Author's Note: Remember the times when I wrote multichapter fics? Me neither...
Just this morning I complained to Rem that I didn't prepare anything for April's Fool. Half an hour later this idea struck me and the crack was born. Enjoy!
PS. I swear I'm gonna start on a multichapter one of these days. I actually have three new stories outlined already...
Gabriel found out only because he caught Adrien sneaking up the cavernous hall of the mansion. Despite Gabriel's requests he was hunching and walking the crab walk of someone who wishes to become invisible.
'Adrien!' he called immediately, catching wind of something fishy.
His son shuddered and slumped even further. He stopped but didn't turn around.
'Yes, father?' the boy asked looking at him over his shoulder.
'Keep your back straight, I've asked you so many times,' Gabriel scolded.
Adrien straightened up immediately. 'Yes, father,' he replied, his back now straight but still in Gabriel's vision.
'Turn around, son. It's extremely impolite to talk to someone with your back to them,' the designer pointed out, now looking for the reason his son was sneaking to his room.
'I, um, I'm in a hurry, father,' the boy's face contorted in a lopsided smile. 'I have a lot of homework!' he squeaked.
Gabriel's silver brow shot up high above his glasses in reply to this strange behavior. His son was really a poor actor. 'Turn around,' the man ordered, mentally slapping himself for wanting to follow it with "slowly".
It was at that moment he noticed that Adrien's overshirt bulged in strange ways and even if he stood straight, it still seemed a bit… well… hunchy. A random pun about having a hunch about the hunch crossed his mind, but he quickly dismissed it. Puns were now exclusive for his alter ego and he only donned the purple pants in the mornings, when Adrien was at school.
Adrien completed his turn and was trying to combine the impossible - standing straight as per request, and clutching the overshirt close to his chest in a clear attempt to hide whatever it was underneath. It seemed that not only his back was bulgy, but his biceps looked extremely weird and puffy. The boy cast him a quick look and averted his gaze to his feet.
'I'm sorry, father,' he mumbled. 'Can I go now?'
'What are you wearing?' Gabriel barked.
Adrien's eyes got bigger. 'My usual shirt?' he whispered.
Gabriel sighed. His son could be oblivious sometimes, he was well aware of that streak. It ran in the family. But he felt personally offended that despite the evidence Adrien still decided to play stupid.
'And underneath?' he pressed on. Really, what was the boy thinking?
'My usual t-shirt?' Adrien forgot himself for a moment. His hand went to his neck to rub it, like he always did when uncomfortable, and that was all it took for Gabriel to catch the glimpse of the real garment under the white shirt.
The designer cringed and gasped, for the first time in years rendered speechless by an article of clothing. And not in a good way.
At that point Adrien had realized his mistake. 'I guess the cat is out of the bag,' he offered a sheepish smile and pushed the overshirt to sides to reveal…
Well damn, Gabriel was a designer for years, participated in a ton of haute couture ridiculous weeks, but he still had difficulty with putting a label onto what his son was actually wearing.
It started as a huge bubble of red, covering his neck and chest, then turned into a smaller bubble of yellow at his stomach and another one, blue, at his waist. From what Gabriel could see, the same pattern was repeated on the sleeves. There was a large eye-like print in front and some dark tube like embroidery going to the back of the garment.
He couldn't help but to stare until Adrien broke the silence clearing his throat.
Gabriel started. 'Take the overshirt off, please?'
The boy did as he was asked and bashfully demonstrated another print at the back of the… thing… looking similar to a yellow bubble container. Finally it dawned on the designer what he was actually seeing.
'Is it… a costume?' he queried.
Adrien went back to rubbing his neck. 'Sort of, but not really?' he hesitated. 'It's just like a normal t-shirt just a bit… extra?'
Gabriel could only glare, but the boy soldiered on. 'Everyone is wearing them,' he said proudly. 'This is all the rage now.'
Well it definitely was outrageous, if anyone would bother to ask Gabe. 'Couldn't agree more,' the man muttered under his breath and then a nagging thought kicked him in the brain. 'What do you mean "everyone is wearing them"?'
'Oh, it's this new thing,' Adrien smiled, apparently taking Gabriel's startled expression as a sign of interest. 'It's not only the Bubbler. There's plenty of other akuma,' he enthused. 'I have Antibug too. And Pharaoh, and Lady Wifi, RogerCop and the Mime. Guitar Villain of course and…' he paused suddenly, biting his lip.
'And?' Gabriel urged him to continue. 'And who?'
'... the Collector,' Adrien mumbled shuffling his feet and once again effectively shutting all the designer's systems down.
Gabriel's brain was sizzling at that point. Someone was making akuma clothes? And not just prints on t-shirts, but actual costume-like clothes, as evidenced in the bulges on Adrien's arms and chest. Someone was selling them? It was a new young fashion trend? Was it only young fashion? Why didn't he see that coming? And so on, and so on, his mind was flooded with questions. The fact that his son out of fascination or loyalty or whatever else the reason was, bought a shirt based on his akuma was the proverbial cherry on top, which he decided to put away for further consideration.
'I know it's silly,' now Adrien caught on his state and automatically started explaining himself, 'and that I should wear our brand. But it's so much fun I couldn't stop myself,' he reverted to rubbing his neck again.
Gabriel's brain finally rebooted. He waved his hand dismissively. 'I don't mind,' he stated gravely. 'But I'd like to know, where did you buy them.'
The boy shrugged and evidently stopped himself mid eye-roll, 'The internet,' he said. 'But they are sometimes available at local fairs and events. That's where I got this one,' he pointed to the black-eyed red bubble covering his chest.
'Hmmm,' Gabriel pursed his lips. 'Thank you for this information. Now I believe you've mentioned a lot of homework. Don't let me detain you.'
Adrien smirked and nodded, probably grateful that the interrogation was over, and rushed to his room, while Gabriel headed to his own study drowned in thoughts.
Someone was using akuma designs to create clothes and it irked him to no end. Haven't people heard of copyrights, for heaven's sake?!
Oh, right. Those weren't Gabriel's designs. Those were Hawkmoth's. He couldn't exactly use them in any of his collections. It would not only be risky, stupidly drawing attention to his brand and associating it with the akumas, especially with the whole deal with the book, but if he was honest with himself it would be also a tad unethical.
'Nathalie,' he paused his musing only to summon his assistant. 'Please find out, who is selling the akuma clothes Adrien's bought and get me all of them right away,' he ordered and closed the door in her face.
He started pacing impatiently in his study, mulling over the whole affair.
But those are my designs, something at the back of his brain screamed.
Awful designs, his designer ego replied, wincing.
On purpose, to cover your tracks, the backbrain argued.
Really awful designs, the ego hissed. Cringeworthy, including the Collector.
That's beside the point, the hindbrain replied. Someone is making money out of it, so they must be good.
Well, the ego stroked his chin, those are my designs after all.
And you don't mind someone is using them without permission?! the back of his brain screamed.
It's not like I can just go to them and ask them to stop! the ego now was doubly vexed, at the situation and at that hindbrain of his.
Why not? the backbrain droned.
'That's enough,' Gabriel bellowed, slamming his fists into the wall with enough force to leave a dent. He earned a gasp in reply, as Nathalie dropped a pile of clothes she was just taking inside.
'Sorry, Sir,' she apologized automatically and started picking up the weird collection from the floor. She spread the garments over the miniature runway and left, casting him a worried look.
First thing Gabriel did was inspecting the materials. Decent quality, but not over the top. Of course, things like that should be affordable. The stitching was neat. The cut reasonable. Close enough to the akumas' real look, but comfortable to wear. He was surprised at the variety of the items - there were t-shirts, tunics, shirts and even a Horrificator themed hoodie, with purple tentacles sewn to the hood above the embroidered three eyes.
He clenched his fists. A closer inspection of the hoodie revealed a tag with a trademark - a white and purple akuma outline, similar to what appeared when Hawkmoth talked to his champions. Apparently not only his ideas were borrowed, but also Nooroo's. The little kwami wouldn't get any recognition for his logo either, he thought and it somehow made him feel better that he wasn't alone in his misery.
His rage cooled a bit. These clothes were not only decently done, but also inventive in design. True, it was inspired by his akumas, but neatly implemented into everyday clothing. And in a very creative way. Gabriel whistled in appreciation. He had to admit this wasn't really a case of design theft, but an adaptation of the idea. Inspiration was a very accurate word here and as a fellow designer he couldn't help but to admire the concepts.
An acronym "AF" caught his eye. Underneath he found the phrase "Akuma Fashion" printed in small font. He typed it into his phone and a quick search returned an address in another part of the city. Gabriel considered it for a moment. He was curious. He had been even before he got his paws on the clothes and now that he analysed them, he was itching to learn who was behind all this. But he couldn't exactly pay them an inconspicuous visit as Gabriel Agreste without causing unwanted gossip.
He chuckled. That's where having a masked alter ego came in handy. A quick transformation and a few leaps later, he was already nearing the arrondissement where the label was registered.
Hawkmoth sneaked through the backdoor to something he hoped was a workshop. A dark corridor stretched to the front of the building, and from the rooms on either side of it he could hear a familiar hum of sewing machines. He risked a peek inside one of them only to discover a few men and women in Ladybug aprons working on various items of clothing. Some designs he had already seen, but some were new. Curious, he glimpsed into some other rooms, careful to stay hidden in the darkness of the corridor. In every room he found similar set of machines and ladybug-apronned sewers.
He got to a stairwell and then caught voices from the upper level of the building. Silently he climbed the stairs, as the conversation on the first floor unravelled.
'Well, it was Chat's idea,' someone giggled.
'Oh, Bugaboo, it was just a joke that you turned into this miraculous enterprise,' another voice replied smugly.
'So both of you were behind this idea, I see,' a third, professional but amused voice interrupted. 'How does it work?'
This sounded like an interview. Intrigued, Hawkmoth halted in front of the door to the room that was the source of the voices. He listened, his curiosity finally getting the feast it craved.
'It's a social economy venture, we do not do this for profit,' the first, feminine voice explained.
'Everything we earn goes to the employees or is donated to public utility foundations of our choice,' the second, manly voice supplied.
'And the designs?' the interviewer prompted.
'Oh, those are all Ladybug's input,' the second voice stated proudly. 'Turns out that the embodiment of creation has quite a creative streak in her,' he murmured and there was a slight thwack sound, as if someone hit another someone in the arm.
'Stop with the praise, Kitty,' the first voice replied happily. 'Some of those are your ideas.'
'But it's you who provides the detailed designs, my Lady,' the second voice replied in mock offence.
'Well, Ladybug, I must congratulate you,' the interviewer was clearly pleased with their interviewees' trademark banter. 'I've spoken with a few people of Parisian fashion world and they all complimented the designs as being neat, modern, and well... ahem… cut to consumers' needs.' There was a pause and a male snicker was heard before the journalist continued. 'They were all surprised you don't want to take credit for them as your civilian self. It would definitely open many doors for you.'
Oh, Hawkmoth would most definitely open quite a few himself, including one trapdoor, Gabriel thought bitterly.
'Thank you,' the first voice - clearly Ladybug - replied. 'But I'm not doing this for fame or portfolio or whatever other reasons. We just wanted to do something substantial for the public and at the same time lessen the stigma that comes from akumatization.'
'So by making akuma clothes trendy you're helping the victims?' the interviewer sounded astonished.
'We wanted to bring attention to the fact that the victims are innocent and shouldn't be rejected or bullied, like we know has happened in a few cases,' the second voice - Chat's - explained solemnly.
'And by redistributing the profits we make sure something good comes to us even from such disastrous things like akuma attacks,' Ladybug concluded.
Well, that was quite a lot of information for Hawkmoth to digest. The idea was brilliant, the motivation noble. It figured the heroes would come up with something like that, he mentally spat. He resisted the urge to stomp and grumble something villainy under his breath, when he felt someone catching his arms and pushing him inside the room where the interview took place.
'I found one, Nadja,' his captor called from behind his back. 'Is he any good?' they asked pointing a finger to his suit.
'Ah, this must be your newest design!' the journalist, who now despite his horror Hawkmoth identified as Nadja Chamack exclaimed in surprise. 'I think it's your first suit? How unique!' she delighted. 'I thought you aimed at youngsters, but this… I could totally see a gentleman in a suit like that.'
Hawkmoth decided he liked this woman already. She babbled happily about his super-costume completely oblivious that her interviewees raised from their seats and reached for their weapons.
He wanted to draw his sword in reply, but discovered that nasty woman took it away to inspect "the craftsmanship".
Well fuck, he thought, as the yoyo string wrapped around his arms and shoulders. He squinted at the end of Chat's baton that stopped millimeters from his face, This is going to be an interesting afternoon.
In his hands, bound behind his back, a white butterfly flickered and turned purple, charged with magic.
AN: Thank you for reading. As always, please let me know, how you liked it. I greatly appreciate your feedback. And I try to reply to every review provided it is not a guest one, because there is no possibility to reply to those.
There was a blatant reference to Terry Pratchett's books in this oneshot, because I love him.
The acronym AF stands not only for Akuma Fashion, but also for April Fools :)
Thank you Remasa for a quick betascan!
For more miraculous content, including previews of the things I'm working on, visit me on perditaalottachocolate-blog . tumblr . com.