Felix arrived for class precisely five minutes early and headed straight for his seat in the last row, opening up a book. He didn’t look up from it until Nathaniel plopped down beside him, sketchbook already open to an unfinished drawing of Paris’ own heroine, Ladybug. He ignored his warm cheeks at the sight of his partner and greeted his desk-mate politely before returning his gaze to the book.
Mrs. Bustier had just started class when the door slammed open loudly and a dark haired girl burst in, and tripped abruptly, scattering papers across the front of the classroom.
She scrambled to retrieve them. “I’m so sorry Mrs. Bustier! There was an accident at the bakery this morning and my parents needed me to help clean it up.”
Mrs Bustier sighed resignedly, used to the girls antics. “Alright Marinette, please do try harder to make a less… spectacular entrance next time.”
The girl blushed and headed for her seat. She looked up and waved happily at him when she caught his eye. He rolled his eyes. That girl. She looked ecstatic when she saw anyone. It was a miracle she didn’t die of a heart attack from so much excitement all the time. It’s not that he disliked her per se, she often did kind things for him, such as knitting him a scarf for his birthday, but she was just so overwhelming and passionate about every single thing she did. He almost admired her for it.
Her best friend Alya on the other hand; he did not appreciate her passion at all. Marinette, although a naturally curious person, knew where to draw the line on interfering and sticking her nose into things. Alya had attempted to follow him when his transformation was about to drop multiple times. Each time he’d had to come up with a more and more creative way to avoid her. It was becoming quite the challenge.
It was nearing lunchtime when the akuma alarm sounded, sending everyone running out of the classroom to see the situation. The eerie quiet shocked him. Most akumas brought chaos and destruction, but what he saw were students collapsed all around him. All of them had horrified looks on their faces. He didn’t want to know what kind of nightmares they were facing. With no time to waste, he took off running for a safe place to transform. He ended up in the boys bathroom and found it empty.
“You ready Felix?” Plagg asked, grinning, after flying into view.
“Absolutely. Plagg, claws out!” Felix replied, grinning right back in the rush of transformation. He’d get to see his Lady in action again.
He extended his baton and sent himself shooting out the bathroom window. He headed for the roof of the school and found Ladybug already waiting for him.
“Good even’ Ladybug! What do we have today?”
Ladybug smiled gently at his greeting. “It’s still technically morning Chat Noir. And I’m not sure. It doesn’t look like a nice one, that’s for sure. I’d guess it causes nightmares or something from the looks of the victims.”
She opened up her yo-yo, and typed something. “There’s been sightings a few blocks east of here.” She snapped it shut, and swung it out, already on the move. “Come on slowpoke, we got an akuma to catch.”
As they headed in that direction, they noticed that not everyone was collapsed anymore. Some were starting to sit up, and many were sobbing. They found a trail of sludge heading north from the last spotting. Well, at least he wouldn’t be too hard to find. Ladybug stopped to help an overwhelmed and hysterical woman sit up. She whispered a few comforting words to the woman before looking back up at him, her face grieved. “What is he doing to these people?”
Felix could only stare wide eyed around him at the suffering. “I don’t know.”
It was very easy to tell when they found him. The akuma looked like a soldier, dressed up in a torn uniform, covered in dirt and blood, a trail of dark sludge behind him.
He was shouting. “I am PTSD! No more will people judge those with PTSD and call them weak or crazy! Don’t just tell me to get over it! I’ll force you to relive your worst memory and see how you like it!”
He had a rifle that shot out energy blasts. Anyone that was hit collapsed on the spot.
Chat Noir spoke up, “Oh. Not just nightmares then.” This was so much worse.
“We can’t let him harm any more people. We need to get this over with fast. Lucky charm!”
In a sparkle of magic, a vest fell into her hands, a bulletproof vest. Well that didn’t need any explaining. She stuck it out for him. “Put this on Chat Noir.”
“Me?! No, you put it on. You’re the one we need to make sure doesn’t get hit.”
She rolled her eyes. “I have a plan. And as we saw, the effects of his blasts aren’t permanent. They are memories. I don’t think I have any seriously traumatic memories in my past anyway. The worst I might get is an embarrassing moment at school.” Her eyes shifted away from his at that. Liar. “Now put it on Chat.”Her fierce gaze never wavered.
“Fine.” he sighed, then he pointed at her to emphasize his point, “But, you better keep yourself safe.” He took the vest. “Now what’s this plan of yours.”
She smirked, proud to have convinced him. “Its relatively simple. You distract him while I sneak up undetected. A tried and true method. With this vest, you don’t have to worry about being easily taken down if he manages to hit you.”
She patted his shoulder, and jumped down into a dark alley, behind the akuma. Felix jumped out in front of him. “Hey General!! Whatcha doing out here?”
PTSD’s head snapped towards him. “Chat Noir.” He leveled his rifle at the superhero. “Lets see what kind of horrors you have in your past.”
The shot raced by as Chat gracefully dodged. “Is that all you got?!” He leaned on his staff, yawning and feigning boredom. The akuma’s face darkened in anger, but before he could charge Chat, a yo-yo wrapped around his hat and snatched it from his head. Ladybug quickly tore it in half. Nothing happened. She groaned. “No. Seriously?! I was so sure that time.”
She looked up just in time to see the blast coming right at her. There was no time for anyone to react. She went down like a rock.
“Ladybug!” His vision went red. “Oh you’re in for it now jerk.” Baton at the ready, he charged. PTSD turned around and attempted to shoot him as well, but the blasts bounced off the vest harmlessly. The akuma started backing off wearily as he saw that his attacks were useless. Chat didn’t even hesitate and his baton hit him solidly in the head. The akuma went flying back. Chat scanned the villain for where the akuma could be. His medal. Nothing else stood out. He snatched it and broke it before the villain could recover. The akuma fluttered out. Crap. How was he going to trap it until Ladybug woke up. There was an empty flower pot on a window at ground level. That would work. He dashed over, grabbed it and quickly slammed it over the akuma, trapping it temporarily on the road. Now to more important things, Ladybug.
Kneeling beside her, he watched worriedly as her eyes slowly opened. He waited for her eyes to focus on him, but they didn’t. Her eyes gazed right through him. Her face was white, and she looked to be in shock.
“Ladybug, hey, look at me. It’s ok. Whatever it was, it was just a memory. Everything’s fine.”
Her absent silence scared him more than if she had been hysterical like that lady. What on earth had she re-lived?
“Chaton?” She blinked, eyes finally focusing on him. “Oh.” He didn’t know what to make of the disappointment that leaked into that word.
Felix attempted to smile comfortingly. She looked so lost. “Hey there Bug.” Her eyes shifted away, suspiciously wet. She didn’t move for a few minutes, and he let her recover at her own pace.
“The Akuma!” She jerked up suddenly, startling him. Her breathing was ragged.
“It’s fine! I have it right there. No rush.” He pointed at the upside down flower pot.
She staggered to her feet anyway, drawing out her yo-yo. She knocked the pot over, letting the butterfly fly out before she quickly captured it and purified it. Her cute catchphrase was starkly missing. “I got to go. Bye Chat Noir.” She wasted no time flinging her yo-yo out and swinging away, leaving him no opportunity to say anything to her. His heart felt dead in his chest. What had this akuma done to her?
Felix tossed and turned all night, worried about his partner. She had not been looking good when she’d swung away. He skipped breakfast that morning, too stressed to have much of an appetite, and quickly kissed his mother on the cheek on the way out the door. No need to worry her.
The loud and chaotic bustle of the school caused him to flinch as he walked in. He speed walked at fast as possible to escape to the quiet classroom, expecting it to be empty like it usually was when he arrived. But, much to his great surprise, he found Marinette Dupain-Cheng already sitting in her seat. She looked terrible. She had giant bags under her eyes, and her hair hung limp, her classic pigtails nowhere in sight. She just stared absently at the desk, eyes faraway. Marinette was never not doing anything. Her passionate energy filled everything she did, and he’d often see her fulfilling some kind of creative task. He also always saw her beside Alya, but the blogger was nowhere in sight.
“Marinette?” he opened softly, “Are you ok?”
She started, but instead of looking up to look at him, her face crumpled, her eyes purposely looking away from him, and a sob broke through. Her head hit the desk, arms covering it, and she broke down.
His hands fluttered uselessly at his sides. What could he do? He came up to her and patted her back.
Her hand slapped his away. “ Go-go away Felix,” she said, her voice thick with tears.
He stepped back. Oh . He wrapped his arms around himself as he continued onto his own seat. What use could anyone use of his comfort. Why had he thought he could help her, that she would even want his help.
By the time anyone else arrived, Marinette had stopped sobbing and had pulled herself back together, sort of. It was still apparent to anyone who came in that something was up. When Alya showed up she tried to help, but Marinette just ignored everyone, eyes never leaving her desk the whole class.
This continued for the rest of the week. Marinette spent most of everyday stuck in her head, looking increasingly depressed, and noticeably not getting enough sleep. Ladybug was distracted and looking worse every fight as well. She never bantered with him anymore, and just tried to get the fight over with as quick as possible before zipping out, time limit or not. She wouldn’t talk to him unless absolutely needed. He’d thought they were partners, that she’d trust him to help her get through whatever this was.
It was exactly 7 days since the PTSD incident, and he’d just arrived at the scene of the new villain of the day, Exterminator. Chat stayed out of the akuma’s view, waiting for Ladybug to arrive, but staying close enough to interfere if really needed. The bug hating villain was ranting about his awful plans for destroying all bugs, including Ladybug, when a red blur zipped in and landed right in front of them. Chat quietly let himself down near them.
“JUST STOP!” The polka dotted superheroine was visibly shaking. Her fists were clenched at her sides, and tears poured down her face. Both Chat Noir and the Exterminator just froze, staring at her “Hawkmoth, I know why you’re doing this! And I get it! I really do. I-” She took a deep shaky breath. “I want the same thing you do, just as much.”
Chat Noir gaped. WHAT?!? What was happening?!
A purple mask had appeared in front of Exterminators face. “You know nothing little girl.” His voice boomed across the street.
“I know everything. I know how much pain you are in,” her voice cracked, ”I know because I feel it too. I know what you’ve done, what you’re trying to undo. But this isn’t right!"
She walked towards the villain Hawkmoth was occupying, gaze fierce and determined. She took the villains face in her hands, directing his gaze right at her.
“ Adrien wouldn’t want this .”
Hawkmoth staggered back. “What?!” He snarled, “You remember. How do you remember?!”
Who was Adrien? Why did he matter so much?
“PTSD made me relive my worst memory. What could be worse?”
“Then you know why I have to do this.”
“No. Adrien would never want this. The power of the miraculous always enacts a price. You have no say over what that price is. Next time it might be Felix.” She gestured over to Chat. She knew who he was? Why would he matter to Hawkmoth?!
“Maybe it will be your wife again. It will just keep taking, and taking, and taking. Your never going to be satisfied! Just stuck in a never ending loop of pain and destruction, and I know Adrien would never want that. I- I miss him so much my entire soul aches. I miss my Chaton, my partner, my soulmate.” Felix could feel his heart tear into two. Her Chaton . He was her Chat, her partner, and, he had hoped, her soulmate. Who was this guy that was so much more important than him?
“Give it up Hawkmoth. It’s over. There’s no going back. Adrien’s gone. Instead of raging over the son you’ve lost, why don’t you try focusing on the son you’ve gained, the one that came as a consequence, because you’re making the same mistakes with him as you did Adrien.”
She wiped at her tears angrily. “He’s not the same person. We both know that. He’ll never replace Adrien. He’ll never be Adrien. He is his own person. But he is good. And he is real.” Ladybug came over and wrapped an arm around Chat. Felix had no idea what was happening, but his heart dropped to the floor. “Just stop. We can’t keep doing this anymore.”
Hawkmoth, as Exterminator, collapsed sobbing. “I just wanted to fix my family.”
Ladybug started crying freely as well, grief clogging her voice as she replied, “I know.”
She quietly padded over to the sobbing supervillain, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder, “You need to let him go and focus on what you have left, before they slip away from you too.”
A white light washed over the victim, and left behind a confused citizen as a purified butterfly flew away.
Both heroes followed its movement with their eyes as Ladybug softly whispered for the last time, “Bye bye little butterfly.” She then collapsed in on herself and sobbed long and hard in the middle of the street. Felix had many questions, and he feared the answers, but that could wait, and for the moment he just knelt down beside her and held her.
I didn't feel the need to lay the whole story out, so I hope the hints were clear enough to piece together what happened. I hope you enjoyed.