Adrien meets the Black Swan, and Plagg meets Australian camembert. One-shot. Apologies to non-native English speakers, some of this story is written in Australian English and may not translate easily. Oneshot, humour/adventure
Adrien leaned his back against the long white wall, let go of the handle of his carryon, stretched up as high as he could reach and then slowly bent down to his toes.
"That feels so much better", he murmured under his breath.
A small voice from his pocket replied "Good for you. Now can we get something to eat? I'm hungry!"
"You're always hungry", Adrien sighed quietly. "But sure, we've got two hours to kill before our next plane boards. Let's walk around and see what's here."
OK, so it wasn't quite two hours. Sydney Airport had multiple terminals and he was going to have to catch a courtesy bus to a different one for his next flight. But he just didn't want to sit down right now. Paris to New York had been fine, and he'd had some work to do at the Agreste office there for a day. The American flight to Los Angeles had been uncomfortable and blaring, but not too long. Los Angeles to Sydney though? 16 hours non-stop. Adrien was tired and jet lagged as anything, and even the first class seat had started feeling small and cramped by the end of it. And there was still one leg to go. Adrien shook his head, wondering why on Earth his father had decided that Adelaide was the only possible location for their winter line photoshoot. He'd asked, but as usual received no particular answer. All Google had been able to tell him was that there was really good chocolate there, but he doubted it compared to French. Oh, and there were churches. Again, not something you needed to leave Europe for. At least at twenty years old he was old enough now that he could insist on travelling separately from the company circus. They'd arrived the day before and should be getting everything set up today so he could just walk in when he was ready.
His random strolling had brought him past another fifteen gates to a cluster of shops. Duty free alcohol, tourist souvenirs. Coffee (which actually didn't smell too bad), some kind of chain burger joint and donut shop, and a generic traveller's-needs shop with a cooler shelf of sandwiches. He wandered over.
"Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" came the small voice from his pocket. He glanced down, and Plagg was sticking his head out in excitement. The sandwich varieties were almost the same as at home, but different in little ways. Adrien was always amused by how sandwiches changed from country to country. Chicken tikka in London, 'slaw or pastrami in the USA. Apparently Australia liked ham and cheese – ok, reasonable but a bit pleb? - and... chicken avocado camembert. Well, it seemed odd to have stinky cheese in food that people might eat just before getting on a plane, but it was a lucky thing for him. Easy choice then. It would even pass muster on his diet plan. He handed over a shimmery aqua and blue ten dollar note, resisting the urge to keep it as a souvenir – Australian money was so colourful and pretty, though the plastic-feel was odd to his fingertips – and tried not to gawk at the coins he got in change. They had cute animals on them.
There was a bench nearby. Adrien sat close to the end with his jacket draped on the armrest, making a tiny hidden spot between him and the jacket for a napkin and Plagg. He carefully disassembled the sandwich and put the pieces of camembert on the napkin, then began eating the rest himself. It wasn't too bad.
"What the everloving is this?" Plagg screeched suddenly. It was loud enough that a couple of people glanced over curiously. Adrien didn't meet anyone's eyes, just tapped his sandwich and they looked away again. He'd learnt on previous trips with Plagg that airport food needed no explanation. Thankfully.
"Hush, Plagg. People heard you."
"They should hear my outrage in Siberia", the little cat kwami grumbled back, thankfully much more quietly. "This is not camembert! What have they done to my cheese? It has no smell!" Adrien glanced down in surprise. Camembert without a stink?
"It's pasteurised", an unfamiliar male voice said. Adrien jumped, startled, and automatically reached to cover Plagg with one hand. "Pass-teur-ise?" he said, trying to repeat the unfamiliar English word.
"Yeah, um... I don't speak French, so um, it means, um, they've killed off all the bacteria." A young guy stood in front of Adrien, smiling oddly. He stood like a dancer, and wore a black t-shirt with some kind of band art on it, and black jeans. He had a broad nose, red hair but slightly darker skin than Adrien expected of a redhead. Or at least much darker freckles. He smiled at Adrien's quick appraisal, and absentmindedly touched a hand to his jeans pocket. The movement caught Adrien's eye and drew it to a plaited leather bracelet with an odd rock woven into the strands – and a small pair of eyes peeping out from the pocket in Plagg's direction. He quickly looked back up at the young man's eyes, and met a firm, knowing gaze. "So", the stranger said, "what's the Black Cat doing Down Under?"
Adrien's jaw dropped.
And the young guy burst out laughing. "Oh, your face, it's brilliant." He sat down next to Adrien, still laughing. "I wish I'd got a photo of it for Kole." He tapped Adrien on the leg. "Don't worry. Nobody else knows. I've just, uh, gotta bit of'n advantage. Well, I've gotta Kole."
"Pardon, but what is a koll?"
"He means Koala", Plagg murmured, looking back at the eyes peeping from the pocket. "And who are you, then, that you can recognise the Black Cat?"
"Me? I'm the Black Swan." He held out a hand for Adrien to shake. "An' yeah, the Koala told me who you were and asked me to come check you out. Are you here for trouble? 'Cause I've heard a bit about the Cat, no offence mate."
Adrien ignored the hand. He was struggling with information overload, especially as most of it was... well, was it in English? He wasn't entirely sure. Australians were harder to understand than Londoners.
"Let me explain it to him" Plagg said, not taking his eyes from the other kwami. A short hissing in French followed, by the end of which Adrien was blinking rapidly.
"So", Adrien said. "There are Australian miracle stones, is that what you call them? One is the Black Swan, one is the Koala, there are others that Plagg tells me I do not want to meet, you are my..." he fished for the English word for a moment - "counterpart, of some sort".
"Y'could say that mate", the guy grinned. "Call me Loosha. And yeah, I'm the front-line combat guy most of the time. Koala's job is to know stuff. Like, all the stuff. She sees everything." He grinned. "It means I follow her instructions a lot, but from the vids I've seen, you know what that's like."
Adrien laughed. "Oui, I do." This time, when Loosha held out his hand again, Adrien took it, smiling. He felt Plagg relax slightly. "I have to ask", he said. "Swans are graceful, delicate birds? How is that for combat?"
There were chuckles from both kwamis, and Loosha laughed outright. "I take it you dunno much about Aussie wildlife then", he said.
"You have snakes and spiders? Dangerous ones? I will think they are your fighters?"
"Only when we're desperate", Loosha said, losing the smile. "They don't choose to fight unless... well, you'd better hope you never do anything to bring their attention to you." He paused. "Anyway, in this country, birds are the scrappers. Fighters", he corrected himself, noticing Adrien's look of confusion. "We have some of the most aggressive birds in the world. Honeyeater and Magpie are a brilliant combat team, there's nuthin like Honeyeater on a Sugar Rush. And there's Cassowary, of course."
Adrien had no idea who or what a Cassowary was, but nodded anyway. Beside him, Plagg was looking a little guilty, and he thought he heard the words "It wasn't my fault".
"Anyway, you haven't answered my question yet. Whaddarya doin' here?" Loosha said curiously.
"Day job", Adrien replied, after a quick hiss in French from Plagg. The Black Swan was surprisingly comfortable to talk to, despite the language barrier. "My dad booked our winter line's photoshoot in Adelaide. I'll go home when it's done."
"Fairy nuff", Loosha said. "You'll be a bit bored there, there's like nothing to do in Adelaide. Unless you like churches."
"We have many of those in Europe", Adrien said.
"Well, don't let the boredom bite you in the arse", Loosha grinned, getting up to go. "I'd hate to have to come beat you up." He paused. "If you want, check out some of the videos from NAISDA online. That's the national Aboriginal and Indigenous Dance Academy. You might see a familiar face."
"You are a... dancer?" Adrien asked. Which hadn't been the first question he thought of. Loosha answered it anyway. "Yes, I'm Aboriginal. My mum is too. Me dad's a ranga but. Which makes me...", he grinned at Adrien, "a Boomeranga". At the blank look on Adrien's face, he sighed. "Never mind. Yes, I am a dancer. You should totally check out my moves." As he wandered off, he called back "Also, try the chocolate".
Plagg muttered to himself. "It can't be worse than this Camembert. I can't believe they pasteurised it. They've taken all the life away!"
Adrien laughed. "Oh, is that what he said? I didn't understand him." He thought for a moment then picked up a piece and tried it. To his surprise it was mild and pleasant, with just a tiny edge of flavour. And indeed, no smell. "I could get used to this", he said. "Want me to order it in when we get home?"
"You wouldn't dare", came the sullen response. Plagg zipped into his pocket and hid, sulking. Adrien grinned, and slipped a piece of cheese in after him. Despite Plagg's protestations, the piece of cheese disappeared. Adrien dropped the rest of the sandwich and the napkin in a nearby bin, then took hold of the handle of his carryon. "Come on, we'd better find that bus."
A few hours later in his hotel room in Adelaide, Adrien had to agree. The chocolate was worth trying.