Ladybug woke up to find herself sprawled on a cold, hard floor, clutching something warm with all her might. To her relief, he seemed to be clutching her back. She wrapped herself around him tighter, sighing in bliss when he tangled his hand in her hair.
Wait, HE??? His WHAT??
She pulled away and opened her eyes—sure enough, Adrien’s slowly-waking face greeted hers as he blinked at her. She squeaked, completely mortified to be waking up in this position. Next to Adrien. Holding Adrien! And he was—well, he had been—holding her back! Now, he was just giving her those slow, lazy blinks that some people called kitten kisses…. OMG, he was so cute! And his gorgeous eyes were just so—
“Green!” she cried joyfully, diving forward to tackle him and hug him tightly.
“Oof!” Adrien gasped out. “Ladybug, kitty can’t breathe!” She giggled before releasing her grip (a bit).
“Sorry,” she said.
“It’s okay,” he said, as he quickly hugged her back. “I like hugs. But why…?”
“Your eyes are green again,” she said grinning.
“Ahh,” he said, with a soft chuckle. “You saved me again, My Lady Prince.”
“We saved each other, Damsel Kitty,” she corrected, finally letting him go before sitting up and looking around the room. Had they been akumatized? Had they already been defeated by some other hero? How long had they been out??
The room seemed lighter somehow, even if it was still dark outside.
Warmer, even if the floor was still cold.
Better yet, there were no akumas (white or black) around that she could see. But there were also no other heroes that could’ve defeated them, if they’d been turned into villains… and the body of Gabriel Agreste lay just a few feet away. She turned away quickly. They must not have been unconscious long at all. Beside her, Adrien sat up as well, rubbing his head and yawning.
“What happened?” he asked. He started to look around, but she grabbed his shoulders and turned him so he couldn’t see.
“We should go,” she said quietly, pulling him to his feet. Unfortunately, she was dealing with the person who knew her best. Comprehension dawned in his eyes as he recalled what had just happened. And what she was trying to lead him away from. He took a deep breath and gently drew away from her.
“I need to see him,” Adrien said. Ladybug winced as he turned towards his father, but she let him go. This was his decision. She couldn’t make it for him. She wouldn’t be like the man on the ground, making him live his life in cage. But living meant accepting the good and the bad. All she could do was be there for him afterwards.
“Father?” Adrien called softly.
“We already talked about this, kid,” drawled a familiar voice. Adrien raised an eyebrow and hurried over to the body to see his kwami struggling to push the Moth Brooch back together and take it off Hawkmoth’s collar at the same time. The tiny black cat still looked totally exhausted from everything else that had happened.
“You don’t really ‘respond’ after being hit by a Cataclysm,” Plagg said dryly.
“What are you doing?” Adrien asked, pointedly not looking at his father’s face.
“Repaying a debt,” Plagg said, finally succeeding in pushing the two pieces of the brooch together. There was a purple flash, and suddenly, another kwami (this one light purple) was lying unconscious on the ground beside them. “Ah, there you are!” Plagg said with satisfaction. “I knew you were tougher than you looked, you little fairy!”
“Nooroo!” Adrien exclaimed, kneeling and taking off his jacket to wrap the two kwamis in. Ladybug gave a surprised cry as well, and she hurried over to join them as Plagg shot his wielder a grateful look and burrowed into the fabric, making a little nest for the other kwami. Then the tiny black cat curled up beside his friend.
“Is he all right?” Ladybug asked nervously, her hands hovering above Nooroo but unwilling to disturb him. Plagg gave her a wry grin.
“He will be, thanks to you,” he snickered.
“Me?” she repeated, confused. “What’d I do?”
Plagg rolled his eyes. “You humans and your emotions,” he said with disgust. “It’s enough to make me sick sometimes.”
“Plagg…,” Adrien warned.
“But I can’t deny, it gets the job done,” the black kwami quickly added. He snickered again. “True love’s kiss. The Cosmic-Reset Button. Yay. Congratulations, girlie. You just harnessed the power of creation.”
“I, what?” Ladybug yelped.
“You brought Nooroo back to life,” Plagg said, contentedly snuggling in his master’s jacket and using his tail to point at the purple kwami beside him, “healed us all, saved us all from possession, and managed to power-blast a hundred-odd akumas at the same time. All without even knowing what you were doing,” he chuckled, opening an eye to smirk at her. “It’s some party trick, but I’m not gonna envy you the headache you’ll have tomorrow. So, let’s do this now.”
He took a deep breath and yawned. “You wanna save Adrien’s dad? You can. Maybe.”
“What??” Adrien yelped.
“I can?” Ladybug’s eyes widened.
“Maybe,” Plagg emphasized. “If you can focus that power of yours enough. But it’s gonna be tricky, especially if you don’t want Hawkmoth suddenly back in the room at full power.” Adrien cringed at the thought and Ladybug shuddered. Nope. No, definitely not. One epic battle with that man had been enough, thank you very much.
“So, you’re gonna have to concentrate,” Plagg said. He glanced at Adrien. “You, kid, were focused on defeating the man who called himself Hawkmoth when you used that Cataclysm. So, she’s gonna have to focus on saving the man who calls himself Gabriel Agreste. Not Hawkmoth. Get it?”
“No,” Adrien said. “They’re the same person, aren’t they?”
Plagg sighed. “Only kinda. It’s—”
“You mean, like a persona?” Ladybug asked quietly. Plagg’s eyes lit up.
“Exactly!” he grinned at Adrien. “Keep this one around, slow poke. You’re gonna need her.” Adrien rolled his eyes at his kwami, but he couldn’t help smiling. He intended to.
“So,” Plagg continued, turning back to Ladybug. “You need to focus on saving the part of Gabriel Agreste that is Adrien’s father. Then call on the Lucky Charm while you’re focused. It should help you get him, and just him and not Hawkmoth, back to life.”
Ladybug took a moment to process that information and nodded, taking a deep breath. She looked at her yo-yo uncertainly. “It’s really that simple?” she asked.
“It’s a miracle, girlie,” Plagg grinned at her cheekily. “They usually work best when they’re small and simple.” He used his tail to point at himself. “And it helps if they’re super cute, too.”
Ladybug let out a laugh, but Adrien raised an eyebrow at his kwami. “Are you flirting with my girlfriend, Plagg?” he asked with a smirk. Ladybug sputtered and turned bright red, but neither of them acknowledged her as they stared each other down.
“Someone has to give her some other options besides your pale butt,” Plagg said cheekily.
“Oh my God, enough, you two! I need to concentrate!” Ladybug cried. “And I can’t do that while thinking about Adrien’s butt!! —Shut up and stop grinning, you!” She growled at Adrien, who was trying, and failing, to stop. “And you!” she said, glaring at Plagg. “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?!”
“Yup,” he said, unrepentant. “Trying to break the tension. Of course, I can also increase it. Maybe I should remind you what might happen if you fail?” That wiped the smiles off both their faces. He looked at Adrien archly. “Or maybe I could ask you if you even want her to try?”
“Plagg!” Adrien said, scandalized.
“What? He was a jerk.”
“Plagg,” Adrien growled. “That’s rude.”
“It’s rude to speak ill of the dead,” Plagg agreed. “But if you wanna remember him fondly, you’d better just leave him there. Cause if he comes back to life, you’re gonna have to deal with him again. Just fair warning. He’s not getting Nooroo back, but he’s still gonna want the ring.”
Ladybug put her hand on Adrien’s shoulder as he hung his head. “We can deal with that if the time comes,” she said firmly. “Your father wasn’t the first person to want a Miraculous, and he won’t be the last. Don’t let it influence you. But if you really don’t want me to do this….”
“That’s just it. I do,” Adrien admitted, taking a deep breath and looking at the man on the floor. “Even after all of this, he was still my father. Even if… what I had… was just the thought of what a father should be. I don’t want to give up on the chance that he could be that, someday.”
Ladybug nodded. “Well, then, let’s give you… hope!” she threw her yo-yo into the air, focusing her thoughts on the father that Adrien loved. The man that had to be in there somewhere, to love his family so much he wanted to keep them safe from everything….
She blinked at the object that fell heavily into her hands. “Huh. Well, that’s straightforward for once,” she said. She knelt beside Hawkmoth’s fallen form and opened the red-with-black-spots defibrillator.
“Do you know how to use one of those?” Adrien asked.
“Sorta?” Ladybug said, rolling Hawkmoth over to lay flat on his back. “I took a first-aid class last year, and the teacher gave us a demonstration. Guess we’ll see how much I remember.”
“Can I help?” Adrien asked.
“I need his chest bare,” she said absently, lifting up a part of his now-grey outfit. To her surprise, it crumbled to dust in her hands. Adrien cringed, looking away. “It’s okay, it’s okay,” she assured him quickly. “It’s just the shirt. Look, see, he’s solid underneath.” She patted Hawkmoth’s chest and tried not to grimace at the unnaturally-greyish tones his skin still had underneath his decaying clothes.
“Adrien, why don’t you move the kwamis away a bit? I don’t want them to be in the way,” she said, hoping to distract him. Adrien hurried to do that as she finished setting up the machine and attaching all the necessary parts to the still-unresponsive man. She looked up at him when he returned. “Do you know CPR?” she asked. He shook his head.
“Shock recommended. Stand clear,” the defibrillator’s machine voice said.
“Ok, then, stand back. Here we go.” She took a deep breath. “Clear,” and pushed the button. They waited for a moment, barely hearing the faint buzzing.
“Begin compressions,” the defibrillator’s computer voice said. Ladybug set her mouth in determination and began.
“You know… I really… wish… the rest of… my lucky… charms… could be… this… upfront,” she said though the compressions. “I mean… seriously… with Copycat… a spoon…? I was… totally lost…. Kept thinking… about the… nursery… rhyme… and looking… for a… dish!” Beside her, Adrien laughed softly.
The machine analyzed their patient again and administered another shock.
“Adrien, try to talk to him,” Ladybug said, beginning compressions again. “Maybe you can… get through to him. I have a feeling… this is going to be… more magic… than science.”
Adrien licked his lips nervously. “Hey, father,” he called softly, “I don’t know if you can hear me, or if you even care, but… I really would like for us to be a family again. I know,” he ducked his head, avoiding looking at Ladybug, as she avoided looking at him too, “I know after Mom disappeared, things got a little tense between us. But I want us to try to work it out.
“I don’t… I don’t blame you for what you did,” he continued, shifting uneasily and unable to look at Ladybug. “I tried to lose myself in the magic too, thinking it would make everything better. And it did, I guess. It helped to know I was making a difference. That I was doing something, you know? But I… I think we lost sight of each other, somewhere in there. Heh, Mom would probably have both our heads if she—”
Gabriel Agreste gave a sudden gasp and started coughing. Ladybug quickly stopped her CPR and moved him into the recovery position.
“Father?” Adrien said hopefully.
“Adrien,” his father wheezed, and then fell silent and limp again. Ladybug checked his pulse.
“Shock not recommended,” the defibrillator’s voice said helpfully.
“Well, he’s breathing,” Ladybug said. “We should probably call the police for an ambulance, unless…?” She held up the defibrillator.
Adrien shrugged. “Worth a shot, right?” Ladybug shrugged too. She had no idea what was going to happen anymore.
Please don’t bring back Hawkmoth. Please don’t bring back Hawkmoth. Just let Adrien’s father be normal again, she prayed as she gathered the equipment together and threw it high.
“Miraculous Ladybug!” she cried.
To her surprise, the ladybug swarm only lingered over Gabriel Agreste’s form long enough to change his clothes back to his regular wear before swarming out the window to disperse all over Paris. Ladybug looked down at her former foe and grimaced. Ok, so maybe she should’ve asked it to actually bring him back all the way….
“The Moth Brooch is gone!” Adrien yelped, looking all over the ground for the Miraculous. “Plagg, is Nooroo…?”
“We’re okay,” the kwami confirmed. “Don’t worry about the Brooch. Nooroo hasn’t disappeared, and he’s breathing easier. But most of the damage done is gonna take time. And sleep. And lots and lots of camembert.”
Adrien laughed in delight. “Father?” he called hopefully.
Gabriel Agreste remained motionless. Ladybug checked his pulse again, just to be sure. “Still breathing,” she confirmed. Adrien frowned.
“I just told you, kid: time,” Plagg grumbled. “He’s probably exhausted. Like I said before, you don’t usually come back after a direct hit from a Cataclysm. You’ll be lucky if he’s just in a coma for a while. It depends on how hard he wants to cling to the part of him that was ‘Hawkmoth.’” Adrien slumped down in disappointment.
“Hey, at least he has a chance now,” Ladybug said, putting her hand on his shoulder. “But we should probably call the police. What do you want to tell them?”
“I don’t know,” Adrien muttered as tears of frustration began to well up in his eyes. They couldn’t tell everyone Gabriel Agreste was Hawkmoth. That was basically asking for an “accident” to happen in the hospital. The Miraculous Cure set things right, but it didn’t destroy all the memories. Plenty of people had a bone to pick with the ex-villain. He looked at Ladybug as weariness started to settle in. “You should probably be de-transformed when they get here, though. Technically, Marinette’s been kidnapped all day long.”
Ladybug bit her lip and nodded, pretending not to see him wipe away his tears. This had been an epically long day.
Finally, they decided on a story and called. When the police got there, they found two bedraggled, exhausted teenagers (no kwamis in sight!), huddled around an unconscious man, whom the police immediately called med-evac for. The teenagers told them about how the girl had been seen in the company of Cat Noir, which had caught the attention of Hawkmoth. The villain had then akumatized Gabriel Agreste, promising to bring back his lost wife if he brought the girl to him. So, the girl had been kidnapped. The boy, apparently the man’s son, had been so worried about his friend that he had gone to his father to ask for his help in looking for her, only to be caught up in the akuma’s scheming as well, and they’d all been taken to Hawkmoth. (No, the poor teenagers couldn’t identify Hawkmoth. He had a magical mask, like Ladybug and Cat Noir.)
Ladybug and Cat Noir had shown up to save the day, of course, but by then, Gabriel Agreste’s akuma had already realized it was being double-crossed, he would never see his wife again, and that he was putting his son in danger. Gabriel had switched sides to help the heroes, and Hawkmoth had done something to the man before fleeing into the night with Ladybug and Cat Noir hot on his heels. The teens didn’t know what had happened to Hawkmoth or Paris’s heroes after that, but they were worried about the boy’s father, since Ladybug’s Miraculous Cure had apparently not completely worked on whatever Hawkmoth had done to him.
It was an easy story to concoct, half-true anyway, and the police bought it completely. In their defense, there had been stranger things going on tonight. Apparently, monsters and little black butterflies had been seen all over Paris, only to disappear in a blinding flash of pink light. No one could explain it. And right now, both Ladybug and Cat Noir were too exhausted to even think about trying to disappear long enough to make sense of it all. (Not that they could tell anybody that.)
Marinette and Adrien were both sent to the hospital with Mr. Agreste, where they were able to call their families. Natalie was soon on her way and Marinette’s parents sobbed with relief when they heard her voice on the phone (though thankfully they didn’t say anything about what had happened). Marinette was relieved too. If they were able to talk to her normally, that meant Hawkmoth hadn’t managed to akumatize them in the madness of that last battle.
It was finally a bit easier to breathe.
“I suddenly feel helpless,” Adrien said, as they finally sat side-by-side in the lobby of the hospital. “Like, I’ve been doing hero work all day; running around and fighting bad guys, and now, I’m just a kid waiting for a ride home.”
“Mm hmm, it’s strange,” Marinette agreed, resting her head on his shoulder. She was pretty sure they were just talking to keep themselves awake after everything they’d been through.
Adrien sighed. “You’ll take care of him?” he asked, indicating the slightly-larger-than-normal bulge under her shirt where two kwamis instead of one were hiding. “It won’t be too much trouble?” He didn’t want to take Nooroo home with him, just in case the kwami had some really bad memories of the place.
“He’ll be fine, Adrien,” Marinette said, taking his hand and giving it a squeeze. “They’ll all be fine. We’ll be fine.” Adrien hummed in worry, but finally allowed himself a deep breath as he relaxed against her.
When Natalie showed up a few minutes later, she found them both asleep, leaning against each other with their fingers entwined. She directed the Gorilla to stand guard, but not to wake them as she went to confirm her boss’s medical status and assume legal guardianship of his son. By the time she got back, Marinette’s parents had arrived and were quietly cooing at the sleeping couple, and taking a couple discreet photos. Natalie shot the Gorilla a look, but allowed it. No doubt, if her boss ever woke up from that coma, he’d want some copies. He’d seemed interested in Miss Dupain-Cheng, after all.
Then came the hard part, actually waking and separating the two. Natalie tried calling Adrien’s name, but he just pressed closer to the girl (whose parents were no help; they were just standing there with the biggest smiles on their faces). The Gorilla gave him a little shake, one that had never failed to get his attention when he was dozing off during a photoshoot, but Adrien actually let out a growl and swiped at him, the boy’s own movement causing his head to fall into the girl’s lap. But even that didn’t wake him, he just snuggled closer, wrapping his arms around her. Natalie nearly choked at their new position, and Marinette’s parents burst out laughing.
“Please, no photos of that posi—” Natalie started, but was cut off when a light from the ceiling suddenly fell down, right on the Gorilla’s head. She gaped as he was instantly swarmed by medical personnel (thank God, they were in a hospital).
Where had that even come from?? She stared at the light fixture. It seemed perfectly fine and stable. No reason for it to fall… Was it really just bad luck?
“Miss Natalie,” Marinette’s mother said softly, looking at the two teenagers worriedly. “If that gentleman is okay, you might want to get Adrien home as soon as possible. I’ll call tomorrow morning. They’ll want to see each other again first thing, and I know someone whom Adrien might want to meet.”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Cheng, but I can’t allow any outside influences on Mr. Agreste’s son. Rest assured, he will get the licensed help he needs—”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Mrs. Cheng said quickly. “Just a family friend. Adrien expressed an interest in his… line of work earlier.”
Natalie raised an eyebrow. The woman was sweet, but she was a terrible liar. And Mr. Agreste would kill her if Adrien went to some sort of psychologist without his express permission. No, she couldn’t allow any of this. She probably couldn’t even allow Adrien to see the girl again until his father woke up.
“We’ll discuss it later,” she said sharply, seeing the Gorilla come back with a bandage on his head. “Are you able to drive?” she asked him. He shook his head. She sighed. More and more work.
“Adrien!” she called loudly. He jerked awake with a groan. Marinette also woke up, looking just as sleepy.
“Just five more minutes,” Adrien mumbled.
“It’s time to go now,” Natalie told him, using her no-nonsense voice. He groaned, slowing getting off his friend. They both jumped apart and blushed deeply when they realized just what kind of position they’d been caught in.
“I-uh, I’ll see you later,” he said shyly. Marinette nodded and waved. Natalie didn’t have the heart to tell them otherwise. She’d still allow Adrien to call the girl on the phone, of course, but other than that, their contact was going to have to be limited for now. Adrien meekly followed his father’s assistant out the door, doing a double-take when he saw the Gorilla waiting by the car with bandages around his head.
“What happened?” he asked, startled. “Didn’t Ladybug’s Cure—”
“Freak accident just before you woke up,” Natalie explained as they got in the car. Adrien’s eyes widened, and for some reason, he fiddled with his ring. “No need to worry. Ladybug’s Miraculous Cure did indeed fix all the damage done to your room, though the two perpetrators have not yet been caught. We’ll be upping security tonight, so no sleeping with your window open.”
Adrien snorted. “Like that’s gonna help against magic,” he muttered. Natalie had to give him that.
“Adrien, I realize I’m not your father, but I will do the best I can to keep you safe,” she promised. His smile softened.
“I know, Natalie,” he said. Then he bit his lip. “Any word on when my father…?”
“Not yet,” she looked at him through the rear-view mirror. “Do you want to talk about what happened?”
Adrien closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Not yet.” Natalie just nodded. He was probably still in shock. They were all quiet as they drove back to the house. Adrien did pause once he got to his room though.
“If I wasn’t so tired, I’d insist on sleeping somewhere else tonight,” he said, eyeing his door distrustfully.
“Try to get some rest,” Natalie advised him. “Tomorrow… will be a big day.”
“First day of the rest of my life,” Adrien snorted, his hand already on the doorknob. Natalie waited until she heard him flop onto his bed before she left.
If only he knew.