Are you ever sleeping peacefully when anxiety suddenly starts to creep in and you feel like you're forgetting something? Like you know subconsciously that your alarm clock should have gone off by now and when you open your eyes you'll find that class started half an hour ago.
Adrien was experiencing that tenfold right now. But then why isn't he getting up? Because his eyelids feel like lead and he can't place where his head starts and feet end. Does he even have school, what day is it supposed to be? He can't recall even falling asleep.
These questions run through his mind as, despite his body's protests, consciousness began to set in and with it pain in several parts of his body. What was he doing? Why is it so hard to breathe? What's that ringing noise getting louder and louder until it's no longer a ringing and more of a voice speaking to him from nearby. He can start to make out words.
"Chat Noir, please get up, don't be dead." A male voice begged. Ah, so he’s not Adrien he’s Chat Noir at the moment. Things are not looking promising.
A flurry of memories come back as Chat's eyes struggle to open in order to take in his situation. There was an akuma with super-strength, another poor soul overcome with feeling weak. It decided to rampage against the support beams of the parking garage Chat Noir was escorting civilians to safety through. He was so close to getting out with the last civilian when the building completely collapsed around them.
Finally managing to control his eyelids he analyzes his surroundings. His eye's feline nature while in this form adjusts to the dim light almost immediately.
A man is huddled close enough that Chat can feel their chest movements from their panicked breathing. The close proximity was likely due to the large debris from the building that collapsed on them, trapping them in close. Concrete caged them in on all sides. The man’s breathing is tranquil compared to Chat's. Chat's draped in their arms wheezing as the ability to breathe properly escapes him for more than one reason.
Trapped. The walls and ceiling are ready to cave in and crush them at any moment. A mental image of a blond boy in reach of freedom just for iron bars to slam down around him. He'll never reach the outside world, he's gonna die here trapped all alone- wait. There's that not-ringing sound again.
"Breathe, Chat, breathe. Please, I need you to get it together, okay? That's right, just breathe." Soothing words that encouraged Chat to reopen eyes he didn’t realize he closed.
A blue-eyed boy with matching blue-tipped hair that was messy with dust and bits of drywall. He was vaguely illuminated by a cell phone flashlight set up on a nearby piece of rubble. Chat let out a deep uneven breath in an attempt to calm down. He’s not alone. He can't tap out yet, he has work to do. Someone needs him. His breaths were wet and painful. He had enough experience at this point to know that means internal damage.
"What-" cough ", happened? Are you-" Chat trailed off, talking proving to be even harder than breathing. Yeah, there's definitely some broken ribs there somewhere.
"I helped you do one last sweep of the garage before the akuma collapsed it. You caught the ceiling and held it there. I moved some other pieces of debris to take on the weight and you collapsed. That was ten minutes ago I think. I tried to call for help but there's no signal under all this debris..." His voice, despite the slight tremor and rasp from breathing in dust, was incredibly soothing. His words not so much.
It might just be the probable head trauma but Chat found himself mesmerized by the man above him. The blue of his eyes seemed to have endless depths and the sway of his choppy hair's blue tips reminded him of tropic ocean waves. Something about this guy is oddly familiar. He spotted red dripping down the man's temple and he went to reach and touch it but hissed in pain as his shoulder protested.
"Easy there, Mr. Noir. The ceiling hit you pretty hard." The man said, adjusting his hold on Chat slightly in a way that alleviated the pain a little.
"Are- are you okay? Your head… you're bleeding." Chat rasped, trying again to inspect the injury, ignoring his own pain. His hand was gently intercepted and Chat found himself on the receiving end of an increasingly exasperated look.
"I'm absolutely fine, that's pretty much a paper cut compared to you. How hard did you hit your head? You can barely move and you're concerned about me ?" Chat wasn't imagining the guilt in the man's tone.
"I'm used to this. I mean,-" I pause to catch my breath, " usually I'm better than this but," wheeze, "it's my job. To protect civilians. You're hurt and scared." Chat hopes he’s being coherent and not just saying words. The man seemed to contemplate Chat’s words for a moment before responding.
"I get that but really I'm fine. Thanks to you. At the expense of you." He said with guilt heavily lacing the words.
"Anytime, Bluebell." Chat replied, cheekily with a wink, attempting to lighten the mood and not just for his sake. The man’s exasperated look grew but he cracked a small smile so Chat counted it as a win.
"Luka. My name is Luka. My bad, pretty rude of me not to introduce myself." That name sounded familiar. Has Adrien met this man before? His brain is too hazy at the moment to recall properly.
"Chat Noir, Paris's local hero extraordinaire.” Chat accentuated the words with a weak wave of his gloved hand. “You'll have to imagine my signature charming bow and flourish. It's a bit of a tight spot for that."
"Trust me, I'm plenty charmed. It’s not every day someone catches a building for you." Luka said, smiling softly. If Chat got a little warm under his mask, well, it was too dark for anyone to notice.
"Yeah, that was pretty cool of me, huh?” Chat said, perking up where he lay and hiding his wince the action caused. “Well, unfortunately, I've rested enough. We can't stay here." Chat struggled to sit up completely but he managed, gasping and exhausted.
"What are you doing? You're gonna make yourself worse. You can't possibly get us out of here in your condition and I can't try to dig us out without risk of it all coming down. All we can do is hope that Ladybug performs her miracle soon." Luka said, putting a steadying hand on Chat’s shoulder.
"I'm afraid we can’t wait for Milady.” Chat replied, solemnly. “Any longer and I won’t be the only one struggling to breathe here." He could see the moment realization hit Luka. "We're gonna run out of breathable air in under ten minutes and pass out. Then we'll suffocate.” At this Luka, probably subconsciously, started to breathe a little shallower.
"What are we gonna do? We're trapped. I'm useless and you're barely able to sit up." He placed what he hoped was a reassuring hand on Luka's shoulder.
"You're not useless, mon ami. I can't do what I'm about to do without you." Luka looked at Chat quizzically.
"What are you about to do? What can I do?" Luka asked, anxiously.
"I'm gonna cataclysm the debris above us,” deep inhale, “and carry us out of here using my staff. Quickly, before the debris on the sides fall in on us." Chat tries to say all this calmly to help keep his nerve. Truthfully, he’s terrified of this situation and getting Luka out safely is the only thing helping him keep it together.
"You probably have a broken rib and you think you can carry us out of here? Then what? Collapse in the street?" Luka said, disbelief in tone.
"Don't underestimate me, Blue Bell.” Chat looked Luka in the eye challenging him to argue. “I can do it. I'll get you out of here.” Chat looked away, deliberating his next words.
“Your ‘ then what’ situation is a problem, though. You see, I will pretty much collapse after we're safely out. Then it'll only take minutes until I transform…" the air is leaning towards paper-thin at this point so Chat looks meaningfully at Luka hoping that's enough to iterate his point. Luka thought for a moment about what Chat could be implying and then his eyes widened in shock. Mouth open, he was speechless.
"You… you'd trust me like that? To…" he trailed off, unbelieving.
"I don't have much of a choice... but can I? Trust you?" Chat asked, anxiety creeping into his tone without permission.
"Yes,” Luka said, decidedly. “I won't look. I'll get you somewhere safe until Ladybug fixes everything. I owe you that much... and so much more. Your identity will be safe." He said it so earnestly Chat believed him. But even if he didn't, Chat really didn't have any other choice. Ladybug would be so disappointed in Chat for allowing himself to get in this situation.
"Knew I could count on you, Blue Bell." Chat said, throwing Luka another wink. He then wasted no more time and readied his staff in his hand. He had to shift them so that Luka could wrap his arms around Chat’s shoulders. The pain the effort caused was almost unbearable but Chat persevered. If tears tracked through the dust on his cheeks it was politely not mentioned. Using his free hand Chat determined the best place to strike at their concrete cage.
"Cataclysm!" He shouted and ancient power coursed through his veins, down his arm, and out his fingertips decaying the concrete and metal above them. Then, with cat-like reflexes, he extended his staff in his other hand and secured Luka to his side. They shot up the length of the hole, balancing on the magical steel staff, and had to blink through the dust to see the opening. Sunlight broke through above and Chat aimed for it, heart soaring with freedom in sight.
They finally reached the surface above the rubble, in reality, it took only seconds but with the threat of the walls collapsing in on them, it felt like an eternity. Chat could see emergency services looking for them in the wrong area on the other side of the building. The streets were otherwise empty with no sign of the akuma or Ladybug. No one noticed the two men emerge from the wreckage.
Chat aimed for a level and stable looking part of the debris to land on and collapsed his staff just in time as the hole caved in. He braced for contact but found himself enveloped in strong arms as Luka took the brunt of the rough landing, Chat held gently to his chest. It still knocked the air out of Chat but he was conscious for now. But he could feel his limit fast approaching.
As the cave-in settled, for an anxious minute, everything shifted to accommodate the change. He scanned the area, once again, and pointed to a narrow alley between neighboring buildings. Luka shifted him gently into his arms once again and stood shakily with Chat securely cradled to his chest. Chat heard the familiar beep from his ring warning him of his coming detransformation. That was the last thing he heard before darkness pulled him further and further away from consciousness.
When Luka took on chauffeuring his younger sister and her girlfriend to the mall he didn't expect to end up working with Chat Noir himself to ensure the parking garage they were in was evacuated because an akuma appeared. He definitely didn't expect to almost die doing so. He's just grateful he got everyone else out first, especially Juleka and Rose.
He tried not to contemplate his own death anymore, but still, he sorta expected it to happen at sea. Living on a boat came with its dangers especially when it was hurricane season. He would take death on the high seas over this any day. Being crushed and trapped under tons of concrete and metal isn't how this was supposed to happen.
But then Chat was there and death was his second concern. Now he was worried that he killed the hero. Because superhuman or not, having a building dropped on him should have killed him. But, after listening anxiously for minutes with his ear to the cat's chest, there was the faint thump of his heartbeat. Faint, but there. He could just make out the uneven rise and fall of the hero's chest in the dim light from his phone.
When the hero finally opened his big green eyes Luka could have cried. If he was the reason the hero died… He didn’t want to finish that thought. Luka felt weak and pathetic, unable to do anything to help the situation. He was scared. But he had to try to be strong. Chat needed him to be strong. To Luka’s astonishment, even broken and bleeding, the hero joked and played. It calmed Luka as much as it worried him. Does the cat even realize how hurt he is? Luka thought he was dead for several minutes.
Luka could feel his jaw drop when the cat proposed his plan. He could see that it was the only option but he didn't like it. All that trust put onto him… it was overwhelming. As was his worry for Chat's health.
But Luka had to step up to the plate if they were gonna get out of there alive. He owed Chat his life. Luka vowed that no amount of temptation could make him betray the cat.
Now, free from their concrete cage, he held the cat to his chest. Luka was surprised at how light he was considering his strength. Carefully, he made his way off the precarious pieces of building and onto the street. Thankfully they remained undetected by the emergency workers nearby. He wished he could take Chat to them but Luka couldn’t let Chat’s identity be compromised. He'd just have to hope Chat can pull through his injuries.
The cat was out cold almost immediately after pointing out the alley Luka was now entering. Luka was counting the beeps until the cat transformed assuming that's what those meant. The ring on Chat’s finger only had one claw left on it. He rested the leather-clad man against the brick wall hidden by trash bins on either side. No one should discover them here.
Luka removed his coat and covered the cat's head and torso with it. With one more beep, a green shimmery light enveloped Chat Noir's body. His leather pants turned into light-wash jeans and white designer shoes. Luka looked away, not taking in any more details about the unconscious man. He sat next to the hero and looked towards the entrance of the alley. Luka blindly reached for the cat's arm and gripped his wrist. He held it feeling for his pulse. That's how he sat until the man beside him started to stir, waking up, after what felt like an eternity later. Luka released a breath he didn’t know he was holding.
Adrien fought to breach the surface of the murky waters he found himself drowning in. His legs were numb from the cold but he flailed his arms fighting the dark as hard as he could. Still, he sank, deeper and deeper, the light growing dimmer.
Until he felt a warm hand grab his arm and start pulling him up by his wrist. The light grew brighter and Adrien could see blue at the end of the arm pulling him to safety. He breached the waves and opened his eyes in the same gasping breath. The grip on his wrist remained but the light was gone.
He was no longer in water, thankfully, but sitting uncomfortably on the hard ground. He tensed, remembering that he's supposed to be Chat Noir but knowing he is now Adrien. He let himself relax, realizing the darkness is from him being covered by something, hiding his identity. Luka kept his promise.
"Chat? You awake?" Adrien shifted, ensuring the fabric, a denim coat, wouldn't slip off and the hand on his wrist retreated to its owner. He decided not to question it.
"Oui… you...didn't look?" Adrien asked, unbelievingly despite his instincts telling him that he could trust Luka. Something about how earnestly concerned Luka looked at Chat when he was in pain…
"No. Your identity remains a mystery, Mr. Noir. Though the blue jeans were shocking, I sorta expected the dark edgy theme to continue." Adrien laughed, not expecting the humor.
"Sorry to disappoint. I'm shocked that you're still here. You could have left, if anyone found me they likely wouldn't assume I was Chat Noir but just a random guy caught up in the akuma attack." Luka paused before his response.
"I needed to make sure you were gonna be alright. That you wouldn't succumb to your injuries before Ladybug could fix everything…" Adrien's heart twinged. He recalled the hand on his wrist and realized what it meant. How could he have doubted this guy?
"You're a good person, Bluebell. I had a good feeling already of course. But truly… thank you." He paused considering whether to share this information with a civilian. Ah, screw it. "Though, I suppose I forgot to mention that after transforming back I would start to quickly heal. One of the perks of magic powers. Gets me back in the fight quicker when in a jam."
He could feel the unimpressed look Luka was giving him through the fabric and couldn't hold in his giggle.
"No, you left out that little detail." He said exasperated. "I suppose that makes sense. I should have noticed you weren't struggling to breathe anymore."
Adrien felt a tug on his ear and looked over to see Plagg's annoyed expression. Adrien reached into his jean pocket and fished out the zip-lock of cheese he kept on him for these situations. The tiny floating black cat dug in immediately hidden from the human a few feet away.
"Again, mon ami, I truly appreciate your help today. I'll never forget it. But Something tells me if it's taking this long Ladybug must need me. So.." Adrien trailed off meaningfully.
"Okay, I get it. Superhero business to get to. I should go track down my sister and her girlfriend. They were among those we evacuated. And Chat… thank you. For everything." Luka said, earnestly.
"Like I said, mon ami. Anytime." Adrien reiterated, meaning every word. He listened to Luka's retreating footsteps until he was sure he was truly gone.
"Okay, Plagg. Milady needs me. You ready?" Adrien said, after a minute or two, to his mini companion.
"Yeah, yeah, Loverboy, took you long enough to get your butt up. We're gonna have a talk about your recklessness later. That whole thing was a mess. Chat Noir can't be going around relying on the help of civilians ." Adrien rubbed his neck bashfully, dreading that conversation.
"Okay, okay, but I didn't have any choice. Things turned out alright, that must count for something, right?" The mini God of destruction crossed his arms and pouted at him.
"Ugh, fine… we'll talk about it later." Plagg conceded. Adrien stood on steadier feet, taking in a deep breath.
"Claws out!" he yelled into the empty alley and then ascended the buildings, leaping rooftop to rooftop.
It didn't take long to find Ladybug. She was at the Eiffel Tower holding off an onslaught of objects being pelted at her. Chat dove into the fight, knocking away a bench before it hit his partner.
"Chat! Where have you been?" Lady yelled, irritated.
"My apologies, Milady. Got a little tied up with rescuing civilians. Had to use my cataclysm. I got here as soon as I could." Chat said, guiltily.
"Fine, but I need your help." Ladybug said, wanting to get back to dealing with the akuma. "Things got pretty tricky after you disappeared and the Akuma took hostages in the tower. I need a distraction. Can you- what’s that?" Chat looked puzzled at where Ladybug was pointing. He still had Luka's jacket gripped in his hand.
"Uhhhh..." he replied not really knowing what to say.
"Nevermind, just... come on." She said before swinging away, clearly not in the mood for Chat’s weirdness today.
Chat quickly hid the coat where he could collect it again later on a nearby rooftop. Definitely not gonna use it as an excuse to see Luka again. Nope, not at all.