It was just another day in Paris. The sky was blue, the city was quiet, and there seemed to be another poor soul seeking revenge with gifted superpowers.
Yeah, this was pretty normal around here.
Lady Fisher, the newest victim of Hawkmoth's control, was a woman who had been catfished by some co-workers who wanted to gather embarrassing details of her life for a laugh. Now, with her new found ability, she was wreaking havoc for the citizens, catching them with her fishing net and revealing them as "who they really were" as she put it.
Ladybug and Chat Noir were at the scene in only a few minutes, quickly surveying the situation from the safety of a rooftop. "What do you think could of have her reeling like this?" Chat asked his lady, who ignored his pun and just shook her head, "Whatever it was, we need to made sure we don't get caught in that net." As she spoke, another Parisian was unveiled by the net, causing them to change from his business attire to something akin to someone who hadn't left their room in weeks.
"Yeah, I've kind of grown attached to this look." Chat quipped. He wanted to add "Don't you think it suits me?", but decided against it. Ladybug had made her desire to keep their relationship platonic clear, and he promised to try his best, even if it meant not saying what he really felt. Or missing out on some amazing punchlines.
"We have to get closer." Ladybug said, readying her yo-yo and swinging herself to a valance and rolling off of it onto the ground with ease and grace. Chat stopped his staring and extended his staff, twirling down it like a fireman's pole to the street below.
The two of them approached Lady Fisher from behind and, after a quick nod to each other, started to engage in combat. The two worked in tandem, combining their tactics together to keep the super-villain on her toes.
Eventually, the super duo managed to get the net out of her hands, allowing it to slide across the pavement. Both Ladybug and Lady Fisher ran for it, but Fisher reached it just seconds before Ladybug. She grabbed it and raised it over the spotted heroine. "Let's see who you really are, Ladybug." Fisher threatened. Ladybug tried to step back, but she was cornered between two buildings. She protected her face with her arms and braced for what seemed inevitable.
That was until she felt someone push her out of the way while getting themselves caught in the process.
He knew that the net would not hurt Ladybug, as the others that had fallen under it had seemed unfazed, though wildly confused at their change of appearance. But it would do the second worst thing she could imagine; reveal her civilian form. Her identity was so precious to her that she kept it hidden from everyone, even her own partner. He wouldn't let that privacy be stolen away from her. Not if he could protect her.
He was right about the net not hurting. It didn't feel like anything at all and, when it was raised back over his head, he wondered if Fisher's net even worked on him, but when his lady looked at him from her place on the street, a look that bordered between shock and worry on her face, he knew it must have worked.
"A-Adrien? Adrien Agreste?" she questioned, her surprise evident on every feature. He had imagined many times about how he would reveal his identity to his love, how she would react to him. Being revealed by being caught in a fishing net was not one of those situations. He tried to make the best of it, "Surprised, Milady?"
Ladybug stuttered a little more, but before she could say anything fully, Lady Fisher gave a laugh. "The great Chat Noir reduced to nothing but a schoolboy in a costume, trying to play hero." Adrien frowned but kept his gaze on the Akuma, ready to strike.
Fisher went to make her next move, but suddenly stopped and a purple mask covered her face; Hawkmoth was giving her new instructions.
This worried Adrien. Hawkmoth was a simple man; fight the duo, get the Miraculous, rule the world or whatever villains wanted nowadays. What could he possibly want differently now?
"Adrien," he heard Ladybug stage-whisper, as to not catch Fisher (or Hawkmoth's) attention, "You need to get out of here." "I'm not leaving you here to fight him on your own." he told her, staying firmly in his place. "But, you're not Chat Noir anymore." She told him, "I can't risk you-a civilian getting hurt."
"But, my lady-"
"Go." She directed him, pushing him with one arm towards an alleyway, and readying her yo-yo in the other. He stumbled into a run, doing as Ladybug instructed. Perhaps she had a plan? He could hear Ladybug taunting Lady Fisher from behind him, telling something along the lines of her being a fish out of water. Under normal circumstances, he would smile at how his humor was starting to rub off on his partner, but now they had bigger fish to fry.
Fighting the urge to turn back and assist Ladybug, Adrien turned the corner into an alleyway and slumped to the ground. He turned his head to get a glimpse of was happening. Lady Fisher took chase after Ladybug, who was swinging through the air, trying to move frequently enough to not get trapped. She couldn't hold on like that alone for long. He had to help her.
"Plagg, what's happening?" he asked, but his kwami didn't give any reply. He looked around, in his pockets, and even glanced back at when he had transformed. Plagg was nowhere to be seen. What came as a secondary shock was when Adrien looked at his miraculous. Instead of it being it's usual, subtle silver band, it looked black with a green paw print, just as it was when he was suited up and bonded with Plagg to become Chat Noir.
It was like he was suited up, but instead looked like himself, well his civilian-self. He thought back to exactly what Fisher had said about her powers.
She took away the deceitful appearance and showed what they really looked like.
"Sure, I'm Adrien, but I'm just as much Chat Noir." He said though he wasn't sure if he was to think his situation aloud or merely to reassure himself of that fact. To tell himself he wasn't just some schoolboy playing dress-up; that he was part of the best superhero duo Paris has ever seen. Not even stripping him of his anonymity could change that.
But, what exactly did that mean if he wanted to help out Ladybug? Since the transformation, he had lost his staff, and since he no longer had cat ears, he figured he didn't have his cat-like powers either. Was he really just reduced to Adrien?
"Lucky Charm!" he heard Ladybug yell, and he looked over to see the item in question. It looked like a long cylinder. A staff? Could it be that the lucky charm was meant for him?
Ladybug may have thought the same way, because she looked back towards the alleyway, catching his eyes before going back to protecting herself from Lady Fisher. He took that as enough of a confirmation to get back in there. He had helped Ladybug as Adrien before, and he could to it again. As he dashed towards Lady Fisher, he kept telling himself, "I am Chat Noir. I don't need a mask to prove that."
When he was close enough, he called to Ladybug to toss him the staff. She did so, and he caught it with a less ease than he would have if he was suited up.
"Hey Fisher. I'm usually a pacifisht, but I can't let you hurt my lady over there."
He used his staff to trip the woman, causing her to fall on her back. "You mean you could have done that forever ago and we would have been done?" Ladybug asked, finally saying a sentence without oddly tripping over it. "I honestly didn't think it would be that easy." He replied teasingly, before Lady Fisher made her way back up, backhanding Adrien's spotted staff out of his hand. She took a step towards him as he took a step backward, trying to keep some space. Then, Lady Fisher stopped suddenly and turned her attention back to Ladybug. That was odd. Perhaps Hawkmoth thought transforming him rendered the miraculous null? Perhaps it did.
With Lady Fisher's attention off him, Adrien dive-rolled towards Lady Fisher's net. He looked back up towards the enemy, just as Ladybug used her yo-yo to tie up her up and render her immobile. "Excellent work, my lady." He said with a bow, net still in hand, "I would say this battle went swimmingly." She gave a giggle, effectively stunning him for a moment.
Ladybug gave a giggle to his pun. A cute little giggle that made his heart skip a beat. She had never laughed at his jokes before, at least, not the stupid ones. (Which was most of them, though he wouldn't admit that).
Speaking of stupid; "Let me try something before we fix everything…" When Ladybug didn't object, he called out, "Cataclysm!"
He looked at his right hand, expecting it to not work, but instead, it glowed with the black energy that always accompanied his special move. He looked up at Ladybug, who had a look that probably mirrored his own surprise that his dumb plan actually worked. "I guess I can still be handy when I need to be." he smirked, releasing the energy onto the net, causing it to disintegrate and releasing a black and purple butterfly.
Ladybug released Lady Fisher and captured the Akuma, effectively purified it and releasing it back into the skies of Paris. Chat walked over to her and handed the staff back, "This staff is nice and all, but I'd rather have my own back, thanks." She gave a smile, and threw it up in the air with a "Miraculous Ladybug!"
The red magic flooded the streets, returning people back to their preferred appearance. When it surrounded Chat, he looked down at his leather-like suit and twitched his cat-like ears. He was back.
"Nice to be back in the old Chat suit." He commented, before looking back at Ladybug, who was now watching him with a puzzled expression.
At that moment, while Paris was in peace again, it truly dawned on him what had happened under that net. His partner now knew who he was, that he was Adrien Agreste, and was just trying to match the pieces in her brain. Probably, trying to match the face of the model on the body of a pun-spewing black cat.
"So..." he started, but the rest of the sentence was lost to him. What was he supposed to say? What was going through her mind? The only emotions he could read were confusion and a small dash of panic. The confusion was expected, but the panic had him worried. Was the idea that he was Adrien that worrisome for her?
Ladybug seemed to also lack the words to speak, only really repeating his sentence starter, "So..." Finally adding, "...you-you're really Adrien Agreste, aren't you?" Her words came out both hurried and stunted, the surprise clearly showing in every syllable. "The one and only." He replied, adding a bow and trying to shoot her his trademark smile, if not to comfort her nerves, to comfort his own. It was a weird feeling having a mask on but having someone address him by his real name. Especially since that person was his lady.
Suddenly, her earrings gave a warning beep, warning her that her identity was still at risk. "I-I have to go." She said, using her yo-yo out and pulling herself away, without another word.
He took a deep breath and exhaled; that wouldn't be an issue for him anymore.
When Adrien made it home, he changed back and was relieved to see Plagg again.
"Hey Adrien. Where the camembert? I'm starving."
He handed his kwami a piece of his preferred stinking cheese, which Plagg took greedily, before Adrien collapsed on his bed, looking up at the ceiling of his room and processing what had happened.
Ladybug knew his face, his name. What would that mean for them? Their teamwork? Their lives, if they intertwined at all? Did she know him in her personal life or did she just know him from his pictures all over the city? Even with his mask removed, he still was no closer to knowing who his lovely lady was.
"You know, you need to be more careful with what you do to protect Ladybug." Plagg told him, though it seemed oddly casual between bites. He would have assumed that he would be scolded for revealing himself, but then again, he was never told he couldn't tell his partner who he was. Or maybe Plagg just didn't care. Either way, it didn't seem to matter at this point anyway.
Suddenly, Adrien heard a reporter on his TV. Right, he was watching TV when word of Lady Fisher got out and he left to the scene without shutting it off. He went to turn the device off when he heard "… discovered Chat Noir's real identity."
He hurried to the couch and sat down, watching the report rollout.
"It seems like one half of the superhero duo, maybe none other than Adrien Agreste, teen model and son of Gabriel Agreste, designer and owner of Agreste Fashion. This footage was recorded at the scene..."
The footage in question was the moment he had pushed Ladybug out of the way of Fisher's net. In goes Chat Noir, out pops Adrien Agreste.
Adrien shifted nervously in his seat. He didn't see any reporters at the scene, but he should have known they were there. Heck, the footage was probably Alya's since she always seemed to be able to get the best footage. A knot of anxiety formed in his stomach; his friends, they now knew who he was. And since this being broadcasted, it was only a matter of time until his father found out. The knot got bigger.
His father. He may have been out of the city for business, but that was bound to change when he heard. Adrien knew just how his father would react. He would be just as cold and closed off as always, yet raise his voice, scolding him for taking risks and saving people instead of doing his studies (or whatever activity his father put above saving the city). He would pull him from school and take away his friends, the first friends he had ever really had. He would be trapped in his room again, unable to be himself, unable to breathe.
He didn't realize he was slowing curling into a ball until Plagg snapped him out of it; "Hey Kid. Relax."
Relax? How was he supposed to relax? He was just getting a taste of what normality and freedom felt like, and now it was going to be stolen away from him. "Plagg, what am I going to do?" The little kwami shrugged, "Have some Camembert?" Adrien signed; he should have known that Plagg would be of no real help.
He jumped at the sound of his phone ringing. He pulled out the device and braved himself to speak to his father, but physically relaxed when he saw that it was Nino. He must have seen the news. Well, at least, it wasn't his father. Adrien answered the phone as casually as he could, "Hello?" "Adrien. Is it true? Are you really Chat Noir?" Nino's voice was three times louder and twice as concerned than usual. He bit his lip; maybe he could play it off? "Whoa, Nino. Calm down, what's going on?"
Nino took a breath before restarting; "Alya was doing her normal thing. You know, following leads on Akuma attacks for footage of Ladybug and Chat Noir for her blog. Well, she saw Chat Noir get trapped in the Akuma's net and when it was picked up, Chat was you. Or well, looked like you. I guess, if you don't know what I'm talking about, then it wasn't you and it was just an allusion or trick of the light or something…" He trailed off, his voice still filled with concern. It made Adrien's heart ache to have someone care that much, or at least showed that they cared. He couldn't lie to Nino, not to his best friend.
"Well, actually Nino…" he started, but didn't know how to finish. 'I really am Chat Noir, one half of Paris' unstoppable superhero duo' seemed too casual to follow up Nino's concern. Yet, he also didn't want to escalate anything either.
"Nah, man. I'm sorry for calling so panicked." Nino said, cutting off Adrien's thoughts, "I was just concerned. I mean, you're my best friend and if you were putting yourself in harm's way… I don't know." The ache gripped at Adrien again; he had to be honest.
"Nino, I am Chat Noir."
He said it fast so he couldn't change his mind, and at first, he wondered if Nino even understood him, but after a couple seconds of silence, a soft chuckle was heard; "You know… That makes your disappearances make more sense, and the times you didn't answer your phone." Another sigh, "It's scary, you know. Some of those akumas are no joke and you and LB take them on every other day. I know that it's part of the superhero thing, and that super noble and all, but…"
Adrien could tell where this was going. "I'm careful, Nino. Ladybug and I have each other's backs. Everything is totally fine."
"But, what if it isn't." Nino replied, the care strengthening in his voice, "What if you get hurt? What if your seat is empty at school because something bad happened to you? What if…" Nino stopped himself from continuing, but Adrien knew what his next point was meant to be.
"Look, I only care because you're my best friend, Adrien. You're the best friend I've had in a long time. I just don't want you to get hurt."
"I won't." Adrien reassured, but his own voice failed him at the end. It was a promise all heroes make, but can never keep. He tried to lighten it up a bit, "The suit is mostly indestructible, and I am one of Paris' greatest heroes so you can't get rid of me that easily." Part of his response sounded more like Chat Noir than Adrien, but he needed to channel more Chat in this. He needed to act more confident than he really felt.
It paid off when Nino gave a chuckle on the other end, "Yeah, you're right. You've been saving Paris for about as long as I've known you, and you've been fine so far."
There was another bout of silence, both boys unsure how to continue the conversation.
"Oh, just so you know, Alya is going to call you demanding an interview as soon as she gets off the phone with Marinette."
"Marinette?" Adrien asked, and Nino made a humming sound; "I guess Alya needed to vent her frustration to someone. I mean, reporting everything Ladybug and Chat Noir related is her life, and she's kicking herself for not realizing that Chat Noir has been sitting in front of her every day in class." He gave a short chuckle, "Well, at least you aren't Ladybug or she would have called you before I could." Adrien did his best to chuckle back, but the knot in his stomach lingered.
"Yeah, I'll do what I can." Adrien told him, revealing a little too much of his own uncertainty of how much freedom he could have left when his father inevitably reached out to him about his secret double life.
Nino gasped, and Adrien thought he had caught the emotions he was trying to hide, but then, when Nino chuckled, he knew it had to be something else; "Oh my gosh, I just realized that I made you had to fight me on your birthday because I got akumatized because your dad wouldn't let you have a party."
Adrien gave a chuckle at his best friend's expense; "Yeah, that was a turn of events that I couldn't have seen coming. Though, despite the akuma part, I really did appreciate the thought." "Anything for my best bro." Nino replied, paused a bit, and then continued more timidly, "Though, speaking of your dad, what did he say? You know, when he found out that you're Chat Noir." Adrien gave a shrug that his friend couldn't see; "I don't know. I haven't heard from him yet. Though I'm not sure how long it will be until he says something."
The silence returned.
"Well, maybe he will understand that it was for the good of Paris. That perhaps missing things here and there are for the best because, you know, you're saving the city and everything."
Yeah, like saving the city was something his dad would find as a proper excuse.
Despite his own thoughts on his father's reaction, Adrien thanked Nino for his support and concern. "It's no big deal, Adrien." Nino replied, "and if you ever need anything, just let me know and I'll make it happen." Adrien smiled, "Thanks, Nino."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Dude."
If he went to school tomorrow…
He hung up and tossed the phone aside. He ran a hand through his hair and let a sigh pass through his lips. Plagg lingered nearby, his face starting to show concern with the situation his holder was dealing with. "So, what are you going to do, Kid?"
Adrien stood up and walked towards the window, looking out over the city streets. The sun was just starting to set, causing the sky to be tinted with purples and pinks. "Well, if this is the last day I have before my life changes," he said, looking out over the city he loved, "I might as well make the most of it."