwrapped his arm from Marinette to fetch the offending item and hide it from her. But she caught his hand.

“Don’t” She warned. “Don’t touch it.” she held his hand firmly and even pulled it back to her waist. “Just leave it there.” she whispered. “If that is the cursed stone, we should not touch anything.”

Adrien nodded, she could feel it on her shoulder. He wrapped his arm around her waist and looked at the boxers once more. He pulled her back and she released the tapestry to hide the niche.

They both got up and collected their things with the help of Adrien’s torch.

Marinette picked up her laundry a bit self-conscious because it was her clothes, including underwear, spread across the floor. Adrien held the torch, there was no way he did not see it.

Finally, they located her phone. The protective glass had one crack, but the phone itself was alive and well (while the battery was nearing the empty range).

Together, with the help of Adrien’s torch, they found their way to their sleeping bag. After they disposed their clothes and wrote a few messages for their friends and family, Adrien finally sighed.

His arms were around her as he pulled her as close as he could. And she snuggled into him. She got closer. He could not help the smile on his face. She was already sleeping.

 

Chapter Text

Turn the Table

 

Marinette slept cuddled into Adrien. The boy lied awake with a wide smile on his face, his eyes half open looking nowhere in particular. Ling and Ye arrived, saw the scene, smiled and waved back.

“We wanted to ask you to play a game but I guess you are not available at the moment.” Ling teased.

“Is she okay?” Ye asked.

Adrien was reluctant to speak and wake up the sleeping girl. In his bliss, he forgot how she fell on the floor in the hallway.

“We stumbled down in the hallway.” Adrien whispered. “She might be bruised.”

Ling did not wait for any further information, neither asked for permission. Without warning she lit on the torch and flashed it into the face of the two teens. Marinette chose to lay on the side that was not hurt so her hurt side was up and visible.

“She already is.” Ling replied calmly. “I’ll fetch you a cooling pillow.” she said as she left.

Ye sat next to the two teens.

“Is she injured anywhere else?” he demanded in a bit awkward voice.

“She is probably bruised but she said she was okay. I, um, did not look.” Adrien blushed.

“And you? Are you hurt?” Ye continued quietly.

“No.” Adrien felt a pang of guilt. “I actually fell on her, she took the hit.” The boy admitted with a shaky voice. Marinette moved slightly, but continued to sleep in the same position.

Ling returned with a small cooling pad in her hand, crouched and put it on the side of Marinette’s face.

“It is not that bad, but she might have a bruise.” Ling tried to provide some sort of comfort to distressed Adrien.

“Let’s go find someone to play a game, we can check on them later.” Ye proposed and they walked away.

The moment the visitors left, Plagg phased through the sleeping bag and looked at Adrien and Marinette.

“Kid.” Plagg whispered. “Don’t worry, she did not get hurt so much, she is tough.” A pair of green eyes stared at the boy, the rest of the owners body hidden in the darkness.

“I just wish I have caught her. She was so close. I just did not see her. And then I fell on her and I just made it all worse.” The boy rambled whispering with a shaky breath.

“She is okay Adrien.” Tikki phased through the sleeping bag. “I checked on her.”

Adrien held the cooling pad on her face and looked at it with concern.

“She is so hurt that her cousins could see it instantly.” the boy reprimanded.

“The bruise on her face might be the worst because that part was not covered by the pyjama.” Tikki continued.

“You should give her some cheese, that always makes me feel better.” Plagg teased sniffing the cooling pillow.

“You would let go of a piece of cheese for her?” Adrien teased back.

“You must really like her.” Tikki joined the game.

“Pigtails decided to keep my chosen instead of choosing the easy way out.” Plagg crossed his tiny arms, but nobody could see the move in the darkness.

“Will the bruise on her face be visible when she transforms?” Adrien asked.

“It is not too bad, I can take care of it.” Tikki chirped.

“You should get some rest kid.” Plagg hovered in front of Adrien’s face.

“Yes, don’t worry about what happened. You can’t change that. Everything will be okay.” Tikki patted the boys face until he closed his eyes. The two kwami waited until he fell asleep to phase back into the sleeping bag.

 

Hawk Moth paced back and forth in the container, he was waiting for any sign of a person in the distressed state in his surroundings. But, the evening was calm and everyone was either engulfed in some sort of entertainment or already sleeping.

Nathalie tapped on the tablet scrolling through the images on social media and reading all the reports she could find on the latest attacks until the battery went dead. She sighed and put the tablet away while she tried to concentrate and process the information she got. There were photos of Chat Noir and Ladybug hopping over Parisian skyline regularly posted on different social networks.

There were several articles devoted to the missing akuma attacks in Paris and more of them about the akuma attacks in Tibet, but not nearly as many as for any minor attack in Paris. She did not read them all, she never did because that would have been a waste of time. Most of them would simply echo the news from other websites. There was no Nadia Charmack live from the scene of the attack. There were only several photos and texts she thought were mostly mere speculations.

Hawk Moth was staring through the window again. The lights in their compartment were off so nobody could check the interior from the outside.

It was already dark outside, the area of the small container camp was lit up and several solders waked around and chatted. Hawk Moth sighed. The most intensive negative emotion he could feel was boredom. And a few persons frustrated for loosing at the video games they played. He could release the butterfly and akumatize any of them just to reduce the tension of waiting for the opportunity to arise. But he was already short on butterflies. And he was not sure if he will be in any better luck finding more tomorrow. But, perhaps he should create an akuma just to keep those two annoying young superheroes busy and tired? That was a strategy he did not really try before because he might drain himself too.

Then again, they have apparently teleported each time. What if he found the portal and passed to the other side? He could get a hold onto the horse miraculous and the power of teleportation. Nooroo insisted that the kwami did not know much about each other’s powers and that the book of Lore contained more information that the kwami knew themselves.

Besides, he did not travel to Tibet to fight Ladybug and Chat Noir again. He was here to explore and retrieve more miraculous stones. But a change in strategy to get the Ladybug and Chat Noir miraculous might be beneficial if they so willingly offer them by coming here of all places.

Nope, his strategy for creating a perfect akuma was good. The solution must be right there in front of him …

Nathalie stepped right in front of him, she put herself in the narrow space between him and the window.

“Sir?” she tried to get his attention. He slowly focused his eyes onto her. It was difficult in the darkness, but he would not risk turning on any source of light.

“If there are no suitable candidates, perhaps you should get some rest?” She offered and suggested for him to detransform and sit down.

“No, I cant find suitable candidates while detransformed. I am much more perceptive like this.” Hawk Moth dismissed her proposal. He could feel her concern, it was genuine. Why was he concentrated on reading Nathalie’s feelings instead of finding a suitable candidate for his next akuma?

“I was thinking of changing strategy and trying to lure Ladybug and Chat Noir here again and to get their miraculous.” Hawk Moth stated. “They have less options to get their allies here.”

“They have obviously utilized someone with the Horse miracoulous sir.” Nathalie warned.

“It must be someone new. Ms Rossi had informed me that the previous wielder of the horse miraculous is travelling for the school holidays.” Hawk Moth was curious who was the wielder this time.

“May I remind you this is not why we got here sir?” Nathalie dared to counter her boss again. She was concerned they would stray away from their initial goal and it would somehow be her fault.

Hawk Moth smirked at her bravery. Perhaps he had underestimated her.

“We got here to find other miracoulous stones that might be hiding in that temple.” She spoke quietly and timidly, feeling braver because he did not release a storm after the first sentence.

Hawk Moth finally schooled his face to look more intimidating and Nathalie winced.

“Do not ever think I forgot about that Nathalie.” Hawk Moth warned.

Nathalie looked at him dazed, he is going to reprimand her attempts to speak with him on equal terms.

“I just see an opportunity here.” Hawk Moth turned around showing his back to her.

“But we had the same opportunity in Paris.” Nathalie replied quietly in timidly, leaving to the meaning of her words alone contradicting the man before her.

“I am just sorry you do not see it too.” Hawk Moth finished in a tone that would bear no response.

Nathalie was devastated at first but she schooled her emotions quickly. This was not the first time she took the blow of Gabriel or Hawk Moth rage, at least the verbal one. And the truth was, he always saw more opportunities than she did. She was thinking hard on what to do next. He would not rest so neither would she.

“Perhaps you should get some rest if you feel tired.” Hawk Moth proposed much more gently than he did before. He felt how his words have hurt her. Not that he cared in particular when he hurt anyone, but the way she felt hurt gave him an incentive to rethink his steps.

“I am not tired sir.” Nathalie brushed him off a bit harsher than she wanted.

“Are you sure? You might prefer to get some rest while you can. Just like you have suggested it to me? Perhaps you were suggesting that because you were tired yourself.” Hawk Moth was persistent in his argument.

“For as long as we fight, I will stay by your side, sir.” Nathalie was determined.

The truth was, there was a nagging question hidden well in the back of her mind and she never allowed it to surface. What was going to happen to her once Hawk Moth won? He would get Emilie back. He would get his wife back. His wife. What would Nathalie be in that situation? His trusted and confident assistant? What was the future she could have with him? Would he keep her or dismiss her as she saw so many times he did to other people.

As long as they were in this business of creating monsters and going through a battle after a battle, she was the closest person to Gabriel Agreste.

Nope, she was not thinking about that. She erased those thoughts and those question from her mind. Instead, she focused on different kind of thoughts.

Currently, she was the closest person to Gabriel Agreste. She was his confidant. She knew his identity. He trusted her to use the peacock miraculous of his (late?) wife. He even fixed it for her so she was not getting ill from using it. (Although she also fell into a coughing fit when he akumatized her into Catalyst the second time).

He was closer to her than he ever was to his own son. He was closer to her than he ever was to any of his colleagues, friends, anybody. She wandered if he was ever really this close to his wife. She had that attitude and spirit, but have they ever been so connected like she felt right then.

She always liked the idea of being akumatized in Catalyst. She was the catalyst for his ideas, she turned them into life in his real life too. It was her job and she did it with love. And she had an idea.

“Dusuu, dark feathers rise!” she ordered and transformed into Mayura. Hawk Moth turned around surprised at her action and admired her transformation hiding the smirk on his face.

“What do you think you are doing.” Hawk Moth demanded.

“I have an idea sir.” Mayura smirked.

“Yes? Well let me hear about it.” Hawk Moth gave her a stern expression but then his face turned into a wicked grin.

“Our supply of butterflies is a bit short.” Mayura began as she took a few steps rolling her hips a bit more than necessary. She put her hand on the container holding the butterflies to emphasize her words.

“A way to stress the obvious.” the grin on Hawk Moth’s face fell, but his eyes glowed when he saw the look in Mayura’s eyes. She was teasing him. She dared to tease him. And it was working.

“But the supply of the feathers, on the other hand ...” she waved her fan at her face with a sly smile and a careful look in her eyes.

Hawk Moth took in a deep breath sensing what is coming next.

“Is rather large.” Her sly smile widened as she studied how his composure changed.

Hawk Moth took a few steps towards the plastic vessel with the butterflies.

“I suggest for you to be my Catalyst tonight.” Mayura leaned in in what she hoped was a seductive pose too. She was taking initiative. She was proposing a solution. It was him who had to follow what she proposed.

But his mind was simply tuned differently. His smile was wide and wicked at the same time. Of course he liked the proposal. He would akumatize Mayura, he would give her the powers to release as many amok as she wanted and at the same time he would have the complete control over her.

 

Chapter Text

The Scarlet Peacock

 

Hawk Moth reached into the vessel containing the butterflies and captured one white butterfly in his hands and it turned violet. Mayura watched his every move. She will be given the poser at her own request. She took a few deep and quick breaths as if she was going to dive into the ocean.

“Fly away my little akuma and give her power to create as many amok as she wants.” Hawk Moth sneered as he released the violet butterfly.

Mayura watched the violet butterfly as it fluttered the close distance and captured it with her fan. The fan glowed violet in the darkness. A violet mask glowed on her eyes. She smiled faintly.

“Scarlet Peacock.” Hawk Moth called and Mayura nodded in acknowledgement. “I give you powers to create as many amok as you wish and they can materialize the fears of the persons they encounter.” Hawk Moth grinned wickedly at his idea. They should not be desperate, angry, annoyed or actually afraid. He altered Mayura’s power to alleviate the biggest issue they had.

“I accept.” Mayura replied solemnly. The dark energy washed over her. She felt her powers change and enhance. Her outfit changed from dark blue to scarlet. Her scarlet feathers practically glowed in the dark. Hawk Moth admired his creation silently. This was going to be his most powerful akuma yet. He just knew it.

Scarlet Peacock took a moment to admire herself and then swiftly caught her tail, she plucked the feathers from her tail and they turned scarlet.

“Fly away my little amok and infect all at your path.” She blew them out through the window.

The feathers flew away into the night.

“More.” Hawk Moth ordered and she produced more feathers that turned scarlet and she blew them away through the window. But she gave him an incredulous look.

“More” Hawk Moth snarled and Scarlet Peacock repeated the procedure. She was akumatized and she was inclined to do whatever Hawk Moth demanded from her. But, deep inside she did not agree this was the best strategy.

“If I send so many, I will not be able to follow all the monsters they create.” Scarlet Peacock warned. She knew they had much better control over a single monster than over many individual ones. She would not be able to harness the power of especially dangerous sentimonsters, she would have to order them as one.

“It does not matter, you will create your own army and they shall obey your orders.” Hawk Moth snarled. He knew what to do. He knew how it worked. (Well it did not actually work out for Hawk Moth in the end but it takes a genius to learn from their own mistakes.)

“Okay, I will do as you wish Hawk Moth.” Scarlet Moth sighed.

“More.” Scarlet Moth ordered again and soon there were more scarlet feathers going out through the window.

 

A feather landed on a solder’s hat. His commanding officer appeared in front of him and started shouting at him. The solder was confused. He looked at the command container where the commanding officer stayed and could clearly see the man looking through the widow, then the solder looked back at the sentimonster in front of him and scratched the back of his head.

The commanding officer stood in front of his window as he was dictating some letter to his secretary. He looked at a copy of him yelling at a solder. He was struck with seeing the phenomenon and did not react for a few breaths. The secretary raised her eyes from the keyboard and stared at the back of the commanding officer.

Another solder encountered a feather that landed on the phone he carried in his hands. A spider jumped out from the screen. The solder started running away and the spider followed after him.

So, the next thing the commanding officer saw was one of his solders running away from a giant spider.

“Where did you get this tea?” the commanding officer demanded from his secretary, who was dressed in an army uniform and sitting at the only desk in his office and fetching some paperwork to pass time while her boss was looking through the window.

“Just the usual green tea from the army rations, sir.” The secretary answered politely and returned to her work.

“May I ask you to come over for a second?” the commanding officer demanded.

The secretary sighed and got up from her chair. She was a bit annoyed that she had to let go of the paperwork just when she was almost finished with it. She was looking forward to wrapping up for the day and enjoying some free time before she went to bed. On the other hand, if there was anything interesting going on outside, it would at least make the day shorter.

One solder was taking a walk around the camp when a feather landed on his cap. A dark creature with red eyes emerged before him in the darkness. The man started running away, screaming and yelling for help, but the creature quickly picked up the pace and followed.

The commanding officer opened the window to let some air in and clear his head. Perhaps he was too tired. Perhaps it was the low air pressure at that altitude that was getting to him. Perhaps it was the tea and he just had too much of it during the day.

They have had that freak snowstorm during the day and he was exhausted from first organizing and then dismantling the emergency response crews. There were avalanches and reports that several people were seen being buried or emerging from an avalanche. He was organizing the search and rescue team when the snow suddenly disappeared.

Late this evening he heard that these events were explained by some unnatural phenomena called an akuma and a sentimonster and that the incident from the last night was something similar. He still did not place a report on those events to his superiors. He expected to be taken to an emergency psychological evaluation if he did. That was something he would do if he was a commanding officer somewhere else and got such report.

Ha had asked his secretary to collect all the data she could from the internet (weather or not these were reliable, he had to produce a report where he would at least assess the situation). The solders have warned that there is some information available on the social media, but these were mostly ignored buy his superiors. He had little time before they would ask what was going on. But right then, he had more pressing issues than dictating reports.

The secretary approached the window and the first thing that gained her attention was a copy of the commanding officer yelling at a solder. The solder would still flick his eyes from the copy to the original in the window and back. The poor guy was not exactly sure what was going on.

The next thing that happened was another solder escaping the dark bipedal creature with red eyes glowing in the darkness.

The secretary rubbed her eyes.

“I think it is getting really late sir.” She spoke quietly.

The man running away from a large spider returned and they could both see him clearly. The solder who stood there with the copy of the commanding officer yelling at him looked at the other solder and the spider and then at the one chased by a large dark creature and then turned to the window. He looked helpless as if he was asking for help with his eyes.

“I have had many night duties in my career.” The commanding officer spoke slowly. “I was awake for several days in a row.” He continued stressing each word. “But I have never been this tired.” He pointed his finger through the window as he pronounced the word ‘this’.

“Well it is the same tea we always have, sir.” The woman replied remembering his initial question.

“Perhaps it is the new stock, perhaps someone mixed something in it by accident, perhaps ...” the commanding officer counted the options on his fingers.

“We had the same tea yesterday.” the secretary cut in into his talk.

“Exactly!” the commanding officer stressed his point. Because last night they had a first incident he could not exactly explain to his superiors without doubting his own sanity.

She sighed. There was something really strange going on with the temple and they got reports of the talk about akuma and sentimonster and that these creatures appeared elsewhere before. She had collected much information but she was hoping her commanding officer would not sent it further. That would really plant the seed of doubt in the sanity of the solders.

The commanding officer took a paper tissue to wipe his forehead. He held the paper tissue in his hand and watched as a scarlet feather floated in through the window landed on it.

His own superior appeared in front of him telling him he had lost his sanity and will be put into an institution with no delay nor hearing. The secretary stared at the event and stood by the side of her commanding officer, if he was going nuts then she was going nuts too.

“Perhaps we should drink more liquids. We might have dehydrated from the events today, it is normal to see mirages in the desert … ” she recited a few facts she remembered first from her training for the field work.

“This is not a mirage.” The commanding officer retorted.

The secretary watched as another scarlet feather floated through the window and landed on a cup she held.

A snake appeared at the floor, she screamed and jumped and finally climbed the desk she was working at, she was screaming and staring at the snake.

 

“I do not have control over all of them.” Scarlet Peacock waved her head. “There are more and more.”

“Excellent, we will wait a little more time until there are so many. They will listen to you as one.” Hawk Moth grinned wickedly. “This is working out perfect.” He exclaimed victoriously.

“I have to be close by, I can get better control.” Scarlet Peacock proposed.

“Yes, we will do that. Just be patient and we will go up there.” Hawk Moth put his hands behind his back. “This plan is going to work out perfectly.”

The stood there for a few more moments. But he was becoming impatient too.

“Why don’t we go for a stroll and see our little friends at the temple.” he opened the door and got out. Scarlet Peacock followed him out.

 

Purple feathers floated into the temple and started infecting students. The feathers would land on phones, playing cards, bracelets and badges, practically any object they held in their hands or had on their clothes.

A horde of angry professors, angry parents or disgusting monsters filled the hallways and the rooms. Several students got copies of their significant others telling them they do not love them any more (and in more than one example the significant other was sitting right next to the person).

“You are not accepted at university.” Was told to many students to their utter dismay.

“You are a disgrace to this family.” Was said to the other.

“We have invested so much in you and this is how you repay us.” A third one was yelling holding a piece of paper. “But these are not my grades.” The student would retort.

“I know you are not real.” One student got up on her feet and screamed at a giant cockroach that stared at her. “You are just a that-monster.” She screamed more and threw her water bottle at the cockroach.

“Come on, we are supposed to go out and find a safe spot or something.” the government guide called up on the students. Few have turned her way, most were still staring at the materialization of their greatest fear before them.

But those few that did turn nudged the colleagues next to them. “Come on, we have to go.”

The guide repeated the calls while a giant hairy, slimy and smelly monster swayed towards her. She took a few steps and pinched her nose before she repeated the call nudging few more students to join the evacuation.

Adrien woke up to the noise surrounding them.

“Another attack.” Ling yelled trying to shake them awake.

“Many monsters. Look out.” Ye shouted his warning. A purple feather floated to his pack of playing cards. A person appeared next to him. “It is my duty to inform you that you have been expelled from school.” The person said coldly.

Ling turned around quickly only to see a feather land on the good luck charm she had around her wrist. A screaming puppet appeared in front of her.

“I knew I should not have watched that film.” Ling muttered and got to her feet.

Adrien looked at Marinette who had just fluttered her eyes open.

The next thing he saw was a scarlet feather landing on the cooling pad he still held over the side of her face.

He froze as the cooling pad became scarlet.

Marinette noticed panic in his eyes.

“I believe I have taught you better than to lay around with girls like her.” They both turned their heads up. Just above them stood Gabriel Agreste in all his glory. “Don’t you think I know your secret already?” He snarled. “You have no chance, not a single chance.” After that he calmed down and spoke more quietly. “You had your fun, now give me your miraculous.” And Gabriel Agreste held out his hand.

 

Chapter Text

Hiding your monster

"This is not him." They both whispered in unison. The sentimonster in the shape of Gabriel Agreste stared at them anger visible in his eyes.

"You will give me your miraculous." the sentimonster snarled. The Gabriel Agreste they saw was dressed in his usual attire he wore daily in Paris. He radiated high fashion, style and elegance that simply did not belong in the environment of students with their sleeping bags, not to mention the slimy, hairy monsters.

"We have to go." Marinette whispered quickly as she scrambled out from the sleeping bag.

"We have a job to do My Lady." he greeted her with a wide smile at the sight of her blue eyes. But then he became worried again. "And it is going to be different this time." He added as he began to understand the scene around them. It was dark, but he could recognize the commotion.

"It is different every time." She smiled back and looked at the cooling pad that Adrien held in his hands. "Is that our infected item?" she asked pointing her chin to the item as she scrambled to fetch more cookies for her kwami.

One look around revealed to her that there were many monsters created and students started going out from the room. Some were running in panic, other walked more calmly. Several stood in place and just screamed.

Adrien grabbed the package with cheese while he was getting on his feet.

"I believe I have placed my request and you have not complied yet." the copy of Gabriel Agreste shouted at them.

"I think we all got our fears materialized." Adrien whispered to Marinette pointing to a girl screaming at yet another spider.

"Yeah, so is he yours or is he mine?" Marinette asked pointing at Gabriel Agreste behind them.

"I don't care." Adrien replied. "We have scarlet feathers. Look" he pointed at another feather falling onto the phone that the girl with the spider held in her hand (she was trying to film the spider while she screamed in fear). Another spider appeared next to the first one.

"Okay, let's go out. Take the infected item with you." Marinette ordered and turned around. She was all business. She was Ladybug. The wheels in her head were turning and she was making yet another plan.

"I will put you out from school, Adrien. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable." Gabriel continued to pester both of them as the sentimonster followed them around the large room.

"Is that his father?" Ling asked Marinette quietly when they got close and the girl nodded to confirm. The strange and scary doll that followed Ling got in front of Gabriel Agreste and the sentimonster kicked the doll in annoyance. It was clear that was not the man but the sentimonster because he did not even wince in pain from hitting a wooden doll with his toes.

"What an awful person." The older girl remarked to Marinette on their way out.

"He is their fear not a real person." Ye remarked as he overheard the conversation between the two girls.

"Actually, there is not much difference." Adrien chipped in. "They are remarkably similar." he added.

"you will give me your ..." the sentimonster was cut off as someone else's slimy monster fell on his face. He was chasing after Marinette and Adrien but he did not raise his hands once to actually try and fetch her earrings nor his ring.

"Okay, let's get as many of them out as possible." Marinette proposed as they were finding their way between the slimy monsters and criticising adults. Adrien winked to reply. He knew they needed the students and their infected objects out and far away from the temple so that Ladybug could clean them all. It will be a chore, he knew.

"I am a busy man." Gabriel Agreste sentimonster snarled following them around. "I do not have time for your childish whims."

Hawk Moth and Mayura got out from the container that served as their accommodation and lair and strolled out from the camp. While the camp was filled with various monsters that chased different solders or simply wandered around, their appearance did not draw much attention. They were simply considered as merely two more monsters looking for their poor victims (and anyone who thought like that was perfectly right).

The commanding officer decided to go out from his office and try to take charge (whatever that meant in the current situation). His secretary followed, but only after she caught her phone and the official camera. She jumped from the desk and over the snake and landed right in front of the open door. She ran out screaming, but she did not forget to snap a photo of her snake in the process. She hoped the photos would be sufficient to keep them all out from the nuthouse.

They saw two tall persons wearing strange clothes and masks on their faces that strolled through the campsite.

"I wander which poor guy has those for their fears." The commanding officer muttered while his secretary took one more photo and then screamed and jumped away from the snake.

"These fears they have are not very efficient. They should be petrified with fear." Hawk Moth complained to Scarlet Peacock on their way.

They scaled the rocks quickly as they jumped their way up from one rock to another.

"I could not direct their fears for each of them, they got a monster that represented the first fear that came to their minds." Scarlet Peacock replied.

"Well, as long as they work for us." Hawk Moth muttered as he jumped up from one rock to the other.

Meanwhile, Adrien and Marinette followed by a Gabriel Agreste sentimonster were finding their was through the chaos.

"I was in the middle of something really important. You interrupted me in my work." the sentimonster continued criticizing and complaining.

"We will destroy as many items as we can and clean and then we can go to the source?" Adrien asked quietly. Marinette could barely hear him over the screams surrounding them.

"Well we have to clean our own and I would prefer to save as many students as possible but we will win this one only if we go to the source." Marinette replied in a whisper.

"Hey, kid, pick up the guy from the floor or you will trip over him." Plagg whispered to his ear. The little black cat like creature was not easy to spot in the darkness and right then he could pass as another monster, nobody would notice.

Adrien stopped and turned on his torch only to see a terrified student lying on the floor with a shadow of white ghost hovering next to him. The student stared with his eyes wide staring at the ghost beside him and his mouth open in a silent scream. He bent over and took the students hand. At that moment the student stopped starring at the ghost and his eyes flicked towards the person who took his hand. He screamed first but then he scrambled first to all fours and finally to his feet. Ye grabbed the student's hand and they went out together.

Marinette was trying to get attention from a girl who was pestered by an invisible being. The girl crawled up into a ball but something kept yanking her hair and clothes.

"Leave me alone." she screamed from time to time.

Finally, Marinette pulled her in a way that the girl was nudged out from her living nightmare and got to her feet. Marinette easily nudged her and the girl ran away.

Marinette was already in the door leading to the hallway and Adrien switched off his torch and put it in his pocket. He took her hand and felt the wall when they entered to corridor. Although he did not have the night vision while not transformed, he was so used to leading the way in the darkness that he did that on instinct.

"This is unacceptable. What do you want?" they did not need any night vision to know that their personal sentimonster was following them.

Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock climbed all the way until they were standing on a rock on the edge of the cliff opposite the entrance to the temple. They saw there was a lot of commotion in the darkness before them. After a few blinks they could see individual students chased by different monsters, oversized animals and other persons.

"I believe it is time to take control Scarlet Peacock." Hawk Moth warned motioning with is hands to the students that were escaping the temple followed by their monsters.

"My dear sentimonsters go back to the temple." Scarlet Peacock spoke. The sentimonsters stopped in their tracks.

"Find me the magical stones hidden in this temple." she ordered. The sentimonsters slowly started their way back to the temple entrance.

"Take your hosts with you." Scarlet Peacock ordered. Few of the monsters literally grabbed their screaming students and dragged them along, other students followed their monsters inside, few of them event tried to stay a few steps ahead. But many were relieved that the monsters were focused on something else and not the students themselves.

"You are an imbecile. What am I supposed to do with you?" Gabriel Agreste sentimonster snarled in crowded corridor covered in darkness, lit up by a few torches the students kept on.

Adrien and Marinette headed towards the main entrance to the temple. They were just about to exit when Adrien pulled Marinette and sentimonster to the side. He could see better over the crowd in front of them. The sentimonster in the shape of Gabriel Agreste protested in a typical Gabriel fashion, but both teens ignored him.

"Hawk Moth and Mayura! They are out there" Adrien whispered. "If they can't tell us through his eyes" Adrien waved his head towards the sentimonster. "They will certainly notice a copy of Gabriel roaming around and following us."

"I would guess they did not recognize us through his eyes or he would have tried something more than to just intimidate us." Marinette whispered.

"Yeah, he is pretty tame, I'll admit." Adrien nodded his head, he was half mocking half serious. He was worried because the sentimonster represented his own father very clearly. He still winced at his comments although he was aware that was only a monster.

"Perhaps we could give him some cover." Marinette produced a piece of cloth, it was a large and rough towel that was wrapped around a statue. She wrapped it around the sentimonster's head and covered most of his upper body in the process.

"What is this atrocity you want me to wear? You want to be a designer? And you think this would match?" the sentimonster sputtered.

"Nope, it is not working. He is still talking." Adrien waved his head. He was not sure if he should laugh or be scared in this situation.

"Okay, lets take the different exit." Marinette pulled his hand. Gabriel Agreste sentimonster followed them sputtering his protests. They lost sight of Ling and Ye as the other two went out from the temple when they pulled aside.

"You are useless. Your idea's are useless." Gabriel Agreste sentimonster shouted behind them that even few other students winced at his antics and stared at the monster (who was yelling in French so most of the students did not understand what was it all about).

The two teens followed each other and walked along the same dark hallway following the wall with their outstretched hands. Adrien tried to take Marinette's hand in the dark again and she let him. She was not sure if he needed help in finding the way or reassurance against the words coming from the monster that resembled his father.

"Okay, we passed the big room now seventh tapestry to the right." Marinette whispered into Adrien's ear. He smiled and wrapped his arm around her. She sighed as she had to leave his arms and continue walking but she did squeeze his hand first reassuringly.

"Your wishes will bring you nowhere. You are completely useless. Dealing with you was a waste of time." Gabriel shouted insult after insult after both of them. Sometimes the words would insinuate he knew their identity but the two teens ignored him as much as they could.

They reached the tapestry and moved it to the side, only to find Dorje and Pema waiting there and leading them out. Just when they were on the outer side, they felt a pull on their bodies, something was pulling them inside.

"Where do you think you are going?" Gabriel Agreste snarled. "You are to stay inside and do your job." The sentimonster stood in the dark hallway and they could not really see him. "We are going to find that magical stones and bring them to Scarlet Peacock."

Chapter Text

Resistance (is futile)

"We are going to find that magical stones and bring them to Scarlet Peacock." Gabriel Agreste sentimonster snarled in the dark hallway. The two teens felt as if they are pulled back by his words.

"You have to resist." Dorje whisper shouted to the two teens as he tried physically keep them in their place.

"Concentrate, think only on what you need to do. He is irrelevant. Discard his words. Shed them away from you." Pema spoke slowly, calmly and convincingly. Marinette slammed into the wall and pushed herself onto it with her feet. Both monks smiled as she managed to keep herself steady with no further physical intervention.

"Just concentrate on what you want to next, only the next step and you can do it." Pema continued.

Marinette peeked around the corner and turned back.

"Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock are going into the temple." Marinette warned. Her eyes widened as she comprehended what that meant. Her plan was simple, get rid of the Gabriel Agreste sentimonster and go directly to the source while they are busy trying to control all those monsters. But if the two are in the temple, where the heroes should not be transformed, then she had an issue. And on top of it all, her sentimonster really wanted to meet them.

"His words are irrelevant." Adrien said. He was repeating the same in his head since the moment the sentimonster appeared over him. 'His words are irrelevant.' was his mantra. His father was Hawk Moth and of course anything he ever said to his son could only be treated as irrelevant. Except it was relevant at the time and it scared him.

"You are irrelevant." the sentimonster shouted back whit the tone and the posture of typical Gabriel Agreste, the words might wary, but Adrien had seen that so many times that he winced even though the words themselves had no meaning.

"If we go back inside, then he will be seen by Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock." Marinette whispered. She held on to a wall not to be pulled inside. Dorje and Pema grabbed Adrien as he had difficulties resisting the pull.

"But they can't see him." Adrien whispered to Pema. "If they do they will know about me." His father was about to find out that he escaped the Agreste mansion, that he went to China, that he went to the temple, and possibly guess with whom and his secret identity. This was a disaster on so many levels. And Marinette followed the same train(wreck) of thought he did.

"My plan has failed. They are all back in the temple now." Marinette whispered to herself. Dorje put a hand on her shoulder to steady her as the girl started to crumble.

"You did not fail." he spoke quietly hoping the girl would understand.

"You did not fail." Tikki chirped.

"We can do this, Marinette." Adrien turned to tell her as she approached closer. Adrien pushes himself closer to her and plants both of his hands on her shoulders, Dorje removed his hand to the side to make sure the girl does not move towards the entrance.

"I should have made a different plan. We should have attacked the container where they were hiding. We should have used the element of surprise while we had that." Marinette whispered in panic and waved her head.

"You know why yo did not do that." Plagg floated over to Marinette. He was never encouraging Adrien to go for a direct attack. Both heroes were just kids with considerable limitations in their powers. They fought him when they had to face him.

"Yeah, identities, element of surprise. But we would have surprised them." she stressed the words we and them. She really thought they had an upper hand here, that they were one step further as they knew the identities of Hawk Moth and Mayura (well now she was apparently Scarlet Moth).

"We still have that. We can surprise them." Adrien whispered. It is not lost yet, they have not lost yet. Hawk moth did not know their identities yet. Adrien did not dare to think it might mean something to his father that Chat Noir was in fact his son.

"You know they would have transformed on the spot and then they would have an advantage." Tikki chirped. The little goddess of creation was never jumping and then looking (unless the occasion required exactly that).

"And they would know we know who they are." Adrien added. That was the most important thing. The villains did not know that they knew … complicated. Anyway, focus Adrien, do not get dragged back into the temple, not now.

"We were supposed to attack them now, while they are busy controlling all those sentimonsters." Marinette whispered. She was still in grief about her failed plan. She had to get herself together, she had to do it quickly, she had to return back to the fight with a new plan before her.

Gabriel Agreste sentimonster shouted further insults.

"You still can." Pema whispered. Both teens were stopped by the magic pull, they did not resign to the pull, but they made a few steps away from the temple side door. The girl in front of her as a fighter, but for the last minute or two, she felt like she was loosing.

"We still can, and we will, My Lady" Adrien whispered and squeezed her shoulders. He was resisting the pull with the help of Dorje. He knew what he had to do whenever Ladybug felt small. Now it was Marinette who stood in front of him. Same person. He smiled.

"They will be in the temple, you just have to fight them there." Pema whispered. She saw how they fought, they were quick ans efficient. The intensity of their fights was huge. The long fight would eat away their resolve and strength.

"Exactly." Marinette replied with both determination and sorrow in her eyes. That was not how she planned it. She was warned not to transform nor use her powers inside the temple. She wandered how far from the temple walls that applied. She would have to talk to Tikki about that, just not right then in front of the sentimonster.

They fell silent for half a minute and overheard the commanding officer discussing the matters with his secretary and several solders while noises and screaming interrupted them.

"I say we are either all going nuts or there is something peculiar about this temple." the commanding officer spoke.

"I took photos and videos sir. That should keep us out from an asylum." the secretary tried to assure him but the effect was baffled by her scream following her speech because she was escaping her snake.

"They will lock you up and throw away the key." The superior officer sentimonster that followed the commanding officer laughed wickedly.

"We are going inside and we will find those stones and then we will resolve all these monsters." the commanding officer sighed.

"They are going to search the temple for the miraculous box?" Adrien whispered as he understood the words. This was terrible, this was the Miracle Queen all over. Hawk Moth must not get that box.

"It is not that easy to find." Pema whispered reassuringly. There were ways to hide it, but that was neither time nor the place for such discussion.

"But we do not have all the time in the world." Dorje warned. They knew this attack was not a joke although some of the fears that materialized to the students seemed more funny than intimidating.

"We have to bring the sentimonster with us, somehow." Marinette whispered. Her tone indicating her resolve was coming back. "We just need a minute for me to transform, then we can tear this bag and clean the amok. He will disappear." Okay, not a complete plan yet, but she knew with what to begin, right? And that was a good start of any plan.

"Is that the infected item?" Pema asked pointing to the cooling pad Adrien held in his hand after retrieving it from his pocket.

Adrien confirmed.

"Rip it, I will take the amok on me and your identity will be safe." Pema offered.

"No." Marinette spoke too loud for her liking.

"No" Adrien repeated.

"We do not know what is their next step and you know too much." Marinette warned. The monk just admitted she knew how the miracle box was hidden and Marinette knew how any person could get mind controlled at any point. That only made their situation worse. She only hoped that Dorje and Pema would have the sense of mind to strip the earrings and the ring off from Adrien and her if that happened.

"Let's try to resist the pull." Adrien proposed and made a few short steps. "It feels like walking through water." he whispered in strained way as if he was pushing something heavy.

Marinette followed him, each step seemed painful, but it was taking them away from the temple.

"Where do you think you are going." the sentimonster shouted from behind their back.

"He is asking for far too much attention." Marinette sighed. The sentimonster was too loud.

"As always." Adrien replied. But both of them now stood still because they had their attention to the sentimonster. Adrien turned around for a glance and then turned back. "At least he is staying put. Let's do this My Lady."

Dorje stayed next to the sentimonster as he agreed with Pema he will try to keep him silent. Pema would help with her advice on how to resist the pull.

But Marinette and Adrien progressed for about ten steps when Gabriel Agreste sentimonster suddenly walked after them.

"I am getting the magical stones from you." he shouted.

At that moment they knew. All the sentimonsters were instructed to find the magical stones and Gabriel Agreste sentimonster just felt their miraculous. For some reason, he was not able to sense it when they were closer to the temple (or he was actually in the wall).

They ran in the darkness as fast as they could. Dorje fought the sentimonster and tried to stop it. Although the young man had immense strength, he was only human, while the sentimonster had the strength enhanced by magic. Dorje did manage to slow the sentimonster enough for Marinette to reach the small cave.

"Tikki, spots on." she whispered.

Adrien ran into the cave holding the heating pad.

"Turn on the torch and let me rip the cooling pad." Ladybug ordered.

He did both, the torch was already in his other hand, just switched off so he would not be easily spotted in the darkness.

Ladybug ripped the cooling pad easily, a violet feather fluttered out. She caught the amok and cleaned it.

"Thank you, it is much easier to catch what you can see." Ladybug whispered.

Adrien was still catching his breath.

Pema entered the cave and soon after her Dorje.

"So what is the plan, My Lady?" Adrien grinned still holding his knees and catching his breath.

Ladybug waved her head.

"My initial plan was to either go to a direct attack at the two of them or collect the infected items outside and you would cataclysm the pile." She sighed. "But right now, I do not know. The sentimonsters are after the miracle box and they might have got it already as far as we know."

Pema and Dorje looked at each other with worry in their eyes. They knew the magic of the temple could reveal or hide many things, but even after spending years living and training there, they did not fully understand how it worked. The only thing they knew, that anyone could use its magic for their benefit and other persons demise.

"I think we would know if they already had the box." Adrien whispered. He hoped he was right. He hoped that the fact that Hawk Moth and Mayura are not already demolishing the temple meant they were still looking.

"And if they found the box and looked inside, they would know instantly which box is it." Ladybug continued. "There are not too many miraculous boxes with exactly the same package of miraculous missing, right?" she crossed her arms.

"Then we go back and protect the miracle box." Adrien concluded with a wide grin on his face. They had a plan and he did not entertain the thought of ever doubting any plan his lady had ever made. Even when she got a scotch tape or a fork as the lucky charm to defeat an akuma.

"That would be correct." Ladybug smiled. That meant she was about to detransform. That meant she was facing Hawk Moth himself as a civilian.

Chapter Text

The monster within you

 

Ladybug, Adrien, Pema and Dorje stood in the small cave contemplating what to do next. Ladybug was sure she had to detransform and talk to Tikki first, before entering the temple, but they had wasted enough precious time while trying to get rid of a sentimonster in a shape of none other than Gabriel Agreste. Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock were in the temple guiding a horde of sentimonsters to search for the miracle box (or basically any magical stones because at least they did not know the miracle box was in the temple again).

“I have to detransform and we have to face Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock as civilians.” Ladybug whispered out loud.

“Are you sure we can’t enter the temple transformed?” Adrien asked Pema and Dorje.

“Of course you can enter the temple transformed, kid.” Plagg retorted. “Those two just did.”

“Well let’s go then. Plagg claws” but Adrien was cut by Ladybug putting her hand over his mouth.

“No. The temple distorts powers.” Ladybug warned.

“Shouldn’t you ask your lucky charm what to do?” Plagg implied.

“I could, but I do not want to exhaust Tikki.” Ladybug sighed.

Three people and a kwami gave her an incredulous look. She was about to face two supervillains and a horde of sentimonsters as a civilian, Tikki should have some time to recover.

“Lucky Charm” she threw her yoyo in the air.

A red scarf with black spots fell down from the air. Ladybug and Adrien caught it while Plagg rolled along on it.

“The texture seem familiar.” Plagg teased “Although the pattern is different.” the little black god of destruction stopped rolling on the scarf, he sat still kneading the threads with his little paws. “But my chosen might personally prefer this pattern, you know.”

Adrien blushed in the darkness. Nobody could see that but Plagg. And Plagg was the only one expecting him to blush. The black kwami snickered and floated away, but in his next move he phased through the scarf.

“Miraculous Ladybug.” Ladybug threw the scarf in the air and Adrien followed it with his eyes and a touch of sadness in his chest. He kept telling himself it was only temporary. The cooling pad reappeared on the stone below their feet. Adrien picked it up and stored in his pocket.

“Tikki, spots off.” Ladybug whispered and in a flash of pink light her suit disappeared. Marinette stood in her place and caught Tikki in her hands. She did not exactly see the little red kwami of creation in the dark cave (as Adrien’s torch was pointed down) but she did the same move so many times that her hands knew exactly where to go to fetch her. Absent-mindedly she reached for her purse, that was missing on her thigh, and only then she realized to fetch a cookie from the front pocket in her onesie.

“Let’s go.” she urged the other three to move and started walking.

“So what about that lucky charm of yours?” Adrien asked following her in step.

“It was your scarf, Adrien.” Marinette whispered, rather annoyed that she had to return to that subject. She hid the truth from Adrien and the boy was hurt by his father because of that.

“Could you tell me exactly how you got that scarf, Adrien, please?” she asked in much more timid voice. She needed the details. The details were important.

“You made it for me for my birthday.” Adrien replied rather confused. Why was she asking him about that. He just learned about the truth about the scarf a week ago.

“No, I mean, how did the scarf reach you?” Marinette whisper shouted. She wanted this conversation finished before they reached the temple.

“My father did not allow me to have a party for my birthday. Nino got akumatized. We saved him. Nathalie brought me a gift and said it was from my father.” Adrien dictated with telegraphic precision.

“I left the gift in the mailbox, but I forgot to write a card or sign it. Then I sneaked into an office, took a post it and wrote from whom it was.” the girl tried to remember every detail. “Do you think it was your father who removed the post it or she did that herself?”

“My guess would be Nathalie, I do not think he even saw the scarf. He probably ordered Nathalie to get a gift for me and she failed so she took yours.” the boy contemplated out loud.

“Okay, so here we are.” Marinette sighed and entered the temple through the back door.

Adrien held his torch switched off.

“Where is the scarf now? If they saw it would they recognize it as your own?” Marinette whispered as they felt their way through the narrow dark passage.

“It is tucked into the sleeve of my jacket. Someone would have to rumble through my jacket to get it.” then he stopped and looked at his flash light. “Just like I did when I was getting this.”

“Okay, so we go first to the big sleeping room.” Marinette whispered.

“Yeah.” Adrien whispered back.

They stood before the tapestry that divided the main hallway from the small corridor they took. Marinette peeked on the side and Adrien put his chin on her shoulder to get a glimpse too. There were students and there were various monsters. Apparently spiders and slimy piles of goo are not the best choice for a search squad aimed at miraculous stones. The students were screaming in fear or disgust and the monsters wandered around in the best re-enactment of the Brownian motion, at least the two dimensional one.

“We are missing something.” Marinette whispered.

“Should we pretend we have our own worst fear following us?” Adrien asked.

“Sure.” Marinette smiled. “You can crawl after me and sing song ‘I am in love with Chloe and we will have a hamster named Marinette.’ That was my nightmare during Sandboy, before I transformed.” she admitted smiling sheepishly.

“That nightmare would be rather high on my scale too.” Adrien admitted.

Adrien put his black cap over his head and then the hood of his onesie over that. Marinette simply pulled the hood over her head and hoped not to be recognized.

“Perhaps we should get some chalk and colour our faces like in those action films.” Adrien teased.

“That is actually a really good idea.” Marinette praised him.

“There is chalk in the storage on the right bout you might prefer the coal from the bathroom.” Pema piped in.

“What for do you use coal in the bathroom?” Adrien asked incredulously as they sneaked out from their hiding.

“Cleaning.” Pema answered as if that was the most commonly known fact.

They sneaked into the bathroom where Adrien made his hands and his face dirty. Marinette was about to fetch more when strong steps made both of them freeze in their current positions. They were hiding behind one of the curtains and could clearly see someone with a torch walking up to them and moving every curtain to check if there was anyone (or anything) there.

There was more than one person doing the search, they could clearly hear the sentimonster started shouting insults to the other person who was doing the search.

Pema and Dorje got caught, she could hear the shuffle and the two monks were ordered to give magical stones. Pema played it well as she tried to fool the man, but the man was not really interested in the stones and apologized profoundly for any inconvenience, it was one of the solders from the camp. He politely asked them to join the others in the search.

The two monks almost got the solder to give up on the further search and allow Adrien and Marinette to escape. They crawled the floor hidden behind the curtains when another person followed by an insult spitting sentimonster approached from the other side. And it was the sentimonster who moved the curtain.

“I will show you how it is done.” the sentimonster in a shape of a middle aged man with a huge belly snarled as he removed the curtains. “A-ha, Gotcha!” he all but screamed out and pointed to the two teens. Then he quickly bent over and grabbed them by their necks.

“So who are you and why are you here?” the sentimonster snarled at the two teens while the poor student to whom the sentimonster was attached tried to make amends. The sentimonster carried its magical strength enhancement and lifted the two teens in the air.

Marinette instinctively grabbed the item she felt under her hand on the floor.

“Were you hiding from your monsters?” the man snarled. Both teens twisted their faces in disgust.

Adrien managed to speak somehow while the man held him in the air by holding onto his onesie. The boy admired how it did not rip apart from the poor handling.

“My fear is to get dirty.” Adrien waved his hands dirty from the coal he used to paint his face. Once the monster saw his dirty hands waving in front of his dirty face, an awful not human like sound escaped his throat. Perhaps it was supposed to be some strange kind of laughter. Nobody felt like laughing along.

“Pretty boy likes to keep clean, are you?” the monster mocked and Adrien accepted it, he did not want to fight right away, he did not want to risk transforming just to face some mediocre sentimonster. Nope, he had more important business to do.

“And you.” he looked at the girl who he held by her onesie. Marinette wiggled a bit trying to escape while the sentimonster talked to Adrien, but she stiffened the moment the monster turned his gaze to her.

“I, um?” she raised her arm and was rather surprise to find her own knee long sock, wet and dirty in her hand. She blushed when she realized what she was holding in her hand.

“A sock? You are scared of a sock?” the monster snarled.

Marinette tried to understand what the monster was telling, and she was cursing herself for her poor knowledge of the language. Perhaps if this monster would only speak nicely and slowly, carefully and correctly pronouncing each word, perhaps in that case she would have understood. But monsters were generally not known to bother with the correct pronunciation. With all the screaming joined by the pounding of her own heart in her ears, she could barely understand anything. That was why she probably missed the rest of the conversation. ‘At least he released Adrien’ she thought with relief when she looked down and saw the boy stand on his own two feet. The boy was talking. The boy was telling something.

“It is rather common that the girls worst fear is that someone might see her underwear.” The student cut in speaking carefully and slowly trying to persuade the sentimonster to leave the girl alone.

“Especially if it is their dirty underwear.” Adrien cuts in, he stressed the word dirty and pointed to the sock.

The sentimonster glared at her as he slowly lowered her down to stand on her own two feet. She clutched to her sock like a baby clutches a plush toy and stared back at him. Why was the sentimonster putting her down? It was something they told. But what did they tell him.

“If you both have your monster, you go to the sleep room.” The monster shouted at them and continued the search moving and flipping curtains, tearing a few in the process.

Adrien grabbed Marinette and pulled her to the side.

“You are scared of this sock, it is your monster, look scared of it.” Adrien smiled at the girl with his sunshine smile.

“I will take that interpretation as a personal insult.” Plagg muttered below Adrien’s ear.

“You are a god of destruction, aren’t you?” Tikki chirped from Marinette’s hood.

“Was not I the one with the enhanced hearing?” Plagg muttered again as the first statement was only for Adrien to hear.

That was actually the moment she stopped looking terrified and started looking only scared. She still clutched onto the sock when another monster grabbed them and pulled them along. They walked swiftly and followed it to the main sleeping room.

They were relieved to find themselves close to their sleeping bag. One glance had revealed to Adrien that his scarf was still safely tucked up in the sleeve of his jacket and not visible to anyone who did not go and pick through his stuff to find it.

And they found something, or better yet, somebody else. Ye and Ling waved to them from their spot. Both were accompanied by one angry professor who was informing Ye how he failed in his school and a wooden spooky looking doll who clattered around Ling. Both students have already got used to their monsters.

“I have an idea.” Marinette whispered to Adrien as they got left.

“Where have you dumped your guy?” Ling asked quickly.

“We managed to get rid of that in a freak accident.” Adrien winked.

“We could ...” but Marinette did not have the time to finish her idea.

Hawk Moth walked into the large room with the Scarlet Peacock just behind him.

“You call these your worst fears?” Hawk Moth snarled. “These are not fears.” Hawk Moth motioned to one spider and looked at Scarlet Peacock. She looked at him incredulously.

“Arachnophobia is a recognized disease.” Scarlet Peacock retorted with obvious annoyance in her voice. Hawk Moth raised an eyebrow. His akumas did not put much resistance let alone contradict him like that. But he smirked in response. He knew that was Nathalie.

“Spiders are very inefficient in support for our endeavour.” Hawk Moth continued. Then the girl followed by a giant cockroach walked just between the two villains.

“Disgusting.” Hawk Moth snarled. Scarlet Peacock winced away. The girl was far from well, she was terrified and disgusted at the same time, but she was not petrified from fear.

“It is obvious these monsters are not their worst fears, this was the first unpleasant thing they had on their minds.” he continued to criticize.

“Come on, let see what are you really afraid of!” Hawk Moth snarled.

“We can try and create more, and perhaps not so many, but with more satisfying qualities.” Scarlet Peacock spoke in a tone and voice that sounded almost seductive.

Adrien winced at the sound of the voice. He knew it was Nathalie below that mask just like he knew it was his father under the mask of Hawk Moth. This was the first time he faced Hawk Moth in person since he knew who was under the mask. And he was facing him as a civilian.

“I believe we can create more appropriate monsters, my dear.” Hawk Moth grinned wickedly.

Scarlet Peacock produced a violet feather and slammed it into a torch that a girl held in her hand. Another bipedal monster grew from her torch as she released it with a scream. It had long white hair all over its body. The monster flailed its arms and a whirlwind that carried snow appeared in the large room. The whirlwind escaped through the door.

“Send him out.” Hawk Moth ordered and Scarlet Peacock issued the order.

Then she produced another feather and landed it on the phone another girl held.

The monster that popped out from the phone was identical to the time travel akuma.

“Peacemaker?” Marinette whispered. She dreaded what was coming next. And it did.

“Yes, that is correct. This would work much better. Takes us back to the time when the miracle box was full and in this temple.” Hawk Moth snarled.

At that moment the akuma started turning around towards Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock. Marinette grabbed Adrien’s hand and jumped. Several students and their monsters disappeared before the ray from the sentimonsters hand caught the two teens and merely seconds later, Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock. And the girl with the cockroach.

 

Chapter Text

Repetitio est mater studiorum

(lat. Repetition is the mother of learning)

Marinette became aware where she was. It was the same large room, just without sleeping bags and backpacks littering the floor. There were several students with their monsters, a spider, a snake and a cockroach, and one annoying adult complaining about something, she did not understand what it was. The student from whose phone the sentimonster of the time travelling akuma appeared was screaming something that sounded like 'not again'. The student was obviously terrified as the previous experience of the time travel had obviously been a bit too much for her.

It was dark, it was the middle of the night just like the time they left. Everyone else was confused with the turn of events. The student with the spider called for her friend that was not transported to this time.

Hawk Moth glared at his surroundings. Apparently, this situation was not what he expected.

"Except tidying up, what have you done?" the villain snarled at the sentimonster. The girl next to it screamed even more.

Hawk Moth pinched the bridge of his nose as if to prevent a headache. All this screaming was much more than he had to endure on normal days. He had power over the brains of akumatized persons and could control what they did. He would direct their screaming while staying securely in the controlled environment of his lair. This was different. This was different. This was not something he did. And even if he has, he would take an elevated position over his 'subjects' and control his akumas. The situation he left was a complete chaos and he was relieved to be out from it.

Only then Marinette realized someone was holding her, a pair of arms was wrapped around her waist from her back. She put her hands over them and felt the familiar ring on one of the hands.

"Do you see where they wear their miraculous? She has a brooch on her chest and he has a pin below his neck." Marinette whispered. She could have a good look at both villains and study their masks and their costumes.

"Yes I have, we could jump them and tear them off." Adrien whispered. He was eager for action and wanted this over with. He did not enjoy the battle where he was not transformed into Chat Noir. The urge to run away, hide and transform was built into his reflexes. On the other hand he could cuddle up to his Lady in the darkness and she did not complain nor push him away.

"That might prove to be harder than we think it is." Marinette waved her head. Marinette's instincts were Ladybug's instincts. She wanted to transform and stand between the villains and civilians. Something inside was pushing her to go forward and just do that even when she was not transformed. But this battle was different.

"I have never seen Nathalie wearing that brooch." Adrien admitted. Then he also admitted, but only to himself, that he could not see that Marinette was Ladybug although he was sure he would recognize her in her civilian form as soon as he saw her. "But I tend to miss these things."

"Don't worry." Marinette replied. She was thinking of the ring on Adrien's hand that she could feel in her own hand right then. "I think we would both have noticed if we saw it on her after Miraculer."

"And the same is valid for his pin. I am certain he wears a tie around his neck." Adrien continued. At least he was certain about that.

"They are wearing their miraculous on their clothing, perhaps even hidden inside the clothing." Marinette whispered. They had better chance of ripping the miraculous from the civilians than from transformed supervillains.

"Okay, but if I get to be close, I will go for the miraculous." Adrien whispered. He was determined to at least try. Marinette felt determined to remind him of the possible cost.

"Adrien, do you remember how many akuma and their minions with their strength and agility enhanced by magic were going after our miraculous and they always failed?" Marinette asked incredulously.

"Of course." the boy replied matter of factly.

"Then how do you expect us, a mere civilians, to fetch their miraculous?" Marinette crossed her arms over her chest and glared to the side as she could not exactly glare straight at him when his chin was on her shoulder.

"She is right, kid." Plagg confirmed.

"Everything will be okay, be patient, you will know what you have to do." Tikki chirped her own encouragement.

"We have returned in time, sir. This is what we should expect." Scarlet Peacock looked around to see what was going on. There was not too much to see in the darkness. Some students were holding torches lit up if only to be slightly less afraid. And they moistly pointed their torches to their respective monsters.

"We have to search for the miracle box." Hawk Moth ordered. He stood in place with his hands behind his back observing the scene.

Marinette noticed a faint light behind a passage and started to walk in that direction pulling Adrien along. He unwrapped his arms only after taking a few steps and held her hand instead. They walked along a narrow corridor for a few meters when they reached another room. It was much smaller than the first one. There, in the middle of the room sat a boy who might have been twelve years old. He watched an octahedral box richly decorated with ornaments. The boy had his back turned to them and they could see the box only partially, but they both knew.

"Master Fu" Marinette whispered.

"The miracle box." Adrien nodded.

They removed themselves from the room entrance and started to walk back.

"You know what you have to do, Marinette." Adrien whispered.

"That is the twenty four hour test he had to do to become a guardian." Marinette whispered. "The test he failed and set the temple on fire. That is when the miracle box and the Book of Lore got lost." She was explaining things as she saw them, quickly and quietly.

"You know you have to prevent him from doing that, do you?" Adrien whispered.

Marinette waved her head. She was not going to do that if that meant giving up on Adrien. She had to find another way to win this battle. And perhaps a war.

"We know where the miracle box is. We have to prevent them from going there." Marinette was completely determined about her ultimate goal. "That is our main mission here."

"But Marinette, My Lady? If you prevent master Fu from making his error, whatever it was." Adrien whispered.

"He said he was hungry and created a sentimonster." Marinette whispered back. She told him the story back in Paris, one afternoon while they followed someone around. She should have retold him that with more details.

"So, lets go to the kitchen and bring him some food." Adrien whispered.

"No" Marinette waved her head. Her guts were telling her that was not the right thing to do. Her heart was telling her that would mean she would somehow loose Adrien. She was aware that she was making the decision with her heart. It worked well the last time, so why not again.

"Marinette" Adrien whispered on her shoulder. "Do what you have to do. Don't mind me."

"No kid" she heard Plagg from the same direction. The kwami of destruction was hiding in his hood just like Tikki was in hers.

"She has to do it Plagg." Adrien whispered. "I think it is clear now."

"No, our main mission here is to prevent Hawk Moth from getting the miracle box. We have to do what we have to do. We. I need you for that. I can't have you disappearing on me again." Marinette whisper shouted to make a point.

That made Adrien fall silent at first.

"Everything for you My Lady." Adrien leaned in and hugged her, he pushed his face into her collar bone and shuddered.

They sneaked back into the large room.

"We should keep them busy and send them to a false trail." Marinette said scanning the surroundings.

Adrien got a spark in his eyes.

"I have an idea." he whispered and went off towards Hawk Moth directly.

"Adrien, what are you doing?" Marinette muttered, but he did not reply, he briefly glanced back with a smirk. Oh he had an idea all right. She put her hands on her hips. He was going towards Hawk Moth in his Chat Noir way. She waved her head. She better keep her eyes on Scarlet Peacock. But, she could not stop glancing towards Adrien to see what was he about to do.

Adrien approached the girl with a cockroach. He had to wait for her to take a breath between two screams.

"Why don't you try to hide behind that large man over there." Adrien turned her physically towards Hawk Moth and nudged her in his direction. The girl quickly ran around Hawk Moth. Her giant size cockroach followed her. Soon, Hawk Moth was busy shooing the student and her cockroach away. Adrien snickered. Nobody could hear him, there were too many screams and shouts in the room coming from students and their sentimonsters.

Adrien could see Hawk Moth was loosing his cool and snickered some more. He could hear Plagg laugh in his hood hidden below his ear.

"Great job, kid." Plagg praised the boy.

"I enjoyed it." Adrien smiled. "I just miss that I can't tease him about that."

"If you throw in your puns at Hawk Moth you would probably reveal your identity to him." Plagg warned.

"Possibly both my identities." Adrien sighed. He had to keep his Chat Noir teasing to himself this time.

Marinette was trying hard to keep Scarlet Peacock busy and away from one specific door. The villain had noticed the same light source and started walking in that direction. The girl was ready to do anything to stop her. She lead a student to stand in her way, her yelling sentimonster followed. But, Scarlet Peacock had fantastic reflexes and evaded every move. Marinette was considering using the commotion and throwing herself at the Scarlet Peacock to rip the brooch from her chest.

Instead, she looked around. Very close to her, there was a large spider taunting at one girl student. Marinette braced herself. The spider was hairy and she found it disgusting. She hated spiders. She really did. She steeled herself and took the few necessary steps. In one fluid motion, without stopping she grabbed the spider with her bare hands and threw it onto Scarlet Peacock from her back. The spider clutched onto her head and the Scarlet Peacock was startled enough to scream and shout. She removed the spider using the strength of her arms.

"You can control these creatures, Scarlet Peacock. Use your powers." Hawk Moth snarled from his position where he evaded a giant cockroach while a rather agile student always run in such a way to keep the man between herself and the monster. It was interesting how the fear made her strong and agile. She even surprised herself. She was finally not screaming. At least not the whole time.

Scarlet Peacock stopped and turned around. She concentrated and issued orders to the different monsters. Finally the cockroach was calmed down and the spider was back at the other student side to her utter dismay.

"Now, we will go out from this room and search for the miracle box. If you cant control them to search independently, then we shall go all together." Hawk Moth snarled. He had to suffer such incompetence. Doing a search as a group instead of distributing themselves around was such a waste of time.

"Come on, explain to them that they would get rid of their fears only if they find the miracle box for me." Hawk Moth snarled. He was loosing his patience.

Marinette and Adrien were substantially revealed by the turn of events. They all got out from the large room into the main hallway.

"He is controlling Scarlet Peacock." Marinette whispered as she caught up with Adrien. The boy simply wrapped his arm around her shoulder and kept her closer.

"Yeah, she is doing everything he tells her to. But, that is what she usually does." Adrien shrugged. He noticed the pattern between the two villains too, but he did not give it much significance because that was the same way the two interacted when they were in their civilian clothes going about their daily business.

"She gets a violet mask on her face when he gives her orders." Marinette whispered back.

"So he akumatized Mayura?" Adrien concluded.

"Just like he did with Chloe." Marinette replied.

They progressed slowly, entered a few rooms and winded several hallways and narrow corridors.

Marinette and Adrien did not have so good sense of direction as civilians but they both feared what they were about to reach. Somehow, they felt they were approaching, they felt they were close.

Hawk Moth entered a side room to search for the box inside. Most of the students and their monsters followed as Scarlet Peacock ordered them to do so. But the Scarlet peacock herself stayed in the narrow corridor so Adrien and Marinette decided to do the same.

Scarlet Peacock took a few steps more and winded another corner. Adrien and Marinette could both see a trace of light coming from that direction. So they followed.

Scarlet Peacock could peek through a small pigeon hole in the wall that was exactly at the height of her eyes. It was obvious the small hole was meant for someone supervising secretly what was going on inside the room. She could see the boy of about twelve years old and an octahedral box that she recognized as the miracle box. She smiled. She found it. She is going to solve this and Hawk Moth, no Gabriel Agreste, will love her for it. She had a plan.

Adrien and Marinette sneaked around her and then some more until they reached the entrance to the room.

The boy Fu has just transformed into a Peacock. The transformed boy plucked a feather and let it be absorbed in a staff he held in his hands. But then they saw where Scarlet Peacock peeked into the room. She produced a scarlet feather and blew it inside. The feather got absorbed in the same staff that the boy Fu held. He did not even notice as he concentrated to make his sentimonster.

"We have to prevent this." Adrien whispered.

Marinette waved he head.

"We can't, it is already done." she said solemnly barely trying to keep herself quiet as everyone was taken by the events that unfolded before them.

Chapter Text

The Fire

Adrien and Marinette watched as the scarlet feather melted into the staff that the boy Fu held in his hands while he was trying to create a sentimonster that would bring him some food from the kitchen. He specifically imagined to get a few rice balls, but he was so hungry he would settle on almost anything. As he was moulding the sentimonster, he thought of rice balls, he thought of their taste in his mouth, he thought of how they would fill his aching belly. His belly already wailed painfully from hunger and the boy felt its emptiness as a throb of pain spreading through him.

At the same time, they could see the excitement in the eyes of Scarlet Peacock who peeked into the room through a narrow pigeon hole.

The sentimonster grew green and large and went wild.

"He wanted food, she wanted miraculous box and the miraculous stones." Marinette whispered.

"In the end they got a monster that was eating the miraculous stones." Adrien continued. Everything was starting to make sense now. It was not master Fu who created the monster all on his own. His inexperience has contributed to the fact that he did not understand that the monster was not only his own creation. He was not able to control it alone.

"If the monster was created by him alone, he would be able to control it." Marinette whispered.

But the boy Fu was not able to gain control over the sentimonster. Scarlet Peacock was an adult with much more experience in creating and guiding sentimonsters, so she could take over. Except the boy was still trying and failing to control it. And Scarlet Peacock had plenty of other sentimonsters she was supposed to control.

"And they said the temple modifies the powers." Adrien whispered and Marinette nodded.

The sentimonster jumped after the boy Fu who was still transformed in a Peacock. Scarlet Peacock ordered it to take the miracle box. Fu ordered it to go for the kitchen and get some food, or perhaps cook some food, or bring him some food, or cook the rice first because raw rice is inedible, and cooking meant fire so the monster went after fire. Fu was hungry and tired, it was difficult to think straight.

Fu got on his feet and tried to control the monster but the monster jumped after the miracle box. The boy jumped away holding the miracle box and the Book of Lore. He was on his feet running around just to escape the sentimonster that ran after him.

The sentimonster knocked over several fire torches. One fell onto the carpet and set it on fire while the other rolled over to a tapestry that quickly started burning.

The boy was looking for a way out. His head was shifting left and right until he saw the door that lead into the narrow corridor.

"We have to move." Marinette dragged Adrien away from the door. They were just barely hidden in the darkness when the boy Fu ran out from the room and looked frantically left and right to find a way to escape. Marinette walked backwards with Adrien behind her back. She wanted to stay away from Fu and give him a clear way out.

"Why don't we go for the box?" Adrien whispered.

"That is not our job to do here." Marinette replied. "We have to make sure he gets out safely."

Marinette and Adrien took a few steps back. Adrien could see Scarlet Peacock removed herself from the pigeon hole because of the flames that were licking their way out. But she was concentrated on the sentimonster she just contributed to create and she was trying to direct it to go after the miracle box. She did not see when Fu got out from the room, otherwise she would run up the narrow corridor instantly.

One monk approached Fu from the corridor on the other side. The boy Fu looked at him with panic in his eyes and outstretched his arms to give him the Book of Lore and the miracle box.

The monk approached closer and in the light of the fire, Adrien and Marinette could clearly see his face. The monk was Dorje, big and strong. He grabbed the Book of Lore and put it under his arm then he took the miracle box and held the box against his body with the same hand. He used his free hand to pull the boy along.

Feast, the sentimonster that was jointly created by Fu and Scarlet Peacock emerged from the room into a narrow corridor and chased after them. The monster was bulky and had to adjust its shape to navigate the narrow corridor. It's sides brushed the walls until it reached an opening in much wider hallway.

Adrien and Marinette followed Dorje who pulled Fu along through several winding corridors. The corridors were lit up with flame torches and the sentimonster flipped them all down. The torches would fire up a tapestry or a carpet, whatever it touched. The flames were licking the walls or spreading over the floor quickly. Thick smoke and air full of smell of burning and ashes filled the space, reducing visibility and filling up their lungs, making them cough.

The two teens followed as much as they could while they kept distance from the sentimonster, they both were wearing miraculous that Feast was searching for. They were on one end of the long and wide hallway that was already engulfed in flames. They could see Dorje pushed Fu through the main door and showed the Book of Lore and the miracle box into the boy's hands.

"Run" Dorje ordered. "Run and do not look back." he repeated his order. "I am going back inside for the others." The tone of his voice was determined and strong. There was no space for argument there. Dorje was sure his actions were right. And he was sure what he was supposed to do himself.

With those words, the strong young monk turned around and walked right back into the fire.

"We have to prevent Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock from following him out of the temple." Marinette was completely determined. Adrien could see that in her eyes, there was an internal fire in her eyes not just the fire reflected in them. She knew why she was there. She knew what was their mission in that time in the temple. They were not there to merely observe the events. This event did not require witnesses.

"Shouldn't you go and save yourself? You can restore all this, you know?" Adrien whispered as he tried to pull her towards the exit. He took a step and pulled on her arm, but she resisted. Why was she resisting? She was Ladybug, she could restore all this with her miracle cure. She had to take care of herself. She was supposed to go for safety. It was him who would to the (un)necessary sacrifice.

"I know." Marinette smiled, her face was completely peaceful and proud. "I already did." And with those words she slipped her hand out from his and ran back into the narrow corridor that was still dark as it did not catch the flame. She hoped he would go to safety himself, she could not push him out after Fu and return to do her job in time.

Adrien felt the flames lick his face as he ran after her. It was dark, he had to feel the walls to find his way. He was concerned that he would run into her or even step onto her or fall onto her again. Was she on her feet? Did she fall to the floor and he just passed by her. He tried to flick on his torch, but the panic in his fingers prevented him from doing that and it took several attempts until he did. The floor behind him was empty so he sighed and continued to go forward. He entered a wide room and then another hallway.

It took several scary moments while he was looking for her in the hallways. But when he finally caught up with her he caught her hand. The air they were breathing was warmer than the hand he held, but he felt relieved as his sense of touch reassured him that she was there. She smiled back.

"I am in this with you My Lady." he shouted. She ran away for a reason. She wanted to beg him to save himself but she knew that was wrong. She wanted to drag him out, but she knew they both had a task to do. Now they were deep in the temple and she just wanted to do her job.

As they walked, Marinette quickly turned and smiled at him to reassure both of them. He smiled back, as he could clearly see her smile that could lit up the room, except the room and her smile were lit up by the approaching flames.

They found Scarlet Peacock in the room where Fu was guarding the miracle box. The room was now completely on fire and filled with smoke. Scarlet Peacock was looking for something in vain.

"I sent the monster after him, if the monster did not get it then it must be here." Scarlet Peacock muttered as she searched through the room for the tenth time.

"She is here, we have to find the others." Adrien coughed through the smoke. He also did not have a death wish to enter the room. Adrien pulled up his onesie to cover his nose and mouth from the smoke and the heat.

Scarlet Peacock raised her face to look at them but the smoke and the fire prevented her from recognizing who was at the door.

The two teens were both coughing from smoke, they held their onesies over their faces. Their eyes were burning from smoke. Their lungs were burning from the hot air and smoke they inhaled. They barely reached around the corner when they ran into Hawk Moth.

If their eyes were not burning with smoke and if they were not coughing and holding their hands in front of their mouths and nose, they might have just raised their hands and strapped the pin off from Hawk Moth. But the narrow corridor was filled with smoke and their eyes got filled with tears as a reaction. And Hawk Moth was protected from their suffering due to the magical powers of his transformation.

Hawk Moth pushed them back. He saw Scarlet Peacock through the pigeon hole. He tried to control her with his telepathic abilities but he was getting some garbled response about her finding the miracle box that he decided to get physically there before he directed her out from the temple.

He reached the entrance to the room and saw Scarlet Peacock standing there and feeling around with her hands. She was trying to find the miracle box, but it was not there any more.

Hawk Moth strolled inside with all the confidence of a supervillain protected by a magic armour.

"What are you doing?" he shouted. Doing it face to face rather than mentally had its perks. Her brain was a mess as she was trying to do too many things at once and failing all of them.

"I was looking for the miracle box, it was in this room." Scarlet Peacock replied with composure and certainty.

"Then we should gather our search party here, don't you think?" Hawk Moth replied with a wicked smile. He was about to summon students and their magical sentimonsters into the room on fire and he had absolutely no concern for the safety of the students.

"That is our cue, My Lady" Adrien grinned and then coughed again. Why did he inhale so much smoke. He needed less air if he was not speaking.

Marinette nodded in return and turned to the approaching students and sentimonsters. Adrien and Marinette quickly pushed all the students into the room. They also pushed few sentimonsters inside.

Fortunately the cockroach went inside on its own following its student.

"You were supposed to be by my side." Hawk Moth snarled. If she was not doing things on her own, they might have succeeded together. On the other hand, he was supposed to be in control of her mind, but he was concentrated on searching the room and failed to check his mental communication.

"But." she protested "You can search through a room on your own." The mask on her face instantly glowed stronger. Hawk Moth was not going to take criticism from his akuma if he could help it (and there were akuma when he did not, check Robostus).

"You were supposed to be there and control these freaks." Hawk Moth shouted waving his arms and gesturing to the whole group.

"He is not in full control of her and she is not in full control of the sentimonsters. It must be the temple." Marinette whispered and then coughed violently.

"You can still run away and save yourself." Adrien whispered to Marinette between the coughs.

Marinette did not even try to talk back. Her eyes were already full of tears from the smoke. She simply waved her head.

Hawk Moth grabbed the hand of Scarlet Peacock and started to drag her out.

"But the miracle box, it was here." The Scarlet Peacock screamed.

"Well it is not here any more." Hawk Moth snarled. He let go of her hand and concentrated. A purple mask glowed stronger one the face of Scarlet Peacock.

"You and your monsters are going to lead us all out of here." Hawk Moth ordered.

Scarlet Moth obeyed and issued the order.

"We can always scavenge the remains for the miraculous stones, they are supposed to be indestructible." Hawk Moth shouted.

"We have to keep them inside." Marinette whispered and looked around. She was making the plan. Adrien was by her side to help.

Adrien caught one end of the burning carpet, Marinette pulled a burning tapestry that was flung over the side. They pulled both items along as they entered the room.

They blocked the way for the cockroach that was leading the way out and all the other monsters and students got stuck in the room.

"What do you think you are doing." Hawk Moth snarled at the group.

The two teens hid on the side where there were few things to burn and not so much smoke.

"We can't get out." someone from the group shouted back.

"We are stuck." another voice was heard.

Marinette pointed her hand towards the time travel sentimonster and coughed. She could not speak any more. Adrien went after the girl who was used to create the time travelling sentimonster. The girl was already on her knees coughing and gasping for breath. The air was so hot and full of smoke that it burned their lungs.

"Make her return us back to the future." Adrien shouted to Scarlet Peacock through the flames and thick smoke. His lady could not do this, she could not speak any more, he had to do this if he wanted her to live, if he wanted all these students to live, if he wanted to live himself, and, as a consequence Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock would live too (he was not entirely certain he wanted the last one just like he was not entirely sure the two villains would not survive the fire and go after master Fu and miracle box after that).

Hawk Moth heard that and snarled incomprehensible noise.

"No" Hawk Moth screamed. "No! We were so close." He was not ready to give up on chasing after the miracle box through the flames, the heat and the smoke, but he did not know where the box was. He even did not know for sure that the miracle box was in this room.

"We can do this again at some other time." Scarlet Peacock tried to reason with him. She was so close, she almost got the box for him. But she failed. There had to be another way. They would simply find some other way to attack.

"Plagg, would you be so kind as to make this slightly more persuasive?" Adrien sighed. He was taking a huge risk.

Plagg dropped to the floor in the darkness and whispered "Cataclysm". The walls started to crack and parts were about to crumble down.

"Very well, order her to bring us back to the future." Hawk Moth resigned. It was neither first time he had to give up on an attempt to get the miraculous. He knew when was the time for retreat.

Scarlet Peacock issued her orders and the time travelling sentimonster fired a light circling the room.

Chapter Text

Back to the Future

 

One moment the temple was burning, the walls had cracks in them and parts of the temple were crumbling down. Then there was a flash of white light, not entirely unlike the flash one can see in films when someone is dying. And after that they were in complete darkness.

Adrien was down on his knees. He could feel the hard stone floor below his knees. He got his hands to the floor and felt it was cold. Where was he? When was he? What was this dark space? He was probably alive, but he was not sure when and where he was. Logic told him it should have been the same room in the same temple just at some different time. But he could not hear anything for a few frightening moments. He thought he was alone. He was scared his lady did not make it. His ears were deafened by the noise of the chaos they left and he needed some time to adjust. After about half a minute of hearing only his own heartbeat, he could hear some commotion around him.

“Cheese?” was the first word he recognized. The quiet sound came from the floor just in front of him. He patted with his hand until he got Plagg, smashing the little black cat god of destruction on the head tin the process.

“Hey” the kwami complained quietly. Adrien put his hand in his pocket and felt for some cheese. He got it and put on the palm of his hand where his kwami was sitting. When he felt that kwami picked up the cheese he put both in the hood of his onesie.

He knew now he was alive if his kwami was talking to him.

“Can you see her?” Adrien whispered barely audible.

The cheese was already gone before he reached to the hood so Plagg yanked his hair to turn his head and then he took the edge of his cap and pulled in one direction. Adrien crawled in that direction following Plagg. He coughed. His throat and lungs were still sore from hot air and smoke. He advanced on all four until he reached a person laying on the floor. Plagg stopped pulling. He placed his hands on the body in front of him. He felt what he recognized as her back and her shoulder. He leaned over and embraced her pulling her up to lean onto him. Was she alive? Was she breathing? His hand found her neck and her pulse. He breathed again. He felt movement of her shallow breathing in his arms. Then he felt her hands wrap around him. She was alive and she was conscious. He just held her like that for a few breaths holding her close and feeling the life inside her.

Marinette was not sure if she was alive or not, if she was conscious or not and she did not have the strength to go and find out. She was on the cold floor and wandered what happened to Adrien. Did he make it? Was he okay? She felt somebody put their hands on her, but she soon recognized the touch. Familiar arms enveloped her and pulled her close and she struggled to move her own arms and wrap them around him. Perhaps this was all just a nightmare and now she woke up in their sleeping bag. Except the floor was much harder. And she was not covered. Hm? Perhaps it was not a nightmare then. She remembered how Dorje led the boy Fu out from the temple giving him the book of Lore and the miraculous box. That was exactly how master Fu described the events to her, so they did not mess up, this was their timeline, the same one she was born in. It was not master Fu who created Feast and the havoc alone. Everyone had a role.

“Plagg, you can see, right?” Adrien whispered.

“Um, yes, it is me who gives you the night vision, remember?” Plagg muttered below his ear.

“She is okay, just dazed as much as you.” Tikki whispered quietly. The little red goddess was recovering too.

“Can you see Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock.” Marinette whispered back to Plagg. She was already ready for the next step. She wanted to ude the opportunity if there way one.

“Um, yes?” Plagg confirmed carefully.

“Can they see us? Perhaps we could sneak up to them and take their miraculous?” Marinette whispered. She did not want to go through something like that fire again. Oh no. She was going to end this, as soon as possible, as quickly as possible, the simpler the better.

“You are in no condition to do anything like that.” Tikki warned quietly. The goddess was old, she understood how Marinette was thinking, she knew what they were just put through, but she had seen too much.

“They are quite well, I dare say you do not have a chance in your condition.” Plagg agreed with Tikki. Being the only one who could see them clearly, he was even more confident than usual.

Adrien sighed, his lady had the best idea and now these two kwami would not help them. Really, this was the perfect opportunity, two supervillains barely touched by the disaster while protected by their magic suits against two night blind teenagers half deaf from the blast, dazed, confused and only a pinch dizzy (while not actually able to stand on their own feet).

“I think we are a bit deaf because of the blast, I do not hear them.” Marinette whispered straight into Adrien’s ear.

“Um, I think I can.” Adrien replied. He concentrated. There was not much to hear, or to say it better, there was much to hear, but not much to understand.

He could hear voices and understand words, he could hear moaning and screams, he could hear some angry voices and then he could hear the shuffle from people and probably monsters moving all around them.

 

Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock had their own worries and experiences. They were both annoyed (to say the least) with the fact they felt as if they did not have complete control over their powers. Then they disappeared from a room filled with fire and noise into complete darkness and silence. It was mind numbing.

“You said there was a miracle box in this room.” Hawk Moth reminded her of their previous conversation as if nothing in particular happened in the mean time. He was focused on his goal, and that one was to get the miracle box, or to be more precise, any miraculous he could get his hands on. He already had plans, he would create temporary supervillains. He already had several candidates for that purpose, willing and eager to help him out.

“Yes, I saw it. You have to believe me. I saw the miracle box exactly in this room.” Scarlet Peacock spoke slightly in panic but trying to keep her composure. She was so close to fetching the box, she saw it in this very room. And she could get the miraculous of the Black Cat and Ladybug first, she might just have a little wish of her own. But she did not get them. She needed to do something different. There was the voice of Hawk Moth in her head mixed with her own thoughts. And mixed with all the signals from the different sentimonsters.

“Well then, let’s look for it now.” Hawk Moth said and put his hands on his back. He was not doing the manual labour, he had people who did that for him. He only engaged in fighting with Ladybug and Chat Noir and only if he absolutely had to. He sensed rather strange emotions from Scarlet Peacock and wandered what they were, he was determined to find out what they were so he pushed for further conversation. They argued for a while, her thoughts were so disorganized and her feelings conflicted and confused that he gave up in the end.

Hawk Moth issued to order to find the miracle box and everyone complied including Scarlet Peacock who started to walk around the room aimlessly while only her superpowers and enhanced agility prevented her from stumbling in the dark. Hawk Moth was determined to keep a closer eye on her and a violet mask glowed stronger on her face in the darkness.

“Get your sentimonsters too look for the miracle box.” Hawk Moth ordered again and the sounds of different beings moving or stumbling around the room filled the air, including running into walls, squeaking and muffled screams. He could not see in the darkness, but the sounds did not reassure him nor testified about an organized and efficient search.

Scarlet Peacock was issuing orders again and again but there was not much response in what they could see. It was completely dark and neither Hawk Moth nor she had the night vision so they could not verify that anyone obeyed them. The noises were becoming louder and louder, the scratching and the screaming and from time to time, one of the monsters would run into them to their utter disgust.

“Well, have they found it?” Hawk Moth snarled, impatient and angry. This attack already lasted for too long, he was not used to getting into a fight himself and this one already did not meet up to his expectations one bit. However, he knew that his ultimate goal, the miraculous of the Ladybug and Chat Noir could be within his reach if he only returned in time again and he pushed Scarlet Peacock to make such sentimonster, a copy of his akuma. He wanted to go back again, but only if he was sure Scarlet Peacock really saw the miracle box, and the information he got from picking on her brain and her emotions were so garbled he could not rely on that for sure.

“Not yet, Hawk Moth.” Scarlet Peacock answered quietly. She knew Hawk Moth could read her mind and she schooled herself in the usual timid self.

Hawk Moth felt something approach him and quickly evaded it and jumped to the side. Scarlet Peacock followed suite. It was the cockroach again.

“They just evaded that giant cockroach.” Plagg reported. “They are very quick. I would say they did not get dazed by the blast.”

“What are they doing?” Marinette asked annoyed she was so blind in the dark. She was holding on to Adrien and her head was tucked in his shoulder (just like his head was tucked into hers). They needed a minute like that to make sure the other one was okay before they were able to shift their perception back to their surroundings and plan what to do next.

“They are searching for the miracle box.” Plagg shrugged. It seemed so logical. It was the only thing he expected the pair would be doing anyway. The tiny black cat did not even consider the question necessary, nor the answer. It was not likely that the two villains would change their minds. Or actually only one mind, because Hawk Moth had the mind of Scarlet Peacock under control (more or less). This was a kind of mess that even a wheel of Camembert would not resolve.

“The sentimonsters are sniffling around. The students are as bad as you if not worse.” Plagg continued his report on the current conditions in the room. He was tempted to ask for more cheese as he could smell that Adrien had more, but decided to wait for a few more minutes for that.

Suddenly a pang of guilt washed over both of teens. There were students around them who got hurt, students who were not superheroes, students who were mere civilians. They should have protected them better. But how? And what to do now. They had to find them and examine them and help them, but it was dark and they could barely help themselves in this situation, and even that was possible only with the help of Plagg and his night vision.

“I think I still have a flash light in my pocket.” Adrien whispered and unwrapped one arm as he went to reach for it. There it was, the solution to all their problems, he could turn on the torch and go around and examine other students. His plan was simple and perfect.

“Don’t” Marinette and two kwami whispered in unison. It was obvious to Plagg that neither Hawk Moth nor Scarlet Peacock saw well in the dark, if at all. Tikki assumed the same since neither Dusuu not Nooroo had given such powers to their wielders in the past. Marinette, on the other hand, already had a different plan and she also did not want to attract additional attention to neither Adrien nor herself and flashing a torch would definitely attract the attention of everyone in the room.

“If you switch it on, then you are helping them.” Marinette whispered. “Let’s check the students carefully in the dark. This way they will not know what we are doing.” Her plan was to use both kwami to examine the students and she could only do that in the dark, while neither the students nor Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock could see them. If a student saw a kwami they might sell the story it was their monster, but if any of the two supervillains in the room even glanced on any of the two kwami, they would know instantly they were much closer to their goal than they thought.

“And we could help. Right Plagg?” Tikki chipped in. She understood the plan. It was not as if Marinette or Adrien were trained triage nurses, both teens needed help in assessing the damage imposed on the students. Although, truthfully, the little red goddess of creation did not expect the students to be seriously harmed. The students have suffered as much as Adrien and Marinette and were probably only dazed and half deaf in the darkness.

Plagg expressed the level of his excitement by keeping silent.

“Do you think these students have any cheese on them?” Plagg teased. He had enough of this serious stuff, I mean, who wouldn’t? He was up and ready to do some messing up with Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock in the darkness, it would be nice to do some teasing between the two, touch one here, touch the other there and step aside to see what happens. If you are not satisfied with the result, repeat the trick until they are either shouting insults at each other or all over each other, whatever works, Plagg would be fine. He was up to do some mischief as he just used the power of destruction, he was not much into that.

“Plagg” two teens and a kwami whispered in a way to keep him silent. They sincerely hoped that Plagg would not give himself away. Adrien was probably more worried as he knew how the little kwami was inclined to mischief. But they needed his eyes to assess the students, although he did not have a clue what to do with them if they were seriously injured. They did not deal with the injuries, Ladybug would induce her miracle cure and everyone was live and well. Perhaps they should escape the temple again only for Marinette to transform, call her lucky charm and induce a miracle cure? Well, they will deal with that if needed.

The two teens crawled from one student to the other, lead by Plagg while Tikki rested in Marinette’s hood. Plagg hovered around each and every one of them. The students were all dazed and confused, but unharmed. One was screaming from time to time, because she was taunted by her sentimonster, another was sitting up dull and unresponsive.

“Physically, they are okay, but I really hope they will forget about this once this is all over.” Marinette muttered to herself.

Adrien found her in the dark and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. He knew that the two of them would not forget, he did not want to forget, any of it, neither good nor the bad, he hoped they would live to remember.

 

Chapter Text

Here we go again

 

Hawk Moth was increasingly agitated. Gabriel Agreste was never the man for crowded and confined spaces, he even avoided his own fashion shows. He preferred to rule his empire from the security of his own secluded office in his own mansion. Now, he was in a dark room surrounded by dazed students and poorly coordinated sentimonsters. And he could not see them, he could hear their (annoying!) noises and he could feel them brushing against him when they passed too close, or as a better option, he could feel the swirl of air they produced as they moved swiftly. The problem was, this crew was useless. If nothing else, he was persistent, he did not become a fashion mogul because he gave up easily on his creations. But this time, he might be wrong. He let someone else create in his place. He was looking for magical stones and he had a cockroach to do the job. This was ridiculous, utterly ridiculous.

Scarlet Peacock could hear his voice in her head. He was loosing patience, he was furious, he was demanding and there was no way she would find a solution out of this. She muttered apologies and encouragements to calm him down. Inside her, she still mourned the opportunity to get the whole miracle box while the boy was watching it. She saw the boy. She saw the box. Why did not she go around, find the entrance to the room and just go for the box? Why was she trying to create yet another sentimonster while there were so many and she had poor control over them? She would order them to search for the miracle box, but spiders, cockroaches or slimy creatures from student’s nightmares were poor tools to do such a task. Angry teachers, parents or other taunting personas were barely doing any better, as soon as they focused on the search, they became less scary and the connection to the student was loss, and, as a consequence, her own connection to the monster. She understood the problem, but she had no solution for it.

“Marinette” Adrien whispered to her ear. She hummed in response, she was listening to him.

“What was that about the scarf?” He asked about the scarf she got as a lucky charm in the cave. It bothered him. The lucky charm was supposed to be a clue how to fight, how to win?

“That was the sign to go after them.” Marinette whispered. Perhaps there was more to it, but she did not read it completely. But everything seemed to fit the profile. She was not sure if she read it correctly, she was not sure about anything any more. It was nagging her in the back of her mind. There was something more to the scarf clue, but she simply did not know yet.

“To go after them as me and you?” Adrien whispered. Marinette nodded in response, she knew that he would feel her move even if he did not see her. Yeah, ‘as me and you’ but in their case ‘me and you’ is rather complicated formulation with multiple meanings.

“You are right Marinette.” Tikki confirmed quietly. Adrien turned to the little goddess in the darkness. She was quieter than Plagg, but also always reassuring which he found really really nice and from time to time felt a pang of jealousy for not having such kwami. But sometimes, Plagg had his own way of reassuring him.

“What would you do if you got a piece of Camembert for your lucky charm?” Plagg could not help himself but ask. The situation was too serious for him. He needed some distraction not to go nuts. One needed that. No one wants the tiny god of destruction to go nuts. Just look for the extinction periods in the geological records.

Marinette, Adrien and Tikki could not help but snicker at his antics. And all three rolled their eyes. Plagg was always Plagg.

Hawk Moth sensed something from Scarlet Peacock and it was becoming clearer and clearer. In the darkness, her mind had no visual stimulant to process, so her brain went back to the last things she actually did see, the fire, the flames, the Feast sentimonster, the boy, the box … the box!

“You are right!” Hawk Moth exclaimed. “There was a box. We are going back!” He turned in the direction where he expected he would be facing Scarlet Peacock (and failed, giving Plagg further sense of satisfaction at the ridiculous situation).

“Where is that time travel sentimonster?” he demanded from the darkness before him.

Scarlet Peacock concentrated hard but her mind was a mess of a hundred different voices, some muttering, some screaming, but none of them made sense. It was much easier when she could actually see.

“Peacemaker” she called out loud. “Bring us back to the past!” she ordered. She might have also crossed her fingers for that to work because she was far from certain in anything any more.

Marinette hitched a breath.

“Oh no” Tikki muttered.

“No way.” Adrien sighed.

Plagg groaned.

Marinette and Adrien jumped as one in the direction of the voice they could hear, the voice of the Scarlet Peacock issuing her orders for the time travel sentimonster. A beam of white light washed over them. In the flash they could see that Hawk Moth had his back turned towards the time travelling sentimonster and the rest of the room.

They landed on something soft. It was a layer of ash that covered the ground. It was dark, but there was faint moonlight peeking through a thin layer of clouds.

Marinette and Adrien stayed low and did not make a move. If they just stayed close to the ground, they could be mistaken for two rocks.

“What is this?” Hawk Moth asked incredulously. There was no room, no temple, no boy and no miracle box.

“I do my job well.” Plagg muttered quietly while Hawk Moth was releasing his frustration. Adrien strained inside not to slap him lightly with his hand to shush the little black cat.

“Where are we, where is the temple?” he shouted to the dark skies above him but got no answer. He turned around and shouted the same question again and again until he got tired from it.

“I think we arrived in the time after the temple was destroyed.” Scarlet Peacock said out loud although there was no need for that if she wanted to communicate to Hawk Moth alone. But he was shouting and getting his attention while he was in that mood was never easy.

“We are looking for the miraculous now. They must be somewhere here.” Hawk Moth snarled in the still night air. There was nobody in particular he was frustrated at, at least nobody present (not that he knew). He just wanted to release his frustration from another disappointment, he expected to find himself next to a boy guarding a miraculous box, not at the remains of the temple. He sensed that Scarlet Peacock was distressed and her state was probably the reason why they missed the actual time he wanted to reach.

Hawk Moth walked around and flicked the ash with his feet. He had to make her work better.

“Scarlet Peacock, you are my best creation yet! But could you please deliver what is wanted from you?” he calmed down a bit and composed himself sufficiently to actually participate in the search.

“Search for the magic stones.” Scarlet Peacock ordered. There was just the time travel sentimonster and the student who was used to create it. Not much of a search party to go through the ashes of a temple in the middle of the night (or maybe it was close to morning already).

Hawk Moth strolled around with his hands on his back kicking through the ashes that covered the soil all around. The moonlight was becoming stronger and stronger as the cloud dissipated slowly. He glared at the ashes below his feet as he wanted to see the glistening jewels of the miraculous kind.

The fact that he did no pay too much attention to anything that was not below his feet was just fortunate for Adrien and Marinette as they slowly retreated to a shadow of one rock to hide better.

“When are we?” Adrien asked quietly while Hawk Moth muttered further instructions for Scarlet Peacock and the other two entities he controlled.

“I would guess we are in the same night when the temple got destroyed.” Marinette whispered.

“So Fu is not far.” Adrien whispered.

“Mhm” Marinette waved her head.

Hawk Moth was making larger and larger circles. The half moon was high in the sky. It was possible to see the mountains covered with snow glistening in the distance. The sight was beautiful. Adrien sighed and wrapped his arm around Marinette pulling her even closer. It was cold to be outside in the middle of the night and sit still dressed in something meant for sleeping. The only thing that kept them from surrendering to the cold was the adrenalin pumping through their veins that peaked any time Hawk Moth or Scarlet Peacock approached closer.

But, when they were far enough, Adrien allowed himself to enjoy the scenery. It was so peaceful.

Marinette was planning, scheming and observing. As long as Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock were both here on this plateau, Fu had a chance to escape, but if they saw him, if they went after the boy, they were running after them.

Adrien and Marinette would be caught if they tried to crawl away, the moonlight was just too strong. The two villains would have to leave the top of the cliff first. She was not even sure in which direction she should look for the steps.

“Plagg, would you mind doing some scouting?” Marinette proposed. It was a good idea, the little black cat god could see in the dark very well and could easily tell them in which direction are the steps that winded on the cliff face and lead to the temple and where to go to find that cave they always hid in while transforming.

Plagg floated in front of Marinette, his eyes glowed in the moonlight, but they glowed with something Adrien knew well, they glowed with mischief.

Tikki looked at her old friend with worried eyes, but just when she was about to warn her chosen, someone else beat her to it.

“Nope, that is not a good idea.” Adrien cut in. “You do not know Plagg.”

“You insult me.” Plagg was sulking.

“He knows you really well.” Tikki teased.

“Hm” Marinette put a finger over her mouth. “I am not sure if I should trust you that much then.” She pretended to contemplate.

“Remember Kwamibuster?” Adrien slightly shook her shoulder.

“That was my moment of weakness. I mean, who in their right mind could resist the call of that perfect smelly chunk of cheese?” Plagg retorted.

Tikki looked at him with her paws on her hips.

“Well, I guess you have proven I can’t trust you then.” Marinette removed the finger from her chin.

“You can trust me. Tell me what you want me to do.” Plagg practically begged for her trust.

“Hm. I’d like you to float in one big circle and find the direction of the steps that lead to the temple and the way we used to take to that cave. And if you can, try to notice how far master Fu went.” Marinette whispered her instructions.

“No big deal, Pigtails.” Plagg floated away quickly.

He was fast, he was really fast, he was back in a minute.

“Steps are in the direction straight towards the Moon.” Plagg reported. “the path to the cave begins at nine o’clock if the Moon is twelve.” he continued and then he sighed. “And I saw master Fu, he really did not get very far, but he still had the book and the miracle box.”

“You know these directions will be meaningless in a few hours, don’t you, Plagg” Adrien teased.

“We can’t go there, they will see us, they are really close to the steps now.” Marinette whispered as she peeked around the rock to see the two supervillains better.

“Sssh, they are talking, Plagg could you eavesdrop?” Marinette asked quietly.

Both supervillains were standing on the edge of the cliff looking at something in the distance. They talked excitedly and it was possible to hear them in the silence of the night.

“Do you see something moving down there?” Hawk Moth asked. “Now it is in the shadow.” he said slightly later. “There, right there, is that the boy with the miracle box you saw?” Hawk Moth demanded.

“I see something moving, someone.” Scarlet Peacock exclaimed the moment she recognized what was expected from here.

“We go down there and see who it is!” Hawk Moth ordered and they went down the steps.

The moment they were out of sight, Marinette counted to thirty.

Adrien did not count, he jumped to his feet and Marinette yanked him back down as she counted.

After that, they both ran to the direction of nine o’clock.

They arrived to the small cave on autopilot, the path was already stored in their muscle memory.

Plagg demanded a piece of cheese but Adrien transformed instantly. He was outside the next second scanning the area with his night vision. Staying untransformed in the darkness was truly testing his patience.

Ladybug followed only moments later.

“Fu is there.” Chat Noir pointed his finger. “He is struggling in the dark. We should go down there and help him out.” He raised his other hand to pull Ladybug closer and point her in the right direction but his arm just passed through Ladybug.

“I guess this means we are not doing any such thing.” Ladybug replied and then went to poke his nose. Adrien sighed as he reigned to give up on his idea and Ladybug touched his nose with her index finger. “Good.” she concluded. “No messing up with Fu.”

“Let’s find those two then.” Chat Noir said and jumped from one rock to another making as little sound as possible. Ladybug followed.

Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock were moving fast, they were already at the bottom of the cliff. Ladybug wrapped her yoyo around one jagged rock and they both jumped holding hands. She allowed them safe and soundless landing using her yoyo and then retracted it.

“We have to sop them.” Ladybug spoke quietly.

“We have to stop them before they reach Fu.” Chat Noir repeated. Ladybug went to pat his shoulder and her hand went through. She waved her head.

“I need you for this Chaton.” she whispered. “We have to stop them.” she patted his shoulder. “When they reach Fu.” she tried again and Chat Noir was tangible. Her hand did not go through.

“This is going to be tight.” Chat Noir replied as they started to run after the two supervillains.

 

Chapter Text

Making Pastry

Ladybug and Chat Noir were chasing the two supervillains in the dark of the night, lit up only by the half moon rising high in the sky. Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock were not far ahead, but Ladybug insisted on keeping the distance.

"We could be on them, My Lady" Chat Noir whispered once more when Ladybug urged him to stop and keep the distance from the two supervillains ahead of them.

"Chat." Ladybug whispered painfully. It was really difficult for her to concentrate on the task and not succumb to her worries and feelings. "Your own existence depends on us timing this correctly." Her hands were trembling when she grabbed his forearm. She could feel his presence, he was there.

"The existence of Adrien Agreste depends on it. I am sure there would be a different Chat Noir." Chat Noir spoke quietly and solemnly as he turned his eyes away from her. She was breaking in front of his eyes. She was crumbling, her shoulders low, as if she was becoming smaller. He could see her eyes searching their surrounding frantically, he could see in her eyes she was looking for a way out of this. She wanted to keep him and it made his heart melt, but more and more, he was sure he was not going to get out from this one. If only she would understand that, if only she would accept, they would win, and although he would be removed from existence, he would still live in her memories and that was enough for him.

"I can't have that." she whispered. Her heart was aching. How to make him understand. "I do not want to fight for a world without you in it." she whispered. And that was the truth. She did not want to. She had a duty, yeah, and she would perhaps still do it, but she would not want it. Because she stubbornly refused to believe that there was no other solution. There had to be a solution that would not remove Adrien from the history.

"But, you have to Bugaboo." Chat Noir cooed as he pulled her into his arms gently. "You have to. It is your duty as Ladybug." he reminded her. She was warm and it felt safe to hold her. He wished he had more time with her. The last ten days of his life made his whole life worth living. He knew now what it meant to be happy. She made him happy. He was told so many times that knowing her identity or revealing his own identity was a disaster, that he would have to give up on his miraculous. But, he was not in the mood to live a life without the miraculous and without knowing who she was any more, because the only life 'without a miraculous' he knew was the life he lived before his miraculous and before he went to school. Although that life included his mother, he was not willing to live it again.

Ladybug was practically hanging on him, she could not find the strength in her to go on if that meant giving up on Chat Noir, if that meant giving up on Adrien. And not the 'he is in love with another girl' way of giving up, but giving up completely. It would be as if he never existed. Would she ever remember him? Would she be the only one who ever remembered him? Then she remembered Chat Blanc, she remembered that event, he did not, nobody else did, except perhaps Bunnix, or Alix, but not yet, at some further point in the future and she knew what suffering those memories alone meant for her. She had to find the way to keep Adrien in existence. She had to find a way. She had to explain to him how awful that future was for her.

"I do not want to live in the world where I would be the only one who remembered you. " She whispered through her tears.

Chat could not help but shed a tear too. It was not about himself. It was not about the fact that he never existed. Because he did in this timeline and he learned what happiness meant to him. He was not sad because of his eventual disappearance. He could not imagine the loneliness that Marinette would feel if she remembered him and nobody else would. What if it was the opposite. What if he remembered her? What if he was the only one who remembered her? He would not be able to mourn her loss. That would be crushing him.

Suddenly, she straightened up, she knew what to say.

"Chat." she whispered against his chest. "If there would be another Chat in the place of one wielded by Adrien, then why is he not here when you start disappearing?" she asked quickly "There is always a Chat Noir to every Ladybug, and there is nobody replacing you as far as I can see."

"Um uh?" he was a bit confused.

"I need someone by my side to fight them, you can't fight anyone if you are in that holographic state. And there is no other Chat Noir appearing when you start to disappear." Ladybug whispered.

And at that moment Chat Noir straightened up too. He will stand up next to his lady, whatever she decided to do.

"Okay, we do this together then." he whispered. They continued to chase after the two supervillains. Hawk Moth and Scarlet Peacock were approaching dangerously close to Fu already.

Ladybug threw her yoyo, it wrapped around Hawk Moth and she yanked him down. The villain was surprised and caught off balance so he stumbled slightly and stopped. But he was quick to recover and turn around.

"Great." Ladybug muttered. That was her plan. To stop them. To at least slow them down so they would not catch the boy Fu and take the book and the box. She knew she had to let them get close, but she also knew they should never get the Book of Lore nor the miracle box. Because then Hawk Moth would have the Chat Noir's ring and Ladybug's earrings.

Scarlet Peacock did not waste a moment as she threw her fan after Fu.

"No" Chat screamed as the fan was flying towards the boy. He extended his baton guickly to trip the boy so the fan could pass over his head

The boy got his into his knees, from the back and instinctively threw himself on the ground. The peacock brooch hit a rock as he splayed on the ground, the book fell from his hand and the box tumbled away.

The fan flipped from the large rock and a small avalanche of gravel started to fall. Scarlet peacock had no problems catching back her fan as it bounced off the rock. Chat Noir jumped after the boy Fu. But it was dark, the boy was scared. The boy did not recognize the heroes and the villains in the darkness. What he saw were dark shadows in the night chasing after him.

Scarlet Peacock threw the fan after Fu again and Chat Noir deflected it with his staff. He positioned himself between the boy and the two villains determined to defend the boy with any means possible.

Fu quickly got to his feet and searched the surrounding for the book and the box. He barely collected both and started running away from the demons chasing after him in the darkness. These demons must have been after him because of his mistakes, because he created the monster that set the temple on fire, because he caused the disaster and the temple was lost. He had friends in that temple, there were monks who were teaching him, there were other monks who were taking care of him. There was one large and strong monk who helped him get away. There were other trainees in that temple, other kids just like him. He saw their faces before him the whole way as he was running away. Those faces smiled at him. Those faces were haunting him. In his mind, he covered those faces with cloth so he would not see them any more. Now he was chased by faceless ghosts. Although it was bad, it was scary, it was more bearable than the way he felt while he was chased by the faces he knew.

Hawk Moth got untangled from the yoyo and turned towards Chat Noir and Fu. He did not care about Ladybug right then, Fu was far easier target to beat, and if he was right, the box the boy held contained the miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir as well as all the other miraculous jewels. He would be able to do whatever he wanted. He would have been the new guardian and all the little gods would obey him just like Nooroo did, as his kwami was just like his little slave. He thought of all the power he would obtain, of all the powers stored in different miraculous jewels. And all that power was just within his reach, held in the hands of a mere boy running away from him in the darkness.

"Lucky Charm" Ladybug threw her yoyo in the air and got a large chunk of fresh dough in her hands. It was red with black spots as her lucky charms always were, but it was fresh dough alright.

"Getting ready to make some pastry, My Lady" Chat Noir could not help himself but tease. At least he resisted to tease her about her parents being bakers. The opportunity was so good, but then he would jeopardize her identity and he did not want to do that.

She looked around and saw Chat and his baton and the fan as Chat just deflected another attack that Scarlet Peacock threw at Fu. Hawk Moth was going after the boy too and Ladybug quickly launched her yoyo after the villain again. She had to keep him away from the boy just for a little while. Perhaps she would be able to do just that.

But Hawk Moth threw his staff after the boy, the staff hit his legs and Fu fell again.

The box fell on the ground and shattered open. The miraculous fell out from the box on the bare soil, they were glistening in the dark night, lit by the moonlight.

The book flew away from his hand and fell somewhere far in the darkness, it was in some pit hidden from the moonlight and only Chat could see it.

The boy Fu fell on the gravel, the brooch got tangled in the stone and ripped off from his clothes as he was getting up. Fu quickly collected the miraculous jewels from the ground as he could spot them reflecting the light of the moon above his head.

Chat Noir was distracted as he watched Fu fall down, loose his book and drop the box that released all its contents on the bare ground.

Ladybug yanked Hawk Moth backwards with all her might using him to propel herself forward.

"Chat, fetch" She threw the large chunk of dough in front of Chat anticipating the next move from the other villain. And she was right. Scarlet Peacock threw her fan again and it landed in the dough, only a piece of the fan was sticking out. The dough with the fan inside hit Chat so hard he flew a few metres back and landed on his butt, hard.

"Chat, cataclysm it" Ladybug ordered as she landed between Chat Noir and the two villains.

Fu collected as many miraculous as he could find, he was not sure how many, perhaps he miscounted, there was no time to double check. He was not entirely sure how many he was supposed to collect. One miraculous was supposed to be attached to his clothes so he counted one less from the number he computed perhaps that was the difference. How many were supposed to be in the box, did he place them correctly? He had no time for such trivial questions. He had to run and he had to do that fast. There were monsters lurking in the darkness and going after him.

Chat Noir summoned cataclysm and destroyed the fan and the dough.

A violet butterfly flew out.

Scarlet Peacock transformed into Mayura, dazed and confused, but standing on her own two feet. Chat Noir could clearly see her. She would be ready to fight in no time. Fortunately, she did not have her fan any more.

Back on the top of the cliff, one sentimonster disappeared leaving a confused and scared student alone.

"My Lady, the butterfly." Chat Noir warned and pointed his clawed finger after it.

Ladybug unwrapped her yoyo from Hawk Moth and quickly launched it after the butterfly. She had to catch it before the villains attack her. But she could not see the dark butterfly very well in the night and the only orientation was what Chat told her. She simply threw her yoyo after his voice and it took several attempts to catch it.

Hawk Moth and Mayura ignored the superheroes and went after Fu.

"They have used their powers, they will be easy targets soon, but we have an even easier target now." Hawk Moth was already celebrating his victory. "And the prize that awaits us there is considerably larger. Go after that boy, Mayura, he has the miracle box."

And both supervillains ran after Fu almost catching up with the boy.

"He lost the book, and the miraculous of the Peacock and the Butterfly." Chat Noir exclaimed as he quickly went after the lost items and attempted to retrieve them. His night vision enabled him so he could clearly see the book in the dark hole somewhat in the distance and he went for the two miraculous first. But the moment his hand was about to pick up the two jewels from the ground, he discovered he couldn't do that. He tried and tried again but his claws and even his hand would simply pass through the soil.

Hawk Moth and Mayura were just about to land on the boy Fu in their next jump.

Ladybug threw her yoyo in the air.

"Miraculous Ladybug" she called. A swirl of Ladybugs washed over them.

Ladybug disappeared.

Chat Noir, still trying to pick up the two jewels from the ground disappeared.

Hawk Moth, mere centimetres from landing on the boy Fu disappeared.

Mayura, in the middle of her jump, metre behind Hawk Moth disappeared.

Back on the top of the cliff, where the temple used to lay, one lonely and scared student disappeared.

The only one who was left in the darkness was a boy, about twelve, clutching to the box in this arms, running away as fast as his feet would take him.

Two jewels were left on the bare ground. They glistened in the moonlight. There was no sound around them. There was nobody to take them. Metres away, in a small dark pit beside a stone, a book was lost. These items would wait there to be found and complete the cycle of history.

Chapter Text

Escape

When the miraculous ladybug cure was utilized, Ladybug, Chat Noir, Hawk Moth and Mayura all disappeared from the scene of the battle, the only one left was master Fu when he was a boy.

Ladybug materialized standing on the bare ground. She looked around. It was dark. It was still night. But which night? She hoped she returned to the time she left. There was no moon to make the night slightly less dark. She was surrounded by the darkness. She could feel the bare soil below her feet and the fresh air she breathed told her she was outside. She instinctively spread her arms around her only to find the empty air. There were no stars in the sky as it was cloudy night. One look around has revealed faint light in the distance. It was the light the solders kept in front of the main entrance to the temple. She looked at it as if it was a beacon that would carry her home. So she returned to the time she left. Her miraculous ladybug cure worked. But first, where was Chat Noir? Where was Adrien? Did she manage to do it right? Did she do her miraculous ladybug just in time? If she did, then Chat Noir should be here. Two supervillains too. She was careful and silent.

And then her earrings beeped.

Chat Noir appeared in the same landscape, but with no moon and stars in the sky. He could clearly see Ladybug close by in the direction of the temple. He quickly recognized the temple and the surroundings, his night vision really making a difference. He scraped the ground for the miraculous of the Peacock and the Butterfly that he was trying (in vain) to pick up from the ground just moments before, but the ground was empty. He looked in the direction where the book fell, and there was nothing. He sighed. He was not able to pick up the miraculous from the ground because his hands were just passing through, as if he faded from existence each time he tried to reach for the jewels that fell on the ground.

His highly sensitive cat ears picked up another sound. It was the sound of movement from behind his back. Right. If he was here and his lady was here then Hawk Moth and Mayura were definitely here too. They were attacking the boy Fu and were about to take the miracle box from the boy. He turned around swiftly, the boy Fu was not there. There, in the darkness, he could see the two dazed villains clearly, and none of them had the miracle box.

Hawk Moth and Mayura were both confused by the sudden change in scenery. They have in fact moved 175 years forward in time, back to the moment from which the time travelling sentimonster took them. They could see the light in front of the camp and they knew where and when they were.

"Both of our enemies are somewhere in the dark. They both used their powers and should detransform soon." Hawk Moth spoke quietly.

"We should be able to get them easily once they detransform, sir." Mayura replied.

Chat Noir overheard the conversation and was painfully aware that they were right. He however, had an advantage, his enhanced senses, he could see in the dark, he could hear each of their steps, and he could, unfortunately, smell many things. When Ladybug's earrings beeped Chat Noir could hear something was flying in their direction. It was too late for him to use his staff and rotate as a shield. He ducked and jumped towards Ladybug. He grabbed her by her knees and she fell down on top of him. They fell to the ground and rolled away while Hawk Moth's stick flew just over them.

"What the ..." Ladybug muttered. For a split second she felt as if she was attacked, but right the next moment she was aware it was Chat Noir who tackled her. She even expected he might do something like that in case of an attack. She trusted him and his senses.

"Hawk Moth, he threw his stick at us." Chat Noir whispered. He was grateful she did no fight him back. Anyone else would. He imagined being tackled in the dark by someone, without warning, would he recognize it was her so easily? But that was his lady, she knew it was him.

"I'm glad you are okay." she whispered. The relief she felt spread through her body and the tension she felt released in one long, but quiet, sigh.

"I'm glad for you too." Chat Noir replied and grinned in the darkness. She could not see his face, but his eyes glowed at her and she smiled back. She knew he saw that.

The stick Hawk Moth threw returned to him like a boomerang.

Chat Noirs ring beeped.

"They can locate us by the sounds we make." Ladybug whispered and pushed him so both of them could roll away on the ground.

"We have to run and hide before we turn into pumpkins." Chat Noir quickly rolled her away from another potential projectile.

"Did she get her fan back?" Ladybug asked.

"She is still looking for it. I could go and get it." Chat Noir already wanted to move in that direction. "But it is much closer to them and Hawk Moth got his stick back, it rotated and returned like a boomerang."

Chat deflected a stick that flew in the direction of the superheroes.

Her earrings beeped.

Ladybug squinted her eyes towards the temple. It was far. Too far. Perhaps too far. That was further than any other object at which she ever launched her yoyo. Much further. Did her yoyo have a limit? Well she was about to find out.

His ring beeped.

She threw her yoyo in the distance and waited for it to latch onto something.

And waited.

And waited.

After the time that seemed like an eternity while it would be measured in seconds she felt the chord of her yoyo tighten.

"Use your staff as a shield, Chaton." she whispered and grabbed him by his waist.

Her earrings beeped.

Chat deflected the fan.

They flew away pulled by the string of her yoyo.

His ring beeped.

He deflected the attacks of Hawk Moth and Mayura while they were speeding up towards the temple. He rotated his staff as a shield and both weapons that supervillains threw at them would deflect from it. But he winced every time. Deflecting a magical weapon was far more tricky than deflecting normal objects.

Her earrings beeped.

He deflected another attack from the flying fan using his staff. In the darkness he could clearly see the two supervillains were in not hurry, they were not even running after them. They were waiting. Hawk Moth and Mayura waited for the transformations of Ladybug and Chat Noir to wear off. In the meantime, they attacked with their weapons.

His ring beeped.

Hawk Moth threw himself forward and launched his stick from his hand while Mayura did the same with her fan. Now they were attacking simultaneously, the sound of Chat Noir's ring giving them orientation where to throw their weapons.

Chat Noir and Ladybug were pulled by the chord of her yoyo through the air quickly, but it seemed so slow. Because the minutes were passing quickly. And they had to reach the cliff before they detransformed.

"Come on." Ladybug pulled on the chord to move faster, but they were already whooshing through the air swiftly and there was not much more space to speed up. She held the chord with one hand and pulled Chat Noir by his waist with the other, she held him tight, he was her shield in this escape. As always.

Chat Noir saw both projectiles heading their way clearly as well as he could hear the swoosh of air they were making. With an expert move and rather extended staff he managed to deflect them both in one swift move.

They were approaching close to the cliff on the top of which sat the temple.

"We should land somewhere on the cliff." Ladybug muttered.

Her earrings beeped the last warning. The chord of her yoyo disappeared as they flew through the air. There was nothing pulling them and they started to fall. Chat Noir quickly grabbed her with his left arm. The flash of her transformation lit up the air, but Chat already turned to protect her from being seen as much as he could.

Marinette caught exhausted Tikki mid air as she knew exactly where her kwami would appear. She did not need to see her. It was a practised move. They were already very far from Hawk Moth and Mayura. The two villains needed time for their weapons to return before they could launch their next attack.

He extended his baton to reach the ground below them to slow down their fall and then he instantly pushed them towards the cliff that was really close. If Tikki held on to the transformation for only half a minute more they would have landed on the cliff. He held Marinette close to his body and his feet barely touched the surface of the stone as he landed not a moment too soon as the green light of his transformation started to wash over his limbs. It was Marinette who pulled him closer to the cliff and push him down as she laid her body over his.

They both crashed into the stone and their bodies were aching, but they knew they had no time to feel the pain. Adrenaline was high and that was the strongest painkiller they ever experienced.

"They must know that we have both detransformed and they know where we are, I am sure they saw your flash." Marinette warned.

"Cheese." Plagg whined from his position where he sat at Marinette's back.

"You really could not hold on any longer, Plagg?" Adrien brushed him off sitting up, he took his little kwami with one hand while he reached for the cheese with the other.

"There you go Tikki, recharge." Marinette got to her feet and simply put Tikki in her pocket where she kept the cookies.

Adrien flipped the cheese in the air and Plagg annihilated it.

"Ready?" Adrien asked.

"What is the hurry? One needs peace for their meal to settle." Plagg retorted. Adrien already rolled in a small hiding place that he could find, he hoped the second transformation light would not be visible.

"Plagg, claws out!" Adrien called.

Marinette pulled him down and tried to hide the flash of green with her body.

The next second Chat Noir was on his feet lifting Marinette off the ground and extending his baton. They were rising in the air in no time, he landed on one rock and then jumped further on the next one, he was not going so much up as to the side, he was trying to get Marinette to a safe distance so she could transform. And he knew that somewhere on that height he should find that cave where they used to hide and transform.

Meanwhile, Hawk Moth and Mayura just launched their weapons when they both could see where the two superheroes were.

"Yes." Hawk Moth celebrated and raised his fist when he saw the first transformation light. The pink light that shot in the distance when Ladybug detransformed in Marinette. But because Chat Noir was facing Hawk Moth and Mayura, they could not see who appeared in the place of Ladybug.

"Her weapon is lost too, they must be falling." He glowed with wicked joy.

"Excellent." Mayura celebrated with him. They both jumped from one rock to another even faster than before.

"His transformation should disappear soon." Hawk Moth continued. He knew the weapons they just threw at the heroes were probably going to miss since their targets abruptly changed their trajectory downwards.

A green transformation light answered his question.

"It is much lower than the height where Ladybug detransformed." Mayura noted.

"He might have detransformed before they even landed." Hawk Moth clenched his fist and sped up.

"If he did that means they ..." Mayura started.

"Are totally defenceless, we just have to find them and pick up their miraculous." Hawk Moth grinned wickedly in the darkness.

"I do not see the teleportation gateway anywhere, do you?" Mayura asked while she looked around. She half expected other heroes might pop up from somewhere.

They reached the spot where the two heroes landed and searched it in the darkness. They could not see much so they scanned the area.

"Where are they?" Hawk Moth snarled.

"They could not get very far. Not detransformed. Nobody can climb this surface in the dark" Mayura reasoned.

"They must be somewhere here. Hiding." Hawk Moth continued to jump from one rock to another and kick at different objects with his feet expecting to find something other than stone, something alive, somebody, and to be more precise, two detransformed and defenceless superheroes.

Chat Noir found the cave and carried Marinette inside.

"Are you okay, Princess?" Chat Noir whispered gently as he let her feet on the ground. "We landed pretty hard over there."

"I'm okay Chaton. How long can Plagg hold your transformation, it is not like you gave him any time to rest." Marinette chided softly.

"That glutton got so much cheese on the way over here without doing much work that I am surprised he has any space left for more cheese." Chat Noir waved his head. "On the flight over here he phased all the way to the business class and annihilated their stock of cheese."

Marinette snickered to that and put her hand in her pocket to get Tikki out. The little goddess was still munching on her cookie.

"Tikki" Marinette called as she could not see her in the dark.

"She is still eating, let her be." Chat Noir smiled to the kwami. "She is so cute while she eats." he smiled some more and softly patted Tikki on the black spot on the top of her head. Tikki smiled back to him although she could not see him.

"You do not think your kwami is cute when he eats?" Marinette asked half joking.

"Have you seen him?" Chat Noir asked incredulously. "I mean it is a whole new level of gluttony."

"At least he is efficient." Marinette noted. They both agreed the same even without words. They did not want to say the words out loud and possibly hurt Tikki's feelings. If Plagg was not eating so fast, Adrien would not be able to transform into Chat Noir so quickly and let them run away. Tikki understood their silence and appreciated it. She munched on her cookie in silence.

"I'm ready." Tikki whispered.

Marinette took a step back.

"Tikki, spots on." she called and transformed into Ladybug.

Chat Noir watched her transformation with mouth and eyes wide open.

"I'm glad I had the luxury of admiring your transformation this time My Lady." Chat Noir grinned.

"Well, I'm glad you did. But now, we go after them." Ladybug announced and grinned back although she could only see his eyes in the darkness.

Chapter Text

Seriously

 

After the narrow escape from Hawk Moth and Mayura, Chat Noir and Ladybug are hiding in the cave, freshly transformed.

“We are going after them.” Ladybug repeated to Chat Noir since he did not produce any reaction the first time.

“Seriously?” Chat asked.

“Seriously!” Ladybug confirmed.

“What’s the plan?” Chat Noir shrugged with a huge grin on his face. He was tired of waiting for them to attack.

“No plan. We are going after them.” She shrugged back to the darkness. She could only see his green eyes slightly glowing in the dark.

“Just like that?” Chat Noir was puzzled. It was not like his lady to go into an attack without a detailed plan.

“The goal is to strip the miraculous from them, nothing more and nothing less.” Ladybug warned.

“No lucky charm?” he asked, just in case, perhaps she forgot?

“No, and no cataclysm too, unless absolutely needed, we need time.” she warned again.

“Okay then, what are we waiting for?” he teased. She rolled her eyes at him since she knew he could see the act and after that they both walked out.

“We should go where you detransformed.” Ladybug whispered.

“I bet they are looking for us there.” He winked.

“Yeah, we should test if we can we use our communicators here?” she asked as she retrieved her earpiece from her yoyo and put it into her ear.

He retrieved his earpiece from his baton and put it into his ear. Ladybug spoke the ‘test’ word.

“It works.” he exclaimed upon the test.

“It works when we are this close.” Ladybug warned. But he did not listen, he already vaulted away.

Ladybug sighed and jumped after him.

Chat Noir enjoyed the chase. He imagined himself jumping out from the darkness and snatching the pin off from Hawk Moth. He could sneak up to him. He had night vision. He hopped from one rock to the other, until he saw them.

Chat Noir laid low and watched.

Ladybug was not yet there, nor at his tail. In fact he could not see her following him at all. Perhaps she took a different route or something?

“Ladybug.” he whispered, but there was no response from her. He was too taken by the sight in front of him to worry too much about that. Sooner or later Ladybug will join him.

Hawk Moth snarled as he kicked rocks with his feet. If he was not transformed, his feet would be aching and his toes would be broken, but the supervillain could kick the rocks with his feet and hit them with his stick, stomp them and jump them as much as he wanted and not get hurt.

Mayura was following the same suit, although she used her fan. Sometimes they would hit so hard to break little pieces of rock off from the cliff face and the gravel would slid down the face of the cliff, bouncing of the jagged obstacles on the way.

It was obvious they did not see very well, they did not have the night vision and the light was poor.

The clouds have revealed the moon that was very low on their side of the cliff.

In the meantime, Ladybug was reminded she did not have the night vision in the worst possible way. She called Chat Noir using her earpiece, but he was obviously too far or the range of the device was too short in this area with poor network coverage. Whatever the reason, Chat Noir did not respond. She opened her communicator and wanted to call him. Calling him on the baton might reveal his position (and existence) to the two supervillains they wanted to surprise. So she gave up. She used the light from her communicator to see where she was going, but decided to close it after about few jumps as she decided it would have given her away if she kept using it. So she jumped blindly from one rock to the next, hoping beyond hope not to injure herself. The moonlight did not lit up her side of the cliff and she did not know how far were the supervillains. So she proceeded slowly and with caution.

Chat Noir suddenly became aware he was watching his own father and his assistant, Nathalie, who was sort of a replacement for his lost mother. Ant those two people were smashing rocks down there. At first, he thought they were just releasing their anger on the local geological forms, but their conversation clarified what they were doing.

“No trace of them.” Hawk Moth snarled and hit another piece of stone breaking it off from the cliff.

“Perhaps they have not even reached the cliff.” Mayura replied trying to stare down in the darkness.

“They were already very close to the cliff when she detransformed.” Hawk Moth hit one more stone and jumped to the next one and hit it with his stick. “And they were high.” He turned around and hit with his stick everything around him as far as he could reach from the place where he stood. “They were very high.” He jumped to another position and almost slipped.

Chat Noir slowly realized, they were not releasing their anger by hitting the stones. They were looking for him and Ladybug, well actually searching for the civilian them, for him as Adrien and Marinette. They were looking for two kids.

Mayura was going from one rock to another and threw her fan. It flew very close to the cliff and then it started to return just when it was right above Chat Noir. Fortunately he heard the faint sound the feathered fan was making while flying and evaded it at the last moment. (Luckily, peacock feathers do not allow stealthy flying like the feathers of the owl.)

Chat Noir would have got seriously hurt if he got hit with her fan. He was surprised at the speed and agility of Mayura. He assumed it was he superhero suit that helped Nathalie to move with such speed and agility, not to forget elegance.

Speaking of elegance and beauty, where was his lady? He looked around and still he saw no trace of her? He did not want to test his communicator again. The night was quiet, and the two supervillains would interrupt their communication even mid sentence when they thought they heard someone. It was too risky to try.

“I am sure he used his baton to slow down their fall.” Mayura mentioned between two jumps while she was aiming her fan. She threw her fan directly at Chat Noir and he removed his head behind the stone he was crawled on. The fan hit the stone just above him and few small pieces of the stone fell on him, fortunately, none of them was very big.

‘So they expect to find two civilian kids.’ Adrien muttered to himself. They were looking for two detransformed kids in the dark and expected to hit a living being with the same force that was breaking off pieces of rock.

“I keep seeing something up there.” Mayura said and threw her fan straight at Chat Noir again. He ducked and the fan hit the same rock above him. This time he rolled away to avoid being hit by more stones. And he made a good decision as he would have got hit by much larger and heavier chunks of the stone this time.

Somewhere, in the back of his mind one thought, or perhaps that was Plagg, but something reminded him that his eyes glowed in the dark and perhaps that was what Mayura could see.

He sneaked away to the side. He should be more careful. But he was not able to see with his eyes closed.

“He tried to use it, that is for sure.” Hawk Moth replied more calmly than one would expect from someone who was beating up the face of a cliff with all his might. “And if he succeeded, then he detransformed immediately after the landing.” Another piece of rock fell off from the cliff face and slid down into the dark.

“They should be somewhere here.” Mayura whispered as she was looking up the cliff face and into the direction of Chat Noir who evaded her fan again.

“They are hiding in some hole on this cliff.” Hawk Moth snarled and hit another jagged stone that broke off and fell down into the darkness.

“We will find them.” Mayura encouraged Hawk Moth and soothed him at the same tame. Nervous supervillain was not a very useful partner.

“And if they fell from this height while not transformed, we will pick up their miraculous off them easily once there is some light.” Hawk Moth continued with a wicked grin on his face.

“Which should happen soon, I believe.” Mayura encouraged further. The dawn was about to approach and they would be able to see very well.

“We are looking for two kids.” Hawk Moth continued to hit the rock.

Yes they were looking for two kids, they hoped to find them hidden and injured and cause further injuries in the process.

Chat Noir was angry.

Chat Noir was becoming very angry. Those were his father and Nathalie and they wanted to harm him, and even worse, they wanted to harm Marinette, Ladybug, his lady.

Ladybug was still not there and he stopped wandering what kept her from coming. He was too angry for that.

“I can feel someone is very angry and very near.” Hawk Moth snarled into the night air. “I know you are here and I am going to find you.” The villain stressed every other word by another hit to the hard rock cutting few small pieces of stone that rolled down the cliff face. He also regretted having no butterflies to evilize at hand.

Chat Noir decided he had enough of waiting. He was going for an attack. He was not going to wait for his lady. He jumped over the edge of the cliff and threw himself down. He stared down at Mayura.

At the same moment, Mayura was carefully observing her surroundings and the only two things she could see in the dark, she could recognize instantly. She saw two green eyes glowing in the dark that approached with great speed.

He grinned in the darkness and reached out with his claws aiming at the brooch on the chest of Mayura. It was an easy pick for him. She was closer and in between Chat Noir and Hawk Moth so he had to take her first.

“He’s transformed.” she warned Hawk Moth as she elegantly evaded Chat Noir’s claws that were going after her brooch. One more elegant move and she flipped him and turned him off from his trajectory. He was spinning and it was sheer luck that he managed to reach to his back and grab his baton, split it in two, holding one in each hand and deflect the hits from Hawk Moth.

Hawk Moth hit hard, and Chat Noir deflected each blow with the pieces of the baton he held. Unfortunately, one blow added more momentum to his rotation and he was spinning uncontrollably along both horizontal and vertical axes. And he was free falling. He managed to reconnect his baton, but extending it and putting it to some use was in vain. He managed to control his spin and if he just managed to extend his baton then he might slow down his fall. But he extended his baton too quickly. The baton had hit the cliff face once, a large piece of stone fell off the face of the cliff. But the consequence was that Chat Noir also lost his baton. He was now free falling without his weapon.

 

In the meantime, Ladybug descended to the narrow trail and followed it around the cliff. When she reached the area that was faintly lit up by the weak moonlight that was dispersed by the thin layer of clouds, she was able to move slightly quicker. But that was still much slower than she usually would move while transformed. Ladybug refrained herself from using her yoyo. She was not able to see much where she was going, and she might accidentally run straight into any of the two supervillains. And that was not a good idea.

So she ran one her feet using her hands to feel her way and checking the stability of each step she took. One error and she would produce a sound that would give her away. One error and she might expose herself to the two supervillains. One error and she could fall. If only Chat Noir have waited for her, they could have went together.

She could hear Hawk Moth and Mayura talking, or better yet, she could clearly hear Hawk Moth snarl and muttered sounds of Mayura. And then, when she was making just one more turn around yet one more corner she saw Chat Noir falling. She saw he passed Mayura and somehow changed the way he was falling. There was no detransformation flash so he failed to snatch her brooch. The she saw him fall by Hawk Moth who gave him two quick blows. Now Chat Noir was spinning totally out of control. He looked like a helicopter about to crash. And then she heard a clang of his baton, but Chat did not slow down his fall. Suddenly she jumped after him. She wrapped her yoyo around him and used her own two feet to slow down their fall ans she scraped them over the long and flat surface of the cliff that was almost vertical at that place.

Chat Noir felt the familiar chord wrap around his body and sighed. He was saved. His lady saved him. Again.

She yanked him upwards as she was not sure how far was the bottom of the cliff. She caught him in her arm. He grinned back and used his claws to dig into the face of the cliff to slow down their fall.

“How far down?” she asked.

“Not much” he answered.

“Throw your yoyo at 2 o’clock” Chat Noir even pointed his claw in that direction.

She threw her yoyo and it wrapped around a jagged stone sticking out from the cliff. They quickly swung sideways.

“We are going for the portal now My Lady, no more fooling around.” Chat Noir yelled as loud as he could as he hoped he could fool the two villains that they were going back to Paris.

Ladybug sighed.

Two more swings that he directed her where to throw her yoyo and they were back at the same cave.

“Plagg, claws in.” Chat Noir whispered as he looked down to the soil beneath his feet.

“What were you thinking?” Ladybug whisper shouted.

“I was not thinking.” Adrien replied not raising his eyes from the ground. They had their chance and he blew it. “I could see them, I thought they could not see me.”

“They saw you?” Ladybug whispered incredulously. “They could see you in the dark?” she was surprised that Hawk Moth and Mayura could see in the dark.

“They can’t see in the dark any better than you can.” Chat Noir replied assuringly.

“Have you just walked in there in the open?” She chided.

“No. I hid. My eyes.” Adrien raised his eyes and looked towards Ladybug although it was too dark for both of them to see each other’s faces. “They saw my eyes, they glow in the dark.”

“Seriously?” Ladybug whispered incredulously.

“Seriously.” Plagg answered as he floated almost in their faces, his eyes glowed in the dark.

 

Chapter Text

Anger Management

 

Hawk Moth was furious. Mayura was feeling mostly frustrated and slightly confused. She was akumatized up to perhaps an hour ago, she could not tell how much time had passed. She had just regained her awareness and joined the fight, and in a remarkable way even if she was the only one who admired herself for that. But then again, she was someone exceptional if Gabriel Agreste had chosen her to join him on this mission, he placed so much trust in her.

“They were transformed.” he shouted angrily into the night. How was he able to be so wrong? How did he miscalculate it? He was certain their transformations wore off. They were supposed to be hiding as two pitiful civilians, at least, preferably wounded and unable to defend themselves. The only thing he had to do was to find them and snatch the miraculous from them.

“They ran away.” Mayura replied thinking of how they were gone now. She ignored the outpurst of anger, she got used to it, to take it all in stride and live with that. It was the fact that Ladybug and Chat Noir were certainly very close when they transformed back into superheroes and they both should have noticed their transformation lights. And they must have hidden somewhere. Where did they come from? She looked around, the faint moonlight enabled her to see few details in her surroundings.

“Yes, like the cowards they are.” Hawk Moth mocked the two superheroes as much as he could. But, now the two superheroes knew that Hawk Moth and Mayura were physically present at the temple. And he knew they knew. He did not bother himself dwelling on that thought more. He was about to contemplate on that once he was able to devote his full attention to that issue.

“Their portal, can it be invisible?” Mayura asked. She was not sure any more. Was it supposed to be visible in the dark? Could they hide there before they transformed back? What happened to her? What happened to them?

“You have too many questions.” Hawk Moth warned as he slowly proceeded down the cliff. He was not going to linger out there and wait for a possible next attack. He had enough of that. And there was always a possibility that those two kids are sneaking up to them to do more eavesdropping. He was not about to reveal what happened.

Mayura pressed her lips tight, she wanted to ask what to do next, she wanted to ask where to go, what was on his mind. Because, she would do anything for him. The level of her devotion had surprised her from time to time, but she was reaching different levels each day (and night). She sighed audibly.

“We are going back to our lair.” Hawk Moth ordered quietly so he was certain the sound did not reach much further than Mayura. He was in no condition to chase two young superheroes who have probably teleported away. Suddenly he had an idea. It will take a grand effort, but he had an idea. And as each of his ideas, it was perfect, if only he could find someone to execute it. His eyes landed on Mayura. Well, she would have to do it.

“We are not going after them?” she was a bit baffled. She was still looking into the direction (down) where the two superheroes have disappeared. She wanted to go after them. She wanted to follow them, to sneak up to them, to play them. She missed all the action that was going on while she was akumatized.

“Oh, we are, just not right now. I need some time to think.” Hawk Moth replied with a grin. His plan was forming in his head, he just needed to polish a few details. And he needed his butterflies (or at least one). He was also about to make sure that Nathalie did her job as expected. And yes, he was going to direct her every step of the way. He learned from his errors and he learned fast. He was about to show the world just how fast Hawk Moth could learn. He did not care that the last attack was announced on all sorts of media, the blogs, the social networks and even the news picking up the information from there.

Nathalie kept quiet. She felt guilt for failing him this time. She was akumatized so she was not exactly sure what went wrong. She did not know when or how Ladybug and Chat Noir appeared there, she became aware that her akuma was cleansed there in the darkness of the night somewhere between the rocks and the grass. She remembered Hawk Moth akumatized her. She had obviously failed.

They descended the cliff slowly until they found the steps, from there they ran to their lair in the container camp. Hawk Moth contained his anger he was about to unleash it on the two superheroes. Mayura was hiding her frustration well, she was not the one who would show that, she was good at hiding and suppressing her emotions, it was a quality that earned her the job with Gabriel Agreste.

Once in the container, Hawk Moth paced the few steps back and forth, he was furious. Mayura detransformed into Nathalie and he instantly scolded her and made her transform back.

“We are not on a vacation here. We are on a mission.” he warned and Nathalie called her transformation phrase. She composed herself and smiled back as she glowed in her transformation. Hawk Moth even went out of his way and stepped to the side to make room for her tail during her transformation. She flashed her tail and her fan and she knew it amused him, he showed it (not that anyone else would notice) but she knew he appreciated her transformation and flashed it with pride.

“You might use some rest, sir.” Mayura warned struggling to keep herself strictly professional. If only they would take their time and talk a bit more. Perhaps they might get to a different solution. Not that she was against getting into a fight, on the contrary, she enjoyed it. She was tired and she needed some time to think. But she also had a boss. And bosses usually take thinking as their privilege, while she was there not to think but to do the job.

“No.” Hawk Moth cut her off. “We are going with our next attack right away.” he pushed further. “There is not time to lose, we have to go back up there and get the magical stones. We might gain our most precious jewels in the process.” He continued to explain and struggled to keep himself calm.

“But sir ...” Mayura continued bravely. She was not sure why was he so impatient all of a sudden. They had so many attempts with the akuma in Paris. Rushing into things was not working better than careful planning, and she thought they had lost their element of surprise after the first attempt.

“But tell me, what was wrong with your sentimonsters in the temple?” Hawk Moth leaned over her with a curious expression on his face. “Was something bothering you over there?” He leaned into her space and looked at her from above.

“I do not remember sir, I was akumatized.” She replied calmly. She had some strange ideas and thoughts in her head, but it was more as if she was remembering a dream from a few nights ago than actual memories. She was not about to give that any credit, let alone to treat those as facts.

“You had very little control over the sentimonsters.” He sighed. So it was necessary for him to explain everything to her, all the details. He would have enjoyed that in any other circumstance, but he was so angry for loosing the box that was within his grasp. He was annoyed because he missed to catch Ladybug and Chat Noir as civilians. They were so close. He saw them detransform. If only he saw their faces. The shape of their clothing was something nondescript that was probably not defining them in any way. And he did not see much of it from afar.

“I could not control all of them.” Mayura replied calmly as a matter of a fact and waited to receive her punishment for being less than he expected. She expected to be reprimanded and she was even ready to either take it or even reprimand, depending what she got, but there was nothing coming.

“I could see that. That is beyond discussion. But why?” Hawk Moth insisted. “Well, none of these people have ever been akumatized or got in touch with an amok.” He stressed each word and watched her carefully. “And that is what makes it much harder. It is much easier to akumatize someone the second time into the same monster.” He was not about to punish her. He wanted to use her again, to akumatize her while she was transformed and this time he knew how to fix the errors he made the first time. He wanted to act quickly while the heroes are away or recovering or whatever.

Mayura nodded calmly. She hid her sigh of relief. She hid how she felt about being punished. All that remained was a remnant of the frustration for the missed opportunity.

“That could explain a few things.” Hawk Moth looked at the empty space above her head. “We had a sentimonster that could send us to another time. That was a very useful tool to use.” He grinned again. He held his stick in front of him with both his hands. He was thinking on how to create even better and more powerful monsters. Could he use sniffling dogs to search for the miraculous jewels? Maybe, but his idea was still better.

“We went back to time when the miracle box was in the temple to fetch it, and we almost did, if it was not for Ladybug and Chat Noir.” he explained quietly until he reached the names of the superheroes and he spat them out. Then he became quiet as he contemplated how the superheroes got to their time? They were in the same time, the past time, the time when they were chasing a boy from the burned remains of the temple. Well, Ladybug had a box full of miraculous and she even merged the powers from two miraculous. That was an option how they teleported too. His thoughts have spiralled into unknown depths and really crazy ideas, but he was actually relieved when his train(wreck) of thought was stopped.

“Anything else?” she asked quietly but there was some tension in her voice, she knew there had to be more. She could see daylight breaking out through the window. They were in action for most of the night.

“The fears that materialized are possibly not the scariest they had. You had no control over them working with so many people simultaneously.” Hawk Moth continued.

“Yes, I believe that is true.”she gave one more firm nod. She was not scolded. That was a relief. Actually, he was even gentle to her. He was explaining her what happened. Perhaps he would even explain her the details, she was not sure if she wanted to know them.

“May I continue?” he motioned with his hand to stress the last word. “Those sentimonsters were not the most efficient way to look for the miraculous jewels.” He had ideas on how to proceed. There was not question about that. He had many ideas. And this idea was the best.

Mayura nodded again. She was not aware what she was doing. He knew that and he did not blame her. That was good.

“Exactly, and why are we here?” Hawk Moth suppressed his as much as he could but he still snapped at Mayura. “We have to think of something more efficient.” He turned towards the small container where they kept the butterflies and caught one.

“What do you suggest sir?” she asked puzzled about what was going on.

“We will do it differently this time. Because, this time, I will control what is going to be created. And, trust me, those are going to be my best creations ever.” Hawk Moth grinned his wicked grin. He turned the butterfly into the dark violet and let it flutter. “Now you are going to take it in your miraculous and only after that, I am going to explain my plan to you.”

Mayura stiffened. That meant she was not supposed to know, she was supposed to forget anything about his plan.

“Wouldn’t you rather we discuss it now sir?” she insisted. She wanted to know, she wanted to discuss his plan with him, that was how they did it before. Why was he excluding her from the planning this time.

“We should continue with our attack as soon as possible.” Hawk Moth practically glowed with how malicious he was.

The butterfly kept fluttering between them. Hawk Moth was angry and Mayura was not much better in the feelings department.

“Fine, but only the brief version of the plan.” Hawk Moth agreed and briefly described his plan. He considered it ingeniousness was in its simplicity. Nobody could disprove that. He was certain they were about to succeed this time.

“I have an idea how we could further improve your plan sir.” Mayura smiled as she took her tablet and offered it to him. “Why don’t we share this little creature over here?” she asked with a sly smile.

Hawk Moth looked at her and the icy cold stare in his eyes suddenly glowed even stronger while his wicked smile became even wider.

“I consider your idea an improvement, indeed.” Hawk Moth held the other end of the tablet and waited for the butterfly to land on it.

A Violet mask appeared on her face. And on his.

“Scarlet Peacock, my name is Hawk Moth, I give you power to create as many sentimonsters as needed, but you will use it carefully and when needed.” Hawk Moth purred gently to her. He was about to unleash the most wicked plan he ever conjured.

“As for me, I will remain Hawk Moth, but I will have the power of controlling the sentimonsters you create.” He contemplated giving himself more powers, like blowing things up or becoming a mind control akuma, but he considered he had learned his lesson.

The break of dawn had passed long time ago, the sun was up.

It was pure daylight outside when they stepped out from the container. No hiding this time and no darkness of the night for their enemies to hide in.