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Wrong Place Wrong Time

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“Alright, we’ll have that ready for you, thank you!”

The bell above the doorway signaled yet another customer coming in as Mars hastily moved to prepare the coffee order as another employee took their place at the register to cater to the next customer. The sound of pens clicking, register beeping and doorway chimes was the unsteady rhythm that filled their ears daily as they prepared another drink and wrote the name on the cup and called out the order’s name.

“Thank you, come again!” they smiled as the person took the drink and walked away. Before another could take their place however, they felt a hand on their shoulder and turned to see a coworker gesturing away from them.

“There’s a delivery here, we need you to get it.” They said. Mars nodded and tried not to smile too wide at a chance to get away from the flood of customers as they quickly walked to the backdoor and around to the front.

Rounding the corner they saw a familiar face holding some large boxes and called her attention. Obviously daydreaming, she yelped in surprise, attempting to regain her balance. They quickly helped her before she dropped the large boxes in her hand and only chuckled at her as expected clumsiness.

“Hello, Marinette.” They chuckled.

“Oh! Mars! I wasn’t sure who would be back here today.” She said happily peeking over the boxes as she handed them over.

“Me as always; what’s the pastry today?” they asked, looking over the boxes.

“Specially made apple fritters from Boulangerie Patisserie!” the girl responded. Mars hummed in curiosity, looking over the boxes once more.

“I might just cave and buy some myself! I’ll stop by later, tell your parents thanks as always!” they said as they handed her the money for the delivery.

“Thanks again!” Marinette said as she quickly walked away and got on her bike. Something caught her attention however and she stopped for a minute, but Mars didn’t question it too much until they almost ran into someone, nearly dropping the boxes of pastries they’d just paid for, but the other person instinctively caught them.

They looked over and sighed in relief at the young boy who gave a cheeky smile.

“Sorry! Thanks, Adrien.” Mars said, now more carefully taking the boxes from him.

“No sweat! I was just heading in. Are those from Marinette’s parents’ bakery?” he asked.

“Sure are! I just need to set them up, could you, uh….” They trailed off, being unable to gesture since they had both hands taken, but the boy understood and opened the door for them.

“Thanks! How’s school going? And all the extracurriculars, of course?” they asked, knowing he was following after them.

“Pretty good! I’ve been getting better and better at my fencing lessons! And I have a new photo-shoot modeling some cool new clothes next week!” he said excitedly.

Mars put the boxes down on the counter, breaking them open and helping put them away behind the glass display cases.

“That’s great! God, I don’t know how you manage it all! Teen model, student, fencer, etcetera!” he only rolled his eyes and shrugged.

“You get used to it. Could I get one of those and a hot chocolate?” he asked. They nodded as they went around the corner, taking their pen out of their pocket, which immediately caught his attention.

“Woah! That’s a cool-looking pen!” he said. It was true, if not for clicking it, it hardly looked like a pen. At least, it was much larger and rounder, as well as having several buttons on the sides.

“This? It’s just something I brought to work today I normally use for college stuff. It’s got multiple colors! See, that’s why it’s got all the buttons!” they said, happily showing it over.

“Cool! Does it have green?” he asked. Mars chuckled and clicked the green button.

“Sure does. Want your order and name in green I’m guessing?” they asked. He nodded, as they proceeded to get his order out, writing his name on the cup with green ink.

 

“Thanks!” He handed them the money and took the food and drink. They said nothing, but smiled and nodded before checking the time and sighed happily, gaining his attention as he was turning around. He watched curiously as they typed something in the computer and walked around the counter, taking off their apron.

“You wouldn’t mind if I joined you, right?” they asked, reaching under another counter and grabbing their bag.

“You’re off already?” he asked.

“I’ve been here since early morning, I’d sure hope so!” they said. He smiled and nodded as the two walked outside, finding a nice place to sit as Adrien took a bite of his pastry, smiling and humming happily as he did.

“Marinette’s bakery has the best food, it’s no wonder you guys take deliveries from them!” he said.

“You’re telling me! I’m probably gonna head over there later. And if you like them so much, why are you here?”

“You guys make great drinks! I…don’t like coffee too much but I really like some of the other stuff, plus, I get to see you here!” he smiled

“Aww, aren’t you sweet! Who knew the kid I first asked directions from was the nicest kid in Paris?” they teased, reaching over and ruffling his hair.

“Well, who else? You’re lucky I knew so much English, but your French has gotten a whole lot better!” He laughed.

“True, true.” They chuckled, leaning back and taking a water bottle from their own bag.

“I thought you normally did night shifts, how come you’re working so early?” he asked. Mars could hardly contain the satisfied smile that grew on their face as they took a swig of water and replied.

“Well, you know how my major is Web Design, right? I’ve got an interview later today for an internship at some big graphics company near here.”

“Really? That’s great! But, what about the shop?” he asked. They looked down at the bottle in their hands, twisting their hands and watching the water swirl.

“It’s just a part-time thing, not like they can’t find someone else to cashier just as easily. Besides I…..I was never really happy there, to be honest. It’s exhausting, catering to so many customers day-to-day, not to mention off-days and off-customers.” They sighed. Adrien gave them a sad look but he shrugged and smiled.

“Well, now you won’t have to worry about that anymore!” he said. Mars smiled back and nodded.

“If I get in, that is! Though with my grades and prerequisites, I can’t see why I wouldn’t.” They said, looking back up at him and smiled more smugly when they realized something.

“Say, it’s not a school-day, and I don’t see any bodyguard. What’s up with that, kid?” they smirked. The boy across from them chuckled nervously and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Weeeellllll……”

“You snuck away from him again, didn’t you?”

“Maaaayyybe! There’s not a lot of harm in taking a snack run and meeting up with some friends, right?”

Mars laughed and shook his head.

“No, certainly not! But you’re getting bolder, Agreste. A “character” and a “delinquent who doesn’t follow rules,” just like me!” they nudged his shoulder.

“You know my father’s only said that once!” he laughed at their mock “serious” tone.

“Yeah, but he thinks it every time he sees me, doesn’t he?”

“He’s just worried, I promise he’s not like that always. I’m sure he’d warm up to you if he knew you.”

“Like he’d ever let me in your house to do so; Oh! Geez, I should get back to my apartment! Gotta change and look professional.” They winked, grabbing their bag and getting up.

“Stay out of trouble, kid.” They said, pointing finger guns at him which he returned.

“You too! Good luck at the interview!” he said.

 


The next hour flew quickly by as Mars found themselves sitting in an office, anxiously fiddling with their jacket and the multicolor pen in their pocket. It had been a considerable amount of time since they’d been shown in, and as the minutes passed, their previous self-assurance was fleeting and nervousness was starting to set in.

In an attempt to calm themselves, they took a blank sticky-note from the desk in front of them and took out the pen and started sketching. Just little doodles, themselves wearing a nice suit at the big company, littler sketches of the heroes of the city, Ladybug and Chat Noir. They’d barely run into them, but they’d seen them on TV enough to know what they looked like. The more they thought about it, and the more distracted they got, the less nervous they felt.

But finally the door opened, and they couldn’t help themselves from quickly looking over their shoulder and putting the pen and note out of sight. The person they’d wanted to meet, the employer, a very strict looking woman along with a man whom she was likely in the midst of conversation with before she saw them and stopped.

Mars smiled nervously and gave a small wave. The woman however had a more unreadable expression. She looked surprised, almost unexpecting them to be there. In a panic they traced their mind, suddenly worried that they’d gotten the date wrong before she cleared her throat and faked a smile.

“He-hello! You must be….the American studying abroad, here for the internship?” she asked, reaching out her hand. Mars quickly stood, realizing they were still holding the pen and note, quickly put that arm behind their back and used the other to shake her hand.

“Yes, thank you! It’s nice to meet you.” They said, trying their best not to show their nervousness. The woman gave them an odd look before taking her hand back and moving around to sit at the desk, and they sat in front of her.

She held a tablet in her hands, and looked down at it, scrolling over it a few times, looking back and forth from it to them for a second before putting on the fake smile again and forcing a chuckle.

“Well, the form you submitted is…..in, order. As are your grades.”

Something about her tone sounded almost in disbelief. She put the tablet down and looked back at them.

“You…..are ‘Mars,’ right?” she asked, looking almost just as nervous as them, and now they started getting confused.

“Y-yes? I mean, yes that’s me. Is….something wrong?” they asked.

She forced another laugh, though this one seemed much more…….disappointed?

“Well……no, not…….really.  Like I said, you seem to be a good pick, your grades are certainly…..average, but….I just….well I assumed…..” she trailed off, avoiding eye contact.

“A-assumed….?” They asked, encouraging her to finish though, something about the way she looked at them was starting to get on their nerves.

“I assumed you were more…..professional.” she said, eyes darting to them and then away.

“I……what…..what have I done to prove otherwise?” they asked, nervousness starting to be replaced with confusion and a slight tinge of anger.

“Well……see, we never got any pictures of you before……youuu…..well, I hate to say this but……we don’t normally have people with such……unnatural appearances.” She gestured to their pink hair. Almost instinctively, they reached to touch it and understood.

“Y……you…….but, I was never told of any policy?”

“Well, there is none but, well……it’s just not something we normally do…”

“I…..I don’t understand.”

“It’s nothing against you, believe me, we just strive for professionalism in our employees, as well as int—”

“What’s unprofessional about me?” they suddenly stood, surprising the woman. “If there’s no policy, why does my appearance matter?” they asked.

The woman now let her façade fall as she stood up and looked down at them.

“Like I said, we don’t normally those with such unnatural appearances. Nor do we tolerate tempers.

 “Yo—but I—” They could barely form words with all of the shock and anger they felt.

“But that’s not fair! That’s……wrong.” They assured. The woman only looked back at them as she lifted her head and sneered.

“Well, I’m sorry my business practices are “wrong” to you, but that is how we do things here. And I can see now that you won’t fit in here. As I suspected when I first saw you.” She said.

Oh. Oh that did it.

Mars sneered right back, stepping forward now lacking all previous nerves and anxiety.

“I wouldn’t want to work for a company that acts like people who are different can’t do their jobs because of their appearances!” they raised their voice. She looked surprised again for just a second before glaring and uttering a single word.

“Leave.”

They didn’t need anything else, as they threw the sticky note in their pocket in the trash by the door as they walked out.

Chapter Text

The boost of confidence from their own anger and shock faded with every step they took as the realization of the whole situation started to wash over them. Their head, previously hung high with self-assurance now looked down as they walked outside the building and felt a cold wind blow over them.

They just stood there for a minute, anger boiling as they clenched their fists before falling backwards and sitting on the steps of the building, letting the weight of the incident fall on them. Hot tears fell down as they held their face in their hands in anger, disappointment and grief. This was supposed to be their way out. Working in restaurants and grocery stores for years, miserable; this was supposed to be their way up. It was supposed to be so good, but it all fell apart because of something they couldn’t have foreseen, nor control.

They didn’t even care about the people passing by who gave odd looks, at an adult crying on the stairs of a building. They didn’t even care as they took the pen out of their pocket, idly clicking the buttons in an attempt to cool down but it hardly worked.

They were going to be stuck in miserable jobs forever, weren’t they?

Even traveling to another country, they couldn’t catch a break.

They let out their shaky whimpers and breaths as they sat, all alone, before a sound caught their ears.

It was soft, rhythmic. The beating of wings. A bird? No. They looked up and saw a black and purple butterfly come fluttering toward them. It wasn’t like any they’d ever seen, though. It was almost…….glowing?

They held their hand out for it to land, and it fluttered closer. But instead of landing on their hand, it landed on the pen in said hand and suddenly disappeared in a puff of darkness, and their vison clouded completely to darkness.

Before they could question it, a dark, silk voice echoed in their ears.

Palettone…….I am Hawkmoth. You’ve had opportunity stolen from you for the colors of your hair, so I’m giving you the power to change everyone else’s colors!”

Hawkmoth? The supervillain everyone’s talked about? His voice echoed in their head, ringing in their ears and suddenly any doubts or fear they should’ve felt instead just…..weren’t there. Instead, the anger they’d previously felt came boiling back to the surface as they stood up and clenched their fists.

“You’re right……they stole it from me! It’s not fair!” they growled.

“Indeed……….I give you these powers to seek your revenge! All I ask in return is Ladybug and Chat Noir’s Miraculous.”

Any reason or guilt they should’ve had was overshadowed by rage and adrenaline.

“Yes…..Hawkmoth……” they replied. Suddenly the shadows blocking their vision moved and covered them until they disappeared and left them looking completely different. The people passing by, seeing the sudden change and recognizing another Akumatization shrieked and backed away in fear.

Mars however…..no……they were Palettone  now……they felt no fear at all. No doubt, no fear; only power and a chance for revenge and catharsis.

They held their pen, now looking more like a magic wand, experimentally pushing a one of the buttons, and instead of a pen click, it shot out a beam of that color, hitting a nearby trash can and rendering it a bright, almost unreal shade of pink. The people around now yelled and ran away in fear, but Palettone smirked to themselves and turned to a street light, pointing their “wand” and clicking another button, and suddenly it was a bright shade of green. Unreasonably happy at their sudden super powers, they clicked buttons more, clicking two at once and seeing the patterns and shades that came out as their surroundings became a rainbow of colors.

They clicked an odd button at the end of the wand and the car they pointed at suddenly disappeared, and the person who’d just tried to get in it nearly tripped, but still fell on the now invisible car. They were surprised for a moment before looking at the wand and grinning to themselves.

“Transparent……..interesting….”

They then pointed the wand to the sky, clicking another button and suddenly the once blue sky turned dark purple. This power was immeasurable! They almost got lost in the feeling before the voice echoed in their head once again.

”Don’t get too off track, Palettone….remember what you’re here for.”

They shook their head, breaking from the slight disorientation.

“Right. My revenge…….and the Miraculous.” They replied.

They then turned to the building they’d just walked out of and grinning wickedly. They walked up the stairs and inside, earning gasps and people hurriedly running out of the room, a good portion out of the building itself. Palettone didn’t pay them any mind; they hardly flinched. They turned their head and with a flick of their wand the chairs, desks and cubicles around them turned a multitude of colors and patterns, startling anyone near them.

Finally they turned a corner and kicked down the door to the office they’d left hardly minutes ago. The woman who’d scorned them moments ago now gasped and turned to see them, eyes wide with fear.

“Hello there. Remember me? Seems like your business is a lot more “unprofessional” than you thought.” They said, pointing their wand at them.

She put her hands up defensively, moving backwards in fear.

“Wh-who are you?!” she cried out. That sent their blood boiling even more.

“Before I was the guy you cast out, now you can call me Palettone!”

Before they could hit any buttons, the sound of quick footsteps caught their ears and something wrapped around their wrist and pulled them back.

They turned around and saw them; Ladybug and Chat Noir in the flesh, poised and ready to fight.

“Stop this!” Ladybug yelled, attempting to reel their hand back again, no doubt to make them drop the wand but they tightened their grip and instead pulled back, untangling their wrist from her yo-yo.

“You don’t know what she’s just put me through, you have no IDEA the IGNORANCE I just faced!” Palettone yelled back, pointing their wand and pushing the buttons, sending beams flying. The two heroes of course jumped and dodged out of the way, seeing the sudden flood of colors in the beams’ wake.

“So you expect to fix things by turning everything colorful. Not the brightest idea.” Chat Noir joked, jumping out of the way of another beam, much to Palettone’s frustration.

“When the world is my rainbow, people will finally realize how wrong it is to judge things off of appearances!” They yelled, now running around the room and sending beams in his direction.

None hit, of course, but in their anger and reframing of the room they remembered why they were here and turned, seeing the woman who scorned them running towards the back of the building. Palettone growled but it gave them an idea.

Ladybug and Chat Noir stopped in shock when the beams stopped and instead they turn and ran deeper into the building after her. It took a moment of surprise but in that moment, they opened doors behind them, blocking the hallway and hitting them with the transparent button on the wall, making them all invisible and as expected, the heroes ran straight into them, pawing at them in confusion, giving them enough time to get out of sight.

They ended up in the office room at the end of the building, locking the door behind them but didn’t see the woman anywhere, and instead saw a back door ajar. They looked out of it and saw her nowhere, lost in the crowd of others running away from the building. They sneered and growled in anger, starting to run out before they were stopped by the voice in their head once again.

“What are you doing?! You need to TAKE their Miraculous, not run away from them!”

They shook off the dizziness once again, but angrier due to their frustration.

“I know!” they growled, “Don’t worry, I have a plan.”

 

 

Pushing their way past the invisible doors, Ladybug and Chat Noir looked around, unsure if the new villain had hidden in another of the rooms, but to no avail.

“That wand….” Chat Noir thought to himself. Not picking up on his realization, Ladybug nodded.

“I know; it must be where the Akuma is hiding.” She replied. Chat uncharacteristically frowned, stopping and thinking for a moment. He’d seen that wand, no, that pen before.

“Chat Noir!” Ladybug called, breaking him from his thoughts. “Something wrong?”

“No, m’lady. I was just thinking of how nice you’d look in green.” He winked. Ladybug simply rolled her eyes.

“Though I wouldn’t say red is your color.” She retorted, and kept going. She seemed convinced, but he wasn’t. He hoped his suspicions were wrong, but if not; well, he’d save them anyways!

The heroes reached the room at the end of the building and opened the door to see an exit door open. The two quickly ran out, looking around.

“They got away!” Chat said, but it was only moments before a beam came towards him.

“Look out!” Ladybug cried out, grabbing him, but it wasn’t enough to stop the beam from hitting his baton, which suddenly seemed to disappear.

“What?” she asked, confused.

Both heard the sound of the metal hitting the floor, but the baton was nowhere to be seen.

“We….might have a problem with that.” Chat responded, kneeling and feeling at the ground, but to no avail.

“Bigger problem, I think they might be using the same trick to hide themselves.” Ladybug said, moving back to back with Chat, both looking around frantically.

“You’re a smart one, Ladybug, but it won’t help you now.” Palettone called out, voice echoing and blending with the loud noises their surroundings that they couldn’t get the location of.

“Think now would be a good time toooo….?” Chat didn’t even have to finish his question as Ladybug nodded and threw her yo-yo in the air.

“Lucky Charm!”

The yo-yo glowed and ladybugs swirled as a large spotted bag came down, nearly knocking the wind out of her as she caught it.

“A bag of flour?” she asked. No sooner than the Lucky Charm appeared, another beam came flying towards it.

“NO!” Ladybug called out, instinctively tossing her yo-yo, which got caught in the beam instead and disappeared. She looked down at her hands where it once was and gasped.

“Even BIGGER problem!” Chat said worriedly, “You can’t De-Evilize the Akuma without your yo-yo!”

“That’s exactly what you planned, isn’t it Palettone?”

The villain’s laughter echoed around them and both heroes stood back to back.

“I wonder, how easy it’ll be to fight against what you can’t see?” they taunted. The voice of Hawkmoth echoed in their head again, but this time it was with devious laughter.

“Excellent, Palettone! They won’t be able to stop you from taking their Miraculous from right under their noses!”

Ladybug and Chat sneered, but she looked to the Lucky Charm, which in her vision flashed along with Chat’s ring. Putting the two together she smiled and turned to her partner.

“I know what to do! But we need your ability to do it.” She said, grabbing the bag. He looked to her and nodded, before raising his hand to the sky as it was enveloped with black particles.

“CATACLYSM!”

Before Palettone could react, they saw Ladybug toss the bag in the air as Chat Noir ripped his claws through it, destroying the bag and sending flour everywhere, including all over them.

As they yelped and shielded their eyes, they realized that the flour outlined them and the weapons on the ground, making them visible once again as they felt their wand get snatched from their hand.

“NO!”

They watched helplessly as Ladybug dropped the wand to the ground and smash it with her foot. The Akuma flew out of it and everything flashed before them.

The Akuma being caught and De-Evilized, Ladybug calling out her signature move and the Miraculous Ladybugs fixing all of the damage the villain had done, and suddenly Mars was back.

Back? Back where?

The moment they opened their eyes they were on the ground, outside the back of some building.

“Wh-what?” they gasped. They had no memory of what’d just happened but was even more surprised when they saw the two superheroes they’d seen dozens of times on TV right in front of them!

The two fist bumped, before Chat Noir kneeled down and picked something off of the ground.

“L-Ladybug? Chat Noir?” Mars questioned in disbelief. The two heroes looked over at them, a flash of something they couldn’t read in both of their eyes.

“What happened? Where am I?” they asked, still dazed and confused. Chat was the first to walk over and help them up.

“You were Akumatized by Hawkmoth, but it’s okay now!” he said, helping them up and putting something in their hands. The plastic and shape felt familiar and they smiled as they looked down.

“My pen! Thank you I….don’t remember dropping it. I….don’t remember anything.” They said, smile fading and they started looking around again. “I don’t even remember how I got here!”

The heroes looked at each other a moment.

“People who get Akumatized don’t remember anything that happens while they’re transformed.” Ladybug explained. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

Mars thought for a moment before disappointment filled their chest.

“I…….failed my interview.” They said, a bit softer and sadder than they’d intended. The two heroes looked sadly at them, but Chat put a hand on their shoulder.

“You may not have gotten this one, but there’ll always be more opportunities!” Chat said. Mars took a deep breath and smiled.

“Yeah….you’re right. Maybe this wasn’t the place for me.” They replied turning to look at the building. “I….still don’t know how I got to the back of the building, though.” They chuckled.

“You must not be from around here. I can tell by your accent.” Chat said, a little more of a joking tone, which made Ladybug give him a look, but both were interrupted by the sound of beeping, making Ladybug reach up to her earrings and Chat reach for his ring.

“What’s that?” Mars asked.

“It means we’re about to transform back, sorry. But like he said, there are always more opportunities!” Ladybug said, using her yo-yo and pulling herself away over the building and out of sight. Chat gave a goofy grin and wave as he used his baton to do the same. Mars found themselves lazily waving back as they watched their shadows disappear over the rooftops.

Afterwards they just….looked around. What do they do now?

 

Chapter Text

After the heroes had left, Mars found themselves walking back towards their apartment, and as they’d seen before they saw crowds of confused people coming back outside or away from any shelters. It hadn’t been the first Akuma attack they’d witnessed, but it’d been the first it’d been….well, them. And they couldn’t remember a thing of it.

They traced their mind again and again, but still. They remembered losing the interview, leaving and sitting on the steps but….nothing after that. Nothing until now. It was kind of scary. Not knowing what they did. They felt a twinge of guilt, wondering what kind of destruction they could’ve wrought, what kind of villain were they?

Their mind became so clouded with questions they didn’t even hear someone calling their name until they felt a hand on their shoulder pull them back.

“Mars!”

They jumped and turned to see Adrien looking at them worriedly.

“Adrien! What are you doing here?” They sighed, putting a hand to their chest in surprise.

“I was avoiding my bodyguard again when an Akuma attacked and I had to hide. Are you okay?”

Mars frowned and looked away from the boy guiltily.

“I…………….I’m sorry.”

“What? What are you apologizing for?”

I was the Akuma. At least, that’s what Ladybug and Chat Noir said. I’m so sorry, I’d never want to put you or anyone in danger! Was the damage bad? What did I do?” they asked, now getting more and more worried.

“Woah! Calm down! I didn’t see it but…..Mars, it’s okay. You’re not Akumatized anymore, Ladybug and Chat Noir saved the day like normal, everything’s okay now!” he replied, putting a hand on their shoulder.

Mars felt silly, having to be calmed down by someone so much younger than them but even so the guilt climbed at them and they refused to look at him.

“Mars……do you wanna talk about it?” he asked. They nodded, walking over to a nearby bench and sitting down.

“I just……..I don’t understand. I can’t remember anything from after losing the interview to now. No idea how much time passed, no idea what I even did. How can you all see this as normal?” they asked. He sat down next to them, eyes widening sadly as he put a hand on their shoulder.

“You lost the interview?” he asked sadly. They only nodded back at him. “Well…..It’s not really normal, at least it didn’t used to be. Now people are getting Akumatized almost every day! My own classmates, teachers, my own father was Akumatized once!” he said, gaining their attention.

“Your dad? Really? That must’ve been rough.” They said.

“It was, it was scary; it’s scary almost every time someone gets overwhelmed with negative emotions; but what’s important is we learn to not let them control us. And when you’re Akumatized, you’re not thinking straight. Hawkmoth targets anyone and manipulates them through his powers. It’s….not your fault.” He finished.

Mars almost felt themselves get choked up as they smiled sadly back at them. They knew they’d still feel guilty for a while but…..he’d given them a lot to think about.

“You brought your pen to the interview?” Adrien suddenly pointing out, making them realize they’d been holding it ever since Chat Noir returned it.

“Yeah. Just….something to help ground me I guess. Didn’t really do much, buuut at least I still have it. I would’ve lost it if not for Chat Noir.” They said, looking over it.

“Really? That’s so cool! You finally got to meet them!”

“I guess I did!” Mars chuckled happily, remembering the kind, albeit brief interaction they had with the two.

They looked back at Adrien and smiled before he saw something behind them suddenly frowned and slouched in his seat. Mars turned and saw a dark limo pull up on the street behind them, the window rolling down revealing the Agrestes’ assistant, Nathalie, who looked over at them as Adrien’s bodyguard stepped out of the car holding a tablet, which switched on as Adrien got up and stood in front.

With a short flicker, the screen turned to a video feed of the one and only Gabriel Agreste, who looked stern and angry as Mars had always seen him.

“Adrien, thank goodness. I’ve sent Nathalie and your bodyguard looking for you for a while now. I’m disappointed once again to find out you’ve snuck away from your bodyguard once again.” He said, tone stern yet slightly exasperated.

Adrien hung his had guiltily and rubbed his wrist.

“I’m sorry father…..”

“Right…..we’ll discuss this at home.”  Gabriel replied, as the bodyguard turned to hold the car door open.

Adrien sadly walked over to the car, but Mars stood up as well, walking towards the boy, catching his and the other’ attentions.

“Sir, I can explain, please, it’s not his fault.” They said, gesturing to Adrien who looked very surprised. Gabriel’s expression didn’t change, but he did cock a brow and send a glare when they stepped into frame.

“Oh? And what is my son doing here with you?” he asked condescendingly.

“There was an Akuma. He was trying to get out of danger.” They explained.

“He wouldn’t have been in danger if he hadn’t snuck off. Frankly this is none of your business, and you should stop acting like it is.”

“Father—”

“Adrien, I wouldn’t want you hanging around characters like them anyways. It’s likely their bad influence that sent you to sneak off isn’t it?” Gritting their teeth and furrowing their brows, Mars sent a glare right back at the man.

“Pardon me sir, but you don’t know anything about me! Adrien came out here to help me; he’s kind and empathetic; shocking I know. You should be proud of that, not berate him for it!” they said, raising their voice a second time that day. Gabriel looked surprised for but a second before sending an even more stern glare at them.

“How I talk to my son is NONE of your business. Where were you when he was trying to get out of danger?”

Mars felt the twinge of guilt again, looking away. How did he know? Was it on TV?

“That’s what I thought. You’re the one responsible for this, aren’t you? From now on, stay away from my son.

“Father!” Adrien said, aghast.

“Adrien, get in the car.”

Mars, shocked as well took a step back. Something about the darkness in his tone sent a shiver up their spine. More importantly, as they tried to come up with a response, they realized they had no argument to make. They’d overstepped their boundaries big time. Their mouth closed and they could only look on sadly as they saw the bodyguard get in the car, as Adrien followed suit.

“I……I’m sorry.” Mars said, softer than before, but Adrien only looked back, the sadness and guilt in his expression mirroring their own. They watched helplessly as the door shut and the limo pulled away, heading back to the Agreste mansion, no doubt. They watched until it was out of sight before sighing and sitting back on the bench, head in their hands.

“God, what have I done.” They sighed.

 

 

The rest of the day played out like they’d expected. Going out to eat, going back to their apartment and working on college courses, as well as looking up any other possible internships. After turning up with very little in the area, they sighed and closed their laptop, looking outside their window.

They decided to get up and open it, looking out at the night sky and sighing.

All in one day, they lost the internship, got turned into a villain and not only caused trouble for the teen they saw as a little brother, but possibly screwed up their standing with his father permanently. It might’ve been odd for them to feel like a self-appointed guardian to the boy, but with all he’d told them of his father’s constant neglect and absence, as well as the pressure and stress he’d been put under ever since his mother passed away, it was hard for them not to want to take the kind boy under their wing. Or at least provide something of a positive, stable adult figure in his life. They sure needed one when they were his age.

And now he might never see them again. Remembering the sad and guilty look he gave them made them feel even more awful than the rest of the day’s events.

“Man……” they sighed, running a hand through their hair. They leaned against the window sill, letting their head lean outside, feeling the cold night air blow against their face.  

They felt their own guilt and anger at both themselves and the older Agreste as they felt themselves tense in frustration and helplessness. They started hearing something though. Something familiar. A soft beati—

They quickly opened their eyes, looking up as they indeed saw what they now feared to see again. A black and purple glowing butterfly, fluttering straight towards them. They yelped and jumped back, moving away as it came at them. In their panic, backing away, attempting to shoo it away or at least get as far away from it as possible. However they didn’t hear a much larger sound near them until he shouted and landed in through the window.

“CATACLYSM!”

Chat Noir grabbed the Akuma in his glowing hand, before opening it and letting the disintegrated pieces fall to the ground. Mars, still pressed in the corner looked at the hero in shock, dropping the pillow they’d just been using to attempt to shoo the butterfly out.

“Chat—Chat Noir?!” they asked. The hero in question turned and looked at them in surprise. He opened his mouth to say something but quickly shut it, instead replacing his surprised look with a  sheepish one.

“So we meet again! I was only following the Akuma! I didn't know you were here! We don’t want that to happen twice in one day.” He joked.

Mars, rather than laughing, instead let themselves slunk down onto their bed, head in their hands once again as they groaned.

“No, no I do not EVER want that to happen again.”

The hero looked sadly at them, sitting down beside them.

“What happened? I thought you had this all taken care of.” He asked.

Mars felt themselves start to tear up as they refused to look the hero in the eyes.

“I……just after you guys left I……..I fucked up. Royally  fucked up.” They said through their hands. Chat looked at them sadly, putting a hand on their shaking shoulder.

“First I lose my interview, then become a supervillain, then I screw everything up with—this kid, I’ve been looking out for him since I came here. His dad is just…” they balled their fists in anger , putting them on their knees and keeping their gaze straight ahead of them.

“I ruined everything, I might never see him again. He’s such a good kid but I may have just screwed everything up with his dad completely.” They admitted, feeling slightly better now that they had someone to talk to.

Unbeknownst to them, Chat looked away guiltily, trying to think of something to say that wouldn’t give himself away.

“Well……maybe it’s not all lost? Nothing’s completely broken, you might be able to fix it if you try.” He tried to assure them, but they only shook their head.

“Not with this guy, he’s impossible. Neglectful asshole until he needs to put his son in a cage.” They muttered. This made the cat tense, and Mars looked over at him, confused but he shook it off and smiled sadly back.

“Well, if it’s that important to you, isn’t it at least worth trying for?” he asked. Mars looked down, looking at the floor and their feet below them, sighing for a moment and nodding.

“It is. I just hope I can.”

“You definitely can. I know it! And don’t worry about the supervillain thing! Water under the bridge; happens to everyone!” he said. Somehow the humorous thought of everyone in Paris suddenly becoming an amnesiac supervillain did bring them a slight comfort. Maybe even more to know that the hero who had to fight them was so easily forgiving.

Before they could say anything else, a familiar beeping went off, and Chat looked anxiously at his ring.

“You’re gonna turn back soon, right?” they asked. Chat nodded and stood up, moving in front of them and bowing politely.

“Afraid so, sorry. But don’t worry about all that stuff! Nothing’s too impossible to try, and I hope I don’t end up having to come back here again!” he joked, this time actually making Mars smile and laugh. He turned and propped himself on the windowsill, but Mars quickly stood up and stopped him.

“Wait!” He turned around, worriedly before they reached into their desk and pulled out their pen. The same one he’d returned and the same one they’d been Akumatized with. They walked over and held it out to him.

“The pen?” he asked, confused.

“Yeah. If you’re not too busy, and since you’re in the area, could you give it to Adrien Agreste? A keepsake, from a friend.” they asked. Chat smiled warmly, gently taking the pen from them and putting it in his pocket.

“Can do.” He nodded, before leaning back out of the window and extending his baton, sending him out and landing on the nearest rooftop, which he promptly leaped across, farther and farther away until he was out of sight.

Mars sighed and smiled sadly to themselves, wiping the stray tear from their eyes.

He was right. Something this important to them, they couldn’t just give up on. Even if Gabriel Agreste was unreasonable, they’d feel even worse if they didn’t even try to talk to him.

Opening up their laptop once again, and quickly searching something, and just as easily opened their phone and set an early alarm.

They may not be able to completely fix things, but damn if they’re not gonna try.

Chapter Text

Waking up with the early alarm wasn’t too hard. They’d done it the day before for work, after all. What was harder was making the actual phone call, and placing their order for pickup later that day. It wasn’t entirely necessary to call the second the bakery opened, but it could’ve likely helped.

Dressing themselves in a nice, but not too fancy outfit, they made themselves look as presentable as they could, maybe even nicer than they had for their interview. This was much more important, after all.

The morning passed and they found themselves walking down the Paris streets, feeling the cool wind against them, but not feeling the slightest bit deterred. No, they were determined to see this through.

Finally approaching it, they walked inside Boulangerie Patisserie, seeing the kind faces of the two owners greet them.

“Hello, Mars! We have your order ready!” the kind older woman greeted them.

“Hi Mrs. Dupain-Cheng, Mr. Dupain-Cheng.” They smiled and nodded politely to the couple as the latter walked over to them with a signature box.

“And just on time too!” he smiled.

“Thank you.”  they said, taking the boxes and giving Sabine their debit card for the order. They peered behind her at the kitchen. “Any chance Marinette’s here? She helped deliver at the shop yesterday and I told her I’d drop by.”

“Sorry dear, she left for school a while ago. I’ll tell her you stopped by though! Good to hear she’s doing such a good job.” Sabine smiled, handing their card back. They took it and nodded.

“Where are you heading off too with such a large delivery? You don’t look like you’re going to the coffee shop.” Tom asked as they were about to leave. They only looked over their shoulder and smiled sheepishly.

 

“Special delivery!”

 

 

Walking the rest of the way across the city, admittedly they could’ve gotten a taxi or Uber, but they were far too determined to do that. Plus, their hands were full.

After what felt like forever, they finally stood in front of the gates to the Agreste mansion. They knew the family was rich, but the size of not only the house, but the gates in front of it were almost comedically large.

Looking to the side, they located the button and speaker on the side of the gate’s walls. They carefully freed one hand and pressed it, hearing a doorbell chime before a panel opened and a camera came out, hanging over them as it lowered to their view.

“Who is it?” a female voice Mars recognized as the woman, Nathalie, they’d briefly seen the day before.

“Umm. Hi. It’s Mars! From….yesterday. I wanted to apologize for everything, I even brought fresh pastries from Boulangerie Patisserie, Adrien says it’s his favorite. Can I please talk to Mr. Agreste?” they politely, and nervously asked.

There was a pause before they were answered.

“Mr. Agreste is not home right now.”

“What?! I thought he—”

“He’s at an important meeting, but I will notify him of your visit.”

“Wait—wait! Can’t I at least wait for him inside? So the food isn’t just left out here?” they asked.

“I’m sorry, but Mr. Agreste has instructed me not to let any strangers inside. Good day.” She replied, before the panel opened again and the camera went back.

“Stra—wait, HOLD ON!” they desperately called out, but to no avail, as the panel shut once again, leaving them alone.

They pushed the button again, but the chime was met with no response. They looked up helplessly at where the camera once was and sighed. They turned away from the building, trudging along the path they’d came from, holding the now considerably less warm box in their hands.

Figures….the man who supposedly spends all of his time at home is suddenly absent the day they try to come by.

Before they could decide whether or not they should reheat or buy a whole new batch to try again tomorrow, they heard the loud sound of the large gate unhinging and creaking open.

Turning around in shock, Mars looked up at it in disbelief. Did they really look that pitiful walking away?

They only managed a few steps back towards it before they saw the same black limo drive out, with the gate closing behind it. They stepped away from the street, watching in surprise as it left.

It was far too early for school to be over, they wouldn’t be picking up Adrien so early. Or…..

Their eyes widened in surprise.

They must be picking up Gabriel from his meeting! This was perfect!

Well…..almost.

They thought as they watched the limo round the corner, out of view.

Not caring how ridiculous they must’ve looked, they quickly speed-walked after the car, which wasn’t too hard as it wasn’t going too fast.

Would they look like a stalker? Probably. Was this possibly the only chance they’d get to see Gabriel so soon, if ever? Also Probably.

They rounded the corner and followed the car that barely stayed in their sight for a few blocks before they eventually had to stop to catch their breath, putting down the box on a nearby bench and leaning their hands on their knees as they gasped for breath. They were doing far too much running that day.

But they couldn’t stop now.

They picked the box back up and……the limo’s gone. Oh God, the limo’s gone.

They peeked over down the road they were just following and saw multiple forks and turns the car could’ve taken, tracking it down might leave them even more worse for wear.

“I could always…..wait….” they muttered, but the sudden thought of them waiting in front of the Agreste mansion’s gates, looking exhausted and holding a box of cold pastries as the car inevitably passed them without a second glance, or worse, the window rolled down showing an unimpressed and disgusted Gabriel sent them in the other direction.

No, that wouldn’t do. They could be many things, but they didn’t want to look utterly pathetic in front of the man. Still…..maybe they could drop this box off a the school or something. Maybe they’d catch Adrien before he got picked up. They wondered if Chat ever got to give him the pen last night.

And speak of the devil, as Mars started walking down the street, they saw people start running in the other direction, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out why. They frantically looked around, questioningly, but caught glimpses of figures running across the rooftops, and the sounds of metal and fists clashing above.

Curiosity, maybe even a dangerous one overtook their reason as they attempted to get closer. Ducking into a close, but not too close alleyway, they were able to watch from afar as they made out the figures on the distant rooftop.

Ladybug, Chat Noir……and was that……?

 

“HAWKMOTH!”

Ladybug yelled, as Chat Noir jumped back, sending the villain skidding back as well.

“It’s two-against-one! We’ve already defeated your Akuma! Give up your Miraculous!”

The man felt his hands grip his cane tighter than before, as he gritted his teeth and snarled at the young heroes.

“It doesn’t matter, you’re far too young and inexperienced to be a real threat to me.” He said, standing up straight. The other two however were unamused, and instead ran forward to attack again, working in almost perfect sync.

“If I stay here long enough, you’ll just detransform!” he continued, now starting to smile wickedly before a swing of a baton tripped him backwards, just barely catching himself and defending against the yo-yo that was nearly sent to his face. He knocked it away just as easily with his cane, but the slip-up didn’t go unnoticed.

“Maybe we’re not as inexperienced as we seem, old man! You’re still outnumbered, and we don’t even need five minutes to take you down!” Chat Noir cockily retorted.

Hawkmoth cursed under his breath. Damned kids. Damned heroes!

Despite their boasting, he still nearly effortlessly blocked their attacks and sent them flying back.

Nearly.

His cracks were starting to show, and he was starting to tire. Even more so when Ladybug’s yo-yo unexpectedly yanked his cane from his hand. Even when she was lying on the ground, she was able to retaliate.

Every fiber in his body shook with rage, and every part of him absolutely hated to admit it, but he was at a loss. Knowing this was the only time he’d get, he turned and ran before the two could get to their feet.

His cane? To hell with it! It’d rematerialize the next time he transformed. For now he just needed to be out of sight long enough for them to run out of time. How ironic, using his own retreat to make them turn and run.

He felt anger and frustration bubble even more at the admit that they might have a point. They were starting to shape up, and while Nathalie was still recovering, she couldn’t use the Peacock Miraculous, not even now that it was fixed.

Every negative emotion inside him swirled, nearly blinding his vision, as he let himself be sloppy just for a moment, dropping down into a nearby alley he saw no citizens around.

Once he landed, he quickly caught his breath and spoke.

“Nooroo, Dark Wings, Fall!” he said, feeling his powers fade away as he detransformed. Quickly he pressed himself against the wall, watching the sky above him for any shadows, and pulling out his phone when his Kwami gasped. He quickly jumped and looked where Nooroo’s gaze was and felt his stomach drop.

 

Gabriel Agreste looked powerlessly at the young man he’d just seen yesterday pressed against the wall in the opposite corner of the alley, behind him in the one spot he hadn’t checked. The second they met eyes they both simultaneously dropped the items they held, Gabriel felt his phone slip out of his hand as Mars let the box in their hands drop.

It was undoubtable. They’d seen everything.

And what was once fear and shock in their eyes quickly turned to rage.

Chapter Text

Mars stood frozen in their spot as they locked eyes with Gabriel Agreste, standing in the spot where Hawkmoth just stood.

No, is still standing.

Any respect or fear of either men dropped away with the box of pastries that now lay on the cold floor.

“You.”

The man was pure white in the face, reaching his hands up defensively.

“I can explain.”

“YOU!”  Mars almost screamed as they rushed at the man, pushing him back against the wall.

“Why, WHY?! Of all the people, of ALL the things! It HAS to be you!” they growled, gripping tightly to his collar despite their height difference.

He looked down at them in a mix of shock and slight fear. Something they thought they’d never see.

“Please, allow me to explain!” he repeated, but his words fell on deaf ears as Mars stared him down in pure blinded rage.

“You go around calling me a ‘delinquent’ and a ‘character’, when YOU’RE A GOD DAMNED SUPERVILLAIN!”

Gabriel felt his throat go dry, but a loud noise above caught his attention and he felt adrenaline flood back into his system as he pushed them against the wall, covering their mouth with his hand. They retaliated for a second, but stopped as they followed his gaze and heard what he’d heard.

The familiar sound of footsteps landing across the rooftops, but a few rooftops away before.

“….must’ve detransformed! We’ll never find him now!”

“Speaking of detransform, it looks like you’re about to do the same thing, m’lady!”

“You’re right. We’ll have to call it a draw for now.”

The voices faded in and out as they passed overhead, in a stroke of luck not looking into the one alleyway the two adults stood pressed inside of.

Once it was certain they’d left, Mars ripped Gabriel’s hand from their face and stepped away.

Rather than continue their insults and accusations, they fell tensely quiet as they watched the other man step back and  kneel down, picking up his dropped phone. Checking it over for damage, he brushed it off and turned it on.

Mars almost said something, but he lifted a finger as he quickly made a call.

“Nathalie? I’m here. That’s…….no. I’m at the corner of……..right….pull in front of the alleyway and……..make room. We have an…unexpected guest.” He spoke quickly, attempting to hide his rush of emotions from his tone, but Mars could make it out just fine.

Ending the call, he turned and met eyes with them again. The two shared an intense silent staring contest before Mars blinked and spoke up, voice now much quieter and worn out.

“What now?”

Gabriel looked away for a moment, then back to them.

“That all depends….on you. If you’ve gotten everything out of your system, and you’d give me a chance, I can explain everything back at my home.” He walked over and leaned against the wall closer to them. They backed up until their back was to the opposite wall, not taking their eyes off of him, as if he might turn and run the first chance he’d get.

Not that he didn’t feel like he wanted to, in this, possibly the worst situation he’d ever faced.

They crossed their arms, putting a foot up and leaning back.

“You could start now.” Their tone hardly made it seem like a suggestion, but he stayed quiet and shook his head anyways.

“No…..not here….” He muttered.

From behind his shoulder, a small purple creature they’d seen before snuck a glance at them, making them blink in surprise and it jump back into hiding. Mars uncrossed their arms, stepping off the wall and pointing to his shoulder.

“What……?” they asked. The creature looked back again, making Gabriel turn and look at it with a stern expression and nodded as it and he looked back at them.

The creature flew in front of the man, letting Mars walk even closer to see it. It was small and purple, with a swirled design on it’s head and small butterfly-like wings on its back.

“I-I’m Nooroo. Please….don’t hurt my master!” it pleaded, earning an embarrassed huff from the man as he looked away.

“What…..are you?” Mars asked, intentionally ignoring its request. The creature, Nooroo flew around them, now smiling.

“I’m a Kwami! I guard the Butterfly Miraculous, and aid whoever wields it.” It responded. Mars looked back at Gabriel, who put a hand to his tie, no doubt attempting to hide said Miraculous.

“Is that so?” they asked. Their tone was soft, almost as if they were talking to a child, but there was still an edge to it. Gabriel was surprised at their sudden change in demeanor, but didn’t have the time to consider it as the black car pulled up and Nathalie rolled down the window as he approached.

She started to speak but quickly stopped herself when she saw Mars behind him, encircled by Nooroo. She gave a surprised and concerned look to Gabriel, who only nodded as he opened the door of the car, ushering them inside.

They hesitated for a moment. What, was he going to kill them now? Had they found out too much? With the way his character seemed to take shape now, it honestly wouldn’t surprise them. But still……the plea of the small creature, and their own morbid curiosity got the better of them, and they sat themselves inside.

Gabriel sat beside them, and both quickly realizing how claustrophobically close they were, before both adjusting their seating.

Nathalie said nothing, but continued to drive, taking a turn around and heading back towards the Agreste house.

“Won’t Adrien be suspicious that you suddenly show up with me, especially after yesterday?” Mars asked. Gabriel didn’t look at them.

“Adrien is still at school. And he should stay there for his extracurriculars for long enough that it shouldn’t be a problem.” He said, folding his hands on his lap.

“I can reschedule his next photoshoot to today if you’d like, sir.” Nathalie suggested, peering in the rearview mirror. The man merely shook his head and rubbed his temple.

“No. Thank you Nathalie.” He replied, tone unwavering, but as Mars looked over to him, they saw the worry and exhaustion written all over his features. They almost felt…no. NO! They shouldn’t feel bad for this bastard! They’re only following him to listen to his bullshit excuses, which will surely help when they call him out officially and reveal him to Ladybug and Chat Noir.

 As the car once again pulled up to the mansion, Mars stole a glance out of the window in awe as the gates swung open and the car drove inside. Parking outside of the entrance door, Gabriel was the first to get out, holding the door open for them as they shuffled across the seats and looked up the stairway at the enormous building. Seeing it up front as opposed to behind the gates made it even larger. The dawning thought of it harboring some sort of ‘Evil Lair´ didn’t add any comfort, as comedic as it may be.

Following up the steps after the man and his assistant, they allowed themselves to be taken in by the exquisite surroundings, from the main stairway just past the front doors, to the designs of the walls and floor. Were this any other situation, they’d be completely enthralled at the gorgeous house, but as the front doors shut behind them and Gabriel walked ahead, up the stairs, giving a questioning glance at them, they were brought back to their senses. Despite still generally acting like the same condescending man, Mars followed after him, showing no politeness or courtesy they might’ve shown before.

Gabriel led them into what they could only assume to be an office, what with it’s massive size and odd layout. Around the center of the room was a platform, surrounded on three sides by a lowered floor seating. Some sort of faux-catwalk for his designs, likely. He sat down in it, looking to them and gesturing them to sit across from him. They started to, but another part of the room caught their eyes.

On several walls, hung several photographs and modeling shots of Adrien across the years. Walking up to get a better look, seeing images of the boy happily smiling and posing for the camera stung their heart. They felt themselves involuntarily tense up before turning and looking Gabriel dead in the eyes, asking the question that’d been making their blood boil since they saw him that they knew he’d feared.

“Does he know?”

Gabriel’s eyes widened as he looked away guiltily.

“No. He doesn’t.”

Mars felt their fists clench, wanting nothing more than to feel them impact with the bastard’s face.

“So this is it? This is what you do, locked up at home all day? You make your own SON, eat his meals alone, stay locked up and secluded on a daily basis, and make his life MISERABLE so you can go fight TEENAGERS and manipulate INNOCENT PEOPLE?!” they yelled.

“You have NO RIGHT to lecture me about MY son in my own home!” Gabriel slammed his fist on the table as he stood up, but Mars hardly flinched. Not this time.

“And YOU don’t have any excuses! For all the times he needed someone, all the loneliness and grief he’s felt! The times he’s NEEDED his FATHER more than anyone else! Instead you’ve NEGLECTED him, you’ve LIED to him; you’ve all but ABANDONED him!”

“EVERYTHING I’M DOING, I’M DOING FOR HIM!”

This actually took Mars by surprise. Not only the outburst, but the way the man shook and the way his voice broke.

“For…….for us…..”

“What?” Mars barely spoke above a whisper. Gabriel hunched over the table, using one hand to cover his face and the other that supported him as his shoulders fell; his façade had finally broken for real. Movement out of the corner of their eyes made then turn to see Nathalie looking sadly at the man, taking a step towards him, but Mars stopped her by walking instead, stepping down into the lowered area, sitting across from him, causing him to finally look up. Mars said nothing, but leaned forward expectantly, softly nodding for him to continue.

He took the cue and readjusted himself, pushing his glasses up and clearing his throat. Instead of sitting back down, he instead stepped out of the area, walking instead to a painting in the back of the room of a woman in gold with bright green eyes. It didn’t take a genius for Mars to figure out who it was.

But to their surprise, he reached over and pulled the painting back as it swung open like a door, revealing a metal panel that he pressed a pattern in, opening up another compartment and taking something out. He lingered a moment, holding something close to his chest before shutting the compartment and walking back, now revealing a large book that he set down on the table. He opened it and slid it forward for them to see. Mars was astonished to see images of the Miraculous users, but not the same ones. Different people in different, almost ancient styles alongside an unreadable foreign text unlike anything they’d ever seen.

“The Miraculous, as you can see, aren’t new. They’ve been used all throughout history, creating heroes and legends across generations.” Gabriel explained as he flipped through, allowing but moments for Mars to look over the pages.

“Once more, they have more powers and abilities than anyone knows. Almost, anyone that is. If I could control both Ladybug’s and Chat Noir’s Miraculous, I’d gain absolute power.”

 “Absolute power?”

What was once a spark of hope died down with his last words, as Mars kept their eyes on the book.

“Yes,” Nooroo spoke up, causing Mars to look at him as he floated above the book in front of them. “The Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous are the most powerful of them all. To possess them both would be possessing both the powers of creation and destruction. And according to legend…….possessing both allows whoever wields them a single wish, one so powerful it can defy even reality.”

“A wish….” Mars trailed off, looking up to Gabriel who looked at the painting of the woman again. “You want to bring her back.”

He nodded.

“Emilie, my wife, Adrien’s mother; we’ve been lost without her. I know how much pain I’ve been causing, to both of us and to Paris, but if there’s even a chance to bring her back……we could be happy again.” He said, voice fading quieter with every word.

“So you see, call me names and send your insults, but I am doing what is best for my son.” He said, stepping out of the area once again and facing the wall adorning pictures of said son.

“Would he want this? Would she want this?” Mars asked quietly. They knew it was a dicey move, seeing the man tense up once again. They almost expected him to lash out again, but instead he spoke up softly.

“I have no choice. I’ve come too far now, especially now that you know my secret.”

“There’s……always a choice—”

“And you have one as well,” he finally turned and looked them in the eyes again.

“Now you know the truth, now you can make your choice. I won’t force you here, nor will I Akumatize you. Where you go from here is entirely up to you.

Walking to the door, followed by his assistant, who left first, he took a moment standing in the doorway to give them another glance.

“I’m giving you as much time as you need to come to your decision. But I beg you………..if you truly care for Adrien as much as you’ve claimed, you’ll do what’s best for all of us.”

 

Chapter Text

Mars watched as Gabriel shut the door behind them, leaving them alone to collect their thoughts. They took the opportunity to sit back down and look through the large book on their own. They couldn’t read the unknown text, but the pictures spoke loudly enough. Flipping through, they let their mind and thoughts wander, replaying the whole situation through their head.

While it was true, he did have his son’s best interest at heart, that could hardly excuse his actions, and everything he’d been putting the people of Paris through.

They flipped the page, seeing an image of Ladybug, using her signature move of creation.

Then again, all of the pain and destruction caused by any villain was always reversed, and from what they could tell he was never really in full control of the villains, could he be blamed for the actions they took or the motives they had?

They flipped again to an image of Chat Noir, using his power of destruction.

They couldn’t even remember being Akumatized, though they weren’t sure if that was a good or bad thing, but knowing it was always reversible, always able to be forgiven and forgotten, how much damage had he actually caused?

They flipped again, this time to an image of Hawkmoth, though a far less villainous looking one.

He hid it well, that was for sure, but it was clear the damage losing Emilie did on both Gabriel and Adrien. The strain on their relationship, the hidden grief both expressed in different ways. It wasn’t healthy for either of them to act the way they had; either avoiding the topic and refusing to talk about it or being so desperate to reverse it he’d turn to anything, even crime.

The more they thought about it, the more guilty they felt for the outbursts and insults they had at the man, though they admittedly didn’t regret it. But still…..the more they thought about it…..if they were to turn on him, exposing him to the world and likely getting the man in jail…..where would that leave Adrien? One parent dead and the other in jail, the poor kid wouldn’t be able to handle it.

If they could help, if they could lift some of this weight off of their shoulders, instead of making the whole thing worse, would that still be the right thing? God knows of Adrien or Emilie would want or even approve of this, but is lying to keep up this charade, letting a villain run free, truly worse than leaving the kid with no parents at all?

Is the moral thing the right thing? They couldn’t really answer some deep philosophical question like that. And truthfully, they already knew the choice they were leaning towards.

They needed more time to let their thoughts settle, but their gut feeling was unwavering.  They knew their answer, they just wondered if they’d regret it in the long run.

 

 

Shutting the door behind him, Gabriel started pacing the room.

“What do we do now, sir?” Nathalie asked, watching as he sat himself down on a nearby chair.

“Now? We wait for their decision.”

She walked in front of him, trying to keep her cool, but he could see the worry in her eyes.

“And if their decision isn’t beneficial to us?”

He leaned forward, clasping his hands together and gaze falling to the floor.

“I…….I don’t know. There’s nothing we can do, nothing we wouldn’t regret immensely.”

In that moment, both were startled to hear the front door open, making Gabriel jump to his feet in alarm.

In walked Adrien and his bodyguard, who looked to the other two in confusion.

“Father? Nathalie?” Adrien asked worriedly, grasping the strap of his schoolbag.

“Adrien, I thought you’d be at your fencing class by now.” The boy shook his head.

“Kagami is sick today, so we had to cancel.”

Gabriel quickly reached into his pocket, taking out his phone which in the better light he could see had a massive crack, as well as being dead, likely since he made his last call.

“I…..see…..” he stuttered, instinctively straightening his collar and attempting to regain his composure.

“Is….everything okay, father?” Adrien asked worriedly. Gabriel could see the pain in his eyes, and after everything that had happened that day, he felt guilt creeping up on him for all of the lies, all the secrets…..if it were all to end here, he’d never get the chance to explain.

“Adrien…..there’s…….there’s something I need to tell you.” He said, putting his hand on the boy’s shoulder, a rare moment of physical contact that Adrien didn’t take lightly.

But just as he almost spoke again, the door behind him opened and out walked an anxious looking Mars, who looked up in surprise at the scene before them.

 “Mars? What are you doing here?” Adrien asked, looking to them and back to his father. Gabriel’s mind raced before he stepped back and cleared his throat.

“Yes, I called them over to apologize. After my outburst yesterday, I felt it not right the actions I took, and the things that I said.” He started, stepping back and putting a hand on their shoulder instead as they walked forward. He felt them tense beneath his sudden touch, but continued anyways.

“They mentioned their interview and I looked over their resume, and I was impressed. I’ve offered to give them a private internship as my assistant web designer. If, that is, they’ve accepted my proposal.”

Mars and Gabriel shared a telling glance, obvious to the two the real question he was asking, it was only a matter of if they’d help keep up the façade. Seeing the anxiousness in the older Agreste’s eyes, as well as the questioning and confusion in the youngers, Mars took a deep breath and put on a smile.

“I’ve…given it some thought. It took me a while to really process the whole thing but….yes. I’ve decided to accept.” They said, looking to Gabriel who visibly relaxed, and put up his own small smile.

“From now on, they’ll be spending a lot of time here. They’ll spend most of their time with me, but, it also means you’ll be seeing them a lot more.”

Any of Adrien’s suspicion fell away immediately and was replaced with a large smile.

“Really?! That’s great!” he said, happily laughing as he ran forward and hugged Mars, causing surprise for both of the adults. Mars’s fake smile was replaced with a real, warm one at the teen’s happy embrace.

He pulled away, hugging his father as well, and though the man didn’t seem to return it, he seemed happy anyways.

“So….everything’s been worked out between you two?” Adrien asked. Both nodded, and Mars smiled even more.

“No hard feelings here. I’m just thankful to be here.”

“And you’ve got your internship now! Mars, that’s awesome!”

They couldn’t help but chuckle at the boy’s infectious glee; knowing how happy this was making him made just a bit of the weight of their decision fall away.

“I do agree this is most beneficial, but now that I know the answer, we still have some things to discuss.” Gabriel interrupted the two, gesturing to the office behind him once again, but looking from him to Adrien, Mars sheepishly shook their head and forced a chuckle.

“Oh, right! But, maybe it’d be better to do this at another time. Your son just got home after all.” They gestured to the boy, and while the other man was hesitant, he understood what they meant and nodded.

“Understandable. Nathalie, if you’d see Adrien to his room. I do believe he needs to learn of the photoshoot that’s been rescheduled for this week. I’ll see Mars out myself.”

All three of the mentioned looked aghast at this, fully knowing the man preferred to stay as impersonal with everyone as possible, but none questioned it as Nathalie led Adrien away, but not before he gave one last wave over his shoulder. They waved back, only to be ushered forward by Gabriel.

Before they could leave however, he caught them by the shoulder and pulled them back. They were surprised by this, but even more so when the man leaned down awfully close to them, speaking quietly so only they’d hear.

“I…..thank you. For your help. We do still have much to discuss, so expect to be hearing from me soon.”

It took everything in them to keep themselves from shivering under the man’s soft voice, as well as the breaths that fell on them, but thankfully the man leaned away from them, looking them over expectantly. They simply nodded and quickly turned away and walked down the steps and outside the gates.

Everything that had just happened replayed in their head as they tried to keep their face from getting red after the most recent interaction. Did he HAVE to stand so close to them? Did he HAVE to have such a deep, smooth voice? Of course he did, of course. The man they’d just despised was now the one leaving them flustered, because of course he was.

But it wasn’t anything serious, god forbid. Instead they focused on walking down into the subway and getting on the train leading to their apartment. After walking, running and dealing with incredibly shocking realizations and anger that day, they were completely physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. They didn’t want to think about anything for the rest of the day, but knew their mind would be thinking of the whole incident for weeks to come.

Even more so, as they walked inside their apartment, they were struck with another thought.

Where did they go from here?

Sure, they’d agreed to keep up appearances for the man, but what else did keeping his secrets entail? Would they have to become a supervillain too? Now that they thought about it, his assistant shared an awful lot of similarities to the villain they’d seen in shaky news footage known as ‘Mayura.’ Oh god would they ACTUALLY have to become a supervillain too? Somehow they hadn’t even considered that.

Changing out of their now messy and sweaty clothes, they hardly cared how early it seemed, and landed carelessly onto their bed face first.

Whatever was to happen next, they’d just have to deal with it one step at a time. Something told them their life was about to get a whole lot more interesting, and they weren’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. Most likely it was the latter, but the happiness in Adrien’s face, even the sight of relieving that worry and pressure from Gabriel, it made them feel…..good.

And if being the villain meant making themselves and others feel good, well.

They might as well be one!

 

Chapter Text

They weren’t sure when they’d fallen asleep, but the blasting ringtone in their ear told them they were awake now.

Mars nearly fell off of the bed with how close their phone was. After scrambling to grab their glasses, looking at the screen told them they were being woken up by some private number. As much as they wanted to ignore it, they knew it might be work calling them in early for that day, and as much as they’d detest it, after the way the past two days had gone, some normalcy might be nice.

“Hello?” They barely cared to cover the sleep in their voice as they ran a hand through their hair and glanced out of the window.

“Hello. Is this Mars H—”

“Yes, yes it’s me.” They didn’t really care about the rudeness of that until the familiarity of the voice on the other end and the events of yesterday clicked.

“I-Uh—Yes! Yes I’m sorry, this is Mars, I—I just woke up.” They said. For a moment there was only silence on the other end and they were worried they might’ve hung up or worse, been hung up on. But after a second of audibly clearing her throat, Nathalie continued.

“Y……es…….Well, I am calling to inform you that Mr. Agreste wishes to meet with you today to discuss the events of the day prior.”

“Right, of course. Uhh, when….exactly does he want to meet?”

“2:30 sharp. It’s when Adrien’s photo-shoot begins, so we should have plenty of time to speak in private.”

“I’m sorry, but that’s really close to when I have to work. Can we talk earlier or just like…..now? Since I have you on the phone already?” Mars hesitated, checking the time. It was extremely early now, sure, but the thought of being forced in a timed meeting that could very well change their entire life and then immediately having to wait on customers without a minute of contemplation didn’t sound too appealing.

“You should be happy to know, that Mr. Agreste has already taken the liberty of notifying your workplace of your leave. As of today, you have officially been let go.”

“Oh, well i—……………………..w-wait WHAT?!”

 

 

The subway train couldn’t get there fast enough as Mars practically bolted out and towards the mansion. It was hours early, sure, but after almost immediately getting hung up on before they could even question this new change sent them into a panic.

Up at the gates, they pressed the bell and like last time they heard a chime and saw the camera come out.

“Hi, this is Mars, I need to talk to Mr. Agreste, immediately.” They said after thoroughly catching their breath.

Unlike last time, however, there was only silence on the other end. The camera looked them over a few times, then disappeared without a sound.

“Wh-OH, COME ON!” they groaned, throwing their hands up to nobody in particular as they peered past the gates to get any sort of glance of movement, of someone, of anything from the windows of the mansion, but as expected, they saw nothing.

They took out their phone to see if they could try calling Nathalie back, but as they were looking they heard a whirring sound of the camera coming back out.

Strange? Was it broken? They hadn’t pressed the bell again yet.

 “You? What are you doing here?” Gabriel’s muffled voice came out.

“We need to talk! Now!

The camera stayed focused on them for just another second before going away and the gates were opened. A little part of them was surprised that he listened, but nevertheless they kept up a collected appearance as they walked inside, jumping a bit as the gates shut behind them.

The front door was opened for them before they were even up the steps, as Adrien’s bodyguard silently nodded and ushered them in.

Gabriel stood waiting inside, looking not to amused.

“You’re early. You weren’t supposed to be here for another few hours. You’re lucky Nathalie’s already dropping off Adrien at school as we spea –“ before he could even finish, Mars was walking up to him, pointing an accusatory finger at the taller man.

“Are you out of your MIND?! You got me fired from my JOB?!” they yelled. They could see the bodyguard behind them move a little forward, obviously sensing the hostility, but Gabriel put his hand up and shook his head.

“It would be pointless dividing your time when you could be doing more important things here.”

“Impo—Dude. I need that job to pay RENT! I need that job to buy FOOD! How am I supposed to do that now?!”

Rolling his eyes, he had already started walking away, making them have to follow after as they talked.

“I can assure you, working here you’ll be making far more than you would at that little shop.”

This made Mars stop in their tracks for a second, brain suddenly buffering from what he just said.

“Wh-what?”

“You didn’t really think I’d just cut off your source monetary support, did you? You’re working for me now, and I can assure you your pay won’t just be leverage to keep my secret.”

Mars was quiet for a minute before they put the pieces together. The job excuse yesterday….

“Wait. So that “internship” thing? That—that was real?” They asked, finally following him into the office, being sure to speak the last part only as they closed the door behind them. Gabriel walked to the area where a standing computer stood, facing the rest of the room.

“Of course. I’m a man of my word, and to go back on it would draw too much suspicion. Besides, this is a much better way to keep you in contact in times of need. From here on out, you’ll be working under me.”

“That’s……wow. I-I don’t know what to say!” Mars said, now feeling guilty for having just yelled at the man who was now their employer.

“There’s no need for thanks. Like I said this isn’t just to keep my secret. You’ll be working here day-to-day performing menial tasks and assisting me with my work, among other things.“

The prospect of “other things” made them remember a worrying thought they had as they walked closer to the man, also curious as to what he was scrolling through on his computer.

“Right….speaking of ‘other things’…………that wouldn’t happen to be…….being a supervillain…..r…right?” they asked quietly, an obvious air of nervousness around them. He looked them over in an unamused glance before looking back at his screen.

“Don’t be ridiculous. If you’re asking if I’m giving you a Miraculous to use, the answer is no. You’ve only barely proven I can trust you to keep my secret, but I am far from trusting you to use a Miraculous.”

Mars’ shoulders fell with a bit of relief before their curiosity got the better of them and they walked to the side of the man.

“You have more than one Miraculous?” they asked. The man looked down at them with a barely hidden glare, visibly uncomfortable with their closeness and they took an anxious step back.

“You know of Mayura, correct? That is Nathalie using the Peacock Miraculous.”

“Oh, right! But…..if she’s using it, why would you ever need to trust me to use it?”

The man stopped his typing, and Mars felt themselves tense up to, sensing they might’ve asked a question they shouldn’t have. But the man took a breath and looked back at them.

“The Peacock Miraculous……..was broken. It was for a while. Using it in that state……..has side effects. It’s been fixed, but Nathalie is no longer in a state to use it.”

Well that wasn’t comforting. Trying to think back, Mars tried to think of any signs they’d seen of any sort of effects on the woman, but they drew a blank. Until they remembered something Adrien had confided in them; Nathalie had been having dizzy spells, something his mother had dealt with before she………….

They didn’t want to come to conclusions, but with that knowledge, and Gabriel’s unexpected reaction……the worrying thought remained. But they weren’t stupid enough to ask that question just yet.

“So I’ll just be working like a normal job then?”

Gabriel nodded.

“More or less. But I’ll be depending on you in other ways. Keeping my secret is one of them. Helping me to keep that secret is another.”

“So just…..lying?”

“Being an alibi, as well as keeping my son and others occupied so that I may do my real work unhindered.”

“So just lying.”

The man rolled his eyes at them before they both heard the sound of the door opening and in walked Nathalie.

“Adrien has been dropped off. He’s fully aware of the photoshoot and there should be no mishaps or misinformation like yesterday—”Looking up and seeing Mars looking back at her she looked confused.

“You’re here early. I thought I told you to come at 2:30.”

“Riiight……I uh….”

“It’s no matter,” Gabriel interrupted, putting his hand up. “If they’re already here we might as well continue matters now. Do you have the paperwork?”

Nathalie nodded, moving to the desk in the corner of the room and taking out a small stack of paper, urging Mars to her. They did so, curiously, as she handed the stack to them.

“What……is this?” they asked, starting to flip through it. Everything was in French of course, so they couldn’t quite make out the words on first glance unless they really focused.

“Documents you need to sign, as well as your new schedule.” Gabriel replied. Nathalie gave them a pen, leading them around the desk so that they could sit and look through them.

“You’ll be working here varying from five to eight hours a day, excluding weekends which you’ll have off.” Nathalie continued.

Normally eight hours sounded like a death sentence, but here? It couldn’t be all that bad. Besides, it couldn’t be worse than customer service. They nodded, starting to read through the papers.

 

They weren’t sure how much time had passed, but signing all of these papers—legally binding responsibility wavers, non-disclosure agreements, etcetera— it felt like forever. And worse, the room was utterly silent, save for the flipping of pages and writing of pen, as well as Nathalie typing at her computer, which sounded like the loudest things in the world at the time. Sure, at first Nathalie was explaining to Gabriel his and his son’s schedules for the day, and she’d speak up every now and then, but they’d started tuning it out the second they started reading.

But that was before the silence got deafening. Of course they weren’t going to be the ones to ruin the other two’s train of thoughts by speaking up, especially for no reason, but it was starting to drive them crazy.

That was until they heard a sudden sound. It wouldn’t have been noticeable had the room not been silent, but they were sure they heard someone’s sharp intake of breath.

Both they, and Nathalie looked up at Gabriel, who now shut his eyes tightly, before shutting of his computer and turning around. Mars looked to Nathalie as if to ask if he was okay, still scared of being the first to speak, but she didn’t look back at them, instead standing up and checking the door for a second, before she looked back at Gabriel, who looked at her expectantly. When she nodded, he suddenly seemed to have a wave of energy.

Mars continued to look between them, hoping for an answer, but got none as Gabriel simply turned back around to the painting of his wife, pressing his fingers against it in a pattern before something clicked and a trap-door lowered him down the floor.

NOW they jumped to their feet, wanting to rush over to the man, but an arm got in their way as Nathalie finally looked to them and shook her head.

“What—what was THAT? Where did he go, what just happened?” they asked, full of confusion.

“He’s sensed someone’s negative emotions. He’s likely going to Akumatize them.”

The look of confusion on their face only got worse as she lowered her hand and went back to her computer.

“Wait so—wHAT?! He can just…..DO that? He just senses it, like the force or something?” they asked again. Not catching onto the reference or simply not caring, Nathalie kept typing until she brought something up, turning the monitor to show them whatever was on her screen. They moved closer, seeing a camera feed of a large, darkened room with an enormous, shut window with a butterfly design. Before a moment, a hole in the floor opened and Gabriel was lifted out of it.

“Where….is this?” they asked, voice hushed, as if he could hear if they spoke too loudly.

“You don’t need to worry about that. This is simply his place of action.” Nathalie responded.

On the screen, they watched as Gabriel moved forward, out stretching his arms for a moment and in a flash, Gabriel disappeared and Hawkmoth stood in his place. If there was any doubt in Mars’ mind that what had happened was real, they were certainly wiped away now.

Hawkmoth walked to the center of the room, cane in hand before he held it to the ground, watching as the window opened, sending light cascading in that blinded the camera for a short moment, as well as apparently sending….butterflies flying around the room? So he just….has them? That’s how he makes Akumas?

So many questions they never had were being answered before their very eyes as they watched as one landed in his hand, before he covered it and when he removed it again, an Akuma flew away and out of the window.

Almost expectantly, they glanced out of the window closest to them, but of course saw nothing. It’d probably be a safer bet to release them somewhere away from here anyways.

Then he just……stood there.

“What….happens now?” they asked, looking to Nathalie.

“The Akuma finds it’s victim, they get Akumatized, and either they succeed or they don’t.” they said. It was a pretty plain way of putting things, but it wasn’t wrong.

The whole situation now seemed a lot simpler than they’d expected, which only drew more questions.

“Should we be…..doing anything?” they asked. Nathalie shook her head, instead shortening the camera feed to a smaller window and turning the monitor back around as she sat down and continued working on whatever she was doing previously.

“Not necessarily. But it’d be best if you finished that paperwork.”

Mars took another look at the camera feed in the corner, trying to take in every detail they could see before going back to doing as she’d suggested.

 

It’d already been a little while, so the rest of the paperwork didn’t take long. Everything was official, that was for sure. They hadn’t really thought about the fact that they were not technically working under the Gabriel fashion brand. It was no wonder there was so much to sign.

“Miss Nathalie?” they asked, causing her to look back at them. “I finished the paperwork.”

They offered her the stack of signed papers, which she took, paperclipping them together and putting them in a folder.

“Congratulations. You’re now officially interning for Mr. Gabriel Agreste.” She said, expression unchanging, but there was a hint of sincerity there.

“Thank you.” Mars nodded. They looked at the back of her monitor, curious as to what was going on now.

Before they could ask to see the feed again however, their question was answered by the sound of whirring and Gabriel being brought up by the lift in the floor once again, looking a bit agitated. The was no question as to why, that part was obvious, but nevertheless he adjusted his tie and walked up to the two.

“Anything to notable to report?” he asked.

“Nothing too much of value, sir. Mars has finished the necessary paperwork.”

Gabriel turned to them, nodding approvingly.

“Excellent. Seeing as your work doesn’t technically start until tomorrow, you’re free to go for today.”

“Oh…..” Mars said. Honestly, they were almost disappointed they weren’t really doing too much. A—almost…..? They shouldn’t really be disappointed at all! They weren’t going to be putting on a mask and committing crimes alongside a man known for terrorizing Paris, why would they be disappointed by that?

And yet the feeling lingered, more so because even witnessing the event they’d felt like they hadn’t really learned a whole lot about the whole situation other than their own. Maybe that’s what he’d intended.

Even as they were shown out they felt a little low-spirited. They’d just made it out of the front door before remembering at least one question they had, suddenly spinning on their heel and stopping the door behind from being shut.

“Actually, uh….! I—I do have a question.”

Gabriel, as well as Nathalie both said nothing, instead giving them a questioning look that made them feel not so great.

“Well, how did you get my number?” they asked.

“It was on your resume.” Gabriel stated. Oh. Oh?

“You….actually read my resume? How did you even find it?”

“Of course. I do background checks on all of my staff, even those out of country. I must say I may have oversold your experience. But it’s no matter. This is an internship. You’ll learn with time.” He said, not letting them get in another word before the door was shut and they left out of the gates.

Chapter Text

After being so briskly shown out of the house, Mars wasn’t…..entirely sure what to do next. Their work would actually start the next day, but knowing they had no night or evening shifts to worry about, they were kind of at a loss with all this sudden free time.

They decided to go out to a nice café and eat lunch in the park, something they hardly got a chance to do. It was especially nice taking advantage of the nice weather, but when they reached the park they heard yelling and saw a small crowd. At first they were worried that they might’ve just walked into another Akuma attack, but as they got closer they noticed how the crowd was really made of younger teens, looking at something, or someone, as camera flashes went off every so often.

Interested, they passed through, seeing a few familiar faces, including one in particular that happened to be the center of all the attention. There stood Adrien, posing and modeling for a very upbeat photographer who bounced around him, standing and crouching at different angles. They didn’t have anything better to do, so they sat down on a nearby bench, a bit behind the crowd and just watched. Sometimes it was hard to remember just how famous the two members of the Agreste family were, both in their own right. And the thought that, once again, they were now working for the family made their head spin. Moving to Paris and working with celebrities….and supervillains! Who’d have thought!

At one point the flashes stopped and the crowd started dissipating, and at first Mars thought he’d just left, but instead saw the photographer shooing people away as Adrien stepped through to walk with a group of other people his age. When he noticed them from afar he happily waved, walking their way.

“Mars! I didn’t even know you were here. What are you doing here?” he asked, a few of who they could only assume were friends.

“Just happened to be in the area. Didn’t want to break through the crowd too much though.”

Before Adrien could reply, a blonde girl with a high ponytail and a worrying amount of makeup stepped forward, looking them over with a judging look.

“Um, who exactly is this? And how do you know my Adrikins?”

They were taken aback by the sudden rudeness of the girl, but Adrien stepped to their side and held a hand out.

“Oh! This is Mars! They’re a friend from America, and they work for my dad!” he said. With all of the surprised and impressed faces, Mars started to worry if they’d just broken some kind of privacy or discretionary rule in telling random people, especially so soon. But it was Adrien doing it so they couldn’t be too worried, especially as the kids started to smile.

“You work for Adrien’s old man? Good luck with THAT, dude.” One of the kids, one in a cap with headphones around his neck said.

“Well, I technically start my work tomorrow, but yeah I know. He’s….not really that bad when you get to know him.” They said.

One of the few faces that wasn’t smiling however stepped forward, looking a little confused.

“Wait, I thought you worked for the coffee shop? I saw you there just the other day!” Marinette said. Mars smiled, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Sorry I won’t be picking up your deliveries anymore, but I’ll still drop by the bakery every now and then, Marinette! Plus, if I’m being honest, I think I prefer where I am now to working there.” They said.

The blonde girl crossed her arms, once again looking at them with a glare. Something told Mars she was a little bitter at the fact that she wasn’t getting the attention they were.

“Well I don’t believe it! How do you know they’re not just saying this stuff for attention, Adrikins? I’d say they’re probably lying about the whole thing!” she said, turning away with a huff. Mars felt themselves tense up against their will. Hell, could a child have seen through them so easily? One that they didn’t even KNOW?!

“Chloe, that’s not true! I’ve known Mars far longer than they’ve had the job. Plus, my father picked them out himself, I came home to see them talking yesterday.” Adrien assured, now causing a collective group of gasps and astonished faces.

“You got invited to Gabriel Agreste’s HOUSE?!”

“He wanted to see you in PERSON?!”

All of the surprise and questions was starting to make them feel a tad uneasy, but they just brushed everything off, finally standing up and rubbing the back of their head.

“I—That’s—Look, kids, I can’t say a whole lot. Even I don’t know the extent of what I’ll be doing just yet or how much I’m allowed to talk about it. But I think it’s best if I head off anyways. I’ll see you around, Adrien.” They said, ruffling the boy’s hair as they walked past the group.

Their abrupt leaving may have been the slightest rude, but the longer they stayed the longer the more anxious they’d felt. The whole thing that Chloe girl was saying wasn’t entirely wrong. They didn’t think it was at least. When they woke up that day they didn’t think the internship was real either, and the whole reason for it was technically a lie. Something that made guilt start washing over them when the more they thought about it. ESPECIALLY when they considered how quick Adrien was to defend them against such an accusation.

Would he be so quick to defend them if he found out what they were hiding from him? Would he ever be able to forgive them?

They didn’t want to think about that part. Hopefully it wouldn’t happen until after the whole thing was solved. Whenever that was.

They also didn’t really want to think about how this guilt would build with all of the other lying they’d likely be doing in the future. But it was all for his benefit. He’d understand it one day……hopefully……

The last pained thought that came to them as they entered their apartment and opened their laptop, trying to find as much information about the Agrestes as they could.

The whole reason they looked out for him so much. Why they cared so much for a young teen they’d hardly known from another country……they saw so much of themselves in him.

Them, but better.

A smart, sweet young kid, trying his best and being pulled this way and that by a parent who claimed to know best. Dealing with their guardians who were there more physically than they were emotionally. Where it’d left Mars, they’d rather not dwell on, lest the guilt from the number of blocked phone numbers would come back to haunt them.

But one thing they did remember quite well, is how much they desperately needed someone to be there. Someone to depend on. A sense of empathy and stability that could ground them. And even through his smiles or the bright spark of potential they saw in him, from the very beginning they could tell he needed someone like that too.

While they believed it might be a bit selfish to want to be that person for him, if they could do anything, anything to help ease some of the pain from him; to possibly bring back the real person he needed, they’d do it. Because god knows they didn’t want this kind bright teen to feel the things they did.

While that thought was able to slightly ease their guilt with the whole “lying to save a supervillain who constantly threatens the city,” thing, they had a feeling it would come back to bite them one day.

One day but, hopefully not in the near future.

 

Because the near future started off their job officially with the Agrestes the following day. And it was……as unexciting as the first.

They were relegated to sorting regular from junk emails, without being allowed to look at the information inside the emails specifically, which was as tedious and boring as it sounded.

The rest of the day, as well as the following days passed as agonizingly slow as the last, with most of their time being spent on menial tasks and busywork.

Even more so than the first day, they were ironically disappointed. As much as they claimed to detest the idea of playing a villain, there was a sort of half-guilty interest they had in it. Costumes, fights, being a mastermind; but nope! They were just sitting in a chair doing busywork for days on end, in deafening, awkward silence in the same room as their employer and said “mastermind.”

There were rare breaks in the silence whenever Adrien returned home from school or one of his extracurriculars, or when Nathalie took short rests, some urged by Gabriel himself. But the breaks lasted moments before he left to his room to do homework. As well as every so often whenever Gabriel felt the pull of the Butterfly Miraculous and left to do his “business.” It was never too long, always abrupt and every time he came back looking more agitated than before, and it was never a surprise why. All in all, aside from the occasional excuse or lie, they weren’t doing a whole lot in terms of furthering his work. If at all.

After a week of getting used to the routine however, they were sent a curveball.

Nathalie had just left the room to take a break and rest for a while, so it was just them and Gabriel. On it’s own, it wasn’t anything too unfamiliar, but they were soon startled when they heard the man groan in agitation. The sound almost made them jump, looking over to see the man pinch the bridge of his nose, obviously frustrated with something.

“Um…..sir? Is something wrong?” they asked hesitantly. The man waved them off, shaking his head.

“It’s nothing. I’m just having some trouble operating this program. It must be bugged. I’ll have to send a report to the creators.” He said, going back to working on said program, still visibly frustrated. They didn’t exactly want to push their luck, but knowing there was something they could possibly do made them stand up, catching the older man’s attention once more.

“Is there…anything I can do to help? If it’s a bug then, maybe I can look over it. I work a bit with coding after all so…..” they felt themselves start trailing off under his icy gaze. To their surprise however, he gave a thoughtful look and subsequently nodded.

“I don’t see why not.” He said, moving aside for them to join where he stood. They did so gratefully, now looking over the screen to see a 3D modeling program showing a feminine mannequin in a dress. At least, what they assumed was a dress. The shape of it was there, but the textures were clearly not working right.

“I’m trying to work on this design but, the pattern isn’t working properly.” Gabriel explained.

“I can see that.” Mars said, tapping a finger on their chin. They started thinking of all the possible bugs or issues that might’ve caused the problem. It could be a number of things, and while they didn’t want to outright insult the man, they had no idea of his technological knowledge. They might as well start with the roots.

“Do you have any idea if the texture files got corrupted or damaged in any way?” they asked.

“No, I can assure you I’ve checked them several times.” He replied, opening an art program they recognized showing the pattern, as well as the folder where the texture files were. It was a start, but like he’d said, they couldn’t see anything wrong with them. But seeing the folder showing the file and preview, they recognized the extension title of the file and it gave them an idea.

They went back to the modeling program, looking over the model at different angles before opening the window showing the names of the models, textiles and most importantly, textures being applied. That’s when they saw a potential issue.

“Do you think you could save the texture file again, as a PNG instead of PSD?” they asked. Gabriel gave them a questioning look, but did as they said, taking but a few seconds to do so. After he did, they proceeded to try linking the alternate version and as expected, it loaded the texture perfectly.

Gabriel blinked in surprise, sharing a glance at them and then back to the screen.

“I’m impressed. How did you know to do that?” he asked, hand stroking his chin contemplatively.

“You linked a PSD file for the texture, but those files save each individual layer you make. This program must not be built to handle layered files. Plus I’ve…worked with 3D programs before, texturing can be a common issue.” They replied. He hummed in thought, turning the model in the program over to look at it from more angles.

“What I’m more impressed with, is the fact that you figured out the issue so quickly on a program that hasn’t been made public yet.” He said. Mars looked back to him, surprised.

“What?”

“The only reason I’m using this program is because it was lent to me by the creators for beta testing. I thought I might be dealing with an issue needed to be patched out, but you managed to navigate it so quickly.”

Mars managed to smile, taking a bit of pride in his rare kind words.

“I—well thank you, sir!” they said. He then looked at him with a smile of his own.

“And you say you’ve worked with programs like this before?”

“Ah, well, sort of.”

“And you recognized the file extension that only comes with this art program. How do you know so much?” Now his questions were starting to feel like an interrogation, but they still just anxiously smiled, shrugging their shoulders.

“Well, I’ve worked with a few art programs before, including that one.”

“I wasn’t aware you were an artist.”

“It’s not something that was in my resume. It’s more of a hobby for fun, really.” They explained. Rather than try to dig even more at them or call them out on anything like they expected, he actually shared a genuine smile.

“I hadn’t thought it beneficial for me to be aware of your hobbies, but with all the programs you’ve worked with, I could use someone with knowledge like yours.”

The surprisingly genuine words and compliments made them unable to stop a smile, nor the pride they felt hearing them.

“Well, I’m already here, aren’t I?” they said.

Their words seemed to catch him off guard as well, but his smile didn’t fade all too much.

“I actually have a few more things I’d like looked over. I was going to wait to hear feedback from Nathalie, but if you would be so kind?” he asked, gesturing to the computer.

Mars could feel their smile grow even wider.

“I’d be more than happy to sir!”

 

Chapter Text

The rest of the day went surprisingly well, as did the following.

While they were still mostly relegated to doing busywork, there was the occasional time Gabriel called them up to help with some program or task he had difficulty with or needed looking over.

Whether or not they were actually more qualified than his actual assistant to be helping him like this, or whether he was just testing them, they couldn’t tell. But regardless, they found themselves enjoying the work they were doing even more. Partially due to the way they were able to suddenly impress their employer, but also because this is what they’d been studying to do. Helping people with technology! Instead of just taking orders or cleaning like all the other jobs they’d had.

They even found themselves warming up to Gabriel Agreste, against their better judgement and especially with the way they’d  thought of him in the past. But somehow working under him, as well as seeing through his motivations made them see him in a different light. And, well, the occasional praise and pride in their work certainly helped. Not that he’d shown much of it when anyone else was around. Keeping up appearances as always!

Nathalie had left for another phone call, and as expected, when she did Mars heard their name and looked up to see Gabriel beckon them over. When they looked over his shoulder to his screen, they were surprised to see not much on it.

“You’ve mentioned to me that I can, customize what I have on here, in terms of shortcuts?” he said, gesturing to the taskbar at the top of his screen.

“Yes sir. Are there any changes you want to make?” they asked.

“Yes. I’d like to remove some of these and replace them with more programs I frequently use.” Mars nodded, cracking their fingers.

“No problem, sir!”

Immediately they got to work asking him about the programs he preferred and didn’t, already getting rid of most of the ones that were standard with the desktop and adding the ones he wanted, as well as the one’s they suggested.

They’d already selected a music app when he put a hand up, hesitantly stopping them.

“I’d like that one to stay, if you don’t mind.” He said, making Mars look at him questioningly.

“The music app?”

“Yes I….happen to occasionally listen while I work.” His somewhat hesitant tone, as well as his habit of holding his hands behind his back in a forced composed manner made them give him a look, before smiling.

“What kind of music do you listen to?” It was an innocent question enough, but the look on their face told him exactly how interested they were. But he simply looked away from them and back at the screen, deselecting it in favor of another useless app.

“That’s classified.”

“Oh really? I know your deep dark secret, and yet it’s your music taste you’re afraid of showing me?” they said. They couldn’t help but lightly tease, but his look of annoyance told them they were pushing it.

Before he could respond however, the door to the office opened.  

In walked Nathalie, a somewhat concerned look on her face, making both of them forget what they were doing as she walked up.

“Sir, I’m afraid I have some…..news.” she said. Gabriel moved places with Mars in order to be more in front of her, growing concern on his features.

“What sort of news?”  

Instead of staying in front of him, Nathalie moved to her desk, sending something that resulted in a notification on Gabriel’s computer, which he opened before she even started talking.

“There’s been a video making it’s way around the internet from a popular online fashion blogger. It’s about your latest lineup.” She said.

Mars indeed saw from over his shoulder a video from one of those gossipy talk-shows, highlighting this supposed online critic.

“….And what even are these palettes? Either blinding or blinded of anything. Overall these are completely emotionless and stale pieces. Though it doesn’t surprise me, seeing the source of it.”

The audience laughter following the shown clip of the critic taking a dig at Gabriel made Mars feel dread in their stomach. And sure enough, when turning to look at him they saw rage and disgust in his face.

“Unbelievable! Such an idiotic, simple statement! These are hardly critiques! Who does this person think he is?” Gabriel said, venom dripping from his every word. It was enough to make Mars want to take a step away from the man. They didn’t want to be near anyone, let alone him in this kind of state.

However rather than build his anger into a powerful outburst, he then suddenly took a breath and collected himself, though he did little to disguise the maliciousness in his next words.

“Nathalie. See if you can get me an interview with this host, at the soonest possible date.”

Even though his voice was softer than before, it only unsettled Mars even more hearing it. Nathalie nodded, picking up her phone again and exiting the room.

Gabriel looked at the paused video one more time before turning away, arms folded behind his back as before, but this time Mars could see the way his hands were angrily balled up.

“Uh, sir? What are you going to do?”

He didn’t look at them, but they could still feel the burn of stare, even indirect.

“Whoever he is, this person is obviously seeking his fifteen minutes of fame and attention. If that’s the case than I’m more than happy to oblige.”

His tone turned dark, as he turned and left the room.

Mars watched after him for a moment before looking back at his computer screen, rewinding to see the critic once again. While it was true his personal digs were unwarranted, they couldn’t help but feel slightly bad knowing whatever was coming next was sure to be career damaging.

 

Soon after both Gabriel and Nathalie came back, both seeming much more composed and scarily calm then before, Mars was asked to go back to the spot they were working before, as to not appear on the computer’s camera.

They watched as Nathalie moved her computer screen around, tuning in live to the same talk-show that now announced a surprise interview from Gabriel Agreste himself. They sat silently, waiting through commercials before the show tuned back in and showed Gabriel’s camera feed on the host’s screen.

“And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our surprise guest, Gabriel Agreste! Thank you for joining us, Mr. Agreste! I believe you wanted to share a few words regarding your newest line?” the host asked.

 “I’m glad you asked. This lineup was one that was in the works for months on my end, and I’ve worked personally to see that each piece was unique and fitting to the design and compliment of the model wearing it.” He said.

The host nodded, smiling, before looking to the camera.

“I see, I see! Now, this may come as a surprise to all of you, but in light of the infamous online video going around as of late, I just so happen to have that very critic on the other end of this call!”

The host’s screen moved Gabriel’s camera feed as it picked up another feed indeed showing the online critic.”

“H-Hi there! Wow I honestly don’t know what to say, I never thought this would happen!” the critic said. Their tone was surprisingly much more earnest than the video they’d last seen. That only made the bad feeling they had worse. They could tell Gabriel was trying not to overtly sneer.

“Now, seeing as this video has been quickly gaining ground and going around in  many circles, Mr. Agreste, do you have anything to say on the matter?” the host asked.

“Yes. In fact I have a few things to say on the matter. First of all, I’m surprised that such a mediocre attempt of popularity was made directed at my label by someone who knows nothing about my work happened to get off the ground in the first place. On top of the fact that all you’ve said has been nothing but conjecture and turning a blind eye to the passion in my work.”

The audience was filled with quiet murmurs and the host was starting to look a bit uncomfortable, as was the critic.

“Now, hold on sir. I happen to know a bit of fashion, and I—”

“Oh do you? Because you’ve proven nothing so far to show you have any idea of what your talking about. And the fact that the emotion of my works goes over your head only shows just how uncultured you are. If emotion in clothes is really that important to you, perhaps you should work on dressing for more than not leaving your house!”

With his last words, he ended his own camera feed, sending the host and critic into large amounts of confusion as they scrambled to take in everything that’d just happened. The critic looked utterly shaken, unable to find his next words for a few seconds before Nathalie cut the stream.

After everything had been cut, Gabriel started looking a little too pleased with himself. And then Mars caught on.

“Now we just wait for the right moment.” Gabriel said, starting to open and look through online updates of the situation and media attention.  

“That was….pretty harsh, sir, all things considered.” They said. Gabriel paid them no mind however, shaking his head.

“They were clearly seeking attention, and now they should have more than enough.”

He wasn’t wrong. The guy was probably getting more publicity than he’d ever expected now. But still, seeing the way the critic looked, turning paler with every word he spoke. It made them glad they weren’t in his shoes. Still….

“You sort of humiliated him.” They replied.

“Even better for my Akuma to feed off of.” He finally said, confirming their suspicions. Not wanting to hear another word, he turned to his painting and activated the lift that carried him back to his lair.

Chapter Text

Gabriel, now undoubtedly dawning his villainous alter ego, was hardly gone for a few minutes before Mars and Nathalie could make out a distant commotion from outside, as well as a news broadcast showing the appearance of a new villain by the name of “Fashion Disaster.”

 While neither of the two were initially surprised,  but Mars was still somewhat unnerved. Maybe sensing this, on top of their words from earlier Nathalie spoke without looking away from here monitor.

“What you may think is harsh is only a minor method Mr. Agreste uses to draw out negative emotions. The stronger the reaction he can cause, and the emotions he can create, the stronger the Akuma he can create.” She said.

Mars nodded, giving a look out of the window in the direction of the chaos.

“That I gathered but still……I guess I’m still not used to the ‘villain’ thing yet.” They replied.

They looked back at her only to find her looking back with an unreadable expression.

“We’re only villains in the eyes of who we’re fighting against. Our goals aren’t the most ‘evil,’ are they?”

It was a rhetorical question, but still Mars nodded again somewhat guiltily. No they weren’t evil, but the general populace was certainly convinced by their methods.

Maybe their unease was spreading however, as Nathalie switched her screen to the camera feed from Hawkmoth’s lair, only for her eyes to widen as she unmuted.

“—not a good idea!............Fashion Disaster, if you want to keep your powers you will first retrieve the Miraculous, I will stand for no straying on your part!”

Obviously they were only hearing one side of the argument, but by the sound of it, Hawkmoth was losing. Hearing all of this Mars now stood beside Nathalie, watching the feed only to see Hawkmoth take a surprised step backwards and then turn and run back to the lift, detransforming in the process.

This startled both Mars and Nathalie as they turned their heads to see a somewhat distressed Gabriel walk to the window Mars was previously at and close the blinds.

“Sir—” Nathalie warned, but he put a hand up, moving back to his computer.

“I know. I couldn’t keep him at bay. And I couldn’t let my identity slip if I got too forceful.” He replied.

“What’s going on?” Mars asked, though they feared the answer.

“Fashion Disaster has targeted me for my comments. We may all be in danger.” Gabriel said.

Being under possibly direct attack, Mars felt their anxiety rise.

“This isn’t any different than others you’ve made mad, right?” Mars asked worriedly. The man actually froze for a second, and when he looked back at them Mars could make out the flash of panic in his eyes before he quickly looked back at his computer.

“Fashion Disaster has the power to reveal one’s true colors through appearance. I was hoping it’d be a way to reveal Ladybug and Chat Noir’s identities to me. However since he’s targeted me…..”

Now Mars could feel themselves panicking.

“…..All three of us are at risk of being revealed if we’re hit.” They finished his sentence. At this point even Nathalie looked worried as she scrolled through more pages of broadcasts and news on the villain’s whereabouts.

“He shouldn’t be too close. We can hope Ladybug and Chat Noir can get to him first.” She said.

“No, we can’t take that risk.” Gabriel said, lifting a hand up to swipe down on the screen but hesitating.

“Sir?” Nathalie asks.

“Adrien is at school. You don’t think he’d target him as well, do you? Activating the security system now I might unintentionally lock him out if he seeks shelter here.” he asks.

“I can go out for him.” Mars offered. Gabriel glanced at them, weighing his options for a moment. But the choice was made pointless when the window beside them shattered.

All three shielded themselves before looking up to see Fashion Disaster standing in the middle of the room.

“Well, well…….Gabriel Agreste.” He said. He looked almost nothing like the critic seen before, if not for the voice and facial features.

“Who are you? Get out of my house!” Gabriel yelled, walking backwards as the villain walked towards him.

Acting on instinct, Mars ran up and hooked their arms behind the villain’s, holding him back. Nathalie in turn ran over and tried to lead Gabriel away, but it only took a minute for the superpowered villain to get over his surprise and knock them off. It was much stronger than a regular person’s push however, as they were completely knocked off their feet and crashed into the wall, hitting their head hard.

Fashion Disaster looked in the direction out of the office where Nathalie and Gabriel had run, looking angry. Before they started running after, two more figures landed in through the broken window, and Ladybug and Chat Noir stared down the villain.

The pain from being thrown against the wall sent them reeling, but Mars still attempted to push themselves up as they watched the trio run out.

After getting to their feet and fighting the pain with every step, they made it out of the room and after wherever they could hear the fighting, leading them to Adrien’s room where Nathalie looked out of the large open window with a horrified expression.

“Where’s Mr. Agreste?” Mars asked. She looked at them and looked back out the window, confirming their suspicions.

“They’re on the roof. He’s holding him hostage.” She pointed out, as she walked back towards them and the exit.

“Is there a way we can get up there?” they asked, following after her. She suddenly stopped and put a hand up to stop them.

“That’s not a good idea. You’re clearly hurt and we have no choice but to leave this to the superheroes now.”

“What? Why?! If he gets hit he’ll be revealed and then turned on by said heroes! Or worse, thrown off the building and killed! We have to get up there!” they argued.

She fell silent, understanding their point and didn’t stop them further as they pushed in front of her and followed up the next flight of stairs.

It didn’t take them long to find a window with a wide enough balcony to climb on to, and as they found a ladder on the side of the house leading up, they could hear the voices of the heroes and villains. After catching their breath and ignoring the thumping pain in their head they climbed up as quietly as possible. They had to stop themselves from gasping as they caught sight of the heroes in front of them, facing towards the other end of the roof where Fashion Disaster held Gabriel up by the wrist over edge of the roof.

The heroes were tensed, neither side daring to make a move and just stood. However Ladybug’s darting eyes landed on them, but she didn’t turn to look at them, keeping their presence a secret. Instead she moved her hand behind her and opened it, letting whatever was in it nearly fall before Mars reached and grabbed it. Looking in their palm they now saw a large red and black spotted sticker.

Ladybug then put her hands up, confusing the villain and Chat Noir.

“Okay, I’ve dropped my Lucky Charm. We don’t want anyone getting hurt. But if you wanted to show Gabriel’s true colors, why wouldn’t you do it before dropping him, using your watch.” She said. She was subtle enough for the villain to not catch on, but Mars certainly did as they looked around and climbed down, quickly but quietly running to the other side of the roof and up the adjacent ladder behind where the villain was standing.

“Why, what a brilliant idea Ladybug! While it’s odd that you’d want me to use my powers against someone, I think I’ll do just that.”

He brought Gabriel back onto the edge, throwing him aside and pointing his watch at him. His aim was quickly thrown off when Mars climbed up and grabbed his arm from behind. It was hard fighting against him a second time, but they were able to slip the sticker over his watch before he once again pushed them off.

However this time rather than hitting a wall, they stumbled backwards and found the ground beneath them disappearing. They were able to snag onto the ledge of the roof before falling too far, but the predicament still filled them with immense fear.

At least they could see that they were successful, as the villain attempted to use their watch and found himself unable to, and unable to peel off the sticker before Ladybug sent her yo-yo hitting him in the face and falling to the ground.

They were so focused on the fight they almost jumped when they felt another hand on theirs, and Gabriel’s face appeared over the edge attempting to pull them back up. Both were having trouble though, as they felt their feet desperately attempting to push themselves up, but only managing to push either away or leaving themselves to dangle further. But Chat Noir appeared over the edge as well, adding his strength and finally successfully pulling them back onto the roof.

They heaved a huge sigh of relief, crouching on the ground in front of the two, only looking up when they heard Ladybug call out her signature final move, as the Miraculous Ladybugs filled the sky, repairing any and all damaged caused by the villain. Mars could even feel the pain in their head somehow disappear.

Where Fashion Disaster once lay now the critic from before stood up, looking around and surprised to see the odd group.

“Ladybug…Chat Noir and…..G-GABRIEL AGRESTE?!” he said, moving back a moment in surprise. “What happened? I can’t remember…..”

“Everything’s alright now. We can take you back home from here.” Ladybug said.

“Oh….” The critic said, being helped to his feet by the shorter hero.

Mars looked over, waiting to see if Gabriel would…..well, say something to the person who looked starstruck at him. But he looked back at them with an angry expression unseen by the other three, and they worried they may have just made a mistake. Still, he did stand up and brush himself off.

“Before you leave,” he said, catching the others’ attentions. “,I’d like to apologize for my outburst. I never intended any of this.” He said rather plainly, however the critic as well as the two heroes looked very pleased.

“Thank you sir! It’s all water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned. I’m sorry for my criticisms too. I didn’t mean to make them so personal I never thought it’d get around as much as it did.” The critic said, rubbing the back of his head. Gabriel only nodded in acknowledgement before the other three left over the buildings.

Once out of sight, Gabriel turned to Mars once more, again showing the same angry expression as before.

Things were about to get less pleasant.

 

Chapter Text

“What. Were you thinking?” Gabriel asked through gritted teeth. Mars felt themselves almost shudder as they looked away.

“I…..sir you were in danger.”

“So you put yourself recklessly in danger, on top of helping my enemies as they were at a standstill!”

Even with their newfound respect for the man, they felt that same bitter anger well back up inside them.

“Excuse me?” They asked, getting to their feet and facing him. “He was trying to KILL you! He had you dangling over the edge!”

“As leverage, he had them right where I wanted them until you showed up!” he yelled.

“He would have thrown you off the edge regardless of if he got the Miraculous. And they probably would’ve had a plan even if I hadn’t shown up!”

“Preposterous, he was bluffing.”

“How are you so sure? If you fell of that ledge can you explicitly say what would have absolutely happened? Especially without Hawkmoth to talk him down. You can’t use the Miraculous if you’re DEAD!” they asked.

He looked enraged, but couldn’t find a retort, as both he and they knew they had a point. However he still stepped forward, getting eerily close to them with an icy look in his eyes.

“Don’t. Intervene. Again.” He said, then leaning back and turning away.

Through the climb back down Mars could only feel their fury grow, but they didn’t continue the argument. Still, they knew they had the last point and on top of that, they likely just took a concussion, as well as hung off the edge of a building for his sake, and he had the gall to yell at them for it? He’d been a prick before but this was really pushing it.

Even watching him saunter back to his office, so careless as if nothing had ever happened, it made them remember why they hated him in the first place. Even after working under him and starting to see the lighter side of him…….he still was an asshole. Gathering their stuff to leave with a last glance they cursed themselves for ever letting his demeanor grow on them. His true colors were certainly showing, even without an Akuma’s intervention.

No one stopped them as they headed for the front door, but was surprised to see it open before they could touch it and there stood Adrien.

“Mars? Are you okay?! Is my father okay?! I saw the news at school, and Ladybug and Chat Noir and—” he asked worriedly.

“Woah, woah calm down Adrien! Everyone here is fine, it’s all over.” They assured the boy. He sighed in relief, walking inside. Mars held the door as they attempted to walk out when his voice stopped them again.

“Wait….where are you going?” he asked. Mars now felt guilty, realizing no one really…..told them to leave, but at the same time….

“Oh, well, after all this craziness I thought it’d be best if I went home.” They said.

“Did you get hurt?” he asked. They let the door close as they turned and stepped back inside to console the worried teen.

“No, I’m fine. I mean, I guess now I am—it’s nothing to worry about. I should just…”

“Before you go though…could you help me with something? I’m trying to get this program for my school set up but, well I’m not the best with computers.” He admitted, smiling sheepishly. Mars felt themselves smile, knowing he was just trying to keep them around, but they nodded regardless and he led them up to his room.

 

 

 

Gabriel had hardly even noticed Mars’ disappearance as he went back over the news feed and updates from the day’s attack, still trying to piece together what he could’ve done to make things work.

“Sir…..are you sure you’re alright?” Nathalie asked, looking at him worriedly.

“I’m fine. I should be asking you the same question, especially in your state—”

“I’m fine,” she interrupted, “But I do apologize for Mars. I advised them against intervening, but I couldn’t stop them.”

“It’s not your place to babysit an adult.” He realized the irony of his statement given his own position in the day’s events.

“However sir, they were never intent on helping the heroes, rather they were acting in regards for your safety. And with the circumstances….perhaps this should be more than enough to prove you have their trust. You must if they were willing to put themselves in such danger….” She said.

While he hated to admit it, she had a point. If there was ever a time to let his secret be revealed, it would’ve been now. Instead they chose to endanger themselves on multiple occasions for his sake. He didn’t want to take back his own arguments on the matter, however he’d be foolish not to see their points in the argument as well. Speaking of which…

He looked towards the office door, almost expecting them to be back by now, but when he realized their belongings were gone he looked to Nathalie.

“Where are they now?” he asked. Nathalie stopped and looked up at him with confusion.

“I’m……not sure. I saw them gather their belongings, I think they might have left.” She said.

He nodded silently, but he still had to be sure. He didn’t need this conversation sticking in his head any longer than it was.

He left the office, and went to the front door, opening it and seeing no one outside nor at the gate. Maybe they had left….faster than he realized. He nearly groaned at the thought of having to mull over the conversation on his own for the rest of the day, but stopped when he heard the sound of laughter coming from behind him.

Curiously, he shut the door and turned and walked up the stairs, standing in front of his son’s room as he heard the voices louder, recognizing both.

The door was already ajar, so he stepped in and looked around to see Mars sitting at Adrien’s computer, with his son leaning on the desk beside them watching the screen intently.

“—as simple as that! Now your phone is connected to the speakers!”

“Awesome! Thank you! I’ve wanted to do this before but, well after my speakers got messed with before and messed with the house’s power…”

“Okay, what? I know these are big expensive speakers but causing an outage?! THAT’S a story I have to hear.”

Just observing their interactions, Gabriel almost didn’t want to make his presence known. The way the two spoke so casually, starkly contrasting to any way either had spoken to him before; it was interesting. And seeing how the two got along……he couldn’t explain it but suddenly he didn’t feel as frustrated as before.

Ahem.” he finally cleared his throat, making the other two jump, with Mars scrambling to their feet.

“Uhhh—”

“Father! Mars just helped me set up the new program my school is using! And they helped me connect and fix the speakers!” Adrien said happily. He merely nodded, keeping a neutral face.

 “Yes. I’m well aware of their technological capabilities. In fact, I may have taken them for granted in hindsight. I’d hoped you hadn’t left as……there’s more I’d like to discuss with you, especially regarding the day’s events.”

He was trying his damndest to show as minimal an amount of sincerity without drawing suspicion, but he could still see the way they tensed at his last words. He felt the slightest bit of, dare he say, guilt at this and the last “conversation.” And being in front of his son, he didn’t want this to slip so he continued regardless of his presence.

“I appreciate the work you’ve done today, in light of the circumstances. It would certainly seem you’re capable of more than the minimal tasks you’ve been assigned. I hope you’ll be pleased to know you’ll be doing strictly IT-based work from now on. Though, with all that’s happened I can understand the stress caused by the events of today, and you are permitted to leave now if you’d like.”

 

To many, his words may have sounded like a request to leave, however to anyone who knew him, it felt much more. Mars was still a little angry, but after his words, in front of his son no less, they could tell this was his way of apologizing. Something he had……NEVER done before, not to them in any past incidents or anyone to their knowledge. The apology to the critic had clearly nothing behind the words for the sake of closure, but this……..they could tell there was something there, and they found the stress of the last argument all but leave.

They realized Gabriel was now looking at them expectantly, and after giving a glance to Adrien, who looked more than thankful as well for his father’s unexpected change of heart, they shook their head and smiled.

“With all due respect sir, I believe with the attack there’s a bit of work I have to make up for. I’d like to stay.”

He looked surprised, as if he’d really expected them to leave. Still, he nodded in acknowledgement before turning and exiting himself.

“If you’re done here then, I’d like you back in my office. I believe…..we were in the middle of something.”

“Right sir.” Mars replied, watching him shut the door behind them.

“I can’t believe it! I’ve NEVER seen him apologize to anyone other than close family before!” Adrien said, turning to them excitedly.

“That’s…….about as much as I’d expect to be honest. Still, it’s something I guess.” They said.

“I’m really glad to know he’s opening up to someone, especially someone like you! You should go back to work though, I can handle things on my own from here.” Adrien said.

“Oh, well….I’m sure it’s just from everything that’s happened today. It’s nice to think it though.” They said before exiting.

They were trying to just brush it off, though honestly? While they weren’t going to forgive the man’s distant and abrasive nature, it was nice to finally confirm that he wasn’t a complete asshole.

Maybe they could even get used to the curveballs of working for Gabriel Agreste, even knowing that it will certainly come more unexpected consequences.

And they’d find that out soon enough.

 

 

Chapter Text

Days turned to weeks and with no longer working on busywork, Mars could almost feel the experience they were gaining from their work. They were constantly observing or working with the programs Gabriel dealt with on the norm. And even when they weren’t working, they found their days off filled with research and practice with these programs and IT work in general. The spark of passion for their work had been lit and while they wanted to be entirely happy, there was still a part of them that was hesitant.

The more they seemed to personally benefit from this situation, the more complicated they felt. For every day spent learning more of their interest, there was a night where they once again contemplated the ethics of the situation. The question of whether they were doing the right thing still hung in their head, though admittedly it seemed to dim the happier they felt doing what work they could.

Even after the incident which, admittedly reminded them to never let themself outwardly like Gabriel Agreste, they found themself understanding him the more interactions the two had.

On the other end, Gabriel himself made an effort to at least act more courteous to them. He couldn’t help but admire Mars’ work ethic, and he found himself letting bits of genuine praise drop every now and then, even when others were around. He felt almost….proud. Though their knowledge and accomplishments were because of him after all. 

Whatever feeling he had about it, he wouldn’t let it cloud his judgement. The issue of trust that Nathalie had brought up still rung in his mind, and he felt he needed to test this new theory. And that would come later.

 

Now, like any other day the pull of the negative emotions through the Butterfly Miraculous led him down to his lair, and Mars simply watched as he disappeared with hardly a word.

Taking a moment to stretch and take a breath, they sat back in their chair.

“I think I'll take my lunch break now. I have a feeling he’ll be down for a while today.” They said. Nathalie didn’t even bother to stop typing.

“Alright.”

Nodding back, they grabbed a few of their things and left the office. They hardly had time to think about what they’d go to eat when they happened upon a mildly distressing sight. Adrien, who’s head turned to them quickly as he had one foot out the front door, clearly leaving. Though today……..wasn’t a school day.

The boy then gave a nervous smile, pretending he hadn’t been nearly out the door.

“Heyyyy…..” he said, pointing a joking finger at them. They chuckled and walked over to him.

“Where exactly are you off to? I thought your schedule was clear.” They said.

“Well……my modeling schedule is clear, buuuut….”

“You’re sneaking out.”

Adrien seemed to falter at these words, but nodded.

“I’m trying to go meet up with some friends.” He admitted. While Mars hated seeing him like this, the realization of what’d happen if he got caught, especially since there was likely an Akuma roaming around in the near future…..

“I don’t think that’s a great idea right now.” They said. The boy’s smile fell, giving them a surprised look.

“What?”

“Look it’s…….if your father finds out—”

“He won’t. You won’t tell him, will you?” The look he gave them nearly broke their heart. They……couldn’t answer. 

“I’m glad you two are getting along but you’d normally be on my side with this. Please, Mars…” 

Again, they were at a loss for words. Yes, they’d have encouraged him before they were in the position they were in now, but knowing the potential danger……for both of them…..

 Seeing their guilty expression, Adrien gave them a disappointed look before turning away and reaching for the door again. But Mars put a hand on his shoulder and held him back.

“Adrien, wait—”

Thankfully they wouldn’t have to come up with a false reason to keep him back, as the office door opened again and Nathalie saw the two standing in the foyer.

“What’s going on?”  she asked, looking at the two of them. Adrien’s head fell and he sighed, but Mars thought fast.

“I—”

“He was trying to see his father.”  

Both turned their attention to them as they cleared their throat and stood up.

“I happened to catch Adrien on his way to the office, but I didn’t want him to interrupt his important meeting.” They said, keeping the hand on the boy’s shoulder, who seemed to perk up. It was with a surprised yet hopeful look that the two shared before he nodded and faked disappointment.

“Yeah. I just wanted to talk to him about something with school, but Mars stopped me.”

Thankfully, at the words ‘important meeting,’ Nathalie seemed to instantly take the excuse at face value like they’d hoped and nodded.

“Yes. Your father is very busy right now. I’ll inform him to see you later.” She said, turning away and entering the office again.

At sight of her leave both Mars and Adrien relaxed. Turning to the staircase and starting to walk up it, Adrien moved in front of them and gave them a confused look.

“Why did you lie to her?”

“Why did you lie to her? To keep you out of trouble.” They replied.

“But you were trying to stop me before.”

Mars sighed and stopped, now sure they were out of hearing range towards the top of the staircase and spoke quietly.

“I was, but I’ve been a teenager too Adrien. I won’t stop you from sneaking out if you still really want to, but please be careful.” They said, putting another hand on his shoulder.

Looking up at them he smiled and nodded.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” He said.

“Right, but still. If anything happens, any Akuma attack, you should come back here if you can.” They warned, as he walked in front of them back to his room.

He laughed, giving a look over his shoulder.

“Which one of you was supposed to be my dad again?”

At that thought Mars laughed, shaking their head before turning back and heading back down.

 

After that experience they ended up losing their appetite and going back to working. However the way Adrien just went back to his room made them wonder if he really did end up sneaking out or not. If they did, would they certainly wouldn’t be able to make an excuse if he was found missing.

Their nerves only rose as Gabriel returned from his “work,” looking frustrated as usual.

“Welcome back, sir.” Nathalie said, only getting a cleared throat and sigh in response as he went back to working on his computer. But the silence was broken when she spoke up again, much to their fear.

“Adrien nearly came looking for you. Mars was quick to stop him though.”

Gabriel didn’t seemed phased by this in the slightest.

“Good. You may send for him now.”

The thought of her reaction and fear at finding an empty room made Mars stand up before she could, fumbling out words they know they shouldn’t have said.

“I’ll go get him!” they spoke up, putting a hand up.

Now both parties stopped and looked at them quizzically, Gabriel especially.

“Why so?” he asked. Mars felt the pressure of his gaze on them and tried to act natural, though clearly failing in the process.

“It, uhhhhh. Well it was me that talked to him earlier, and I’ve already finished most of my work, no need to interrupt Nathalie's.” They stumbled, getting up and trying to quickly nonchalantly get to the door. However much to their horror, the man walked over to them himself.

“In that case, I will go along too. It’s me he wanted to talk to, right?”

“Uhhh, I—You—are you sure?” they asked, but he didn’t answer, instead he walked out the office door before them, and they were left trying to follow his strides as he walked across the house and up the stairs.

“Well, that is sir, if it’s something important he might’ve wanted to—”

“What is it you’re hiding from me?” he suddenly stopped in front of Adrien’s door, turning his head to give them a disapproving look. They felt themselves tense up, but shook their head and sighed.

“I’m just saying, you should be more….well…”

“—Whatever it is, you’d better explain whatever it is I’m to find in here or else—”

The door suddenly swung open, revealing the teen who looked up at the two adults with wide eyes.

“Father?” he asked. Gabriel froze, looking over the boy’s shoulder at an immaculate room, and down at his son who was….well he was here, that was more than he and Mars were clearly expecting.

“Adrien,” he folded his arms behind his back and faked a neutral look, “I was told you wanted to see me.”

Adrien gave a confused look to Mars before remembering the excuse earlier and his eyes widened even more.

“Oh! Right. I was……having…trouble with my homework! I wanted to ask you myself, but Mars told me you were in a meeting and I ended up figuring it out myself anyways.” He explained. Gabriel looked down at him for a moment before nodding and turning to leave again.

“Right. It seems next time you’ll have to take more time on it then. If you don’t mind then, I have another meeting to discuss.”

“Right.” Adrien said. He moved to close the door, but stopped giving a glance to his father as he walked down the stairs, and then to Mars, whom shared the gaze with an unsure expression, but they smiled nervously at him and just gestured for him to go.

The feeling of dread grew with every silent step back to the office until both were inside. At this point even Nathalie was looking at them expectantly.

“Sit down.” Gabriel said. They did exactly as he told the second he did, sitting silently and trying to look away from him. They weren’t exactly scared of the man, but still, they were never a fan of confrontation.

“I’m not a fool. If you’re as good as hiding my secret as you are at hiding your guilt, it’s a wonder I haven’t been found out yet. Now, care to explain what you were so clearly trying to hide?”

His sarcasm left them feeling a bitter taste in their mouth, but at the same time they felt less nervous hearing it. It could’ve been the resentment, or the fact that they already knew they’d basically sold themselves out that made them relent with a sigh.

“Adrien tried to sneak out earlier.” They admitted. The man took on a surprised and angry look, but before he could retort they spoke up again quickly. “But I stopped him! I was just worried he might’ve tried again when I wasn’t looking.” They said. This made the other man’s anger deflate somewhat, but he still looked far from pleased.

“Why would you lie about this?”

“To keep him out of trouble! He’s a teenager, he’s going to act rashly. I just wanted to keep him from acting worse under even more pressure.” They sighed.

 He gave them a questioning look, and for a moment they internally groaned at the thought of hearing his “don’t tell me how to be a parent” rant again, but he looked away in clear thought before closing his eyes and sighing.

“At least you’re honest, but don’t try to lie to me again. On the subject of honesty, there’s something else I’ve been wanting to discuss.”

They watched curiously as he swung open the painting behind his computer, carefully typing the code into the safe and opening it.

They’d been lucky enough to see the book on multiple occasions, and expected to see it again. But they were surprised when he shut the safe and painting with only a closed palm to show. He turned and walked over to them, holding up what he’d been hiding.

“This is the Peacock Miraculous. As you know it’s been recently fixed, and has the power to create Sentimonsters based on powerful negative emotions.” He said.

Mars looked on awestruck at seeing a Miraculous up close. Sure, Gabriel has one on him at all times, but he’d never really shown it off to them. Not like this.

They looked curiously at the little blue pendant in the man’s hand, standing up and taking a step closer to make out more of the detail, but sensing their boundaries and stopping themselves.

“Sorry, I—”

“It’s alright.” Gabriel put his other hand up. He then, to their shock, held it out. “You may inspect it if you like.”

At this point even Nathalie seemed surprised at his sudden passiveness.

Trying to weigh if this was some kind of trick he was pulling, Mars gently took the broach from his hands. They turned the item around, looking at its intricate design and the way light reflected off of it. Even though on the surface it just looked like a broach, they could tell this was like nothing they’d ever seen before.

“Wow…..But…..why are you showing me this now?” they asked.

Gabriel stepped towards them again, holding out his palm, and they placed the Miraculous back in his hand.

“I thought you may as well see it, since we’ve talked about it before. It’d do you good to try and recognize a Miraculous. Though on a wearer it will likely be disguised. Still, it’s better that you’re made aware of it.” He said, nodding.

“Right. Thank you sir.” they said.

“That’s all I wanted to show you. You may leave now.”

With another thanks and goodbye, they carefully looked over their shoulder at the mansion before they left. That was certainly not something they were expecting, it honestly put them on edge. What was it he was thinking?

 

 

 Gabriel made sure they were shown out properly, as he looked over the Miraculous himself.

“Sir…..not that this isn’t a great show of progress, but why exactly did you let them see it now?”  Nathalie asked. He didn’t look at her, and instead focused on placing the Miraculous back into the safe.

“You made a great deal to tell me their interference with Fashion Disaster was a show of trust, I needed to test the waters with my own show as well. Likewise, their reaction to this information as well as to the Miraculous itself is something I needed to see. They were quick to hesitation, but quick to return it when asked….they’re compliant, but certainly not obedient. Still…with time…..perhaps they could be the successor…..” he muttered the last part to himself.

Nathalie looked at him,  almost and if not more surprised than earlier.

“Successor….you are truly starting to trust them.” She said.

“Perhaps….but this conversation must never leave this room. I don’t want them to get any ideas. And I have no intent of letting them use it so soon, especially not after today.”

“Of course, sir.”

“Besides…….with all that’s going on, I’d rather have my full focus on our bigger plans for the near future.”