It all happened so fast that, for a moment, Adrien thought he might be dreaming. But then the police rushed in from where they had been waiting, handcuffing the defeated villain as previously planned. Adrien watched numbly as a swarm of officers pinned the man to the floor and patted him down. Looking at him now, it was hard to believe that this was the man who had inspired such terror in Paris for years. He was bald, in his mid-forties, dark bags under his eyes. Without his mask and suit he seemed innocuous, plain.
"We did it," Ladybug breathed in relief. "Oh thank god, it's finally over."
"Yeah," Adrien replied slowly, rubbing his arm distractedly. Over. The thought did not produce the same kind of relief for him. Hawk Moth might be defeated, but what did that mean for Plagg? Was he about to lose one of his closest friends? Plagg had never told him what would happen once they won.
The police officers hauled the man to his feet, then hustled him toward the door. As they left, the police chief walked over to Adrien and Ladybug.
"You two did great," Chief Robert told them, patting Ladybug on the shoulder. "I know it was a long stand off, but we're still going to need you to come in for the paperwork. I can take you in my cruiser."
"Thank you, Chief," Ladybug told him. She glanced at Adrien questioningly, and he gave her a small nod. May as well get it all over with. "And of course we're ready to fill out the report."
"Great," Chief Robert told them, breaking into a tired smile. "I really appreciate it. Alright, right this way."
Adrien trailed Ladybug and the Chief, still trying to orient himself. Somehow, it all felt so … anti-climactic. In all the time he had spent thinking about finally taking down Hawk Moth, he had never thought about the need to file a police report.
He glanced at Ladybug's back.
What about her? They had been chasing Hawk Moth for four years now. A team. Of sorts, he thought bitterly. But he still didn't know who Ladybug was. Now that this was finally all done, she was going to tell him. … Right?
How was he supposed to go about even asking something like that? What if he messed it up and made her angry? But he had to know. After all, he wasn't even sure if they'd wake up tomorrow and be able to transform. It would be nearly impossible to find her in that case.
"What is that?" Ladybug asked suddenly.
Adrien was confused for half a moment. Then he heard it—a muted shouting coming from outside. Chief Robert merely smiled. "You two might want to brace yourselves."
The chief held open the front door, and suddenly Adrien was hit by a wave of shouting and cheering. He followed Ladybug outside, mouth dropping at the sheer number of people that had gathered behind the police tape.
At the sight of the two superheros, the crowd went wild. Within seconds they had started chanting Ladybug's name and throwing hats into the air.
Ladybug recovered first, covering her surprise with a wave at the crowd. Adrien shook himself—he could worry later. For now he needed to be there for Paris. He broke into an easy grin, waving at the people who had lined up to see their heroes in their moment of victory. He threw a wink at a girl in the front row, who cheered even louder.
"Here we are," Chief Robert said, opening the door of his cruiser. "I hope you don't mind sitting in the back."
"Not at all," Ladybug replied, sliding in.
Adrien got in behind her, giving the crowd one last wave. Then the chief closed the door, its tinted windows blocking them off from the outside world.
Adrien took a deep breath, sinking back against the seat in relief. What was wrong with him? He should be happy—overjoyed, really. The idea of finally capturing Hawk Moth had been keeping him up at night, and he had no idea what he would have done if he had to continue his duties as Chat Noir when his classes at the university started up in two months.
Surprised, Adrien glanced up to find Ladybug watching him with a worried frown.
"You've been awfully quiet," she added.
How did he even answer that question? Yes, I'm fine? No, but I don't know why? Will I even get to see you again? She was waiting patiently. Finally, he shrugged. "Yeah."
Her expression softened, and suddenly he was sure that she understood. This wasn't like what they showed you in the theaters. There was fanfare and excitement, but those things where separate, outside beyond the tinted glass. Inside, Adrien wasn't sure how to deal with this massive change. And from the look on Ladybug's face, she was similarly conflicted. It was more reassuring than anything she could have possibly said.
"Ladybug." He hesitated, still unsure how to phrase this. "Listen, now that Hawk Moth is—"
His heart nearly leapt out of his chest as she put a hand on his knee. But then he caught the warning look on her face, and the quick glance that she shot toward the front of the vehicle. To where Chief Robert was silently driving the car. Oh crap, Adrien thought. I almost forgot. The Chief was a good man, but Adrien knew that the force was itching to find out who they were—probably to keep tabs on them.
"It's been a long day," Ladybug said, subtly changing the topic. "Let's just get this paperwork done so we can relax." She shot him a look that said we'll talk afterward. Adrien nodded, feeling far more relieved than he had any right to be.
Ladybug fell silent again, and Adrien could tell that there was something else bothering her. "Are you alright?" he asked, watching her closely.
She shrugged, looking out through the window. "Hawk Moth's kwami, the one who was freed right at the end…"
She trailed off, as if struggle to find the right words. "Do you think the kwami is okay?"
"I hope so," he said quietly. Truthfully he had no idea. From the looks of things, the kwami had been held against its will. At the very least it was free now.
Ladybug shot him a weary smile.
The rest of it was a blurry haze. Being ushered into the police station amid an even larger crowd of cheering Parisians celebrating Hawk Moth's downfall. Filling out form after form. Explaining what had happened, each attack and counter attack. Swearing that they had never seen the man outside of costume, that they had no involvement with him, that they didn't know how he had gotten his powers.
By the time they were released it was already getting dark, and still the people of Paris were filling the streets with jubilant cheers. Ladybug hesitated in the foyer of the police station, looking out at the crowd.
"It's going to be pure chaos once we go out there, you know," Adrien told her, eyeing the crowd warily.
"I know," Ladybug replied. She hesitated, then leaned in closer to him. Adrien pushed aside the distraction of his quickening heart rate. "We're not going to have a chance. Not tonight." Ladybug bit her bottom lip, as if debating something. Finally, she said, "Can we meet tomorrow? It would be easier in the daytime, out of costume—"
"Yes," Adrien breathed, all in a rush. "The park, maybe?"
Ladybug nodded. "Alright. I can be there at two."
As Adrien nodded, Ladybug pulled away. With a deep breath, she squared her shoulders. "Are you going to be able to get home okay?" she asked, giving the crowd another wary glance.
"Of course," Adrien replied with a grin. "Will you be alright, My Lady?"
Ladybug rolled her eyes, although he caught the small smirk on her lips as she headed toward the front doors.
Sunday morning Adrien was buzzing with barely contained excitement.
"This is it, Plagg," he kept saying. He didn't add how relieved he was to discover that Plagg wasn't going to vanish just because they had defeated Hawk Moth.
"Yeah, yeah, lover boy," Plagg told him with a dismissive wave. "Just try not to let her see how big of a dork you really are."
He got to the park a little early—okay, an hour early. Once there, though, he hesitated. The park was big. How would she know how to find him? Already there were a ton of people milling about, joggers and school kids and a few people just sitting on the benches. In the end, it was probably a good thing he got there so early, because he spent most of the time trying to pick out the perfect waiting place.
Finally, he settled for the fountain. It was centrally located and gave him a good view of the entire park. Hopefully, from here, he would see her first.
By two o'clock he couldn't stop his foot from bouncing. He kept pulling out his phone by reflex every ten seconds.
By two ten he was in agony, wondering if he had somehow missed her.
By two thirty his jitters were gone, replaced by nervous worry. Maybe something had happened to her that had held her up.
When he looked down and saw 3:02 flashing across his phone's screen, he finally stood up. Maybe she was waiting somewhere for him. Maybe he was supposed to go out and find her.
He had circled the park at least twelve times, and it was already approaching four o'clock. He had casually walked past every person in the park. Even the men. Even the children. No one had approached him, and the most he had gotten were a few smiles from passersby.
His phone was touting a bright 6:43 when his stomach growled in protest. Tense, Adrien stood up to do another round of the park. He had seen a few new faces. She probably just had been held up.
The sun was casting its fading pink glow on the world, but Adrien couldn't shake his growing concern. Had she been hurt? Was she alright?
It was exactly 9:54 when the officer approached him. "Hey kid," the officer said gruffly. "It's past dark. You need go home now." Nodding mutely, Adrien turned and went home.
Within half an hour he was back, tight suit clinging to his form. Maybe he had somehow misunderstood. Maybe she meant two in the morning. No one would see them then. He settled into a tree and silently waited.
By four he finally had to face the facts: she hadn't come.
He went back the next day. And the next. His summer vacation became an endless stream of days sitting by the fountain, watching as the rest of the visitors enjoyed their summer.
At first he was worried sick. But as the weeks slid by, Adrien had to admit that it was unlikely. Even if she had somehow wound up in the hospital, surely she would have been released by now.
One day, he had a terrifying thought: what if she had somehow—
He couldn't finish the thought.
That night Chat Noir showed up at the police station, strutted up to the receptionist, and said, "I need a favor."
Luckily, the police complied, and they supplied him with the list of reported deaths from July 6th and 7th. Over those 48 hours, ninety-two Parisians had died. Fifty-three of those were women. None of them even remotely matched Ladybug's description.
"C'mon, man!" Nino told him angrily. "You can't spend the whole summer avoiding me! We're barely going to have any time once the semester starts. What are you even doing in that park every day? Staring at the trees?"
"I'm waiting for someone," Adrien mumbled, not quite meeting Nino's gaze.
"Dude, it's been more than a month," Nino told him. "I'm sorry, but they're probably not coming."
Classes started, but Adrien still went to the park on the weekends. Just for a few hours. Just to be sure. Sat quietly as the leaves fell. As the snow drifted. As his first year at university passed him by. Eventually, he started going once every other week. Then once a month.
On Sunday, July 7th, he silently stood guard in the park from dawn until long past dusk. When he finally went home that night, he found Plagg watching him silently.
"I'm sorry, Adrien," he said. "But I don't think she's coming."
"Yeah," Adrien said, trying to push away the now familiar mix of anger and despair rising in his throat. "Yeah."
The alarm blared to life. Groaning, Adrien groggily rolled over and pressed the heels of his palms to his eyes.
"Turn it off," Plagg quipped from the pillow. Groaning again, Adrien sat up.
Shit. What a terrible way to start the day. She had plagued his dreams for years, but he had thought he was finally passed all of that.
"Adrien, turn it off," Plagg growled insistently, worming deeper under the covers. With a sigh, Adrien finally complied, stumbling over to his alarm and silencing it.
He quietly went to the bathroom to get ready for the day, frowning at the dark bags under his eyes. It was probably just all the stress at work that had brought this about. He was under a lot of pressure to keep the new client happy.
But shit, why her? He may waited it the park on and off for five years, but he hadn't even been near there at all for the past two years.
Plagg watched suspiciously as Adrien walked back into his bedroom. "You okay?" he asked quietly, looking Adrien up and down.
"I'm fine," Adrien said. And he was. When Plagg didn't reply, he added, "Really."
"It's almost July, you know," Plagg told him slowly. "If you need—"
Adrien cut him off with a sharp look. "I'm probably going to be late again tonight, so you'll have to fend for yourself for dinner."
Plagg moaned, rolling his eyes as he followed Adrien into the kitchen. "Again? I'm going to starve."
"Considering I spend upwards of fifty dollars on cheese alone each week, I somehow doubt that." Adrien grabbed a slice of sweet bread from the fridge.
"Are we going to do some rounds tonight?" Plagg asked, grabbing a chunk of cheese. After all these years, Adrien still didn't understand how the kwami could eat that stinking stuff for breakfast.
"Maybe," Adrien said, considering it. With the craziness at work, they hadn't been out on patrol at all so far this week. "It depends on how late I get back."
"Aren't you supposed to tell the Chief before you make your decision?" Plagg asked pointedly. The effect was somewhat ruined by the fact that his mouth was full of cheese.
"I think he'll survive." Adrien grabbed his keys and his wallet, then headed toward the door. "Alright, I need to get going. I'll see you tonight."
He didn't miss the concerned look on Plagg's face as he headed out the door. But the kwami didn't need to worry. Seven years was a long time, and he wasn't the same vulnerable kid who had sat anxiously waiting in the park all summer long.
A/N: Let's get this out of the way first: this isn't going to be a fluffy story. It will include: swearing (I cuss like a sailor normally—you don't know how difficult it has been for me to withhold myself thus far), implied sexual encounters (although it will not depict the act itself), and lots of feels. Basically, I'm aiming to write this for the equivalent of a tame-level New Adult audience.
I decided on T+ after talking with a number of readers about what their preference would be. Honestly I have no problem with writing smut scenes (may I direct you to my existing fic list?), AND we already have Hawk Daddy's blessing in this department (major thanks to Jessica Jayme Bell for letting me know). However, I want to make sure that the majority of my readers are comfortable. And I had a number of people say "I like your writing and I would probably read it no matter what, but I'd prefer T+" which was reason enough for me.
We good? Good.
This story is a bit of an odd one for me, because I don't have it 100% plotted out like I usually do. I have a very solid skeleton, but after a certain point everything becomes sort of nebulous. It's actually making me really nervous, hahaha.
I'm expecting this story to be long. Like, bare minimum 10 chapters long. And I wouldn't be surprised if it winds up being double that. I'm also expecting it to take me a little longer than normal to write. Basically, I'm treating this as I would any of my original manuscripts, with the exception that the source material isn't mine. I get the feeling it's going to take a little longer than most of my other fics.
To counterbalance that, I also plan on writing several smaller, shorter stories simultaneously (so Something in the Night along with one other fic at a time). I'm not promising a schedule. I may publish three or four chapters of this story before I get to any of the shorter ones. However, I have a TON of shorter ideas, and I think they'd be a good way for me to stay fresh/not get too worn out. These are ones I've mentioned before, and may come in a random order: a number of song-inspired oneshots, a shorter fake dating AU, and short sequels/epilogues to both and Baker's Daughter.
The title "Something in the Night" comes from David Guetta's "Dangerous," which was the song I found that best fit the mood of what I was going for in the beginning of this fic. The phrase seemed mysterious and aloof enough for what I wanted, while also fitting it thematically ^^
I feel a little bad for basically just sweeping Hawk Moth under the rug, buuuut it kind of had to happen. Forgive me for not going deeper into his motives, (presumably captured) kwami, or general identity. I'm more concerned with Chat's and Ladybug's strained relationship for this story.
As always, thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. It's a rough start, but it should be picking up soon ^^