Again, the general idea of this chapter came from a comment by Draxynnic.
Chapter 4: Coffee, Mr. Agreste?
Tensions were brewing sky-high in the Agreste Mansion, and it was all the fault of one tiny black cat.
Needless to say, the Kwami of Destruction certainly knew about his dastardly wide range of influence in spite of his relatively minuscule size, and the brash little scamp wasted no time in taking full advantage of that fact. The downright vicious smirk which he had on his face was just the icing on the cake.
"How are you doing, Mr. Agreste?" While those words would normally imply concern, the query instead came off as a verbal jab when they were exhaled from the gaping jaw of the roguish Plagg.
Gabriel found himself positively seething when he heard the seemingly innocuous query, the designer clenching his fists until his knuckles were practically as white as his suit. That Plagg had the gall to ask him about how he was doing when the cat had probably led to quite a few strands of his platinum-blond hair graying out in the span of a few hours?
Oh, hell no. He wasn't going to be blindsided by the rogue kwami. Not after the two horrific stunts that Plagg had pulled on him earlier.
Despite his growing exhaustion while he strolled over to his bedroom, Gabriel kept his guard up, as sharp and alert as he could possibly be after a long and tiring day. He would not lose this battle of endurance between them. He had to win against Plagg eventually… he needed to!
He had both the Kwami of Destruction and the Black Cat Miraculous right in the palm of his hands! Never before had he been closer to his goal of having his family back after that disaster in Tibet… of having Emilie back! He would not have that defiant cat ruin everything that he'd worked for when victory was this close to being in his grasp!
Rather unfortunately for Gabriel, a dissatisfied Plagg was just as determined and resolved to screw with his master for reasons of his own.
Nightfall had taken forever to come. After the mortifying experience that he had been forced to suffer while in the washroom—an experience which had cumulated in him rinsing his face with copious amounts of water just to get those ghastly images out of his tainted mind—Gabriel was very much looking forward to having a long rest. Placing his glasses by the dress drawer by the side of his bed and lying down on the comforter, he prepared to sleep off the remainder of this terrible day in hopes of a brighter tomorrow.
…and then Plagg had to open his smarmy mouth.
"Are you always this rude to your potential business partners, or are you singling me out just because I'm a kwami?" Plagg asked while impatiently tapping his foot mid-air, before impertinently glaring at Gabriel when he got zilch response after a few seconds. "Hey! I'm still waiting for an answer, you know?"
Gabriel could feel an enlarged vein bulging on his temple. "I am going to sleep," he answered curtly. "I do not have the time nor the patience to deal with you right now."
Only when he saw Plagg's lips curl into a smirk did Gabriel realize his terrible mistake.
"So you expect me to do the prudent thing?"
After hearing the kwami say it in such a condescending manner, Gabriel was forced to admit that it did sound ridiculous. Nonetheless, Plagg let himself lay back in mid-air, raising a paw to the ceiling and shaking it about as though he was actively considering the suggestion.
The front lasted a full three seconds.
"Ahahaha! Oh, that's rich!" Plagg gesticulated wildly, zipping about in an erratic fashion as he laughed. "That'll only happen in your most unrealistic of dreams, Mr. Agreste!"
Nooroo could only offer his master a brief flash of pity.
On the other hand, Gabriel looked ready to snap.
"Calm down, Mr. Agreste," Plagg dismissively waved at the man. "Your face looks about as red as your dumb necktie. Any more and you would be able to melt precious, scrumptious c-cheese on it. Bleh!" the kwami stuck his tongue out in disgust. "That would be such a complete waste of cheese…"
It was at this exact point where Gabriel lost his cool.
"Breathe, master," Nooroo advised, waving his tiny little arms in front of Gabriel's dilated eyes as his owner lay face-down on the queen-sized bed. "Breathe."
Instead of taking the helpful advice, Gabriel found himself hyperventilating when he heard the other kwami snort. "Mr. Agreste is already breathing, Nooroo." Plagg paused derisively, mulling over his words for a moment before adding, "As much as I would like him to drop dead right here and now."
If Gabriel wasn't pushed to the point of exhaustion, he had no doubt in his capability to shut Plagg's defiant attitude down with a few choice words of his own. Instead, he merely resorted to turning away and tightly squeezing his pillow over his ear to drown out the unwanted noise.
"Trying to catch a snooze?"
Gabriel knew better than to answer Plagg this time, knowing full well that Plagg was trying to get a rise out of him.
However, Plagg was undaunted by the lack of a response, continuing to insistently press the matter. "Having trouble sleeping?" He grinned maniacally, his eyes glinting as he stared at Gabriel. "Do you want a bedtime lullaby, perhaps?"
Gabriel remained silent, despite how much the insinuation of having a children's lullaby sung to him insulted him. But maybe if he kept quiet, Plagg would finally let him be—
"I'll take that as a 'yes', then."
…then again, maybe not.
"Aha! I've got it! I'll serenade you with a magnificent ode to Ca—" Plagg suddenly stopped mid-sentence, cutting himself off with widened eyes as he slapped a paw over his mouth. It was so abrupt that even a distracted Gabriel could notice that something was off.
There was no way that Plagg would admit to Gabriel why he stopped his train of thought, however. He refused to divulge that he was upset because he couldn't recite a full-length poem consisting of approximately 10,000 stanzas, an epic centered around his precious Camembert which deserved an audience, willing or otherwise.
Ever since he had fallen under Hawkmoth's power, Plagg had carefully kept up a perfect façade of sovereignty, adamantly trying to retain some degree of freedom. But to succeed, he could not afford to show a single sign of weakness to Gabriel, as the wielder of the Miraculous still had full autonomous control over the kwami.
But since whoever controlled the food supply invariably controlled them, Plagg knew that he wouldn't be able to resist the delectable delicacy should the temptation of Camembert strike him. A stomach was the way to a kwami's heart, and he had no room in his blackened, closed-off heart for a miserable flea like Gabriel Agreste.
And thus he had elected—very begrudgingly—to covertly cover up exactly what food he relished.
While he did slip up earlier and reveal that it was cheese when he had been arduously taunting his master with fervor, knowing Gabriel, the man wouldn't associate Camembert cheese with him. He'd probably buy something cheap and mass-produced like cheddar, which had significantly less swaying power over him. Processed cheese didn't even reek!
That, or Gabriel would be too tired to remember that minor detail. Hopefully the latter.
"Never mind. I've ran out of tunes," Plagg dismissively waved a paw, casually playing off the change of topic before Gabriel could make a comment. "I suppose you'll have to make do with a story. For the sake of brevity, I'll try and keep things short for you, okay?" he said as he winked, the kwami's shoulders drooping as he sauntered over to Gabriel.
Gabriel didn't trust that wink. Not at all. If he'd learnt anything in the past couple of hours, it was to never take anything that Plagg said at face value, as the cat kwami was even more slippery than a conman in a seedy district.
"Short?" Gabriel snorted as if what Plagg had just told him was a joke — and chances were, it actually was. "Are you going to recite the works of Shakespeare to me next, perhaps?" he seethed, trying to pre-empt the kwami before he got any more ideas to mess with him. At least this way he would be able to rob Plagg of any enjoyment that he could potentially garner from his persistent resistance.
"I was thinking more along the lines of The Count of Monte Cristo." Plagg gleefully rubbed his paws together, swinging his tail about as he turned the conversation back onto Gabriel. "Ever heard of it, Mr. Agreste? Classic French literature, that one. If you must know, it tells a gripping tale that spans over a thousand pages about a wronged man quietly plotting to seek his revenge," he elaborated before letting out an exhausted yawn, covering his ajar mouth with a paw right before Gabriel yawned himself.
"Ugh… if only it wasn't such a bore! It takes ages to get to the good part when he uses his newfound power to destroy the people who had ruined his life by locking him away for the sake of power, greed, and material gains."
Gabriel got the subliminal message in Plagg's words. It was no secret that the cat kwami in his possession felt ten times more wronged and vengeful about being subservient to him compared to Nooroo. "I think I'll pass on that," he dismissed. The last thing Gabriel wanted was for Plagg to recite the entirety of the classic novella to him. He knew better than to test the cat after witnessing the kwami's previous antics firsthand.
"I'm deeply offended, Mr. Agreste! You don't want to hear me narrate?" Plagg dramatically faux-gasped at the denial, the cat sneakily hiding behind a mask of false idiocy. Sarcasm was practically his refuge, and he had no shortage of it — it was just as plentiful as his stockpile of stealth insults that he regularly fired at Gabriel on a whim whenever he felt like it.
"As if I want to be tortured by you."
"Torture?" Plagg scoffed, enunciating the word with an uncharacteristically serious look on his face. "Mr. Agreste, you must be kidding. This is nothing compared to what I'm capable of. You haven't seen true terror yet…" the kwami warned, his voice freezing up to detail exactly how deathly serious he was.
Though Gabriel kept his face level, he had to quash the inner worry within him. He had little doubt in his mind that Plagg was being truthful about that claim.
"So, how about that story, then?" Plagg's venomous tone had completely dissipated with this new question, and all that was left was a look of bemusement, firmly etched on his face.
Gabriel groaned and squeezed his eyes shut right as Plagg launched himself into a tale of contemporary France taking place post-Napoleonic Wars, the kwami somehow reciting the lengthy prose right off his memory.
"Yow!" Gabriel shot up when he felt someone tugging on his eyelashes and forcing his eyelids open, blinking his groggy eyes to see a smug black blur hovering directly in front of his face. The enraged designer almost brought the house down with his subsequent howl. "What the hell did you do that for!?"
Plagg shot his master a vicious grin, slowly shaking his head in amusement. "Don't you remember? You ordered me not to leave your sight." He slowly clapped his paws together, each sarcastic clap serving to highlight the gravity of the words when thrown back to Gabriel in an ironic echo. "And if your eyes are close… that means I'm not within your line of sight!"
Gabriel broke into a cold sweat as he realized the implications.
Sticking his tongue out, Plagg proceeded to cackle malevolently. "So get up! There'll be no sleeping on my watch! Orders are orders, aren't they?" he beamed, jawline stretching from ear to ear.
"Y-you… brat!" Gabriel finally managed to get out when he realized exactly what game his kwami was playing at. He tried to swat at Plagg to drive him away, thrashing his legs as he rapidly tossed and turned around, his eyes trying to escape the kwami's line of sight. But it was to no avail, as Plagg merely flew to where he was turning and continued reciting the story in a dreary voice.
This was definitely going to be a long night.
"Sleep apnea plaguing you? Just relax. You are merely hallucinating an image of me."
Plagg had stopped his recitation of the classic French novella some time ago, now relying on something other than monotony to completely break his master. In fact, the kwami was so calm that he sounded almost like a hypnotist who was attempting to lull Gabriel to sleep.
He almost succeeded several times. Those times were inevitably followed by Plagg clawing at Gabriel's eyelids and making a ruckus next to his master's ears to rudely thrust him out of his dreams. After all, Plagg's insistence of physically ensuring that Gabriel never lost consciousness was entirely juxtaposed by the fact that the kwami was trying to tempt him to sleep just so he could gain sadistic pleasure at constantly forcing Gabriel's eyes open at the critical moment where he was drifting between reality and unconsciousness.
"And thus, I conclude my study on the effects of sleep deprivation on the average human male," Plagg spoke with a scholarly voice that made him sound like the age he actually was — millions of years old. Needless to say, the derisive tone of his voice did not go very well alongside the shit-eating grin that was on Plagg's face after he had jolted Gabriel awake for what seemed like the umpteenth time.
"Did you know that there are different stages of sleep, Mr. Agreste?" Frankly, Plagg did not know himself until Tikki chose to educate him one day many millennia ago after she had had enough of her counterpart's constant laziness. But really, by this point the black cat opted to spew the knowledge out solely for the sake of trolling. "REM sleep—that's random eye movement sleep, by the way—is the most important stage of rest. Having too little REM sleep can be cat-astrophic," Plagg continued nonchalantly, smirking when he saw Gabriel glare at him with bloodshot eyes.
Wa-was that seriously a pun!?
A Gabriel who was increasingly starting to regret his entire existence really lamented that he hadn't asked Nathalie to pick up additional sleeping pills alongside the antacids and constipation pills which he'd requested her get from a nearby pharmacy with utmost urgency earlier in the day.
"But personally…" Plagg drawled, floating cross-legged to Gabriel's side with a callous smirk that never left his face, "…I kinda like you this way. Mopey and drowsy with dark circles under your eyes. A dark persona… rather befitting of someone of your stature, wouldn't you say?"
Green eyes glowing in the dark, the cat then invaded his personal space and got so close to Gabriel's face that inky-black silk fur nuzzled against his nose. "You know, you have a face that I can stare at for all eternity. How fitting considering that I am destined to make visual contact with you forever and forever…"
Perhaps it was Plagg's delivery of the sentence or the close proximity they shared, but that was absolutely, one-hundred percent, the last straw for Gabriel Agreste.
"That was not what I said! Don't you even try to misconstrue my intentions, Plagg!"
Plagg jolted back, startled by the uncharacteristically harsh hiss that left Gabriel's mouth. Before he could react, the kwami squeaked as he felt the palm of Gabriel's hand wrap tightly around his body, squeezing him as he was placed in a chokehold.
"I'm far too tired to deal with you and your insufferable nonsense." Gabriel managed to say to the kwami that he was doing his best to crush in his grip. As Plagg squirmed, he pried his eyelids as far open as he could, glancing at the clock mounted on the wall. "It's 4:45am right now…"
His breathing grew ragged before he unleashed a shout that echoed around the room and sent Nooroo scurrying. "Need I repeat myself!? It's 4:45am in the godforsaken morning, you bloody pest! You've kept me up for seven hours, which is far too long!"
Gabriel's brain-to-mouth filter appeared to be completely shut down, considering that this was the first time he'd lost his temper this badly at his new kwami. While Gabriel had been irritated with Plagg's antics prior to this point—no doubt stunned that he actually had someone talking back to him for the first time in his cozy life—this was consequently also the first time that he'd turned physical on Plagg.
Wonderful. This was progress. As a matter of fact, Plagg knew that there was a very good chance that Gabriel was now so sleep deprived that his hazy mind wouldn't be thinking straight.
A hypothesis that was proven right just as it'd flashed through his mind.
"So you intend to play around with my words to this extent? Very well, you blithering inordinate blight. I'll let your insubordination go, just this once. Have it your way! You don't have to be perpetually within my sight!" he proceeded to reword the rule on the spot, "Just stick within a radius of ten meters at all times!"
Plagg could only blink owlishly at Gabriel's snappy response before managing to regain his composure. Exhibiting a triumphant grin, his fangs practically protruded in delight.
"You got it, chief!" Plagg wasted no time in swooping away from Gabriel and finally leaving him to his own devices before the man realized his folly, snickering as he landed on the wooden bedframe and saw his new master practically out like a light the instant there was no vengeful god of destruction keeping him awake.
It was just too bad that he would have a rude awakening when dawn broke in about two hours. Plagg looked forward to hearing his master curse when the sun's rays forced Gabriel awake.
The kwami then frowned, growling as he considered how to make the most out of his newfound freedom tomorrow until a worried voice from the dress drawer snapped him out of his trance.
"What's wrong, Plagg?" Nooroo whimpered. "You're not acting like yourself…"
Plagg let his scowl drop, softening his expression when he sheepishly realized that he had unintentionally kept Nooroo up as well. "C'mon, Nooroo! That's an exaggeration!" he guffawed, playing down his friend's concern. "You know that trouble follows me around wherever I go!"
Nooroo wasn't one to be fooled, however. "Not true! You didn't ask for a nibble of Camembert throughout the entire day!" he indicated, before shrinking back and curling in on himself. "It's just… you're usually so indifferent and nonchalant about everything, but the way you've acting right now isn't like the Plagg I know at all…"
At that observation, Plagg let out a wistful sigh, knowing he had been caught out. "Okay… I admit to having a vested interest in the way that things are going." He let his gaze waver between Nooroo and Gabriel. "But you don't know why, do you?"
A quick shake of Nooroo's head confirmed Plagg's suspicions. "Figures. That putrid stain on society wouldn't even let you roam around the mansion. Of course you wouldn't know…"
Though Nooroo didn't know what Plagg was driving at, he let his despondent eyes fall onto Gabriel's unconscious body. "I know this may sound crazy, Plagg… but please, have some mercy on my master," he pleaded, twiddling his paw nervously before he lay back down to sleep.
The typical emerald green sheen of Plagg's eyes turned a reproachful murky green in a flash as the cat heard Nooroo's plea, causing Nooroo to feel as though they were boring into him… even though he wasn't the target of Plagg's scornful gaze. "Our master, Nooroo…" Plagg corrected a weary Nooroo, taking solace in the fact that the man was finally asleep. "Our master," he repeated while twirling a whisker, still seething inwardly in resentment as he glared viciously at the two Miraculous that were attached onto Gabriel's being.
"I order you not to leave my sight."
A sharp piercing sound briefly permeated the air as Plagg's claws cut deeply into the teak frame of the bed where Gabriel slept, the damage a direct consequence of Plagg bitterly recalling the order that Gabriel had forced him to comply with so that the villain could maintain his furtiveness.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, Gabriel was so deep into his slumber that he remained unperturbed by the acute noise. Nooroo wasn't as heavy a sleeper as his master, and jolted upwards in fright. That was an observation which Plagg found himself letting out a rumbling growl at when he realized that even though Nooroo had just laid down to nap, the other kwami's stance was too alert, too tense, almost as though he was perpetually frightened—
Plagg sucked in a breath, puffing his cheeks out as he held the stale air that permeated the room in his mouth, the kwami vehemently shaking his head as his antennae flopped about. He needed to control his frequent surges of anger, else at the rate that this was going he really would take out the entirety of Agreste Mansion, consequences be damned.
But the problem was that this time the consequences couldn't be damned, and the biggest one of them all started with a capital A.
Plagg really didn't want Adrien to walk into a smoldering mess and have to explain the 'hey, your father is Hawkmoth' part. He might be cold, reserved, and insensitive—all of which were less-than-desirable traits according to Tikki, who'd always overblown the issue—but the reason he chose to act this way was because of all those centuries of going through the motions. He did know when to listen up and get serious, and this was one of those times.
No matter how angry he was with this turn of events, he needed to maintain his cover for Adrien's—his real master's—sake. If it wasn't for that and the desire for him to stay to get revenge, he would have blown the whistle from the very moment Adrien was in the same room as his father.
To be fair, there was that other dumb rule Gabriel cooked up which would have prevented that.
"So, rule number two. You are not to reveal yourself to my son or anyone else who is not cleared by me."
Plagg looked so livid as he recounted the memory that the mauve butterfly kwami spared a glance at his longtime friend with trepidation in his eyes. Though Plagg had made some progress in having his way, it still wasn't enough for him. While Gabriel had eventually relented to that first stupid rule, he wasn't giving Plagg much breathing room. Not at all.
In a sense, since he was still bound to the Miraculous and now had the added burden of the 'proximity rule' (or as Plagg dubbed it, the why-wont-you-let-me-have-cheese-and-freedom-to-do-whatever-i-want-aka-the-Tikki-kwamisitting rule) to deal with, Plagg couldn't just steal the ring when Gabriel slept and nimbly return to Adrien's side (not that he wanted to when he realized that Hawkmoth was Gabriel). Instead, he was forcibly stuck with dumb Daddy Agreste until the man either relinquished Plagg willingly—ha, not likely—or he had the Miraculous forcefully taken from him.
Which, considering that Hawkmoth was still holding on to the Butterfly Miraculous despite months of Adrien and his pretty girlfriend trying to do just that, wasn't something which was likely to happen anytime soon.
Yep. He was truly and earnestly stuck with daddy doo-doo.
Plagg looked up to the ceiling forlornly. Since this was going to be his new status quo, then he was going to let his new master be in for a world of hurt. Up until this point, the man had had it far too easy with a submissive kwami like Nooroo.
So what if Gabriel survived for a day with an angry Plagg in his presence? He was just getting started.
The black cat yawned as he floated to Nooroo's side, licking his left paw as he curled himself up into a ball. Plagg had forced himself to stay up, sacrificing his own sleep purely for the sake of annoying Gabriel. That combined with the distinct lack of Camembert filling his belly added up to one cranky cat kwami, who had begun vowing a decree of vengeance.
"Sleep while you still can, you sorry excuse of a parent. I have stilled my tongue regarding your treatment of Adrien for far too long. But now that I can personally interact with you on a daily basis, I will make sure you rue and curse the day that I became your kwami, Gabriel Agreste."
He had opted to break tradition by using the man's full name and title purely for emphasis this time, something which didn't go unnoticed by Nooroo. Nooroo apprehensively glanced at Plagg before gazing back at his—their—master. His expression was a mix between worry and… a small glimmer of cathartic joy.
Plagg smiled when he saw his friend in a better mood. "Go to sleep, Nooroo. I promise you, everything will be okay."
"Go-good night, Plagg," Nooroo murmured. "Thank you…"
Meanwhile, Gabriel mercifully slept, unaware of his kwami deviously plotting as said kwami lumbered in a ball by his new master's side. Cackling darkly, the black cat continued to sharpen his claws against the bed frame under him as he gazed upon his slumbering master with vengeful emerald ones before he finally let his own exhaustion take him.
But before he slept, he made one last oath.
"Mark my words… I swear upon the Great Guardian that I will make your life a living hell!"
Amusingly, I wrote part of this chapter while sleep-deprived. Yeah, it really messes with your head. I'm attending my first year at university now, but I won't give this story up — it's just too funny to.
Also, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas is a genuinely gripping revenge story. It's fallen into the public domain, but be prepared to spend ages finishing it if you do pick it up.