"Alright then," Louis said as he clapped his hands together, "I think that covers everything. Is there anything anyone wants to add?" He scanned the conference room and Jacqueline tried not to fidget in her seat, hoping no one would speak up. A quick glance at the clock confirmed that they were done 15 minutes earlier than planned. "No? Great! Then we'll meet again in two weeks to discuss progress and see if we need to make any adjustments to the timeline."
Small conversations broke out around her as Jacqueline collected her diagrams and notes into a neat pile and slipped them into her folder. She stood, grabbed her pen and pencil and quickly slipped out of the room.
A small goofy grin snuck onto her face and she quickly suppressed it. Jacqueline had arrived an hour early that day in order to surprise Victor. It was their first Christmas together, so she had decorated his cubicle with mini Christmas trees, garland on his monitors, soft Christmas music, a box of chocolates with a personalized note («Je serais ravi de passer Nöel avec toi! Je t'aime!»), and a sprig of mistletoe attached to the back of his chair: the perfect excuse to stop for a kiss whenever she was passing by.
Since she'd had to spend the morning in a meeting for her current project, Jacqueline hadn't yet had the chance to see how he'd liked his surprise. She considered stopping at her own cubicle to drop off her papers, but she was far too excited to wait any longer, so she turned left and slipped down the aisle between cubicles towards Victor's.
After a quick internal debate about whether she should annouce herself or sneak up on him, Jacqueline settled on the latter. She crouched down slightly as she approached to ensure her head was below the walls, and slowed in order to creep quietly up to his doorway. Grinning to herself, she peeked around the corner to see if he was at his desk and froze, grin slipping from her face as her folder tumbled from her arms.
Victor was in his cubicle, seated in his chair, half turned towards her, and on his lap, arms wrapped around his neck and lips pressed against his, sat Julie. Trapped in disbelieving horror, Jacqueline could do nothing but stare as they continued to kiss, Victor's hand sliding up Julie's thigh and slipping under the hem of her shirt to brush her skin. Julie pulled away, breaking the kiss, and reached around him to the back of his chair with a self-satisfied smirk. When she brought her hand back, Jacqueline could see the small white mistletoe berry held gently between her fingers. "Joyeux Nöel Victor," Julie purred.
"Joyeux Nöel Julie," replied Victor, rubbing his thumbs across the tops of her hips.
Snapped from her immobility, Jacqueline jerked upright and stepped around the corner and into Victor's cubicle, ignoring the crack underfoot as she stepped on her dropped pen. "Joyeux Nöel Julie?" she said. Both sets of eyes snapped towards her, Victor spinning his chair slightly which caused Julie to tumble to the floor where she stayed propped up on her hands, staring at Jacqueline. "Joyeux Nöel Julie?!" she repeated, her voice rising. The quiet office murmur of phone conversations and typing stopped abruptly and heads began to appear above the cubicle walls, but Jacqueline didn't care. "Is this how you say Merry Christmas to everyone?"
Victor continued to stare at her, mouth agape, like a fish out of water. Julie pushed herself back up to her feet and held out her hand to display the innocent white berry. "It was nothing Jacqueline, we were just following mistletoe traditions."
Jacqueline's eyes were blazing as she snapped her eyes over to meet Julie's. Julie couldn't hold her gaze for long and instead dropped her eyes to the floor, hand lowering slightly in the process.
With a single step forward, Jacqueline swung. Julie flinched backwards, but Jacqueline had only aimed for her hand. The berry went flying and Julie half fell against Victor's desk, knocking over one of the small Christmas trees Jacqueline had set up that morning. Victor leapt to his feet to restrain Jacqueline, but a single glare prevented him from so much as touching her.
"Calm down Jacqueline," said Victor, "Really, it was nothing."
"Nothing? Nothing?!" an icy calm fell over her and Jacqueline found herself stepping towards Victor who cowered backwards into his chair again. "I got up early this morning to surprise you. I decorated your office. I bought you your favorite chocolates. We've been dating for eight months! And you think it's nothing to be making out with a another woman?" She reached towards him and he flinched to the side. Jacqueline ignored him, ripping the mistletoe off the back of his chair and shaking it in his face. "I didn't put this here for you to use as an excuse to kiss someone else. Evidently you don't love me as much as you said you did."
Jacqueline spun on her heel and walked out of his cubicle, head high, mistletoe in hand. Silence surrounded her as she walked back to her own cubicle, doing her best to ignore the pitying looks given to her by her coworkers. Once she reached the relative privacy of her own cubicle, she sank down onto the floor and buried her face in her knees, mistletoe clenched so tightly that she could feel the juices from the berries dripping down her fingers as tears spilled down her face.
A smile filled Hawkmoth's face as he stood in his lair, watching the metal iris open to allow sunlight to pass through his butterfly window. As the sun hit the floor, the swarm of butterflies that surrounded him took off from the ground, hovering, awaiting his commands. "Anger, hurt, betrayal… such a perfect cocktail of emotions for my little akuma…"
Hawkmoth put out his hand and summoned a butterfly. As it landed he covered it with his other hand and called on his magic, focusing it into his hands, preparing the butterfly for its mission and twisting the powers into evil. When he removed his hand, the butterfly had been transformed into the familiar marbled black and purple patterning. With a slight throw, the akuma took off, flying out the small hole in the centre of the window and across the city towards its target.
"Fly away my little akuma and evilize her!" Hawkmoth spun his cane and planted it on the floor, waiting with mounting excitement for his next villan.
Jacqueline ignored her coworkers who attempted to comfort her. A few had tried to speak to her and someone had kindly collected her papers from the floor and placed them on the corner of her desk, but she just wanted to be left alone.
A slight breeze brushed past her face, and a sudden burst of power shooting up from her right hand brought her head up with a snap. A purple glow appeared in her peripheral vision, framing anything on which she focused.
You have been wronged and betrayed, came the quiet, yet insistent voice in her mind. And you are not the first or the last to suffer unfairly from the tradition of mistletoe. Jacqueline felt her tears dry and a dark hope fill her mind. Exposure, I give you the power to reveal true motivations and to punish those who would abuse a tradition for their own selfish desires. In return, you will bring me the Ladybug and Chat Noir Miraculouses.
Jacqueline rose to her feet, tucking the mistletoe into her belt. "They'll wish they never heard of holiday traditions," she said as an evil smile spread across her face. The black and purple magic spread from her hand, bubbling across her entire body and filling her vision as the purple glow faded away.