The two took complete control of the situation: Nino threw his bag onto the counter and dumped out a pile of cheese, which Plagg set to devouring; and Alya helped Brigitte with cleaning and bandaging. As they worked, the younger girl filled the veterinarian in on Adrien’s medical history.
“He’s not allergic to anything but feathers, and he hasn’t had any past health problems besides being underweight. Oh, and he can’t do anesthetics—he has bad reactions to those.”
“Yeah, and you do not want to see that,” Nino added. “He starts chasing imaginary mice everywhere.”
“Actually, that might be kind of fun to see,” Alya grinned.
“How do you know all this?” Felix asked. It was all news to him, even the feathers part. Just how bad of a brother was he?
Nino shrugged. “We’re his friends. Us, him, and Marinette, we do everything together. Except saving Paris, that is.”
Brigitte gasped. “So you know that he’s—he’s—!”
“Chat Noir?” Alya filled in matter-of-factly. “Well, yeah. Him and Mar—Ladybug are really bad at lying, so we figured it out. Ah, what pure souls,” she sighed, tucking some of Adrien’s damp hair behind his ear affectionately. “They still have no idea that we know.”
Felix noticed that the kid called Nino was watching him intently. When their eyes met, the latter spoke up: “Are you his half-brother?”
Felix nodded, wondering how much he deserved the title right now. “Did he mention me?” he asked in a small voice.
“Just once,” Nino said apologetically. “There’s some things he just doesn’t talk about, and most of them have to do with his family.”
“Your name is Felix, right?” Alya said off-handedly.
When the brother in question nodded in affirmative, Nino balked. “Wait, how did you know that? He didn’t even tell me that!”
“Marinette,” Alya said, and it was all the answer Nino seemed to need.
Nino’s phone lit up with a notification. “Sabine’s here!” he announced, and skipped off to the door.
“Wait, who?” Felix protested, but the younger boy was already gone.
“Marinette’s mom,” Alya explained, pulling a blanket up to Adrien’s shoulders. “She knows too. About his secret identity.”
Nino led a small, Chinese woman into the room, and she shuffled over with a greeting bow to Felix and Brigitte. Throwing her large bundle of bags onto the counter, she rushed over to Adrien’s side.
“Aiya,” she gasped, touching his face and soothing him when he whimpered. “I brought rice porridge,” she said, waving vaguely to her luggage on the counter. “Alya, would you get it out?”
Watching Sabine, Felix saw the mother he had always missed: calm and steady, and so, so warm. She fed Adrien like a baby, cradling his head and scooping up the bits that dribbled down his chin. In order not to burn his tongue, she blew carefully on each spoonful. With every bite, more color returned to the younger Agrete’s cheeks.
Feeling absolutely useless, Felix shrunk back against the wall. Brigitte eyed him sympathetically and came to him, draping a blanket around his shoulders.
“Here,” she said, “You must be cold.”
He glanced down at himself, only then remembering that he had stripped down to his undershirt. He couldn’t find it in himself to care as his eyes wandered back to his brother.
Brigitte followed Felix’s gaze. “I think he’s going to be fine; he’ll just need some company.” She eyed her watch. “We’ve got to clear out of here before the head veterinarian comes in at six.”
“Thank you, Brigitte. I don’t know how to.... Will you be okay? You won’t get in trouble?”
She shook her head. “I already checked. There’s no cameras in the building, and if my boss asks any questions, I can tell her I found a stray cat and brought it in. That’s a much smaller offense than bringing a human in here.”
Felix nodded uncertainly, trying to get ahold of himself. Really, he had seen dead bodies and been in shoot-outs; he’d think he could handle seeing his brother get a few bruises. But his hands still shook, and his heart still pounded.
Brigitte leaned over and kissed him sweetly on the cheek. Who knew that a kiss could fix everything? It took all of the panic and tension out of him in an instant. He turned and planted a thank-you kiss on her forehead.
Then, the veterinarian gave him a look which he had learned meant: I’m about to tell you something you won’t like.
“What?” he inquired cautiously.
“I’m sending him home with you.”
Felix sat up straight. “What?! I don’t even have furniture! And besides, I don’t know what to do with him!”
Apparently his protests were a smidgeon too loud, because Alya, Nino, and Sabine all looked up, startled.
“Easy,” Brigitte smirked. “You just feed him and give him attention.”
“Brigitte, he’s not actually a cat.”
“It’s the same principle.”
Felix opened his mouth to protest again, but closed it immediately. He should know by now that arguing with Brigitte would be fruitless.
And so, not an hour later, Felix sat in his apartment, trying to coax a drowsy Adrien into his sleeping bag. “The cat’s out of the bag,” the boy kept mumbling. And then, as he situated himself inside: “And now the cat’s back in the bag.”
“Adrien, you know that’s something I can’t unsee. I can’t just magically forget that you’re Chat Noir, no matter how much either of us want that.”
The younger Agreste blushed in the dim light and turned his face away. He had been partially awake since the ride home, drifting between humiliated to loopy. He was likely aware that Felix knew his secret, but not always with it enough to remember.
Felix leaned close. “Hey, do you know who I am?”
The bright green eyes tried to focus on his face. “Felix?”
“Yeah.” Finally, Felix was not being mistaken for Ladybug.
“How did I...?”
Felix sighed and sat back. “You detransformed in the alleyway, and I found you there.”
“Detrans... oh. Oh.” Adrien’s eyes widened as he fully realized the implications: Felix knew he was Chat Noir. “That wasn’t me,” was his best comeback.
“Sure, okay,” Felix replied sarcastically.
His little brother had started to doze off, having curled tightly onto his side. One hand snaked out of the covers and clutched at Felix’s shirtsleeve. Felix tried to shake him off, but the grip was too tight. And so, he found himself drifting off to sleep right there next to Adrien.
Before the apartment was silent, the younger sibling spoke up one more time:
“Felix... when you arrested Benoit—did you tell him, ‘you’re under Agreste’?”