"Faster Sabrina, Faster! If you don't speed things up, we're gonna lose them and I'll miss my chance!" Chloe snapped impatiently from the back of her bestie's scooter as it cut through the park at a brisk speed.
"I-I can't take too many risks, Chloe!" Sabrina remarked nervously from the driver's seat. "My Dad bought me this for getting the best grades in class, and I don't want to risk damaging it before my provisional licence expires! Plus, I know you hate hospital food…"
"Yeah, blah blah blah. Safety first, and all that." Chloe rolled her eyes as if such trivial concerns were beneath her. "Why do you think I'm wearing this specially-designed bluish helmet? Don't you think it brings out the color in my eyes? It took me hours last night to find just the right shade online, and have it hand-delivered to the hotel this morning. It's even got sparkles!"
"U-Um yes, very nice Chloe. Though I don't see why you couldn't have just saved some money, and just worn my spare." Sabrina stammered earnestly, whilst just evading a courting couple having a now not-so-private picnic. "D'you think we could carry on this conversation later, because I need to concentrate on what's in front of me."
"...Refuse my help, just because I 'blabbed to the world', would they? Say I'd 'be in danger' because everyone knows my identity, might I? It's ridiculous, utterly ridiculous!" Ignoring Sabrina's (in her view) unimportant mumblings, the fuming blonde continued ranting up a storm. "I'll show them! Wherever Ladybug and her stupid sidekicks go from now on, I'll be there to remind them what they're missing out on! They'll be simply lost without Queen Bee to protect them, and the second they realize that I'll be there to reclaim my prize!"
"I-I don't mean to disagree, but I think you've kind of missed the point here, Chloe…" Sabrina wasn't usually this expressive in her views, but a combination of 'road rage' and having the blonde scream in her ear the entire journey lowered her neutrality for once. "It's not that you didn't do a good job. It's just like you said: you and your nearest and dearest might be in danger if you carried on your other lifestyle, if villains decided to target you. For instance, wouldn't you feel terrible if something happened to the mayor?"
"Hmph! What a load of crap!" It was obvious that Audrey Bourgeois had brought back some less-than-savory phrases from New York, and now her daughter had latched onto them. "Daddykins has the entire police force to protect him, provided your father does his job. As for mother, well it's difficult to imagine anyone scaring her: quite the reverse, actually. And if I had Pollen with me twenty-four/seven, it wouldn't matter if anyone came after me. I'd just give them a dose of my 'Stinger', and they'd soon see that messing with Queen Bee is the biggest mistake they'd ever make! And their last."
"W-Whatever you say, Queen Be… I-I mean, Chloe." Sabrina had by now flailed in the face of Chloe's unhinged tirade, and returned to her usual subservient self. "But just a final note: based on my observations, not even Rena Rogue and Carapace are allowed to keep their Miraculous permanently, so I don't think…"
"Of course not, duh! I'm far better than both of them combined, and so deserve special treatment. I dare say, I'd even make a far better partner for Ladybug than that mangy cat she hangs around with!" If Chloe was kidding around, the stony expression set on her features didn't quite read that way. "In fact, the more I think about it, I could probably defend the city all by myself: but I suppose we need Ladybug's ability to deakumatize the victims afterwards. Oh well, you can't have everything I suppos… Sabrina! Right turn! Now!"
Even in the midst of her rant against all and sundry, Chloe was on the lookout for a certain band of superheroes… and at that precise moment, signs of fighting from just over the hill caused her to point excitedly into the distance.
This wasn't very convenient for Sabrina though, as the presence of Chloe's carefully manicured fingernails on the visor caused her to almost flip the vehicle over in surprise.
"Chloe! What do you think you're doing?! If you're trying to get us involved in a serious accident, you're going the right way about it!" Sabrina was back to being this new assertive side of herself as she swatted her friend's hand aside aggressively. "I can see them! I'm driving there right now! I don't need you to distract me with anything! Do you have any idea how dangerous that is? Do you really want to get hurt?!"
"I-I'm s-sorry, I-I just thought…" taken aback by the redhead's unprecedented tone, a shaken Chloe hastily withdrew her digits from Sabrina's eyeline.
"That's the problem with you, you never think." Temporarily buoyed by this newfound flush of confidence, Sabrina hit her stunned bestie with a few more home truths. "The only reason I'm on this stupid wild goose chase with you is because you're too lazy to learn to ride a scooter yourself, and the mayor refuses to let you use the limo for such a pointless reason! Now, are you going to be quiet and let me drive the rest of the way there, or am I going to have to drop you off here and go back home without you?"
"I-I'll be good…" a very confused Chloe slumped in the back of her seat, feeling slightly dazed and being unusually cooperative with her more commonly meek and mild friend.
Sabrina knew this state of affairs wouldn't last however, and it wouldn't be too long before business resumed as before. Chloe would be ruling the roost with an iron fist, and she'd almost certainly make Sabrina pay for her 'unseemly outburst' just now in the not-too-distant future.
It was totally worth it though, Sabrina thought smugly, as she resumed her now much more pleasant ride to the origin of the battle site.
"Miraculous Ladybug!" came the unmistakable clarion call of Ladybug, as she set everything right again with a simple sweep of her trusty yo-yo.
"Is it just me my Lady, or are the akumas getting easier these days? Not that I'm complaining too much, because it gives me more time to work on my purr-fect jokes!" Chat Noir winked good-naturedly at the spotted heroine, as his 'tail' blew gently in the mid-afternoon breeze.
"Pffff... as if, Kitty! You've had more than a year to improve your material. If you were actually going to be funny, I'd say you'd at least have cracked a decent one-liner by now!" Rena Rogue shook her head in pity at the feline hero's lack of wit.
"He's got a point, though… ever since Hawkmoth and Mayura nearly defeated us on Heroes Day, we haven't really had a true challenge, have we?" Carapace thoughtfully scratched his forehead with the side of his shield.
"That's because there are four of us now, instead of just me and Chat!" Ladybug now joined the conversation, as the frantic chaos of before returned to blessed normality. "Not to mention, all of our other superhero friends that occasionally make an appearance. I wouldn't get too comfortable though: things could take a turn for the worse at any time. For example, I have it on good authority that in the very near future…"
"Come on my Lady, we've just had a magnificent victory against that feathered fiend Mr Pigeon! For e-er, the third time." Even Chat would confess ol' Hawkie was beginning to get a little uninspired, but for now he had an unrelated question to ask one of his fellow heroes. "And as for you Rena, how do you know I've never had a funny gag? Last time I checked, you'd just joined the squad. Have you been keeping a blog on me, or something?"
"O-Of course not. W-Whatever gave you that idea?" Rena Rogue paled against Chat's determined interrogation, well aware that for now only Ladybug was supposed to know her secret identity. Carapace (also, her boyfriend) discovering it was purely an accident. A happy one, as it turned out.
"Listen guys, you might wanna postpone your little argument for now. I see trouble on the horizon. Literally." Something had caught Carapace's attention in the distance… and it was approaching at a rapid pace, straight towards them.
"What the… it better not be another akuma. My powers run out in five… oops, I mean four minutes!" Ladybug gulped apprehensively, as she watched the spots on her yo-yo gradually count down.
"Apart from my devilish good looks and this big stick I carry around, I'm pretty much defenceless as well!" Chat Noir was also mildly panicking, with his Cataclysm well and truly used up.
"What'll we do? Without my ability to create illusions, I'm just a girl with big ears and an oversized flute she can barely play!" Rena Rogue was similarly flummoxed by the prospect of one baddie quickly following another.
"Even though I can't 'protect' you with Shell-ter right now, I won't leave your side whatever the threat might be." Carapace vowed to his girlfriend, as he linked arms with her. "Is everyone ready? It's here…"
At first, the clouds of dirt being swirled up by the scooter's fast speed had prevented the quartet of superheroes from scoping out just who the mysterious interloper was.
But as the rushing vehicle came screeching to an abrupt halt and both passenger and driver removed their headgear in unison, the defensive poses soon turned to groans of annoyance. Ladybug glared at the blonde and the redhead walking briskly towards the heroes, and waited for them to arrive before wearily addressing both with irritation.
"Chloe, what have I told you about following me around when I'm on duty? You could come to significant harm if you're not careful. And if this is about your Miraculous being taken away from you, let me repeat, for the millionth time, that it was…"
" 'For my own good'. Yes, I know. You've hammered that point into the back of my skull so much I don't think I'll ever forget it." Chloe snarled in frustration at her 'idol', indicating that perhaps she hadn't really listened that much after all. "It's just that I happen to disagree. I can look after myself, you know. Also, if you had me helping you out today, that birdbrain would've been vanquished a full two minutes earlier! Then you wouldn't have to go back to wherever you come from, and you could spend more time hanging out with me!"
Gee, what an incentive Ladybug nearly replied, but she had to at least try adopting a veneer of professionalism in her work at all times. (Besides, judging by past experiences, detecting sarcasm wasn't exactly one of Chloe's main skills)
"Listen very carefully to me Chloe, and on this occasion please don't block it out just because you don't like what I'm saying. While I truly appreciate all the help and support you gave me before as Queen Bee, the fact still remains it's still far too risky to let you be her again for the foreseeable future. Mayura nearly captured the comb the last time you put it on, and if Hawkmoth ever got his hands on it, who knows what he could do. And that's to say nothing of the jeopardy you, your family and friends would be in! I'd never be able to forgive myself if anything happened to you on account of my negligence."
"B-But… I-It's what I live for..." Chloe stuttered, her eyes stained with (for once) genuine tears.
"...I'm not entirely ruling out the prospect of you using it again Chloe, but not until I'm a hundred percent sure it is safe for you to do so. I hope this draws the matter to a close, and I trust you're intelligent enough not to keep stalking me when I'm on a mission from now on. It's not going to change my mind, and it might even stop me from giving you the Miraculous in the future if the opportunity arose. After all, if you can't even follow this simple instruction, how can I trust you as a member of my squad?"
Ladybug decided she'd said enough to the errant teenager, and signalled to the rest of the heroes it was time to depart before they all transformed back there and then. One minute didn't sound like long to find somewhere shady to de-costume, but they'd managed it by the skin of their teeth in the past, why should now be different?
Meanwhile, as the heroes alternatively swung and spun away, Chloe felt as low as she ever had. It was just as bad as the time her Mom almost left for America with that stupid Mari-brat instead of her… even worse, in fact.
At least then, she'd been able to reconnect with her estranged parent over how 'rotten' both of them were, thus setting the scene for a 'moving' reconciliation between a truly awful mother and daughter. Bless.
For this particular situation though, there seemed no easy answer for how she'd regain her former status as Queen Bee. "I saved people, I felt special for once and even set up a social media account under my new name all… for nothing? I-I miss it so much… I miss Pollen… I can't just return to normal after everything. And I won't! I don't care if Ladybug raised several good points there, she's not going to stop me from fulfilling my destiny! C'mon Sabrina: we have work to do… aargh!"
Alas, in the middle of her latest impassioned tirade, Chloe had completely forgotten to look where she was going, and stumbled on the very fashionable helmet she'd unceremoniously dumped on the ground soon after arrival.
Sabrina, a few steps behind the blonde, was powerless to prevent the blonde's heedless descent to the ground, whereupon the only thing that broke her fall was a nice big stone to the head.
CLUNK! Lights out.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well here I am back with a new story, that I seem to have a lot more enthusiasm for than usual. Let's see if we can finish it, shall we? Please comment below whether you enjoyed it or not! :)