The girl in question jumped, dropping her books. Quickly she crouched down to pick it up.
Next to her, Alya did the same. "Ah, you're such a klutz!" she commented with a laugh.
"Sorry," Marinette grinned. "Anyway, you were saying?"
Alya handed her the last book and was about to say something when Chloe whizzed by, Sabrina oddly absent. "What in the world?"
They watched as the school's front door opened and Chloe came to a grinding halt in front of it. "Oh Adrien~" she cooed, draping her body against him.
"Good morning, Chloe," Adrien smiled, shifting away.
"I was just wondering if you would like to be my buddy for today's field trip," she smiled, eyes half closed. Before he could reply, she quickly interjected. "You see, Sabrina's sick so she couldn't come to school. I do so hate to be paired up with anyone else. Please say you'll do it. Please."
"Is she batting her eyes?" Alya asked, disgusted. She turned to face her friend.
Marinette was watching the exchange, her expressive face blank. Alya nudged her friend gently. "Hey, don't worry about it. I'm sure Adrien won't fall for that old trick."
Just as she said it, Adrien nodded and shot an apologetic look at Nino, who shrugged.
Alya slapped her hands over her mouth. "Oops! Sorry for jinxing it!"
Marinette snapped out of it and grinned at her best friend, running her hand at the back of her head. "Hey, don't worry! I kind of expected that to happen! I knew he wouldn't turn her down," she said wistfully, staring as Chloe hugged Adrien's arm and purred.
Alya stared at Marinette staring at Adrien and Chloe for awhile. She slipped her hand through Marinette's arm and smiled. "Don't let that get you down. We'll have a great time at the Jardin des Plantes. You can get new ideas for your cake designs!"
Alya could see Marinette visibly force a smile. "Okay. You're right. And thanks," she added quietly.
"No, no, no! Aren't you the gardener here! You cannot put these plants so close to the trees! These plants need sunlight! Can't you do like Michel over there? Just follow my instructions! You don't do the thinking, I do! Do you understand?"
Sebastian nodded his head jerkily. He heaved the new plants over to where Michel is. Michel just shot him a quick smile before going back to his work, studiously patting the ground, textbook-style.
"Hey, don't pat it down too hard! The soil needs to breathe too!" Sebastian couldn't help but snap.
Michel looked shocked. "I'm sorry! I just read somewhere that you're supposed to pack in the soil."
"Well now I'm telling you not to do it so tightly! Not everything can be by the book, you know!" Sebastian threw down his hat and stalked off. He threw himself onto a nearby bench and eyed Michel beginning to work on his pile of plants. He simmered and clenched his trowel. "'I read it in a book'," he mocked. "It's too hot for those plants to be straight under the sun! You call yourself the head gardener!"
Somewhere, a wall opened its panels, revealing a clear window, letting the sunlight stream in the otherwise pitch black room. "It really isn't fair when you're underappreciated, isn't it?" Hawkmoth said silkily. He held out a hand and a white butterfly landed on it. Carefully, he cupped it with his other hand. "You want to show your boss a piece of your mind, don't you? Wouldn't that be nice?" He released the now dark butterfly with purple veins and it fluttered out the window. "Fly my Akuma, seek out the man with the dark heart!"
The butterfly flew down and landed on Sebastian's dirt-caked trowel and melted.
"Flipper, my name is Hawkmoth. I have given you the power to flip roles. To be your own boss. I'm return, I only have one favour to ask of you."
"Anything." The area around Sebastian's eyes darkened and a purple moth shape ringed it.
The bus finally arrived at Jardin des Plantes and everyone eagerly piled out and stretched, chatting eagerly.
"Anything is better than being cooped up indoors, don't you think?" Alya stretched her hands up over her head. "Look, I can touch the sky!"
Marinette put a hand on her hip and stretched the other way. She then threw up her hands and breathed in. "I love the smell of flowers!" she exclaimed. "Ooh, look at that one! It has such a nice colour!"
"All right everyone, settle down!" Their biology teacher called out over the chatter. "I want you to find five flowering plants and five non-flowering plants! I need detailed sketches, please! Now, go off with your buddies and enjoy Jardin des Plantes! Remember, we meet back here at 3!"
Everyone was just dispersing when a shrill scream pierced the air. Everyone turned to see a couple running at full speed, with what looked like an alien chasing them. "Let's see how well you love each other now!" the alien cackled, waving a trident and green light engulfed the two of them. When the light dissipated, they saw that the two of them seemed to have switched genders and physical traits. The woman (who was now a man) let out a manly scream.
"Alya let's get out of here!" Marinette sighed as he friend whipped out her phone.
"Hold on! This is so great! I always seem to be on the scene nowadays!" Alya crouched behind a huge potted plant and zoomed in on the Flipper.
Making sure her friend was safe, Marinette jumped into a thick bush and snapped her bag open. "I need to transform!" Her kwami nodded.
"Chloe, run!" Adrien yelled to Chloe, who was already halfway through the garden. He rolled his eyes and jumped behind a large tree. "Plagg, I need to transform!"
Flipper pointed his trident at several of the students and laughed at their reactions of being flipped with each other.
"You know, in terms of powers, flipping people doesn't seem very impressive," Chat Noir drawled.
"Oh? Then how would you like to be flipped with that snail?" Flipper was about to wave his trident when Ladybug's bag wrapped itself around his wrist. Ladybug pulled and Flipper flipped head over heels in the air, landing face first on the ground.
Ladybug stood next to Chat. "Why do I always seem to be saving you when you mouth off?"
Chat grinned at her. "We all have our roles to play, my lady." Suddenly, he pushed her out of the way. "Look out!"
Ladybug neatly landed on her feet just as a blast of green light whizzed by just inches away.
"I will squash you like a bug!" Flipper shot more blasts at her but Ladybug neatly dodged all of them.
Chat pulled out his baton and tried to whack the trident away, but Flipper was a millisecond too fast. "Hey, aren't ladybugs good for plants?" Chat asked, dodging blasts. "I mean, I thought they ate those pests or something!"
"Are you claiming to know more than me!" Flipper screeched and aimed his trident at Chat again. As before, Ladybug wrapped her bag around his wrist. This time, however, Flipper was ready. Before she could pull on the string, he tucked his head inward and rolled forward, yanking Ladybug off the ground and over his head.
"Look out!" Ladybug warned Chat but it was too late. She only gave enough warning for Chat to extend his arms and catch her, knocking the wind out of both of them.
"Are you okay, my lady?"
"Fine. Watch out for Flip-" Ladybug's mouth froze as they were engulfed in green light.
Flipper' change was excruciating. Chat gasped and dropped Ladybug, who landed on the ground with a groan. Both of them writhed on the ground like an earthworm under a magnifying glass on a hot day. What only lasted several seconds felt like a lifetime as Chat and Ladybug dropped onto the ground, groaning and moaning. Finally, the green light dissipated and with it, their suffering. Chat gasped and swallowed the bile in his throat.
"A-are you okay, my lady?" No, that was wrong. He sounded wrong. Chat cleared his throat.
"Chat?" Ladybug stood up shakily. "Chat?" This time she sounded incredulous. "Or, should I say, Ladybug?"
"What?" Chat stood up and looked at Ladybug. Or Chat. "Whoa!" She ran her hand over Chat's ears. "You're me!"
"And you're me!" Ladybug exclaimed. True enough, Chat was now Ladybug and vice versa. The now-Ladybug had her blonde hair tied in two pigtails, her green eyes covered by the polkadotted mask. "I feel tall."
"I feel short," LadyChat commented. She looked down and yelped. "I'm Ladybug!"
BugNoir ran his hands in his newly-short hair and jumped when he felt the pointed cat ears. "I'm Chat Noir!"
"And you look very good, my lady," LadyChat grinned. Then she frowned. "I mean, my...man? My gentleman?"
"Look out!" BugNoir pushed her aside, only to see her fly ten metres away. He quickly dodged the next blast and yelped at how far he'd jumped.
LadyChat landed on the ground in a heap. "Not so hard!"
"Sorry! I can't seem to control my own strength!" BugNoir yelped.
"Jump on the trees!" BugNoir did as he was told.
"Now what? Eep!"
"Dodge! Cat reflexes! You're on a tree! Use your cat reflexes!"
"I don't have cat reflexes! I'm a Ladybug!"
"Not anymore! Oops." Flipper turned his attention to her and LadyChat ran. While less agile, she found that this body was faster and much lighter. She found it easier to outrun Flipper and his blasts. She ran behind a large potted plant.
BugNoir landed ungracefully next to her. "How do you use this baton?"
"It has buttons next to it." BugNoir peered at the sides of the baton and pressed a button, narrowly avoiding the baton's speedy lengthening.
"I bet you the Akuma is in his trident," LadyChat was saying before a shadow loomed over them. "Get out of the way!" she warned and leaped away.
Unfortunately the warning came a little too late and BugNoir was trapped underneath a leafy dome. "Chat!"
"Ladybug!" LadyChat ran up to the dome and peered through the branches. "Use your powers of destruction!"
LadyChat discovered then that she didn't actually know how. What she knew is that it comes naturally to her.
"Just...do the moves."
"What moves?" BugNoir growled.
"Now, Flipper, grab BugNoir's Miraculous Stone!" Hawkmoth's voice suddenly rang in Flipper's ear.
"As you wish." Flipper blasted at the dome and this time the blasts were purple. Parts of the leafy dome disintegrated and the smell of burning filled the air. LadyChat pressed himself as far away from the blasts as possible.
"The moves of Ancient Destruction! I'll buy you some time!" LadyChat veered away and directed Flipper's attention away from BugNoir.
"No time!" BugNoir pointed out as his ring beeped. "I'll do what I can here, use your Lucky Charm."
"Do the moves."
"What moves?" LadyChat called out with a burning sense of déjà vu.
"The moves of Lucky Charm! Listen to my kwami!" LadyChat turned his baton into a staff and launched himself out of the dome through the holes Flipper made. "Hey ugly!" he called out as he swung the staff against the trident. Flipper gave a yell and swung his trident at LadyChat.
BugNoir felt horribly vulnerable, standing there with nothing to do. "Uh, hello?" She tried calling out.
"You are not her," a voice sounded in her ear. "But...you are one of the chosen. Very well. How can I help you?"
"I need a Lucky Charm."
"Or else Hawkmoth will have the Miracle Stones." The voice remained silent for a few moments. "Please!" LadyChat pleaded.
As soon as the kwami said so, LadyChat moved without thinking, throwing her hands up and calling out for the Lucky Charm. She held out her hands and caught it. "A pack of gum? How can that possible help now? My lady! What do I do with the Lucky Charm now?"
"Use your surroundings!" BugNoir landed with a thud as he was thrown down by Flipper. Quick as a flash, he was up and over Flipper's head before Flipper could blast him again. "I think I have the cat reflexes down!"
LadyChat looked around, the world around her suddenly turning into shades of grey. The gum flashed the Ladybug colours, then her bag, next it flashed at a nearby tree branch and finally on the trident and suddenly LadyChat had an intense feeling of surety. "I've got it!"
She quickly took out a stick of gum and chewed it vigorously, sticking it onto her bag when she was done, rubbing her sore jaw. She skipped to the other side of the branch and threw her bag at Flipper. He dodged and it didn't manage to wrap itself around his wrist, but the gum managed to stick to the trident. LadyChat yanked hard and the trident flew out of his hand and into hers. Flipper let out a wail and flew towards her. Before any of them could react, he got stuck in the tree branches.
"Break it!" LadyChat advised.
LadyChat lay the trident across her knee and broke it clean in half, releasing the Akuma. Touching a line in the middle of her bag, it split in half and opened up. Moving on instinct, LadyChat threw her bag to catch the Akuma. Once that was done, she tapped the bag and the translucent white butterfly fluttered away, as innocent as sin. "Bye bye, butterfly."
BugNoir stood next to her as they watched the butterfly fly away. He grinned and handed her the rest of the gum. "Go work your miraculous magic," he laughed.
LadyChat took it. "I've always wanted to try this," she admitted, throwing the gum up high. "Miraculous magic cleanup!" she said chirpily.
The two of them embraced the change, this time pleasant as a warm breeze, caressing their tired bodies.
"I don't actually sound like that, do I?" Ladybug asked, frowning as she clipped her bag back against her hip.
"Of course not, my lady," Chat Noir winked. "I can only hope to be but a shadow of what you are."
Ladybug rolled her eyes, just as her earrings pinged to the last dot. She cupped it. "I've got to go. See you later, Chat!"
"Till the next time, my lady!"
"Alya! I couldn't find you! Are you okay?" Marinette squeezed her friend tight.
"Okay? I'm fantastic! I was trapped in one of Flipper's dome things, I got incredible coverage! Did you see? He flipped Ladybug and Chat Noir! This is so going on my blog. I'm calling them LadyChat and BugNoir." Alya began excitedly tapping on her phone, editing and typing in a short article to go with it.
"While you do that, I thought we're supposed to sketch plants!"
"You're the artist, I'm just a blogger. I'll catch up to you in a bit." Alya hadn't even looked up once from her phone the entire day.
That night, Marinette hopped out of the shower, shaking out her damp hair. She stretched languorously and moaned. "Ah, it feels so good to be in my own skin!"
"I really missed you!" Tikki flew out from her spot on the bed.
"Tikki, I was only gone for a short while." She patted the kwami's spotted head. "I missed you too. How come you let Chat use my powers? I thought they'd only work for me?"
"I felt that he was one of the chosen and it is my duty to help the chosen ones as much as I can. Doesn't mean I liked it, though," she folded her arms and tossed her round head, lips pursed. "It felt like I was wearing someone else's clothes. Ill-fitting ones too."
Marinette just laughed at the analogy. "I know how you feel, Tikki. Oh, how well I know how you feel." She yawned and started climbing the ladder to her bed. "Coming? It's been a long day."
Tikki flew up and made herself comfortable next to Marinette. "Goodnight Marinette." She yawned, but Marinette was already asleep, breathing softly, her chest rising and falling rhythmically. Tikki giggled, kissed Marinette's cheek lightly and settled down for the night. It had been a long day indeed.