a/n: Alphabet Challenge Part 5! Only three more letters to go wooo
As like with Quicker than a Hare, this contains Timetagger spoilers. Also time-travel nonsense. But at least it gives poor Nooroo a break!
Ladybug, Chat Noir, and Bunnyx stood in a circle, staring at the broken Miraculous between them. They were silent, minds blank in disbelief.
The Rabbit Miraculous was broken, and they had no idea how to fix it.
It hadn't happened during an akuma fight- those days were long over, with Gabriel Agreste (and Nathalie Sancoeur) defeated and locked up in jail and the Butterfly and Peacock Miraculous recovered, restored and kept safely stored under the Guardian's protection- but rather during a fight with a completely different sorcerer, the latest in a long line of different magic users who had their eyes on the Miraculous and wanted to steal the power for their own. That meant that there was no Miraculous Cure, and no clear way to fix the Rabbit. The Rabbit, their last-resort emergency fighter. A powerful fighter and ally. A Miraculous, an ancient relic that had been around and survived for millennia...
In short: it was really, really bad.
"Any ideas?" Bunnyx asked after a minute, turning her Miraculous over in her hand. It- well, it didn't look good. It didn't look normal. "I mean, we know how this would have gotten fixed if there was still a Hawkmoth around. Or a Butterfly, at least. But that's not the case anymore, because we didn't screw up beating Hawkmoth."
"I am so sorry," Chat Noir told her with a wince. "I really didn't think that the sorcerer would vanish like that. And I probably shouldn't have charged at him with Cataclysm anyway, I know better than that."
"I know, I know, and that still doesn't fix the Miraculous." She glanced over at Ladybug. "Any ideas, Spots?"
"Maybe," Ladybug said slowly, her brow furrowing as she contemplated- well, it looked like she was deeply contemplating the branch of a tree, or perhaps the leaves or a caterpillar on it, but she was probably actually contemplating the problem at hand and the branch just happened to be more or less in front of her. "There's something about this whole thing that's just- it's weird. I mean, even though we succeeded at getting Hawkmoth's Miraculous and I know for a fact that Nooroo and his Miraculous are still in the box, we haven't forgotten about Timetagger. Like, if the timeline changed- wouldn't we forget, don't you think?"
There was a pause as they thought about that.
"That is weird," Chat Noir said slowly. "Do you- do you think that it still happens somehow? Like, the Butterfly gets out somehow and goes bad and somehow it ends up helping us?"
Bunnyx frowned. "That's a lot of somehows . And I don't know. With a changed timeline, our memories should have changed, too. So somehow, Timetagger has to happen."
"That was what I was thinking, too," Ladybug said, crossing her arms in thought and frowning. "So what if- what if we akumatize Chris? But- hm. There was still a butterfly purified, so we have to use the power like Hawkmoth did so that the Cure actually works. And Timetagger acted like a regular akuma- a really strong regular akuma, not like someone playing a part- except... well, he hesitated at the end. He could have pounced and grabbed our Miraculous instead of waiting for us to come to him, but he waited a really long time instead. Like he wasn't planning on getting them at all. So we have to figure out why that happened like it did."
Bunnyx gasped, snapping her fingers and pointing at Ladybug. "I have an idea! So, you know how I went back in time and learned a whole bunch of stuff from a sorcerer once, when we were trying to recover some of the information that's been lost over the years?"
"Yeah, you came back and wouldn't stop oohing and ahhing over modern food and flush toilets and all that jazz, just to be annoying and rub it in that you got to go," Chat Noir said with a sigh. "What about it?"
"Shush, Miraculous-destroyer." Bunnyx turned her attention to Ladybug, excitement in her voice. "One of the things that I learned was hypnotism. If we akumatized Chris, I could hypnotize him to get him to believe whatever we wanted him to- he would think he had been akumatized by a new, smarter Hawkmoth. And then we would freak out Old Hawkmoth and make him all paranoid-"
"I think I remember Timetagger saying something about that," Ladybug said slowly, frowning in thought. "And we could put in a failsafe pause before he actually takes the Miraculous, even though we know how the fight went. We would have to ask his permission before akumatizing him and hypnotizing him, because the ethics of that would be seriously sketchy otherwise, but I bet that he would be willing. He's always been a fan of the superheroes, after all."
Bunnyx snorted. "Yeah, that's a pretty safe bet. After all, we still remember the attack, so clearly in the past future, he agreed to having his head messed with."
Chat Noir groaned. "You know, sometime I think that you're enjoying all this weird time stuff a little too much."
"What, can't keep up, pussy-cat?"
Ladybug could only sigh.
Perhaps surprisingly, they were not trying to exactly replicate the (presumed) circumstances of the Timetagger fight. Even with all of her magical knowledge, both historical and contemporary, Bunnyx wasn't terribly keen on the idea of getting sent back several thousand years and having to wait out the return to present time, even if she was going to be in a magical coma most of that time. A shorter wait would have been better, and she still could sneak into the Louvre and magically plant herself in the same artifact, no problem. Ladybug had raised an eyebrow at that- it seemed like messing with the timeline wasn't a fabulous idea, even if it was a relatively small tweak (if it was a tweak at all, that was)- but agreed to let Bunnyx try it anyway. After all, Bunnyx was the expert on time travel, not her, and if Bunnyx thought it would work then, well, then Bunnyx could try it.
"So I think we're ready," Bunnyx told them as they gathered inside the Louvre, steering Chris in front of them. Alya, who had been tapped to play the part of the Butterfly for the process, had already gone ahead, down to one of the offices where she could talk to Nooroo and figure out her powers. "I've gotten my permission, I've read over all my notes for hypnosis, Alya just texted to say that she's gotten all of the information that she needs to akumatize Chris, I've recorded a video so that I won't forget everything about my life and what I was doing before all this because I remember my older self not remembering exact details of the fight-"
Ladybug frowned. "Do you think that's likely? After all, you said that you were going to put yourself in magical suspension right away. In theory, it should feel like less than 24 hours for you." She paused, then frowned. "...wait, do you have to travel to Egypt, too? Or did Timetagger's powers move people from time and space?"
Bunnyx shrugged. "I don't know. I talked to Fluff before all this happened, and she thought that the forgetting some of what happened during the fight was mostly due to the time-travel nature of it and my dual selves being in the same place at the same time. That, and it happened- what? Ten years ago? So she doesn't think that I'll forget everything else about my life. I just wanted to be safe."
Ladybug nodded. That made sense. As much sense as time travel ever made, that was.
"So I guess we'll get started, then," Bunnyx said, clapping Chris's shoulder. "All ready?"
Chris nodded, eyes narrowed in determination. "Ready."
"Good! Now you two, shoo," Bunnyx ordered, waving away Ladybug and Chat Noir. "I don't want you distracting me." She grinned. "See you in a couple thousand years."
Ladybug and Chat Noir shooed, but they didn't go far. After all, if anything went seriously wrong with the hypnosis or akumatization, they needed to be ready to step up and intervene. They circled around behind Bunnyx, watching as she got set up. Chris watched, surprisingly not nervous as she worked around him.
"Am I the only one who has some concerns about this whole hypnosis thing?" Chat Noir asked Ladybug quietly as they got settled, watching Bunnyx on the video feeds that they had set up around the Louvre. The entire area had been closed for the day upon the superheroes' request, which meant that there were no civilians around to accidentally get in the way or distract them on other feeds. "Like, I know she learned it, but mix that magic with the magic from the akumatization and that just doesn't seem like a very good combination."
"I did wonder if it might make more sense to do the hypnosis after akumatizing Chris, but Bunnyx seemed convinced that it would be better to do it this way, and that the Butterfly's magic wouldn't overpower the Rabbit's." Ladybug frowned in concentration as she watched their main feed. "I mean, so far..."
"Bunnyx isn't looking quite as confident as I thought she would," Chat Noir commented with a frown, several minutes in. On screen, Bunnyx was frowning as she watched the swirling magic around Chris. "I wonder if something isn't working out right."
Ladybug sucked in a sharp breath. "Chat Noir- her Miraculous is broken. I wonder- I bet that means that her hypnosis doesn't have as much power behind it as she thought it would. She's not going to have nearly as much control as she planned over what he does."
Chat Noir leaned forward, frowning as he watched. "Maybe we should have tried it without the hypnotism, with Chris just acting like a supervillain. We could have had him practice his acting here first, before going back in time. Either that, or tried it, had it not be convincing to us, and at least known that we went for the less dangerous option first."
Ladybug groaned. "Maybe we could have. It's just that Timetagger already happened, and we know it worked, and we're used to akuma villains, and- okay, I'm tired, otherwise I would have tried to think of some way of doing it without the hypnotism. I think I forgot that Hawkmoth could akumatize people without their emotions being too high for them to resist. We still could have had the evilized butterfly."
Chat Noir pulled her into his arms as she slumped in exhaustion. "Yeah, we probably should have taken a day or two off before making any plans. And I know it's because we don't know when Vladimir will try to strike again and we need all of the Miraculous up and working, but we were all so tired when we came up with this plan."
Ladybug curled up against his side. "Can we go down for a nap after this? I'm so tired and Monday I have a meeting to go to with an investor and I actually need to be awake for that."
"That sounds like a plan. I'll even throw in some kitty cuddles and purring. That always helps you sleep better."
On camera, Bunnyx had finished her hypnosis. She looked less than certain about it now, and that was not a typical look on her. Normally, Bunnyx was confident and sure.
Clearly the hypnosis wasn't going nearly as smoothly as planned. That probably explained why that akuma had been so tough, because he wasn't nearly as under control as Bunnyx wanted.
"Should we stop them?" Chat Noir asked, frowning. "Maybe see if a second round of hypnotism would help pull things more under her control?"
"If it would, I think Bunnyx would do that," Ladybug decided after a moment's pause. "She's the expert on hypnosis, after all, and she knows that if she doesn't do this right, she'll be going straight back to Ancient Egypt. We should stay out of her way."
She hoped that she was making the right call. Bunnyx might be confident, but she wasn't reckless- not as her superhero self, at least. If she thought that the hypnosis had too loose of a hold on Chris, she wouldn't continue.
That was what Ladybug hoped, at least. And she had to trust her teammates.
"Here comes the akuma from Alya, right on schedule," Chat Noir reported. "...she had a different name picked out, right?"
"Yeah, something that wouldn't give us away right away." Ladybug shifted forward, watching as the familiar dark cloud enveloped Chris. She hadn't seen it in so long, and it really hadn't been missed. "And there's Timetagger. Bunnyx is headed for the stairs and he's following- either she's acting or she's really properly concerned, I can't tell which."
"Can Alya pull the akuma back if Timetagger goes completely off script?"
"I think so, yeah. At least when he's in the present time, I don't know about the past." Ladybug's eyes narrowed as she watched Bunnyx running, looking for any clues as to what was going on. Maybe they should pull back and reset, but Bunnyx would have gone for their anchor and snapped Timetagger out of it if she thought things were out of control.
In a flurry of color and noise, Bunnyx and Timetagger vanished out the front door.
Ladybug straightened, holding out a hand to pull Chat Noir up. "Okay, let's go quickly check on Alya and then move into position. Hopefully things just looked worse on camera."
It seemed as though Timetagger had well and truly forgotten that he wasn't actually one of Hawkmoth's akumas. Bunnyx had definitely been engaged in a fierce, no-holds-barred fight, and Ladybug and Chat Noir were left hovering at the fringes of the battle, trying to decide if the situation was out of control enough for them to step in. Bunnyx hadn't signaled to them, though, so they kept out of it.
And then Timetagger hit Bunnyx back through a portal.
"Ooh, that was Ancient Egypt," Ladybug said with a wince. "Just what she wanted to avoid. But the circle is complete now- and there goes Timetagger, back to our old fight. That date looks right, so I guess the hypnotism wasn't a complete fail. Just...not quite what Bunnyx wanted."
"And now we just have to wait," Chat Noir said, plopping down on the ground for a moment before immediately popping back up. "...probably should not be relaxing in hero form in the most exposed area of Paris."
Ladybug laughed. "No, probably not."
The wait was tense, but not long. A Rabbit portal appeared and Timetagger was knocked through, reappearing for only seconds before hopping through his own portal, paying no attention to the lingering superheroes. Only minutes later, Bunnyx appeared, a drag to her step and admissions of failure on her lips.
Fortunately for her, Ladybug perfectly remembered the Timetagger battle, and she remembered exactly what they had to do to tie up this whole shebang in a nice, neat bow. Timetagger was defeated with a little help from the future, Bunnyx escorted a rather disoriented Chris back to the present, and finally, finally, they got the hypnotism completely removed.
Chris looked a little worse for the wear after that, honestly, but it was hard to know if it was the hypnotism itself, the time travel, or some combination thereof. Alya took one look at him, announced that she would be bringing him straight back home, and returned the Butterfly Miraculous before taking off so that Chris could lay down for a bit to recover from the rather potent snarl of magic.
The rest of the superheroes let out a relieved sigh and headed back inside, going back into the Louvre and into Alix's father's office to detransform and relax a bit before going home.
"I honestly thought that I had screwed up the hypnosis enough to change everything," Alix said with a groan, flopping over an armchair sideways as soon as she released her transformation. She dug in her pocket, then tossed a carrot to Fluff. "Absolutely awful. That was so stressful. I mean, mini-us thought that we were super-awesome and so that was cool, and it was fun messing with Hawkmoth and teasing Kitten Noir when he asked about now-you, but then I was fighting on my own and Kitten Noir almost destroyed my Miraculous again."
"I said I was sorry!"
"I'm just glad that Mini-Bug is so creative. Like, if I got a pad of paper to save the day? I would have yelled at the universe, because how is that supposed to be helpful? Give me a giant gun or something. A sword. A grenade-"
Marinette laughed, even as she leaned tiredly against Adrien's side as they sat side-by-side on the bench in the room. "You have weapons on the mind. I like the less straightforward approach."
"Okay, after the day that I've had- the several thousand years that I've had- can you blame me for maybe not having the patience for your convoluted Lucky Charm plans?" Alix groaned even louder, sprawling out further. "Aliens and dinosaurs and people calling me a witch and chasing me with pitchforks before I could jump again and- ugh. I need a nap, and I still have to figure out how to figure out how to complete the circle."
Adrien and Marinette exchanged a puzzled look. "There's more?"
Alix groaned more at them. "Are you kidding me? The heirloom watch- I still have to figure out how that got to my ancestor!" She pulled out her second watch, with the crack still running across the case. "It has to get fixed somehow so that it can be used as a Miraculous, it needs to go back in time, I need to come up with a story- it's a lot. It's ridiculous, actually. I went in and asked my younger self for the ancestral watch like I knew it was going to work, but only because I had seen it done before."
Fluff blinked at her. "But isn't it obvious?"
"What- no, it's not obvious!" Alix sat up straight and stared at her kwami, who was chomping on a carrot while floating upside down. "How?"
"My Miraculous has been broken, and fixed, and broken, and fixed." Fluff spun in a circle, then swallowed the rest of the carrot whole. "It traveled through many yesterdays and tomorrows to become whole again, and the path was never linear."
Tikki let out a sigh, glancing at her fellow kwami in exasperation. "We repaired the Miraculous, after it broke during Timebreaker. And it was a double dose of curing magic with two Lucky Charms, which restored the potential for it to be connected with a kwami. At the time, though, the Rabbit Miraculous was also in Master Fu's box and closer to Fluff, so that connection overrode the other, which is why you didn't get a kwami popping out as soon as you opened the watch after that."
Alix looked positively baffled. "How is it that your kwami is so straightforward with telling you what to do, but then you get completely baffling Lucky Charms, and then I get a kwami who is never straightforward and, uh..."
"Powers that are also baffling?" Adrien offered with a laugh. "Because the whole time travel thing is completely mind-boggling, don't even try to lie. Of course Fluff is going to speak in riddles."
"Yeah, well, okay-" Alix started, and then sighed. "Yeah, okay. It's a good mind game, at least, trying to puzzle stuff out. So..." She paused, then frowned in thought. "So that's how it got magically fixed, then. But it would take a watchmaker to fix this- oh! Obviously! My ancestor! I did some digging after Timetagger- well, Timetagger the first time around- and discovered that my ancestor who 'made' the watch was a very talented watchmaker! They must have repaired it after I brought it to them, and then it got passed down through the youngest member of the family."
Fluff looked pleased.
"And I could still do some hypnosis with it, and put myself into a crazy-long suspension, so clearly being broken didn't get rid of all of the magic in it," Alix continued, newly reenergized. "So that's how I planted the message in it."
"I'm still lost on where the Miraculous is, or was, or how many copies of it there are," Adrien complained. "You lost me."
"You get lost on time travel, but not physics? Marinette, your fiancé is strange."
Marinette laughed. "Yes, but I love him anyway."
"I'm still not hearing an answer to my question," Adrien prompted. A small grin had slid onto his face. "Should I assume that you don't actually know the answer and you're just putting it down to weird time stuff?"
Just as he had intended, Alix puffed up with a scowl. "No, I understand it! It makes perfect sense. After I got sent back, there were two copies of the Miraculous going forward- the original, and the broken one I was using. Then I'll bring the broken one back to my ancestor, too, and that'll make three existing at the same time, since I would still be in suspension in Egypt. Two weren't functional, though, until Timebreaker happened, and then we had one fully broken with Bunnyx in the Louvre, one with the potential to hold the Miraculous power with mini-me, and then the original, still in the box."
"And then we had Timetagger, and that three went down to one, because the broken one and the repaired one came back with me, leaving only the original, which you eventually gave to me. It got broken, all this nonsense happened, now we have two. I'll bring the broken one back to my ancestor, and then we'll be back to one." Alix smirked at Adrien. "Any questions?"
"How did you figure that out so fast?" Adrien demanded, frowning. "I mean, I follow- I think I do, at least- but gah. So much of this all is happening because it already happened, but how did we- you- whatever come up with the idea in the first place? Surely someone had to. I mean, otherwise that suggests that it was always destined to happen, which brings into question the whole free will and are things predestined, and-"
Alix just sniggered. "Oh my god, you're exhausting. Don't worry your little kitty brain about it, Cat-boy. It happened, it had to happen, it's going to happen, it will happen. I don't care what your studies say about time being linear. Just accept it."
"You don't have to fully understand it for it to happen, Adrien. You should know that by now. How else do you explain your superpowers? There's no scientific explanation for that." Alix grinned at him, clearly knowing full well that he only had trouble wrapping his head fully around her time travel and the concept of concurrent parallel timelines. "It's wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff, and it's useful. Don't question it."
A/N: Alix is having too much fun with the time stuff, she really is :D also their team dynamic is 100% Bunnyx roasting Chat Noir as often as she can. Ladybug gets roasted much less often because she's too smart to stumble into the really obvious social traps Alix leaves open.
This was written as a "how can they defeat Hawkmoth and recover all Miraculous involved and still have Timebreaker" scenario because honestly? The idea that they would still be having their lives interrupted to go save the city ~10 years into the future (if Bunnyx ever said how far into the future she came from, I certainly missed it) was just depressing. Thus the idea of them faking it for Need To Fix The Miraculous Reasons came about. They're bound to pretty much always have people targeting them because of their magic/superpowers, but at least shorter-term attacks are easier to handle.
As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete. And as always, reviews make my day!