The Grave of the Phoenix
For many conductors of electricity, the electric current which flows through them is directly proportional to the voltage applied.
Win. Fist bump. Warning beep.
Wave goodbye. Run away. Change back.
Life goes on.
That was how things usually went for Ladybug and Chat Noir when the city of Paris found itself neck deep in hot water. However, today the dynamic duo got hung up on fist bump.
It had been a stellar day. Marinette's blood was positively humming in her veins and everything else in the bustling market square dimmed when she caught her partner's eye. Their teamwork had been on point through the fight. The akuma had been purified in record time, and Marinette's miraculous barely had any mess to cleanse afterward, thanks to their in-sync rhythm during the battle. Even now that it was over she was still riding high on a tsunami of adrenaline, and found herself giggling as she skipped through the fresh layer of snow toward Chat Noir to perform their ritual fist bump. It didn't help that he started laughing too. Before they knew it, they'd been standing there for almost thirty seconds, their knuckles magnetized together by something stronger than triumph.
For a brief moment, Marinette felt like the sidewalk had dropped out from under her.
Then reality kicked back in. It dawned on her (via warning beep from her earrings) that the fist bump part of their celebration may have gone on a bit too long, and she retracted her arm like a spent slingshot, her carefree laugh catching in her throat. Whoops. My bad. But Chat just stayed where he was, arm hanging in the air on invisible strings, a devilish smile stretched across his face and a warm blush spreading out from under his mask onto his cheeks.
Marinette quailed under her partner's unabashed gaze. "I have to go," she reminded him. She only had two minutes left before her powers shorted out.
He finally let his arm fall, then whipped his baton out until it was in a suitable position for him to lean toward her with wistful abandon. "Someday," he purred, "instead of running away from each other, we'll be running away together."
An embarrassed grimace lit across her face. Chat Noir, you can't just say stuff like that! Warn a girl… Somehow she managed to work her embarrassment into a confident smirk. "If you say so, Chaton."
With that, she left him.
"I need some coffee," she groaned to Tikki about five minutes later, hugging her winter coat tightly to her chest and pressing her chin down into her woolen scarf to block out the cold.
Her tiniest friend laughed from inside the handmade purse at her side. "Coffee? You seemed so energetic before the akuma struck. What happened?"
She could hear Tikki humming to herself as she pushed across the street toward a quiet café, La Tasse sans Fond, weaving in between two bicyclists that left black streaks behind them through the thin, unpacked snow. "Did he do something wrong?"
Marinette sighed, pausing with one hand on the fogged door. The last glimmer of sunset painted the glass pink, and in the faint light she could see uncertainty written plain on her face. "No," she admitted. "He's just so… sincere. It's hard to fight off his advances when he's the smoothest talker this side of the Atlantic."
"Marinette, you're not being fair to him. You know he would stop cold if you ever so much as hinted that it was making you uncomfortable."
A bell tinkled overhead as she entered the warmth of the shop. On a round wooden table next to the door she dropped her bag, lingering with her hands on the back of cushioned chair. Tikki was right. Chat may be an insatiable flirt, but under all that glamour was a heart of gold, and he cared about her deeply. If she ever sat him down and asked him to quit it, she knew he would. So that left her with nothing but her own personal problems to deal with, then. First and foremost being: Why haven't I ever asked him to stop?
Second being: I guess I don't necessarily want him to stop.
Third being: What the hell does that mean?
Caught up in her own musings and still lightheaded from the rush of battle, Marinette did something utterly thoughtlessㅡsomething she hadn't done since before her days as Ladybug. She forgot her purse. She left the prized, handsewn, flower-embroidered bag on the table by the door when she went to order a cup of coffee big enough to clear her head, and didn't see the stranger hasten past her toward the door and snatch it up on his way out. It's absence went unnoticed until she tried to pay and felt a glaring void at her side where the purse should have been. Where Tikki should have been. Marinette wheeled around, but by then it was too late.
Bursting out of the shop right as the streetlamp outside flicked on, she cupped her hands and shouted in vain. "Tikki!" Again and again she called out for her kwami, but all she got in return was the confused barista popping her head outside to ask Marinette to stop screaming before closing the door once more. There was no use screaming anyway; the street was empty of pedestrians. Mindless of the wet snow, Marinette sunk to her knees, feeling small and alone under the gradient navy sky. The thief was gone, and so was Tikki.
Nearby, Adrien vaulted from rooftop to rooftop, keen on squeezing every last bit out of the transformation before it ran out. As soon as it faded, Plagg would be on the warpath for food. He always was. It was best to be within reach of it when the insatiable kwami came flying out.
On a fire escape landing on the side of a three-story law firm, Adrien pressed himself into the gathering shadows. There was someone rustling in the alley below, too close for comfort. But he was out of time. The transformative green light flashed across his body, leaving Adrien Agreste where Chat Noir had so recently stood. He pressed a finger to his lips in the universal gesture for shush as Plagg whirred to life from his ring, pointing out the shadowy figure twenty-some feet below. Plagg zipped into his open jacket without a word. The man in the alley looked up at the sudden flash of light, but didn't seem to see anything and soon went back to his rustling.
Narrowing his eyes, Adrien began a noiseless descent down the grated stairs. There was something suspicious about the way the man was hunched over, digging through a hidden object while skittishly scanning the abandoned alleyway. At the end of the fire escape, still ten feet from the ground, Adrien crouched by the raised ladder. Then he saw it: a dainty black strap. A purse! He bared his teeth. The guy was a rotten thief!
Without thinking he fished his phone out to bathe the exposed thief in a spotlight, courtesy of a high-tech camera flash. "Whatcha doin' there, buddy?"
The man jumped violently and dropped the purse. He looked up right as Adrien dropped down into the alley with a spectacular thud that echoed up the brick walls. Pleased to have rattled him, Adrien glanced down to the discarded purseㅡonly to have his heart leap into his throat.
Next to the bag on the grimy snow-laced cobblestone was a red kwami, its head decorated with a singular black dot.
The word kwami came to mind unbidden, and once he thought it there was no going back. He had to get it. Totally forgetting the discarded handbag, he lunged for it on instinct, at the same time the thief lunged for the bag. The two met eyes for a brief instant. The man wore a ragged hoodie and hair in a long tangled ponytail, and his eyes were on fire, like those of a caged animal. Adrien's lip curled as he pulled the rescued creature protectively to his chest, already convinced of what he had found and ready to scrap for it with his bare hands.
But he didn't have to. The thief came to himself then and scrambled backwards with the purse before turning tail and sprinting away. His padding footsteps echoed between the buildings until he turned and vanished down a perpendicular backroad.
Adrien had already refocused his attention by the time the footsteps grew faint. He cradled the red fairylike animal close to his face, hardly daring to believe that his instinct had been right. Could it really be?
Never in his life had he rushed home so quickly.
The entrance hall was dark and silent when he clicked the solid oak doors shut behind him, sealing off the brief flurry of snow that followed in at his ankles. Adrien had long since made a secret pact with The Gorilla to keep his sneaking on the down-low. Last spring he'd caught the stoic bodyguard and his father's softspoken assistant Nathalie (of all people) kissing in one of the studies upstairs. The deal was that if The Gorilla kept Adrien's secrets, then Adrien would in turn keep his. It felt wrong to take advantage of them with that kind of leverage, but... not quite wrong enough not to.
Nowadays he hardly saw the bodyguard that was supposedly still attached to his hip (according to the continuing paychecks that Adrien regularly checked up on). Sometimes he wondered what went in the fabricated reports the man turned into Gabriel Agreste regarding his son. He could just see today's:
05 December 2016
Sir, your well-behaved son was totally, definitely at private tutoring today, and totally not owning it against Hawkmoth's latest attempt at miraculous thievery with the Lovely Lady Luck.
Haha. (He'd always had a niggling suspicion that his bodyguard suspected him of being Chat Noir. There was no way Adrien could ask him, so he'd probably never know for sure.)
The upside to this bodyguard-free arrangement was that Adrien was slightly freer to perform his heroic duties, without the constant need to dodge his father's minions. The downside was that his private life was lonelier than it had ever been. During the day the expansive Agreste mansion buzzed with energy as his father's various conspirators moved to and fro on business, and Adrien could at least pretend then, surrounded by faces, that the house felt warm and alive. But once the night fell and all those associates were gone, the building became a skeleton.
Footsteps echoed off the tile up to the vaulted ceiling, tinkling every crystal on every chandelier as he trudged through the empty, grey house toward his bedroom on the third floor. Now he didn't even have Nathalie here to greet him, like the old days. He never thought he'd miss her, but as it turned out, the thing he regretted most about this secret leave-me-alone deal was losing his friendly rapport with her. She'd been hurt by his veiled use of blackmail, and only ever spoke to him now about business, avoiding him whenever possible. The void she left in his already lacking home life was glaring.
It was unavoidable. Shaking them off his tail was an absolute necessity for his success as Chat. But that didn't mean he didn't feel insanely guilty about the way he accomplished it, and didn't mean he didn't miss them. The sad truth was: those two had been the closest thing to family that Adrien had left.
And he'd pushed them away.
When he passed his father's study he heard him within, speaking animatedly to someone (probably on the phone), and went to push the door open and say hello. But he suddenly remembered the kwami in his hands and kept on down the corridor. His father probably wouldn't have acknowledged him anyway. When Gabriel was working, his son didn't exist.
But he'd only gotten twenty steps past the study when he pulled an abrupt about-face, stowing the red kwami in his pocket. He was eighteen years old now and damned if he was going to be scared of that man for his entire lifeㅡtwice damned if he was going to be alone for his entire life either.
When Adrien eased the door open, his father stopped talking mid-sentence and straightened, wheeling around to face him as he adjusted his suit jacket. It was 9pm already, but Adrien couldn't remember the last time he'd seen him in pajamas. The thought was laughable.
The first thing he noticed was that his father was not, in fact, on the phone. "Who were you talking to?" Adrien heard himself ask before he could filter his brain-to-mouth funnel. Shit, he was still in Chat mode. And he hadn't seen the man in person in five whole days, so it cost him that slip-up to step backwards into son mode.
The impoliteness went over Gabriel's head, for once, and he deigned to answer instead of brushing him off. "A client," he replied sharply. "On the phone. I'm very busy, Adrien, can I help you?"
"Oh." The only light in the study came from the crackling log in the fireplace, and Adrien caught sight of his cell phone on his desk, it's silver rim reflecting a lick of fire from across the room. The screen was dark. Weird. "I just wanted to say… goodnight." He trailed off, peering behind the open door, half-expecting to find someone hiding back there. If his father hadn't been on the phone, then who was he talking to just now?
His father pursed his lips, like the very idea of Adrien bursting in here with nothing more important to say than goodnight left a sour taste in his mouth. "Ah. Alright, then. Goodnight Adrien."
Adrien lingered with his hand on the door. When he turned one-eighty and marched back towards his father's study he'd been planning on saying I love you, as a rude reminder that those words existed and might be welcome once in awhile, thank-you-very-much. But he was too distracted by his father's lie to think. Besides, he had more important things to worry about right now than the weakening ties between he and his father. So he left.
As soon as he slammed his own bedroom door shut, he opened his jacket to usher Plagg out.
"You know, you really shouldn't be playing the hero game in your civilian clothes," Plagg droned. "Reckless idiot... And where's my cheese? I'm tired and hungry."
"Not now," Adrien whispered, staring raptly at the thing in his hands. Since he'd picked it up off the alley floor it had remained motionless and stiff, like a child's toy. Like a doll. By when Plagg spoke he was absolutely certain he'd seen it twitch. "Is this who I think it is?" he wondered earnestly.
And Plagg finally noticed what Adrien was regarding with such tender care and caution. "What!" he shrieked. "Tikki? What are you doing here? Are you alright?"
Tikki flailed, shocked to life by being directly addressed, and blinked until her eyes found Plagg, who had taken to zooming around Adrien's hands in frantic circles. "Plagg? How did you find me? I mean, meow?" She had spotted Adrien again and performed a half-hearted attempt at being a cat before giving up and playing dead once more.
"No, no," Adrien assured her, "it's okay! It's me. It's me," he emphasized, giving Ladybug's lost kwami a long slow wink. "Chat Noir!"
Tikki sprung to full attention in his hands. She screwed up her face at him. Of course she'd only seen the recent-most holder of Plagg's miraculous a few times in person, since she was usually in the earrings doing her thing by the time Chat showed up, and she certainly didn't know who he was beneath the mask. But Plagg's presence was evidence enough on its own. Tikki pressed her arms to her cheeks, suddenly lightheaded. She was grateful to be saved from that no-good thief, but… Boy, was this ever a shock!
"Adrien?" she finally managed to choke out. "You're Chat Noir?"
"Huh?" Adrien was taken aback at her familiarity. "You know who I am? Does that mean Ladybug knowsㅡ"
"It means nothing!" Tikki squeaked, then pressed her hands over her mouth.
Plagg hovered over her like she'd sprouted an extra limb from her eye. "What were you doing with a thug in an alley?" he pestered.
Oh god. "Is Ladybug okay?" Adrien blurted. The sudden terrifying thought that the man had done something to his lady when he'd stolen her purse threatened to strangle him alive.
"She's fine," Tikki promised, and Adrien slumped into his desk chair in relief. "That guy stole her purse from a café! We went for coffee and then bam, I was whisked away." She groaned. "I couldn't simply escape because, well, look at me!" She flew over to Adrien's desk and made herself at home among the neatly stacked comic books, pointing up at Plagg with a hint of jealousy. "I can't pass off the whole 'I'm a regular old cat' thing as easily as some of us."
"Oh, wow," Adrien said to himself, watching as Tikki and Plagg interacted with a degree of domestic familiarity that made him almost jealous. It's not as if he'd never wondered after Ladybug's identity before, but the fact that her kwami was right here in front of him made it a solid certainty that somewhere in Paris was the girl he loved, maskless. Living her life. It was maddening. He felt he could almost see her face. It swam into view in his mind's eye, blurry and glowing and just out of reach. "Ladybug's kwami… Can you believe our luck?" he said to the two on his desk, interrupting a heated debate over the best way to fool strangers that have spotted you.
"This isn't lucky!" they both hissed.
Adrien's chin slipped off his hand where it had been resting dreamily. He nearly smacked it on the desk and had to hastily right himself in his chair. "Of course it is. Better me than anyone else, right? Now I can get you back to Ladybug, Tikki. No harm done."
Tikki slumped down onto the topmost issue of The Marvelous Adventures of Ladybug and Chat Noir. (He read them for the art. The art was absolutely killer. The writing… Let's just say he wished he could drop in and have a word with the writers about some of the weirder liberties they'd taken.)
"Except you don't know who Ladybug is, Adrien."
A dopey look came over him, and he leaned on his hands again, positively smitten by the idea that had just occurred to him. "No. But you could tell me, couldn't you?"
"I'm not going to!"
Smirk effectively wiped. "How are we going to get you back to Ladybug, then?" He swiveled around in his computer chair to gesture across the bedroom toward the towering windows and the expansive view they afforded. Out in the night the city of Paris glittered with life, every color of the rainbow coming together in a kaleidoscope of urban patterns, vibrant and full and in constant motion. There was never more than a faint dusting of stars visible this deep in the city, but having a front seat view as the moon descended beyond the Seine almost made up for it. Almost. Faraway a police siren sprinkled the night, and Plagg's ears twitched in response.
"Paris is a busy city, even by night," Adrien told Tikki. "Cameras everywhere, ne-er-do-wells like the one I just rescued you from…" He hit her with a pointed look. "You can't exactly fly across the city by yourself. You'll be seen."
"I know that," she sighed. "Even if it was perfectly safe, I'm not sure I could find her house on my own from this part of the city."
Plagg laid across Adrien's keyboard with a bored expression, opening up four different programs by accident on the main monitor. "This is a real pickle," he yawned.
Adrien sighed too. Lately when he looked out his window the only thing he was able to think of was Ladybug. Where she was, what she was doing… And now he was worried that she was out there alone, robbed of her powers and scared for the safety of her kwami. Every heartstring in his chest stretched thin as he pictured the scene: the girl he loved, alone and upset outside a café downtown.
"It's times like these when I think everything would be so much easier if we knew each other's identities," he muttered, eyes glued to the distant city lights. "You really did a number on LB, Tikki. She is well and truly convinced that our identities need to stay secret."
"As Plagg should have with you!" Tikki scolded, directing her ire straight at the other kwami for not doing his job with enough zazz. Plagg flinched, opening yet another window on the monitor above him. "We wouldn't tell you to keep yourselves a secret if it wasn't important," Tikki reasoned, her tone far sweeter as she addressed Adrien. "It's not as if Ladybugs and Chat Noirs have always been secret. Sometimes they find out. Sometimes on accident, sometimes on purpose, sometimes never at all. It all depends on circumstance. Sometimes there's not much danger in them knowing, so it's okay."
Adrien knew where this was going. He glanced up at the programs that Plagg had unintentionally opened with the keyboard shortcuts, and saw that the newest window was the Ladyblog. The most recent post was a picture of the two of them posing proudly after having defeated this evening's akuma. The broken screwdriver still lay on the ground between their feet, and the purified butterfly hovered between their noses in picturesque frozen flight; Alya seemed to have caught them in the extra-charged fist bump they'd shared after the fight. Adrien leaned in close to the screen, trying to read the whir of emotions on Ladybug's face. She had to have felt it too. That electricity.
Plagg cleared his throat.
Right. "And… for us?" Adrien asked Tikki, closing out the blog window. "For this Lady and this Chat?"
"Lots of danger," the kwamis answered in tandem.
"Think about it, kid," Plagg launched as Adrien's forehead connected with the desk. "You've been hit by plenty a wayward arrow. Always throwing yourself in front of magical projectiles for her… It's a wonder you're not dead, really. If history repeats itselfㅡ"
("And it always does," Tikki interjected.)
"ㅡyou will be controlled by akumas again before Hawkmoth is defeated. Heck, you or Ladybug might even be akumatized yourselves before this is all over."
Surprised, Adrien rolled his head to the side to ogle his kwami. "Really? I thought it was impossible for us to get akumatized since we also hold miraculouses."
Tikki put her hands on her hips. "Is that what you told him?"
Plagg threw his hands up. "You don't understand what a worrywart this kid can be! All the moaning and self-doubtㅡsheesh, fine!" he added as Tikki grew even more cross. "It's technically possible," he admitted. "It just takes a lot more negative emotion from one of you than it would for your typical everyday citizen to allow Hawkmoth to gain control. A lot more than something like losing a job or being embarrassed in front of a crush."
Placing one hand gently on Adrien's upturned cheek, Tikki blinked her wide, puppydog eyes at him. "Please don't misunderstand. We trust you implicitly, Chat Noirㅡme and Ladybug. If it weren't for the danger, she would tell you who she was. I'm absolutely sure of it. But the fact is that we don't know what's going to happen. Hawkmoth is a unique villain unlike any other, in that he controls people. He gets into their minds. If he ever got into yours, you wouldn't want Ladybug's true name to be there for him to find, would you?"
"No," he admitted quietly. Even thinking about the implications of such an event made his skin crawl. "She would be in terrible danger."
"Her family would be in danger," Tikki added. "Her friends."
"Yeah… Yeah. You're right." Adrien pushed himself upright, stretching his legs out like a cat under the computer desk. "Maybe someday, though, right?" He poked Tikki's belly hopefully. "Someday when Hawkmoth is just a thing of the past?"
"Yes." Tikki nuzzled his hand. "Someday."
Folding his arms across his chest, Adrien turned his attention back to the glaring problem they all still faced. "But for now, how do I return you to Ladybug without knowing who she is?" He looked to Plagg, who shrugged at Tikki, who in turn shrugged at Adrien. "Come on," Adrien laughed. "You guys are, what, like a trillion years old?"
"Thirteen point eight billion," Tikki corrected.
"So haven't you run into this problem before?" he asked incredulously.
"Sure," Plagg droned from his keyboard bed. "Kind of. But the variables are all different."
"So many variables!" Tikki wailed.
"Alright, alright," Adrien laughed, one hand tracing his jaw thoughtfully. "I think I have an idea."
"It's just a purse, Marinette. I know for a fact that you didn't have any money in there because I spotted you lunch earlier today." Perched at the edge of Marinette's bed, Alya patted the tangled nest of blankets as tenderly as she could manage. From somewhere inside came a strangled sob followed by more unintelligible babbling. "What?"
The ball of blankets fidgeted, and Marinette groaned, then groaned some more before speaking up more clearly. "It's not just a purse," she wailed.
Alya frowned. She'd never seen Marinette this distraught before, and it was sorta freaking her out. "I know," she soothed. "You made it yourself. I'm really sorry."
"No, no, no," she cried, "it's what was in the purse!"
"What was in it, Mari? I'll help you replace it."
"No, it's myㅡa priceless heirloom," she hiccupped tearily. "Irreplaceable."
"Really?" Alya was caught off guard by that. She couldn't remember ever having seen Marinette with anything like that before. She was about to inquire further when her phone buzzed in her pocket. Leaving one hand on what she was pretty sure was Marinette's head, Alya fished out her cell to find that it was Nino who had texted her.
Bubbles: better tune into the ch4 news ASAP
Alya began composing a reply that summed up Marinette's distress and let Nino know she was busy, but was interrupted by a quick succession of texts before she'd even completed the message.
Bubbles: LIKE NOW ALYA!
Bubbles: CHAT NOIR 911
Oh man, something awesome must be going on for Nino to alert her like this. "Sorry babygirl, gotta check something for the blog." Marinette made no complaint as she flitted across the room and woke her friend's computer to bring up the Channel Four News homepage.
The honey-rich voice of a news reporter slashed through Marinette's self-enforced prison of eternal guilt and depression. "We'll be playing the following clip a couple more times throughout the night, in hopes that the message reaches Ladybug. Roll tape, please." That caught her attention. And then when the clip rolled and Chat spoke, Marinette launched upright so fast she nearly fell straight out of bed.
"Hey Ladybug, it's me, your one and only." The pre-recorded video showed Chat standing in front of a blank white wall, where he posed briefly and vainly for the camera, as if in verification that yes, he was definitely Chat Noir. Then he leaned in close to the camera so that only his face from the nose up fit on-screen, donning serious, wide eyes. "I found something of yours. Something you lost. Please meet me on the steps of the Notre Dame tomorrow at 10pm so I can return it to you." He offered the camera a reassuring smile that struck Marinette hard. It was meant for her, and her alone. Don't worry, he was saying, I got you. "Till then, my lady."
The clip ended and the anchors in the newsroom went back to their speculation. "I wonder what Ladybug lost?" the man on the right wondered.
"I wonder why Chat Noir had to come on the news to reach her," his charming co-host expanded. "This is certainly new. Could it be the great and powerful Ladybug has lost her miraculous?"
"Let's not assume the worst," the man hastened to assure the audience. "But there's obviously something keeping her out of contact with her cat. Wonder what it could be? In other news…"
At that transition Alya muted the newscast so she could go berserk. "Wow, this is crazy! I gotta get this on my blog to help spread it." The sound of hasty tapping at the keyboard touched Marinette's ears, but she was beyond reach of Alya's words. "Poor Ladybug, I wonder what she lost? Chat Noir's a real sweetheart, going out of his way like this… Woah, Mari, what's wrong?"
On the bed with her body still half tangled in the blankets, Marinette truly looked like she had seen a ghost. Her pupils dilated and her heart raced in her ears and her hands squeezed the edge of her blanket so hard that her knuckles turned white. Chat Noir found Tikki. Chat Noir found Tikki. She could just kiss him! But then again… was he a moron? Now everyone and their uncle's uncles were going to show up at this proposed meeting place in an effort to spot them, so there was no way in heck she was gonna be able to slip in unseen and snag Tikki back. He really couldn't think of anything better than this? Oh, she could just smack him.
"Hello?" Alya waved her hand in front of Mari's face, snapping her back to reality. "Cat got your tongue?" she giggled.
Excusez-moi? Marinette narrowed her eyes at Alya like the girl had just stabbed her with a rusty fork. Not Alya too with the damn feline puns... "No," she replied, snapping out of her pun-induced rage. "I'm just curious, that's all."
"Great," Alya trilled. "Me too! This will help take your mind off the whole purse thing."
"What do you mean?"
"Duh, we are going to be there at the Notre Dame tomorrow! I wanna see Chat Noir sweep Ladybug off her feet!"
Marinette grumbled something about Ladybug sweeping the floor with Chat Noir instead.
In the middle of gleefully bouncing, Alya shot back, "What was that?"
This was going to be a helluva week.
A few important things! First, this is a big story I'm setting out to write, with several major story arcs, so you can expect a minimum of 12 chapters.
Second, I've decided to minimize the amount of French in this story, since I don't speak it and don't care to butcher it and because simply adding French words to a story doesn't make it more French. (Side-eyeing a couple of fics...) I'll be compensating this with actual research about Paris and France in general, to make it all more realistic. The things that will remain French are the things that don't translate without losing something; things like proper nouns (i.e. streets and names and places, etc) and linguistic expressions that just sound better in French (i.e. excusez-moi).
*La Tasse sans Fond (the café Mari goes to in this chapter) translates to The Bottomless Mug.
Third, I'm going to do a quick comparison of the French and American public school systems, since a great many readers hail from the US. In France, 'high school' is called lycée and lasts three years, instead of four. The three grade levels are seconde, première, and terminale; these are equivalent to the American sophomore (10th), junior (11th), and senior (12th) years of high school.
From my understanding, the first season of the show canonically takes place during their seconde year of school. This story then takes place two years post season one, during their terminale year.
Fourth, I know the title is kinda heavy for the stuff that's happened so far. Let's just say that this chapter was like the part of a roller coaster where the attendant comes by and clicks down your restraints.
Prepare for liftoff...