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A Billion Ways To Get Akumatized

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Slam!

The locker door swung shut. Marinette leaned back, adjusted her backpack straps, and sighed.

“Finally it’s Friday! I thought I’d never survive this week.”

“But you did and look how you pulled through! Not everyone can take exams and save Paris at least twice a day for a week straight,” Tikki piped up from Marinette’s purse.

“You know you’re right! We should do something to celebrate, just the two of us. Got any ideas?” Marinette suggested as they started to head out of the locker area.

“Hm,” Tikki placed her paw underneath her chin and thought. “You know there’s a new cookie flavor ice cream at that ice cream parlor close by. We should check it out!”

“Yeah! How about we go after meeting up with Alya and Nino?”

“Alright!” Tikki exclaimed.

Marinette and Tikki reached the edge of the school courtyard. Marinette placed a hand over her eyes and peered out.

“They should still be here.”

The students that lingered about the courtyard were scattered about in pairs or groups. They clung close to the walls, trying to avoid what was meant to be a basketball game going on in the center of the room that appeared to be more of an everyone for themselves, no holds barred, war over an orange ball between a rowdy bunch of eighth grade boys.

“Ah there they are!”

Marinette picked up her pace. The basketball zig-zagged her way. She swayed towards her left with a shout. The tips of her ballet flats dented into the ground, she flailed her arms about, tripped and fell face first in front of where Alya, Nino, and Adrien were sitting.

“Marinette you ok?”

Marinette got up and moved in closer to them.

“Yeah, don’t worry I’m fine. Geez I can’t believe those guys---Adrien?

Marinette froze. The “hellos” “hi’s” and other starters of conversations that she had planned to conjure up the next time she came across Adrien suddenly vanished from the forefront of her mind. Like beads of pearls falling from the string of a necklace and scattering about the top of a dresser drawer, Marinette felt the same happen to the sounds inside her throat. They loosened into an airy hum that made everyone else give her a confused and slightly bemused look.

“I-I meant I didn’t expect to see you here!” Marinette stuttered as she scooted over next to Alya.

“Nino asked me to join,” Adrien pointed at Nino.

“Dupe, Marry, Kill’s more fun if you have a lot of people to play,” Nino said.

It was Marinette’s turn to look confused.

“Uh, don’t you mean do, marry, kill?” Marinette asked.

“We were gonna play that but a teacher overheard and said it was ‘inappropriate’ so we changed it,” Alya explained with a roll of her eyes.

“Well, it’s still the same game. Should be fun,” Marinette assured her.

“Yeah, I’ve never played this before so I can’t wait,” Adrien said in an excited tone.

Marinette giggled. Alya and Nino gave each other a very knowing look.

“Alright, let’s begin!” Alya said. “Rules are simple: name three people, celebs only, and choose who to dupe, marry or kill.”

“Or I’d like to call it: trick, kiss, or stitch,” Nino accompanied each word with a miming gesture.

“Who wants to go first?”

Alya leaned in to whisper to Marinette.

“Pst ask Adrien. It’ll let you know what types of girls he likes.”

“What? I can’t do that! That’s kinda, I don’t know, embarrassing?” Marinette seemed to be scandalized by Alya’s suggestion.

“If you want I can do it for you,” Alya started to lean back.

“No! You don’t have to! I can do it! I know I can!” Marinette tried to pump herself up.

Alya grinned. She gave Marinette a thumbs up and rejoined the group.

“Ooh I’ll go first,” Alya volunteered. “Ok Marinette! Dupe, Marry, Kill: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt.”

Adrien and Nino let out an oooh. Marinette began to mull over the choices.

“Well they’re not my type though---oh wait I only have to pick one for that. Well then, hmm---dupe, Pratt that I’m sure of, like a practical joke because he’s a comedy actor. Then that leaves Hemsworth and Evans. Well Hemsworth has a mysterious charm to him and a nice physique so I guess marry him, and sorry Chris Evans but you have to go.”

Everyone let out a series of whooos.

“Marinette’s turn!”

She faced Adrien and gulped.

“A-Adrien. Ok So Du-dupe, marry kill. Um---“

All eyes were on Marinette’s. Names of famous celebrities flashed in her mind, but none formulated into words. She pondered. And panicked until the combination of pressure and dreaminess in Adrien’s gaze made her blurt out:

“Ladybug, Rena Rouge, Queen Bee!”

The adrenaline pumping through Marinette’s veins pleaded for her to flee the disaster in the making as fast as she could before it would escalate, but the embarrassment holding her captive completely paralyzed her. Cheeks blushed beet red, hands covering her face, she peeked out from the cracks between her fingers to assess the scene.

Adrien appeared to be conflicted. Nino’s confused look turned to worry when he looked over to gauge Alya’s reaction. She snorted, and started to crack up.

“Really of all people you could have thought of you come up with Rena Rouge?

“I already know my choice for Rena Rouge if I was asked that,” Nino winked at Alya and placed a hand over his heart.

“Oh stop it you!” Alya playfully waved her hand at him.

Both Marinette and Adrien had their stares fixed down at the court’s blacktop. Alya faced her palm up and puckered up her lips to blow Nino a kiss. He tilted his head to catch the kiss on his cheek. He savored it with a tender caress of his hand.

“Uh can I get another choice?” Adrien piped up.

“Dude. Rules are rules you have to choose,” Nino said.

“But Queen Bee is also Chloe.”

The terrible realization one second too late swept over Alya and Nino.

Oh.

“Even if this is just a game, I don’t wanna humiliate my friend like that with those choices,” Adrien said.

“But it’s not like she’s here you know. You can say whatever you want without her judging you,” Nino tried to persuade him.

Just as Nino said those words Chloe emerged from one of the side hallways. Sunglasses now lowered over her eyes, a flip of her ponytail over her shoulder, and her eyes set right on Adrien, she began to head over, in the same manner a regal queen would approach her subjects. Except that instead being lavished with adoration and praise, all the kids within the vicinity scampered away to let her through. But the boys on the basketball court were a different matter. So engrossed were they in their athletic ritual, amped up to a state of bloodlust similar to that of the berserkers of old that the entire world around them had disappeared.

One of these boys did not look to see where he was going and bumped right into her.

“Get out of my way!” She barked at him.

Smack!

Head held high, a swing of her arm and Chloe continued her journey across the courtyard to meet her prince Adrien. The basketball slid from the boy’s hand. He turned. Reached his hand out to take the ball back into his possession and the other seven boys descended upon him.

Yeah,” Alya shifted nervously in place.

“Well uh, ok,” Adrien thought for a second. “I know who’d I marry---“

Marinette apprehensively gazed up at him.

Ladybug.

The clouds parted. The sun’s radiant warmth spread across the sky. The joyous harmony of Hallelujah chorus, sung by an angelic choir reached its triumphant finale. And right there in front of the sun, the conductor: Adrien himself, clad in a white tuxedo that shimmered underneath the sunlight. His hands rhythmically guiding the choir, he glanced back, enthralled by the sight of---

“You—you would? ” The sun, moon, and stars sparkled in Marinette’s eyes.

Sensing trouble, Tikki rushed up to the top of Marinette’s bag and gave a muffled shout:

“Marinette! Be careful!”

“Isn’t Ladybug the best? She’s amazing and strong and beautiful. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a girl like that?” Adrien had zoned out to la-la land and there was no one of getting him back down from the clouds.

Marinette however had crashed back to earth.

“That’s neat?” She hastily said and sprung up into an unusually stiff seated position.

“And imagine what it would be like being married to her. I think if I did we’d live on our own private island and---“

“Uh dude?” Nino waved a hand in front of his face.

The startle did the trick.

“The other choices! Uh—I—I really don’t know,” Adrien sheepishly said. “Like I don’t wanna dupe or trick either of them. They’re really cool people.”

“You gotta choose!”A hint of annoyance broke through Nino’s laid back tone.

Adrien held up his hands.

“Ok! Ok! For dupe I’ll go for---“

“Oh Adrikins!

Chloe snuck up behind Adrien and enveloped him in a tight embrace.

“Oh hey Chloe,” Adrien greeted her.

“You didn’t forget that you’re taking me home today right?” Chloe’s pointer finger slid underneath Adrien’s chin and tickled it.

“Uh I didn’t. Gorilla’s just running late again. I decided to wait with my friends until he arrived so I could tell you,” Adrien tried to wiggle out of her grasp.

Chloe only let go of him to clasp her hands over Adrien’s shoulders and let out a haughty chortle.

“Your friends?” She raised her eyebrow at Marinette, Alya, and Nino.

“Yeah. My friends. We were playing a game of dupe, marry, kill,” Adrien mildly said.

Marinette went pale.

“Oh no,” she whispered so softly that only Tikki could hear.

Alya and Nino had. Chloe rose to her feet and placed her hands on her hips.

Dupe, marry, kill? That’s stupid. It’s not even the real game. But you did pick marry for me right?”

“You don’t even know what the choices were,” Alya said in a disgruntled tone.

“They were Ladybug, Rena Rouge, and Queen Bee, but I already decided to marry Ladybug.”

Nino facepalmed. Alya shook her head in disbelief. Marinette’s gaze darted to and fro to locate all possible exits for the clack of Chloe’s shoe hitting the ground reverberated throughout the courtyard and the blush she had applied on her cheeks earlier suddenly darkened.

“You—you didn’t choose me! You’d dupe me or kill me instead?” The insecurity that she had tried to mask with anger was apparent no matter how hard she tried to hide it.

“I wouldn’t kill you! Duping isn’t so bad. I mean it could just be a little prank like having you sit under a whoopee cushion or something!” Adrien stammered.

A shocked expression crossed Alya’s face.

“You’d kill Rena Rouge?” She suddenly became quiet.

And at that moment, Marinette knew she had to do something.

“Guys! Maybe we should stop playing this game,” she exclaimed.

“It’s just that she’s not that important compared to Ladybug and Queen Bee,” Adrien’s attention was more focused on Chloe than Alya.
Alya lowered her head. Her foot kicked the blacktop and she mumbled in such a low tone that it was almost impossible to pick up:

“Rena Rouge’s not important.

Marinette stood up.

“Guys!”

And in a flash, the boy with the basketball was back. He dribbled the ball towards him to prevent it being taken away by one of the other players behind him. The opposing player’s long, gangly arms reached out to smack the basketball from his hand.

Wham!

The boy and ball went flying right into the center of the group. Everyone jumped back. Chloe screamed.

“YOU! WHAT THE—“

In a most secret and evil lair, close to the school grounds via the Agreste Mansion, the butterflies furiously swarmed around Hawkmoth.

“Would you look at this? It’s an after school special that’s actually enjoyable. Petty drama, rising tensions, misdirected emotions, it is the perfect backdrop for my addition to the saga,” Hawkmoth observed with glee.

He caught one of the butterflies. There came a flash of purple light, and the akuma took off to fly into the doom and gloom of Paris.

“Fly away my little akuma! And evilize them!” Hawkmoth ordered with a twirl of his cane.

Back at the school, the boy tightened his grip on the basketball.

“It’s not my fault! I was pushed!” The boy shouted.

“As if!” Chloe jabbed her finger at him. “This is the second time you’ve done this, you’re doing this on purpose!

“Guys it was just an accident! Calm down!” Nino stepped between the boy and Chloe.

She shoved him off. Alya’s fists clenched. With an enraged noise, she staggered towards Chloe.

“Alya!” Marinette grabbed her arm and tugged as hard as she could to hold her back.

The akuma entered through one of the windows. Marinette looked up and gasped.

“Alya don’t! There’s an akuma!

Alya slipped out of Marinette’s grasp. Adrien who had been watching from the sidelines the whole time shouted:

“We should get a teacher!”

“You know you can’t just push people around like that!” Alya stood right in front of Chloe.

“Thank you!” The boy interjected.

“This isn’t your business Cesaire,” Chloe pointed at Alya.

“You pushed my boyfriend and that’s not ok!”

“She pushed me too you know!” The boy waved the ball about.

Chloe grabbed onto the ball and started to yank it out of the boy’s grasp.

“Hey! Give it back!” The boy exclaimed.

“If it wasn’t for this stupid ball we wouldn’t be having this conservation so I’m gonna do you a favor and toss it!” Chloe snapped back at him.

Alya then grabbed on.

“What the hell Chloe? That ball belongs to him!”

The akuma took a swift turn.

“Guys! Look out!” Marinette yelled.

The akuma landed. The basketball turned to black and lines of purple neon crisscrossed into a mask like shape across Alya, Chloe’s, and the boy’s faces. Their expressions turned blank.

“Dupe,” Alya’s head tilted up toward the ceiling.

“Marry,” Chloe did not flinch, but kept her stare straight out where Marinette, Nino, and Adrien stood.

“And kill,” the boy’s eyes glanced about as if to look for the source of the sound, but he remained frozen in place.

“I am Hawkmoth. You three are the victims of a cruel and uncalled for game. Why don’t we take all that anger, resentment, and jealousy that you harbor inside and channel it into a more productive measure than a meaningless fight? In return, I only ask for Ladybug and Chat Noir’s Miraculouses. So. What do we say?”

Dupe, Marry, and Kill smirked. A black, oozing substance moved over them.

Oh. We shall Hawkmoth.

Chapter Text

It was a beautiful Parisian spring day. The sun was out, the flowers and trees were in bloom, and everyone flocked outside to enjoy the lovely weekend weather. In a local park a man in his late sixties to early seventies, pleasantly retired, sat alone at one of the park tables. The table was covered by a black felt board and on top, a 2000 piece puzzle of a German castle in the mountains that was halfway complete. The man hummed to himself as he rummaged through the box. He picked up a middle piece and held it up close to his face despite the fact that he wore glasses for his poor short distance vision. He studied it intently to determine the right fit. His finger traced over the ridges, glancing back and forth between board and piece before letting his hand hover over in the vicinity of the right side border.

A shrill series of laughs broke his concentration. His thumb pushed into the puzzle piece and head turned to hear where the sound had come from. A gaggle of teenagers strode by. Their movements agonizingly slow, pressed shoulder to shoulder as they blocked the width of the pathway. The ringleader of these shenanigans, a class clown type boy, spun around to face the others. His over exaggerated flailing almost hit a passing jogger behind him. The sound of his obnoxious shrieking, similar to the sound of a firecracker going off, made the man cover his ears. He glanced up to find that the group was finally making their way out of his sight. And then, one of the girls lagging behind tossed her to- go coffee cup into the grass. It rolled by the table.

“Inconsiderate brats,” the man spat.

Time had passed and it was now early afternoon. Only five pieces remained: one for the sky, one for the mountains, and three for the castle. Gone were the concise and measured grabs on the pieces. The man’s hand scrambled about inside the box to pull all five pieces into his fist. The rush of the final stretch, the glory of completing the better part of two weeks spent hunched over coffee and park tables alike when not out golfing, filled him with glee. Down went piece five. Then four. Three.

At this same time at the far side of the pathway, Alix Kubdel and two of her skater friends named Carla and Leo emerged. They zip lined down the path and circled around the fountain. Alix, in the lead, glanced behind with a smirk. She leaned back against the edge of the fountain and pushed off to gain more speed.

“Try to beat me!” Alix taunted.

Eager to take on the challenge, Leo braced himself for takeover. His rollerblade slid against the ground, kicking up pebbles and dirt.

“Oh yeah? We’ll see about that! Hey Carla give me a boost!”

Carla moved behind him, placed her hands on his back, and pushed just as he sprung forward.

Woosh

Leo had caught up with Alix.

“You cheater!” Alix laughed.

“Cheater? Hah! There’s no rules set up,” Leo shot back. “But if there were, I think this might count.”

Leo leaned over and nudged her.

“Playing dirty eh?” Alix nudged him back.

The two were neck to neck. Their movements became sloppier. Each stumbled as a hand or an elbow was sent their way. Carla, the designated referee, suddenly came to a halt.

“Guys!” She called out.

Leo swerved over to his right. His shove knocked Alix off of the pathway and onto the grass.

“Guys! Look out!

Without loosing a beat, Alix steadied herself to retaliate. Just as she skidded onto the path, her rollerblade got caught into a to-go coffee cup.

“WHOA!”

An ecstatic expression lit up on the man’s face as he laid the final piece----

CRASH

Two teenagers came flying out of nowhere. Limbs flailing, their bodies slowed as they hit the table. The man leapt back with a shout. The entire puzzle sprung up into the air. A rollerblade cut through the middle. The individual pieces came back down in a shower of blues, browns, reds, golds, and grays.

Alix and Leo picked themselves up from off the table. Thanks to a combination of long sleeves, helmets, and elbow and knee- pads, the worst noticeable damage they received were a couple of bruises and cuts on the legs.

“Ow,” Alix winced as she got to her feet.

Glasses askew, hands clutching at strands of silvery gray hair, eyes wide and horrified at the destruction of the fruit of his labors, the howl came out sharp and piercing:

“MY PUZZLE!

Carla skated up to them.

“Guys are you ok?” She asked, worried.

The man’s face flushed red.

“LOOK AT WHAT YOU’VE DONE!

“Dude, we are so sorry! It-it was an accident!” Alix exclaimed.

“AN ACCIDENT? A LIKELY STORY COMING FROM A BUNCH OF HOOLIGANS LIKE YOURSELVES! ADDRESSING ME AS “DUDE?” DON’T YOU HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR YOUR ELDERS?”

“We didn’t mean it!”

“Yeah man we tripped!” Leo piped up.

The man let out a frustrated groan. His pointer finger shot out and jabbed at the air towards Alix, Leo, and Carla.

“TROUBLEMAKERS--- NO--- TEENAGERS SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED IN THIS PARK! ALL YOU LOT DO IS DISTRUB THE PEACE THAT THE CITIZENS OF THIS CITY DESPERATELY NEED!”

“Dude, the park is open to everybody. We have a right to hang out here just like you do,” Leo pointed out.

“Leo! Not now!” Alix nervously scolded him.

“Look, we wanna make it up to you,” Carla knelt down and picked up one of the puzzle pieces. “We caused this mess, why don’t we help you clean up?”

The man snatched the piece out of her hand.

“GET OUT OF MY SIGHT! IF I SEE YOU AGAIN HANGING AROUND THESE PARTS I WILL CALL THE POLICE!”

“But—“

NOW!

Alix and her friends quickly scampered.

In another part of Paris, Hawkmoth held his hand out to one of the butterflies circling the lair. It perched upon his knuckles and he lifted a finger to caress the edge of its wing.

“All that time and dedication put in and what is this man rewarded with? A work of art, his pride and joy, shattered into pieces. Oh my good monsieur I feel your rage. I too have been thwarted by a bunch of no good brats who do not know their place.”

The dark energy seeped from his fingertip. As he moved his finger over the butterfly, the energy spread, akumatizing it from the top of its head down to the bottom of its wings. Hawkmoth thrust his hand forward, forcing the akuma off into the world.

“Fly away my little akuma and evilize him!”

At the park, the man was crouched down next to the table. The puzzle box by his side, he searched the grass for the pieces that remained.

The akuma floated into the piece that he just picked up. A strange sensation compelled him to jolt upright and a voice flitted about his ear.

“Puzzler. I am Hawkmoth. The youth of today may pose as a challenge, but that doesn’t mean that the pieces of the puzzle can’t be put together. I will give you the power to put them in their place. In return, I only ask for the Miraculouses of Ladybug and Chat Noir. So, is it a fair game?”

A devilish glee filled the man. He gripped onto the puzzle piece as the dark energy passed over it.

Yes. Yes indeed.

Chapter Text

“Will groups 1 and 2 please board flight 2577 from Paris to Shanghai.”

Marinette was still in a state of shock as she watched The Agrestes approached the gate. Gabriel, casually advertising some of the newest additions to his men’s line: a baby blue sweater and a pair of beige khakis, curtly waved his boarding pass at the gate attendant before briskly walking off with a swing of his briefcase. Next up, Gabriel Agreste’s personal assistant Nathalie Sancoeur, who changed up her usual style of pantsuits for a red short sleeve blouse and black pencil skirt combo. Her quiet, watchful gaze flitted back and forth between the attendant and Adrien, who stood not far behind. As she went to put her pass back in her purse, she nodded at Adrien for him to go up before taking off herself. And finally, Adrien, wearing a fashionably matching sweatshirt and sweatpants pair gently handed over his pass. Unlike the other two who either appeared to be bored, or in Gabriel’s case, upright demanding about service, Adrien smiled at the attendant and thanked her before heading off with a spring in his step, suitcase rolling behind him.

“Isn’t he so considerate Tikki?” Marinette dreamily remarked.

“Yeah!” Tikki agreed.

She leaned over the zipper on Marinette’s purse to get a better view of the airport gate. A group of businessmen passed by to get on line and Tikki immediately ducked back down. One of them was complaining in a loud voice.

“Management promised everyone working on the Shanghai merger that we’d travel first class, and this fashion designer decides to reserve first class all for himself! Like who does that asshole think he is? What about the rest of us who actually worked for our right to travel comfortably? Unbelievable, am I right Etienne?”

Etienne, a man in his thirties, and dressed in a gray suit, stared off at the gate ahead. His face had gone pale as sheet, sweat glistened on his forehead, and his hands were shaking so hard that little tears formed on the edge of his boarding pass.

“Oh---yeah,” Etienne was so nervous about the prospect of boarding a plane that he had not heard what his colleague had said.

“Wait--you’re not actually scared are you?” His colleague asked.

Etienne nodded. His colleague snickered before letting out a roaring laugh.

“I can’t believe it! A grown man scared of flying!”

“Georges, it’s not funny. It’s so bad that I have to take valium before boarding a plane, but my doctor wasn’t available to renew my prescription before the trip,” Etienne pulled out an empty orange pill bottle from his pants pocket.

“Ha! Forget about it! You can always self medicate with some booze!” Georges clapped Etienne on the back. He flinched.

“Unfortunately it’s something that we now have to pay for thanks to mister look- at- me- flaunt- my- money!” Georges spat.

Etienne gulped. They moved past Marinette and lined up behind the reception desk.

“You don’t think Gabriel Agreste would do something like that do you Tikki? I mean he’s eccentric for sure but selfish? If that really is true, then how can a man like that be Adrien’s dad?”

Tikki was about to answer but ducked back in the purse again as Sabine and Tom walked up to Marinette with suitcases in tow.

“Marinette we have to get in line they’re calling our group next!”

____________________________________________________

From the safety from the border dividing first class from the rest of the cabin, Gabriel Agreste surveyed the passengers making their way towards their seats. His attention was drawn to row 15 where a man wearing a gray suit was pacing from the aisle seat of 15ABC to 15DEF. The line of passengers standing before him were not amused.

“Etienne, you’re holding everyone up,” one of his colleagues sitting by the window in 15ABC said with a point.

“I think it might be best to stretch my legs. I may not get this chance later on. It’s going to be a very, very, long, flight. And since I’m here, why not I put our bags in the overhead compartment?” Etienne replied, flustered.

“We already did that,” Georges, sitting in 15DEF, with his arms crossed, pointed out in an annoyed tone.

“But maybe you’ll change your mind about the stuff you already had out!” Etienne hastily said.

Georges in 15DEF groaned.

“Geez Etienne just suck it up and sit down!

The color in Etienne’s face flushed red, then white as he sat down in the aisle seat of 15ABC. His colleague leaned over and whispered:

“Don’t Georges get to you, he’s still pissed about not flying first class. Anyway it won’t be a bad flight, just distract yourself---“

Having obtained the information that he needed, Gabriel turned back. But not before noticing that his son’s friend Marinette Dupain Cheng and her parents pass by.

“So all I have to do is just go up and ask him if he wants to hang out but how am I gonna do that if all of first class is blocked off to everyone else on the plane?” Marinette said as she sat down in the aisle seat of 30ABC.

“I’m pretty sure if you told the flight attendants that all the bathrooms in the rest of the plane were taken and you needed to use the first class one that it’d be ok,” Tikki suggested.

“Yeah but even if that works what about Adrien’s father?

Tikki paused. Her antennas wiggled to and fro as she pondered over what to do.

“He might be a bit tricky to get past, but I’m sure we’ll think of something to persuade him. We’ve got a lot of time Marinette, we don’t have to do it right now.”

Marinette smiled down at Tikki.

“You’re right. It’s a ten- hour flight. We’ve got loads of time to come up with a plan.”

_________________________________________________________________

About forty- five minutes had passed since the plane took off. Adrien sat in one of the first class window seats. He gazed out at the clouds, iphone in hand, as the latest song on the pop charts drifted through his airpods.

A faint groan came from Adrien’s pocket. Plagg peeked out. His whiskers drooped and his tiny paw rubbed over his belly before he hissed to get Adrien’s attention:

“Adrien! Adrien!

Adrien could not heart him. Plagg made a frustrated sound and tugged on Adrien’s pocket.

“Dude come on I’m starving!” He begged.
Adrien glanced down at Plagg. He took out the airpod in his right ear. Plagg cringed.

“Geez that looks creepy when you take it out! It looks like you ripped out a hearing aid or some cyborg thingy majig. I don’t understand how those things are popular why couldn’t they just stick with---who cares, did they pass out the snacks yet?” Plagg eagerly asked.

“You’re hungry already? You ate like an hour ago,” Adrien said.

“Of course I am! Go bug the flight attendant lady or something! I can feel my strength fading, I don’t know how much longer I might last,” Plagg finished his plea with a dramatic sigh and a paw on his forehead.

Adrien shook his head and laughed.

“Plagg, I think a wait’s not going to kill you,” he gave Plagg a pat on the head. “You just have to distract yourself. How about we listen to some music together?” Adrien held out his airpod to him.

Plagg crossed his arms and turned away from Adrien with a huff.

“No!”

A few rows down, Gabriel and Nathalie were in the middle of a hushed conversation.

“After attending the royal wedding, I began to wonder if the use of powers extended outside of the vicinity of France. With Shanghai fashion week just around the corner, I couldn’t have picked a more opportune time to do a little test run on the plane. Buying out first class was a start to get everyone riled up, but then I noticed there was a more powerful emotion that I could tap into. Flight might be man’s dream come true, but what if that great leap up into the sky just makes you feel like you’re plummeting down to earth? Fear and one with such a primal root is something not to be underestimated,” Gabriel mused.

“But sir, that is an incredibly risky move,” Nathalie brought up. “There could be a possibility that they’ll believe that the akuma flew all the way from Paris to wherever we are right now, but what if they come to the conclusion that Hawkmoth is on the plane?”

Gabriel chuckled.

“All good adventures have a little risk to them Nathalie. If the world just kept on wondering and second guessing, and never bothered to go and explore, wouldn’t life be boring?

His comment and the rare smile that accompanied it caught Nathalie off guard. For a second, she wondered if he was insinuating at something that had nothing to do with his plans to akumatize a passenger on the plane. It was the type of thought that made her heart simultaneously flutter and sink for what it would imply.

So she chose her words carefully.

“There is a healthy amount of risk to everything and then there are options that are unthinkable even improbable given the circumstances, even if we want to take that risk.”

A thoughtful expression crossed Gabriel’s face.

“You do have a point, but perhaps today, I feel that fortune will put the chances in my favor.”

Gabriel stretched his arms up in the air and then back down to take off his sweater. Nathalie averted her gaze, though her eyes glanced back to linger on how his shirt flowed and pressed against the outline of his upper body before stiffening into place. Gabriel reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out Nooroo by one of his wings. The kwami gasped for air before timidly glancing up at Gabriel.

“Nooroo I need you carry out a little operation from me.”

_____________________________________________________

“Is this man a scientist?” Tom mimed the action of combining chemicals together. His lips pursed together to let out a leaky whistling sound, and his fingers waved about to signal a mini explosion.

If Marinette wasn’t so intent on trying to get out of the game of twenty questions by rummaging through her purse to grab her sketchbook, she might have laughed at how silly her father was acting. She began to slide it out, making sure to not to disturb Tikki who was sleeping in a small pocket inside of the purse lining that Marinette had sewn to make sure she was comfortable.

Sabine was quick to fill the silence.

“No. You’re down to five questions.”

“Ok. Why don’t you ask something Marinette?” Tom asked.

Marinette’s hand awkwardly fiddled with the sketchbook.

“Well I uh, it’s my turn?”

Sabine glanced at the sketchbook then up at Marinette.

“Do you want to take a break? We could always pick up later.”

Poor Tom, who had longed for some quality family time, seemed almost heartbroken at the suggestion.

“Uh you sure?”

“Of course. I’ll just keep on playing with your dad in the meantime,” Sabine winked at Tom to indicate that all was settled.

Marinette slid the table out and put her sketchbook down. She opened it to the first blank page, clicked her pen, and began to write.

“Hey Adrien---should I use a comma or an exclamation mark?” She wondered out loud.

Tikki sleepily raised her head from Marinette’s purse. She stretched her arms out, tilted her head back, and gave a great big yawn that made it seem like her mouth had stretched out so much that it covered half of her face. Her eyelids fluttered, closed, then opened completely as she felt how the stale and stagnant cabin air suddenly gave off a cold draft. She glanced about then leaned over the edge of the purse to follow a flash of purple light that appeared to vibrate by the floor.

“Is that—no it can’t be!” Tikki’s eyes grew wide as she followed the light.

“Huh? What is it Tikki?” Marinette asked.

“That’s---“

Tikki pointed at the floor. All that could be seen was the stretch of blue carpet, people’s shoes, and luggage stored on the floor.

“I thought I saw—it’s probably nothing,” Tikki yawned again.

Back in first class, Adrien had dozed off. Plagg was perched up on his shoulder and was trying to shake the curve of his neck.

“Come on! I’m really hungry over here!”

Adrien breathed. Drool trickled down the corner of his mouth. It looked like Plagg was about to cry.

“I swear man if you don’t feed me, I’ll get desperate. I’ll eat the first thing I see, heck maybe even this entire plane Not kidding! So wa---“

Plagg stopped. Fur stuck up on his arms. He turned around to see Gabriel Agreste helping a very surprised Nathalie Sancoeur out of her seat. Gabriel furtively glanced about the first class cabin before the two of them walked down the first class aisle hand in hand, and exited towards the mini corridor.

With the sudden realization that what he was witnessing was not a normal occurrence, Plagg floated up towards Adrien’s sleeping face and began to paw at it.

“Hey man! Hey man! Wake up you won’t believe what I just saw!”

Once they had reached the hallway area, Gabriel checked to make sure none of the staff were around. He then placed a hand on the wall and looked over at Nathalie.

“Tell me Nathalie, are you a good--- no I should rephrase that, are you a convincing actor?”

Intrigued by his question, and feeling a rush of anticipation at what the possibilities might lead to, Nathalie was quick to answer.

“If the situation calls for it sir.”

Gabriel nodded.

“Good. Because of the storm that’s about to come we both need to act like we’ve been swept off our feet.

____________________________________

Marinette gave the final touches to her note and picked it up to hold it out in front of her. Tikki who was sitting on Marinette’s shoulder, leaned in to get a closer look. She had no fear of being discovered thanks to the fact that Tom and Sabine were both asleep (she was resting against his shoulder) and that the other passengers were either keeping themselves occupied with their books, crossword puzzles, movies, music, and other ways to pass the time or were uncomfortably positioned in their seats as they slept.

“What do you think Tikki?” Marinette asked.

Hey Adrien! I didn’t know that we’d be on the same flight together. I’m going to Shanghai to see my mom’s family. I haven’t been to China since I was seven so I’m really excited about this trip. Do you wanna hang out? I’m in row 30. Your friend, Marinette. Sounds good to me!” Tikki nodded.

“Now I just have to wait to see if one of the flight attendants pass by and ask if they can give this to him. I hope they don’t ask any questions, that would totally be embarrassing,” Marinette said.

The floor underneath Marinette shook. Surprised, she glanced about the cabin.

The intercom chimed.

“This is your captain speaking. We have hit a small bout of turbulence so I would ask you to remain in your seats until further notice.”

The same message began to play in Mandarin Chinese, with one of the female flight attendants providing the translation. Marinette sighed.

“Just my luck. That even means the flight attendants can’t be up and about. Well this won’t last long right?”

The plane jolted.

Marinette was flung forward then up and out of her seat. Cold air knocked her in the face, drilling into the center of her eyes, making her skin stretch and clam up. Tikki hung onto Marinette’s sweater, antennas pushed back flat, eyes bug wide and frightened. Then just as Marinette’s head was about to touch the ceiling her seatbelt yanked her back down. Tikki scrambled back into Marinette’s purse. Tom and Sabine awoke with a startle.

“What’s going on!?”

Shouts filled the air. Bags tumbled about the overhead cabin. Many of the passengers were clinging onto their armrests or onto each other for dear life. The plane violently jolted again and a scream pierced the air:

“WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE!

Fifteen rows down, Etienne’s trembling body was curled up into a ball. He lifted his head with a sob. His teeth chomped down and chattered. Patches of sweat dampened his shirt. His legs squirmed about, nearly kicking his colleague.

“WE’RE GOING TO CRASH! I KNOW IT! I KNOW I SHOULD HAVE NEVER GOTTEN ON THIS PLANE!”

“I’m pretty sure the pilot has everything under control!” His colleague next to him reassured him.

Etienne howled.

“WHY COULDN’T THEY HAVE ARRANGED FOR US TO TAKE A BOAT? WHY DID HAVE TO BE A PLANE?

“Oh my god Etienne! If we’re really gonna die, why can’t you just SHUT UP for five seconds and give us some peace and quiet!” George snapped at him.

Etienne ripped his seatbelt off.

“I HAVE TO GET OUTTA HERE! I HAVE TO GET OUTTA HERE!

Etienne burst into a run. The fluorescent overhead lights cast a deathly glow on his face. His body swayed, knocked against the aisle seat, yet he trudged through until he reached the economy class lavatories. He tugged on the nearest door.

Locked.

The other door.

Locked.

He dashed down to the start of business class and turned into the mini station where the lavatories were. The sign above each of the handle read in glaring red letters: OCCUPIED.

“NO! NO! NO!

One of the flight attendants walked in.

“Sir, you should be back in your seat!” The flight attendant told him.

Etienne kept on running. Into first class, past a teenage boy who was beginning to stir down towards the last mini corridor. To the left lay the gate door. Up head, the cockpit and where the flight attendants gathered. To the right: the first class lavatory, the sign glowing a glorious green with the letters VACANT. Etienne held a tight grip on the handle. It slid to the side and the door opened in a zig- zag to reveal----

“Ah!”

Gabriel and Nathalie were positioned in a very intimate embrace against the sink. Nathalie’s skirt was hiked up as far as it could go, legs straddled around Gabriel’s hips and digging into the back of his khakis. One of her hands had snaked around the back of his head, positioning it downward to meet up with hers, the other gripped his back as he moved in closer to her body. The sounds of kissing and moans ceased with a swish of Nathalie’s loose hair, arms that shot inwards to cover the front of her opened blouse, and an embarrassed gasp. Right on cue, Gabriel looked behind at Etienne. His perfectly combed coif was messed up, and the top buttons of his shirt had been unbuttoned to reveal the top of his chest.

“Get out. We’re busy,” Gabriel coolly said.

Etienne scampered with a shut of the door. It was then that Gabriel and Nathalie pulled apart, revealing that all lower garments had remained intact the entire time. Nathalie was in a daze as she fumbled about to fix her shirt and skirt. She turned to towards the mirror and sheepishly grinned back at her reflection as she went to put her hair back into a bun. Gabriel, ever the stoic, showed no outward indication of any reaction about what had transpired. He had finishing buttoning his shirt when Nooroo phased through the door.

“Master. I have done everything you asked,” Nooroo bowed his head.

Gabriel locked the door.

“Good. Now, Nooroo---“

“Sir, before you transform,” Nathalie’s shaky voice addressed the mirror. “Can I have one second to recover?”

A smug look crossed Gabriel’s face.

“I’ll give you five.

“GET ME OUTTA HERE!”

Etienne’s hands clutched at his face. His legs wobbled as the fear began to paralyze him in place in front of everyone in business and economy class. The colleague who had been sitting next to him had a worried look on his face. Georges had covered his face and was pretending that Etienne didn’t exist. About half of the passengers had their eyes on Etienne, the other half was too scared out of their wits to pay attention to anything else in their surroundings.

“Sir I’m going to have to ask you to go back to your seat now?” The flight attendant tasked with getting Etienne back to his seat said in an uncertain tone as he struggled to remain upright.

The plane shook. The flight attendant slid and fell backwards. Etienne screamed as he followed down headfirst. The empty pill bottle slipped out of his pocket and rolled away. Etienne’s shaking hand reached out to grab it.

Marinette’s eyes widened as her gaze darted about the scene. She propelled herself into a crouched position up on her seat and lifted her purse up so Tikki could see.

“Look! That’s—“ She pointed just above the businessman.

“An akuma! But how?” Tikki exclaimed in disbelief.

Marinette unfastened her seatbelt and jumped out of her seat.

“Marinette! Where are you going? We have to stay in our seats!” Sabine called out.

“I feel sick! I think I’m about to throw up,” Marinette bulged her cheeks out and covered her mouth for good measure as she staggered away.

“There’s a sickbag---“ Tom held up one of the airsickness bags that the plane had provided for passengers in the backseat pocket.

But Marinette had already turned into the back where the economy class lavatories were. Both doors were still locked.

“I guess I have no choice but to transform here,” Marinette took one last glance out to see that the akuma had landed on the side of the pill bottle.

Just as the tips of his fingers brushed against the bottle, Etienne felt a strange sense of calm wash over him. His body loosened and his eyelids drooped as if he were falling into a deep slumber. And a voice, as soothing as a lullaby crooned in his ear:

“Turbulent. I am Hawkmoth. Your fear of flight may have made you cower but I can give you wings so that you can soar. Unleash your power, crush those who have mocked you, and show the world how fear is a force to be reckoned with!”

An eerily calm grin spread across Etienne’s face.

Why yes. I think I shall.

Chapter Text

The laptop’s flickering glare radiated out from the bed and lit up the stillness of the room. This room belonged to a young man, and it showed through the dust that gathered in the corners, the clutter of textbooks and video games for various consoles on the desk, the wastebasket that overflowed with crumped up pieces of paper, chip bags, and an empty bottle of mountain dew, and the pile of shoes that were haphazardly piled up on each other next to the closet. The only parts of the room that remained presentable to company that happened to stop by were the collection of well cared for figurines from the game Persona 5 that were displayed on the top desk shelf, the poster of Persona 5’s number one fandom waifu Makoto Nijimia that hung over the bed, and the novelty of the Nintendo Switch that was sat television, with the controllers out in case someone wished to play. The rhythmic clacking of slender fingers pushing down against the keyboard came to a halt. This man, aged anywhere from eighteen to thirty, and who suspiciously looked like the Persona 5 protagonist Akira Kusuru, Ren Amamiya, Joker, Number One Smash Main, Atlus go- to husbando, and a crude internet username not suitable for text, lifted his head and let out a frustrated shout:

“Dammit!”

The Persona 5S announcement livestream had buffered for the fifth time. The young man’s fist balled out and pounded against the bed. Another shout, and he recoiled back in pain. The mattress underneath had the consistency of a brick wall, and while he tolerated its unusual firmness on the back for the belief that it would toughen him up Spartan style, it proved to be too much for his poor, throbbing hand.

He cursed again under his breath as he went to refresh the page.

“Finally!”

The man pulled the laptop towards him. He hovered over it, eyes eagerly following the juxtaposition of animated cut scenes and Japanese text that he could not read.

“This is it! This is what I’ve been waiting for! Ever since November! Persona 5 on the Switch!” The laptop’s light sparkled in his eyes.
His fists balled up again and hammered up and down in the air like spectators at a sports game would do to cheer on their team.

“Persona 5 for Switch! Persona 5 for Switch! Come on! Come on! Come on!

Then right exactly at twenty seconds, the light in his eyes, filled with wonder and excitement, died.

“Wai—“

The animation gave way to gameplay that did not resemble any of the scenes from the main core game.

What?

A red- hot anger flared up in his eyes. His right fist swung and crashed down on the bed.

“WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT?”

Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers The announcer introduced in a very matter of fact tone for a video game trailer.

“A SPIN OFF GAME? AFTER ALL THE EFFORT FOR SMASH AND WHAT WE SWTICH USERS GET IS A SHITTY SPIN OFF GAME? ARE YOU OW! KIDDING ME?

The laptop shook. The man unclenched his hands and dramatically clutched at the strands of hair that stuck up at the sides.

“EVERYTHING WAS POINTING TO A SWTICH PORT! THE LEAKS! THE DEAL! AND ALL WE GET IS NOTHING! WHAT DO THEY THINK WE ARE A BUNCH OF SUCKERS?”

Suddenly, his body loosened. His arms fell to his sides, a defeated expression washed him, and he became still.

“I just want to play my favorite game whenever, wherever,” he said softly. “You can’t do that with the PS4. What if I don’t want to play the game on the tv? What if I want to take the game on vacation? Or play in my bed?”

Something about what he said made his hair harden into spikes. Rage boiled over in his eyes. He opened his mouth and his scream warped up an octave higher than his normal speaking voice.

“What about my plan to play my sweet Makoto-chan’s romance arc in bed? GAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Both hands pummeled the bed. The laptop bounced up and over the bed. The young man froze in place, horrified. He pushed himself into a dive to catch it.

“NOOOOOOO!!!”

The laptop slipped out of his grasp. It fell to the floor with a thud. A crack ran down the screen. Keys popped out and slid to their doom of dust and crumbs underneath the bed and desk. Electricity sparked from the wires that once held them in their place. Blues, reds, yellows, oranges, magentas, and whites flashed on the screen before the black crept in.

The man’s hands clutched at the bedcover. A choked up sound came from the depths of his throat. His eyes bulged and his jaw dropped and he howled.

“MY COMPUTER!”

He bolted over the edge of the bed and sunk down onto his knees. Holding back a sob, his clammy, shaking hands gently cradled the laptop like if he were holding his firstborn.

“My computer,” one single tear trickled down his cheek.

Hawkmoth’s laugh boomed throughout the lair. The light shining down upon him gave off a most ghastly glow. His shadow underneath grew larger, his outstretched hands cut through, and the butterflies flew away with all their might.

“No force can compare to a young man’s twisted greed. His heart’s desire, for that he considered his and his alone, what he had coveted for so many months, dangling just within his reach, was snatched right in front of his eyes! Oh this anger!

Hawkmoth clenched his free hand into a fist and lowered it close to his heart.

This desperation! This betrayal of betrayals! If I take advantage of this untapped power and tame it by having this young man to do my bidding, then I, Hawkmoth, will become invincible!”

His hand shot up and caught one of the passing butterflies. It seized up in his grip, struggling to break free as the magic corrupted it. Then just as the akuma was about to take flight, Hawkmoth gave out a diabolical roar and hurled the akuma towards the stained glass window.

“Fly away my little akuma! Take his heart! Evilize his inner self!

Back in the room, after of what seemed to be an eternity of sniffing and moping, the young man rose to his feet to move the laptop to the desk until he could find a way to properly discard it. As he set the laptop down, he felt something light brush up against his left hand. His skin prickled, the akuma sunk into the laptop. In his head, the ominous drone of horns sounded. The cymbals clashed, creating a dissonance that built up to the violins’ frantic playing. It was then Hawkmoth’s cue to speak.

“Switch N Bait. I am Hawkmoth. You have been caught off guard by the element of surprise, sunk into a state of despair, and the winds of fortune are not in your favor, but I can change that and give you a ship so you can set sail on your quest for revenge. In return, I only ask for the Miraculouses of Ladybug and Chat Noir. So my little phantom thief, do we have a deal?”

The young man’s glasses gave off a foggy glare as the transformation darkness shrouded him.

They will never see it coming.