Adrien isn’t sure why his father called him to his study. He never called him to his study, not unless he was in trouble. He hadn’t done anything outside of the shenanigans with Marinette and Kagami. Actually, yeah, he’s pretty sure that would get him in trouble. That would get him in a lot of trouble. But that had been almost a week ago, certainly, Gabriel wouldn’t bring it back up now? He always took action the instant he had the opportunity, never delaying the inevitable unless he were deciding a worse punishment than isolation or stern yelling.
To say the least, Adrien was buzzing with anxiety and fear alike. He hadn’t even seen his father in the last week, not once. Was he building up a punishment? Was he going to stockpile his schedule with work? He was already spending all of free time on shoots and taking nightly ones, staying up until the early hours and cramming his studies. He was practically killing himself with all this work already. Was that not enough for Gabriel Agreste?
“Adrienne,” His father greets. Adrien flinches instantly, pushing it down. He still had yet to tell anyone outside of Kagami and Nino that Adrienne didn’t fit anymore. “I’m sure you’re wondering why I’ve called you here,” he says in a voice that doesn’t give Adrien any room to dispute.
Adrien is glad he doesn’t have to see his father’s stern expression, the man turned away from him. Instead, he gets to see his mother’s regal face staring back at him, the painting on the wall attempting comfort. He nervously taps his hands on his thigh. He nods, quick, sharp, and frantic. “Yes, Father. Am I in trouble?”
“If you are not to stop fidgeting, you will be,” he says in a strict tone, one that makes Adrien stop within an instant, inhaling sharply. He forces down the urge to move. Gabriel doesn’t turn towards him, instead, taking up, “Do you want your mother back, Adrienne?”
He falters, the force anxiety-ridden smile faltering. Of course, he wanted his mother back! He had his background set as Emilie, still wore the clothing outfits she had chosen for him when he was young, still wore that yellow skirt Emilie had said matched with Chloe’s wardrobe aesthetic. He still did a million things in her image. Hell, he even wore the jewelry she used to wear constantly. Despite that, he had never thought of bringing her back. He had forced himself to move on, forced himself to settle. He was a child in the spotlight, he didn’t have any other choice. It was sink or swim and his father wouldn’t accept sinking. He had adapted to a harsh and cold atmosphere with no help, no reassurance, just the fear of punishment and general fear of his father.
Does Adrien really want her back? He loves her. Misses her constantly, does everything in his power to honor her, but… Does he want her back? He thinks, no, he doesn’t want her back, not when she’ll take the same stance on Adrien thinking Adrien was better and him having a crush on girls and boys as Gabriel knowingly would. The only reason he had allowed Adrien to do anything around the LGBT community was for clout. He really doubts that.
Despite that, he still says, “Of course, I’d give anything to have her back.”
“What about Ladybug and Chat Noir’s miraculouses?”
Adrien stares as his father turns around, revealing two different miraculouses. On his chest sits the butterfly miraculous, the kwami known as Nooroo perched on the hand holding the peacock miraculous, not yet letting the kwami flutter, not bonded to anyone. If he remembers correctly from Plagg, the kwami in there was named Duusu. She was sweet, kind, and had just as much bottled energy as Adrien did.
“Everyone loves a father-daughter hero duo.”
“That’s not… We wouldn’t be heroes, would we? We’re stealing their miraculouses, Father!” His nerves spike and fear settles in his throat. He wants to break down into sobs but holds back in favor of hearing out his father.
Gabriel shakes his head. “We’re bringing back your mother, Adrienne!”
Adrien stares at the miraculous, slowly taking it within his hands, clipping it to his shirt, just beneath the white overshirt. “I just… Father, does this mean that I’m not enough for you?”
Gabriel pauses, Duusu formed in the air, though her smile seems to be gone, no longer holding that happiness she always radiated. Gabriel knew that Duusu was the most emotionally connected kwami. He frowns. “Adrienne, what do you mean?”
“Nothing, Father,” he bites, bitterly turning. “I’ll join, Hawkmoth, but on my own time. Give me some time to accept the idea and wrap my head around it, alright?”
“Of course,” the man replies in a too-strict business tone.
Adrien makes his way out silently, forcing himself into a calm state. He bundles up his emotions, bundles it all together like it doesn’t make his stomach churn and mind spew with fear. He had been living with Hawkmoth, which meant that Mayura had to be close to Gabriel. The only women ever close to his father were Nathalie and Emilie, his mother and motherly figure. Nathalie had just been admitted to the hospital for those dizzy spells that his mother got just before her passing, too.
His skin feels like static, touch all too much as his arms wrap around him. His father had a view of the entire home. He had everything at his disposal. Adrien was nothing more than a pawn, a disposable pawn. What was he supposed to do? Was he supposed to just accept this? Was the miraculous going to kill him the same way it had progressively done with his mother and caretaker?
He enters his room with tears pooling, falling thickly onto his cheeks, coating them with sticky, salted lines. He forces down a sob, sniffling. He messily wipes his face. “Plagg,” he whispers in a weak voice, “I’m sorry.”
Plagg frowns, his hand connected with Duusu’s. “What’s wrong, Kitten?”
“You were right,” he whispers as he puts his bag down, slumping on his bed-couch-whatever. “He is Hawkmoth and I just wanted to believe that he wasn’t.” He sniffles again, messily wiping his face. “I was just - just grasping at straws trying to-”
“Adrien, Adrien, no,” Plagg stops him as the boy crumbles. The cat doesn’t hesitate to stalk forward, Duusu uncertainly following. “He’s the villain here, not you.”
“But I could be,” he whimpers, hands wrapped around the peacock miraculous.
“We’re the villains,” Duusu asks. “Gabriel didn’t say we were the villains.”
“He puts people in danger, Duusu. He put me in danger!” More tears flow. It wasn’t going to be any sort of kiss it better situation. “He doesn’t… Plagg, he put me in danger… countless times!”
“So did Ladybug,” Plagg tries.
Adrien shakes his head, tears falling. “That’s even worse! My best friend, my father, my caretaker, everyone!”
His head aches as sobs fall from his loose lips, which he brings a hand to cover. He doesn’t want any of this out there. He can’t trust his father, can’t trust the home he once called his own. He desperately turns to Duusu, quickly asking, “Was my mother… Was she…. Did she ever wear the miraculous and - and use us?”
Duusu frowns, full of empathy. She sits on the holder’s lap, so full of remorse. “I’m so sorry, little fledgling… Emilie was Le Paon and Nathalie was Mayura. My only other holder was Fu, and he never chose a name for himself.” She presses her cheek to the holder’s palm, so sympathetic. “I’m so, so sorry.”
“It’s alright, Duusu,” he whispers in a broken voice, “You can’t con - control holders.” He forces his breathing down, rubbing his fingers over his wrists, silently evening his breathing. He lets the tears roll as he stands up. It takes a few swift movements to be ready to leave once again, grabbing his jacket. It wasn’t even cold, but his fingers needed something to fidget with and he’s lost his fidget cube, so his zipper will have to do for now.
“What are you doing, Adrien,” Plagg asks, concerned as he watches his holder pour his books out onto his desk.
“Going to stay with Nino,” he quickly supplies, “Or maybe Alya? Or Kagami? Maybe Marinette? I don’t know, maybe even Luka and Juleka?” He grabs his phone, quickly typing out a test to the group chat he had with them. Chloe used to be on that chat, though she had been kicked out after the last time she was akumatized. The conversation was more just Adrien giving updates or answers to homework, but tonight, it’s a desperate plea for a safe sanctuary. He moves to his closet, putting the clothing in his bag with a quick swipe of his cheeks, tears getting wiped away.
Plagg’s eyes widen. “But your dad-”
“Won’t care if it’s for a school project.” His phone buzzes, but Adrien ignores it for the moment, instead, typing out a quick text to Nathalie and Gabriel, that group chat only ever texted by Adrien and Nathalie. Gabriel checked his phone but could never be bothered with approving plans. Now, he had no choice. “I can’t - I don’t want to stay here tonight, okay?”
Duusu stuffs a few sets of clothes in the bag, unsure of what to and not to send him off with. She asks, “How long are you going to be gone?”
“Just tonight. He’ll be mad if I miss any photoshoots.”
Adrien’s phone buzzes again, this time with approval from his father. He swipes to the conversation with his friends, quickly finding that Luka and Juleka were already hosting a group study session, which now doubled as a chance where they could stay the night. He heaves out a soft sigh, relaxing somewhat as he shuts his bag, thankful for Luka’s help. He doesn’t think he can sit through a night here, not now. He makes his way to the bathroom, ready to clean his face off.
“Luka said Juleka is going to Rose’s,” Duusu reports, staring down the phone on the bathroom counter. Adrien nods, soaping up his face. “Who is Rose?”
Plagg is quick to give Duusu a run-through on who was who. There were a million different contacts in Adrien’s phone but only a few mattered to the boy. He listens in, giving a gentle smile. Plagg may have seemed laid back and noncaring, but he listened much better than anyone really knew, giving Duusu a rundown on relationships, too. It makes Adrien melt, happy that his kwami friend listened and genuinely cared.
“Okay,” he says as he dries his face, no hint of crying ever there, “M’ready.” He smiles triumphantly at Plagg and Duusu, striking a pose and getting his things. He could keep up the front, keep his smile up. He always did.
Luka smiles at Adrien the instant he sees him walk forward, let out of the car by his bodyguard. Adrien tries to hold back the feelings that he would be a much better guardian than his father, but he can’t, not when he knows it’s true. Rose and Juleka give him a wave as they walk away, smiling and calm, wrapped around each other’s waists. They were always close, were always the It couple, or so he had heard from Nino.
“Hey, Adrienne,” Nino greets when he sees the other, stumbling forward to properly pull him into a hug, which Adrien relaxes into much more than he wants to let on. “Your old man let you go?”
He nods, smiling. Nino pulls away. He tries not to let it hurt, not to let the ache of contact show. Thankfully, Nino keeps an arm around his shoulders. “Yeah, he thought I was coming over for some school project.”
Luka gives a gentle nod. “Do you mind us asking what happened? You’ve never text any of us like that…”
Adrien sharpens somewhat, thankful that Nino kept an arm around him. It grounds him, keeps him set in reality. His gaze falls hazy. He wasn’t ready for that conversation yet, not when Hawkmoth knew who they were beneath the masks and could easily get to them if he chose to. So, he just forces a tight smile. “I don’t…. I’m not ready for that yet,” he says, voice quiet.
It was now Nino’s turn to nod, the boy seemingly accepting it. “Of course, Adi,” he says, using that nickname that Alya had used once and somehow stuck. It was either Adi, Adri, or Sunshine. He would never admit it, but he preferred the last one. “Do you want me to let go of you or-”
“Please, don’t,” he whispers in a voice, one broken and desperately pleading. Luka interlaces their fingers, smiling calmly at the two. He needs physical contact. His smile is too strained, hurts his cheeks and cracks his lips. He wants to break down into sobs but now isn’t the time. It’s not the time when he’s in front of anyone. He can fall apart when it’s just him and his… his two kwamis, now.
“Let’s get you sitting down and comfortable, Sunshine,” Luka supplies. Adrien nods and follows them down to the living room, silent the entire time. It feels like he’s just walking through static. Disassociation, his therapist had said about things like this. It was moments where he disconnected and let himself go on autopilot. It could last for days, weeks, months, but he hopes it’s just for a few minutes. It wouldn’t take much to shock him back, he hopes.
It doesn’t, not when Alya is talking about her Ladyblog with enough energy to power the world. He’s thankful for her energy and loud voice. Kagami and Marinette both offer their own pointers. They were just as fluent with her infaction as Alya herself, Marinette speaking with a happy buzz and Kagami with a laid back casualness that Adrien silently admires.
“The lady of the hour,” Alya greets, smiling widely as she stands from her spot on the floor next to the two girls, “Our wonderful Sunshine here is the perfect Ladybug expert, aren’t you, Adi?”
Adrien’s cheeks flush a soft red as he scoffs. “I read your blog and use Ladybug as reference for some of my modeling stuff, sure, but I’m not as big of a fan as you are. I doubt anyone could beat you.”
Marinette ducks her head with a blush, hiding a smile. “She’s got a point, Alya. You do run the number one Ladybug blog.”
Adrien puts his bag beside the other’s, He slowly takes a spot beside Kagami and Marinette, now taking Alya’s spot, who had moved to sit beside Nino. She was practically buzzing with energy. It’s rather comforting to see her spew to the group about the last case.
“Also, also, very much also,” Alya suddenly pipes, “Are we going to talk about Chat Noir’s new outfit?” She scrolls through her phone, showing off the picture with a Cheshire cat grin.
The mentioned hero stood on the rooftop, beside Ladybug. He had long gloves that went up his arms, halting near the shoulders. It looked more like he had a binder on than an actual top, freckles dotting his skin and long, flowy pants covering his legs. Adrien had remembered that. He was having a bad night the night before, just barely awake and too concious of the too-tight clothing they had put him in. He doubts he’ll ever get that outfit again, but it did in the pinch, keeping him from panicking about his skin feeling too tight. Ladybug hadn’t commented when they took down the Akuma.
“He’s been going through a lot of outfit changes lately,” Kagami comments with a raised brow. “I wasn’t aware a miraculous holder could change their outfits.”
Adrien keeps his mouth shut, just nodding at the picture. Every transformation within the past three weeks had brought on a different result. He silently thinks he’ll just go with the original. “Do you think Ladybug liked any of them?”
Alya scoffs softly. “Did you see her reaction to seeing him in the one before that? When he had his back out?” She swipes, showing the picture of the open-backed suit and Ladybug’s obvious distraction to it. “I swear, whoever he is under the mask, he probably does Crossfit or something.”
Fencing, he wants to correct but keeps his mouth shut.
“Isn’t Crossfit the one about getting your legs in shape,” Marinette asks.
Alya shrugs, smiling at her best friend. “I dunno, girl, but it’s one of them. Did you see those muscles? He must be ripped.”
“So Chat Noir is some ripped, blonde dude who is painfully nice,” Nino asks.
“He could be a frat boy,” Marinette suggests, snark clear, “One of those that are super nice, you know what I’m talking about.”
“The Americans,” Kagami says menacingly.
“No,” Marinette clips, laughing.
Adrien relaxes, slowly shedding his jacket. It was nice to hear them all relaxing and getting along. He didn’t think he’d ever be such good friends with anyone, but he’s so thankful for them.
Marinette seems to sharpen, though. “Hey, nice broach,” she comments, “When’d you get that?”
Adrien smiles softly. He couldn’t deny that he had tensed up, though. “It was my mom’s,” he says with a smile, “My father gave it to me today.”
“Saying father sounds so formal,” Alya comments teasingly.
Adrien scoffs himself. “The only passive fuck you I can give him without saying it.”
Kagami frowns. “Adrienne, is something going on at home? You’re tense and distressed.”
He sighs softly, smile falling. He doesn’t want to hold up this front anymore. “I - I can’t say what’s wrong, but…” He trails off, hand unconsciously wrapping around the miraculouses, the ring and broach touching. “It’s not… We’re not fighting, I’m just… Things have changed after tonight.”
He can feel their confusion, but Kagami and Marinette give him an awkward hug, one that’s a bit messy. Marinette just softly provides, “I’m sure my parents won’t mind if you stay over for a while.”
“I can’t stay more than tonight,” he whispers in a weak voice, “I have work to do.”
“Work,” Luka asks with a raised brow.
Before he can say anything else, a loud crash follows, as well as a buzz from Adrien’s phone. When the others run, he just grabs his phone, looking at the text. It only says a few words, but he can feel his head throb in his throat. I hope you know the right thing to do here, Adrienne. It haunts him, but he doesn’t want to find out what’ll happen if he doesn’t.
In a soft voice, the boy whispers, “Duusu, spread my feathers.”
Le Paon never got close to Ladybug. Le Paon never got close to the fighting. In fact, Le Paon never fought, not as much as Mayura had. Le Paon watched from the background, a manipulative hand pulling the strings. He never missed his father’s anger when it came to asking why Chat Noir was never there, and he certainly never missed how angry Ladybug had been at him.
Now, he sits silently, taking her yelling like it was nothing. Earlier, he had taken his father’s wrath, taken it like it was nothing, but it still hit a million times harder than he wanted to let on. Now, though, he’s crumbling. Tears fall, ones thick that don’t seem to have any sort of end in sight. The hero held up a million different fronts, a million different poses and smiles that were never real.
“You think I don’t know I’m a bad hero,” he asks her. Ladybug had paused, staring at Chat Noir with an open mouth, shocked.
“I didn’t mean-”
“You just said that I was a bad sidekick,” he chokes out. She had said it with harsher words, all yelled and jabbing him. “I know I haven’t been here! I haven’t been here for a good reason! You’ll understand one day, I promise. I’ll explain every single thing!” He can’t, not yet. It makes his stomach churn at the fact that he can’t entrust even his best friends with this. “For now, please, please, please, be patient with me? I know that I’m bad at fucking everything, but I’m biding my time.”
“Biding your time,” Ladybug repeats with a frown.
He just shakes his head and sniffles. “I’ve got to go, L - Ladybug.” He doesn’t let her respond, just making a run for it.
“Le Paon,” Hawkmoth greets with a wicked smirk.
Le Poan offers a glare. “I still don’t like that we’re stealing the miraculouses,” he supplies. He’s still thankful that Duusu offered an androgynous suit, one that left it all to the imagination, hidden beneath flowing clothing and a voice rather similar to Chat Noir’s, but missing that casual side to it.
Hawkmoth hums, smirk falling. “It’s a small price to pay to get your mother back, Adrienne.” He gives his son a pat on the head, not noticing the way he tenses beneath the touch. “With Chat Noir’s sudden disappearance, I’m not sure we’ll be able to collect his ring.”
Le Paon hums. “I’m sure he wouldn’t turn down a pretty little lady like myself in distress, now would he,” he asks, smirking behind his features. He’s sure he’d be able to get the fox miraculous, he’d just have to bide his time the same way he had told Ladybug he’d be doing. “Besides, I’m sure that if we get Ladybug’s miraculous, he’ll certainly be there to save her, unless he’s given up his miraculous.”
His father frowns, brows knitting together. “You would use yourself as bait?”
“Adrienne would be the bait,” he reiterates, hiding behind the fan. “But… If it’s anything like how it was with your akumatization, that may fail.”
Hawkmoth nods, slow and thoughtful. “Ladybug does have an eye for you, does she not?”
“For Adrienne,” he asks with a raised brow. His father nods, to which Adrien returns the gesture. “She does, yes. She’s protective over the citizens of Paris.”
Hawkmoth shakes his head. “No, I mean a….” he slowly thinks out the words for a moment before providing, “crush.”
His cheeks tint red. “I don’t think Ladybug has a crush on me,” he replies bluntly.
Hawkmoth shakes his head. “I have seen the exact way she looks at you. It’s the same look I gave your mother.”
Adrien’s cheeks turn dark red. Of course, Ladybug prefers that fake ass personality, everyone prefers it. “Then what, father? Manipulate her into trusting me so I can steal her miraculous?”
His father rolls the idea around his head for a moment, humming in consideration.
He huffs, cheeks lit up. “Sexually dominate her and manipulate her while I’m at it?”
“As long as you’re in control-”
“This sounds like a shitty plot on Riverdale,” the boy bites back, sighing. “I don’t even know who she is outside of the mask. I would have to know that to gain her trust, to finally be able to get in a situation where her guard would be down enough to get the earrings.”
Hawkmoth shakes his head, smirking. “I’m sure you could get that easy enough if you know the right things to do and say.”
“What? Put myself in the middle of an Akuma attack and flirt with Ladybug until my wonderful flirting skills,” he’s sure to stress it and make it as sarcastic as he can, “hit her and she falls goo-goo eyes in love with me?”
Hawkmoth has an expression that hints at an impending yes.
“Something tells me I’m about to be on the cover of a lot of magazines and not because of any of my modeling.”
Sure enough, Adrien made the front cover of so many magazines that the boy stopped even paying attention to them, his suspected romance with Ladybug even making it on the Ladyblog after so many people asked about it. Alya had been rather hesitant about putting it up, but she did get permission from both the heroine and Adrien himself, who hadn’t minded at all because his father was thrilled with all of this.
Now, he stands casually next to Marinette, the two doing measurements for one of Marinette’s extra cariculars. He doesn’t mind modeling for her. She pays in foods he’s not supposed to eat, but his father had agreed as a peace treaty for what was going on with Ladybug. He knew his son despised the manipulation he had to do.
“So, this is supposed to be like that outfit from the Arcana?”
“The what,” Marinette asks, voice muffled behind a collection of pins in her mouth.
His cheeks tint red, embarrassment lacing his features. “Oh, uh, it’s this game you can get on your phone. It’s nice, I like Muriel, Nadia, and Portia, not that that’ll make sense to you, but- Gosh, sorry.” his cheeks turn an even brighter red as he realizes he’s sputtering through his excitement to ramble on about one of his many fixations. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble.” He falls silent within an instant, mouth snapped shut and eyes downcast.
Marinette frowns. She pauses, unsure of if she should intervene or not. After a moment, she does seem to decide that she’s going to say something. Slowly, she puts the pins in her hands so she can speak. “You’re allowed to talk about what you’d like, Adi. I might not understand it, but I support you and would like to know about your interests. Gosh, I might even pick up on it, too.”
His cheeks flush even brighter red, a smile slowly creeping up on him. “Okay, okay. You… You really don’t mind?’
She just offers him one of her kind smiles. “Of course, I don’t mind.”
He sighs and nods. He slowly starts to talk about it, tentative at first before slowly creeping into gushing about it, lit up with passion. Marinette calls it quits early so that they have time to discuss it and Marinette even starts on the first chapter.
He feels like he’s drowning. Akumas are a million times worse, getting harder and harder to cope with each time. Even if he didn’t mean to get in the middle, he always does, somehow always getting captured or beaten during it. He never gets to transform, never gets to fight back. He just has to take the punches, rolling with them every single time.
Now, he finds himself sitting on the rooftop of one of the many homes in Paris, Le Paon silently staring at the stars. He can already hear Ladybug’s footsteps, as well as see her without the need to actually see her. He doesn’t turn towards her, just taking the predictive step and moving out of the way just in time to avoid her yo-yo. He frowns at the stars, softly asking, “Won’t you just sit with me tonight, Ladybug? And let us be friends?”
“Friends,” Ladybug sneers, “I don’t want to be friends with someone who’s hurt my partner!”
Le Paon almost wants to scoff at that, humming softly. “I haven’t touched Chat Noir once.”
“Once,” she sneers once again.
He shakes his head, slow and sad as he turns towards her. Black and purple eyes stare back at blue ones, one filled with a million aching emotions and the other raging with fire. “I’m not Mayura, nor the two holders before myself.” He sits down, legs folding to his chest. “I’m just a child who wants their family back together, Ladybug.” It wasn’t the truth, but it wasn’t the most obvious lie.
“But Chat Noir-”
“I haven’t seen Chat Noir in a long while. Are you sure he hasn’t taken a long vacation?”
She shakes her head, glaring at the back of Le Paon. “Chat Noir doesn’t take vacations.”
“Last I heard from the little feline, you yelled at him, loud and mean, just as an Akuma would.”
“I swear, Mayura if you did anything-”
“I’m not Mayura,” he interrupts, voice calm and even, almost siren-like. It lulls everyone into a fake sense of comfort. “I’m Le Paon, her replacement. But, Ladybug, I’ve never laid a finger on any of you. I don’t even associate with Hawkmoth, not how you’d think.”
“How do you know about Chat Noir, then?” He can hear her heartbeat quicken. “You’re not him, are you?”
He scoffs. “Why would I play both sides? That’s too much work, even for me.”
“Then you’re Chloe, aren’t you?”
He snorts at the mere suggestion that Chloe could ever balance four different lives all at once. “That girl wouldn’t know what work meant if it bit her in the ass and call her out on her shit.”
Ladybug hums, slowly sitting beside the other, tentative. “Just tonight,” she whispers, “We’ll put our differences aside, alright?”
He nods. “No fighting, I promise.”
“You didn’t take her miraculous,” Gabriel yells at the teenager standing in front of him. “You had the perfect opportunity and you choked?!”
Adrien rolls his eyes. He’s tired of his father’s tantrums.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me, young lady!”
“Father, I have to earn her trust. As far as she knows, I know who you are and can get her that information. If I can manage to team up with her, getting her to trust me will be a million times easier than it was for Chat Noir to do so.” He puts his hands in his pockets, switching his weight to the balls of his feet. “You said you wanted manipulation and trust. I can get you both of those so easily, can’t I?”
He hums, considering his options. “I do suppose you’re right, Adrienne.”
“Great. Just give me time.”
It’s been months since Adrien first got the peacock miraculous. Now, transforming again and again was nothing more than a common occurrence. Plagg wasn’t forgotten. Adrien was sure to speak with his kwamis, even mix up their powers again and again. It was nice to have both kwamis, sure, but he was so mentally drained all the time. He was losing his spark, nothing more than a husk of multiple manipulative personalities stacked into the shell of a once kind child. He stopped breaking down, started disassociating and losing his thrill. He was that fake personality every modeling agency saw.
He had thought about stealing his father’s miraculous, as well as Ladybug’s. He was positive Marinette Dupain-Cheng was Ladybug. She may have tried to cover her trail, but, after so long of hanging out with both the heroine and girl behind the mask, he knew who they were, knew who sat behind the dotted mask with the blue eyes and hair. Despite that, he wasn’t at all happy about it.
There was always someone with a different miraculous aiding her in her adventures, either Viperion or Ryuko. He always wonders if she would have replaced him at some point or if it was circumstance. The last he had seen her, they had fought, after all.
“Plagg, claws out,” the boy says to the kwami. The transformation flows with bright green.
The suit is darker now. It’s pitch black, absorbing the light around it. The tail still sits around his waist, all leather-clad. His suit was different, loser than it had been, not tight or molding. He was too self-conscious, too aware of his thinning waist and sharper cheeks. He was barely eating and sleeping, but he got by. His grades were still amazing and everyone thought he was still that happy little girl with a smile that made her look exactly like her mother. He’s sharp in a way that only Plagg could craft, had perfected. Freckles dot his skin in their star-like arrays.
“Let’s pounce,” he says to Duusu, who smiles back at him, ready to follow the holder to the ends of the earth. They were just as close as Adrien was with Plagg.
He flows through the streets like an alley cat, getting by through the shadows that cover the night. He’s sure that ladybug will find him, but he doesn’t mind in the least. He guesses she should know that he isn’t dead, after all. That was the very least he could do after months of disappearing without a trace. Sure enough, he finds her with a menacing look in her eyes.
“Where the fuck have you been, Chat?”
He flinches back, pulling away. “Needed a break,” he whispers, voice broken too easily. Why did it matter if she was angry at him?
“I’ve needed you, Chat!” She chides, foot planted angrily on one of the shingles. “Saying you need a break and leaving without a trace for months just doesn’t cut it anymore!”
He sighs softly. He isn’t going to tell her what she wants to hear. He never tells her what she wants to hear, apparently. “So, what, do you want my miraculous back or something?”
She glares at him. “Maybe I do, Chat Noir.”
He flinches, eyes going wide and mouth opening. He could already feel the tears burning at his eyes. Horror takes over his entire body. He reels in on himself, breathing already getting clipped by the panic. “Please, please, Don't take Plagg away,” he begs. He knew he had been desperate at times, but this was something so full of genuine fear. He wouldn’t be able to handle this, not like this. He couldn’t handle Ladybug taking the one thing that made him him.
“I’m sorry, Chat,” she says. She does sound sorry, but he doesn’t feel like she is. She wouldn’t take him if he were sorry. “I need a partner who’s there for me.”
Tears fall once again. “I - I can’t give you - you Plagg,” he whimpers. He can feel Duusu’s protective instincts flare up, but he hopes to everything out there that she doesn’t make a move.
“Please, he and…. He’s all I’ve got.” he can’t spill about Duusu, that would give everything away too early. “I can’t give him up. I can’t.”
“He’s all you’ve got,” she repeats, voice void of emotion.
He nods. “M - My mom’s gone, my dad doesn’t care, my caretaker is gone now, too….” Nathalie hadn’t left her coma, not once, even for a millisecond. She sat beside Emilie in the basement. “I can’t lose him.”
“I’m sorry, Chat, but-”
He doesn’t think about what he’s doing. He moves on thoughts that he doesn’t even think were his own. It takes a quick swipe to grab the other’s miraculous, snatching it away from her. He can see Ladybug fall away, see Marinette revealed behind the mask. “I’m so sorry,” he whispers, repeating it. “I’ll give them back, I’ll give it all back.”
Chat Noir stands next to Hawkmoth, wearing the earrings as he stalks forward. “This will kill me,” he says to the other, “Bringing your wife and friend back will kill me.”
The man jumps at the other, who walks as a god, above the other, above all.
“You’re giving all the miraculous up after this,” he says, “Or I’ll be sure to fucking kill you myself.”
“I - I don’t-”
“I am Chat Noir,” the boy introduces, “Also known as Adrien Agreste, Adrien Agreste, and Le Paon. And I wish for Emilie Agreste and Nathalie Sancoeur to be brought back to life.”
With that, his vision fades to black, leaving behind whatever impact it was he had left them with. He’s sure there’s a lot of bitter feelings left behind. His father, his mother, Nathalie, and especially Ladybug, but he’s sure they’ll get by. They have to get by. He’s not giving them a choice, not giving them anything else to go by. He doesn’t even think he wants to live anymore, not with Ladybug hating him so. He silently pleas that the miraculouses get back to where they should be.
The passing of Adrienne Agreste was bitter, much more so than anyone wanted to think of. The model who died so young, dying to suspected starvation. The world cried, crying because with it disappeared Le Paon and Chat Noir alike. The Ladyblog died, as well as many others just like it. Sure, Marinette had all the miraculouses now, but it was bittersweet, hearing it from the Black Cat, Peacock, and Butterfly, all sure to tell of Adrien Agreste, the only boy to somehow have actually brought someone back with the miraculouses.
None of them take up holders, refusing to take on the idea. Marinette doesn’t even try to get them to take a holder. Plagg was always so bitter, so angry because his holder’s demises were always so cruel. They had the worst luck, never living their lives, never getting to love. They were always doomed to a cruel fate, just as the Peacock had found herself to be. Nooroo never wanted to see another holder tempted to darkness, not the way their powers could so easily be taken.
The world disconnects and shatters. Adrien only ever wanted what was best for the world, Plagg says. Marinette believes him. Chat Noir always wanted what was best. Adrien always wanted what was best. And the singular night she had had an actual conversation with Le Paon, he had wanted what was best.
The world momentarily breaks. Unfortunately, no one is there to pick up the pieces. Three eternal beings just get to sit and watch it rot away.