Adrien frowned when he entered the dining room for breakfast one morning and saw the newspaper, which normally sat abandoned next to his father's seat, crumpled up and sitting under the window like it had been thrown across the room in a fit of anger. Curious, he trotted over to pick up the paper. He didn't flatten it out right away, because he didn't want Nathalie to spot him looking at it. If his father had thrown away the newspaper, there was probably something in it that they didn't want him to see.
He would read it at school.
Adrien managed to smuggle the paper back to his room without anyone noticing, and then he shoved in his bag before running out to the car. The Gorilla looked a little surprised that Adrien was running so early, but the surprise smoothed out fast enough and he pulled out of the gates. Driving to school took no time at all (Adrien wondered briefly if he could maybe persuade the Gorilla to just walk him to school some days, since it was absolutely ridiculous to drive the short distance unless he was seriously running late), and then Adrien was settling down at his desk in the empty classroom and pulling the crumpled paper out of his bag.
"What did you bring that trash for?" Plagg asked, zipping out of the bag after the newspaper and watching with interest as Adrien smoothed out the paper carefully. "Why is it all scrunched up like that?"
"It's not trash, it's today's newspaper," Adrien replied absently, noting that it was the fashion section that had been trashed. "And I didn't do that, my father did. I just want to know what it was that got him all ticked off."
Adrien started scanning the paper, frowning as he did. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary in any of the articles. Adrien shrugged, figuring that maybe his father had gotten news he didn't like from Nathalie and he had just taken it out on the newspaper.
(He didn't want to think too much about what kind of news his father might have gotten, but after a moment's consideration he figured that it was probably more frustrating news as opposed to bad news. If there was truly bad news,there probably would have been shattered glass and Nathalie would have said something to him.)
Shrugging, Adrien went back to perusing the newspaper. There was an article about the latest akuma, and he started reading it. It was odd that the article was in the fashion section, of all things, and it seemed to be a discussion of the designs of some of the akuma. They tended to be super-tacky, according to the columnist, all clashing colors and ridiculous patterns. They looked like they would be better suited to a toddler's coloring book, the writer continued scathingly, and were an eyesore. Hawkmoth should consider taking a designing class or two.
Adrien sniggered a bit and agreed. Nino's Bubbler design had been particularly awful. Most of the others ranged from eye-wateringly bad to just somewhat tacky. Even his own father's design had been a bit tacky as well, with the ridiculous striped hair, exaggerated lapels, and completely out-of-date bell-bottom pants. He was sure that his father had probably been ready to murder Hawkmoth when he saw the fashion disaster that he had been as an akuma.
"Whatcha reading, dude?" Nino asked, jolting Adrien out of his thoughts as he plopped down on their shared bench. "The fashion section? Don't you get enough of that every day?"
"There's an article on the akumas in here," Adrien said, folding the paper back so Nino could read the article too. "About the outfits."
"It's about time someone pointed out how bad they normally are," Nino commented, looking down at the paper. "I saw a couple pictures of when I was akumatized and oh boy, was that ever bad. Thank god Ladybug and Chat Noir got me out of that ridiculous get-up. At least Alya's wasn't awful. She got lucky."
"She did," Adrien agreed. "It really wasn't that bad. There are some that Hawkmoth didn't go overboard on, and they looked halfway decent." He tucked the newspaper away back in his bag- he'd have to remember to throw it away before he returned home for lunch- and turned back to Nino. "So, I saw Alya's post about Alix winning her and Kim's race. How's Kim taking it?"
Adrien's lunch break was interrupted once again by the oh-so-familiar sound of the akuma alert going off on his phone. Sighing, he quickly polished off the half of his sandwich that he was holding and then wrapped the other half in a handful of napkins so he could eat it later. He tucked it into his bag and then headed for the door, muttering a quick excuse to Nathalie about needing to go back to school early to work on a research project in the library. She nodded, distracted by the report she was working on, and Adrien took that as his cue to transform and take off.
Hopefully he and Ladybug could take down the akuma fast enough that he would have time to finish his sandwich and get some homework done before classes started up again for the afternoon.
Chat Noir bounded across the city, looking for signs of an akuma. He had just passed the Eiffel Tower when a flash of color caught his eye and he paused, then blinked as the most gaudy akuma ever sped down the street towards him. All of the clashing colors on their outfit hurt his eyes just by themselves, and then on top of that it looked like an entire école maternelle had glued the contents of their entire art cupboard on top of that. Sequins sparked, jewels flashed, beads swung, and glitter shone. The akuma flashed a pencil at people, and soon they were decorated in much the same way. It seemed more irritating than dangerous... though perhaps once enough people were hit, there would be a danger of someone going blind in the face of the sun reflecting off of all of the glitter.
"Wow," Ladybug commented as she landed next to Chat Noir. "That's...uh. Um."
"Gaudy?" Chat Noir suggested, squinting at the akuma. The pencil was the only thing that stuck out as weird, and he bet that it was the possessed item. "Yeah. This is even worse than usual. It's funny timing, actually- did you see that article this morning, in the fashion section?"
"About how awful the akuma designs are? Yeah, I did," Ladybug said. "I'm thinking that Hawkmoth probably wouldn't appreciate people making fun of him like that much, but the writer wasn't wrong."
"D'you think this was his attempt at a better design?" Chat Noir asked as another group of people turned bejeweled. "Only a little kid would think this is better."
Ladybug giggled. "If you want to tell the akuma that to its face so Hawkmoth knows that, go right ahead. Me, I think I'll focus on getting that pencil."
The following fight was the glitteriest fight they had ever had by far. By the time Ladybug snapped the pencil cleanly in two, Chat Noir was covered from head to toe in green glitter and half of Ladybug's hair was covered with a solid crust of glittery red. They both let out a sigh of relief as the Healing Light washed over them and removed every last trace of the glitter. In front of them, the akuma turned back into a fashionably dressed woman.
"Oh! That's the fashion reporter who wrote that article!" Ladybug hissed in Chat Noir's ear. He didn't question how she knew; perhaps she followed fashion more than he did and could recognize the normal fashion writers on sight. Or maybe there had been a writer photo with the article and he just hadn't paid enough attention to remember.
Either way, it was very odd that she would be the one to get targeted, and so soon after the article was published.
"I turned into an akuma?" the woman asked in confusion as she realized where she was. "But... why?"
"Were you upset about something?" Ladybug prompted.
The writer frowned, trying to place the memory. "I'm... not sure? I wasn't that upset about anything. A couple of my design sketches got torn apart by one of my teachers, but I knew full well that I hadn't put enough effort into them. I knew that they deserved every single comment they got. I was more annoyed with myself for half-assing the assignment than anything else."
Chat Noir and Ladybug exchanged a bewildered look. Normally the akuma victims were pretty upset about whatever it was that had set them off. There was strong disappointment, or anger, or whatever. For Hawkmoth to target someone who really wasn't all that bothered at all was strange.
"Well, I gotta get back to the office," the former akuma victim decided, standing up and dusting herself off. "I've actually got an idea for the new sketches that I wanted to get down before I forget it." She paused. "Okay, before I go, I just gotta ask- was my akuma outfit at least decent? Please tell me it wasn't too gaudy."
Ladybug and Chat Noir exchanged a glance and grimaced. "Weeeeell..."
She groaned. "Oh, gosh. How bad was it?"
"It- it was probably the gaudiest outfit yet," Ladybug admitted with a wince. "Lots of clashing colors, and sequins, and gems and everything. And, well, you'll probably see what your powers were online. The Ladyblogger was out and about and caught everything."
"Oh, geez." The fashion reporter made a face and groaned. "That was probably revenge for me writing that article about the awful akuma designs. He must have been targeting me. Well, if he thinks that I'm going to stop, he's wrong," she added cheerfully. "If he did actually get upset about me criticizing his designs, then I see no reason not to keep annoying him about it. Well, I've got to get back to work. Thanks for saving me!"
And with that, she was gone.
"I can think of a perfectly good reason not to antagonize Hawkmoth," Ladybug managed, looking a little stunned. "Hawkmoth might target her!"
"I'm sure he doesn't think that it's that big of an annoyance," Chat Noir soothed her, patting her shoulder. "At most, he was just a little ticked and now he's gotten it out of his system. He's not going to care that much about it unless he's a fashion designer or something, and there's no way that he is one, not with the akuma designs that he's sent out, right?"
Ladybug nodded. "I'm sure you're right. See you around, Chat Noir!"
Something banged, and Adrien automatically paused in the foyer, on the alert for whatever was going on. He only hoped that it wasn't another akuma after his father. Another crash made him jump and start in that direction, but the sound of disgruntled muttering gave him pause.
"I'll show them good design," his father was snarling in his office. "Those stupid critics don't know what they're talking about."
Adrien frowned in the direction of the office. There must have been some critics of his father's latest line, though Adrien didn't know what there was to criticize. It was a fairly standard Gabriel line, clean and polished and relatively straightforward. Maybe they thought it was just old and unimaginative, which...
Okay, Adrien could see where maybe critics might get that. He couldn't deny that his father's line this year was fairly similar to his line in the previous year, with just the fabrics being switched around. But other designers tended to do that, too, and it generally flew under the radar. Gabriel Agreste focused on classical designs, and that meant maybe not changing things up from year to year as much as some more contemporary designers.
He hadn't thought that his father normally paid any attention to critics- by and large, he thought they were idiots and blind- but perhaps he had decided to look for some outside feedback for once and hadn't liked what he had found. Part of Adrien wanted to go in and check up on his father, but the other part knew that it wouldn't do any good. His father wouldn't want Adrien to see him like this. He was actually surprised that Nathalie wasn't already guarding the office door, like she had before.
Another crash, another mutter. Adrien cringed and finally pulled himself away, forcing his footsteps to lead him up the stairs and to his room. The sounds were more muffled through the closed door, and almost vanished entirely as Adrien sat down at his desk. He pulled up the Ladyblog to distract himself.
There was nothing like a few amazing pictures of his superhero partner to distract him, after all.
But as soon as the Ladyblog loaded, there was a notice on the top of the page about a Ladybug-related broadcasting going on at the moment and a link to said broadcast. Curious- Ladybug hadn't mentioned anything about another interview to him, after all, so that meant that it was probably something about the superheroes but not involving the superheroes themselves- Adrien clicked on the link. Immediately the familiar stage from the Kidz+ news building popped up on screen, along with Nadia Chamack. She was accompanied by a trio of people, who the banner at the bottom of the screen identified as the journalist who had written the article about the fashion disasters that the akuma outfits were plus two well-known and respected designers.
Adrien probably should have been able to recognize the designers on sight, probably, but he hadn't. Oh well.
"-so before the break, we were discussing your recent article on the akuma outfit designs," Nadia was saying. "And we've also invited a few prominent members of the fashion design community today, here with redesigns of some of our more memorable akumas. We'll see before and after pictures and then they'll explain a bit about why they made the changes that they did."
Adrien watched, interested. The focus was largely on the more recent well-known akumas which meant that there were no redesigns of the Bubbler's outfit. The changes tended to involve a lot of slimming down of parts of the costumes that were particularly ridiculous, toning down on colors, and making some of the costumes look more like actual clothes instead of a second skin. One of the designers had definitely not focused quite as much on the fact that these outfits were to fight in, but Adrien could forgive that given how great the designs themselves were.
Briefly Adrien wondered if maybe being passed over for the interview was what had upset his father, then he dismissed the thought. After all, his father had said something about critics, not about upstart young reporters brushing him off, and besides, his father hated being on TV. It took away his designing time and he hated dealing with reporters who got all up in his face and sprung questions on him that he didn't want to be pressured into answering. Maybe he could have been asked if he would submit a few revised designs, but he wouldn't have wanted to waste his time on that, either. The reporter putting the whole thing together probably knew that full well and hadn't tried asking Mr. Agreste at all.
Whatever had his father upset was something else entirely.
They went through all of the designs and then showed a few designs that design students in a nearby university had done. Apparently one of the featured designers taught there on occasion and had made it an assignment. Some of the designs made Adrien grin, and he absently wondered if Marinette had ever done any akuma redesigns. He'd have to ask her at some point. The idea of redesigning the akuma suits was a cool one, though Adrien would have preferred if some of the students hadn't also come up with additional powers that the akuma could have had. They really didn't need to give Hawkmoth any ideas, after all.
Adrien listened to the program finish up as he pulled out his homework. The fashion reporter stuck in a few more digs at Hawkmoth, and as much as they made Adrien laugh, he had to wonder how soon it would be before the supervillain struck back.
(Somehow, Hawkmoth managed to find an upset fashion student whose akuma redesign hadn't been used within five minutes of the program ending. Adrien just sighed, suited up, and really hoped that the fashion reporter would quit taunting Hawkmoth soon.)
A week later, fliers showed up around the city announcing a fund to send Hawkmoth to take a few design classes at the local university. The fliers were well-designed- they were bright, bold, and it was clear that whoever had made them knew what they were doing- but Adrien still wished that he hadn't seen them.
The fashion reporters of the city had apparently bonded together to continue making a joke out of Hawkmoth's akuma design. They seemed to be unruffled by the targeted attacks.
"It's funny!" Alya defended herself when Adrien frowned at her when she took a picture of one of the fliers for the Ladyblog. "Like, Hawkmoth has been terrorizing the city for ages, and there's no real way to affect him. This is hurting his ego, apparently, so of course we're gonna run with it. Have you seen the section in the fashion section now that they're running daily?"
"It's fashion tips for akumas," Alya explained, grinning. "They do a new one every day. And the funny thing is- Marinette told me this- it's general fashion tips, it's the general fashion tip section, having tips there isn't a new thing- but they've just relabeled it and started over with the basic tips again."
...okay, so that was just a little funny.
"Okay, but they're purposefully riling up a supervillain," Adrien pointed out, hoping that Alya wasn't going to start including something similar on the Ladyblog. Even if people thought that it was funny, it seemed like it was a dangerous game to play. On top of that, Hawkmoth's irritation with the constant fashion comments was showing in the form of more akuma attacks, and he and Ladybug were getting run ragged.
Alya shrugged, unbothered. "Ladybug and Chat Noir always fix everything he breaks during his little attacks anyway. It's not like it's that big of a deal, right?"
Adrien tried not to grit his teeth. "I'm sure Ladybug and Chat Noir mind! They've been dealing with the attacks nonstop since that once reporter decided to tick Hawkmoth off for the first time."
"I know! I've gotten so much footage for the Ladyblog, it's fantastic!" Alya waved her phone at him, grinning. "Did you see that akuma yesterday? Terrible design, especially with those awful red pants, but so cool."
Adrien sighed and hoped against hope that Paris would drop it soon.
Predictably, they didn't. News outlets caught on and started doing little segments after each attack. The Ladyblog mentioned both the newspaper comments and the little news segments, and Adrien overheard Alya considering adding a new section entirely devoted to just those things. Even people who normally didn't care about fashion normally were joining in, apparently sharing in Alya's sentiment that the taunts were a great way to get back at Hawkmoth for the havoc he wrecked on a regular basis.
Only Marinette seemed to agree with Adrien's view that ticking off a supervillain for funsies was a bad idea. She frowned whenever the topic came up. He was pretty certain that he had heard her arguing with Alya about it once, but the conversation had come to a screeching halt as soon as he stepped inside. It seemed that he and Ladybug would just be doomed to deal with all of the akumas that Hawkmoth sent out as revenge for making fun of his designs.
Or at least they would have, had the group of friends not spotted Madam Chamack in the middle of the park one day, mid-report about Hawkmoth and his responses to the criticisms. Madam Chamack was laughing, as though she wasn't perfectly aware that an akuma would surely be targeting her in the next day, and even her cameraman looked amused by whatever she was saying.
"Okay, that's it," Marinette announced, drawing herself up. She deposited her bag in Alya's lap and strode purposefully over to camera. Before Madam Chamack could respond, Marinette snagged her microphone and spoke directly into it.
"Like Madam Chamack said, Hawkmoth seems very bothered by the accusations that his designs are unfashionable or terrible. That's really suspicious- maybe we should start looking at fashion designers as potential suspects, because pretty much anyone else would have just ignored what people were saying!"
With that, Marinette stuck the microphone back in the reporter's limp hands, dusted her own palms off, and stalked back to her friends, looking very pleased with herself the entire time.
"What?" she asked when she saw them staring at her. "I'm right. And maybe he is someone in fashion and that'll freak him out enough that he'll stop akumatizing someone every time he sees a comment about how awfully designed his akumas are."
Adrien could only sigh in exasperation. Why was it that all of his friends seemed to have some sort of death wish?
Oddly enough, there weren't any akumas for a full week after Marinette's appearance on TV. Once they started up again (at a normal rate this time), Hawkmoth seemed to be avoiding going after the fashion reporters that had been such a popular target before. Either he had magically grown a thicker skin, or Marinette's TV appearance was a little too on the nose and she had scared him off.
Either way, Chat Noir certainly wasn't about to complain.
A/N: As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete.
As usual, reviews are always appreciated! :)