Chapter 1: Studying
Subdued chatter fills the air in the library as Marinette and Évrard study Évrard's English lesson. For the most part, Marinette lets Évrard work the sentences out on his own, correcting him on any mistakes he might make, unless he asks for help. At a table nearby, blocked from view by a bookcase, Adrien is studying. Marinette has her sketchbook out to keep her busy between problems. Évrard soon gets distracted from his work by her intense look at hers.
He leans over to take a look on the page. A dress shape is centered on the page. Scrawled notes surround the drawing, some crossed out with a deeply furrowed line.
"Are you having trouble with something?" he wonders curiously.
Marinette starts, her pencil clattering loudly on the ground. On the other side of the bookcase, Adrien jumps at the noise. He's about to return to studying when he hears Marinette's voice.
"Oh, um. I just can't figure out the pattern on this dress," she answers.
A voice unfamiliar to Adrien asks. "What's it for?"
"A party this summer." Marinette would rather avoid mentioning what party that is. "I'm making a dress for my friend Alya and myself."
"Cool," the other voice says. "Can I see the other one."
"Sure!" There's a short silence as the sound of a page being turned comes from the other side of the bookcase.
"Wow. These are good."
Marinette giggles bashfully under the praise. "Well, Alya's might be good, but I'm not getting very far on my own."
"I'm sure you'll figure it out."
The table grows quiet again as Évrard goes back to studying. Adrien does as well, with one ear still tuned into them. It's several moments later when Évrard speaks up once more.
"Have you ever met them--Ladybug and Cat Noir?"
Marinette jumps. "No! Me? Never. Why would they be interested in me?"
Évrard blinks, not used to Marinette's rambling. "Your friend runs the Ladyblog, right? I figured, since she's had a private interview with Ladybug, that maybe you've gotten the chance to meet them."
Shaking her head, Marinette replies more calmly, "Oh, no. I keep clear of the fighting, and the interview with Ladybug was private. No one else was allowed in."
"That's too bad," he remarks.
Something in his tone leads her to inquire, "Why did you ask?"
Évrard bites his lip nervously. "Well... not too long ago, I was akumatized." Marinette's eyes grow wide. She doesn't recognize him, however she doesn't normally hang around for long after an attack. "Cat Noir talked to me after. He couldn't do much because he had to leave, but he really helped me. It's because of him I asked for a tutor. I was able to finally confront my parents about my difficulties with English. They still don't get it, but they no longer think I'm just lazy."
Marinette smiles affectionately at his words. She'd always known that her partner is amazing, this just further proved it.
"Well, I guess we better make that cat proud," she jokes.
Évrard grins in response and turns back to his work.
Adrien, from his seat, gazes blankly at the book in front of him. The conversation as a whole would have normally filled him with warmth and pride, but Marinette's denial of having met him stunned the boy throughout it. Now, as their voices fade once more, his brain finally restarts.
Why did she lie about having met Cat Noir? He could have sworn she'd met Ladybug at least once during Evillustrator since Ladybug was able to send him a close-up picture, but that was just a guess. But he knows Marinette has met Cat Noir. She tried to help him get the pen from Evillustrator, he saved her from the Gamer. He took her to where he had wanted to meet Ladybug for their not-date before Glaciator showed up. It's not like she would have forgotten all of that, right?
Plagg pokes his head out of Adrien's shirt. "Sounds like your princess is hiding something."
Adrien shakes his head, confused. "But what? Is she just embarrassed that she's crushing on a superhero?" It would make sense that that would be why she panic lied, but that doesn't feel like the right answer.
Plagg shrugs, ducking back into Adrien's shirt before he can start laughing.
Before Adrien can ponder any further on that, the bell signaling the end of the lunch period rings. Marinette and Évrard get up from their seats, shoving their things into their bags before leaving the room. The rest of the students in the library stream toward the door. Adrien isn't able to make himself move until the room is empty.
Chapter 2: Listen to Me!
Évrard's class is more rambunctious than normal after lunch. A few students who had skipped classes this morning to catch the first showing of a new movie came back to tell their friends about it. Excited chattering and screams of, "No spoilers!" cover the teacher's attempts to get the class into order.
At the back of the class, Évrard and his friend are having their own conversation.
"I'm glad you finally asked for help," Marek, the friend, comments. "You know I'd've loved to try to tutor you, but I'm barely making a passing grade as is." Laughing, he teases, "Maybe you should ask your tutor if they'll take another student."
Évrard grins but replies sincerely. "I'm sure Marinette wouldn't mind helping you out as well."
"Wait, you're tutor is Marinette?"
"Yeah," Évrard answers, confused by his friend's sudden seriousness.
"She's the representative of the other class, right?" Marek verifies.
"Yeah," Évrard repeats. "Why?"
Marek grins with boyish delight. "She's super cute. And you get to be alone with her every day."
Évrard shakes his head. "She helps me study, that's all."
"You'd better introduce me to her," Marek says as his last words on the subject. He doesn't know much about the girl beyond that she's cute and she's her class representative, but if she can help Évrard with his English grades, she's alright with him.
Évrard rolls his eyes, laughing at his friend's antics. "Sure. But I don't think she'll put up with you."
"Me?" Marek responds in feigned shock. "I'm a perfect gentleman."
"You're obnoxious," Évrard retorts.
They both laugh, the noise adding to the growing cacophony of the classroom. At the front of the room, their teacher Mr. Ioannidis struggles to get the class under control. Everything about him is easy to miss, despite the fact that he's almost six feet tall. Mr. Ioannidis is thin, bordering on lanky, with dark, curly brown hair and near honey brown eyes. Short stubble on his chin does little to make him appear his thirty-one years. The only things really distinguishing about him is a mole near his eye and a lovely olive skin tone.
"The bell's already rung. It's time for class to start," he tries uselessly. He attempts calling the class to attention again at a louder volume, the words just getting lost in the noise. Mr. Ioannidis narrows his eyes. He normally isn't quick to anger, but he's never liked being ignored. The teacher strides around his desk, grabs a book from on top of it, and slams the book onto the desk. The loud sound stuns a few in the front row causing the noise level to dip down somewhat, but for the most part, the class continues on with their conversations.
Frustrated and feeling useless, Mr. Ioannidis storms out of the classroom to cool down. This, ironically, is what finally gets the class's attention. The whole room goes quiet as every eye swivels to the door.
"Wow, I've never seen Mr. Ioannidis get so mad," Marek remarks.
Évrard watches the door worriedly. "I hope he's not too upset."
Light spills into the dark room as the circular shutters pull away from the window. In the center, Hawkmoth gazes out onto Paris.
"Ah, another target for my dear akuma." He holds out a hand for a ethereal white butterfly to land on. Infusing it with dark power, he says softly, "How it must hurt to not be listened to. I can make sure everyone will obey you from now on." Hawkmoth lets the now dark insect free. "Go my little akuma, and evilize him!"
The little bug flutters through the opening in the window as the villain behind it twirls his staff.
Once out in the hallway, Mr. Ioannidis makes his way to the closest bathroom. He quickly checks that he's alone. When that's done, Mr. Ioannidis finally lets himself melt down. He loosens his tie, the fabric suddenly constricting, and rubs his face. His hands slip under his glasses and pushes them up onto his hair. This distracts him from his irritation momentarily. He'd just gotten his glasses replaced and the last thing he needs is to ruin this pair.
Mr. Ioannidis removes the glasses from his face, holding them close to his eyes so he can check from any damage to the hinges or the arms. Satisfied that they're fine, he gives them a quick clean. Before he can put them back on, a purple butterfly appears in the bathroom. The insect flaps quickly toward the teacher and merges with his glasses. Where Mr. Ioannidis' glasses normally sit, a purple butterfly outline hovers.
An unfamiliar voices whispers in his ear, "Monkey See Monkey Do, no one will listen to you so I give you the power to make everyone obey your will. All I ask in exchange is Ladybug and Cat Noir's Miraculouses."
"Yes Hawkmoth," Monkey See Monkey Do hisses.
When Mr. Ioannidis doesn't come back immediately the class gets uneasy. He's never left like that, and no one is quite sure what to do. Évrard is about to get up to go look for him when the door is thrown open violently. Once again, every eye in the room is fixed on the entryway. A large simian stands in place of their teacher.
The monkey, still wearing their teachers clothes and glasses, leaps atop his desk. His eyes scan the frozen students until they finally land on one of them.
"You!" He points. "Keep order in the classroom."
The student stands up, a soldier. "Yes, sir."
The spell on the rest of the class breaks. They rush for the door. Most make it through, but Marek and a few others are stopped by the controlled student.
"Marek!" Évrard yells.
"Get out of here!" he calls back.
Évrard listens to his friend. Akumatized villains rarely actually harm people, to his knowledge, and any harm done is always reversed by Ladybug, so leaving Marek behind is an easy enough decision to make. Even so, Évrard rushes to the next room to warn them.
"There's another villain! Mr. Ioannidis has been akumatized!"
He's met with oddly quick action.
"Everyone," Ms. Bustier states as her students quickly pack up, "you're free to go home, but do not forget your homework."
The children join the rush of Évrard's class as they exit the building. Marinette slips away from Alya to get information from the boy. It would seem that she's not the only one with that idea, as Adrien is already talking to Évrard.
"Can you tell me what happened?" Adrien inquires.
"Everyone in my class was really excited about that new movie that came out," Évrard explains. "They--we were being too loud and we weren't paying any attention to Mr. Ioannidis when he tried to start class. He got angry and I guess that's what caused him to get akumatized."
Adrien nods sharply. "Alright, thanks."
Marinette steps in, surprising both to the boys. "Do you know his power?"
"Ah, I think he can control people."
Marinette smiles comfortingly. "Thanks."
By now they're outside the building and Évrard splits off from them. Adrien looks down at Marinette suspiciously.
"You're not going to get involved, are you?"
Marinette gaps at him in surprise. She tries to blow of her startled reaction with a scoff. "No, of course not. You won't see me anywhere near this fight."
Before Adrien can response, Alya and Nino spot the two of them.
"There you are, Marinette!" the reporter exclaims. "You should know better than to run off on your own during an attack!"
Marinette's bashful grin is interrupted by Nino's observation of, "She isn't exactly alone," with a knowing nod toward Adrien. Her face turns red as Alya nudges her playfully.
"Wow, girl. Making a move during a villain attack. Bold move," she teases under her breath.
Adrien glances between the girls in confusion, not because of the insinuation but because of Marinette's remark. If she was willing to watch the fight with Brewster because of Cat Noir, why is she so adamant that he wouldn't see her around this one?
He doesn't have time to further consider this question, the villain bounding out of the school with his follower behind him. The lingering crowd outside of the school scatters. Adrien sticks around just long enough to verify that Marinette is rushing toward her house before running for hiding place to change.
Marinette, Alya, and Nino duck into the bakery which has already emptied save for Tom and Sabine.
"Another one?" Sabine asks calmly.
"Yep," Marinette replies.
Alya pulls her phone out. "I gotta get this fight." She turns to Marinette. "I'll see you after, alright?"
"Of course," she agrees, laughing.
Alya grabs Nino's hand. "Come on. I don't want to miss anything."
"You got it, dude," he manages to say before being dragged out of the building.
"Well," Marinette says, "I'll be in my room studying."
She rushes upstairs before either of her parents can say anything. Once she's in her room, Tikki flies out of her purse.
"You know, I was originally concerned that Alya started the Ladyblog, but it actually makes getting away from her to transform so much easier," Marinette remarks.
"Yeah," Tikki giggles. "Now you only really have to worry about Adrien."
"He was acting pretty weird earlier. What does it matter if I'm around the fights. Alya is, and I've never seen him confront her about it."
Tikki shrugs. "Let's think about that later."
"You're right. Tikki, spots on!" the girl calls.
I didn't really get into Monkey See Monkey Do's design very much, but he's supposed to be based on Kim Possible when she gets that magic monkey amulet infused into her.
Chapter 4: Dread
Ladybug springs over to the school to find Cat Noir already engaging the villain. She lands on top of the building to observe the fight, looking for any weakness the villain may have. The student under his control attempts to hamper Cat Noir, getting in the way of attacks and clinging onto the hero whenever he draws close enough. Ladybug intervenes by tying the student up with her yo-yo.
"Good afternoon, Ladybug," Cat says now that he's noticed her. "How's it hanging?"
"Good." She leaves the student on the roof of the school and leaps down onto the street. "How about you?"
"Well, I have a bit of a monkey on my back," he replies, blocking a punch from the villain with his staff.
Ladybug smirks. "Let's take care of that."
Cat Noir blocks another blow. Jumping back, he gives a quick bow. "After you, my lady."
The playful banter between the heroes enrages the villain. "You will pay attention to me! I am Monkey See Monkey Do, and you will listen to me!"
Ladybug and Cat Noir freeze, struggling to keep a straight face. Cat Noir breaks first, clutching his sides as he doubles over. Ladybug manages to keep her composure somewhat, but laughter still escapes her mouth.
"What kind of name is that?" Cat asks once he finally has his breath back.
Ladybug stifles her laughter down to giggles. "I think Hawkmoth is running out of ideas."
Monkey See Monkey Do watches the two of them with a baleful glare. When one of them meets his eye, he points at them. "Cat Noir, attack Ladybug."
Cat's face goes blank as he turns to his partner. Ladybug eases back, all laughter gone from her face now. Cat Noir leaps forward, his baton swinging in a sideways slash. Ladybug dodges backwards. Before he can attack again, the heroine pulls herself up onto a rooftop with her yo-yo.
"After her!" Monkey See Monkey Do orders.
The dark hero leaps after her, using his staff to give him an extra boost. He lands behind her. Ladybug pivots, her yo-yo flashing toward her mind-controlled partner. It hits and knocks him off the building. Cat Noir breaks his fall with his staff. Ladybug races off while he recovers from the attack. She stops once she reaches a tall enough building to get a good vantage point. Cat is already on her heels. Annoyed, the heroine sends her yo-yo back toward the school. Hopefully now that Cat Noir is so far from the villain, Monkey See Monkey Do will be defenseless.
She lands on a roof near the school. While she had been busy with Cat, the villain had clambered on top of a building to keep an eye on his minion. Monkey See Monkey Do glares at her, his teeth bared to expose surprisingly sharp fangs. He locks eyes with her and starts to raise his hand. Ladybug, recognizing the move, retreats to a different roof. She ducks behind a chimney, her chest heaving in fear. Though she had gotten away before Monkey See Monkey Do had taken control of her, her mind feels dulled. His power must work through eye contact.
A dark blur and a muted thud! next to her startles the scarlet heroine. She jumps away and readies her yo-yo.
"Wait!" Cat calls, his hands up defensively.
"Cat?" she questions. "You're not under his control anymore?"
He shrugs. "I guess not. How'd you break it?"
"I-I didn't." Ladybug puts her yo-yo up. "I tried to confront Monkey See Monkey Do, but he tried to take control of me. All I could do was escape." The answer feels irritatingly close, but her numbed brain can't make the finally leap. Instead, the answer to another question presents itself. "Oh, all these animals are from the Chinese Zodiac."
"Okay," Cat Noir says cautiously. "How does this help us now?"
"It doesn't," Ladybug states. "But at least we have some idea of what's coming next, though I still don't know why Hawkmoth is making themed villains."
"Maybe he really did run out of ideas," Cat suggests.
Ladybug laughs. "Maybe."
Taking up his baton, the dark hero grins a feline grin. "Let's take care of this monkey business."
Ladybug rolling her eyes at her partner is interrupted by Monkey See Monkey Do pulling himself up onto the roof with them. The heroine grabs her partner's arm and palms her yo-yo. Before she can throw it, the villain lunges toward the two. Cat Noir knocks Ladybug back to block his attack. The hero bats the monkey aside with his baton and pivots to stay facing the villain while he picks himself up.
Monkey See Monkey Do raises he head to meet Cat Noir's eyes. Ladybug tries to warn her partner of how the villain's powers work, but Monkey See Monkey Do beats her. He points at the feline themed hero and commands, "Defeat Ladybug."
Even as she feels concern for her partner, part of Ladybug thinks, "Again?" She prepares for Cat's attack. Instead, Cat Noir runs away. Dumbfounded, Ladybug turns her attention to Monkey See Monkey Do, being careful not to make eye contact with him.
"Seem like your plan didn't work," she comments.
The villain grins. "We'll see."
Without waiting for a reply, Monkey See Monkey Do charges forward once more. Ladybug leaps to the side and throws her yo-yo at him as he blows past. The monkey sees this and lifts his arm up to block it. The yo-yo wraps around it. Ladybug tries to yank Monkey See Monkey Do off of his feet, but he retaliates with the same. Her feet leave the roof as the heroine is flung off of the building. Ladybug tries to use her yo-yo to grapple onto something and turn her fall into a swing but the villain keeps a hold on the string.
She makes a decision as the wall of the building she had been on comes rushing toward her. Ladybug releases the string, absorbs the impact with her legs, and springs off the side of the building onto the street below. There she sees her partner looking like the cat who caught the canary. He's holding a civilian against him, his staff keeping the man in place. Cat Noir has is right hand hovering near the civilian's face, his held out threateningly.
"Surrender, Ladybug," he demands in a monotone.
Ladybug steps forward without thinking. "Cat, what are you doing?"
His claws draw closer to the civilian's face with her movement. "Give up your Miraculous or I'll use my Cataclysm on this man."
The civilian's eyes flash in fear between Cat Noir and Ladybug. "Please help me!"
Ladybug clutches her hands to her chest, her eyes watering. There's not much she can do this far away without her yo-yo. By the time she gets close enough, Cat would already have summoned his Cataclysm and touched the civilian with it. She reaches up to remove her earrings even as her mind races to come up with something.
She pauses when a movement catches her eye. Alya and Nino are hiding behind an ad with Adrien on it. Nino has a hand on Alya's shoulder. Alya looks poised to run out of hiding. When she notices Ladybug looking at her, Alya points toward herself and then at Cat Noir. Normally Ladybug wouldn't consider putting her friend in danger--at least not without a Miraculous--but she can't see any other way out. Ladybug nods.
Alya slips away from Nino and makes her way swiftly to Cat. Because of her position and Cat's focus on Ladybug, he isn't aware of Alya until she's already on him. She grabs his hand and yanks it away from the civilian. Ladybug rushes toward them. She grabs onto Cat Noir's staff. Jerking it out of his hand, she releases the civilian.
"Thank you!" he calls as he hightails it from the area.
Ladybug grips the staff, glad to have a weapon once more. "Alya, get out of here."
"You got it, Ladybug." The reporter releases Cat Noir's arm. The mind controlled hero reaches for her, but Ladybug strikes his hand sharply with his staff. He pulls his hand back quickly, but other than that there is no reaction to having been hit. Alya ducks back behind the ad stand.
The fogginess has finally lifted from her mind, though it does little to help the situation. She can't fight Monkey See Monkey Do by herself, and she can't even run to Fu's for help without leaving Cat Noir to threaten more people. It would help if he couldn't use his Cataclysm.
An idea starts to form in her mind.
"You want my Miraculous, Cat Noir? Come and get it," she taunts. He swipes at her. Ladybug narrowly avoids it. "You're going to have to do better than that Kitty."
Seeing him start to tense up, Ladybug readies herself to dodge. Cat Noir pounces. Ladybug steps to the side. Cat flies past. As he does, he twists in the air to try to get a blow in. He swipes at her, his claws catching on her pigtail. The hair on that side flies free as the ribbon tears. Ladybug twists toward Cat Noir. As he lands, she attacks. He raises his arm to block it. She swipes her leg forward, under his, knocking him down.
Ladybug holds his baton to his chest, pinning him to the ground. "C'mon. I know you're a better fighter than that."
A loud screech from the rooftops distracts her. Cat Noir knocks the staff aside and kicks Ladybug's legs out from under her. He picks his staff back up. Ladybug rolls out of the way before he can pin her.
Furry arms wrap around Ladybug from behind. "Get her Miraculous," Monkey See Monkey Do commands.
"Yes sir," Cat Noir replies. He step forward, putting up his baton to free his hands. Ladybug struggles against the villain's hold, but he's stronger than she is.
"Cat," she pleads. "Please don't do this."
Monkey See Monkey Do chuckles. "He only listens to me."
Ladybug blinks back tears for the second time this fight. Desperately, she kicks back at Monkey See Monkey Do's knees. He screams in pain and releases the heroine. Ladybug dives away from the pair. Cat Noir races after her while Monkey See Monkey Do clutches his knee.
"Use your Cataclysm on her," he screams.
Cat Noir stops. "Cataclysm." Black magic seeps from his claws.
"Wow. That was disappointing," Ladybug comments, used to his dramatic summoning of the power. Secretly, she's pleased. Her planned worked. Now to just get him to use it. That should hopefully give her enough time to get to Master Fu's. She just hopes she can get there and back before he times out.
Cat leaps at Ladybug dodges out of the way, grabbing his left arm as he passes this time. She pivots behind him, pinning his arm in an arm lock and forcing Cat Noir to the ground. He throws is other arm out to catch himself instinctively, Cataclysming the street. The asphalt turns to rubble under his touch. Ladybug springs away and immediately rushes for a hiding place. Now she's racing the clock.
Ladybug runs into a nearby building. Civilians take up most of the front room, hiding from the fighting.
"I'm sorry, but you might want to run," she tells them. Cat Noir will probably follow her in.
The civilians look around at each other before making a break for it. A worker in the building ushers most of the people outside doors in an attempt to avoid Monkey See Monkey Do and Cat Noir. In the chaos, Ladybug finds an employee only door. Ducking through it, she finds an empty hallway and a janitor's closet. She slips into the closet to change.
"Spots off." A pink flash signals the end of her transformation.
"What are you going to do?" Tikki asks in a panic.
"I need to get to Master Fu's," Marinette replies.
Tikki zips into Marinette's purse. Marinette joins the stranglers making their way out of the building. Cat Noir busts into the building. He looks around but doesn't see Ladybug. He stalks over the press of people. "Where's Ladybug?"
"We don't know!" a voice shouts from the crowd.
"We wouldn't tell you, anyways," another voice calls.
Cat Noir blankly tilts his head. "Well, then I'll just make her come out." He reaches for a nearby civilian. Marinette pushes through the crowd and out in front of the woman he was about to grab. "Marinette?"
"Cat Noir, you've used your Cataclysm. Hunting Ladybug right now isn't a good idea. You should recharge your Miraculous. Unless you want to try fighting her as the boy under the mask."
He blinks, her words working their way slowly into this addled brain. Finally, he nods. "You're right. But you're coming with me. You're friends with Ladybug. She'll come for you."
By now, most of the civilians who had been in the building have left. Marinette backs away from an advancing Cat Noir.
"That's not going to happen," she remarks.
Marinette pelts toward the front door, ducking under Cat's arms as she passes him. By the time he's turned around, she's already out the door. She books it toward Master Fu's, all the while hoping that Cat Noir isn't following her.
Chapter 5: Freed
The door to Master Fu's room bangs open as Marinette comes barreling in. Fu scrambles to his feet as Wayzz zips up into the air.
"Marinette, what's wrong?" Fu asks.
Marinette comes to a stop in front of him, doubling over and panting from exertion. "I-I need the Fox Miraculous."
Master Fu nods. Now is not the time to ask questions, he understands. While Marinette takes a seat and tries to get her breath back, Fu strides over to the record player. He punches in the sequence to open it, removing the Miraculous box from its hiding place. He takes the Fox Miraculous out, finds its own box, and hands it over to the exhausted girl.
"Good luck," he tells her.
"Thank you," she replies.
The first thing Ladybug does when she reappears on the scene is look for Alya. She's not behind the ad anymore. Cat Noir isn't around either. Monkey See Monkey Do is still surveying the scene from the rooftops, Cat probably isn't far. Ladybug quickly and quietly scopes out the area. When she changed back into Ladybug she had gotten her yo-yo back, making covering ground a lot easier. Her hair is also fixed.
She finally finds her missing friends on top of one of the taller buildings. Cat Noir is holding Alya hostage similar to how he had the civilian before. Nino is nowhere to be seen. If Ladybug had to guess, he's somewhere on the ground trying to figure a way up.
Ladybug lands on a roof behind Cat Noir. She throws her yo-yo to snag his hand. He jerks his hand out of the way and grabs the string. When he tugs on the string, Ladybug jumps forward so that this time she's not dragged off her feet. She lands on the building and pulls her yo-yo back. Cat releases it as he turns to face the hero.
"Give me your Miraculous," he demands. Behind him, Monkey See Monkey Do appears to watch.
"Don't do it, Ladybug!" Alya cries.
Ladybug twirls her yo-yo. "I won't." She throws it at Cat Noir once again. She catches his hand before he can charge up a Cataclysm. Monkey See Monkey Do moves to intervene, but before he can she pulls Cat Noir forward and whips the hero into the villain. As soon as Cat's grip on her loosens, Alya scrambles away. Monkey See Monkey Do and Cat Noir go flying off of the roof. She grabs a hold of Alya before the duo can get back up and swings away. She doesn't stop until she feels they're a good distance away.
"Alya, I need you to be Rena Rouge again," Ladybug says without preamble. She presents the box to her friend, her eyes scanning the area for either her partner or the villain.
Alya takes the box. "You got it, Ladybug." She cracks open the box, releasing Trixx. "Hey little guy. Nice to see you again." She clips the necklace on.
"Nice to see you too," Trixx agrees. "Unfortunately, I don't think we have time for pleasantries."
Alya grins. "Trixx, let's pounce." A brilliant flash of orange later Rena Rouge is standing where the reporter was. "So, what's the plan?"
Ladybug gives one last glance around. She tosses her yo-yo into the air, calling, "Miraculous Ladybug!" In her hands lands a hand-held mirror. This time, a plan easily comes to mind. She quickly tells Rena Rouge what she needs to do as she hooks the mirror onto her string belt.
"And remember," she adds, "do not meet Monkey See Monkey Do's eyes. That's how he takes control of you."
"You got it," Rena replies.
The two heroes split up after putting in their comms. Ladybug goes to look for Monkey See Monkey Do while keeping an eye out for Cat Noir. Rena Rouge keeps close by, but scouts for a good vantage point. They finally find Monkey See Monkey do atop Le Grand Paris, though Cat Noir is nowhere to be seen. This puts Ladybug and Rena Rouge at a disadvantage.
"I'll see if I can lure him down," Ladybug tells Rena. "Try to stay out of sight, if you can."
The fox themed heroine nods and makes herself scarce. Ladybug takes a look at her surroundings, taking stock of anything that may help her. When she's ready, Ladybug makes her way onto the roof across the way from the hotel.
"Hey Monkey! Come fight me yourself! Then we'll see who's the top banana!" she shouts.
Monkey See Monkey Do walks to the edge of the roof. Ladybug leaps down onto the street. The villain watches her cautiously. Eventually, he makes his way down from the roof. He stalks his way over to Ladybug, stopping about fifteen feet away from her. He eyes the heroine suspiciously. Ladybug makes sure to keep her eyes shifted away from his.
A voice comes in on Ladybug's comm. "Ladybug, watch out!"
She dives to the side as Cat Noir comes flying in. Ladybug had been expecting an ambush since they arrived on the scene. Looks like her hunch was right. She dances around to keep both Cat Noir and Monkey See Monkey Do in sight.
"Rena Rouge, now," she says in a hushed voice.
A haunting melody floats through the air. The villain glances around in confusion while Cat scans the area for the distinctive orange heroine. A bright ball flies toward them, causing dozens of Rena Rouges to sprout up around them.
One Rena springs toward Monkey See Monkey Do. He focuses his gaze on her and raises his hand. As he tries to assert control over the illusion, his control over Cat Noir releases. Cat brings his hand to his head to uselessly rub his numbed brain back into functioning. While the Rena Rouges keep the villain occupied, Ladybug rushes over to her partner. She lays a hand on his arm, partly to support him and partly to reassure herself that he's actually back.
"Cat Noir, are you okay?"
"I-I'm fine," he answers, his voice cracking.
Ladybug surveys him with concern. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah." The hero grins mischievously down at her, his heart racing despite itself at how close Ladybug's face is to his own. "Were you worried about me?"
Ladybug rolls her eyes and steps back, crossing her arms. "You appear to be alright."
"Ah, come on, Buggaboo. You don't have to be afraid to tell me how you feel about me," he teases.
"What did I say about calling me Buggaboo?"
A voice behind Ladybug speaks up. "As much as I love watching you two flirt, we do still have a villain to take care of, and I'm on a timer." A small, startled scream escapes Ladybug's mouth as she leaps away from the voice. Cat Noir watches her in amusement as his partner lays a hand over her racing heart. Rena Rouge smirks. "Wow, I didn't know you were that easy to spook."
Ladybug clears her throat. "You just caught me by surprise is all."
Rena and Cat chuckle.
When they finish, Cat Noir turns to the spotted heroine. "What do you want me to do?"
"It would be nice if you could limit his mobility," she tells him.
"On it, my lady."
"Good luck out there," Rena calls as the two jump into the fray.
Chapter 6: Turmoil
Monkey See Monkey Do has figured out the trick by now. He ignores the illusions as Ladybug and Cat Noir join the fight. Rena Rouge follows them in. The villain pays her no mind as she flanks him and whacks him over the head with her flute before disappear amongst her clones once again. Monkey See Monkey Do whips around to confront her, but can't tell the real Rena from the fake. Once again, he starts trying to fight them. Rena Rouge keeps her distance for the most part, occasionally darting in to hit him, keeping the villain on his toes.
Cat Noir, when the primate themed villain is completely distracted, rushes in low with a Cataclysm charged up. He runs his palm along the road as he rushes past. The asphalt crumbles under the monkey and traps his legs. Ladybug comes in next, her eyes fixed on the mirror in her hand. Monkey See Monkey Do turns, trying to take control of her mind. The broken asphalt trips him up and he falls to the ground. Cat steps up to restrain him while Ladybug kneels down. If she had to guess, the akuma is in the villain's glasses.
She removes them, snapping the frame easily with her fingers. Ladybug puts away the mirror as a butterfly flies free. She catches it with her yo-yo. Cat lets the former villain go as she says, "Bye-bye, little butterfly." She picks up the mirror once again to throw it into the air. "Miraculous Ladybug!"
Ladybug offers a hand to the confused teacher. He glances around--at the heroes, at the surroundings--before meeting the scarlet heroine's eyes.
"What happened?" he wonders.
"You were akumatized. But don't worry, everything's fixed now," she assures him.
"Oh. Thanks for stopping me Ladybug," he glances over to the dark hero, "Cat Noir." Mr. Ioannidis cranes his neck to look at Rena. "And you, Rena Rouge."
"No problem," the fox themed heroine says. "I'm just glad I was able to help these guys." Her necklace flashes. "Ladybug, we need to go."
"Right." Ladybug turns to Cat Noir and holds up her fist. Cat smirks.
"Pound it," they say together.
Ladybug moves over to Rena Rouge. "See you later, Kitty."
Cat Noir waves goodbye to the two girls until they're gone from sight. Once they are, he turns to the teacher. "Try to not let the students get to ya." With a parting wave, the hero leaps away, landing behind a building in an empty alleyway. His mask drops; his eyes start to water and he clutches at his head.
"Plagg," he whimpers. "Claws in."
The transformation leaves him in a bright flash of green. Adrien's kwami hovers in front of him, a look of concerned panic on his face.
"Adrien? What's wrong?" the little cat asks.
"Why was I chosen, Plagg? I've been nothing but a failure as Cat Noir. I always get controlled by the villains. I couldn't get over my fear of dogs so Ladybug had to send me away to get help. I spent most of today's fight rampaging, so Ladybug had to get Rena Rouge again."
Plagg flies closer and tries to lift Adrien's head with his paws. "Listen, you're one of the best Cat Noirs I've ever seen, and I've seen all of them. The fear of dogs is my fault. I was the one holding you back in that fight, but even so, Ladybug didn't blame you. You shouldn't blame yourself. This fight? Well, you win some, you lose some. Ladybug gets that."
Adrien sniffles. Despite looking unconvinced, he's touched by his kwami's attempt to make him feel better.
"Let's go home," he finally says.
The little cat sighs and hides in his Chosen's shirt.
Adrien looks downcast all the way home. He plasters on a fake smile when he gets home, not wanting to worry Natalie or the Gorilla, or be bothered by them. Once in his room, he lays on his head, staring blankly up at the ceiling as he runs today through his head over and over. On each repetition, something bothers him. It gets to the point that reviewing the day no longer makes him feel bad, so focused is he on finding the discrepancy. When he finally does, he launches himself off of the bed. Plagg, who had been eating cheese on the computer desk, flies over silently.
"Something wrong?" the little kwami wonders.
"Maybe. Plagg, I need to go talk to Marinette."
"I need to ask her some things. Plagg, claws out!"
"Wait, I don't think this is a good idea," Plagg cries as he gets drawn into the ring.
"Maybe not," Cat Noir replies. "But I need to do this."
Chapter 7: The Cusp of Something More
The sky is dark through Marinette's window as she works on Alya's dress. The shape being simple enough, the design is what took the longest. Now that that's done, she just has to stitch it together. She'll have to call Alya in soon to try it on.
A knock on her roof startles her. She steadies the mannequin she'd almost pushed over.
"Marinette?" a familiar voice calls down.
"Cat Noir?" she wonders silently. She calls louder, "One minute."
Marinette puts up her sewing supplies carefully before climbing the ladder to the loft area. Tikki watches her Chosen from her place on the desk, a half-eaten cookie in her hands. The girl unlocks the trapdoor and pushes it open, her head poking up curiously. She spots the feline hero leaning against the railing, his back to the city. Marinette carefully climbs onto the roof and shuts the door.
"Is something wrong?" she asks.
Cat's belt tail flicks nervously. "I came to ask you something."
The non-sequitur surprises the girl, but she nods and takes a few steps forward. Her heart races; she dreads the question. "Go ahead."
Cat Noir takes a breath. Marinette readies herself for what he might ask.
"What were you doing in that building today?"
Marinette flinches, a lie ready on her lips, when she pauses. "Wait, you remembered that?"
It's Cat's turn to flinch. He turns away from Marinette and leans against the railing once more. "Yeah. I remember everything. I remember threatening that man, Alya. I remember making Ladybug cry." He takes a shuttering breath. His head shoots up to look at Marinette, his eyes accusing. "And I remember trying to take you hostage, when you should have been at home."
Marinette walks up to her friend and lays a hand on his shoulder. "I didn't know. Why didn't you tell Ladybug?"
Cat Noir doesn't miss that she dodged the question. He sighs. "She had Rena Rouge to deal with and... and I didn't want to worry her."
The girl gives a comforting smile. "Well, you can always talk to me. Though, you really should talk to Ladybug as well. You're partners. You're supposed to support each other."
He groans and turns away. "That's part of the problem! I'm supposed to help Ladybug, but I'm a hindrance more often than not."
"No you're not!" Marinette snaps. Cat Noir turns in surprise, his eyes widening as she takes in her fierce expression. "You're not a hindrance! You've saved Ladybug so many times! Without you, she couldn't save Paris!"
"But I'm supposed to be saving Paris too," he counters. "And yet look at what I've done. Dark Cupid, Princess Fragrance, Zombizou, Monkey See Monkey Do, they all turned me against Ladybug. What kind of hero lets himself get manipulated again and again? What kind of hero holds people hostage?"
Marinette replies much more calmly now. "Dark Cupid, you were protecting Ladybug. If you hadn't gotten hit, Ladybug would have. And then where would Paris have been. Princess Fragrance, you were by yourself and trying to protect the prince. There's only so much you can do by yourself. Zombizou, protecting Ladybug, again. Monkey See Monkey Do? The first time you weren't expecting it, the second you were protecting Ladybug and your mind was probably affected from the previous mind control. Anything you do under mind control, no one will hold against you. No one holds the actions of akuma victims against them. Moreover, it's Ladybug's job to save Paris. It's your job to save Ladybug." Her voice gets more and more passionate as she speaks. It levels out once again as she says, "And you're doing great at your job."
"You certainly keep up with us," Cat Noir remarks, too surprised by her speech to say much more.
Marinette flush red, a little embarrassed. She didn't want to come off as an obsessed fan. "Anyway," she says, changing the subject, "what do you mean I 'should have been at home'?"
The hero flounders for a moment. "I, ah, I-I saw you come here." His eyes narrow. "How do you know so much about the details of each fight?"
"Alya!" Marinette yells. "She-she tells me all about you two. More than she posts on the blog."
He chuckles. "That still doesn't answer my previous question," he reminds her.
The lie she had before escapes her. Marinette searches her brain for any explanation. The only one she can come up with is the lie she had told Adrien. That stupid lie! How is she supposed to ask Adrien out now? He thinks she has a crush on Cat Noir!
"Marinette?" he interrupts her train of thought.
She yelps. "Y-yes?"
"Do you have a crush on me?"
Marinette blinks in confusion. "Who told you that?"
Cat takes that as confirmation. Playing his knowledge off as confidence, he replies, "You're pretty insistent that I'm amazing, and yet we've only spoken a few times. I know a celebrity crush when I see one." He's been on the receiving end of many of them.
She flushes red. "That's-I was trying to make you feel better!"
The hero smiles. "Well, you did. Congratulations, princess." Partly because he doesn't want to leave just yet, partly because he had overheard her troubles in the library, he asks, "You're a designer, right?" Marinette nods, a little stunned by the change in topic. "Are you working on anything right now?"
"I am," she answers cagily. She doesn't want anyone to see the final products until the day of the party. Though she'd shown Évrard, but he's not someone she'd want to surprise. "Why?"
"Well, I know a bit about fashion. Not a lot, but I might be able to help you if you're stuck on something."
Marinette eyes him suspiciously. She finally concedes with a shrug. "I am having trouble coming up with a design," she admits.
"Who's it for?" he wonders.
Cat Noir leans forward on the railings once again, looking out over the city as he thinks over a few ideas. "I like that tree pattern on your shirt. Have you considered doing something similar to that?"
Marinette takes a look at her shirt. "I'll think it over." She glances up at Cat. "But shouldn't you be going? You'll be missed at home if you're out any longer, won't you?"
He shrugs. "Probably not, but it would be a pain if anyone saw that I was gone." The hero jumps up onto the railing. "I'll see you later, alright?"
The girl is still caught on the first part of his answer, so his question takes her by surprise. She grins up at him. "Sure."
Cat Noir smiles back. "And make sure to stay away from the fights. If you really want to see me that bad, just leave a..." he trails off as he tries to think of something.
"I'll leave a towel hanging on the railing?" she offers. "It's pretty inconspicuous, but it's not something I do."
Cat nods. "That should work."
The feline hero waves goodbye to his friend as Marinette steps back to give him space to spring away. As he fades into the darkness, she thinks over their conversation. Tikki hovers behind her, having come out of hiding in her Chosen's bedroom. She worries about the lies building around them, but also looks forward to their deepening relationship.