Adrien really did not like meetings. He especially hated being dragged to them by his father in a halfhearted attempt to get Adrien to "learn the family business" or "bond" or whatever his dad rationalized it to be. Either way, here he was, sitting in a group of stuffy men and women who were coming up with ideas for perfume. The only person remotely close to Adrien's age was a solemn russet-haired man sitting across from him. And he still looked to be a young adult at the least. Adrien had caught a glimpse of his ID badge—it said "Harold Osborn."
Adrien stared at the wooden table in front of him. His stomach rumbled, unnoticed by the droning voices in the background. Of course this wouldn't be a meeting that involved food of any kind. He did not dare mention this to his father beside him, of course. He only hoped he would be able to last until they got home, where he could maybe fix himself a sandwich.
The fourteen year old suppressed a sigh. He wished he could be Chat right now, swinging across the buildings without a care in the world. No need to force an expression or to be perched quietly on the edge of the chair like a pigeon. Adrien wondered if Ladybug was patrolling right now.
It was funny how these people could talk for hours and yet not really say any words. Adrien knew they were speaking, yet it all sounded like background noise. Not to mention, a lot of these people spoke in languages he barely—if at all—understood. Some Spanish, some German, and a ton of English. Only one man spoke in Chinese, and only Adrien's father and a few others spoke in Adrien's native tongue of French.
The latter language was being spoken by the russet-haired Osborn before him. He caught a few words—"science" and "perfume" and "superhuman." The last one caused several people to start.
Adrien saw his father stand up. "Not again...Enough of this, Osborn! Whatever your petty worry is with this 'superhuman' garbage, we are not going to debate anything of the sort in this meeting! We have repeatedly discussed this!"
Harold Osborn stood up as well. He replied in a fierce, indignant tone. Adrien's clumsy grasp on English did not allow him to catch what the man had said. But judging by the expression on his father's face, it was not pleasant. He yelled back in English, which was choppier than that of the foreigner. From what Adrien gathered, his father had up and told the Osborn man to leave, and that they did not want his ridiculous scientific notions in this meeting.
The others in the meeting seemed to agree, and Osborn colored in fury. He gathered his things and stormed out. The door slammed.
Adrien sighed, breaking his emotionless facade for just a moment. He knew what happened when people stormed out—they got akumatized. That was just common by now. Chat Noir was going to have to clean up yet another mess. He only hoped that this perfume villain would not be as musical as Princess Fragrence...
Adrien caught his father looking at him, and assumed a neutral expression at once. He inwardly cursed himself for showing emotion like that. Emotion never worked well with his father around.
It seemed to work, and his father turned his attention to the others. They agreed to take a short break to compose themselves, and then the long and boring meeting would resume...
For the first time in his career as a villain, Hawkmoth found his services being summoned. By an American, no less.
"You give people powers, and I need them. Answer me, Hawkmoth!"
"Greetings, my troubled friend. I heard your request, and I am happy to oblige."
Hawkmoth smiled. "Such anger flows through you. Such a desire for vengeance. Your new name will be—"
"No. I already have one on reserve."
"I can't say I would recommend—"
"I didn't ask for your opinion," said the voice of the man about to be akumatized. "I asked for those powers!"
Hawkmoth clenched his fists. This person was treating him like a child, which the butterfly villain despised. But someone so motivated as to willingly demand his services was not to be ignored. "You'll get them. In return, I require the Miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir—her earrings and his ring."
"Consider it done."
Adrien wanted to fall asleep. The meeting was still going and it seemed like the business with the Osborn man only served to prolong it. After the break, it was agreed that an hour would be added to the meeting. It was getting harder and harder to stay awake, and therefore it was getting increasingly difficult to act like he cared at all about what was going on. Homework wasn't this slow-paced.
Adrien managed a peek at his watch. 20.46. It felt like so much later than that. Surely his father wouldn't keep him past 21.00, right? Growing boys needed sleep, right? Glumly, he hid a yawn. Adrien severely doubted that he would even be home before 21.30, at least. He almost wanted an akuma attack to happen.
As if on cue, the meeting was interrupted with a loud explosion and the wall bursting. Rubble flew everywhere. Adrien ducked beneath the table to avoid getting hit. He could see polished shoes running around frantically from his place. He heard someone cackle.
"Good evening, boys and girls! I am the Green Goblin!"
Right on time.
Adrien saw two purple boots land on the floor. They obviously belonged to the enemy, as they seemed to take deliberate paces around the room. "You all seem to have upset a certain Mr. Osborn..."
"Of course," mumbled Adrien. It was the first thing he had said all night.
"And the Green Goblin does not take kindly to that!" He was speaking in French, now. However, so had Kung Food—and he had spoken mostly Chinese as Cheng Shifu.
A pair of legs was tearing towards the door. Adrien saw a flash of orange and heard a recorded screech before the door exploded. It was now rubble—rubble impossible to exit.
"Mm-mm-mm! Now, now, Mrs. Ovino. We can't be attempting to escape justice!" For good measure, Adrien supposed, the other door was blown up as well. The akuma cackled again.
Adrien grunted. He needed to transform, and fast. But not here—Adrien had to escape somehow, or everyone would probably figure out that the blond adolescent boy in a cat costume that came out of nowhere was probably the blond adolescent that had mysteriously vanished."But where..." mumbled Adrien. His best bet was the busted open side of the building, but they were on a high floor. He couldn't very well jump out and transform that way. The intruder had used a flying machine of some sort...maybe Adrien could steal it? No, no, too dangerous. The akuma had blown up parts of the building just for trying to get through doors.
Adrien knew Ladybug would come soon. It went without saying. Ladybug seemed to like his civilian self a good bit—she could certainly get him down. He felt a little bad about wanting to use her like that, but Chat Noir would be more of an asset than Adrien ever would be. So, he waited.
The Green Goblin ranted a little bit about denying genius ideas, and then he explained that with the help of a new pal—Hawkmoth, Adrien thought angrily—he would take over Paris with his new formula.
"You won't get away with this," said Adrien's father.
The Green Goblin looked at Mr. Agreste with a curious expression—almost as if he knew him from somewhere else. Then, the akuma grinned again. "Of course I will, Gabe. Just watch me!" He laughed.
Adrien had never in his life heard of his father being called "Gabe," except by Adrien's mother. As such, the man actually turned a furious red. Adrien was just surprised that he had showed any emotion at all. But then, Mr. Agreste managed to calm himself, settling to give the Green Goblin the neutral, hardened stare that Adrien knew well.
Then the akuma put a hand on his long chin. "But first, I need to do a little housekeeping," he added as an afterthought. "Much as I'd love to make nice little examples of those who cross me, I need to keep you all here so I can lure out a certain few...superheroes." He seemed disgusted by the word. "You know the ones. That little cat and the Spider-Man ripoff."
Adrien sighed in relief.
Ladybug landed neatly next to the villain. Adrien could only see her legs (he had to slap himself to keep from admiring them), but he figured she was smiling her usual confident smile and twirling her yo-yo. "I know you didn't just call me a Spider-Man ripoff."
"Why not? You're both red, you both swing around, you're both annoying bugs, and you're both going to feel the wrath of the Green Goblin!"
Adrien heard grunting and saw Ladybug's feet leave the ground. He caught the girl's murmur of, "where is he," before he saw her feet hit the ground near the table.
"Everyone, I'm going to get you out of here," promised the heroine. Adrien hear her gasp as she leapt away. He dove away in fear of a bomb landing there, but it luckily landed a bit away.
"Enough waiting," said Plagg from inside Adrien's coat pocket. "These boring people need you!"
Adrien groaned quietly. He just prayed nobody would connect the dots—at least Ladybug hadn't seen him. He whispered for Plagg to transform him, and to do it without a lot of flashing lights.
A moment later, Chat Noir appeared on the ceiling. A bomb had hit the table right after his transformation, and he had used the ensuing smoke to hide himself from view. He extended his staff to whack the akuma from behind.
The Green Goblin looked around furiously, while Ladybug exclaimed, "It's about time!"
Chat Noir chuckled. "Was my lady getting impatient?"
"You moron! I was waiting for you for a whole minute before I decided to step it!"
"Not everyone can politely leave a situation as you, Bugaboo!"
"Ah, young love," chortled the akuma. "But everyone knows what happened to Romeo and Juliet!" He hurtled a pumpkin bomb in both of the heroes' directions.
"We are not a couple!" screeched Ladybug.
Chat Noir landed next to her. He leaned on his staff with a flirty expression. "You'll warm up to the idea someday!"
"Cut the romance chitter-chatter, and help me look for the akuma!"
Chat grimaced. "But the guy's wearing a full-body suit! Uhh..." He thought back to Osborn. Think, Chat! What was he wearing?
He had been wearing a suit and tie, nothing unordinary for a businessman...maybe the ID badge?
"I think it's the glider," mentioned Ladybug. "It's what stands out from the s—LOOK OUT!"
Chat Noir broke from his reverie to see several—were those Batarangs?—flying in their direction. He grabbed his staff and twirled it in front of them to block the weapons. The cat-themed hero leaped and landed on the overturned table. "You call Ladybug a ripoff, but you so stole those from Batman!" he taunted.
"Thanks for defending my image," called Ladybug from afar. Chat Noir just grinned.
The Green Goblin huffed. "That was nothing like Batman!"
"They were bat objects that you threw at people, that exploded. They're Batarangs," said Chat Noir.
"No. They had pumpkins."
"No no no. If a yo-yo and webbing are similar enough to make me a ripoff of Spider-Man, then a pumpkin Batarang and a regular Batarang are similar enough to say that you're stealing Batman's weapons," said Ladybug.
"Fine. If you say you're not a ripoff of Spider-Man, then you're not a ripoff of Spider-Man," conceded the akuma. "But you are both bugs. And I hate bugs! DIE!" With a malicious screech, he hurtled a plethora of bombs in their directions. His grin was manic and yellow eyes gleaming.
"Chat!" shrieked Ladybug.
"I'm okay, My Lady!" called Chat Noir as he dodged bombs like a pro. Well, in his eyes, anyway.
"Not that! Remember? The glider!"
"Kinda busy!" The bombs did not let up. Chat Noir looked over at the hostages for the first time since his transformation.
His father stuck out. He looked frantic—and Adrien had never seen his father frantic before. He seemed to be looking for something—or someone.
Chat Noir wondered if his father was looking for him. As if Gabriel Agreste showed any emotion except disdain for his son nowadays.
Using his staff, the black cat launched himself across the room. He whirled around and screeched, "Cataclysm!" His right hand adopted the familiar black glow of the power of destruction.
But the Goblin was ready for him. "Uh-uh-uh!" He aimed a Not-Batarang at the ceiling.
Chat Noir paused and blinked. "Uh, you missed?"
The leather-clad superhero shrieked as he saw a chandelier fall right around him. It was big enough that it formed a perfect prison. How uncharacteristically lucky. "HEY!"
"I forgot until just now," said the Green Goblin, "that you've got your own feline counterpart in New York, too! And here I was hoping you'd be feeling left out. Her name is Black Cat and everything! I'd give her your number if you weren't so tied up with the insect over here," he quipped, pointing with a thumb at Ladybug. He casually threw several weapons at her to avoid.
Chat only growled.
"Well, either you're going to use your special power on that," said the Goblin, gesturing to the chandelier, "or you'll just sit and wait for someone to save you while I take her earrings!" He sauntered away, and left Chat to swat at the air.
But then, Ladybug swung in with a saw in her hands. "Lucky I had this, huh?"
"Lucky Charm?" guessed Chat.
"Obviously," replied Ladybug. She turned around to dodge a pumpkin Batarang. She dropped the saw on the ground and used her foot to slide it, under an opening, to Chat. "Be careful!" She ran off.
Chat snatched the saw and tried his best to maneuver it with his left hand. Using his right would cause the saw to break, as Cataclysm was still activated. Somehow, the hero managed to cut a small hole in the side of the chandelier. He leapt through and made a beeline for the glider that the Green Goblin had used.
The Green Goblin saw this, of course. He just about flew toward the boy, but he was stopped by Ladybug's yo-yo wrapping around his middle. He did manage to throw one more bomb in Chat's direction.
The bomb sailed right towards Chat. He closed a hand around the glider just as the bomb made impact. The bomb's screech was outshone by the furious screech of the akuma, and by Ladybug's terrified yell.
The smoke cleared. Chat Noir laid, groaning, on the ground next to the currently disintegrating glider. A black butterfly flew out.
The Green Goblin was enveloped in dark magic for a moment before he was released into his original self. And he was...
...Not Harold Osborn. Chat's jaw dropped.
But Ladybug did not know this, and would not have cared if she did. Her job was not done. She launched her yo-yo at the butterfly and purified it. "Bye bye, little butterfly," she said as it flew away. She then snatched the saw Chat had used to cut his way out of the chandelier. She threw it into the air. "Miraculous Ladybug!" she exclaimed.
Before the businessmen's and businesswomen's eyes, everything went back to normal. The holes in the building were repaired, the chandelier was fixed and returned to the ceiling, and even the table was flipped back over.
Ladybug heard a groan, and looked back to see Chat standing up. She ran to him and grasped his shoulders. "Chat?! Are you okay?"
"Me? I'm okay," said Chat. "Don't worry. Your purifying thing fixed me up, and it wasn't even that bad to begin with. So as much as I love it when you hold me, My Lady, you can let go if you want."
Ladybug released Chat Noir after a moment's hesitation. She let out a breath. "Don't do reckless things like that," she got out.
"What use would I be if I didn't?" laughed Chat. He raised a fist. "Pound it?"
Ladybug smiled. She bumped his fist with hers. "Pound it."
Chat turned his attention to the blond man sitting on the floor. "So," he said, "who are you?"
"Nobody," was the smooth reply. The man stood up. "I've caused you all enough trouble," he said in French. "And for that, I apologize..."
But the door burst open at that moment.
It was the real Harold Osborn.
His eyes were huge and he was pointing a trembling finger at the heroes. He said something in English in a quivering voice. He looked deathly pale, like he had seen a ghost.
"What's he saying?" whispered Chat to Ladybug.
"I think he's saying, 'I saw him,' over and over," said Ladybug.
"Ahh, so Ladybug is an English-speaker, then?"
"Oh, knock it off. Plenty of French girls learn English in school. It's not exactly a hard phrase, anyway. Now, shush. Now he's saying...oh, that's strange."
"He's saying, 'Where is he? Where is my father?' But who's his father?"
Chat felt something in the back of his mind. A sort of recognition of some kind. All this was starting to sound...familiar...
"Norman Osborn!" burst out Chat Noir. Everyone looked at him.
Ladybug gave Chat a curious glance.
Chat Noir pointed at the blond man. "Norman Osborn," he repeated. "That's you, isn't it? The news said you died, but they never found a body...classic comic book fakeout."
Both French and non-French speakers looked mostly confused. The blond man, however, looked livid. Obviously, he was exactly who Chat Noir said he was.
But Harold Osborn—who seemed to have gathered enough from Chat's exclamation despite not speaking French—his expression probably did not even have a name. It went from unbelieving to happy to furious to sad to terrified, and repeat.
Ladybug waved her hands to get Chat's attention, ignoring the beeping from her earrings. "Hey, uh, Chat, how do you know this is that Norman guy?"
"Well, I didn't until Harold burst in. Then I remembered something my d—erm—something I read in the newspaper once," he said. In reality, Adrien's father had told him about this story a few years ago, back when they were closer. Having been close to the head of Oscorp in business relations, Gabriel had somehow obtained some very hush-hush information about it all. Even now, Chat didn't know how he'd done it. Maybe he'd stumbled upon a file or something.
Young Adrien—about nine then—had been enraptured by the tale of that strange American, Norman Osborn, who dressed like a goblin and battled a guy in a spider suit. It sounded like a comic book story. "This man," continued Chat, "was once the head of Oscorp, a company that was represented in this meeting...probably," he added in an attempt to distance himself. "But during this time, his son was found to have been flying around under the name of the Green Goblin and totally screwing everything up." It felt nice to talk like a teenager again, and in front of the same people who would have harshly judged Adrien for doing so.
Norman and Harold stared at Chat Noir with horrified expressions. "That...wasn't released to the presses," stammered Norman.
"But guess what? It wasn't his son! It was him—Norman Osborn—prancing around in a goblin costume and terrorizing New York! And soon after the big reveal, he flew into a dumpster full of his own bombs! Of course, at the time, everyone thought he had died. Looks like he didn't.
"How...how could you have guessed that?" trailed Norman.
"Yeah, I'd like to know, too," said Ladybug. She was mighty impressed with her partner's sleuthing skills.
Chat Noir placed his hands on his hips with a confident smile.
Ladybug smacked her forehead.
Chat Noir heard a familiar beeping noise. He looked at his ring and yelped. "Crap! I'm about to change back!"
"Me too," said Ladybug. "Adieu!" She ran through one of the doors leading outside.
Chat Noir bowed to the ladies and gentlemen he had helped to save. "Now, I must take my leave as well. So long! Be sure to have this man Agreste-ed and all. Get it? It's a play on your last name, Monsieur," he said, pointing to his father.
Gabriel Agreste's eyebrows were creased in an agitated frown—not at all the expression someone would wear after being saved. "I don't want to hear puns. I want to find my son. He is still missing!"
Chat nearly fell over. So his father was worried about him! "Oh, him? He's fine. I saw him escape through a vent while you all were distracted. No problem-o. Now I reeeally gotta go!" He rushed past the Osborns, who looked like they were still trying to figure everything out. Norman looked furious at being discovered while Harold was trying to have a reunion with a man he had thought dead (Chat felt a twinge of sympathy for the young man—though the dark glare that Harold shot at Chat quickly demolished that feeling).
Chat managed to get to the stairs before he turned back into Adrien. He looked around. Nobody had seen. Deciding to play it safe, Adrien went down a floor and rode the elevator up to where he originally was. He took a deep breath. He walked into the room, made a beeline for his father, and tapped his shoulder.
"Erm, Father, I ran out when that crazy green guy was throwing things, is everything okay...?"
His father whirled around in surprise. "Adrien!" he said.
"I tried to get back in, but the exits were closed and—"
For the second time in the last month, Adrien found himself wrapped in a hug from his father.
Gabriel Agreste, lately, was a cold man. He spoke tersely and bluntly to anyone, even and especially family. He rarely showed any emotion. Adrien was often frightened of him. One might assume that a hug from him would be awkward and stiff.
But to Adrien, a hug from his father was a reminder that he cared. It just felt right, somehow. It was one of the few little ways that made Adrien remember how it was before his mother had disappeared...
Of course, the moment ended abruptly when Gabriel released Adrien and demanded why he had not stayed by his father's side in danger.
"I...I was scared," said Adrien. It wasn't a complete lie. "And I kind of...chickened out?"
"I see. We will discuss this further in the future," said Gabriel. "But for now, I think we can assume this meeting is adjourned. I'll have the limo brought out immediately." He pulled out his phone and made demands into it.
Adrien watched the others begin to leave. To his alarm, he saw the Osborns going with them. "H-hey! What about them?!" he said.
Everyone turned to look at the boy. Some hadn't even remembered he had been in the meeting. "What about them?" asked another French-speaker.
"I, uh, well, that superhero person was telling me a blond man needed to be Ag—arrested?" stammered Adrien. He flushed under the many gazes.
"He's right!" exclaimed another French-speaker. Some translators, alarmed, told the others this. They all swarmed around the Osborns and kept them from the exits until the police could arrive to arrest Norman and question Harold.
Adrien, however, was long gone by then. He slumped in the back of the limo, too exhausted to perch on the edge of the seat like he usually did when his father was in the car. Gabriel was in the process of rattling off instructions for Nathalie to follow when he noticed Adrien's state. "...And find something for Adrien to eat, while you're at it," he added. "He looks drained."
"I can make a sandwich..." mumbled Adrien. He yawned. Gabriel ignored him.
"Anything for you, Sir?"
"No. I'll fix something later. That will be all, Nathalie."
His assistant nodded and ended the facechat.
Adrien obediently scarfed down the late dinner that Nathalie had prepared (he insisted that all he wanted was a sandwich or bread and cheese or something, but to no avail), which was a quiche of some kind. She had stuck a wheel of Camembert on his plate, as he had requested her do for all of his meals lately. She didn't really get why, but she figured that the teen just really liked the smelly cheese. Even with dessert.
Adrien stuck the cheese in his coat pocket. He had almost forgotten he was wearing the suit. "Eat up, Plagg," he whispered.
Two tiny black paws took the wheel graciously. "Ah, cheese, my love," he sang.
"You weirdo," chuckled Adrien. Nathalie was gone by now, probably to bed. As such, Adrien could speak freely to Plagg.
"Feh. You just don't get my adoration for creamy goodness," replied Plagg. "You made sure that that guy was arrested, right?"
"What do you take me for? I made sure to watch the news for it. And it was all over the news. They even interviewed that Spider guy! He got pretty emotional about it." Adrien paused with his fork halfway to his mouth. "Hey, Plagg...you don't think Spider-Man has a Miraculous, too, do you?"
"Not that I know of," replied Plagg.
"Okay. Just making sure is all."
Plagg stuffed the cheese in his mouth.
"But to have your dad as a supervillain," said Adrien. He thought back in Harold Osborn and his icy glare at Chat Noir. "That must be an awful feeling..."
Plagg swallowed the cheese rather quickly. He didn't meet Adrien's eyes. "...Yeah. Awful."
The kwami glanced, just for a moment, in the direction of Gabriel Agreste's room.
Hey, look! I'm alive! I am so sorry I haven't actually been posting anything for a while. I've had a lot of school stuff going on, and college starts for me this fall! In truth, I have a lot of unfinished stories that I want to finish up and post, too. Somehow I managed to write this all down. Woo! I figured these two shows would collide nicely. I found Spectacular last year and absolutely adored it—even developed a bit of a cartoon crush on the Goblin (don't ask)! And Miraculous, I discovered around last Thanksgiving. I fell in love with it, too! Plus, as I'm taking French, I loved that it is a French cartoon.
But I digress! Hope you enjoyed! God bless.