A/N: Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. I was hoping the new episodes would give us some more insight into the info I really, really need right now to make this good, but I think I'm just gonna have to wing it. I hope my research has been enough, cause I feel bad enough leaving this as long as I did. But if you wanna kill me by the end of this chapter, I totally understand.
Minor Season 2 spoiler, so if you don't want to know Adrien's mother's name, stop reading now.
Chapter 5: …of Ill-Made Decisions.
It didn't take much for Marinette to convince Alya to go with her to the park. Convincing Sabine, however….
"Oh, please, Maman," Marinette begged. "It's just across the street! I've been cooped up all day!"
"And for good reason!"
Marinette sighed and shot her mother a look. "You do realize I was kidnapped while I was inside the house, right?" she said.
"By perpetrators who are still at large!" Sabine continued arguing.
"Please, Mama," Marinette pleaded, pouting a little. "Alya will be with me the whole time!"
"That's right, ma'am, and I'll drop-kick anyone who comes at Marinette!" Alya put in, throwing a few punches into the air. "You can count on me!"
Sabine still looked unsure, glancing at her husband for support. Tom sighed.
"Fine, but just for a few minutes," he said. "And if either of you see any black butterflies, you're to run straight home, you hear me?!" he added, shaking a finger at them.
The two girls quickly agreed and ran out the door before her parents could change their minds.
"All right, girl, spill," Alya said as soon as they got inside the park, "what's the real reason why you wanted to fly the coop?"
Well, I was originally hoping to lose you at some point and go see what the situation is like as Ladybug, but I think both you and my parents will lose your minds and/or kill me if I do that, so….
"Mom and Dad are keeping it a secret from me, but I gotta know, Alya," Marinette pleaded, "how bad are the akumas around town? Really?"
"Alya, please!" she begged. "It's partially my fault because I got kidnapped by Hawkmoth! Ladybug and Cat Noir had to come save me, and now there's butterflies everywhere but no Ladybug or Cat Noir—"
"WHOA, whoa!" Alya cried. "This is not your fault, M! I'm sure Ladybug and Cat Noir are just taking a well-earned rest after kicking Hawkmoth's evil butt! And yeah, sure, the butterflies are everywhere, but it's really not so bad! I got transformed into Lady Wifi twice on my way to your house, and I'm just fine!"
Marinette stared at her friend, aghast. "Twice?!"
"I'm fine! I'm fine!" Alya reassured her. "It was mostly just annoying, to be honest. One minute I was thinking about that new electronics shop downtown where the manager gave me the runaround, and the next, I'm actually there and floating above their display. The look on the manager's face was priceless!"
Marinette felt sick. "And the second time?" she asked, not sure she wanted to know.
"Well, now I was all the way downtown," Alya explained, biting her lip. "So, that was annoying. And I just figured I'd use it, you know? I started remembering all the bad things that got me transformed the first time, and sure enough, here comes a little black butterfly and soon I could teleport through phones again! I kept going though random ones until I got close to your house (which made me happy), and poof! little butterfly flies away and I'm back to normal."
"Alya," Marinette said weakly. "Promise me you won't ever do that again."
"It's really not so bad once you get used to it," Alya said shrugging.
"I mean it!"
"So do I! Look, without Hawkmoth powering them up, we don't even get overwhelmed by bad feelings like before!" Alya exclaimed. "I can totally remember what it feels like to travel through the web, (and let me tell you, it is sooo cool)—
"—and I can freeze things and un-freeze them whenever I want—"
"—and OMG, livestreaming has never been so easy! Just a flick of my wrist and—"
"ALYA!" Marinette shouted. Alya finally stopped her tirade to look at her friend. "You can't transform again! What if you lose your powers mid-transfer and end up trapped in cyber space or something? And akuma magic… it builds up inside you! Lady—Ladybug told me so." (Actually, it had been Tikki who explained it, but same difference, right?) "Please. You can't let it take you over again!"
"Aww," Alya looked disappointed. Marinette could only hope that the word of her superhero idol would be enough to keep her from trying it. "And here I was hoping to see what kind of akuma you turned into!"
Marinette stared at the other girl, her eye twitching and her stomach churning uncomfortably. Alya laughed at her expression.
"I just mean, we never got to see what kind of villain you'd become! Or what name you'd get! Adrien made a whole game about it just before—well, before we heard about you," she said, finishing awkwardly.
Marinette couldn't help the weak laugh that escaped her. "Yeah, that sounds like something he'd do."
"Speaking of…," Alya said, waggling her eyebrows suggestively. "You didn't really tell me much about lover boy's role in your kidnapping."
"I told you, he spent most of the time trying to convince his father's akuma to let me go and help Ladybug and Cat Noir!"
"Aww, c'mon, no declarations of love? No long, heartfelt goodbyes when you both were sure it was the end?"
Marinette blushed before she could stop herself. Too bad. Alya caught it.
"No. Way! You did it?! You told him?!" she exclaimed.
"I may have said the words… under duress from an evil villain…," Marinette said slowly, carefully. Alya squealed excitedly. And then suddenly froze as she looked around.
"Marinette," she said slowly, "you're not really upset about confessing to Adrien, are you?"
"What? No!" her friend laughed nervously. "I mean, it's awkward now, for sure, and I'm not quite sure what to do anymore—Alya?" Marinette finally noticed her friend's ashen look.
She followed her gaze… to see a swarm of black butterflies headed straight for them.
"RUN!" she screamed at Alya, grabbing her hand for good measure and pulling her towards the bakery. Alya snapped out of it and ran with her, both of them sprinting as fast as they could go.
Another swarm descended in front of them.
"All right, M, you head for the bakery. I'll hold them off," Alya shouted, attempting to shield her friend as the akumas got closer.
"I am NOT leaving you out here all alone!" Marinette screamed back, unable to stop shaking. Visions swam in her head—of akumas chasing her, diving through her shield, each touch giving her a flare of madness as she played right into Hawkmoth's hands…. She sank to her knees, covering her head.
I will not transform. I will not transform.
I will not give them that satisfaction.
I will rip the earrings out of my ears if I have to.
I will not hurt Alya. I will not hurt Adrien. I will not become that evil Ladybug I saw in my dreams.
They may take Marinette. They can have Marinette. But they will not have LADYBUG!
"Marinette! Marinette!" she heard Alya calling. "Listen to me! Don't fight it! It doesn't last long and I'll be right here with you, protecting you!"
I have to fight.
Alya, please, you have to fight!
"An akuma's magic is insidious... It gets into your system and exploits any and all negative emotions that you might have…."
You're being used, Alya.
"Oh yeah, here we go again!" Alya's voice sounded excited.
Somebody save us!
"GET DOWN, YOU IDIOT!" a new voice screamed.
Marinette gasped and looked up. All she saw was a yellow flash and suddenly, the akumas surrounding them were vaporized. Marinette blinked.
Was that a… a top?
A clearly-akumatized-looking person dressed in yellow stripes landed in front of them. She wound her weapon back up, (yup, that was clearly a top,) and tossed her ponytail.
"Get inside and stay there, you morons," she ordered, pointing towards the bakery. "They can't go inside homes." Then, before either Marinette or Alya could reply, she flew off again.
Marinette and Alya gaped at each other for a moment.
"Alya," Marinette said slowly. "I never thought I'd say this, but did we just get saved by an akuma?"
His steel-toed boots clicked on the stone beneath his feet. Just a dream, Cat Noir reminded himself firmly. Just a dream and you are in control. Nothing is going to happen that you don't want to—
And then he saw who was waiting for him.
Nothing will happen unless he wanted it to, huh? Well, then, he might just be a masochist. How else did he explain….
He sighed. "Hello, Father," he said, resigned to his fate. He looked up at the man hopefully. "Is it really you? Are you really here?"
Gabriel Agreste gave him an amused glance. "Why do I get the feeling that you'll try to hit me with that stick of yours if I say yes?"
Cat Noir shrugged. "Guilty conscious?"
His father gave a sharp laugh, before turning back to the window before them. "I'll have to give you that," he chuckled. Cat Noir hadn't even noticed the scenery until now, but they were definitely back in the Evil Villain Lair™. Not the best place for memories, he thought, shuddering.
"You're not transformed," Cat said, looking his father up and down.
"Hawkmoth was destroyed," Gabriel said calmly. He glanced at his son. "You saw to that."
"I did what I had to," Cat Noir replied calmly, proud that his voice didn't shake.
"Fair enough," Gabriel said. "So, did you just come here to talk?"
"Well, yeah, I guess? I mean, unless you really want me to hit you instead…," his son muttered. He took a deep breath. "I honestly don't know why I'm here. My kwami said my dreams would take whatever form I needed to purge the evil from my system." He eyed his father. "Typical that it'd be you."
"Ahhh, looking for closure."
"Looking to get rid of your stupid butterflies," Cat Noir corrected. "They're all over town. Any suggestions?"
"That's your job now."
"Whatever," Cat said, plopping himself on the ground. He didn't want to be here. Especially not with this guy.
For a few moments, they were both silent, looking out the large window of the atrium.
"Is it sad that, even though I know I need to… and I probably won't get to talk to you like this ever again… I still don't want to talk to you?" the superhero finally asked, swallowing a lump in his throat.
"It's sad that I would expect nothing less," Gabriel answered, not looking back at him.
"Mom would be so mad at us," Cat Noir said, shaking his head.
"I thought you didn't want to talk about that?"
"Yeah, well, the silence is gonna drive me crazy quicker than you ever could, sooo…," Cat said, rolling his eyes and fishing for a not-so-emotional topic. "What have I always wanted to ask Hawkmoth? Hmmm…. Ah! Mr. Pidgeon."
"Ugh, don't remind me…," his father groaned, his rigid posture melting away as he slumped down and rubbed the bridge of his nose. Cat Noir grinned.
"I gotta ask: why?"
Gabriel shot his son a wry smile. "I'm not that evil, Adrien. You'll notice I didn't akumatize people who would've been a legitimate threat to Paris. No murderers, rapists, pedophiles, arsonists—"
"You did manage to get a burglar in there," Cat Noir pointed out.
Gabriel acknowledged the point. "I knew I'd need something extra for the final confrontation with you two. Still, a bank robber, only interested in money? I figured Money Bags would be safe enough."
"They still haven't found him and Volpina."
"Then you and Ladybug will have to deal with them later. I can't exactly take their powers away like this. But, getting back to Mr. Pidgeon. He was my first and only attempt to akumatize someone who was… shall we say, not in a clinically-sound mind."
Cat raised an eyebrow. "He's psychotic?"
"Delusional, I think, is the medical term," Gabriel corrected with a frown. "But relatively harmless. That is, until I gave him extra powers to feed his delusions. The akuma he became was far more powerful than I had anticipated. I honestly thought you two would have no trouble with him. Then he was suddenly able to make airplanes out of pigeons."
"You also didn't count on my allergies."
"Well, I didn't know it was you back then," Gabriel pointed out. "And not many people have a weakness like that." He gave a small laugh that didn't go unnoticed by his son. "I suppose I should tell you… you and Ladybug may need this information later anyway… there's a reason why you have that particular allergy."
Cat Noir sat up straighter, blinking at his father.
"Your mother, as you might've guessed, held the Peacock Miraculous," Gabriel said slowly. "She used it for many years, keeping Paris safe from villains and monsters; not even stopping when she met and married me. However, that fool of a Guardian failed to warn her about one thing: that female Miraculous users are not supposed to use their powers while pregnant."
"Why would I need to know—Oh," Cat blushed. "Father, Ladybug and I…."
"Are still young," Gabriel nodded in acknowledgment. "Children, really. (And I really should have a conversation with that man about child soldiers someday, but….) It may come up later. I'm hardly blind to the way you look at her, Adrien." He gave his son a sideways smile, but Cat Noir just looked away, biting his lip.
"Anyway, your mother didn't know about this taboo, and her kwami has usually chosen boys in the past, so she didn't know either. I guess the magic affected you, to the point where you were struggling to breathe when you were born." He grimaced. "It took us months to figure out what was wrong. And poor Duusu. She cried so hard when she found out she couldn't go near the baby…." Gabriel gave him a small, sad smile.
"So, I have a feather allergy because Mom had the Peacock Miraculous?" Cat Noir asked. His father nodded. Cat took a moment to process this. Then he drew in a deep breath and decided to just go for it.
"Father, what did she do? I can't believe Mom was evil. But there's no way Tikki and Plagg would agree to imprison someone without good cause."
Gabriel pursed his lips. "She was attempting to create another Miraculous. One to counter-balance her own, as the Ladybug Earrings counter the Cat Ring. Yin and Yang. With it, she would've increased her own power exponentially, and gained a powerful ally, all at once."
"That doesn't sound so bad," Cat Noir said, frowning. His father just gave him a helpless shrug that said he agreed. "What went wrong?"
"I guess the deity she was attempting to turn into a kwami didn't agree with her, or her methods," his father said. "I never got all the details. I do know it threatened to turn the world to ashes if the Ladybug and Cat Noir before you didn't agree to imprison her forever. You can guess which decision they made."
"A deity?" Cat repeated, his eyes bugging out. Gabriel chuckled.
"Kwamis were all originally intangible forces of nature. Creation, destruction, generosity, illusions, dreams and beauty… that sort of thing. The more they interact with our world, the more power they must give up in order to become part of it. To become actual kwamis, they give up nearly all of their power and place it in a Miraculous stone, to be used by a chosen human, whom they then serve."
"But why would they agree to that?" Cat Noir asked, bewildered.
"They didn't," Gabriel said softly. "Most of the kwamis we know now were captured and forced to give up their powers for humanity."
"If I knew that," Gabriel chuckled, "I'd have been locked up with your mother in her prison."
"Speaking of…," Cat said slowly, "you mentioned before that you had it. The prison. Where…?"
"Oh, Adrien, I know you've seen it," Gabriel said, smiling. "You're the one who stole the book from my vault, after all. They put her inside her own Miraculous."
Cat Noir's eyes went wide. The pin. The pin shaped like a peacock next to his mother's picture….
"She's been so close… this whole time?" he gulped. His father nodded.
"I won't ask you to free her," he said softly. "My gamble in this game has been lost. But, if you ever loved her, take care of her for me, won't you?" Cat swallowed again and nodded.
Gabriel smiled in satisfaction and turned back to the window. "How is Nooroo?" he finally asked quietly.
"He sleeps a lot," Cat Noir said, picking at some imaginary threads on his suit. "Plagg and Tikki just keep saying he'll need time."
Gabriel snorted and roll his eyes. "Time…."
His son looked at him sharply. "You think they're lying?"
"Well, they aren't telling you the whole truth," his father said. "Time, yes, he'll need time. As in, he'll have to wait until I die. Which, admittedly, shouldn't be long—"
"What do you mean?" Cat Noir cried, standing up. "Ladybug saved you! Her Lucky Charm brought you back to life!"
"She is merely prolonging the inevitable," Gabriel scoffed. His son blinked and took a step back.
"Plagg said you'd have to—you… Wait. You won't let go of the part of you that's Hawkmoth," he realized. "Your powers—That's why Nooroo is always asleep. You're draining him, even now!"
"My powers as Hawkmoth were the only chance I had of seeing your mother ever again," Gabriel said simply. "Right now, not even death will reunite us. I don't know if I'll ever be able to give them up willingly." He finally turned to fully face his son. "Look at me and tell me, Adrien, that if someone told you that you'd never see your Ladybug again, you wouldn't do everything on this Earth to get her back."
Cat Noir paled and looked away. "I'd-I'd find a way—"
"Look behind you," Gabriel ordered. Against his will, Cat Noir did. His eyes widened as he saw the scene from before, frozen in front of him. Hawkmoth's back to him, cane raised, with Ladybug lying helplessly on the floor. Even though he knew it wasn't real, he cried out and reached for her.
"Tell me, Adrien," his father said softly behind him, "that when faced with losing her, your first instinct wasn't to destroy anything and everything that threatened to take her away." Cat felt his eyes start to burn. "Even me. Even your own father."
"I'm sorry!" Cat Noir cried out, spinning around and throwing his arms around his father. He buried his face in the other man's chest. "I'm so—"
"Don't be sorry," Gabriel said, hugging him back. "I should've known better. That's love. That's the same love I felt for your mother. The love that drove me to darkness; to attack a whole city—" He took a deep breath and pulled away from the superhero, just enough to grip his arms and look into his eyes. "I know why the kwamis sent you here. They want to make sure that same darkness doesn't consume you. They want me to warn you…." He nodded, his eyes hardening.
"So I have. And here's my warning, Adrien: don't ever be afraid to love."
Cat Noir's eyes widened, and the whole scene was plunged into darkness.
Adrien woke with a gasp.
Eyes burning, he forced himself to breathe until his stomach stopped churning. Thankfully, he didn't need the waste basket this time.
I can't wait to get the rest of this dark energy out of me, he thought ruefully, sitting up in bed and wiping his eyes. It had gotten late enough to be dark outside. His nap must've taken longer than he'd meant it to.
Only then did he notice Plagg.
The kwami was hovering over his bed, facing the door and growling.
"Plagg?" Adrien called softly. The kwami seemed to snap out of it for a moment and he looked at his charge, eyes glowing. His ears were still flat against his head though, and his tail was thrashing erratically behind him.
"He's here," Plagg growled, turning towards the door again.
"Who's here?" Adrien asked, quietly getting up and straightening his clothes and shoes. He had a feeling he was gonna need to be ready for whatever was on the other side of that door.
"My least favorite person in the world," Plagg muttered.
"Oh, is my father home?" Adrien quipped, wincing a bit at his own bad humor. Plagg just shot him a wry grin.
"Worse," he said. The kwami sucked in a deep breath. "Okay, kid, I don't like to do this, but it's decision time. Are you really ready to grow up and take responsibility for your life?—Gah, I can't believe I'm saying this. I sound like Tikki…."
"After all that work we did today, I would hope so," Adrien said, folding his arms.
"This is bigger than that. There's a huge difference between hoping, and planning, and actually doing something," Plagg said, floating into his face. "So…," the kwami took another deep breath. "Unless you want your mother's Miraculous to disappear forever, I suggest you embrace the badass the darkness was trying to turn you into."
Adrien gaped at him.
"WHAT? Plagg, you want me to—that's crazy!—I could never—what are you…. Wait, what do you mean, it'll disappear forever?" he asked, wide-eyed.
"Your answers are out there," Plagg said, nodding at the door. "But I gotta warn you. If you go out there acting like a pansy, you're gonna lose everything. Probably even me."
Adrien followed his gaze and licked his lips. Was he really ready to do this? His mother's Miraculous…. He took a deep breath and clenched his fists.
"Should I transform?" he asked quietly.
"Better not," Plagg said, swooping over to his shoulder. "I can help you navigate through the BS they'll try to throw at you. Let's put it like this, kid. Yours appears to be the worst-kept secret in this house."
Adrien squared his shoulders and opened the door.
The Gorilla looked surprised to see him. The big guy glanced downstairs and quickly stepped into Adrien's way to the stairs, shaking his head and gesturing for the boy to go back into his room.
Now Adrien understood what his kwami had meant. Words would mean nothing if he didn't try to back it up. He closed his eyes, reaching inside for that coil of power that had made his stomach churn earlier…
And breathed out.
No. This wasn't him. He had to try to negotiate first.
"I don't want to fight you," he said softly, to the man who'd guarded him and stood behind him for years. "But I'm pretty sure there's something down there that I need to see for myself. Please don't stand in my way."
The Gorilla hesitated for a moment, and then, to Adrien's surprise, he stepped aside and nodded, laying a hand on the boy's shoulder just long enough to be supportive instead of restraint. Then, he closed Adrien's bedroom door so gently it didn't make a sound and took up his post beside it again, looking for all the world like nothing had happened.
"Thank you," Adrien said. He peeked downstairs, keeping his body low and trying to stay out of sight until he knew what he was dealing with.
Natalie was at the door, talking with someone just outside. Adrien strained his ears, but despite the room's awesome echoing capabilities, he couldn't hear a thing.
"Plagg," he whispered. "Could you give me Cat Noir's hearing ability? Just for a moment—oh, thanks!" The conversation downstairs was suddenly very easy to listen in on.
"You should've been here yesterday," Natalie was saying, not even bothering to hide her irritation. "We could've saved him—"
"Nobody could've saved him," a male voice replied. Adrien started. He knew that voice! He hadn't heard it over a year, but— "Gabriel was too powerful. He was always that way."
"And what about Adrien?!" Natalie exclaimed. She glanced up towards Adrien's room and the blond quickly made sure he was completely hidden. Above him, the Gorilla nodded at her firmly, as though nothing was wrong. He didn't give any indication that Adrien was out of his room, much less listening to every word. Natalie turned back to her guest. "Do you have any idea what he's had to go through?!"
"I admit, I didn't expect Gabriel to move that quickly," the man said. "But I expect Adrien'll pull through. The kid's always been stronger than people give him credit for. Especially with you looking out for him. Right, Bri?"
Adrien felt his heart stop for a moment. Bri? Wait… A casual conversation with Plagg and Tikki popped into his head. Cookies and cheese bread. Two names thrown out that he'd automatically memorized as easily as any of his homework. But that meant—oh.
"My name is Natalie," she snapped.
"Fine. Whatever," the man chuckled. "I love the red streak, by the way. Very nostalgic."
"Shut up and get in here."
"Why? If it all already went down, what possible use could you have for me, O fearless leader?"
Despite the man's protests, the door clicked shut before he finished speaking. Their voices started moving towards the study.
Adrien remained still, despite wanting to grab Plagg and demand answers. He knew who they were now. He'd known the moment that man had opened his mouth. He should've realized a long time ago. And oh God, it all made sense… the pieces all fit…. He would not hyperventilate. He would not hyperventilate!
"He found it," Natalie hissed, making a point of keeping her voice down now. "I don't know how, but he found it and he's been keeping it here!"
"WHAT!" the man exclaimed, hurrying after her. "How in the world could he possibly—?"
"I don't know! All I know is one day it was there, staring me in the face! And I couldn't do a thing about it because he was already so Gods-be-damned powerful and I had nothing!"
"Why didn't you call for me sooner?! Or even tell the new superheroes! You know, the ones who're supposed to take him down?"
It was getting harder to hear them. They were in the study now, and Adrien was afraid he knew exactly what they were after. He padded down the stairs, trying not to make a sound. He stopped just outside his father's office door. His stomach dropped as he heard the tell-tale creak of the portrait opening.
"…What do you want me to do with it?"
"Take it. Hide it. Someplace safe. Somewhere no one will find it. We can't risk it falling into the wrong hands and I can't—Oh, no! Duusu! She must've woken up during that power surge!"
Suddenly Adrien heard a wail that was both unfamiliar and yet….
"GO AWAY! GO AWAY, HAVEN'T YOU TWO DONE ENOUGH?"
"Oh, Duusu, I'm sorry, I'm so, so sorry," Natalie was crooning. Adrien's breath caught again.
"…poor Duusu. She cried so hard when she found out she couldn't go near the baby…."
Duusu. His mother's kwami.
"…if you ever loved her, take care of her for me, won't you?"
Even as his eyes filled with tears again, Adrien clenched his hands into fists.
"This could be a good thing, Bri. If she can transform you—"
"Do you think she can, with Emilie still trapped inside?" Natalie asked, sounding hopeful.
"Only one way to find out."
He wasn't sure who shouted louder, him or the kwami. But his time for hiding was past. Blood roaring in his ears, Adrien stepped into the room.
"Put down my mother's Miraculous, Natalie," he ordered, his voice shaking. He glared at the blond man beside her. "And Uncle Felix. How nice to see you again."
End Chapter 5.
A/N: Before anyone corrects me, yes, I know Queen Bee's weapon is a trompo. But let's face it, the first time you see it, you immediately think "so, a top?" Or, at least I did. So Marinette is channeling me. Let's just say that.
And yes, I know Season 2 kinda put my theory that "akumas can't go into homes" to rest, but I like that idea, so I'm keeping it.
Also, originally in my head, Duusu identified as a male. Since we got the new information that she likes female pronouns, I tried to correct them all, but if you see I missed one, please let me know.