Holy cow, it's October! *does a spooky dance* Aaaaand I haven't updated since May ahahaha, yeah… sorry about that. The whole real life thing kept happening. All of my adventures are explained on my blog. I've missed you! I've missed this! But nothing like a certain New York special to get those inspiration juices flowing again, am I right? Thank you so much for being patient and for all of your awesome reviews of the last chapter! With how all over the place this story has become, I really am surprised that I still have an audience…
Chapter 40: A Promise
"You'd turn… on me… for that girl!" came the hiss of the true monster that lay within.
All Chat Noir could do was say nothing, breathing heavily through clenched teeth as he stared down at the broken man at his feet. His heart thudded loudly in his chest, pounding on the inside of his ribcage as if wishing to launch him off the ground after his lady. He angled his body towards the window, ready to heed to this desire when his father's voice halted him in his tracks.
"You'd betray… your mother… for her!"
Chat's eyes narrowed, his fists clenched into tight fists. He knew his lady would be okay. He had every faith in her… even if it was her anger towards him that brought her back. Any moment now she would come hurtling back through the hole in the middle of the now shattered glass. A window that Hawkmoth had gazed out of so many times. His window to Paris. His window to all the people of the city, whom he manipulated day after day. The window to his friends. The friends he had hurt and controlled. The window he hid behind to fight them, rarely, if ever, getting his own hands dirty.
Seeing it in person all of those days ago had nearly broken him there and then, but he had held it together. He had to. He had to see this through to the end. The sight of the end was the only thing pushing him forward. Only he could fix all of this. He had accepted this task since the moment he had found out his father's secret.
"I was never yours to turn…" Chat hissed out his own retort at last.
"You are my son. You will do as I say!" Hawkmoth bellowed, blood splattering out of his mouth and dripping down his nose as he sought nothing but full control like always.
"I was never yours to control." Chat lowered his head as he smirked.
Hawkmoth said nothing as his violet eyes remained narrowed, assessing every inch of his son.
Chat Noir chuckled. "What's the matter father? Do you not like the fact that you are losing control of me?"
"You dare –!"
The feline hero turned his body fully towards his father again, hoping with all hope that Ladybug came through to witness this moment. The moment he ended all of this. The moment he saved Paris. Saved France. Saved the world. He had done all of this for her. It was the only way. Things hadn't exactly fully gone to plan, but what did that matter when he finally had Hawkmoth right where he wanted him?
All he needed now was for Ladybug to return and the final battle would resume. He would use the miraculous just like he had planned. Ladybug would understand when all of this was over. In her weakened state, taking the earrings from her shouldn't be too difficult. He had hoped to have taken them from her by now and he had hoped that the wish would have been granted by now, but there was still a chance. He had learned many things from his father over the years. How to be respectable, how to be polite, how to charm… how to manipulate people… Granted he was no master, tonight had been proof of that, but as long as he got his wish, none of it mattered.
"You never had control of me… I had control of you all along…" Chat breathed out in a harsh whisper.
He heard Hawkmoth's breathing hitch.
"Was it not me who planted the seed of this idea into your mind?" Chat Noir began explaining. "Was it not me who angered that other model so you could akumatize him? Was it not me who inspired his akumatized powers? Was it not me who was the spark of the fire? The very fire that now traps you here? There's no escape father. Ladybug will be back any second and everything will be over. You're finished."
"And as for mother…" Chat continued. "I will see to it that everything is okay. I will see to it everything is fixed. We will no longer have to deal with you any longer…"
"So you were going to take the wish for yourself." Hawkmoth looked down at the ground as he smirked, blood still oozing down his face. "And just how exactly were you going to do that? Ladybug believes you have betrayed her. She's out there right now in that raging inferno. I made sure of that."
Hawkmoth held up Ladybug's iconic yo-yo, stained by soot and smoke. The sight of it pierced right through Chat Noir's heart. When had he taken that off her?
"Soon there will be nothing left of her but ashes. I will trample over her remains, a mere child, someone who should never have been gifted with such a power. Power like that should be in the hands of someone who knows how to use it. I will pry the earrings from her corpse. This is what you have both reduced me to, but it is all for the greater good. Needs must as they say. If I am this controlling monster you make me out to be, it is only because I seek a better world. You think your mother would thank you for ridding the world of me? It was her who started this whole thing after all…"
"What are you talking about?" Chat Noir demanded, falling prey to his father's distractions.
"You think you are so clever, boy, but not clever enough. You still have so much to learn and I could have taught you it all. I would have freely given you the power of the whole universe. All of it would have been at your fingertips. If it is Ladybug you want, then Ladybug you would have had. If you want her at your side, you need only have asked and I would have made it so, even though she is far from a worthy partner for you. None of this needn't have happened," Hawkmoth growled out.
"But instead you have chosen to play a game that you could have never have hoped to win," Hawkmoth continued, finally looking up to meet his son's narrowed green eyes. Eyes that reminded him so much of Emilie. "Everything has a price Adrien. The universe requires balance. To get something you have to give something. It is for this balance that the cat and ladybug miraculous are essential. Both born together at the very start of the universe. Circling each other in perfect harmony – yin and yang."
Chat Noir listened, transfixed by his father's words. However, his heart kept tugging him towards the outside, even more concerned for his lady now that he had seen her trademark weapon in Hawkmoth's blood soaked hands. She would be fine. She had her suit to protect her. Short exposure at the very least would have little effect on her. She was probably watching right now, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Maybe she had even heard Chat Noir's revelation. Maybe she was listening just as intently to Hawkmoth right now as he was. Maybe this was all part of her plan; keeping Hawkmoth distracted until the right moment arrived. He had faith in his lady. She always had a back-up plan and a back-up for her back-up plan. There was no way they could lose if lady luck herself was involved.
"The wish requires a price. It requires a careful and calculating mind to make the deal a success, and you, my son, are nothing but emotion. Just like your mother," he said that insult so gently. "You never could have hoped to have succeeded. It would have cost you the very thing you hold nearest and dearest."
Chat Noir couldn't be sure whether his father was telling the truth or not. His whole life had been one huge lie that he could no longer accept anything at face value. For all he knew, this could just be another one of his father's manipulative tactics to steer Chat Noir from his goal. Nobody had ever explained this to him before. Did Ladybug know about this? Surely she never would have kept this from him if she did? They were both fully aware of the wish, at least partly, from the beginning. Hawkmoth had never made an effort to hide that that was what he wanted their miraculous for.
"You are a FOOL!" Hawkmoth bellowed again. "Do you realise what you have done? What you're about to do?!"
"I know enough to know that you need to be stopped," Chat growled his reply, clenching his fists so hard that his long nails dug into the palm of his hand, his suit providing the only protection from drawing any blood. His vision began to warp, the outlines of everything becoming blurry.
Smoke snaked its way into the room, filling his nostrils with its thick hot scent, burning his insides. Something felt very wrong. It was like… it was like something had snapped… no… shattered. Cracks also appeared in his vision, mirroring his thoughts. His miraculous pulsed tightly around his finger and he could have sworn that he heard Plagg cry out.
He felt… he felt unstable…
Like something heavy had just hit him over the head, activating something deep and dangerous within him. His mind lacked clarity, almost as if the smoke had polluted it and prevented him from making sense of his thoughts. His mind flashed to his lady once again, the last clear image he saw in his mind's eye before even she too faded away. The expression on her face the exact same betrayed and frightened expression he had witnessed on her face as his father had easily intercepted her attack, sending her hurtling through the large glass window.
Hawkmoth could not win.
He needed to be stopped.
Chat Noir would see his plan through, no matter what anybody said.
He would wish for everything to be alright again.
His knees felt weak as all of the trauma came crashing down on top of him.
"You're a FOOL!" His father's words echoed through his mind, muffled slightly by all the smoke.
He could fix this, he just needed to find Ladybug. He should have taken her miraculous for himself while he had the chance. When he had incapacitated her in the hallway. Instead, he prolonged her suffering through hesitation. What had he been doing? What had he been thinking? In one stupid and selfish moment, he had yearned for his mother, wondering if perhaps he could prolong the whole thing long enough for his father to get his mother back before striking.
But was it so selfish? After everything that he had been through?
Was it so selfish of him to want his mother?
Chat Noir never felt more like a child than he did in that moment. Tears trickled down his cheeks as a deep crimson red surrounded him. The metallic smell of blood replaced the thick stench of smoke. He closed his eyes wishing to see no more.
"You're a FOOL!"
"You have chosen to play a game that you could never have hoped to win!"
"I've got to do this Plagg," Adrien whispered as he stared at the setting sun through the veil of his blond locks. "And since you refuse to tell me more about the miraculous, I need to end this now more than ever."
"But I can't!" Plagg cried out. "I am bound by rules! Rules set in place by the guardian!"
"There you go again with the secrets." Adrien clenched his fists, feeling his skin push against the cold metal ring of his miraculous. "Who is this guardian that you speak of?"
Plagg remained silent.
"That's what I thought." Adrien sighed as he closed his eyes. "I know my plan is risky. But it's the only way that I can ensure that Ladybug and Hawkmoth are in one place. I can't tell Ladybug what I know as it will reveal my identity – something that she doesn't want," he said that last part rather bitterly.
Sometimes he resented them having to hide their true identities. Things would be so much easier if they knew who the other was. He wasn't just saying this for selfish reasons either, though that was a rather large part of it. Of course he wanted to know who his lady was beneath the mask. But it also meant they could help cover for each other, find each other whenever they're needed, and they could work on a plan without having to constantly transform and meet each other in a more secluded location. They could instantly know when the other was out of action.
But Ladybug insisted.
"It's too dangerous." Her voice always soft, yet firm.
"Why, my lady?" Adrien found himself asking out loud.
But she wasn't there to answer.
There was no other way of doing this. Telling Ladybug the truth would risk his identity. Telling Ladybug the truth straight away would lead to nothing but problems. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, but that he wanted to protect her. If he went off and told Ladybug everything now, then his father would immediately figure out what he had done and close back up again. Then where exactly would that get them? At least this way, Adrien could keep a close eye on his father and always know his next move. Telling Ladybug would render them blind.
They were both so young and inexperienced while his father seemed to have mastered his miraculous with ease. He did not need to transform back after using his powers. He was so much stronger. It was clear he had studied the miraculous and their magic for a long time. Secrets and ancient magic that he could just be about to share with Adrien. All of this could very well give them the edge on Hawkmoth that they needed.
He was sure that Ladybug would thank him one day.
"This is so stupid and dangerous." It was strange hearing Plagg so serious and unsure.
"So many things could go wrong."
"Then where would we be?"
"I don't know!" Adrien yelled, feeling his frustrations all rise to the surface once again.
"Okay, take it easy, kid, I'm only saying," Plagg huffed, his cheese, for once, remaining untouched before him as he sprawled himself across Adrien's large bed.
"You're so uncaring sometimes." Adrien narrowed his eyes at his kwami.
Plagg shrugged as if emphasising Adrien's point. "It's because I have to be. When you go through human after human, watching them grow old and die, you grow kinda numb to their issues and concerns."
"Gee thanks." Plagg's words stung more than Adrien cared to admit.
Plagg's green eyes then turned to look up at his master. "But not with you."
"You're the best Chat Noir I've ever been chosen for. That's why I'm voicing concern right now over this stupid plan of yours. You've got to understand that it's not just you at stake here. There's Ladybug, there's me and the ladybug miraculous. You think you can get to it before Hawkmoth, but what if you can't? He says he wants to bring your mother back but… what if he doesn't…"
"He does," Adrien asserted.
"What if he can't," Plagg added.
"I'll do it. He won't get the chance. Like I said before, do you think I'm going to risk him actually getting hold of Ladybug and her miraculous? But… he is the most experienced. No… I'll do it. For mom."
"You don't even know how to combine and use two miraculous. All of that power in one person's hand… it's not easy to control…" Plagg trailed off.
"I'll find a way. Besides," Adrien poked his kwami in the belly, "I have you to help me."
Plagg sighed. "I can never have an easy time with you humans, can I?"
"When fa – Hawkmoth is gone and all this is over, you can have that easy time," Adrien explained.
Plagg snorted. "I should be so lucky."
Adrien then turned once again to gaze at the sun setting over the city. Somewhere out there was his lady, living her normal life, completely clueless to what was going on. To what he was going through right now. He would give anything to be in her embrace. To feel the warmth of her touch. That was the only thing that would bring him comfort and grant him strength. He wanted nothing more than to tell her the truth.
Keeping up the act was going to be difficult. No doubt Ladybug would be devastated when he pretended to betray her. It was the only way to catch her off guard. She would never think he would betray her in a million years. It would help him get to her miraculous. But she would still carry out her duty. If he knew Ladybug as well as he thought he did, she would fight him. He would need to be convincing. His mother was an actress, and he had watched her on set many times when he was little. He had to put on an act every day in front of his father. He had to put on an act in front of his friends. Most of the time he had to pretend to be happy while all he wanted to do was scream, from his early childhood right up until now.
He could feel the bars of the cage closing in on him. But soon he would finally be free. His father would be defeated. He would have his mother back and they would live happily together. All of this would be over. He would finally be free.
A swift knock on his bedroom door snapped him out of his thoughts. Without even waiting for permission, Nathalie had let herself into the room, her expression as serious as ever. Adrien could barely bring himself to look up at her without feeling sick.
She knew. This whole time… she knew…
Adrien had always had the utmost respect for Nathalie. When his father had been overly harsh on him, she was always there to wipe his tears and protect him from his full wrath. She had been one of the few constants in his life. The only source of stability. She was always so stern and serious, but deep down, Adrien had always gotten the sense that she cared. When his mother had disappeared, it was Nathalie who stepped up and saw to his care, especially during those few months where his father had been inconsolable and catatonic with grief.
What was in this for her?
"What was in it for you?" A new voice entered his mind.
Adrien closed his eyes, a small smile dancing across the corner of his lips as her voice echoed around him, sending shivers up his spine.
"Ladybug…" Adrien breathed before opening his eyes again.
The scene of his bedroom had disappeared, being replaced by nothing other than a black, empty void. His eyes scanned the void desperately, hoping to catch a glimpse of his lady but she was nowhere to be seen. Was he going crazy? Had he finally cracked after all this time?
"That doesn't answer my question." Her voice was now sterner, just like the way she used to scold him when he screwed something up during a fight. He felt his leather cat ears flatten against his head in response to her, always submissive to her every word.
"Why did you do this? Why didn't you just tell me the truth?"
"I had no choice!" Chat Noir cried out desperately in response.
"There's always a choice."
"I was backed into a corner!"
"There's always a way out."
"If that's the case then why did you have to leave me and DIE?!" Chat Noir found himself snarling into the void. However, he instantly regretted his outburst and his ears once again flattened against his head as he clasped his hands over his mouth. His eyes burned with tears as the silence felt like it lasted an eternity.
"There you go again with the secrets and lies," Chat Noir once again couldn't help but retort. "All you ever did was keep secrets from me, yet I'm the bad guy for doing the exact same thing. You're a hypocrite!"
Ladybug remained silent again.
"You're a hypocrite!" Chat cried out again, unleashing all of his pent up anger and resentment. "What was I supposed to do when I found out my own father was Hawkmoth?! There's no guide book for this kind of thing y'know!"
"And you have the nerve to criticise me and blame me for what happened!" Chat barked into the darkness. "How could you so easily have accepted that I 'betrayed' you?! How could you just give up on the fight like that?! How could you leave us?! How could you leave… me…?" Chat breathed out that last part as a single tear trailed down his cheek. He moved his hands down to place them over his heart as it squeezed and contorted painfully.
"I'm not perfect, Chat Noir," came Ladybug's response at long last, her voice turning sad.
Chat Noir smiled despite everything. "Yes you are. That's why I took this one moment I had to prove myself to you. For once, I was going to be your hero. I was going to have my mother back. I was going to defeat Hawkmoth. I was going to protect you, keep you safe while also keeping my promise about not revealing our identities to each other. It wasn't supposed to go wrong…
"But it did."
"It did…" Chat Noir repeated in a broken whisper. "And now I'm the only one left to live with the consequences…"
"That's not true…"
"Lord knows I've paid the price, haven't I?!" He reverted back to screaming. "Paid the price for making the mistake of thinking I could go it alone! That I was capable of the romantic notion of saving the day! That I could have my cake and eat it! Instead… I lost everything. I gambled with everything I had and I lost it all."
"Just go away," Chat pleaded, falling to his knees. "Haven't I been tormented enough?"
A cold ghostly hand touched his shoulder, taking him by surprise. Familiar lips felt so close to his ear that he could feel the cold wisps of her breath against his skin, smell her sweet strawberry-like scent with the subtle hint of freshly baked bread.
"You have to let go." Ladybug's voice was now right next to him. Chat Noir didn't dare turn around in case in made her disappear.
"I can't…" Chat croaked.
"You can… you have to go on…"
"Not without you." His hand reached up to touch her cold one that rested against his shoulder.
"But you won't be. I'm right here."
"This is all just a dream…"
Ladybug chuckled. "Is that such a bad thing?"
"I wish that I never have to wake up."
Ladybug gasped. "Don't say things like that."
"I've got nothing left to live for."
"Once you lose everything, you have everything to live for."
"You're starting to sound like a fortune cookie," Chat Noir sighed out, still not risking a glance behind him.
Ladybug laughed, and the sound instantly had a calming effect on his pounding heart.
"And you no longer have nothing, do you?" Ladybug asked once her giggles had calmed down.
"What are you talking about?" Chat questioned.
"Look at me, Chat."
Chat Noir squeezed his eyes tightly closed. "I'm afraid to."
"Look at me," she commanded again.
Unable to resist her siren call like always, Chat Noir slowly opened his eyes and turned to gaze upon the face of… Marinette?
Chat Noir frantically looked around, looking for where his lady had vanished to, only to have his face cupped in Marinette's soft and warm hands. She smiled up at him, and Chat Noir remained frozen in place, confused yet completely entranced by those gentle yet familiar looking eyes.
"You have me," she gently whispered, bringing their faces ever closer together. "I told you, I'm right here…"
Their lips were mere millimetres apart as they ghosted over each other, teasing and unsure. A spark of electricity flowed between them and that was all Chat Noir needed. He was drawn to her like a powerful magnet and their lips crashed together into a heated dance. His ring no longer strangled his finger and his heart no longer ached in agony. Instead, it was replaced with a new kind of aching. Only this one was pleasurable, masochistic almost. Marinette both soothed it yet fuelled it at the same time in a paradoxical way.
Everything that ailed him melted away. His longing for Ladybug vanished in this gift that she had left in her place. The gift to help him move on. To help him accept himself and everything that he had done now that he had confronted it face to face.
He couldn't change what had happened. He had done some bad things, even if they had the best of intentions. There was no changing the consequences, but he could change how he responded them. He could try and improve from them. The girl currently crushed in his embrace was certainly enough reason to. She gave him strength. She helped him. There was no shame in needing that extra little bit of help. He… he could let her in…
Chat Noir's eyes snapped open as he lay sprawled out in the middle of the grand entrance to his house. He hadn't even made it a few feet in before he had collapsed into a heap on the ground. Dark cracks in the tiles surrounded him. The whole room was almost pitch black if it wasn't for the faint rays of moonlight that seeped their way between the ripped curtains.
The tears in the fabric were jagged, almost as if they had been created by a beast. His house hadn't been that much a wreck when he had left it… had it? He couldn't remember. The last thing he remembered was fleeing from his princess. His lips still burned from the kiss they had shared from earlier in the day and from his dream.
The flames travelled from his lips and danced across the rest of his skin, joining together over his heart that continued to pull him forward, tugging him the direction from which he had previously fled.
Soon, the mess he had awoken in was forgotten. All that was on his mind was Marinette and what she must be feeling right now. He had kissed her. He had kissed her and fled. His mind tormented by the thought of having betrayed Ladybug. But none of that mattered to him anymore. All that mattered was Marinette.
But did she feel the same way?
There was only one way to find out…
Without giving himself time to think things through properly, Chat Noir propelled himself onto his feet and flew through one of the shattered windows before extending his baton to launch himself through the city. The night's breeze did very little to soothe his burning skin and that only spurred him on even more. Faster and faster he glided through the city with only one mission in mind.
The bakery soon came into view, and only a single light remained on in the attic room of the apartment. His heart leaped up into his throat, forming a large lump there that almost choked him. He ignored it though, landing gracefully on the titled roof before pushing himself up onto the top most balcony of the building.
The hatch he had escaped from remained open and the warm orange light within shone through, inviting him in. He took cautious steps though, being careful to not make any sudden or startling sounds. Almost in a hypnotized like state, he pressed on, refusing to run away this time.
Warm light grew closer and closer until Chat Noir peered inside the room, his eyes scanning everything before they finally landed on the hunched over form of a girl sitting at her desk, her head buried in her hands, almost completely slumped over. His more acute eyesight managed to pick up on the small shakes of her shoulders which immediately threatened to shatter him. But he needed to fix this. He could not run away from her a second time.
Slowly lowering himself into her room, Chat Noir grabbed hold of one of the beams that supported the ceiling, holding himself with only one hand as the other lowered itself down to carefully stroke one of the tears away from a small exposed part of Marinette's cheek.
She gasped and immediately looked up, her beautiful blue eyes wide and fearful before morphing into confusion and pain. Did she want this as much as he did? Was she crying because he had scared her? Or was she crying because she had hated to see him leave? He had to know.
"Marinette…" was all he could stupidly whisper though.
Marinette's chest heaved slightly with a suppressed sob, but not once did she break eye contact with him.
"Y-you came back?" she gasped out.
Chat Noir responded by crashing his lips against her own. Marinette responded immediately, cupping his cheeks in her hands just like she had done in his dream, pulling him even closer. Her lips tasted of her salty tears, but her underlying natural taste was still there, and Chat couldn't help but lap it up as his tongue traced her lips. Marinette opened her mouth to deepen the kiss and let him explore further. They explored each other's mouths, the fire across Chat Noir's skin igniting under her touch, like pouring gasoline over an already burning blaze.
In that moment, nothing else mattered.
Much too soon, they needed to pull apart for air, both of them gasping as they did so. Still they kept their faces merely millimetres apart, their lips still faintly touching as they stared into each other's half lidded eyes.
"I always come back for my princess," Chat Noir breathed passionately before sealing his promise to her with a kiss.
To be continued…
Ahhhh please don't throw rocks at me! This was a tricky decision to make, but trust me, it's for the best! I know what I'm doing! I promise! As I was planning this story and the sequel, this idea felt like it made the most sense! This story is already 40 chapters long and this felt like a good place to end a part 1, if that makes sense? Otherwise I would have to rush and cut so many things, which I really don't want to do. Then the idea hit me. Split Madness Within in half. Well, half of an already-made half since I still also plan to do the sequel. So yeah, that means there's going to be 3 parts to this story and this is the end of the first half. Next we have part 2, Madness Unleashed, which I'll hopefully have released at some point next week. This is what's going to work for the best guys, trust me.
So now that I've hit you with this out of nowhere, I hope that we're still cool? Are we still friends? I hope so. I have a feeling this decision is going to cause quite a stir and I'm expecting some heat in the reviews, but please really do trust me when I say that this is the best decision and that I know what I'm doing. I don't want to make anyone angry in a bad way. If you're angry in a good way because of that cliffhanger then feel free to vent that at me. I like seeing you all squirm mwah ha ha ha!
So this story is now a trilogy: Madness Within, Madness Unleashed, and Madness Untamed. Feel free to keep an eye on my blog if you need some more detailed explanations and news. I do weekly updates on Saturdays to keep you up to date on my writing, life and adventures. Links are available on my profile, or you can just search Taurus Pixie on Google or something, I dunno, it usually pops up there somewhere. FanFiction doesn't let me put links in my stories.
Despite the sudden ending/not ending/cliff hanger, I hope that you guys enjoyed everything! Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in a review as they always help me out. Just don't throw rocks at me like I said… please? This story has been going for over 2 years now which is nuts. To think I was but a foetus still in university when I started this. I just hope the sequels don't take this long ahahahahaha… *sweatdrop*
Thank you for being a part of this and I hope that you continue to do so.