Marinette woke up in a cold sweat, white and blue still dominating her vision. Nervously, she gazed up at the midnight sky through her skylight, hoping to see the moon. The moonlight would soothe her like it usually did. The friendly, unbroken moon… yes, that’s what she needed to see. But she couldn’t tonight- just the light pollution she was used to fading into blackness.
For a moment she sat there, clutching her coverlet and breathing slowly and deeply. But the itch between her shoulder blades, that crawling feeling that something was deeply, deeply wrong , didn’t subside. She half-turned to look at Tikki, curled up on her pillow, hoping she’d awoken as well. She could use Tikki’s calm good sense and optimism right now.
But Tikki was asleep, and another wave of anxiety rolled over Marinette. She stood up and opened her skylight, pulling herself up to the balcony. Perhaps the moon was simply at the wrong angle for her to see it through the small window… but no. No matter what quarter of the sky she searched, she couldn’t find it.
Shaking a little, she pulled her phone out and searched for “where is the moon.” The top result was a helpful site with colorful illustrations and information on which constellation the moon was currently near. Unfortunately, tonight the moon was currently below Paris’ horizon. Her breath came quicker and she clutched the iron railing, trying to breathe. What if… what if… She tried to shove the thoughts away, but it wasn’t working, and if she continued like this, she was bound to draw a butterfly.
Well. If the moon wasn’t available to convince her hind-brain that all was well, she was going to have to take drastic measures. Climbing back down through her skylight, she picked up the tiny red and black remote sitting on the shelf next to her lamp. She pressed the button once, twice, waited to a count of ten, then pressed it again. Then she called her transformation and leapt up through the skylight again, running to a non-descript rooftop to wait.
Adrien was in the middle of a bizarre dream involving Nino, Markov, Kim, and a very confused herd of sheep. For some reason they were competing, trying to stack the sheep one on top of another to achieve the tallest sheep tower, and Adrien was getting frustrated because his sheep kept turning different colors and that was going to disqualify him if he couldn’t get them to stop. Not to mention that his hair kept turning into hay and the sheep kept trying to eat it.
Unsurprisingly, he was kind of relieved when Plagg woke him up with a sharp jab to the cheek.
“Wha- Plagg? What’s wrong?” he mumbled, feeling like wool had somehow invaded his mouth. He reached over to his desk for the thermos of water he kept there at night.
“The stupid remote buzzed,” Plagg complained. “I don’t see why I have to sleep with it…”
Adrien took several sips of water while his brain woke up a little. “Because I’m afraid I won’t feel it in the night, and it’s not loud enough to wake me up if I just leave it on the desk,” he said, shifting from propping himself up on his elbow to sitting up fully.
Ladybug had gifted him his own remote toy after the New York debacle. She’d managed to find a ladybug that fluttered its wings when the remote button was pushed. It was cute and he appreciated it, but it wasn’t loud enough to wake him up at night, nor did he trust himself not to roll over on top of it if he tried to sleep with it in his pocket. He didn’t think the tiny motor was strong enough to activate the wings if it was under something. So he put it on Plagg’s pillow at night so the kwami would notice and wake him up if Ladybug ever needed him. They’d worked out a code of sorts- not much, just two different patterns, one for an emergency, the other for non-emergency.
“Which pattern did she use?” he asked now. He picked up his phone and checked it- no akuma alert, but people had to initiate those and sometimes it could take a while, depending on the akuma.
Plagg continued to grumble, but sank down on his shoulder. “Non-emergency. Can’t she just let us sleep?”
Adrien snorted. “Come on, it’s not like you don’t nap during the day. We’d better transform and see what she needs.”
“Aaaadrieeeeennn…” Plagg whined.
“I’ll give you two wedges of cheese, one before and one after,” Adrien promised.
But when Adrien pulled a wedge of cheese out, Plagg took his sweet time, taking little bites instead of gulping it down like he usually did.
“You’re just wasting more time that you could be sleeping,” Adrien pointed out. Plagg rolled his eyes but gulped down the last of the cheese, and Adrien called for his transformation. As soon as he was suited, he vaulted up onto his roof and opened the communicator, pressing the call button.
Ladybug was pacing fretfully by the time her yo-yo chimed. She didn’t even have to take it off her waist since she was already holding it.
“Chat?” she said, pushing the ‘accept call’ button perhaps a little more forcefully than necessary.
“I’m here, m’lady,” Chat Noir said, yawning hugely before blinking sleepily at her. “What do you need?”
Ladybug felt her shoulders relax a little. His suit blended with the shadows as usual, and his eyes seemed to actually glow green- though perhaps that was just an effect of nearby streetlights. She took a shaky breath, and smiled, hoping that this would be all she’d need tonight.
Yet even as she said hello, she knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. And since Tikki was already going to be furious about being pulled into the earrings without a single word of warning, or even the courtesy of waking her up before the transformation, she figured she might as well go all the way. She’d been meaning to test the range of their upgrades anyway.
“Hey,” she said. “Can you meet me at the Eiffel Tower?”
Chat blinked and tried to look a little more alert. “Of course! You know I’m always ready to spend time with you, but… why? Is there an akuma?”
“No…” Ladybug trailed off, and despite herself, nervously scanned her surroundings. When she looked back down at her yo-yo screen, Chat Noir was frowning at her.
“Are you okay, Ladybug?”
“I will be,” she said, firmly. “Just meet me at the tower, okay?”
“Okay. See you soon, bugaboo!”
Ladybug slid her yo-yo closed and got ready to throw it… but then she turned and threw it in a different direction entirely. There were a few things she needed to get before meeting Chat, now that she knew he was coming.
Chat waited for ten minutes and was about to call Ladybug again when he saw her swinging her way across the plaza. He let out a breath of relief and sat down, hoping that this wouldn’t take too long. He was ready to spend all night with Ladybug if that’s what she needed, but he knew that Plagg would be extra whiny if it took too long.
Ladybug was carrying something, he noticed as she got closer. It looked an awful lot like… a picnic basket? His heart started thumping painfully, but he took deep, measured breaths to calm it back down.
Okay, so Ladybug had invited him to a spur-of-the-moment picnic. In the middle of the night. It didn’t mean anything! Friends did that… all the time! He was sure of it!
“Hey, kitty,” Ladybug said as she pulled herself up beside him. She gave him a sheepish smile before setting the basket down at her feet. “Sorry, I… realized we needed some props before we did what I have in mind.”
“Props…?” Chat blinked.
Ladybug pulled on one of her pigtails. “Yeah… well, we’re not exactly going to be able to do much with them… but anyway, here.” She opened her yo-yo and retrieved something before handing it to him with a closed fist. He took it, eyeing her with a raised eyebrow.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, before looking down to see a colored wedge of camembert. Internally he groaned. He was already transformed, which meant
would have to eat the cheese instead of Plagg. Then he noticed the color.
“The space power up? Why?”
“We’re going to test the range,” Ladybug smirked, suddenly as focused and determined as he’d ever seen her in battle. He looked away before his heart could betray him again.
“Alright…” he said, swallowing and holding his breath before shoving the wedge into his mouth. Thankfully it was a small piece, and he had to admit that it didn’t actually taste that bad. It was just the smell that rubbed him the wrong way. Meanwhile, Ladybug took out her own macaron and ate it herself.
Both of them were engulfed in bright light as the inhabited miraculouses modified their suits for space travel.
“How far are we going? The ISS?” he asked.
Ladybug made a non-commital noise and just smiled, shooting up into the sky at a steep angle. Chat Noir sighed and followed.
Ladybug couldn’t deny that seeing her partner alive and in the flesh- and with the right color scheme- was balm to her anxieties. But she’d already called him out of bed, and since she couldn’t really explain about her nightmares, testing the range of their space power ups made as good an excuse as any for visiting the moon.
They did give the astronauts aboard the International Space Station a friendly wave and salute as they flew by, and though Ladybug kept an eye on her readouts, she didn’t see the gauges for oxygen or power drop appreciably. Once they got past the ISS, she commed Chat and told him her plan.
“I’m trying to see how far out we can go, and since it’s the middle of the night in Paris, no one in our city is going to be keeping tabs on our movements, or get alarmed because they see us out and transformed.”
“Okay, but why?” Chat asked again.
“Do you remember Timetagger and meeting Bunnyx, the rabbit miraculous holder from the future?”
“Yeah… oh! She said we were going to be facing all those other villains in the future!”
“Right. And some of them were aliens, if I remember correctly. It might be better if we tried to fight them out here in space instead of waiting for them to cross into the atmosphere. But to do that, I- we- need to have some idea of how long we can keep the upgrades going, and how far out we can go before we need to turn back or find some way to detransform and feed our kwamis.”
“That makes sense. Good thinking, bugaboo!” Chat said, and she could hear the clear relief and restored good cheer in his voice. Ladybug made a mental note not to keep things from him if at all possible. She’d noticed him being more and more sensitive about being kept in the dark, and really, with Fu gone, she needed to keep him more in the loop anyway.
And what better time to talk to him about it than right now, when they were on a long flight to the moon, and wouldn’t be overheard or interrupted by an akuma?
“Chat, you know I don’t mean to keep things from you, right? I’m not… Master Fu was always so paranoid about anyone knowing more than they needed to know, and he always seemed to push that envelope almost to the breaking point. Like waiting until we needed the water powerup to fight Syren to even let you know about him. But now that he’s gone… He taught me a lot, but what if something happens to me? I can’t tell you everything all the time- there are some secrets I still need to keep, but I’m trying to work out something where you can start learning about the other miraculouses and kwamis. And we need to build a new reserve team- I’d like it if we took turns choosing people to help, or maybe came up with a list?”
“I… Ladybug, that’s…” Chat responded after a moment or two, and she could hear gratitude in his tone. “That would be really great, my lady. I really appreciate that. I know you’re the team leader and the guardian now, and I don’t want you to be anything else, but I have wanted to help you more. When… when you trusted me to look after Paris that time you had to go to New York… I’m really sorry I betrayed your trust then. I won’t do that again. If you ask me to do something for you and it turns out that I can’t, I’ll contact you so we can come up with some alternative.”
Ladybug rolled onto her side briefly- the farther out into space they went the more it seemed their suits had more control over their movements in deep space than regular spacesuits had- to flash her partner a smile.
“That’s great, Chat, but I hope you’re not still feeling guilty about that. If anything, that experience is part of the reason I want to bring you more on board with everything concerning the miraculouses and our fight against Hawkmoth. If we can’t learn from our mistakes, what’s the point in making them?”
They were a little more than halfway to the moon by this time- their suits were also considerably faster in outer space than modern rocketry. She could see the milky orb now, it’s surface pocked with ancient craters. It was so nice to see it shining in the dark, whole and unbroken. Really, they could turn around now and head back at any time if they needed to, but another check of the gauges showed she had plenty of air and power.
“We’re well on our way to the moon, m’lady,” Chat commented. “And I can’t help but wonder if that was your goal all along?”
Ladybug rolled her eyes and said, “What, no quip about flying you to the moon?”
“Eh, I figured you weren’t in the mood,” he said easily.
“True enough. But yes, I figured that would be a good benchmark. I’ve actually been thinking that once Hawkmoth is defeated, we might use the miraculous to help out the various space agencies. A moon base isn’t impossible, especially if you cut out the expense of shipping everything there by rocket. We could let them use the horse miraculous! Under strict supervision, of course!” she added.
“Now that’s an idea!” Chat replied, sounding enthusiastic.
They tossed ideas back and forth about how to use the miraculous to accomplish tasks that would benefit humanity as a whole, if there ever came a time with no villains to fight. Soon enough the moon was taking up all of Ladybug’s field of vision.
“Pick a good picnic spot, Chat,” Ladybug said, smiling. “After all, it was my idea to come here, and we won’t actually be able to eat anything, but I think a few selfies of us having a picnic on the moon might go over well on Instagram!”
Chat Noir shot ahead and Ladybug took that for his answer and followed. The sunlit surface was very bright, and she knew they wouldn’t be able to stay long- by the chronometer in her suit, they would make it back just in time to get ready for school- but they should have enough time for a few pictures before packing back up.
Instead of using his wings, which wouldn’t work since the moon had no atmosphere, Chat landed using jets concealed in his boot fins. Ladybug didn’t have boots on her suit, but she found that her wing covers also had concealed jets which worked just as well.
“Alright, I’m afraid we don’t have much time, kitty,” she said, putting the picnic basket down as gently as possible so it didn’t bounce back up. Oddly, even though she knew the moon’s gravity was less than that of Earth, she didn’t feel like she had to overcompensate. In fact, she felt like she was moving normally.
A new readout on her suit’s face mask caught her attention. It seemed her suit magically compensated for differing gravities. Probably also why neither she nor Chat had trouble maneuvering during their spaceflight. Good to know!
However, just because she wasn’t experiencing differences in gravity, that didn’t mean the picnic things weren’t. Ladybug hadn’t packed much- a blanket, two pillows, some fruit and two thermoses- she hadn’t had time for more. The thermoses had burst on the journey- from the loss of pressure, most likely- so she decided to leave them in the basket. The fruit had frozen solid as well.
As quickly as they could, they set up the picnic, then sat together on the blanket and took a couple of selfies. Reviewing them, Ladybug thought that the floating fruit and plate she’d knocked into while getting into a different pose just added to the otherworldliness of the pictures.
Once they were done, Chat’s eyes focused on something else for a moment before he grimaced. “We’d better get going, Ladybug. As it is, I’m not sure I’m going to make it home before someone comes to wake me up.”
Ladybug shot him an apologetic smile. “Sorry, kitty. You go ahead, I’ll pack all this up.”
Chat stood and looked at the picnic with hands on hips. “Why not just… leave it?”
“Haven’t you ever been camping?” Ladybug said, horrified. “You pack it in, you pack it out. ”
Chat rubbed the back of his neck in reflexive chagrin. “Of course! I didn’t mean- I actually haven’t- … well. You’re right. See you around, LB.”
He took a few steps to the side so the blasts from his heel jets wouldn’t disturb the picnic materials. Ladybug, remembering how hard it was to set everything up in the first place, decided to just roll everything up in the blanket and stuff that into the basket.
Even so, Chat was well ahead of her once she got off the surface as well, just a pinprick of light in the distance. Ladybug smiled. She had a feeling this little trip was going to take care of her Chat Blanc nightmares for a while.
She felt tired now, and guilty for causing her partner to lose half a night of sleep, but it was no worse than facing a difficult night-time akuma, and at least they’d gotten some good information on their suit upgrade tolerances and had a chance to really talk about how they would work together moving forward. One last glance as the moon’s friendly light receded behind her, and she turned her face toward Earth- and home- with a smile.