Beginning of His Truth

Part 3

(3 Years Ago)

Chat Noir got home using the bathroom window, he was completely exhausted both mentally and physically, but his brain wouldn't stop replaying the things he saw while frozen by Pere Temps. He dragged himself over to the computer, and flopped down in front of the screens he'd left going when he and Ladybug had separated for that one hour. He'd done some research, looking for Dr. Poirot, which turned up empty. The man was not renowned, which was something the boy had been afraid would happen when he went looking for him. But he had to abandon the search temporarily when he left to go back out. The young man released the transformation again that night, the ring spitting out his kwami for a final time. Adrien caught the exhausted black cat that had drifted down, before he could land on the hard cold desk. Pulling out the rest of the foul smelling cheese his friend liked from the inside pocket of his white over shirt, he laid the little cat in the container to devour the Camembert, before the creature could voice his usual complaints.

Plagg scarfed down the rest of his meal, silently watching his Chosen with wary acid green eyes. Adrien was very intelligent, his father had ensured that when he had the boy tutored at home, so he knew that when the young man stumbled onto the truth, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. The little god knew he'd not only have to be there to comfort him but to pick up the pieces, things he wasn't very good at. He'd sensed and seen everything that Adrien had gone through while frozen by the Akuma's attack, his shock, temporary joy, distress, fear, determination, horror, defeat, and worst of all rage. The young man explained that he wasn't doing the research to prove if the vision was true, but to see if he could disprove it, that he'd been shown a lie from the Akuma's power. Plagg knew that his Chosen was in denial. Now that they were back home for good this time, his belly full, the little cat god floated over to Adrien's shoulder, and waited for the other shoe to fall.

"Y'know kid," Plagg started gently. "There's a chance that what we saw was the truth. Y'know that, right?" The fingers flying over the keyboard stopped and curled into fists, Plagg felt the boy's shoulder he sat on, shake.

Right now, I really wish I had Tikki's way with words, she's better at sugar coating than me, the kwami mentally bemoaned.

"Yes, I'm aware of that factor, Plagg," the boy replied distractedly. Adrien gulped in some air and slowly let it out, to calm himself before he uncurled his hands and continued his search, typing and clicking away at the machine, his shoulders stiffening with resolve. "But if I've learned anything from Ladybug, it's that you should get all your facts straight before you jump to conclusions. Battling Lady Wifi and many others who hadn't double checked their information have proved disastrous for them in the past, I refuse to be like that. Right now, I want- no need to believe, that what I saw was just an elaborate illusion created by the Akuma from Hawkmoth. I refuse to take it at face value until I know for sure, so I'm going to be doing some snooping."

"Um, do ya remember that it's a few hours before ya have to be up for another photo shoot? Are ya even gonna make it through the thing?"

"I'm just going to have to work with it, now aren't I?"

Bing!

Both kwami and Chosen were startled by the sound, then turned their heads and saw a red marker over the envelope on Adrien's computer screen on the far left, all of his research was on the middle and right. Curious as to who just sent the message, Adrien clicked on it saw that it was from Ladybug. Well, this is a surprise, the boy thought. Then again, we did just get through a long fight and lecturing a couple of entitled brats. Hopefully, nothing else has come up that we need to take care of, since she only contacts me when there is an emergency. He clicked on the name icon to read the message, as usual it was short and to the point.

LB: r u awake?

Adrien felt his lips form the first small real smile in a while that night. There was no sense in keeping his Lady waiting, he didn't mind the temporary distraction from his depressing conversation with his kwami, and quickly typed out his answer.

CN: yes, y?

LB: r u ok?

I thought I'd done pretty good at hiding my feelings, I guess not. Adrien really didn't want to tell her, not when he didn't know all the facts, but he couldn't lie to her either. He knew how much she really disliked liars, especially after Copycat and Volpina. He'd gotten quite the lecture from her when he'd caused Copycat, it had taken place when they'd met for patrol later that night. She'd admitted to him as Chat Noir, that she'd caused Volpina, on patrol that night after defeating her. The heroine had been furious after watching a video of the girl lying about knowing Ladybug personally, when that obviously hadn't been true.

CN: y do u ask?

LB: u looked a bit off, after I used ML.

CN: I was frozen. I'm fine, my Lady.

Adrien knew that he could've put in a pun but had no will to. He wasn't in a very "punny" mood, not with what he was doing, not after what he'd gone through, and not at this god forsaken hour.

LB: do u wanna talk about it?

CN: r u offering?

LB: yes.

CN: not through e-mail.

LB: not 2night, 2tired.

"Me too, Bugaboo," he mumbled. Rubbing at his eyes, the night was now starting to catch up with him. Plagg was glad seeing his Chosen like this, he knew keeping Adrien distracted from the dark thoughts that had plagued him would be good, even if it was a short reprieve. He hoped to convince the the boy to go to bed after this.

CN: Agreed. 2Morrow?

LB: can't. Civ life. Next day?

CN: yes. 10 pm?

LB: yes. Meet near LM?

CN: Can't wait. :3

Adrien smiled as he looked over their conversation, like he was memorizing it to keep it close to his heart, before he deleted their messages, backtracking to make sure there were no traces. He yawned and stretched, while Plagg floated up when he felt the boy move. The kwami then gently settled on the keyboard in front of the boy, stretched out on it and stared up at him, when the boy looked down, he glared at the annoying small cat.

"You do know I was in the middle of something important, right?"

"Oh," came the bored reply. "Were ya now, I didn't really notice since I saw ya yawning a mile wide."

Adrien reached his hand over to remove the snarky little black blob, only be swiped and hissed at.

"Plagg," came the warning growl.

"Kid, look. The information is not going anywhere, it'll be here tomorrow when ya get back from yer busy schedule. Which involves an early morning photo shoot, yer last tutoring session, basketball, and breakfast with yer father (if the bastard bothers to show up this time, the dark god mentally grumbled). Plus, there's no telling if another Akuma will show up tomorrow as well. Hawkmoth has been very unpredictable with when he sends them, tonight proves that since it's now..." the cat glanced at the clock on the computer screen. "Almost four in the morning! Ya need to be up and ready by seven, ya should at least get a few hours of sleep, even if it's a catnap."

"But, I'm so close," Adrien argued.

"We dunno that fer sure, ya've been at this for a while, and I'm not about to drag yer sorry ass from the bed when an Akuma decides to make it's appearance."

"I've done it before, Plagg."

Time to pull out my trump card, I want some sleep and I know I won't be getting it with him clacking away at this thing.

"Do ya think Ladybug would be happy to know ya did this instead of taking care of yerself? Especially, after the last time ya pulled the same stunt not too long ago and promised her not to?"

The boy visibly cringed. That had been a long lecture, with a lot more tears and icy glares than he cared to see on his Lady's face,especially when directed at him. It'd happened when they'd gone up against some local thieves that thought it'd be a brilliant idea to take on a the superheroes who were stopping them from robbing a bank, in broad daylight. He'd almost been shot, luckily Ladybug and deflected the bullet, the small piece of metal bouncing off her spinning yo-yo to hit a nearby wall. He'd not gone to bed for over twenty-four hours and it had shown. She'd punched his shoulder with tears in her eyes and lectured him on rules, safety, and the importance of taking care of yourself. He'd kept his word at not doing that again, so far. He was only half tempted to now because of his mother, but thinking back on the look of anger and anguish on his Lady's face, he deflated. The kwami nodded towards the bed.

"Go on, I'm heading there myself, I just hope that ya don't face plant into anything. I know we're both going to be zombies tomorrow," the cat ground out.

"Alright, I get it," Adrien said, holding his hands up in defeat and making his way over to his too large bed.

While pulling on the pajamas he'd laid out earlier, Plagg drifted over to the second pillow on the bed, curling up into a ball on it and yawned. He watched as his Chosen pulled up the covers and crawled under them, his body heat warming up the cool sheets. Adrien's mind that had been constantly replaying his experience under the Akuma's influence, his schedule from earlier that day and his time with his Lady, was finally shutting down. The teen looked forward to talking to Ladybug and he hoped to have a better idea of what to tell her, when they met at the Louvre Museum later on. The darkness soon beckoned in his mind, drawing him down into a dreamless sleep, next to his snoring kwami.

..

Plagg, had been right. Adrien had a hard time leaving his bed that morning, he'd barely made it in time to have breakfast with his father, only for the man to not show up, again. Nathalie had informed him that Gabriel Agreste had gotten an important call from one of the company's CEO's about an upcoming meeting, a discussion that couldn't wait, she'd said that she'd rescheduled them for a luncheon together later on. After a rushed meal, he'd gone to the shoot at a nearby park, was forced into sitting on one of the most uncomfortable chaises he'd ever had the displeasure of using, posed with another model who used it as a way to get into his pants, and wore the clothes for his father's new line with the fake model smile plastered on his face that had become his trademark as well as his default setting. He'd then been taken back to the mansion to take his final that he hadn't needed to study for, with his tutor. He knew he'd pass the test, so he wasn't too worried about it since it was one of his favorite subjects, physics. Lunch was just as disappointing as breakfast had been, his father still hadn't shown up as Nathalie said he would when they'd rescheduled. The secretary had come in to explain that an important call had come in from another designer about the fashion show that was taking place tomorrow night, that it couldn't wait. The teen had a feeling this would happen, but that didn't stop the burning anger and disappointment he felt eating away at him. This had been going on for years and was glad he'd be leaving that behind soon, when he moved out. After lunch, he'd played out his aggression in basketball with some of the other players he practiced with. The coach then decided to let the team go home early since practice had gone so well. Thankfully, no Akuma's had shown up, which gave both the young man and kwami a much needed break, but they also knew better than to think that Hawkmoth wouldn't find some other hapless victim to morph and control.

As Adrien quietly walked over the threshold of the giant dark front doors into the overly large foyer, he made his way to his room. The place looked and felt as it always did, modern, clean, and cold. The color scheme was black and white, the white marble tiles that the teen first walked across had a giant black clover-like pattern emblazoned on them, with a white fleur de les pattern inside each part of the black shapes, as a type of welcoming mat. Along the edges of the floor ran thin black geometric lines from the edges of the door frame that the teen had entered, to hedge near the walls to the other doors that lead to various rooms in the building, all the way to the white marble stair case. Black marble rose from the floor to the teen's hip, then more ascended in columns to the second floor, spaced out by the white walls. The larger black columns holding up various pieces of artwork in golden frames. Along the ceiling hung four large modern light fixtures in a simple white Chinese paper lamp design, the bottoms of them were capped in metal, all of them spaced out evenly in the large room giving off fluorescent light. Sitting on both sides of the entryway were large square black vases, a small circle in the center with lines going through it like a small geometric sun, the edges and design bordered in white. The flora were constantly being changed out of them, based on the season, and since it was fall they were presently holding the blooming Amaranthus, each one perfect and without blemish to mar their crimson beauty. Four white columns held up the stairs that lead to the second floor, they elongated the height of the foyer making it look luxurious. Tall windows opened the area to let in the sunlight through either side of the door next to the vases, while the sun would be warm outside, the room only felt glaringly cold and clean like a hospital.

Off to the left side was a set of large black double door with the same geometric pattern as the vases in white, which was repeated throughout the house on all of the entrances, except for the front door, which was left as polished wood. In a corner next to the stairs was a waiting area, occupied by a modern chair, the back and seat were white, the arms covered in a dark leather, in front of it was a low brown table and a small pile of books to occupy guests, who were mainly Gabriel Agreste's business colleagues. On the right side was another large door that lead to the equally cold and modern dining room, that seated up to twelve guests for special occasions, which Adrien generally sat at for his homeschooling and isolated meals. The niche that was there next to the stairs in the foyer, held an antique phone, with a large switch panel next to it, another smaller door, and a black coat rack hugging against the white marble stairs in the corner. On the landing of the first set of stairs leading to the second floor, hung a giant painting in a gold frame of the current Agreste family, Gabriel with a serious expression and Adrien at fourteen with a more somber one, both wearing black. On either side of the painting rose more black marble, with large white wall light fixtures in the center of them, and a door on either side, leading to Adrien's room. More stairs lead from the landing to other parts of the house, including his parent's room, his father's office where Nathalie's desk sat at, and the Atrium where Gabriel would design his outfits.

While the blonde teen was heading towards the stairs he stopped, realizing it was the exact same spot that he had been frozen, forced to watch the vision shown to him. For some reason, Adrien's mind played the scenario again before him, he saw the spot where his mother had stopped at the stairs, where she flew off the side railing, her body going through his transparent one, to the place where she landed. It was like his ears could hear the cracking sound of her skull caving in, the sight of his matching green eyes staring out at him completely lifeless from her her lax face, the blood pooling over her parted lips and the crown of her head to the checker patterned tiles of the floor from six years ago. He stood there petrified, the harrowing experience causing his skin to feel clammy, his eyes bulge, and his breathing to become erratic.

Stop it, his mind shouted. Double check your facts and quite jumping to conclusions. This could just be part Hawkmoth's plan. Adrien shook his head trying to dispel the vision and the feelings that came with them.

"Hey kid, ya doin' alright?" A pair of bright green eyes peered out from the bag looking at the boy in concern.

"Y-yeah," the teen nodded, his voice slightly shaky. "I just need to get going on that research, the sooner that's done, the better I'll feel."

"You and I both know that's not true kid," the kwami stated bluntly. The boy looked down at the little god in the bag for a bit, then looked away. "Witnessing someone dyin' in front of ya, whether it's real or not, doesn't change the fact of how you felt nor something ya can un-see. It may even prove that the vision was true."

"Plagg, I-"

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU MADE A MISTAKE?!" Came the bellow from Gabriel Agreste in his office, not far from where Adrien stood.

The blonde teen cringed hearing the tone his father was using, knowing whoever was on the other line was about to receive the ass chewing of their career from the temperamental fashion genius. The teen could hear the man's voice that came from the Atrium at the top of the mansion! Adrien made his way up the stairs to the office, as quickly and quietly as he could to not make a sound. The boy knew it was wrong to eavesdrop on his own father but his Chat Noir instincts were kicking in, telling him he needed to go there and find out what was going on. That maybe there was a clue that could help him prove that the illusion was just an elaborate lie, a horrid nightmare meant to mess with his head. The door to the office had been left ajar, Adrien pressed himself against the wall and watched his father through the crack near the hinges connecting the door frame to the doorway. Gabriel stood in his room in front of his desk opposite of his chair, his back to the door, phone in one had, the other perusing an opened old tome in front of him.

"I gave you simple instructions on which outfit was to be in the lineup, so simple in fact a monkey could follow them blindfolded! How could you mix them up? They were in separate bags, each one labeled, with the names of the models to wear them, for Christ's sake!"

There was a pause as Gabriel temporarily stopped his tirade, listening to the person on the other end. The man glared down at the book, straightened his back, gently closed the old volume, went to his wife's portrait that was done in the Klimpt art style similar to the artist's famous piece "The Kiss," to move the golden frame it was on like a door, one side of the frame hinged to the wall, and opened it like a door. The man was so distracted by whatever was going on or being said into the earpiece of the phone, that he didn't notice that Celine's portrait didn't shut over top the safe door all the way or that his son was just on the other side of the door looking through, seeing everything that was taking place. The boy's breath quietly hitched in his throat, shock evident in every fiber of his being.

I didn't know there was anything behind Maman's portrait, the teen thought.

"I'm coming down there," the man growled into the receiver in a threatening manner that chilled Adrien to the bone, a manner that was absurdly familiar. "I expect you to not be there and someone to have already replaced you, the show will continue as planned, without your bumbling stupidity to interfere with the catwalk. Don't even think about coming anywhere near the fashion world again, because you will be lucky if you even get to work at a textiles factory as part of an assembly line, when I get through with you!" Gabriel then hit the home button on his business cell, ending the call abruptly on whoever was on the other side. He then presses a number and puts the phone on speaker.

How can he be so cruel about a small misunderstanding like that?! I can only assume I'll be fighting an Akuma later with Ladybug, the teen mentally sighed. Then looked back over to the painting that was still left hanging open. What's father hiding behind your portrait, Maman?

"Nathalie, I need to make a trip to Grand Palais. This is something that needs to happen immediately."

"Of course, Mr. Agreste. I'll rearrange your schedule, have the car ready in ten minutes, and I've reset your video chat with the CEO's of the company. Should I inform Adrien that you will not be attending dinner tonight as well?" Adrien knew what was coming.

"No," the man growled, "I'll inform him myself, this is something that needs to be taken care of immediately. I'll make it up to him later." He made his way out of the office through a different set of doors, to another part of his work room, slamming them shut.

Knowing he doesn't have much time, Adrien decides to investigate his father's hiding spot. Ever so quietly, Adrien moves closer to the office door, listening for any sounds, when he hears nothing, he then hurriedly makes his way over to the giant likeness of his mother's gently smiling face, surrounded by gold leaf. He grabbed the frame and slowly moved the deceptively light canvas, to reveal a small hidden safe. By this time, Plagg has left the confines of the boy's bag and is looking around, curious as to what could be hidden behind the safe doors. Adrien has no idea what the combination could be, determined to find out what was behind there besides the tome that was recently placed in it, he looks at his friend, who looks back and nods. The little god fazed through the steel safe, the boy waited a few moments, he then heard the clicking of the mechanism, the black cat had unlocked it. The door flew open, the teen caught it before it could slam into the canvas tearing the art piece that normally hid it from view.

When Adrien peered into the heavily confined space, he saw what looked like old maps and a possibly important file on the bottom shelf. But those don't catch his eyes as much as Plagg sitting next to the giant old volume looking up sadly at the boy, his whiskers on his small cheeks and ears drooped down. A picture of Celine sat near the old tome, a recent brochure of Tibet next to that, and the most damning piece of evidence... the Peacock Miraculous Pin. Adrien's emerald eyes widened in horror, then fill up with tears, his heart shattering into a million pieces at the sight of it.

..

The blonde made his way back to his room, how he got there, Adrien wasn't sure, he just knew that at one point he was in front of the safe in his father's office, the next he was just outside of his bedroom door. Tears had been flowing down his face, he didn't even bother to wipe them as he dropped his bag to the floor. Plagg had quietly sat on the boy's shoulder, after the young man's mind seemed to have shut down from the shock and his body had gone on autopilot to leave the room, the kwami had closed the safe door, which locked automatically and then gently moved the painting back in place. So it wouldn't be discovered that Gabriel's secret was now known to someone other than him. As they entered the room, Plagg was wary of the fact that his Chosen wasn't showing more emotion. Other than horror and shock, the boy just stared into space, his normally bright green eyes, now dull with obvious pain. He floated over to the top of one of the screens and watched his wielder. Adrien flopped down on his computer desk, his eyes staring emptily at the hard drive in his hand, he then opened a door to the cabinet of his nightstand with the world globe on it, putting the hard drive in one of the main compartments that held his computer and gaming equipment, and shut the thing.

I can't believe this, Adrien thought, staring blankly at the computer monitors. I can't believe that vision was true?! Father killed Maman, covered it up, and never told me about it, letting me believe she left us or had just vanished! Why didn't he tell me? I need to mourn for her but if I start doing so now, Natahalie would think I'm acting strange and tell him, then he'll get suspicious. If he finds out that I know, he'll go after Dr. Poirot, thinking he broke the his end of the deal. I can't put someone else in danger like that. I have no idea where he buried her body, I don't know where her grave is so I can go there to bring her flowers, or grieve for her properly.

KNOCK! KNOCK!

"Adrien, it's me. I had heard from Nathalie that you came home from practice early," said the muffled yet still authoritative voice from the other side of the door. Plagg flew behind the middle screen and hid. The boy didn't answer, lost in his musings.

"Adrien, I'm coming in," in walked Gabriel Agreste looking as immaculate as ever, glared at his son. "Why did you not answer me, young man?" This seemed to snap Adrien out of his shock as he glanced over at the man in his room. He turned in his white chair and looked at his parent.

"Sorry, Father," he said as sincerely as he could. "I had some things on my mind. I'll try to pay more attention next time."

"See that you do," Gabriel admonished. Clearing his throat, he continued, "I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel our dinner together, since I'm needed at Grand Palais to take care of business. I'll also be there tomorrow for the fashion show, to ensure nothing else goes wrong. After that, I must leave for Sicily to deal with problems in our branch there, since it's just starting out. I won't be back for a month."

"But father," Adrien jumped up from his chair causing it to roll back from the sudden action, "I'm leaving the house in almost two weeks from now." The designer shrugged his shoulders and looked down at his mostly grown son.

"This is something that cannot be rescheduled, nor is it good for you to act selfishly about this. You know I work hard to make sure you have a good life." The teen gathered his courage and looked the designer in the eye, hoping his Father would listen to him.

"I know and I'm sorry for sounding selfish, but I'm nineteen, Father. I'm leaving the house, we've hardly spent any time together as father and son. We're all we have left and all you've done since...," he took a breath, pushing down the tears that threatened to choke the words from him, Gabriel looked away from Adrien as he always did when the boy brought up his mother. "All you've ever done is push me away, since then. I've done everything you've asked of me, been the best at everything so you'd be proud of me, I've been trying to be there for you. All I'm asking is for a bit of your time."

"Are you finished?" Came the cold reply. Feeling the olive branch from his heart be disintegrated by those arctic words, Adrien retreats into himself and dully nods.

"Good. I want you to understand, those activities were to keep you occupied, not only so you'll be if not successful, at least useful to society, also so you wouldn't think about... her. You also know I don't like you bringing her up, since it always seems to upset you, it's not conducive for either of us. There are times when you can be just like her, way too overly dramatic, and that's not good for you or the company that you will one day lead. Many people will take advantage of that kind heart of yours and use it against you. It's something you're going to have to fix, even hide if you don't want that to happen. While I'm pleased that you've done everything that I've asked of you without much complaint and have done well in all of the work you've accomplished, I expected nothing less. I would never accept anything less from you, since you're my son. While I also appreciate that you felt the need to "be there for me," as you put it, rest assured it was never necessary. I'm glad you're looking forward to "leaving the nest" as they say, understand that we will still be seeing each other in the company. Since you're still modeling for us until your sophomore year of university. By then, you'll be too busy with classes to model and be ready to start interning for the company. You've done well to keep up your end of our bargain, I will keep mine, so long as things stay as they are."

That fucking bastard, seethed the black cat kwami, knowing what those words were doing to the already distraught boy. He tried to keep himself from growling, If I had all of my god powers-

Beep-beep. Beep-beep.

The sound came from Gabriel Agreste's back pocket, an alarm to remind him of the limo waiting outside the mansion. He turned it off, looked at his son, nodded and left. The boy stood there frozen, he waited until there was the soft click of his door being shut, the man's steps announcing his receding from the area, once the teen could no longer hear them. Something in him broke, crumbling away into an abyss of nothingness from the bridge that Adrien had tried to form, something he knew that was important but felt he could no longer hold it up on his own. Plagg flew out of his hiding spot to his Chosen, the boy's knees crumpled to the floor when he went to touch the boy's cheek, like he'd been defeated by a great foe in battle. But no sound came out of his mouth, no tears, his shoulders were slumped, head down looking towards his hands but not seeing anything.

Poor kid, he doesn't deserve this, he thought.

"Hey kid-"

"He says he loves mother," the boy whispered not hearing his friend, "yet, he made it sound like she was a disease, rather than his wife." The little kwami normally wouldn't do this, but he couldn't think of anything else he could say or do to comfort the boy.

This is going to ruin my reputation, the little black god grumbled to himself. He floated up from the boy's shoulder, rubbed his head against Adrien's now pale cheek, and rumbled out a motoring purr. He'd only ever did this for one other being, Tikki- his friend, partner, love, and the yang to his yin. Never had he felt the need to do this for any of his past kittens, but this one pulled at his heartstrings like no other. It wasn't just because of his asshat for a father, or the situation he was currently in, it was because the boy was truly too good for this world and had somehow gotten under the deformed cat's thick fur. The boy had stiffened at first, brought out of his stupor by the his friend's headbutt and the vibrations in his cheek from from the purr. Realizing he'd worried Plagg enough to cause him to act this way, Adrien brought up his hand, petting the kwami's head behind the little god's ears just how he liked it crooking his finger, and gave a tiny smile while gently rubbing his cheek back. It'd been too long since the young man had felt any affection, so he kept quiet and promised himself not to tease his little friend.

CRASH!