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stronger than the tears in our eyes

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Adrien isn't surprised, exactly, that there are secret passages in the mansion.  He's surprised that he hasn't found more of them, because he's certainly gone looking before, but he's never been surprised that they exist.  It's only because of Nino that Adrien knows now that secret passages aren't actually standard for mansions and estates.

But Adrien hadn't known about the safe behind his mother's portrait. 

And he hadn't known about the elevator. 

He had definitely not known where it would take him, that it would lead to- to-

He doesn't even know what this is.  Some kind of garden, some kind of abandoned church, someplace that gives him mental whiplash as he tries to understand and free associates it with Final Fantasy VII and has to shove that association aside for the distraction that it is.

Because it is a distraction, and he wants to follow it, wants to chase that thought far more than he's ever wanted to go chasing along the rooftops at night, and-

"This can't be real," Adrien says, finally, finding his voice hoarse even though he hasn't spoken since Plagg had found the elevator.  "Plagg, I'm asleep, right? Or there's-" His voice wavers.  "This is an akuma?"

There's a note of desperate pleading in his voice and he knows it, would know it even if Plagg didn't land on the top of his head much more gently than usual and start to purr quietly.  "It's not an akuma, kid.  It's-" Plagg hesitates, his claws pricking oddly at Adrien's scalp as he shifts and looks around.  He lowers his voice.  "Adrien. We should go."

Adrien hears Plagg, but he doesn't answer him.  He's too preoccupied with taking one slow, unwilling step after another towards the centrepiece of this whole strange arrangement, towards the middle of the room where the glass coffin stands like a beacon, drawing him in. 

Towards his mother.  

Adrien's having trouble with his breathing.  Somehow he feels like he's letting out more air than he's drawing in, like his chest draws tighter with every inhale and a little more warmth seeps out of him with every exhale, leaving him trembling and unable to concentrate on anything but the space directly ahead of him.  His field of vision narrows more by the second.

"Plagg," Adrien says again, strangled as he forces it out past whatever seems to be blocking his throat. This time he couldn't put a name to all the emotions in his voice if it was the only thing between him and akumatization. "Plagg, you don't understand, my mother's- my mother-"

"Adrien!" Plagg says again, much more urgent this time, and this time he flits into the air so fast that Adrien flinches when Plagg tears at his hair. 

Plagg darts in front of him and swipes angrily at a butterfly Adrien hadn't even seen, dissolving it on contact, and then whirls around behind them both with a snarl and swipes at what must be another butterfly. 

Another akuma

Adrien swallows, hard, and wrenches himself away from the- wrenches himself back towards Plagg when his kwami lets out an actual whine, because Adrien has never heard Plagg do that before.

"Adrien," Plagg says, and Adrien follows his gaze to the bushes and flowers.  He startles when he sees what Plagg must have seen. 

"Are those cocoons?" Adrien says softly, shakily, and it's only then that he realises how badly he's still shaking.  There must be hundreds of those cocoons.  "P-Plagg?"

"We have to go," is all Plagg says, flitting closer but hovering around Adrien's head where he can keep an eye out.  "Now, kid, we gotta go." 

"Go where?" Adrien asks numbly, throwing another glance behind him and hesitating.  "Plagg, that's-"

"I know, kid." Plagg's voice drops to a soft rumble.  "I know. But we can't stay here, and this is- this is bad, kid, we can't stay here."

"Plagg," Adrien says again, feeling like a crushing weight is pressing down on his chest.  "What if-"

Plagg circles him in clear agitation before cutting him off.  "Adrien, kid, your dad's-"

He hesitates.

Adrien's shoulders drop, the crushing sensation growing heavier as his limbs grow leaden. He knows.  He knew when Plagg attacked the first butterfly.  He might have known before that, when he'd first stepped out of the elevator and into the strange mausoleum. 

"Your dad's Hawkmoth." Plagg's voice is flat and unreadable as he lands back on Adrien's head.  "Kid, we have to go."

"But-" Adrien knows Plagg is right, he knows that, but.  But.

"Adrien, you are a target," Plagg hisses unhappily, twitching slightly as he says it. "Magic has a price and I don't want it to be you!"

Adrien startles at the surge of emotion from Plagg, as Plagg's claws dig deeper than they ever would if his kwami weren't scared.  Plagg is scared, and that's enough to motivate Adrien to move back towards the elevator even though every step away hurts.  Adrien can't help but keep looking back, but if he stays any longer he is going to get akumatized and that- that can't happen.  That was always their worst danger, and now he knows how much more of a danger it is than he'd ever realised, because if his father is really-

There are not a lot of reasonable explanations for a secret hideout full of butterflies.  Especially not in Paris, especially not now.

Adrien's never really stopped trembling, but he starts to shake a lot harder as that thought lands. He's trying very hard not to think about it too much, not when he's still in a room with both the source of his racing emotions and an unknown number of still-slumbering akuma.

"You know," Adrien says, his voice still rough, as he forces his feet to move and gets into the elevator with Plagg, as Plagg slams into the controls before Adrien can even begin to reach for the buttons.  The elevator shudders and shoots upwards at what Adrien suspects is not a speed it's supposed to have.  "We always did wonder where he got all the butterflies." They'd assumed the answer was 'magic,' honestly, but he and Ladybug have certainly joked about a butterfly bunker before.

Except that Adrien had never expected one to actually exist, and even if he had he wouldn't have thought to look for it under his house.

"Yeah well you can tell her yourself as soon as we get to her," Plagg says tightly, claws still digging hard enough that Adrien starts to suspect his kwami is either drawing blood or close to it.  Plagg has never been that careless before, but then Adrien isn't the only one still shaking.

"Get to her?" Adrien echoes as Plagg flits off his head and into his room.  Plagg drags Adrien's still-packed school bag out from under his coffee table and then phases into the Camembert supply, throwing cheese wheel after cheese wheel out and into the bag. 

Adrien finds a different bag to stuff clothes in.  He doesn't really bother to look at what he's grabbing, because if he does he'll have to think about why he's shoving clothes into a bag as fast as he can, but he can at least make sure that his clothes don't all smell like Camembert. Well, up until he has to wear them.

"You can't stay here," Plagg hisses, throwing two cheese wheels into his bag at once.  "We're going to Ladybug's."

"But," Adrien tries, a little helplessly.  He'd been half-planning to go back into the basement, to see if there was anything he could do... "But it's not safe for me to know who she is."

Plagg bristles, and he's as close to shouting as Adrien's ever heard him when he says, "It's not safe for you to live with Hawkmoth, kid, we gotta leave!"

"Plagg," Adrien says, still not daring to think about it too hard.  "That was my mother."

Plagg goes very still. 

He stops packing and turns to land on Adrien's shoulder, nudging into his neck.  "Adrien.  It's not.  She's-" He hesitates, but finally says, "She's gone, kid.  If your dad is doing what I think he's doing, he's putting you in a lot of danger and either way we have to go."

"But what if we can do something?" Adrien persists, doggedly, and then freezes as something else occurs to him. "Nooroo.  If he's- then Nooroo's here, then, we could save him!  Plagg, we have to save him!"

"Kid!" Plagg shouts, evidently at the end of his patience. He lowers his voice immediately, but only to hiss out, "We gotta get somewhere safe and get backup before we can save anyone else, we are going to Marinette's right now!"

"Mar-" Adrien's voice catches in his throat and he swallows back the words he wants to say, because he can't say Ladybug's name in Hawkmoth's house.

He can't say Marinette's name, Ladybug is Marinette, they've been the same person this whole time and-

And Father is Hawkmoth.  Adrien swallows convulsively, but it does nothing for the sick feeling in his gut.  Ladybug was right.  He should have listened to her then, should have asked more questions about how she'd ever arrived at that conclusion in the first place, but he hadn't wanted to believe it.  He still doesn't want to believe it.

"Now we really gotta go," Plagg mutters, and eyes Adrien critically.  "Kid?  You gonna transform, or-"

Adrien shifts unhappily.  "I'd... better not." It would be easier, but without Plagg to anchor him Adrien's not going to be able to resist turning right back around and doing something he'll regret.  More likely, several somethings he'll regret.

That was a coffin.  That was a coffin, but there were buttons, there was a display, there's some kind of power to it and what if-

He can't live his life on what ifs.  He does enough of that with Ladybug (with Marinette, she's Marinette, she's been so close this whole time, and Adrien absolutely does not have the emotional energy to keep this up any longer).

Plagg presses closer, purring, but it turns into a snarl as he flits back into the air to slash another akuma into pieces and then darts swiftly back to Adrien's shoulder.  "Kid, it is more than time to go."

"Are you sure we shouldn't just go to Chloe's?" Adrien asks, dragging the words out of himself reluctantly.  It's not an idle question; there are real reasons that it might be safer to hole up at the hotel, especially when he's going to need more than just a brief solution. "I don't want to put Ma- anyone else in danger."

"But Chloe's okay?" Plagg snickers, though it's a lot more subdued than usual.  "Wow, kid."

Adrien flushes.  "Chloe's father would protect her from anything short of an akuma, and Chloe has actually gotten good at avoiding the akuma herself.  And between the two of them, they could, uh." He falters for a second, then mumbles, "They could keep Father from getting me back."

"That's- something to keep in mind," Plagg mutters.  "But no, kid, Chloe's real handsy with you and you don't like that.  Not great for avoiding akuma.  Besides, we gotta talk to Ladybug as fast as possible."

Adrien stills at that, or as much as he can when his hands won't stop shaking.  They do have to talk to her as fast as possible, because knowing Hawkmoth's identity when he doesn't know theirs means they can finish this fight. 

Does he still want that?

Shouldn't he at least try to figure out what Father is trying to do?

He loves Ladybug, but, surprisingly, leaping to conclusions is something she suffers from more than he does. (Marinette.  He loves Marinette).  What if she wants to go after Father immediately? What if Father really does have the good reason that Hawkmoth has insisted he has? 

"Plagg," Adrien starts, and he can't quite keep his voice from rasping.  "What if Father's only-"

A snarl from his kwami interrupts him, and he looks up swiftly to see Plagg tearing apart yet another butterfly.  Adrien jerks backwards, horrified, and grabs his bag.  Plagg's right, they can't stay here.  If Adrien wants to try and think this through he's going to have to do it with Ladybug or lose his chance entirely.  That's the fourth butterfly in minutes and he doesn't know if Hawkmoth would be akumatizing Adrien or Chat Noir, not for sure, but he can't trust his luck on it and he doesn't want to leave Ladybug to fight him either way.

And Plagg just told him who Ladybug is, at the worst possible time- getting akumatized would put both their identities at risk, and Adrien can't keep shoving down his emotions forever.  He can't stick around to try and get a reason out of his father, because they have to go

All they've packed between the two of them is a handful of clothes and a lot of cheese, but Adrien doesn't honestly know what else to take with.  He may have a lot of things in his room but for the most part that's all they are- things.  His computer's too unwieldy to take, but his tablet is already in his bag.  He has his lucky charm stuffed in a pocket, and his school things are currently buried under a pile of Camembert (that's kind of unfortunate), and he's stalling.  He knows he's stalling.

He still wants to run back to the hidden elevator.  He still wants-

I want Mom, he thinks, and it lands like a stab to the chest.  His hands are shaking badly as he checks over his bag again and makes sure he has his cell phone and a charger for it.  I want-

Plagg's solid weight on his shoulder and his kwami's quiet, rumbling purr are the only things that keep Adrien grounded enough to keep from bolting back the way they'd come.  Adrien wants to go back and look and try to figure out what, exactly, is going on with the Sleeping Beauty coffin, and he wants to find Father and ask him what he thinks he's doing, and he would go back and end up akumatized if it weren't for Plagg.  There's no way Plagg is going to let Adrien turn around, and while Plagg usually encourages Adrien to do what he wants he is definitely going to stop him this time.   

Adrien slings both bags over his shoulder before climbing out the window as Plagg settles more firmly into his shirt collar.  Usually Plagg would move to his pocket as soon as Adrien left the mansion, but he's not showing any inclination to do that now.

Adrien's glad for it.  The warm feeling of his kwami pressed against him and purring is all that's keeping his mind from spinning in circles right now.  His father is Hawkmoth and his mother is- he can't think about his mother, not just yet, not until he gets to Ladybug.  Until he gets to Marinette.

That is a much happier topic, and Adrien is absolutely going to focus on it instead.

Marinette's never reacted badly to Chat Noir crashing on her balcony, either overnight or in a more literal sense, but Adrien's not too sure how she's going to feel about her classmate Adrien showing up unexpectedly and with baggage.  Maybe he should stow his bags somewhere before talking to her.  Maybe he should transform before talking to her, because Marinette is much more comfortable with Chat Noir than she is with Adrien and he's never known why before but of course Ladybug is more comfortable with her partner. 

He can't transform.  If he doesn't have either Plagg or Ladybug with him, he's not going to be able to resist turning back and trying desperately to work out what's happening at the mansion.  He can't do that alone. 

Adrien's caught up enough in worrying that he ends up forgetting to stash his bags anywhere before he ducks into the bakery.  He tries to knock, knowing that it's far too late at night for anyone to answer, but the door swings open. 

There's no one inside but Marinette's father, which makes Adrien's heart squeeze painfully even before the man looks up.

A wide smile spreads over M. Dupain's face, only to draw into a frown a moment later as he studies the stiff way Adrien is holding himself.  "Adrien? Come on in here, son, lock the door behind you."  He rubs the back of his neck sheepishly.  "...And please don't tell Marinette or Sabine that I forgot to."

Adrien blinks, feeling Plagg scrunch further out of sight in his collar, and locks the door as he steps inside.  He falls back on drilled-in manners to try and keep his emotions from overwhelming him again- they hadn't encountered any more akuma on the way here, but that doesn't mean they're safe.  "Um.  Thank you.  I'm really sorry to disturb you so late."

M. Dupain grins again, but there's something exhausted in it that startles Adrien a little and distracts him from his own whirling thoughts.  "You're not, trust me.  No one in this house has a very healthy sleep schedule, I'm afraid."  Much more seriously, he nods at the bags Adrien's carrying.  "And it looks like you have more pressing concerns."

"I, uh." Adrien falters.  What can he say? 'I just found out my father is Hawkmoth' isn't something he can say to Marinette's father! And the rest of it- the rest of it he can't say to anyone but Ladybug.  He's not sure he can say it at all, there's a good chance he's going to have to rely on Plagg for that.  Plagg may make a deliberate nuisance of himself a lot of (most of) the time but he would never leave Adrien to deal with this alone.

M. Dupain brushes off his hands on his apron and comes around the corner, settling both hands on Adrien's shoulders.  Adrien swallows, because it's the same gesture he and Ladybug use with each other, and now he knows that she didn't get it from him after all. 

M. Dupain's voice is cautious as he asks, "Adrien? Do you need me to get Marinette?"

"I don't want to wake her up," Adrien manages, tearing his eyes away from Marinette's fathers visible concern and wincing as Plagg nips him for that.

"I think she'd want to be woken up," M. Dupain says gently.  "Her friend needs her."

Adrien raises his eyes again, just as M. Dupain moves to tousle his hair and then turns to wave Adrien after him and into the rest of the house.  Adrien rubs at his hair himself, unprepared for the sudden ache under his skin that the gesture draws out, and only remembers to follow once Plagg's nipped him again.  It takes Adrien far too long to figure out why his scalp seems sore- Plagg had broken skin earlier, if only barely. 

He hopes fervently that kwami aren't prone to panic attacks.  He's seen Plagg agitated before, but he's never seen him like this, and honestly at least one of them needs to not be panicking when they talk to Marinette. 

Adrien hesitates outside Marinette's room, though, and even though by now Plagg is making his displeasure very obvious and might well be close to drawing blood a second time Adrien finds himself saying, timidly,  "Sir? It is really late.  I don't want to intrude-" He stops, rubbing briefly at the back of his neck before hastily pulling his hand away when Plagg tries to bite him.  Plagg doesn't normally use his fangs and claws anywhere near this much; Adrien thinks that alone is evidence of how riled up his kwami is right now. 

It's a good distraction from how upset Adrien is right now.

M. Dupain turns back, his expression softening as he looks back at Adrien.  "Son.  You aren't intruding.  You wouldn't be here this late at all if it weren't an emergency, right? Marinette would want me to wake her, but if it makes you that uncomfortable maybe it's something I could help you with instead?" He looks hopeful as he gestures over to the sofa. 

Adrien looks between the stairs and the couch, torn.

"You could talk to me first, and then we can get Marinette if I really can't help," M. Dupain suggests, his voice cautious but warmly inviting in a way Adrien doesn't think he's ever heard from his own father.  If he has, it definitely hasn't been since before Mom-

Since before Mom.

"I..." Adrien swallows, but talking to M. Dupain might not be a bad idea.  He can't go into any details, obviously, but maybe telling Marinette's father an edited version now will make telling Ladybug easier later.  "I, um.  Found out something about- about my father earlier that-"  He takes a deep breath. 

Plagg's gone silent and still, so his kwami can't think this is too bad an idea, or he'd still be scratching and trying to get Adrien's focus back on going to Marinette. 

"I found out about something he's been keeping from me, and it's- it's really-" Awful? Terrifying? Painful?  Father has been terrorising Paris for months, he's been attacking and injuring Adrien and Marinette, and he has- he has Mother comatose in some kind of supervillain lair.  Adrien doesn't know how in the hell he's supposed to compress all of that into something he can actually say to anyone but Ladybug, and even then Plagg is going to have to do most of the talking.  "I-I couldn't stay there once I knew that he, uh."

"Oh." M. Dupain reaches out and guides him over to the couch, taking a seat on the armchair nearby and giving Adrien his full attention.  "It's okay, you know, if you don't want to tell me exactly what it was." He smiles a little bit, but although it does reach his eyes it doesn't look entirely happy.  "I doubt Marinette's ever mentioned it, but my relationship with her grandfather is... complicated, at best."  He looks away for a moment, but he looks back at Adrien quickly.  "To be honest with you, up until very recently I hadn't seen or even spoken to him since well before Marinette was born.  It took his being akumatized before we reconnected at all.  And..." He sighs.  "And there will always be a gulf there, now.  It's difficult to repair a relationship like that."

"So," Adrien says, one hand clenching convulsively on the couch cushions.  "So you think I should give my father a chance?"

"That's not what I said," M. Dupain says, not unkindly.  "I don't know enough about your situation to tell you that.  I should probably tell you yes, or at least to consider it, since he is your father, but-" He sighs.  "Even when I thought I would never talk to my father again, not once did I ever regret the disagreement that caused that divide.  I still can't regret it.  Sabine and Marinette are everything to me."

Adrien drops his gaze to the carpet, studying the pattern without saying anything.  He's too torn up inside to say anything.  Mother had been everything to Father, and Adrien had thought that he and Nathalie were included in that everything once, but Father has been too busy to pay Adrien much attention ever since Mom-

She's not dead.

He doesn't know that.  Not for sure.

(But why would a coffin have blinking lights like that?)

And Adrien's everything is- he wants to say Ladybug.  He wants to.  She's his partner, his best friend, one of his first friends and certainly his closest, and it's her he ran to tonight when his whole world fell apart.

But that means she's not his whole world. 

I should go back-

Four akuma in the span of minutes, and hundreds more in the house, and from Plagg's restless shifting and his risky hiding place in Adrien's collar he knows his kwami has been on the lookout for more of them following.  For all he knows Plagg has seen more, even if Adrien hasn't.

They can't go back, whether or not he wants to, or at least not without talking to Ladybug first.

Father has been too busy for Adrien not because of his work after all, but because he's been Hawkmoth this whole time.  Because being Hawkmoth, because Hawkmoth's goals, are more important to him than Adrien is. 

What had he said on Hero's Day? Watch what a man who's got nothing to lose can do. 

Apparently, Adrien himself is nothing to lose.

Abruptly, he feels like he's going to throw up. He has to concentrate on his breathing until the nausea retreats, and his breathing's not very steady either. 

"You know," M. Dupain says, cautiously, and it jerks Adrien out of his thoughts at the reminder that it isn't just him and Plagg here.  "I actually left home at around your age and stayed with a friend's family for a while.  Dad didn't, well." He looks away and rubs at the back of his neck.  "Let's say he didn't approve of a lot of my choices.  At the time I couldn't really stay with Sabine's family, and my mother was out of town, so I went to my best friend's until she came back.  Not that I'm suggesting that, necessarily! It wasn't exactly smooth sailing, but-" He shrugs.  "I've always told myself, if any of Marinette's friends ever found themselves in a similar situation, I would do for them what my friends did for me."

"Oh," Adrien says softly, hoping painfully that he's not mistaking the offer that sounds like. "Thank you." 

Plagg lets the tiniest purr rumble against his collarbone, one that won't be audible to anyone else. 

Adrien's sure he should have more to say than that, but he's not coming up with anything.  The very last thing he wants is to stew in silence and he lets out a sigh of relief when they're interrupted.

"Papa?" Marinette's voice drifts down from upstairs, followed by a yawn.  "Are you still awake?  Please don't tell me you're arguing with the Mecha Strike NPCs again."

"They cheat!" her father calls back, before looking at Adrien.  "But no, honey, I was talking to Adrien."

There's a series of muffled noises, including one that might be an outright screech, before Marinette tumbles down the stairs.  She's in her pyjamas and has a slightly wild look in her eyes as she takes in the sight of Adrien on her couch and he flushes as he realises all over again that it is, really, very late and probably not at all a normal time to show up at a classmate's house.

"I thought I misheard you!" Marinette squeaks breathlessly, flushing as she looks everywhere but at Adrien.  "A-Adrien, hi!"

Suddenly shy himself, because this is Ladybug but she doesn't know it's him and Marinette's so rarely comfortable around him, Adrien tentatively waves to her.  "Hi, Marinette.  Sorry to intrude."

M. Dupain shakes his head.  "I keep telling you, son, it's not an intrusion.  Stay as long as you need." He gets up, looking between them both.  "But I'm assuming it's Marinette you came to talk to originally, not me. I'll leave you two alone."

Adrien watches him leave, more unsettled by it than he'd expected to be.  But then, he can't remember the last time he'd had a conversation like that with an adult.  He used to be able to talk to his parents.  For a long time he could still try to talk to Nathalie, but she's been either too busy or too tired for weeks rolling into months now.  He doesn't want to bother her in her scant free time, not when she so obviously needs that time to rest, and she's his father's assistant.  Adrien couldn't very well bring up the subject of his father with her before; he definitely can't do it now.  

(What if she knows?)

(What if she doesn't?)

"Adrien?" Marinette says softly, and when he looks up at her she's biting her lip and giving him a very worried look.  "Are you all right?"  This isn't-" She waves one hand around the room.  "It's late. This isn't really, um, like you."

He holds back a tired snort at that, because this is, in fact, very much like him.  Chat Noir's dropped in through her window more than once. 

Adrien isn't sure how to broach the reason for his visit- any of the reasons for his visit- but the choice is quickly taken from him anyway. 

Plagg zips into the air to hover an equal distance between the two of them, turns towards Marinette, and says, "Hey, Marinette.  You still owe me cheese bread."

"Plagg?" Marinette whispers, blankly, and blinks rapidly before repeating, "Plagg?" at a much higher pitch. 

"Yes, Plagg," Plagg says, flitting in an impatient loop around them both.  "Can we get upstairs now? Before your dad comes back in here?"

"Y-yes," Marinette says faintly.  "Of course we-" She stops, shakes her head, and turns to stare at Adrien.  "Chat?"

He half-raises one hand uncertainly.  "I-I know you didn't want to know.  I'm sorry."

Marinette does not look as though she's processing this revelation quite yet.

"Don't care," Plagg announces.  He's very loud and Adrien winces at his volume.  "Got something that took priority.  Tikki!" 

A red kwami emerges slowly from behind Marinette.  Adrien takes an involuntary step back, because Ladybug's kwami does not look happy.  "Plagg, we agreed!"

"Yeah well something came up!" Plagg snaps, and he's still loud, and Marinette's father is probably still somewhere in earshot.  After how protective he'd been when Chat Noir had turned down Marinette (because he's an idiot, apparently), Adrien really doesn't want the man to think that Adrien is upsetting his daughter in any way. 

"Maybe we could take this conversation up to your room," Adrien says hurriedly, before flushing as he realises what exactly he's said.  "Or! Or anywhere else there's privacy!" Privacy is something they could really, desperately use, especially when he still needs to tell her exactly why they're here.

Marinette swallows.  She hasn't gotten any less red; if anything, her flush is getting worse.  "My- my room is fine.  It's not like-" Her shoulders slump a little, and another kind of alarm cuts through the background static of hurt and terror that's been broiling in Adrien all night as she continues.  "It's not like you haven't seen it before, kitty."

Adrien ducks his head and doesn't reply to that.  He doesn't really know what to say, and anyway the nausea from earlier is returning with a vengeance.  He's not sure he can speak at the moment. 

Marinette shuts the trap door firmly once they're all in her room.  She drops into her desk chair and gestures vaguely over at the chaise lounge, which Adrien takes as direction.  He's very glad she's left a fringed blanket draped haphazardly over her chaise- fiddling with the fringe gives him something to do with his hands, and it's not long before he's dragged the whole blanket over his lap.  The warmth and softness of it is comforting, grounding, and he needs that right now.

Plagg drops to Adrien's shoulder, pressing closer than Adrien would expect him to when anyone else can see him, Ladybug or not. 

Adrien starts to say something, to at least try to explain, and finds he's still at a loss for words.

Marinette gives him a worried look.  Her blush is fading, concern overtaking it, and while she still looks a little overwhelmed herself it's obvious that she knows something's gone very wrong.

It's Plagg that breaks the silence. 

"We found out who Hawkmoth is," the kwami says, voice flat with a furious undercurrent.  He pauses to purr a moment's reassurance when Adrien flinches.  "An' now the kid can't go home." 

"What?" Tikki says, anxiously.  "You know who-? Wait, why would that keep you from going- does Hawkmoth know who you are?"

"No," Adrien manages, his voice suddenly raspy.  He swallows a few times, trying to clear the lump in his throat, but it doesn't help.  "Hawkmoth's, he's." He stops again, blinking rapidly, and then jerks when both kwami let out identical noises of alarm and dash to attack something behind him. 

Marinette's eyes are very, very wide as the akuma fall to the floor in pieces.  Adrien stares at them, wincing as they fade away- he's never known what happens to an akuma that's destroyed instead of purified before today.  Their kwami have never mentioned it before, and he has the unnerving feeling that it can't be good for Plagg- or for Nooroo. 

Plagg ducks in close to him just as Adrien thinks Father has Nooroo, Father has a kwami and he's abusing-

Ice trails down his spine and twines around his ribs, until it hurts to breathe, and Adrien reaches for Plagg on a convulsive inhalation and nearly chokes.

His voice isn't any less raspy when he finally manages to force out, "My- my lady.  Hawkmoth is my father."

"What? Your father- Oh," Marinette says softly, blinking rapidly, eyes still wide before her expression softens into a level of concern that's hard for him to look at.  "Oh, kitty.  I'm so sorry.  I know that I thought- I always wanted to be wrong."  She blinks again.  "I thought I was wrong, he got-"

"He must have akumatized himself," Plagg cuts in harshly.  "We found his lair, Marinette, it's not up for interpretation!"

Marinette gets up so quickly she stumbles, hurrying to join Adrien on the chaise lounge and very nearly falling onto him in her haste.  It's only when Adrien relaxes into her sudden full-body hug that he realises how tense he's been since-

Well, since

Marinette's eyes are squeezed tightly shut as she tightens her grip on him, a pressure much more grounding than simply fidgeting with her blanket.  "Oh, minou."

"I know why he wants our Miraculous," Adrien whispers, feeling his throat close up immediately after.  This time no amount of swallowing returns words to him, and instead he makes a strained noise and buries his face against Marinette's shoulder.

He can't see anything, but he feels Marinette clutch him impossibly closer, and he hears it when Plagg explains what they'd found in a low tone.  His kwami sums everything up as fast as possible, but that doesn't mean he skimps on details or leaves much out.

It had only taken the span of a few minutes for Adrien's world to collapse in on them both, after all. 

"-so we can't go back," Plagg finishes, stubbornly.  "The kid's not safe there, we can't stay." There's a shift in the air that makes Adrien think Plagg's waving his paws around in agitation.  "That's already the fifth akuma since we found the place, and the kid can't live with Hawkmoth!"

"He's my father, Plagg," Adrien rasps, his voice muffled against Marinette's hold, and then finds he has nothing he can possibly follow that with. 

Plagg snorts, but Adrien feels the reassuring weight of his kwami settle against the back of his neck.  Plagg's paws press reassurance into his skin even as his kwami says, gruffly, "Yeah, well, it ain't like he's any good at that."

"Plagg!" Marinette protests, clutching Adrien tighter.

"Well he's not," Plagg snarls.  "You wanna know why Chat Noir showed up so fast for dinner here? It isn't like there's anyone to eat with over there!" He growls, and Adrien starts a little, though between Marinette and Plagg he doesn't have much space to move.  "An' he's always been obsessed with locking my kid up, what if he figures us out?"

Bars, slamming down all around him, while he calls and calls without an answer- a security system that was always as much to keep him in as it was to keep threats out, that's never been a secret, Father had been proud of the mansion's security back when it was new and Adrien knows he can't get out when it's engaged, that's how they'd tested it-

And Plagg would let him out, but Hawkmoth is determined to take Plagg. Father is determined to take Plagg.

"Oh, kitty." Marinette sounds unfathomably sad.  "Do you have anywhere to stay?" 

Adrien starts to shake his head and Plagg makes a rude noise before butting in again.  "Yeah, he does.  Marinette, your dad told him he could stay, all he's gotta do is ask!"

Marinette's silent.  The loudest noise in the room is Adrien's own ragged breath, not helped even when Tikki swoops down to crowd in next to Plagg and starts taking deep, rhythmic breaths of her own until Adrien starts trying to match them. 

"I'll ask," Marinette says finally, softly.  "If it's the asking that's the problem.  I know that can be hard, it's-"  He feels it when she turns to glance away.  "Some of our classmates don't live with their families.  It happens."

They don't? It does? Who-

It doesn't matter who, or why.  Not really.  Adrien wouldn't want anyone else prying into why he can't stay at home, and he doubts any of his classmates would appreciate him doing it either, even if none of them are likely to have 'my father is a supervillain and my mother might not be as dead as I've been told' as their reason.

Plagg and Marinette both snarl suddenly.  One of Marinette's arms loosens as she obviously swats something out of the air, and the weight of both their kwami vanishes for a moment before the two resettle.

Adrien shivers, far colder than he can account for in the warmth of Marinette's room. 

"Yeah, you're not going back there," Marinette says shakily.  "Either of you, that was not good."

He starts to pull away from her just enough to see her expression again.  There's the worry he'd expected, but it isn't directed solely at him- Marinette's eyes keep darting down towards their kwami, too.

"Plagg?" Tikki asks.  It's hard to tell when her eyes already take up so much of her face, but Adrien thinks her eyes have gotten very wide. 

Plagg snarls again and doesn't look at her.  "I told you it ain't safe."

Marinette swallows and looks at Adrien.  "I- I got the one that went for Plagg."

Adrien's suddenly holding his kwami very close with no memory of moving at all, much less of clutching Plagg to his chest protectively.  That's not comfortable, not when Marinette still hasn't entirely let go of him, but the idea of an akuma going for Plagg is terrifying.

"Can kwami even get akumatized?" Marinette asks Tikki, reaching out to cup her free hand around her own kwami.  That leaves Marinette's hand resting against the back of Adrien's neck as well, which he definitely isn't opposed to.

Tikki makes an odd noise.  "I don't know.  It's never come up before.  Plagg, are you-" She phases through Marinette's hand, which Adrien knows from experience isn't a pleasant feeling.  "Are you all right?"

"No one's all right," Plagg grumbles, settling more securely into Adrien's hands. 

Adrien swallows, hard, and inches his gaze up to Marinette's.  She isn't acting shy or shaky around him at all now, though whether that's because she sees her partner now or because he needs her help he couldn't say.  Both, maybe.  "We- we will be. Eventually."

Marinette gets to her feet, slowly enough to pull him up with her, and gestures at her own bed.  "Come on, kitty."

He freezes up.

"I'm not leaving either of you down here alone after that," Marinette says, kindly, but firmly.  "Tikki and I can take turns keeping watch, and I'll talk to Maman and Papa in the morning."

"But-" Adrien tries, half-heartedly.

"No buts," Tikki says, urging all of them towards the ladder and even ducking down to nuzzle Plagg.  "You both need rest, we can all keep planning in the morning." 

Things aren't resolved, not really, and Adrien knows that.  Even if his partner is miraculously both willing and able to shelter him, something he hadn't been willing to count on when he and Plagg had first taken off, that doesn't actually solve their problems.  Father is his arch enemy, and his mother's funeral had had an empty casket, and-

And his partner is splaying her hand across his back as she guides him up towards the bed, and she's following him up as their kwami zip ahead of them, and maybe they don't know exactly what they're going to do just yet but they at least have the beginning of a plan.  Ladybug can and does pull off spectacular plans mid-battle using five minutes and random objects and their own skills; for this battle they have more time, and more resources, and they'll be together from the beginning to the end of it.

Things aren't resolved, but they're at least a lot better than they had been only an hour or two ago, and he and Plagg are both safe with their respective counterparts.

For right now, that's far more luck than Adrien had hoped for.