Hawk Moth was a supervillain who had been terrorizing Paris for the better part of two years.
But no one could really argue that not all of his ideas have been good. Or well thought out. Or in any way sensible even.
Like the time he akumatized a baby.
Or the time he akumatized a girl to transform people into exact replicas of herself.
Or the fact he keeps akumatizing Mr. Ramier for going on 29 times at this point…
Or the other time he akumatized a baby…
Times that he destroyed Paris. Times that he nearly destroyed the world. Times that he gave people powers that were completely contradictory to the goals of getting the Miraculous he was after by erasing the heroes from existence or transforming them in ways that made the Miraculous inaccessible.
But none of his akumatizations had ever gotten him as much hate, caused as much misery, were were ultimately as pointless as this most recent incident.
It was known the instant she was akumatized. As soon as she was transformed, a wave of power enveloped the city. And within that wave, half of the people of Paris were transformed as well.
…the male half.
Her power was to transform all the men of Paris. She didn’t even have a weapon or attack that did it, it just happened almost instantaneously. All men suddenly found themselves changed.
Or rather, their outfits…
“What the hell—!?”
“I can’t get it off!”
One by one, every male in Paris suddenly found themselves in a much different state of attire. What had just been a normal day full of various styles and appearances had all suddenly become very…frilly.
“WHY AM I A MAID?!”
Much as implied her namesake, the akuma’s power involved transforming whatever any man was wearing into some variation of a maid outfit.
All over Paris.
From Andre Bourgeois, who has refused to leave his office to make an official statement…
“ANDRE!” Audrey shouted, banging on the door. “Get out here this instant!”
“But, honey, I can’t be seen like this!”
To Roger Raincomprix, who has tried to continue his normal duties despite the…change of uniform…
“Stop in the name of the law!” Roger shouted, reaching into his pockets in an automatic reaction to try to get his handcuffs. While the dress he was wearing did still have pockets, the only item they procured was a cleaning rag, which was notably less threatening as the suspect in question stared for a moment before deciding to take off.
And yes, even to…
“I’m a Macrophage!” Adrien gushed happily as he lifted his lengthy skirt to give a twirl.
…even to Adrien Agreste, who was apparently the only one to find anything pleasant about the current crisis.
“I’ve always wanted to cosplay!”
Nino, having been long-since exposed to his friend’s deep love for anime in its many forms, at least knew what a Macrophage was. But even so, he couldn’t help but feel there was something odd about the way Adrien took to the long pale dress and cap.
Kim rested a hand on Nino’s shoulder. “Just let the guy enjoy this.”
“At least somebody is.” Nathaniel muttered bitterly as he tried to hide as behind his sketchbook. It was a futile attempt, of course, as he at most only covered his face, leaving the red dress, white apron with pockets, and knee-high boots on full display.
“I don’t understand how he can.” Max complained. He tugged at his own skirt in vain, looking at Adrien’s ankle-length ensemble enviously. The skirt was much shorter than he would have liked—reaching a couple inches above his thigh and almost seemed to be defying gravity to stay that way despite his attempts to get it to either flatten or otherwise lower. “I question the design choices.”
“But you look just like Misaki from Maid Sama! And Nathaniel looks like Lizbeth!” Adrien insisted. “It’s totally a cosplay!”
Max just stared incredulously. He was wearing a black dress with puffy sleeves that tapered off just shy of his elbow, white apron, a cap, and thigh-high black stockings and knee-high boots, it seemed Adrien did have a point.
Max, in all fairness, didn’t particularly care in favor of the problems that came with suddenly finding himself in a short dress, heels, and a corset.
“I just can’t peg where Kim or Nino’s outfits are from.” He continued, studying the outfits in question contemplatively. “But give me a little time! It’ll come to me!”
The boys had been having an afternoon hangout session in the park. No girls. No teachers. No Gabriel Agreste or bodyguards to whisk certain teen models away. It was supposed to be a normal non-drama-filled day.
…which was naturally when it became something less than normal and certainly more than drama-filled.
“I think I get why girls complain about this sort of thing now.” Kim said, looking at his shoes. “These heels are kind of uncomfortable…”
“Are you sure it’s the heels and not the flippers?” Nino asked, annoyed.
Sure enough, Kim was wearing flipper-heels. They were black and also had black ankle straps with a little bow on each. This strange footwear did seem to go with Kim’s talent in swimming, which was also emphasized by the ruffle maid swimsuit they matched with.
“Nah, it’s definitely the heels.” Kim insisted.
So this was what their all-boys’ afternoon had come to.
Kim was wobbling on unsteady heels.
Nathaniel groaned and kept his ever reddening face covered.
Max was questioning where they could procure jackets. Long jackets.
Adrien was giggling to himself and asking if they could do a full Cells at Work group cosplay.
And Nino paled, suddenly realizing something.
“Guys. Guys, we have to hide!”
“Why?” Kim asked. “It’s annoying, but this akuma doesn’t seem really dangerous.”
“No, you don’t get it!” Nino hissed. “If Alya catches us, we will NEVER live this down!”
Nathaniel looked over the edge of his sketchbook. “Alya wouldn’t actually post pictures of us to the Ladyblog, would she?”
A long pause followed.
The boys paled.
Except for Adrien, who turned to them with a gasp of excitement. “Do you think she would? We could do a group picture!”
All the other boys paled even more, looking downright ill.
And immediately took off running.
Or at least as well as they could with heels. None of them made it very far without tripping, stumbling, or simply struggling to stay upright as they still tried to move away from the area as quickly as the heels would allow.
“But what’s wrong with—?”
“JUST RUN, ADRIEN!”
“Who thought maid outfits with high heels was a good idea?! How can anyone be expected to clean in these things?”
“I will never draw high heels on a super heroine again!”
“I can’t breathe! Who created corsets?! What objective does this achieve besides crushing one’s lungs?”
Nino groaned, still running. “I hope Hawk Moth is suffering as much as we are!”
If Nino Lahiffe had the ability to break the fourth wall and peer into the events happening outside of his immediate vicinity, he would be happy to find this was actually the case.
And he would laugh.
Oh, how he would laugh.
“Don’t.” Came the dark growl from a very unhappy supervillain. “Don’t say anything, Nathalie…“
This was an akuma that impacted every male in Paris. Every male.
…even to Hawk Moth, himself.
“Why did this happen?”
It would appear that even Hawk Moth was not immune to Aku-Maid’s power as he had been similarly transformed. And unfortunately, due to the change, he could no longer access his Miraculous. The Butterfly broach had disappeared, having been transformed along with his outfit.
And his outfit had…actually left much to be desired.
Which was truthfully just a nice way of saying it was ugly.
Really, really ugly.
Normally the picture of stoicism, Nathalie had to pretend to cough to avoid reacting.
“Can’t you order the akuma to undo it?” She eventually was able to ask.
He lowered his head and closed his eyes in concentration. “No. It’s no good. I’ve lost the link!”
His eyes widened and he clutched his chest in a panic.
“Where is the Miraculous?!” Hawk Moth demanded, trying—and failing to pull at the tasteless dress. But as others across the city had already discovered, the clothes were magic and would not be removed or displaced. Not even the frock or the cap he now wore.
“Sir, you were transformed when you changed. It looks like the Butterfly Miraculous was transformed along with you.”
He froze, eyes widening in horror. “But that’s—”
He grasped at the empty place on his chest. Where once had been his lapel and pin now only had ruffles and a leathery texture. His mask remained in place, though it was now fully black except for the openings around his eyes and mouth, which were bordered with a lighter grey color. The material and outfit overall had a shine to it that could be found on any wetsuit.
To put it nicely: he looked atrocious.
To put it bluntly: he looked like some sort of BDSM role-player with a maid kink.
So it was fortunate, perhaps, that no one else in Paris would have to be subject to the sight.
Except Nathalie. Who was probably going to have nightmares.
Or a coronary from the laughter she was trying to hold back.
It was admittedly a bit hard to tell.
But it seemed she was handling the situation a bit better than Hawk Moth, despite the fact that the man was currently unable to see himself or the full extent of the monstrosity he now wore.
…this was probably for the best. Given the man’s fashion sense, there was really no telling whether he would be horrified or inspired, and nobody would want to find out.
“I can’t contact the akuma! And I can’t call it back!”
He moaned, covering his…already covered face with his hands. “I’ll never be taken seriously again!”
Nathalie resolutely held back from pointing out he was barely being taken seriously now.
“It’s…not that bad?” She tried. Not very well, but she tried.
Hawk Moth clutched his head in horror. “Unless Ladybug and Chat Noir can stop this akuma, we’re doomed!”
“Sir, it’s just an akuma that puts men in maid outfits. It’s really not the end of the world.”
The akuma, for her part, was unaware of her benefactor’s misery, too busy enjoying the abject misery of everyone else around her.
Nobody knew just what had set the girl off to get her akumatized in the first place. Her comments about men being “the eye-candy now” suggested an argument. The maid outfits involved suggested what the topic of the argument had been regarding.
To be honest, nobody had actually realized she was the akuma responsible. She did appear fairly normal by akuma terms, dressed in a seemingly authentic Victorian era dress more befitting as an authentic Lady’s Maid compared the frillier, lacier varieties that the men around her had suddenly found themselves in. What would normally have gotten her a few odds looks was mostly ignored in the face of the sudden change. Few even took notice of her dark purple skin or black hair. Or the fan in her hand.
“THAT’S RIGHT! SEE HOW YOU LIKE BEING OBJECTIFIED!”
The yelling…was a bit harder to miss.
It was the first thing that drew the attention of the three girls settled at the cafe.
The second thing was the various cries of horror as several of the men around them suddenly discovered their state of dress transformed into…well…dresses. Of a variety that made the little cafe appear more like a maid cafe than anything.
The third thing was the appearance of a familiar face running down the road, holding up his long white dress to make running easier as he looked for a place to hide.
Adrien Agreste was running around in a long white and pale cream Victorian-era dress and cap, looking like Cinderella running from the ball. Except a maid.
A quick glance to her companions showed that both Alya and Kagami were similarly staring in befuddlement, so this was neither her imagination or a fever dream.
“Adrien? What’s going on?” Alya asked for everyone.
“It’s an akuma!” He replied, quickly. “She’s putting everybody into cosplay!”
He paused, glancing around. “Well…all the guys, I think?”
“…Just that?” Alya asked, thankfully taking over while Marinette’s brain started to become aware that this WAS Adrien she was talking to. “She’s not doing anything else besides putting guys into…‘cosplays’?”
He blinked in confusion. “I…think so?”
“She isn’t…I don’t know…commanding you or anything?”
“Well, she hasn’t yet. Which, really, isn’t so bad for an akuma if you think about it.” He said with a frown before he noticed the strange look on Kagami’s face. “Kagami, are you okay?”
Kagami made a strangled sound.
Marinette pretended to choke on a drink from an empty glass to avoid speaking.
“Can I add to your order?” The waiter came by, seeming unconcerned by the ruckus or the act that he was now wearing a rather cutesy maid outfit the likes of which would be seen in a maid cafe in Japan.
“You don’t seem put off by this.” Alya pointed out, noting his relatively unfazed attitude compared to the panicking of the other men around them…or the gushing from Adrien.
The waiter took it in stride.
“It’s okay.” He replied blankly. “I’m already dead inside.”
He turned to Kagami. “Do you need anything else, Miss?”
Kagami was still staring at Adrien, blushing furiously.
“I think I have a problem.”
“You mean a kink?”
“A. Problem.” She spoke through gritted teeth.
“Story of my life.” The waiter replied as he refilled her glass of water, either unaware or uncaring of the specific nature of her trouble.
Alya gasped in sudden realization. “Wait! If this is happening here then…” She turned to Adrien. “Where were Nino and the boys?”
He blinked, curious. “Oh, they decided to head home. Why?”
An almost sinister smirk formed on Alya’s face. One that would have anyone it was directed at cowering in fear. And strong enough to be felt from several blocks away.
Unbeknownst to them, Nino felt that smirk like a trail of cold fingers down his back, and promptly threw himself into his room and slammed the door shut behind him.
As if she sensed this, Alya slammed several bills on the table and dashed out the door.
Realizing an akuma was about, Marinette was right on her heels. She found a nearby alleyway and immediately prepared to transform and face this latest threat.
“Oh my god. OH MY GOD.” She broke down, letting out the laughter she’d been trying so hard to hold in. “He’s a dork! The boy I’m crushing on is a complete DORK who is in to cosplaying! He thinks maid outfits are COSPLAY!”
…or she would be.
“And here I’ve been driving myself nuts with anxiety over just asking him out and he doesn’t even—”
Any minute now…
“Marinette!” Tikki hissed. “You need to stop the akuma!”
“Can’t I just take a picture first?”
Luka didn’t realize anything had happened. He felt a bit off balanced for a moment, and a bit colder, but attributed that to being on the Liberty. So he simply shifted his stance to be a bit more steady and continued playing. It wasn’t until the drum stopped that he realized something was actually wrong.
The look of shock from Mylene and the following shriek from Ivan cemented it.
He spun around, not sure what could have elicited such a cry from his fellow bandmate. And at first, he couldn’t really tell what had happened. Ivan was crouched behind the drum set, covering his face with his hands and trembling in what appeared to be mortification.
Then he noticed the mobcap on Ivan’s head, which he was pretty sure hadn’t been there before. And Ivan’s shirt seemed distinctly…fluffier and frillier than he remembered seeing a few minutes ago. He tried to move closer to offer help, only for his own balance to be off. And when he looked down…
The dress was new.
As were the stockings.
And the notably thinner and sleeker heels on his boots.
He hummed to himself, considering the change.
“Akuma?” Juleka asked him.
“Most likely.” He replied.
Mylene had rushed up to their practice stage and to Ivan’s side, even as he moaned for her to not look at him. The poor guy was completely red in embarrassment. Seeing how upset he was, the other three had backed away, leaving Mylene to try to help her boyfriend.
“Luka, are you okay?” Rose asked worriedly, trying to respect Ivan’s need for space while also checking in on their other effected bandmate.
“I’m fine. It was just a surprise at first.” He replied.
It wasn’t every day that you suddenly found yourself in a maid outfit, after all. It was a simple outfit. White off the shoulder puffy sleeves with black frills. A black tube skirt. White apron. And…he reached to his neck where a weight was, feeling a choker.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
Honestly, he could be in worse.
Rose seemed surprised at that. “Really? Even with those shoes?”
He looked down at the shoes in question. The boots were his style—surprisingly, given it was an akuma. The higher heels were definitely different from his norm, and clearly what Rose was referring to. In any other circumstances, she would be right.
Luka smiled, shifting his stance and resting a hand on his hip. “Well, someone had to teach Jules to walk in heels. And I couldn’t show her if I didn’t know how myself.
Juleka huffed. “Don’t say that like you didn’t enjoy playing dress up.”
Luka merely curtsied, not only showing off more of his slightly ripped and punk-looking fishnet stockings, but almost proudly displaying his ability to move fluently in heels.
Rose appropriately “oo-ed” and “aah-ed” at his display. Juleka merely shook her head and smiled. Ivan was still recovering from his panic attack and had resolutely refused to come out from behind the drums, despite Mylene’s reassurances.
“So it has to be an akuma, right?” Rose asked.
“If it is, I want a picture or two, at least.” Juleka muttered as she admired Luka’s outfit, mumbling about commissioning Marinette to recreate it in her size. She hadn’t known maids could come in this style.
Mylene nodded from her place at Ivan’s side. “Though it seems rather fortunate if this is all the akuma is doing.”
“We don’t know if that is it, though.” Luka warned. “For all we know, there could be some other ability she has if she catches us. It would probably be safer if we hid out inside until this is over.”
The others agreed. And Anarka, bless her soul, actually came up with a large blanket for Ivan to wrap himself in to preserve his dignity. Then she and Mylene helped the taller teen to safely relocate to inside. Much like Luka, Ivan’s shoes had changed, but he was substantially less able to maneuver in them. And no amount of effort or force on his part could seem to separate the heels from his feet.
Once he and the others were inside, Luka moved to follow. He hesitated, however, at the sound of something landing behind him.
“Viperion? We’ll need your help.”
He turned to see Ladybug standing tall. And was that perhaps a hint of blush on her face?
It looked like Juleka wouldn’t be getting her pictures, after all…
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
He shuddered, backing away from the door as far as possible.
It was a fight for survival.
“C’mon, Nino. Just open the door.”
The survival of his dignity, but still!
He’d lost track of the others and immediately rushed home and to the safety of his room. His room, which he could lock and hide away in until this all blew over.
“I have a key!” Came Chris’s voice. “Somewhere…”
“Give it and I won’t take any pictures of you.”
His room, which his traitorous little brother was willing to allow the enemy entry into.
Under any normal circumstances, he wouldn’t be this desperate. But if Alya caught him like this…
Black dress. Puffy at the shoulder, sleeves that extended to his wrists and were bound by white cuffs. A white smock tied back with a white ribbon. White bow at the neck and white frills along the bottom of the dress?
Oh yeah…Alya would never let this go…
He knew he shouldn’t have gotten into all those anime Adrien pushed him into! So what if the maids were cute? And sure, he’d admit he’s had a thought or two of Alya in such attire…
But how was he supposed to know Alya had such thoughts as well? And in the complete opposite direction! Clearly this was the akuma’s magic punishing him!
Nino looked to his window.
It would be a long fall, but it was his only escape.
But would the broken legs be worth it when Alya would soon figure out what he did and be able to catch up to him easily?
Maybe he could try to climb up instead…but in these heels? It was suicide!
He opened up his window, only to meet a new pair of eyes.
Ladybug stared in surprise from her place at his windowsill, a certain box in hand.
“Oh thank god!” He exclaimed. He took her by her shoulders, half leaning out and half pulling her in. “Alya’s insisting on taking pictures! Please tell me you have my Miraculous with you!”
“Actually, about that—”
“I don’t care! I’ll do anything! Just please—SAVE ME!”
Ladybug looked back behind her to a distant rooftop and the other allies she’d left behind.
The sound of a key jingling could be heard and Nino stared up at her, pleadingly.
Well, she could never resist the eyes…
By the time they’d gotten the door open, the room was empty.
Nino was gone.
Six heroes stood assembled.
Five of whom were male.
And…still wearing some semblance of feminine maid-like outfits.
Ladybug wasn’t sure if she should be impressed or worried.
“What the hell?! I thought the Miraculous were supposed to change us into our hero suits?” Nino groused.
Contrary to his hopes and expectations, using the Miraculous had not transformed him into his normal Carapace look, but had rather simply given him a different outfit. The dress itself was green and had a turtle shell pattern, while the apron and waist belts were a brown color. The bowknot around his neck was a dark green and a brown to match the apron. He wore stockings. And to his very limited relief, his shoes were flats instead of heels.
“Well, at least this skirt is longer.” Pegasus said, now wearing a dark brown blouse and bicycle skirt. The skirt went to just above his ankles, for which he was grateful. But this seemed to be countered by the increase of height to his heels.
Plus no corset. The outfit was still fit tightly and not very comfortable, but at least he could breathe now.
“Though I believe we’re getting away from maid-wear now.” Chat said, conversationally.
Pegasus gave him a flat look. “I’m not complaining.”
If Chat had witnessed his earlier ensemble, surely he would understand.
King Monkey, for his part, seemed somewhat appeased with his Miraculous suit. It was a notably more Eastern style of dress, appearing more like robes worn by palace servants. He wore a light brown waistcoat with wide sleeves over a blouse and a wrap-around skirt. It looked heavy, but Kim seemed to have no trouble with it. Maybe it was made of a lighter material…?
And Viperion’s dress was different in style as well. Whereas his maid outfit as Luka had been more punk, this was more sleek. Wearing a green sleeveless dress and white smock, as well as what appeared to be a green corset. The dress had a slit at the sides, giving more maneuverability for his legs…as well as more show, given the appearance of a garter belt and stockings. His shoes were high heeled but including a beautiful snake design that wrapped around his ankles. To finish it off, rather than remain bare, his arms were covered in what appeared to be loose green sleeves that started at his elbows and extended to his wrists.
…maybe a picture or two wouldn’t hurt? Or three? Because the amount of details on these outfits were amazing and she was just brimming with ideas now…
Ladybug broke out of her musings when someone tugged on her shoulder to get her attention.
It was Chat. Chat who, much like the other heroes, as dressed in a fantastical outfit. Though a maid outfit, it was definitely more cat-themed with a giant paw-like gloves covering his hands, a paw print on his apron, and bow and bell on his tail which rang as he shifted.
What material was that made of, anyway? She kind of wanted to give it a feel and see if she could find something to compare it to. Maybe a quick sketch?
Maybe if she was lucky, they could finish this quickly so she could rush back home and take notes while she still had the ideas bouncing in her brain.
…maybe someone would have gotten pictures by then…?
“Ladybug?” Chat whispered, snapping her back to reality.
Chat frowned in concern. “Is the Guardian okay with this?”
“PSST! Ladybug!” Came a voice from a nearby rooftop, drawing her attention.
“Ladybug! Here’s the Miracle Box. Take as many allies as you can and resolve this as soon as possible!”
“Master? Are…you hiding in a box?”
“No questions! Just go!”
Chat seemed uncertain, but decided not to pry.
“Let’s just split up and find the akuma.” Ladybug said. “But don’t engage until we’re all together!”
With that, the six split into three groups, with Chat and Carapace going one way and King Monkey and Pegasus going another, leaving Ladybug and Viperion searching together with the former trying not to get caught stealing peeks at the latter.
“Is something wrong?” He asked with a smile.
…trying. The key word was trying not to get caught.
“No! Nothing!” She replied quickly. “I’m just…surprised that you can still move so quickly in those heels.”
“I’ve had practice.” He explained, still smiling. He even lifted one leg behind him, managing to stand perfectly balanced even on one leg in heels.
Part of her wanted very much to laugh. It was the same part that had found this entire day ridiculous. The other part of her was her inner artist at work and really wanted to make a few sketches inspired from the presented outfits. Like Viperion’s sleeves…and those shoes with a snake coil wrapping around the ankle…
She turned towards the shout to find King Monkey and Pegasus stumbling towards her.
Her fingers twitched. She ignored it.
“We found the akuma.” King Monkey reported. “She doesn’t seem to be doing anything. Just…kind or roaming around.”
“And laughing.” Pegasus added bitterly. “She appears to be doing a lot of that.”
“How’s THAT for ‘doll them up’?” Came a shout from street level. “HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT, HUH?!”
As if on cue…
Ladybug and the others peeked over the edge of the roof.
“Has she displayed any other powers?” She asked.
“No.” Pegasus replied. “From what we could see, her power has already been activated to…obvious effect.” He hesitated, resolutely avoiding mentioning his new outfit or the indignity he’d already suffered. “She has only been laughing. And tripping the occasional person while searching for someone in particular—possibly the one responsible for her ire.”
Ladybug nodded. “At least she’s distracted and doesn’t know we’re here. We just need a plan of attack before we try to fight her.”
“No problem!” King Monkey said with a grin as he reached for his weapon. “We can just do a head on attack with our weapons and—”
In place of his staff was a broom. A normal cleaning broom.
They sent cautious glances to each other before they checked their own inventory.
Said inventory consisted of a broom, a bucket, and a feather duster.
“I believe that constitutes as a problem.” Pegasus stated worriedly.
“That’s no fair!” King Monkey exclaimed. “Adrien was able to summon a machete!”
Ladybug blanched at that. “A what?!”
Pegasus pushed up his glasses. “I believe it’s a component of his…‘cosplay’?”
“Pfft!” Ladybug covered her mouth with her hand.
“I-it’s nothing!” She replied hurriedly.
Viperion raised his eyebrow at her but didn’t comment.
King Monkey at least seemed to take it in stride.
“Now we just need a plan for attack!”
“With what?!” Pegasus questioned, waving the feather duster in frustration. “Our weapons don’t work!”
“More like our weapons aren’t actually weapons.” Viperion said, considering his bucket.
“I could smack her.” King Monkey offered, holding up his broom. “Maybe your feather duster has dust on it and could make her sneeze?”
Pegasus gave him a flat look.
“I think the broom is the best weapon we have right now.”
“Don’t knock a bucket!” King Monkey commanded, resolutely. “I got one stuck on my head one time and it took hours to get it off! Buckets are evil, man!”
Pegasus sighed and rubbed his head. “It concerns me that you’re the second person I know whom that has happened to.”
Ladybug coughed, discretely trying to draw attention off that particular subject lest identities be at risk. “Anyway, I think I have a plan…”
To be honest, it wasn’t that difficult of an akuma. Especially not with six of them teaming up against it.
Akumaid truly see to have no ability other than the initial one of transforming what any male in Paris was wearing into something embarrassing…unless you were Adrien, apparently. Aside from that, she showed no other power—neither over the clothes themselves or the people wearing them. Well, she wasn’t controlling any of the victims or shrinking the clothing to choke them at any rate…which if you think about it, was rather lame for an akuma in the power department.
The only real disadvantage in battle came in the difficulty the boys had moving freely in their current outfits. And the afore noted lack of proper weaponry.
Their advantage of surprising was ruined by Chat’s bell ringing before they could ambush her, and both Carapace and Pegasus losing balance with their heels and falling over. King Monkey’s outfit, while longer, also meant more fabric to flap about and resist his movements regardless of how light it may have been, so he wasn’t able to get a hit in fast enough before the akuma turned on him and knocked him away.
Chat was able to get a hit in though.
With his…Kitty Wand…
“THIS IS MAGICAL PUNISHMENT!” He shouted as he smacked the akuma over the head.
“Chat. Chat no. Chat why?”
And Ladybug had hopelessly lost her composure by this point and was laughing. Just laughing. Laughing so hard she was crying actual tears as she smacked her own thigh in her struggle to breathe. Viperion was trying to help her stay standing, keeping an arm around her to support her as she half leaned and half chuckled tears into his chest.
“What’s going on? Does the akuma have some power over Ladybug, too?” King Monkey asked.
“Sure. Something to that effect.”
It said something when her own Lucky Charm magicked up a paper bag. With Ladybug still victim to her fit of giggles, Viperion simply put the bag over her face and had her try to breathe.
“A paper bag doesn’t help with out of control laughing.” Pegasus noted as he forced himself to his feet.
“Do you want to try to figure out the Lucky Charm?” Viperion bit out in annoyance, Ladybug still shaking in his arms.
Pegasus coughed and backed away. “No, thank you.”
Ladybug let out another giggle.
“All right, enough! I’ll stop her!” Carapace shouted, reaching for his back. “With my…serving plate.”
His precious shield was gone.
“…Carapace?” Ladybug asked.
The newly rendered Turtle Maid sighed and simply threw the plate as he had his shield, not expecting much.
…the serving plate flew through the air at a surprising speed, but missed the akuma entirely. Instead, it sailed past her, hitting a light post.
Ladybug had expected it to bounce, but instead there was a sound of shredding metal as the serving plate actually tore through the lamp post and into the concrete itself.
The lamp post, now detached, tilted and fell over—conveniently on top of the akuma before she had the time to realize what was happening and move out of the way.
It fell on top of her and she hit the ground.
“Huzzah?” Kim asked.
“Well…that’s one way to defeat an akuma.” Pegasus marveled.
“Great. Now can we fix this already?” Carapace asked impatiently. If they took too much longer, someone was bound to catch them.
That someone would probably be Alya.
And that was the last thing he wanted at this point.
“But I kind of wanted to make a sketch at least…” Ladybug muttered to herself, holding the paper bag Charm to her chest.
She waved her hands insistently. “I’m on it!”
But she could dream…
It was with some disappointment that the Miraculous Cure wiped away the outfits of the other heroes, returning them to their original costumes.
“OH THANK GOD!”
“Corsets were invented as a torture method, I swear…”
“Shieldy!” Carapace exclaimed, hugging the shield in relief. “Never leave me again!”
“You okay now, Ladybug?” Chat asked her in worry.
“I’m fine.” She said, even though she wasn’t really. She felt like she’d missed a chance, even if it was for the greater good. But it would have been an abuse of her power to be taking pictures of the guys in that state and she already felt bad enough for breaking down laughing in the middle of the fight.
In that moment, however, the loveliness of ladybugs that made up the Cure returned from their task of restoring Paris to flow over Ladybug herself before vanishing, leaving her holding an envelope in their wake. Curious, she opened the envelope…
Inside were a multitude of photos of the other heroes. From different angles. In different positions. All of them in their new outfits.
Ladybug bit the inside of her cheek to keep from responding and drawing attention to herself.
…Thank you, Tikki.
Best. Kwami. Ever.
“Ladybug…” Carapace said in growing wariness. “What is that?”
“Ladybug. That better not be what I think it is…”
She shoved the photos back in the envelope.
“It’s nothing at all!”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
Noticing the stand off, the others approached as well.
“It was just something I was missing, yeah.”
“Then let us see it.”
“Can’t.” She replied, clutching the envelope to her chest. “It’s…Ladybug stuff.”
“Hand it over. Right now!”
"NOOO! THESE ARE FOR THE FUTURE OF FASHIOOOON!”
“GIVE US THE PHOTOS!”
“Wait—did she get any of all of us in a group cosplay pic?”
“NOT NOW, CHAT!”
Unfortunately, that small distraction was all she needed to get away.
Viperion, the only one having been pretty nonchalant this whole time, simply watched her leave and the others shout after her.
“…isn’t she going to take our Miraculous back?”
Angela sighed, already dreading what was to come.
It was a humiliating end to an already humiliating week as the former akuma victim had been forced to return to her job to go over the updates for the new Ladybug game with the rest of her team.
Said updates were apparently to include maid outfits for the female heroes thanks to one particular coworker who had decided to work on maid outfits for the female heroes instead of the level he was assigned. It had been part of the reason she had been angry enough to be akumatized.
The fact that he was insistent on shoving his maid fetish into the game for no good reason other than having them be eye candy was the other part.
The images in question that he insisted on bringing featured the three female super heroes of the city: Ladybug, Rena Rouge, and Queen Bee.
But not as anyone had ever seen them.
Instead of their usual hero suits, the three girls were portrayed in sultry, even provocative poses. And most notably, all three were wearing some mockery of a French Maid outfit…as what would be believed by Americans, no less.
They might as well have been the initial sketches of pinup posters.
“You can’t still be serious!”
“Hey, I’m not the one who got akumatized just because I was jealous that someone else had a good idea.” He said bitingly and giving her a pointed look, perhaps still a bit bitter of the aforementioned experience that her akumatization had caused.
“It’s not a good idea, John.” Angela countered. “There was no reason to have the girls be running in maid outfits.”
He shrugged. “We could just say an akuma did it. After all, we did just get an akuma who did exactly that.” He said, giving her another look.
She clenched her fists and was about to retort when their team lead entered the room.
The meeting commenced and she’d been forced to bite her tongue. Each of the team members went over their progress and updates for their contribution to the game. Level design. Enemies. Testing.
And then came his grand achievement. Instead of the level he was assigned, he gave scantily clad designs for three of the eight known heroes.
“I was thinking we really need to include something to make our game stand out, so I made some extra skins for the heroes.” He bragged, sending her a smug look. “The appeal would sell plenty of copies.”
“Or the controversy.” Angela muttered back before turning to the team lead and hoping that the man leading their group had more empathy…or sense.
The team lead looked over the designs with an analyzing gaze. Tiffeny, despite the initial impression his name would give, was a rather buff man who took no shit. But was also a guy. Who liked guy things. But did those things include putting young women in maid costumes?
After a moment, Tiffeny dropped the pictures on the table and looked at John incredulously. “You know, if you were going to base skins off recent events, you could at least have been authentic.”
John stared. “What?”
“It was the guys who were affected by Akumaid. Not the girls. If we’re going to do maids, we need to keep it true to life, just like the rest of the designs we’ve included. We talked about this when we started this project.”
“But it’s what the audience wants!” John argued.
“Do you know who comprises the majority of our audience?” Tiffeny asked. “Girls. Girls, gay guys, and those who are exploring their interests. Guys in the outfits would sell leagues more than the girls.” He started ticking his fingers “It’s different. It’s original. And it’s based in actual events. People would love it.”
“But…they’ll love this!”
“Man, if people wanted to see sexy girls in skimpy clothing, they’d play literally any other game! Or watch porn.” Tiffeny explained. “But what game do you know of has had guys in maid outfits?”
“Exactly. We want to stand out. And we even have recent events as justification. So if you’re going to be wasting time you should be spending on level-making to put people in maid skins, then get those male heroes some maid costumes.”
“But that’s not fair!” John exclaimed. “You should at least put the girls in something!”
Tiffeny paused at that. “Hmm…you’re right.”
With that, he turned to her. “You’re good at designing. Make some butler outfits for the girls. Something dashing to serve as a counter for the guys.”
Angela blinked in surprise for a moment before smiling.
“You know…” one of the other workers noted. “While we’re on the subject, I WAS thinking of some medieval armor designs for the girls and princess dresses for the guys.”
“Hey yeah! Like a light green for Viperion!”
“Maybe teal might be better?”
“Ooo! How about…”
Soon enough, everyone seemed to be invested in the new plan.
Everyone that is, except John.
“Lovely!” Tiffeny said cheerfully. “Plan it out and bring the concepts to me later.”
With a new task in hand and John’s pouting to forever be a memory to hold onto, it seemed her day was looking up…
“That was some akuma battle.” Marinette said as she slid into her seat next to Alya.
“I know, right? Like...why a maid? Why the guys?” Ayla shook her head, looking over her phone. “Now most of the comments on the blog are questioning his...‘interests’, if you know what I mean.”
Marinette winced. “Wow. That was not something I ever wanted to think about.”
”And the worst part?” The reporter sighed, looking annoyed. “Ladybug had apparently called all the male heroes and I completely missed it!” She groaned and leaned back in her seat, bemoaning the lost opportunity.
If she’d hadn’t been so focused on tracking Nino for the purpose of collecting blackmail ensuring his safety, she would have been able to catch all of the male heroes in their maid outfits.
Marinette smiled. “You know…I may have a connection…”
Marinette giggled and slid over her phone with a picture showing.
“NO WAY!” She cried out before staring up at Marinette in shock. “Girl, you have to send me these!”
“Wait—you have what now?” Nino had arrived, initially hopeful that he had avoided the worst of that day only to have those hopes immediately dashed upon arriving to see the two girls sharing what could only have been one thing…
“I have pictures of the heroes in their new outfits. And some civilians.” Marinette replied cheerfully as she swiped through her phone. “Oh look, Nino! You’re in here, too!”
“WHAT?! NO!” He shouted, rushing forward.
Marinette quickly grabbed back her phone and hid it in her pocket with an overly sweet and not at all innocent grin.
“Mari, come on, no! Don’t do this to me!” He begged.
“Don’t do this to ME!” Alya cut in. “You can’t just show me that and take it away! That’s just not fair!”
“Don’t worry.” Marinette assured them. “It’s going where all my blackmail material goes.”
“Since when do you have blackmail material?”
“Since somebody started a game of ‘let’s take pictures of Marinette while she’s asleep and post them online’.” Marinette replied dryly.
Nino groaned. “Come on! I said I was sorry!”
“And now I can be just as sorry.” She replied blithely.
Which was to say: not sorry at all.
“Come on! Alya made me do it!”
“It was just in fun! Marinette! Please!”
“Do you want me to beg? Cry? I’ll cry.”
“I’ll pay you! Pretty please! At least the heroes if nothing else!”
“Oh no you don’t!”
“My blog NEEDS this!”
Marinette smiled at the minor chaos she had caused as the normally happy couple bickered with each other.
Sweet sweet music.
And speaking of sweet…
She turned to look up at a certain blond-haired model as he arrived at his own desk. Though he seemed to be a bit distracted by the arguing couple.
“Hey, Adrien!” She greeted, for once with no stutter to speak of.
“Hey, um…are they okay?” He asked, gesturing to the two.
“Oh, they’re fine.” She said, waving them off. “Just…a bit excited over the recent akuma.”
At that, Adrien brightened. “Wasn’t it awesome?”
She nodded, trying to keep her laughter inside.
“You…ah…enjoyed yourself then?”
Adrien shrugged, looking a bit sheepish. “Well, it’s not often I get to dress up in a way that’s ‘silly’. Or in anything that isn’t promoting Father’s brand. And I’ve never gotten to cosplay. So it was…really fun.”
Oh. Ouch. Okay, that one kind of hurt. The poor Sunshine Child…
“You know…” Marinette said, leaning over her desk and smiling at him. “I’ve seen a bit of that one anime you mentioned.”
“Cells at Work?” He asked, brightening up.
She nodded. “Mmhmm. I could make you a jacket based off the lead Red Blood Cell. And if you like, I can keep it so you can wear it whenever we hang out.”
He gasped. “Really?”
“Sure! Maybe you can come over sometime so we can try a fitting. We could even play Mecha Strike.”
Adrien beamed. “That sounds great! Thanks, Marinette!”
She waved him off and went back to full sitting in her seat.
Alya and Nino both became distracted from their arguing by the miracle they had just witnessed.
Marinette Dupain-Cheng had just spoken to Adrien Agreste…and not a stutter to be heard!
“What the heck, girl?” Alya whispered, sliding into her seat beside her friend. “Since when could you do THAT and why haven’t you done it sooner? I could swear I saw hearts in his eyes!”
Marinette shrugged, grinning sheepishly. “After seeing Adrien Agreste in a maid dress, I kind of wondered why I was so scared of talking to him to begin with.”
Alya laughed. “Well, at least something good came out of this, then.”
She paused consideringly before leaning over to Marinette with a sly look on her face.
“You know…more good WOULD come out of this if I had pics of those heroes…"
“You’re pretty much the only one who managed to get any shots of the male heroes!” Alya exclaimed. “Seriously, how?!”
“Just lucky, I guess.”
“Felix?” His mother called on the other side of the locked and barricaded door. “Will you be coming out?”
“That depends. Do you have a camera?”
A pause. Which was all the answer he needed.
Fortunately, in the midst of their searching, the team had managed to find the akuma and her primary target, getting between the two.
“So what happened?” Ladybug asked him.
John gripped his skirt, nervously. “She’s my coworker in developing a new video game and she didn’t like my input.”
“What set her off?”
The guy rolled his eyes. “She’s one of those types who wants to take the fun out of video games.”
“What?” Ladybug blinked.
“Okay, so I wanted to put some maid costumes in the game! It was just for fun! Besides, it would have added a bit of pizazz! Something for the players to enjoy!”
“You could just try making a good game.” Pegasus pointed out. “If you have to rely on a cheap gimmick to get buyers, it may not be a good product.”
"I’m sorry, really! I mean, sure, I’m still going to put it in the game, because who wouldn’t want hot maids, but still! That doesn’t mean I deserve this!”
The akuma raised her fist and shouted at him. “THEY ARE HEROES, DAMMIT! THEY DESERVE BETTER THAN MAID SKINS JUST BECAUSE THEY’RE GIRLS!”
Ladybug blanched. “Wait…is the game about me?”
Pegasus coughed and looked away. “There have been…rumors, yes.”
Viperion tilted his head. “That seems like a double standard though…since we’re the ones in maid outfits…”
“Not the point, Viperion!”
“I don’t think I want to help now.”