A/N: OK, so for those who haven't read any of the shorts I put in the Sydney Airport collection, here's a heads up (or you can always go read the shorts!). In the Sydney Airport stories, it's made clear that the Australian miraculous users can recognise other users on sight (there's some reasons for this that don't all come up in the stories but you can blame it on me having grown up on the Rynosseros books). Also in those shorts, hilarity/drama ensue because sunshine boy Adrien can't recognise the superheroes around him when they expect him to. In this story it's the other way around, instead of one blind in the middle of a sighted group, you have one sighted person in the middle of a blind group (metaphorically). Turns out it's not a satisfying experience...
"Peta and Chantelle, room 12", Sara said, handing them their key. "Lucien, room 14."
Loosha was the last of the troupe to collect a room key. Odd one out, and the only one not sharing a room. Not an accident – the others knew he sometimes needed a bit of space – but right now he was so thankful for that. He managed to grasp and take the key smoothly, and headed with the others for the lift. The tiny hotel fit onto a narrow street corner a coupla blocks from the Theatre du Chatelet. It wasn't flash, but it was convenient. Loosha drew on his training, holding his muscles straight and steady in an effort to walk without obvious wobble, and dragged his case to the door at the end of the hall. When he opened it, he burst out laughing. Chantelle let go of her case and came to look over his shoulder, then joined him laughing. She slapped him on the shoulder. "One person room, ay."
As indeed it was. The room fit neatly into the narrow corner point of the hotel, with a window facing both side streets. At the door where Loosha stood the room was about two metres wide, and it narrowed from there. The door only just opened without touching the bed, but not all the way as it was partly blocked by what Loosha assumed was a support column. To get to the tiny space beside the bed he'd have to jump onto the bed and then over.
"Good thing you're flexible", Chantelle laughed, and went back to her own door. Loosha worked himself and his case into the room and closed the door, then fell onto the bed.
Guunyu flew out from his pocket and draped along his arm. "How'rya holding up?" they asked.
"Not well, little friend", Loosha sighed. "Maybe if I close my eyes for a little it will help." His head was pounding.
"Good idea", Guunyu replied. "None of us were expecting this."
Loosha just nodded, pulling his other arm over his face. "Pretty sure Kole woulda told me if she was."
What Koala had told him was that Numbat had learnt that the French miraculous users couldn't see each other. They didn't have that overlaid sight that the Aussies did. Kole said they'd almost lost Adelaide because of it, even though Loosha had checked out the Black Cat when he arrived and made sure there was no malicious intent. Loosha chuckled to himself. Knowing Koala, she was probably researching into the sight thing right now.
What they hadn't known was what it was going to be like to walk through Paris.
The airport? Not too bad. A couple of startles as he saw someone with an overlay just going about their business, but they were faint overlays, someone who had been touched and changed by a Miraculous but wasn't holding one. Easy to ignore even after sixteen hours of flying, two layovers and a mountain of jet lag. Here in the heart of Paris though... every second person or more had overlays. Multiple. Mostly faint – there seemed to be a lot of knights and dolls – but some brighter, and their outfits were eye twisting. In short, it hurt. It was dizzying and screwing with his ability to walk in a straight line. And he didn't know how to turn it off.
"Guunyu", he said, "I'm gonna need both food and sleep, but I need to greet Adrien too." First rule of travel, he'd been taught, was to greet whoever's country he was on. It'd be remiss of him to delay seeing the Black Cat.
"I agree", Guunyu said, stretching a wing across Loosha's arm. "You told him you were coming, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I texted him", Loosha replied.
"Well, maybe if you rest your eyes for a few minutes then we can go out and solve the food problem at the same time. You have two windows."
Loosha grinned. "Yeah mate, I do." And it was an old enough hotel that the windows even opened.
A few minutes helped a bit, enough to transform and slip out the window onto a roof. That wasn't so bad, and he ran a few roofs away from the hotel with relative ease. Until he made the mistake of looking down. Only slinging his grappling hook around a chimney kept him from falling. He stopped and stared.
So, so many overlays. Everyone he saw on the street below had one. When he'd arrived he hadn't been totally sure at first if he was seeing Miraculous holders or not, so had nodded respectfully to them just in case. It was one of the first things Koala had drummed inta him. Respect. There were powers in Australia that you Did Not #$!& With. However, the dirty looks he'd gotten from one bright-layered girl and her boyfriend when he made eye contact had been pretty clear about the error of his ways, and only them realising he was Australian and not from around here had got them to dismiss it. So after that mixup he'd tried not to stare at anyone. Thankfully the Ladybug had been clear, even if she was so bright silver and pink it hurt, she'd still been only single layer and he thought he'd managed to probably not offend her. He wasn't entirely sure.
This city was weird. He needed a map to work out how to get to Adrien. And he still needed food, for both himself and Guunyu. He started to take a step, but his feet were feeling wobbly and his head spun. He looked down again, trying to find a plain person, unaffected by any spirits, someone he could focus on to stop the spinning. That was a mistake. Out of a music shop door stepped someone brighter than anyone he'd seen except the Ladybug. A guy who flickered between a giant green ninja turtle and something out of a nightmarish dishwashing-liquid commercial, with hints of the other common overlays as well. The combination was disorienting, headspinning and nauseating to Loosha's empty stomach. The sensory overload took him over, and he fainted.