So it's been a few more months than originally intended or promised... I'm sorry! I wrote about two thirds of this quite a while ago, but didn't finish it until now. I had a bit of trouble finding the best way to get through this part of the story and it wasn't until I decided to write from the akuma's point of view that things started to flow. It's different (I don't think I've ever read anything written from an akuma's view – unless it was Marinette or Adrien – though I'm sure there are stories out there), but I felt that only sticking to Adrien and Marinette kind of cheepens the depth that is available in the other characters. Don't worry, we will get a true Ladybug / Chat Noir conversation, though it won't be in the next chapter either. Too many other loose ends to clean up first. ;)
As always, thanks for reading, liking, following and reviewing! Enjoy!
Rebound smiled as he ducked and feinted to the right to avoid Ladybug's yo-yo. Seeing Ladybug flick her wrist to swing it around where he stood, he quickly dove to his left in a somersault instead, neatly avoiding her trap. "You don't really think you can trap me that easily do you?" he laughed, "Knowing where people are going is a pre-requisite for a good defense!"
Ladybug faced off in front of him with a determined look and a now spinning yo-yo, "You don't have to let Hawkmoth control you–"
Rebound interrupted her with another laugh, "Hawkmoth? He's not controlling me. He just gave me the power to escape from those who want to take advantage of me. Isn't that right Madelaine?" he allowed a sickly sweet tone to creep into his voice at the end as he held up a glowing purple basketball. "Playing with people's feelings isn't very nice now is it?" He grinned as he saw Ladybug hesitate. "Oh yes," he said, "This one used to be Madelaine. Of course, she felt so bad for using me when she wasn't really over her old boyfriend, but she didn't mean to now did you Madelaine?" He grinned evilly at Ladybug, "It's okay, she's going to make up for it by helping me now."
Holding the ball high above his head, Rebound summoned the other balls he'd created, "Along with her friends of course," he said as dozens of balls bounced across the ground towards them. With perfect form, he shot the ball in a precise arc, allowing it to slip right through the basket above Ladybug's head without so much as touching the hoop, only a soft whoosh betraying its passage. As Ladybug swung her arm up to deflect the ball with her yo-yo, Rebound spread his arms wide, "Attack!"
A dozen different basketballs bounced off the ground and flew towards her. Rebound watched in amusement as she spun, dodged, and jumped to avoid them. A tickle at the back of his mind brought his attention up to one of the balls that he'd sent to the roof in order to watch for Chat Noir's arrival. It bounced slowly up and down in signal and Rebound narrowed his eyes. One at a time is always easier, he thought, turning his gaze back to Ladybug.
Five more basketballs later, Rebound saw his chance. "Do tell me Ladybug, does your kitten know about your other boy? What did you call him again?" he snapped his fingers, "Ah yes, Buttercup!"
"Chat Noir isn't mine!" snapped Ladybug.
"Ah, but Buttercup is. So does Chat Noir know? And what about the other side? Does Buttercup know you're actually in love with the cat? Though I don't see how he could avoid knowing about you and your pet by now..." Rebound flicked his hand, sending another volley of balls flying at her.
"There is nothing for anyone to know!" Ladybug barely dodged another ball and Rebound smiled as he sent a quick follow up. "Nobody belongs to me! I saved a civilian," Ladybug took a moment to send him a glare, "In case you haven't noticed, it's what I do. And Chat Noir is my partner! Nothing else!"
A quick glance at his sentry balls showed him that Chat must be nearly there as they bounced insistently. "That would still make him yours wouldn't it? And there are so many ways that people can be partners..." he trailed off suggestively.
Ladybug's face had turned a deep red, though whether from anger or embarrassment, he couldn't tell and didn't care. As she turned to glare at him, Rebound took advantage of her distraction to send three more balls at her. She succeeding in blocking the first two, but the third one snuck past her guard, hitting her squarely in the back between her shoulder blades and knocking her to the ground. Quickly, Rebound sent in all of his free balls to pin her to the ground in a giant heap. He wasted no time in approaching to claim her earrings.
Careful, Hawkmoth's voice rang in his mind as a purple glow appeared in his peripheral vision, she may not be as helpless as she seems.
"And that is why you keep losing Hawkmoth," retorted Rebound, "You hesitate. I don't."
He gave a dismissive wave to a couple of the balls so they would expose her head. Yes, because not hesitating worked out so very well for you with that girl of yours.
Rebound growled as he reached towards her ears, "She should have said no if she wasn't interested in dating me! Do you want these earrings or not?"
There was no warning as Rebound went flying across the courtyard to slam into the far wall. I warned you, snarled Hawkmoth.
"And maybe if you'd just kept quiet I would have had them already and then I'd only have to deal with one stupid hero instead of two!" Rebound spat as he struggled back to his feet. Across the courtyard, Chat Noir had appeared and was making short work of removing all the basketballs on Ladybug.
Fool! Did you really think it would be that easy to beat them? Hawkmoth's voice rose in anger.
"I've got this butterfly brat!" Rebound spotted a few people peeking through the crack of a classroom door and quickly pulled off some goldens beads from his necklace, throwing them at the students. They weren't fast enough to close the door, and five more purple basketballs bounced out of the classroom at his command as new beads regenerated around his neck.
"Chat Noir, bouncing to the rescue once again!"
Rebound rolled his eyes as he turned to see Ladybug back on her feet with Chat Noir at her side, both spinning their weapons protectively. "Really? You bounced to the rescue? Well I'm truly terrified now. How about I show you what bouncing really looks like?" With a quick gesture, he sent his newest balls soaring towards them. Unfortunately, between the two of them they had no trouble deflecting his attacks. "Looks like it's time for a new strategy," he muttered, quickly launching another volley before disappearing into the shadows to watch and wait.
Alya carefully peered around the corner to make sure the hallway was clear before dashing down it, half crouched and listening intently: the battle sounded like it was in the courtyard. Despite what her friends thought, she did have some sense of self-preservation. After all, how could see get her scoop if she was transformed into some sort of minion?
Ten minutes prior, Rebound had been bursting into classrooms all down their hallway, searching for someone, and Alya had just managed to avoid being transformed into a ball by diving behind Mme. Bustier's desk, and then snuck out of the room in the ensuing confusion. She'd hidden in a closet until all the balls had bounced away, then started following their route with her phone at the ready.
She was not disappointed when she reached the mezzanine. Below her, Ladybug was fighting off a collection of the glowing purple basketballs and Alya hastily hit the record button so she wouldn't miss a thing.
Ladybug's angry voice rang clearly through the courtyard, "Chat Noir isn't mine!"
Alya groaned softly and quickly twisted around, flipping her camera so her face was in the frame, "Sorry all! It's looks like Ladybug is still in denial, even after the events of Exposure. Normally I'd say she might just be hiding it to keep it a secret from Hawkmoth, but I'm seriously starting to wonder if she might just be too stubborn to admit being in love with Chat Noir." A ball hurtled past her head and Alya quickly flipped her camera back around, removing herself from the shot so she could keep a better eye on the battle. "Evidently this akuma knows how to rile her up anyways!"
Alya watched as Rebound managed to use Ladybug's anger to distract and pin her under a pile of balls. Standing quickly, she started searching for something she could throw at the akuma when a loud SMACK brought her head back around with a jerk.
Rebound had been thrown across the room and Chat was making short work of the basketballs piled on top of Ladybug. Alya couldn't help but let out a cheer. "And the tide is turning! This'll be a short fight now!"
A flurry of basketballs converged on Ladybug and Chat Noir, filling the frame with purple streaks and obscuring the battle. Alya wrinkled her nose in annoyance and started sidestepping to a new location, hoping to get a better angle. A moment later, the air cleared – the heroes having taken out all the balls – but despite their obvious readiness to take on the akuma, he was nowhere to be seen.
Surprised, Alya moved to the rail and leaned over, trying to see where he might have gone, but her search came up just as empty as Ladybug and Chat Noir's.
Chat straightened out of his fighter's stance, "Well then." He turned to Ladybug with his baton draped across his shoulders, "What's the plan Bugine–" he flushed slightly and cleared his throat, "Ah, mila– Ladybug, yes Ladybug." His face was distinctly red. Alya giggled to herself.
Ladybug straightened up, scanning the courtyard, "I think it's time to stop waiting on him and start making him wait on us." She tossed her yo-yo high into the air, "Lucky Charm!"
Alya watched as the burst of magic spread out from the yo-yo, carefully tracking with her phone to catch the ladybug patterned ball of yarn that fell into Ladybug's waiting hands. She zoomed in on Ladybug's face as she spun in a neat circle, clearing searching for clues. "Well I guess we're not going to be waiting here for his return," she finally said before tying the yarn around herself and throwing her yo-yo to fly out of the school, Chat Noir close behind.
Alya quickly sprang to her feet, dashed down the nearest stairs and through the front doors at a sprint. A glimpse of red and black was enough to point her in the right direction and she set off in pursuit.
You know you can distract Ladybug. Chat Noir will be just as easy to fluster. Use it to your advantage!
Rebound rolled his eyes in response to the voice in his head, "Yes Hawkmoth, you've only been repeating that every few minutes or so. I get the plan. Now shut up!" A wave of vertigo passed over him and Rebound fell to his knees.
Let's not forget who needs whom now. I can always find another akuma, said Hawkmoth.
"Fine!" Rebound gasped, "Fine. I'm working on it."
Shaking himself, Rebound straightened back up and absently reached to grab a few beads on his necklace. The necklace flashed, quickly regenerating itself again as he pulled them away. He narrowed his eyes as he scanned the store fronts, looking for more people to claim. A bell jangled and he spun, throwing the beads and successfully capturing two more people.
The sound of rapid bouncing drew his attention to the right and Rebound jumped up onto the roof of the nearest store so he could better see and follow his balls. A few short minutes later and he found himself staring down at Ladybug and Chat Noir, who seemed to be tossing a small ball back and forth.
It's a trap, Hawkmoth sent.
Rebound laughed, "Of course it's a trap. But you can't execute a trap that's incomplete!" He scooped up the nearest ball, and with a hard chest pass drove it between the heroes, sending them diving out of the intersection as more balls rained down close behind.
"Did you really think I'd just come sauntering along and walk into your little web Ladybug?" he called out, "Don't you know that ladybugs can't spin webs? I think you're getting mixed up about your role here bug." Rebound jumped across to another building so he could get a better view of Ladybug and Chat Noir as they dodged his balls, "How about I remind you? As a Ladybug, you hang out, look pretty and make people fawn over you. Just like you do with your pet and your flower." He paused for a moment and blinked in surprise, "Oh! Is that why you call him Buttercup? Because he's the flower that has captured your heart? Or at least your attention." Rebound tsked and shook his head, "Poor cat doesn't stand a chance does he?"
It was so very satisfying to watch as Ladybug turned progressively redder and her movements became somewhat less coordinated. It was distinctly less satisfying to see Chat Noir pick up the slack without hesitation. Rebound growled slightly in the back of his throat and redirected more of his balls to focus their attack on Ladybug so he could jump down and confront Chat Noir himself, "So did she get around to telling you that her love for you is irrelevant while I was gone?"
Chat Noir stumbled slightly and shot a look over his shoulder to his partner. Rebound grinned to himself and threw a ball at his head, but Chat ducked underneath, "No? That's a shame. Here I thought she'd have the decency to confess that she's dating another boy. He looked familiar..." He dodged Chat's baton and tried to sweep his legs in return, but Chat jumped out of the way.
"We are partners. Anything else is none of your business," shot Chat as he abruptly extended his baton. Rebound doubled over gasping as it made contact with his solar plexus. Despite his inability to breath, he quickly dropped and rolled to the side, sending a couple of balls around from behind to trip up the annoying cat.
"Given up – on your – puns – already?" Rebound struggled to sound mocking, but he was fairly certain the gasping made it significantly less effective than he wanted, "Have I – touched – a nerve?"
Chat Noir charged towards him with a growl and Rebound hastily jumped to the side. He had barely landed when a whirring noise alerted him that Ladybug had managed to get the upper hand against his balls and he was forced to duck again to avoid becoming entangled in her string. Rebound resummoned his balls, forming a cocoon to protect himself while he regained his breath, taking advantage of the brief respite to pull a few more beads off his necklace.
"So now you're going to hog the balls are you? Didn't you ever learn how to share? Or are you one of those players who doesn't know how to pass?" jeered Chat Noir.
With an eye roll, Rebound sent his balls exploding outwards, smiling as Ladybug and Chat Noir were forced to retreat again, "That was weak. Now you're just trying too hard. Overcompensating perhaps?" He directed his balls to separate the heroes, driving them further apart, then backed away so he could keep an eye on both at the same time. "Come now Ladybug, don't you think Chat Noir deserves the truth about Buttercup?" Rebound frowned when she failed to react to his barb. He turned back towards Chat, "Ah well. You're really better off without her Chat Noir. She'd rather be with someone that she's not truly in love with than you. That really says something about her now doesn't it?"
Chat glared at him, "Hey now, just because your girl was using you while she actually loved someone else doesn't mean they're all like that!"
Rebound grinned and threw a bead at Chat's chest while simultaneously renewing the attack of balls in order to distract him, unfortunately it missed when Chat took a swing at one of the balls with his baton. "Oh but I saw it myself," he winked, "All cuddled up to him as she swung him to safety! And I've remembered why he looked so familiar too. That's Buttercup's face right there on that billboard," he gestured at the large perfume ad behind Chat, "Guess you're just not the right kind of famous for that tramp."
Chat growled and crouched, clearly preparing to pounce, but he wasn't quite able to stop himself from glancing back over his shoulder at the billboard. Rebound narrowed his eyes and grinned toothily, hastily throwing another bead at the back of Chat's head.
A high pitched ping rang out as Ladybug's yo-yo knocked the bead off course. Rebound scowled and turned to see he'd lost track of Ladybug. Hastily backing up further to reorient himself and get them both back in his sights, Rebound tripped. His arms flailed and his eyes shot down to see a web of red and black yarn. His hands slipped between the strands and he twisted, inadvertently tangling his legs as well.
"Chat! The necklace!"
Rebound jerked his head up just in time to see a black blur and feel a tug at his neck as Chat Noir shot past, simultaneously grabbing and cataclysming his necklace, then everything went black.