a/n: This does contain spoilers/references to the Season 3 finale, so if you're still trying to avoid that, this is your heads-up (and also the set-up probably won't make much sense without at least some knowledge of what went on).
There might be some creative interpretation/selective ignoring of canon, but #yolo #canonisdeadlonglivefanon #canoncan'tkeepanythingstraightanywaysowhyshouldI?
Hawkmoth raced along the rooftops, eyes trained on Ladybug as she ran along in the street below. She was dodging between cars, clearly trying to throw him off and lose him, but with no luck on her end. She just wasn't fast or slick enough to give him the slip, which meant that soon enough, she would mess up and he would win. He would get her earrings and the Miracle Box soon enough, and then his akuma would take down the cat and get his ring.
Why Ladybug had made such an amateur mistake as to actually bring out the entire Miracle Box Hawkmoth didn't know- maybe she hadn't decided what other holders she would need to tap yet and panicked enough that she had just grabbed the entire thing- but frankly, he didn't care. All that mattered was him getting his hands on that box.
And then Ladybug tripped.
Hawkmoth could hear the gasps from the few foolish onlookers as she fell face-first on the pavement and the Box- if it could even be called that, it looked more like an egg now, or perhaps an strange attempt at a replica of her yo-yo- slipped out of her arms, first bouncing and then rolling away. Ladybug yelped and tried to scramble to her feet, but Hawkmoth was faster. In a flash, he was down on the street, snatching up the Miracle Box and racing away before Ladybug could come up with the presence of mind to try to stop him with her yo-yo. Back to the rooftops, then leaping over one street, two, three, racing along.
He wasn't going to lose the Box this time. No more handing it out to anyone else, except for Nathalie. That way, no dumb mistakes would be made, and he could make full use of the range of powers that the entire box of Miraculous would give him. He already had plans for several of them, power combinations that Ladybug and Chat Noir wouldn't be able to do anything about.
Second Chance, for one, would mean that their very next fight could very well be their last. Hawkmoth could keep resetting things until they went the way he wanted to. Voyage would let him pop up behind the superheroes without them noticing, too. And the Rabbit would mean that he could help himself in the battles, pulling a future him and Nathalie in to fight alongside their present selves, probably with different Miraculous. As for the others...
Well, Hawkmoth would look at them with Nathalie tonight, and between the two of them, they could come up with the best combinations for them to use. Perhaps they wouldn't get the other two Miraculous today- being too hasty to act could mean losing the Box again, just like they had before- but it wouldn't be long.
Several streets back, Ladybug dusted herself off and rejoined Chat Noir where he had been hidden in an alleyway nearby, ready to step in if Hawkmoth had gone after Ladybug himself. The two of them exchanged a triumphant look and subtle fist bump, trying to hide their smiles.
Hawkmoth thought that he had won this battle, but instead, he had fallen straight into their trap. It wouldn't be the supervillain's victory that would be happening soon, but theirs.
And they couldn't wait.
It started several weeks after Marinette became Guardian of the Zodiac Box, after she spent an evening brainstorming ways to end the war with the flock of kwamis now under her guard. It was a big task, and a daunting one after only really countering Hawkmoth's attacks for so long, but it was a step that Marinette thought that they had to take.
After all, Hawkmoth had made gains with his thief of Master Fu's tablet (which Marinette had told her mentor to at least password-lock, but of course he hadn't), his fixing of the Peacock Miraculous, and his knowledge of most of their backup team. Meanwhile, the superheroes had lost their mentor and his knowledge beyond what he had passed down to Marinette. She had gotten a copy of the notes from his tablet to study before it was stolen, at least, so they hadn't lost everything, but there had been even more knowledge in Master Fu's head before he had gotten memory-wiped after renouncing his role as Guardian.
(And that whole bit was definitely a concern of hers, but- like a lot of her personal troubles and worries- it would have to wait until an undefined later to be dealt with.)
Their careful balance between superheroes and supervillains had been disrupted, and it was getting more dangerous for them to continue as they were. She and Chat Noir had to make some headway in figuring out who Hawkmoth and Mayura were, so that they could start some of their own offensive strikes before it was too late and so she wouldn't have to be so stressed out about balancing her superhero and civilian lives.
Thus, the kwami war-meeting.
"I would say to add more permanent holders, but you're still testing out new teammates," Ziggy said, sighing. "And it would probably be a good idea to find some people who aren't in your class, since Hawkmoth's going to have a close eye on you guys."
Marinette groaned. She knew that, in the back of her mind, but she had been ignoring it. After all, she had only been kind-of friends with people in other classes in previous years and didn't know them well enough to assign a Miraculous to them, so she had more or less defaulted to giving Miraculous to her friends. "That's a good point. Though!" She perked up as a thought hit her. "If people really switch up their transformation- because I know that the Miraculous can change what people look like- I might still be able to re-use some of our old teammates! Not Chloe, obviously, and they wouldn't be able to keep their Miraculous, just in case," she added. "But they have battle experience, which is helpful."
The kwamis considered that.
"It could work, but maybe give them some time to think of a new look," Wayzz finally told Marinette. "They'll want their hair color and style changed, for sure- and the suits! Those have to be changed up for sure. No two people are the same, and their suits will reflect that. It will have to be quite the conscious decision to change them."
Marinette nodded, writing that down on her to-do list. That made sense. "Okay. I'll try to do that this week- and since Chat Noir knows everyone, he can help, too. I'll just have to make it clear that we're definitely skipping Chloe. There's no point in getting her hopes up again, not when she made such a nuisance of herself last time."
There were noises of agreement at that, and even Pollen nodded her head sadly. She had clearly had hopes for Chloe, but Chloe just wasn't willing to let herself grow and learn at the moment.
"But that's still just a stopgap," Marinette mused, tapping her chin. "We tried following the butterflies back to Hawkmoth last summer, but that was a no-go. It's impractical to try to spot the akumas before they possess people, because it would take forever to even figure out where they were coming from. If we could make some sort of trap, one that we could deploy whenever Hawkmoth comes out, something where we could be sure that we wouldn't just accidentally trap civilians as well- that would be nice, but I don't know how practical that would be to even try."
The kwamis considered that.
"Well, you would definitely want something that relies heavily on magic," Trixx told her, spinning around in thought. "There's probably a spell that could do that somewhere! Not in the grimoire, though. It wouldn't be related enough to the Miraculous for that."
"And spells like that would take an experienced spellcaster," Wayzz chimed in. "I don't know if Master Fu would have been able to pull some of those off. He hadn't gotten to that part of his training when... well, when the temple was destroyed."
Marinette slumped, discouraged. "Well, it doesn't help much if I don't have the spells and wouldn't be able to cast them, either. I wish I had more mentors. I mean, Master Fu was great, but he had only been an apprentice, and now-"
"The temple is back!"
All of them swung around to stare at Kaalki, who was prancing around in clear excitement. After a second, Ziggy gasped and joined her, zipping around in circles. "The temple is back! The temple is back!"
"I- yes?" Marinette managed, blinking at them as two more kwamis joined the excited chant. "But it's in Tibet, and we don't know if the temple being back means that the monks are, too- oh, and if they aren't, that probably means that it would fall on me to make sure that the other Miracle boxes don't get stolen, and oh gosh, it's been weeks, people could have already raided the temple- but I can't leave Paris to go check on it, Hawkmoth could attack again and I can't leave Chat Noir alone, but I can't hope that Hawkmoth won't go over there unannounced- or what if he has Mayura do it? Ugh, this is too much to consider-"
"The old Guardians were brought out of limbo, too!" Pollen chirped loudly, snapping Marinette out of her spiraling. "We've been in contact with the other kwamis, now that they've been restored. We did tell Master Fu, but I guess we forgot to mention it to you."
Marinette settled back on the floor, suddenly boneless with relief and whiplash. "They- they are? Oh, good- but do they know about Hawkmoth? I mean, that footage of the temple was broadcast all over Paris, multiple times- he knows about them, I bet that he's planning on attacking them, too, and if they're not expecting it-"
"They know, and they've protected the temple!" Longg practically shouted, cutting off Marinette's second spiraling panic attack in just as many minutes before it could really get going. He waited for her to stop hyperventilating again, then continued. "They gathered up all of the boxes and scrolls and everything from the temple only hours after coming out of limbo and hid in their emergency cave nearby until they could get wards and traps up to protect themselves. I'm surprised that the news didn't say anything about the temple vanishing again after a couple days, because it's now shielded from the outside world."
"But I still don't see how that helps me," Marinette said, frowning. "They're in Tibet, and it sounds like I wouldn't be able to find them anyway, even if I could leave Paris."
Kaalki gave a delicate cough, and Marinette blinked at her for a moment before groaning. "Right, right, Voyage! But...the temple would still be hidden. And there would be a language barrier, too. I doubt that they would just happen to speak French."
"We could give them a heads-up that you would be coming, and then they can let you in," Sass told her. "And the kwamis could translate. We can make it work, for sure."
Marinette perked up at that, finally letting hope well back up. She wasn't alone anymore, not really. She could get new mentors, ones that were well out of Hawkmoth's range, were more than able to defend themselves, and had more training. She would still miss Master Fu, but she could soften the loss at least. "Oh! Great! But I want to come up with a trap idea before I go there. Maybe it's just a pride thing, but it's going to be my first time meeting them, and I'm a Guardian, too, and, like..." She let out a long breath. "I don't want their first impression of me to be of a blundering hero who doesn't know what she's doing."
"They won't think that, Marinette!" Wayzz assured her quickly. "They understand that the role of Guardian was thrust upon you when you weren't ready, and you were trained by a mentor whose training was less than complete. But if you want to go in with a little more planning in place, that's understandable. We can brainstorm more."
And so they all puzzled. Marinette tapped her pencil against her lips, trying to think of what kind of trap she could use. The kwamis had assured her that whatever kind of trapping spell she could think of, the monks at the temple either had a spell that fit that bill or would be able to develop one. She wanted something that could be portable, because Hawkmoth just turned up wherever the akuma fights were and those could be anywhere in the city. It had to be clever, because anything obvious Hawkmoth would figure out right away-
-or would he?
Marinette frowned at that. Hawkmoth had akumatized the same people over and over, with the same powers instead of adding on. He had missed really obvious openings, and given akumas powers that would destroy or hide the Miraculous instead of trapping them on more than one occasion, and not just when they were all just starting out. He had set-ups that seemed complex and like they should guarantee a win for him, but they fell apart around him. He got cocky and then messed up.
So something a bit on the obvious side could work.
Her fingers tapped at her notepad, trying to think. Best-case scenario, Marinette wanted to get both Hawkmoth and Mayura trapped at the same time, to finish up the fight for good. That meant that her trap would have to have a spell that wouldn't make it obvious that it was a trap- like, Hawkmoth couldn't be visibly contained- and the containment had to be in such a way that Mayura couldn't just let him go. Which meant that if Hawkmoth could be sucked into a sort of limbo, maybe, which suggested that he would have to touch something, maybe.
It hit her like a thunderbolt. What did Hawkmoth want- well, besides their Miraculous? The other Miraculous, which would give him a huge advantage. Obviously she didn't want to endanger any of the other Miraculous at all, so maybe she could make replica Miraculous to use in their place, and possibly a replica Miracle Box, too. If she could get some sort of trapping spell that would activate upon contact with skin, and then some sort of locator spell on the box, all the superheroes would need to do once the supervillains got their hands on it would be to wait for a bit to make sure that the supervillains weren't still roaming free, then stroll on in and collect it. Then, once they had had a bit of a rest, they could free the supervillains to defeat them and collect their Miraculous one at a time, in a time and place of their choosing, with all of the backup heroes they wanted. It was perfect.
Now, all they had to do was figure out how to make it work.
Chains and cording and beads and clay and resin came together to one faux-Miraculous after another, banged out between akuma attacks and homework. Some pieces Marinette just bought from the store- the Ox's nose ring, the Horse's glasses, the Rooster's ring, and a pocket watch that she could modify into a decent enough replica of the Rabbit- but for most of the pieces, she put the pieces together herself.
Marinette still hadn't decided if she wanted to try to make a faux Miracle Box or if she just wanted to empty the real Miraculous into a temporary container and just use the real thing. If the box had stayed in the same shape as before it might have been straightforward- difficult and fiddly, but straightforward- to make a copy, but with her new box...
Maybe it was kinda cool that it was the same shape as her yo-yo, but it wasn't nearly as convenient.
"I think I should go visit the Guardians now," Marinette said, two weeks after coming up with her plan. "I mean, I'm nearly done with my Miraculous copies, and most of a plan in place. It seems like it's actually enough to show that I've done some of my own work, and I'm not relying entirely on the Order-"
"Which still would have been completely fine and entirely understandable," Tikki reminded her. "Which we did tell you. Are you going this afternoon?"
Marinette nodded. "Yeah. I don't have anything going on, I've told my parents that I'm studying at the library, and Alya is busy with Lila and the other girls. I don't have anything going on- and yes, I'm positive, because I've turned down stuff or canceled it ever since I came up with our plan so that I could get stuff done." She let out a long breath. "I'm ready to meet them. I just- I hope they aren't too strict, and that we can come up with a solution, and- Tikki, is it dumb if I'm worried about them wanting to come in and take over our fight in Paris? Like, it would be a huge weight off of my shoulders, sure, but it's been Chat Noir and I for ages leading the fight and doing it on our own, and for someone else to finish it..."
"I understand," Tikki assured her. "You've been the authority on the akumas since the start. But I don't think you'll have much to worry about! The other Guardians will probably be happy to play support. Just because they're older doesn't mean that they'll automatically assume that they know more about the situation."
"Good." Letting out a long breath, Marinette climbed up to her bed and unlocked the trunk where she was keeping the Miraculous, punching in the code for her inner box, then pulling out the Miracle Box. Three minutes later, Marinette was standing in the middle of her room with the Horse's glasses on, facing a last-minute bout of nerves.
"I have to know where I'm going to use the Horse, though," she fussed, fiddling with the top of her bag. "And I know what the temple looks like, but the wards will keep me out, I thought, and what if an akuma pops up- I mean, I know we just had one this morning, but two in a day isn't unheard of, just uncommon."
"I am also connected to the akuma alert system," Tikki reminded her. "Sure, your phone might be out of range, but I'll know. And Plagg can contact me, too, there's not a range limit on that. As for the temple, well..." She gestured to Kaalki. "She can explain better than I can."
"My last holder used coordinates, because that was a system that he was comfortable with," Kaalki told Marinette. "And sure, it you can picture a location, that's great, too. But for this- I would say just listen to your gut, and you'll end up there."
That sent Marinette into a round of giggles. "I'd rather not end up inside of my gut, thanks. That sounds cramped and probably breaks some rules of, like, time and space."
"Oh, you-" Kaalki swiped at her, clearly not upset at all. "You know what I mean! Just follow your gut feeling, and I'll get you just outside of the temple's wards. Let's go!"
Marinette nodded, letting out a long breath before calling on her dual transformation. Maybe it wasn't necessary- she didn't need to be transformed with Tikki, after all- but it was comforting to have her normal transformation and her yo-yo at her side when she was going into unfamiliar territory.
Besides, maybe the Guardians would be more likely to take her seriously if they saw superheroine Ladybug instead of normal civilian Marinette.
With one last deep breath, she relaxed and called on the feeling inside of her. "Voyage!"
The portal opened, and Ladybug stepped through. Her bedroom vanished, and suddenly she was standing at the edge of a valley bottom, looking out at mountains and a very, very empty field of green grass.
The portal closed.
"Okay, so I'm in Tibet now," Ladybug told the air, releasing the Horse part of her transformation. Kaalki spiraled free. "Uh. I guess I'll just...walk forward?"
"No, just wait!" Kaalki insisted. "Some of their wards aren't the friendliest, so you want to wait for a guide. They'll have a lookout who should see you soon enough. In the meantime- a snack?"
Ladybug nodded, reaching into her yo-yo to pull out the baggie of apple slices that she had stored there. "Of course. Here you go- oh, look, there's someone there!"
The old man who had appeared seemingly out of nowhere smiled, stepping closer and holding out a hand. "Greetings. You must be the newest guardian. Welcome to our temple- please, come in. We have a lot to talk about."
The monks of the Order were friendly, if a bit formal, Ladybug decided as she talked with several of the eldest members of the temple. Their words were a bit stilted- apparently there was a translation spell in play- but they wanted to help her in any way they could. She had explained her idea for a trap right away, and already they had their best spellcasters on the job, looking through books and scrolls to find something suitable. While they waited, the monks answered some of Marinette's questions, getting a feel for what she had been taught and what Master Fu had not yet had a chance to touch on.
There was a lot that she still had to be taught.
"Not all of it is critical, of course," Master Tenzin told her, smiling. "I think that your plan to trap Hawkmoth will work well, and then you can call on your backups and us as well to defeat him and his assistant at your leisure. But it's good knowledge to have, so that we can build upon it and not lose it in the future, in case it's needed."
"Of course," Ladybug agreed. Everything was really interesting to learn, really, and it was nice to know what was possible so that she would know what was an option for plans in the future. "It will be nice to learn at my own pace, too. With Master Fu, we were rushing because we didn't know how much time we would have, and lessons with him plus my schooling plus akuma attacks and my regular civilian responsibilities..."
The monks around her nodded.
"That is why historically, we took in children and taught them here full-time," Master Sonam commented. "But I can see where that would be unpractical in this day and in your situation."
Ladybug smiled and nodded. She couldn't come here and learn in the same way that Master Fu had, even if she had wanted to. She had her own hopes and dreams beyond the Miraculous, and she wasn't going to give them up just because she had been picked to be Ladybug.
Before any of the other Masters could say anything else, one of the spellcasters stuck her head in, beaming. "We found a spell that's a perfect fit for what Ladybug wanted. It activates upon contact with skin and will suck the trapee into limbo. It's a fairly simple spell to release, and we can control how many people are let out at a time. And it will work with a small object such as the replica Miraculous."
Ladybug grinned, unable to help herself. "Oh, that's fantastic!"
"Will the replicas be ready soon, Amrita?" Master Tenzin inquired. "Or is it a multi-step spell?"
"It will take a couple days to cast the spell," Amrita told them. "There's a potion to soak the pieces in before the spell can be cast. But it will be less than a week, for sure. And we wanted to know, Ladybug- would you like us to create a replica Miracle Box with magic? It will take one more thing off of your plate. All we will need is a drawing. And the fake Miraculous, of course."
Ladybug perked up, flipping open her yo-yo so that she could pull out her baggie of replicas. She had finished the last one right before she came, which meant that everything was ready to go. "That's easy enough. Chat Noir and I found out recently that we can print out photos from our weapons, so if I just hit some buttons..."
The monks watched with interest as Ladybug punched several buttons, swiping to find the picture she had taken of her new Miracle Box. Another couple of buttons, and soon enough the yo-yo was spitting out a small photo, just like a Polaroid.
"Oh, that's different," Amrita commented as soon as Ladybug handed the photo over. "It looks kind of like your yo-yo! The spots aren't in the same places, of course, since there's a different number of them, but I can see the intention behind it."
Ladybug had to laugh at that. "That sounds like a nice way of saying that you don't like the design that much."
"No, it's just- I've gotten used to the Miracle Boxes looking a certain way, that's all." Amrita considered the picture. "We can do that, though. The kwamis will let you know when we've gotten everything ready."
"On that note, we should probably let you go," Master Tenzin told Ladybug. "I had lost track of the time! We've been talking for quite a while. I can walk you to the edge of our wards."
"Of course." Ladybug sprang to her feet, making sure to do a quick bow to each of the monks and Amrita before following Master Tenzin out of the temple. He moved quickly for an older man, though she wasn't that surprised considering how speedy Master Fu could be when he wanted to.
"I am glad that you were able to come to us today," Master Tenzin told her as they reached the boundary of the wards. "It was great getting to meet you, Ladybug, and to learn more about the situation in Paris. I look forward to seeing you again."
"I- I had one more question before I go," Ladybug said quickly, trying not to sound as hesitant as she felt. It was just- well, maybe it wasn't exactly a pressing issue, but she had to know about the memory thing. "When Master Fu passed the role of Guardian down to me, he lost all of his memories. And I- I was wondering... I mean, I can understand it being for safety, but..."
Master Tenzin smiled, understanding. "Ah, yes. With Ladybug being such a big part of your life for so long and defining who you are, I can understand how the prospect of losing your Miraculous-related memories would be intimidating. But one size does not fit all; not all situations can be solved with the same solution. Likewise, there are many ways that a Guardian can pass on their duties, and most do not include full loss of Miraculous memories."
Ladybug's heart leapt. "There- there are?"
"Correct." He considered her, head tilting slightly to the side. "In this situation, Wang Fu knew your identity, and Chat Noir's, and the identities of a number of temporary superheroes as well. His identity, if the kwamis relayed the information correctly, was compromised. You were facing an active battle situation. If he did not renounce his Guardianship when he had the chance with you, he ran the risk of being taken hostage and being drilled for information. So he did a full wipe- which, I might add, is the type that we first drill into our trainees, because it is the most straightforward. In other situations, Guardians could opt for partial wipes or, if they were not in danger, no information wipes at all. We can cover different options the next time you visit, if you wish."
"That would be great, thank you." Ladybug bowed to him. "That is a load off of my mind. Thank you for taking the time to teach me today."
"It was our pleasure." Master Tenzin smiled at her. "Good day, Ladybug."
With one last bow, Ladybug called Kaalki to her, then summoned Voyage. In a flash, she was back in her bedroom in Paris. She was beaming as she detransformed.
"I take it that things went well?" Tikki asked, smiling. "You look happy."
"It was nice to get my questions answered," Marinette told her, grinning even wider. "It's a load off of my shoulders. And to have that last bit of the puzzle with the spells figured out- that was great, too. I have a whole support network there now."
Tikki spun in a happy circle. "That's great! I could tell that you got comfortable pretty quickly when you were there. I'm happy for you. What's next?"
Marinette considered that. "Well, I need to bring Chat Noir up to date for sure. He needs to know the plan, and that we're going to be ending the fights soon. I'd love to bring him along next time I go to the temple, too. He's my partner, after all."
"I think he'll like that," Tikki assured her. "And two heads are better than one! Maybe you'll have the temple to go to when you need it, but it's always nice to have backup that's close by, too."
With the full power of the Order of the Guardians behind her and on the case, it was barely a week before Ladybug got the message that her trap-box with all of the cursed Miraculous replicas was ready to go. She and Chat Noir popped over to pick it up and visit the temple (and introduce Chat Noir to all of the monks, because he had been super curious and Ladybug wasn't going to deny her partner the opportunity to learn more) before being pulled away mid-visit by their akuma alerts going off.
It seemed as though they might have an opportunity to set their trap earlier than they had thought.
"Let me stash the box for now," Ladybug said, letting Kaalki free as she dropped the Horse part of her transformation. She smiled at the kwami, then took the glasses off and popped them in her yo-yo for the time being. "We don't know if Hawkmoth will come out or not this fight, so there's no point in carrying it around until we've seen it."
"Yeah, but where?" Chat Noir wanted to know. "It's not like your... yoyo...is..." He trailed off, staring in disbelief as Ladybug tucked the Miracle Box into her much smaller yo-yo. "How?"
"Magic?" Ladybug suggested, snapping her yo-yo shut before dangling it from her fingers, ready to throw. "I don't know. I wanted it to work, so it did."
It didn't take long for them to catch up to the akuma. There was no sentimonster to go along with it this time, which was nice, and it just seemed to be a rather run-of-the-mill akuma. It was strange that they could say that about an akuma that seemed to be directing an army of rubber ducks down the street, but- rather unfortunately- it was pretty similar to something they had seen before.
Of course, Hawkmoth had come out that time, too, so maybe it wasn't a bad thing after all. The sooner they got the faux-Box to him, the sooner they could bring all of this to a close and the sooner they could actually have at least some semblance of a normal life again.
Ten minutes into the fight, there was a shout from a civilian in one of the windows above, and the superheroes glanced up to see Hawkmoth on the rooftops, poorly concealed by a chimney. He sneered at the civilian, who slammed their window shut immediately, and Ladybug and Chat Noir took the opportunity to dash off, "retreating" onto a side street and then continuing their run away from the fight. Both akuma and supervillain let out shouts of frustration, and they ran faster.
They had to make it look convincing that Ladybug could have gone home and gotten the Miracle Box. If they could lose Hawkmoth for a few minutes, then zip back into his field of vision "accidentally", it would look much more convincing.
Hawkmoth might be dumb, but he wasn't so incredibly dumb as to think that it wasn't at least a little suspicious for Ladybug to vanish for only a minute before reappearing with all of the Miraculous under her arm. They couldn't drop the ball and take the easy way out now.
After a couple streets, Ladybug and Chat Noir took to the skies to move faster, then converged as though briefly discussing a plan before separating and dropping into different streets. Ladybug ducked down a manhole, following the sewer system for a short distance. Chat Noir joined her, wrinkling his nose slightly as they worked their way to another street. He would get into position a couple blocks in front of her, and then be on hand in case anything went wrong with their trap.
Her yo-yo beeped to let Ladybug know that Chat Noir was in place and hidden, and she checked her yo-yo to make sure she knew where he was before pulling out the fake Miracle Box and bounding out to the street, using her yo-yo to swing up into the sky a couple times to get Hawkmoth's attention before swinging lower, still fast but not as visible, and then dropping to straight running on the ground.
Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Hawkmoth landing on the rooftops and starting to give chase. Ladybug sent a "panicked" look over her shoulder, then upped her speed, dodging and weaving among the abandoned cars in the street as though she was trying to confuse him.
She was closing in on Chat Noir's block. It wouldn't be the end of the world if Hawkmoth got the box early, but Ladybug would feel safer if she "fell" where Chat Noir could help if Hawkmoth decided to come after her instead of going for the box. With another glance behind her, Ladybug sped up. She could see Chat Noir's alleyway ahead of her, closer, closer-
Considering how often Marinette tripped over her own two feet, it was no great difficulty to do a convincing flying stumble, her arms flailing and sending the trap-box spinning through the air. Ladybug hit the ground with an oof and laid there for a second before scrambling to her knees, doing her best to look like she was doing her best to get the box again before Hawkmoth.
Hawkmoth looked thrilled as he scooped up the box, sending a smirk over his shoulder at Ladybug as he took off. Ladybug made to go after him, but as soon as he was out of sight, she dropped the act and headed for Chat Noir, making sure that they were out of sight of everyone in the street before exchanging a triumphant look and fist bump.
"Hook, line, and sinker," Chat Noir proclaimed, grinning. "Nice planning, my Lady. Now, what would you say to going and defeating that akuma to kill a bit of time?"
"I think that sounds perfect."
Hawkmoth made sure to lose Ladybug on his way back to his lair, dashing through back alleys and hiding in several spots. It wasn't until a glimpse at the news told him that both superheroes had returned to the akuma battle that he felt comfortable making the final dash back inside, retreating to his lair and abruptly releasing his transformation. His akuma had been defeated, after all, and there was no point in holding Nooroo in any longer. Besides, it would be better to try out the extra transformations individually, in order to get a better feel for them.
"What to try first," Gabriel mused, tapping his fingers against the box. He pressed each individual spot-section, smirk growing wider as one drawer after another popped out with a Miraculous in it. The number of Miraculous at his fingertips... it was incredible.
There would be no trusting spoiled, irresponsible teenagers with the entire chest of magic jewelry now. Miraculously, the universe had given him a second chance with the Miracle Box, and he wasn't going to waste it again. Gabriel and Nathalie- and perhaps an akumatized minion, and a future Gabriel and Nathalie come back with the Rabbit to help out- would be the only ones using these extra Miraculous this time around.
There was the Fox, the Turtle, the Bee. The Snake, the Dragon, the Horse... Gabriel tapped his lips, trying to pick one. After another long pause, Gabriel reached for the Dragon. That was a nice, strong Miraculous, and the powers presented some interesting possibilities. His fingers closed over the Miraculous, excitement building in his veins-
-and then there was a flash of light, and then nothing at all.
Nathalie checked the news feed on her tablet as the Gorilla drove her back to the mansion. She had had to take Gabriel's place at the latest Gabriel staff meeting, which had meant that she hadn't been on hand to help with the latest attempt to get Ladybug and Chat Noir's Miraculous. That was unfortunate but not avoidable, really, and Nathalie could only hope that Gabriel wasn't in too sour of a mood. Still, it wasn't looking promising- from the sounds of it, the akuma battle had been relatively short and Hawkmoth's appearance had been just as brief, with him vanishing almost as soon as he had arrived. That suggested that the superheroes had gotten the drop on him, perhaps, and he had had to retreat to make sure that he wasn't defeated. There wasn't much else that would cause such a short appearance, really-
And then Nathalie spotted a blurred photo of Hawkmoth dashing across the rooftops, a rather familiar-looking box tucked under his arm. The new Miracle Box, unless Nathalie's eyes were deceiving her.
Somehow, Gabriel had gotten his hands on it again. No matter how the rest of the fight went, if he had managed to get more Miraculous, he was bound to be in better spirits than normal. It was surprising that he hadn't texted her yet, perhaps, but it could very well be that he was too excited and focused on trying out all of the new Miraculous to remember to let her know.
Trying not to smile, Nathalie tapped her fingers against her tablet impatiently as the car picked its way through the midday traffic, brainstorming ways that they could incorporate their new powers. It wouldn't take more than a fight or two for them to take the superheroes down now if they played their cards right.
The car pulled through the mansion gates, and Nathalie thanked the Gorilla quickly before sliding out of the car and walking as briskly as she could up to the front doors. Through the doors, across the atrium- Adrien was still out of the house, right? Hopefully she wasn't meant to be checking in on him and forgetting- unlock the office doors before heading inside, re-lock them as soon as they clicked shut. As soon as she was sure that they wouldn't be interrupted, Nathalie strode over to the hidden elevator and punched in the combination for the lair, tapping her foot impatiently as the machinery whirred into motion and brought her down, over, and then up, up, up, slowing down slightly as she approached the lair.
The lair, which was empty.
"Gabriel?" Nathalie called, frowning as she stepped forward. He had left the window open and as Nathalie watched, a couple butterflies escaped. Based on the number that were fluttering around, either Gabriel hadn't harvested more lately or a lot of them had gotten free. "Gabriel, are you here?"
There was no response. Nathalie's frown deepened for a moment as she considered the scene, trying to figure out what might have happened. And then, all at once, it hit her.
Of course Gabriel hadn't been able to wait to try out his new powers, since they hadn't had the chance to do a test run of any of the other Miraculous the last time they had the box. He had probably picked one out and transformed, then gone out for a run or something. Maybe he had grabbed the Horse Miraculous and used it, and so he was somewhere else in the city altogether.
The smart thing to do, of course, would be to wait for Gabriel to return so that he could play the part of lead supervillain, the head of their team, and Nathalie could be the obedient sidekick. But what Gabriel didn't know couldn't hurt him, and Nathalie rather wanted to try out a couple of the Miraculous on her own. The Bee's powers, for instance, looked like they could be promising in the right hands (and the right hands were not those of Miss Bourgeois), and the Fox could be used for distraction, and then there were several Miraculous that they had yet to see in play...
With one more glance around, Nathalie knelt down next to the box. Her fingers tapped the side in thought, and then she reached out for the Bee Miraculous. That would be the best place to start, probably, and then while she was transformed she could try to figure out where Gabriel was. Plan decided, Nathalie grabbed the comb.
She didn't even have a chance to scream before she, too, was gone.
Ladybug and Chat Noir had recharged and let the Guardians know that the box had been deployed, then retreated to a secluded rooftop to wait for the signal that both supervillains had been trapped. There was no small amount of excitement in the air, giddiness at a successful trap set making both of them a little giggly.
"I didn't think it would happen so soon," Chat Noir said again, leaning back on his hands. "I mean, sure, Hawkmoth has been coming out for fights more and more often, and Mayura too- who knows where she was today- but I thought that we would have to wait a couple days. And I was just kind of like, how am I meant to sleep if we're waiting for that to happen? I would be too wound up to actually fall asleep."
"I'm still not going to be able to sleep," Ladybug admitted, fiddling with the strings of her yo-yo. "Especially if we don't get the signal today. Like, what if one of them gets sucked in, but the other doesn't? If they're in the same room and are actually cautious about it, the second person might decide not to risk touching anything."
"And then we're kind of left in limbo ourselves," Chat Noir finished. He flopped onto his back. "Okay, that's fair. Ugh. Now I'm going to worry about that, too."
They fell into silence again, eyes occasionally scanning the Paris skyline. They had been told- or, rather, shouted to- that once both supervillains were trapped, twin magic beams of light would be shot into the sky, no matter what barriers stood between the box and the sky above. The spells would use the lingering magic from the Peacock and the Butterfly to identify the two supervillains, so that they could be sure that it was actually Hawkmoth and Mayura who were caught, not just random unlucky civilians. It was a complex, multilayered set of spells, and they were lucky to have people on their side who could manage that.
"What's the first thing that you're going to do once this is over?" Chat Noir asked, his voice quiet and barely carrying over the sound of the normal Paris traffic below. "Do you have plans?"
Ladybug huffed out a laugh. "I've been too busy to come up with plans. But I guess..." She trailed off, thinking. "I want to spend more time with my friends and family. Recently, I've really been holding off on making plans with people because they notice when I have to leave, and it stinks to have to miss things. I want to spend more time on my hobbies, because I don't know when the last time was that I designed anything and that stinks. I know the Guardians want to teach us stuff, too, but I might need a bit of a break before I go jumping into more Miraculous stuff."
"Being a normal teen sounds nice," Chat Noir agreed. "I mean, with my family- I've never exactly had that normal to start with, but more normal than what I have now would be nice-" His voice trailed off with a choke, and then Chat Noir raised a trembling hand, pointing at something behind Ladybug. "Bugaboo, the- the light has gone off. Look."
Ladybug perked up, spinning around. Less than an hour after their akuma battle had ended, they had the supervillains trapped! Her excitement rose-
And then crashed to the ground, shock and horror taking their place as what she was seeing sunk in fully. Twin beams of purple and blue shot into the sky, unmistakably coming from the Agreste mansion.
Apparently their earlier theory about Hawkmoth's identity hadn't been wrong after all, even though she had hoped that they might be, just for Adrien's sake.
(Arresting her crush's father had definitely not been in her plans for the day.)
Ladybug sighed, pushing herself to her feet to join Chat Noir and pulling out her yo-yo to let the monks know that they had already been successful. There was no point in putting off the undeniably unpleasant task of retrieving the trap-box and getting the supervillains out and arrested, no matter how much she wanted to.
For now, she would focus on the positives- Paris, and by extension Adrien, would be far safer with Hawkmoth and Mayura behind bars. Their days would be less interrupted, everyone would be less on edge, and, well, maybe without an overly controlling father overseeing every part of his life, Adrien would be able to do more things that he actually wanted to.
Things would be good. They would all get past this together and come on top, she was sure of it.
a/n: ...is it obvious yet that I love writing stories where Marinette gets to use her creativity to bring Hawkmoth down? Because I love doing that. Also, you cannot tell me that Hawkmoth wouldn't 100% fall for it, because he totally would.
As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete. And as always, reviews make my day! :)