“I am Demoman!”
“Yeah, yeah, we get it! You like to demolish things!” Chat griped as he leapt away from yet another swing of the Akuma’s wrecking ball. The big iron sphere crashed mere inches from where Chat had been and the aftershock sent him flying back. “Whoa!”
He tumbled away, tiny bits of rock raining on his head.
“Chat! Are you okay!?” he heard Ladybug call as she took refuge behind a chimney. The blast had left a huge, gaping hole on the roof between them.
“Ballin’” Chat replied as he righted himself, grinning at Ladybug’s groan as it reached his ears.
“ Really ? At a time like this?”
She waved at him urgently from across the gap and Chat quickly followed her cue, hiding behind a turret as Demoman tried to take aim at him again. Suddenly losing sight of Chat, the villain roared in anger, echoing the thunder clap from the cloudy skies above. “ I’ll demolish you!”
The Akuma they were fighting today was probably one of the toughest, most physically-taxing, villains they’ve ever had to face. Sure, he wasn’t precisely quick-witted, but he was insanely aggressive and destructive, and rather than being intent on obtaining their Miraculouses, he seemed more interested in causing as much damage as possible.
As to what had led this Akuma to appear, apparently, a construction worker had demolished the wrong structure by accident in a nearby site. His boss had ridiculed him in front of his crew and then fired him, which caused the distraught man to become the perfect fodder for Hawkmoth. The worker had become a behemoth of a man, sporting a suit of grays, blacks, and yellows underneath an orange and green vest while wearing a yellow safety helmet on his head. His shoulders had grown in size, and his arms had morphed into large chains with iron balls hanging from them.
So, he essentially had wrecking balls for arms.
“I am DEMOMAN !”
“WE GET IT!” Ladybug and Chat yelled in unison for the tenth time that day as a wrecking ball zoomed some inches over Ladybug’s head.
Ladybug and Chat didn’t know why Demoman felt the need to yell his name every time he was about to attack, but while it was increasingly grating, it at least served as a warning to get out of the way before he hauled the big iron balls he had as arms at their heads. Again, Demoman was not the fastest or the brightest, but they had learned the hard way the need to tread carefully when engaging him ; their aching bodies were quick to remind them of all close calls they’d had today.
They had also long deduced that the Akuma was in his safety helmet, but Demoman was nearly impossible to approach. Any moment they came relatively close, he would spin in circles, turning into a deadly top and destroying everything in his immediate radius.
So hey had spent the last two hours playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with a living wrecking machine, and Chat could see that Ladybug was beginning to get restless as thunder rolled through the sky above them. He knew perfectly well why.
Fighting in the rain was probably one of the most difficult things to do, and Chat knew it was one of the things Ladybug especially hated. Between slippery roofs, a slippery yo-yo, and water in the eyes, it all spelled disaster to Ladybug; he could tell that she was itching to get this battle done before the sky broke.
Suddenly, Ladybug gasped as Demoman spun and swung a wrecking ball her way. She jumped out of the blast zone in time, zipping towards Chat’s side of the roof with her yo-yo, as the chimney got blasted to pieces behind her. Demoman roared furiously, shooting his wrecking balls in every direction in an attempt to flush them out.
“We need to distract him long enough to use Lucky Charm. If we don’t stop him right now, half of Paris will look like a war zone!”
She was right. As Demoman chased them across the rooftops, he left a path of destruction, fire, and debris in his wake. Ambulances blared in the streets as falling pieces of stone had struck people below. No deaths, thank heavens, but they could tell there was a large number of injured civilians, not to mention the insane amount of damaged property.
“Got it, cat’s on the job!” Chat said with a two finger salute, grabbing his baton from its spot on his back.
“Chat, wait,” Ladybug said, grabbing his arm. He looked back at her, and Chat was temporarily taken aback by her expression. Her eyebrows were knitted in a frown and her face was flushed in exertion, but what got him was the deep concern flooding her eyes.
“Be careful. He might be slow and dumb, but if he hits you...”
Chat smiled, touched.
It was not that Ladybug didn’t worry about him - she did! - but unlike him, she always tried to bury her feelings in favor of quick thinking and strategy. This time, it seemed that this Akuma had really set her on edge with the amount of damage he could cause and the time it was taking them to beat him.
Chat would’ve lied if he said he didn’t also wonder about what would happen if they got a direct hit from the Akuma. Their suits could resist most damage and were near invincible (being impossible to cut or remove the suits), but that didn’t mean they were free from feeling great amounts of pain underneath. Half the time, the only reason they never came away with bruises or internal bleeding was because of Ladybug’s healing power. The suits gave them inhuman strength and stamina, but they were not completely infallible.
“I know, m’lady...” he said, and then he grinned, “I’m not too keen on testing the limits of our suits either so I'll try not to get wrecked.”
A deep sigh from her. “Right, okay…” Ladybug said before she removed her arm awkwardly. She then spun her yo-yo upwards, shouting to the sky. “LUCKY CHAR-”
“I AM DEMOMAN!!!”
“Watch out!” Chat yelled as he pushed Ladybug out of the way and leapt back just as a wrecking ball crashed through the turret, raining plaster and brick everywhere and covering them in a thick cloud of dirt.
Chat coughed as he rolled across the roof and faced Demoman again, his baton extended and at the ready.
“Don’t you ever get tired!?” Chat hissed at him in exasperation, as his throat burned from the dust. He glanced back to see another dark, gaping hole on the spot where Ladybug and he had been standing mere seconds ago.
Demoman grinned, but then his smile faltered. Chat saw the outline of a purple butterfly shine around Demoman’s face, and saw him nod shortly after. He spun, and slung a ball at Chat with such blinding speed that he barely had time to react. Chat jumped away again with a grunt, narrowly missing the hit and coughing as another cloud of dust got lodged in his throat, his eyes watering.
He heard Demoman laughing, but his laugh sounded oddly distant. Chat rubbed at his eyes and then spun his baton rapidly to disperse the dirty cloud. As it dissipated, he found Demoman leaping from roof to roof and away from them. He was teasing them into a chase, wreaking havoc as he went, and Chat felt a growl rumble in his throat.
“He is getting away! I’m going after him!” Chat said as he prepared his baton to vault away into the next roof, but the lack of a reply made him hesitate. “Ladybug?”
He turned around. He couldn’t see her. Only smoke and dust met his gaze.
He pressed an arm to his face to avoid inhaling more dirt, and ran back towards the destroyed turret, an unpleasant feeling rolling in the pit of his stomach. Surely, he had pushed her away in time to avoid the hit, hadn’t he?
“Ladybug! Where are you?”
The dust began to settle, and he began to feel the first pinpricks of rain fall on his hair as he looked for her, twisting his cat ears around for any sound. He edged closer to the enormous hole where the turret had been, and where most of the roof had caved in from the impact. Leaning over the edge, he suddenly caught a faint red glow in the darkness below and gasped.
He jumped down through the hole without hesitation, sliding down a broken concrete beam to land softly on the ground below. It was pitch dark save for the dim light filtering through the cracks in the rubble. Grateful for his night vision, he navigated through the dark and destroyed building, wincing when he realized the extent of the damage their battle had wrought on the place. What appeared to have been an apartment complex lay in complete ruin. Furniture was overturned or laying in pieces around him, walls brought down into piles of rock and rubble, broken glass peppering what had been a carpeted floor...
The ominous sound of the remaining support beams creaking above him sent shivers down his spine.
The source of the red glow was now only a few feet from him and he sprinted towards it. His fingers closed around a small object. It looked like a magnet in the shape of a “U”, colored red with black spots. Her Lucky Charm?
“Ladybug?” He tried again, his voice echoing in the dilapidated room as he looked around. Suddenly, an idea came to him. He took out his baton, pressed the green paw print on it to activate the phone feature, and dialed Ladybug’s yo-yo.
He waited a few seconds with bated breath. Then he heard it, echoing in the dark. The ringing of her yo-yo was coming from a few feet further on from what looked like a mound of rocks and splintered wooden beams.
He ran towards the spot, jumping over broken glass and furniture, nearly tripping when he saw it: a blur of red and black among the wreckage.
As he came closer, his night vision sharpened. Her body lay sprawled face down on the floor, buried from the waist down in masonry and wood, hunks of iron beams and rubble pinning her upper body and head to the ground. A pool of some dark liquid was underneath her; he tried to ignore it as he raced toward her.
“Ladybug!” She didn’t respond. Her body remained unmoving under the debris, and her face was obscured by her bangs.
He knelt at her side, desperately trying to shift the rocks crushing her shoulders with his baton as leverage. He managed to free her arms and head, his chest constricting as her blood-stained face came into view, her eyes closed. Chat then recoiled at the dark liquid coating his gloves: her blood. His eyes lingered on it as it dripped through his fingers down to join the growing pool of red around her.
His own blood ran cold.
“No...” he choked out, cold washing all over him, “No no no no no!”
He pushed off the rest of the debris trapping her body with a grunt and desperately tried to pull her out of the mound of rocks by her arms, to no avail. Her legs were completely stuck between some large pieces of cement. He growled in frustration, his eyes welling with moisture. He tried to shift the bigger rocks, all the while calling out her name in an attempt to rouse her. He cursed under his breath as the shifting only caused more rocks to rain on her. No matter what he tried, the superior strength the suit gave him was not enough to free her.
His fist burst into black flame and he scratched it against the mountain of concrete trapping her. The black wave of his destructive power rippled, and with a loud rumble, the wreckage on top of her dissolved into dust.
He grabbed her by the arms again and pulled, almost losing his footing as she now slid out easily from the gravel. He cradled her beat-up body in his arms, resting her on his folded legs. She was limp against him, her body stained with blood and grime.
“My Lady?” Chat said, his voice breaking. Her head lolled against his shoulder as he shook her gently. Rivulets of blood slid down the side of her face from a deep gash on her head. She looked like she was sleeping, but her skin was ghostly pale and for a moment, Chat feared the worst. His breath hitching, he placed a hand on her stomach, heaving a relieved sigh when he felt it slowly rise and fall. She was still breathing.
“LB, can you hear me?”
His only response was a soft beep coming from her earrings. He idly noticed the Lucky Charm had long since disappeared.
Two spots remained on her earring. Two minutes.
He gulped, and shook her gently again.
“Please, wake up!”
Beep, beep, beep!
Before he had a chance to turn away, a flash of red and white shone around her as her disguise disintegrated, temporarily blinding him.
He waited in the dark long after the glow had vanished, breathing heavily. He kept his eyes shut, wanting to respect her wishes: to have their identities remain secret. But after a couple of minutes, the silence became agonizing. He could feel her fading.
“I’m so sorry, Ladybug…”
Chat cracked his eyes open, his breath immediately catching in his throat. His eyes widened and, for a moment, he forgot how to breathe.
If you were to have asked him at this moment what he thought, he’d be very honest. He’d admit to having very often lost himself in daydreams of what his beloved Lady looked like under the mask. Pining away longingly for a faceless girl with dark locks and eyes as blue as the sky. He’d also no doubt admit to having entertained numerous fantasies of all the possible ways they could reveal themselves to each other, replaying scenario after scenario in his head…
...None of which had included Marinette Dupain-Cheng lying unconscious in his arms as she bled to death.