Still own nothing. Bleh.
Sorry for the long hiatus. I was hoping we'd see more of the queen in the new episodes so I could get her powers right on the first try, but they keep pushing them back and back. So, here we go, flying blind!
Chapter 6: … of Old Friends.
Adrien glared at the two adults standing in front of him, not sure who he wanted to yell at first. His uncle took a step forward, drawing his attention. Felix glanced from him to the kwami still riding on his shoulder for all to see. Plagg waved, snickering. Adrien was glad to see his uncle twitched a bit.
"Hey, kiddo," the man said, sounding a lot calmer than Adrien felt. "Good to see you. You've grown."
"It'd be nicer to see you if you weren't trying to rob me," Adrien snarked. He saw movement out of the corner of his eye.
"Put it down, Natalie," he growled, noticing that his uncle had neatly stepped between him and the woman he was about ready to tear apart. She froze, but didn't let go of the pin, and he clenched his teeth. How many secrets had she kept from him? How many times could she have helped? Given them clues? Hints? ANYTHING?
"Adrien," Natalie said, regaining her composure and straightening, "this doesn't concern you—"
"It DOESN'T CONCERN ME?!" Adrien shouted, his rage spiking. "YOU'RE HOLDING THE ONE THING I HAVE LEFT OF MY MOTHER!"
"Listen, kid. Adrien," Felix said, holding up his hands and trying to calm everybody down. "There are bigger forces in play here, but believe me, we are on your side—"
"ON MY SIDE?" Adrien repeated, incredulous. "YOU TWO IMPRISONED MY MOTHER FOREVER!"
Felix paled. "H-How much did Gabriel tell you?"
"Enough," Adrien spat. "Enough for me to figure things out as soon as I heard your voice! Is this why you haven't been around since she disappeared? Couldn't face us, knowing what you did?!"
"Adrien, you don't understand," Natalie protested. "You don't know what—"
"And you were never gonna tell me. Right?" Adrien interrupted. She looked away, which just made him madder. "I'm not gonna ask nicely again, Natalie. Bridgette. Whatever the hell your name is. Put my mother's pin down and step away from the painting."
He didn't know how he caught it. It was just a glance between the two adults. But he did catch it. And it reminded him so much of working with Ladybug. How he always knew exactly what she wanted him to do, with nothing more than a look or a few words.
He caught it, realized, and was moving even before they were.
He bounded back a couple steps, out of reach of Felix, who stumbled a bit when his prey slipped away from his sudden lunge. Reaching inside himself, Adrien had no more inhibitions. He focused on that twisted feeling in his gut… and pulled.
Just as his uncle lunged for him again, the door beside them opened in his face, hitting him hard. Adrien let out a surprised laugh as the Gorilla stood there in the doorway, looking behind it to see what he'd hit.
I could get used to having bad luck as a power!
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Natalie pin the Peacock Miraculous just above her heart. Duusu let out a mournful sob. Rage boiled inside him.
He wasn't sure how it happened. All of sudden, Cat Noir's baton was in his hand, already extending itself to smash into the wall right beside Natalie's head. She stared at him in shock, the words dying on her tongue. Her glasses slipped off her nose and her hair fell out of its carefully-arranged bun. She suddenly looked a lot younger than he'd ever thought, but he had no more mercy left.
"If you DARE tell my mother's kwami to transform you, I will END you," Adrien snarled.
Faintly, he was aware of a strange wind whipping around him, and from the horrified stares of the adults around him, he was pretty sure his eyes were glowing purple again. Marinette was gonna kill him.
Just the thought of her was enough to make him take a breath and relax his grip on the baton. Obediently, the staff receded back to its shortest length. On his shoulder, Plagg took a deep breath and the baton vanished altogether. Adrien held out his hand to Natalie.
"Adrien…," she began.
Slowly, carefully, she took the pin off and stepped towards him. Felix tried to stand, but the Gorilla laid a hand on his shoulder and shook his head. Natalie slowly, cautiously laid the Miraculous in Adrien's open palm.
"I want you to know, we are on the same side," she said softly. "Everything I said before was true…."
"Yeah, you just omitted some details," Adrien said, stepping away from her. He glanced at his uncle and then turned back to her. "A lot of details, Miss Former-Ladybug. How long have you been lying to my family, Natalie? Did my father know who you were when he hired you?"
She looked away and didn't answer.
"And you expect me to trust you." Adrien shook his head and headed out the door of the study, not waiting for an answer. Only once he was standing in the middle of the entryway did he look over at the little blue kwami who had tentatively followed him out of the room, looking shy but hopeful.
"Duusu, right?" he said gently. The little bird nodded enthusiastically. "I'm Adrien. I don't know if you remember me—"
"Of course I do!" the little kwami chirped excitedly, looking like she was torn between zooming over to the boy for a hug and keeping her distance so her feathers didn't affect Adrien's allergies. "I've known you since you were a baby! How could I ever forget my sweet Melode's golden chicky!" Adrien smiled. Melode? That must've been his mother's superhero name. It suited her.
"Hey, I'll have you know he's a Cat now, bird-brain!" Plagg growled, rising up to challenge the new kwami. "Don't be calling him a chicky!"
"Oh, it's you," Duusu said, disdain dripping from her voice as she looked the cat kwami up and down. "You really shouldn't hang out with creatures like him, Adrien. He'll make you smell bad."
Adrien laughed as Plagg gave a half-hearted cry of outrage.
But they froze when they realized the adults he'd left behind were talking again.
"What the hell?" Uncle Felix was exclaiming. "Just how powerful is that kid?"
"I tried to tell you before, but—GAH! You were supposed to be keeping an eye on him! To warn me if he woke up!" Natalie exclaimed. The Gorilla just grunted.
Adrien sighed and rolled his eyes at Plagg. "Remember how you once told me that being a grownup was just wishing you could go back to bed everyday? I think I've reached that point."
His kwami snickered at him. "So, naptime?"
"Don't I wish."
"Then whatcha gonna do about it?"
"Obviously, not catch up with my mom's old friend, that's for sure," he said, looking at Duusu with regret. "And I had so many questions for you too…. But I'm not gonna use the pin anytime soon, so…."
"I'll go back to sleep!" Duusu chimed in eagerly. "That way you don't have to worry about your allergies while you give those two a dressing down! I don't like to leave her alone for too long anyway!"
Adrien choked. "So, she's really in there?" he asked, staring at the pin in his hand. Duusu nodded.
"She's asleep, waiting for someone to break the spell," she said. Adrien sneezed and Duusu quickly floated backwards again. "Don't worry. We can talk more about it later!" And with that, the little blue kwami dove into the pin, which immediately blossomed from a simple, silver flower into a beautiful, blue peacock fanning its tail. Adrien smiled at it for a moment before carefully tucking it in his pocket.
"—After all our years together, I can't believe you would betray me like this!" Natalie was raging. Again, the Gorilla just grunted. "You're fired!"
"No, he's not!" Adrien called loudly, turning and heading back into the study. After his outburst earlier, he felt remarkably calm and collected right now. As soon as he walked in, he noticed three things: Uncle Felix was still sitting down and still clutching his head, the Gorilla was smirking at him, and Natalie looked pissed, even if she was trying to compose herself.
"I think we've heard enough out of you, young man," she said crisply, straightening her jacket.
"Well, you're about to hear more," Adrien said, feeling the dark magic from before coursing merrily through his veins. "Why don't we all have supper together and discuss it?"
"There is nothing to discuss, Adrien," Natalie said, her mask of indifference slowly coming back up. "Go to your room."
Adrien crossed his arms and casually leaned back against the doorframe. He cocked his head at her and gave her an expectant look, enjoying the way her fist clenched at her side before she got it back under control. No words were needed, but they still hung in the air.
"Adrien…," she started.
"With my father gone, that makes me head of this household," Adrien said coolly. "And I want my bodyguard to stay."
Natalie scoffed. "Legally, I am—"
"My guardian," Adrien finished, nodding. "But do you know what the word 'emancipated' means, Natalie?"
She went white.
"It means, from how Plagg explained it, that I would be an adult in the eyes of the law," Adrien said smoothly. "Which means… your guardian status would go down the drain."
"You don't know how…," Natalie protested weakly.
"Not alone, I didn't. But, you know, I'm never really alone, am I?" He reached up to give Plagg a tiny fistbump. The kwami was snickering. "And, considering I can afford to pay Dad's lawyer a lot more than you can, I think he's gonna side with me on this one. Especially since I don't give two figs about the company and I'd gladly hand it over to him for just a bit of freedom."
"Adrien." Natalie looked well-and-truly shaken.
"Of course, that means your job is in danger too, now doesn't it?" Adrien exclaimed, pretending to be surprised. "Man, that's too bad!"
"Ignore him, Bri," Felix cut in, frowning at his nephew. "Just cut off his access to the phone and Internet until you can get everything squared away. Then you'll be home free."
"Too late," Adrien grinned back. "I already contacted several people who would be willing to represent me this afternoon. If they don't hear from me again by tomorrow, I've told them to assume you've illegally kidnapped me and are holding me against my will. The police might even get involved. I'm still a valuable witness to what happened to my father, after all."
"It won't work," Natalie muttered to Felix. "He's right, they're already watching us."
"You little creep," Felix exclaimed, staring at Plagg in disbelief. "I can't believe you actually paid attention to my law books when I was studying!"
Plagg stuck his tongue out at his former master.
"Now, all that aside," Adrien continued, sounding bored, "I don't really want to do any of that. Even with the lawyers handling most of the hard stuff, it sounds like a lot of hassle. And let's face it, Natalie, you're very good at your job. I don't really want to cut you off. So, let's have a truce, shall we? I don't mess with you, you don't mess with me. Deal?"
Natalie studied him for a moment, and then raised her head and nodded once.
"Deal," she said. "On the condition that you also give up your ring."
He snorted. "Not a chance."
"Kid, I don't think you quite understand what kind of powers you're dealing with," Felix cut in, staring Adrien down.
Adrien felt his temper flare again. "You're right, I don't," he said casually. "But the last man who told me I didn't understand, well, he tried to akumatize me not long afterwards with a whole fricking storm of butterflies. So, you'll have to forgive me if I happen to Cataclysm you in the back if you so much as look at me wrong."
Felix paled and then cleared his throat nervously.
"Adrien, buddy, listen to me," his uncle pleaded, holding up his hands in surrender. "I know I've been gone for a while, but I know you! This isn't you! You've gotta let the darkness go! Believe me, kid, you don't wanna see how deep this rabbit hole goes. I've seen better people than you go over to the Dark Side. It's not pretty."
Something tugged on Adrien's conscious, making him feel uneasy. What…? He wasn't giving into the darkness yet… Was he…? True, he wasn't acting like he usually did, but that was only because he needed people to listen to him right now! It wasn't because… wait, what was he saying again?
"Let me help you," Felix was saying, slowly approaching his nephew, "just give me the Miraculouses and I'll get them back to Master Fu where they belong… then everything can go back to the way it was."
Adrien felt strangely numb. He knew his uncle had taken his hand. He knew the man wanted the Cat Ring. But—no, this was okay. The Bad Guy had been defeated. They could go back to their normal lives now. Just him and Marinette.
The thought of her was hazy, like he was drowning… and the image seemed… off somehow. Did she have longer hair? No, no, that wasn't right! None of this was right!
Plagg, help me! He screamed inside his own head.
Felix's scream startled Adrien awake, and he shook his head to see that Plagg had sunk his little teeth into the man's hand. Felix quickly shook him off, stumbling back.
"You interfering little—"
"I had my stint with you," Plagg snarled back, swooping back to hide on Adrien's shoulder. "You may have become a bit less of a stiff-shirt than you were back then, but you still haven't learned what you needed to!"
"Which is?" Felix asked, still clutching his hand as he glared at the kwami.
"Compassion, for one!" Plagg yelled, his tail thrashing angrily behind him. "It isn't all about you! Here's your nephew, who just had to face off against his dad trying to take over his mind, and you go and try to hit him with a glamour!"
"A glamour?" Adrien repeated staring at the kwami.
"Mind trick," Plagg explained. "It felt foggy, right? Like you'd just woken up and you couldn't remember what you'd been dreaming about?"
"Yeah. Wait, that was you?" Adrien exclaimed, pointing at his uncle.
"I am trying to help," Felix grit out. "You don't need that ring anymore, Adrien, and I know how hard it is to give it up—"
"Oh, don't even start!" Natalie and Plagg shouted together, turning on his uncle.
"Look, I had my problems with the ring," Felix admitted. "And they mostly stemmed from that little shit—" He pointed at Plagg. "But I was trying to—"
"I don't think you quite understood me when I threatened to Cataclysm you earlier," Adrien snarled, stalking closer to his uncle.
"Adrien, just listen to yourself for a moment…," Felix warned, backing up.
And then Natalie was suddenly between them, holding up her hand to ward Adrien off. A see-thru red shield appeared in front of her. Adrien stopped, blinking in surprise.
"That. Is. Enough," Natalie said, glaring at him.
Adrien studied the shield. Nice. That sure would've been useful at least… oh, at least a half-dozen times when he'd gotten caught up in an akuma attack with her nearby. If only she'd cared to use it to help him….
"You really think that's gonna hold up against a Cataclysm?" he drawled, feeling the dark energy start to build up in his arm in anticipation.
"It'll hold," Natalie said confidently. Something about her tone of voice made Adrien think that she'd had previous experience with that particular scenario…. Yikes. But hadn't she been the Ladybug? He glanced behind her to Felix, who indeed looked a bit ashamed of himself.
"And I thought I had issues," he joked at Plagg. Surprisingly, the kwami didn't laugh or smile. Instead, he swooped closer to Adrien's ear.
"Just remember, kid, whatever you do here, you gotta live with for the rest of your life," he muttered softly. "Jerk-face over there is a prime example."
"I thought you wanted me to be a badass," Adrien said, frowning.
"A badass, yes. An asshole, no."
Adrien scowled at his kwami for a moment, feeling the power inside him writhe in frustration. It wanted him to move, to strike out at the ones causing him pain. And a part of him wanted it too. He'd been locked up—alone and desperate—for so long… and these two were arguably the most to blame….
No. His father had had a part in that as well. And… well, he already regretted what he'd had to do there. (In the same scenario, he'd do it again in a heartbeat, but that didn't mean he'd enjoyed it.) Plagg was right. He had to think. And he couldn't do that here.
"I'm going out for a run," he said, turning and heading out of the room again.
"Adrien!" Natalie called after him, suddenly sounding scared.
"That is a Bad Idea," Felix added, also chasing him. "There are akumas all over town!"
"And it's my job to fix them," Adrien argued. He continued towards his bedroom.
"No, kid," his uncle said, grabbing his arm and pulling him to a stop. Adrien felt the darkness rise up again, but this time, he carefully throttled it. After that last threat, he was pretty sure Felix wouldn't come near him unless he had good reason. Sure enough, his uncle looked terrified. "Don't do it. Not as the Cat. If one of them gets ahold of you, you'll turn Paris into a crater!"
"I'll be fine," Adrien said, shrugging him off.
"Plagg, help me here!" Felix cried desperately. "Tell him! Tell him about Atlantis if you have to!"
Surprised, Adrien looked at his kwami, who winced and gave him a guilty smile. "Let's just say there's not really much left to find… no matter how hard they look."
Adrien gulped, but quickly shook himself out of it. No. That wasn't him. He wouldn't become that.
"Look," he said, trying to sound patient, "I know it's dangerous. I know I'm not at my best right now. But it's my job to contain the akumas somehow—"
"No, it's not," Natalie interrupted. "You were sent in to save Nooroo and stop Hawkmoth. And you've done that. But it's never been the Cat's job to manage the akumas. That's the Butterfly's job."
"But then why would my father say…," Adrien trailed off as realization struck. "Oh, hell. You mean my father wanted me to become the next Butterfly?!"
Cat Noir bounded across rooftops, so completely fed up with adults that he was sick. And he no longer cared what anybody said. He wanted his Marinette. He wanted her soft, almost-startled smile. The laughter in her eyes. The warmth of her arms while she held him. He wanted to hand the Peacock Miraculous over to her and watch her face become fiercely protective when he told her how precious it really was. She surely wouldn't let anything happen to it. And he was confident she, of all people, could find a way to get his mother out of there.
Without having to terrorize a city to do it.
Frowning he stared down at the lights of Paris. Citizens were still venturing out through all of this chaos; so sure that their superheroes would save them. He and Ladybug might need to make a public statement soon—
Cat Noir yelped as something yellow shot past his face in a blur, impacting the chimney beside him instead of his head. He whirled around to face his attacker and blinked when he saw a figure dressed in a yellow jumpsuit several buildings away. An akuma? Damn, she had good aim for that distance!
And she was flinging her weapon in his direction again!
He leapt off the building and onto the pavement below. Inwardly, he cursed when he realized that the street was crowded with people. He opened his mouth to warn them all to seek shelter from the akuma immediately, when…
"Everyone out of the way!" his pursuer screamed at the crowd. People jumped to heed her as she strode towards him. Confused, Cat Noir backed away.
Since when did akumas care about the general populace? Didn't they usually love flaunting their power over everyone?
"I knew you'd come back around here!" the yellow akuma snarled at him. "I knew you'd want to see her again! And I knew she was lying when she said nothing was happening between you two!"
Okay… so, it must be someone who knew about him and Marinette then…. But that could be anyone with all the press they'd gotten lately!
He backed up further, and she shrieked in anger, thinking he was trying to make another escape. She threw her weapon at him. He dodged, scampering to put a bit more distance between them. Something about her was familiar somehow… but he didn't want to get close enough to inspect her further.
Especially when her weapon tore through the concrete right next to him.
That could've been me, Cat thought with wild eyes. And I don't even know if I should fight her! Maybe these new akumas can be reasoned with? Damn, he could really use Ladybug right about now. She'd know what to do. For now, he decided, he'd lead this girl away from the bigger crowds and hopefully get away from her long enough to call his partner.
Of course, that was easier said than done.
She pursued him relentlessly; keeping up with him even though he knew these rooftops, these streets, like the back of his hand. There were times he was sure he'd lost her, only to have to duck just in time to have that stupid weapon of hers burrow into whatever was behind him.
GEEZ, was that thing a top?
Finally, he lost her. Cat Noir watched her from his hiding spot as she looked around in frustration and then grabbed her weapon in a strange way. It reminded him of when he looked at the screen on his baton…
SHE WAS TRACKING HIM! Cold fear washed over him. This was no akuma. She had a Miraculous! And unlike Hawkmoth's, the tracking feature wasn't turned off! (That had been one of the first things he and Ladybug had checked after they realized they could communicate with each other. But no, his father had somehow known about it as well.) He cursed in his mind again. He couldn't turn his off; Ladybug might need to find him…. Well, there was another way to turn off the tracker. And if she really was a Miraculous holder, she wouldn't hurt a civilian.
He frowned and ducked into a nearby alley.
"Plagg, claws in!"
Plagg quickly swooped inside his jacket as Adrien ran for the main street. If he could just get to a crowd and blend in—
"Gotcha, kitty!" his pursuer crowed in triumph, landing in front of him. Adrien grimaced and backed up. He really didn't have choice than to try to play innocent…. "And now, there's nowhere for you… to…" She trailed off as Adrien accidentally moved under a light. He winced.
"Sorry, you've got the wrong guy," he tried anyway. "I was just separated from my friends—!"
"ADRIKINS? YOU'RE CAT NOIR?"
Adrien froze, staring wide-eyed as his pursuer also stepped into the light and he finally got a good look at her. Not that he needed to get a good look at her. There was only one person in the world who called him that.
"CHLOE? Wait, why are you dressed like a bee?"
End Chapter 6.
A/N: Sorry about the lack of Marinette. It's one of the things that kept this chapter so long, but I couldn't work her in. Adrien was too loud.