leading ladies of one does not love breathing in some..?. lets say work attire.
so it has come to this. 100+ of you decided you wanna know what i have to say now, did you?
too bad bc instead of ranting on and on about how grateful i am and crying all over my computer again, you get a odnlb feligami drawing:
The three big currently updating non-traditional ML enemies AU’s right now
Funnily enough, the only one that’s actually listed explicitly as an “enemies au” is @buggachat Bakery Enemies AU, which is the least “enemies” one of the bunch. metamorphosis and one does not love breathing aren’t as obvious about it. I didn’t even know that metamorphosis was an Enemies AU in any capacity until people kept comparing it to the Bakery Enemies AU and one does not love breathing. Finding that out is actually what prompted me to check metamorphosis out.
It’s fascinating how all three AUs take a similar idea - Adrien and Marinette being “enemies” in some capacity, diverging later in canon after Ladybug and Chat Noir have been close partners for quite awhile as opposed to the usual Enemies AU move of diverging at Origins, Chat Noir going missing, and both Adrien and Marinette pining for their missing partner - and spin them in three very different directions, with different tones. Though all of them are angsty to some extent.
Bakery Enemies AU by @buggachat is easily the most well-known of the bunch, which isn’t a surprise with how big of a name buggachat is in the fandom. It’s also the most unusual of the trio, with it not being a “true” enemies AU - Marinette heavily suspects Adrien of being her enemy, that he has the Peacock Miraculous and is seeking vengeance against her and everyone she cares about, while Adrien’s just trying to live his life and being a sweet cinnamon roll. It’s also an Adrienette enemies AU, which again, is not exactly typical. It’s somewhat angsty, with Marinette panicking at a few points that Adrien’s going to go after the Miracle Box or her family or herself, and Adrien being treated like a terrorist’s son by most of Paris, but neither of them are in any real danger and Adrien’s got a solid support network by the time we see him, so it’s mitigated somewhat.
one does not love breathing by @wackus-bonkus-maximus, on the other hand, is a total angst-fest. It’s rated M and while I don’t think it’s earned that rating (yet), it’s pretty intense. Basically, Gabriel and Lila discovered that Adrien’s Chat Noir and have used Adrien’s amok to control him for the past six years, keeping him away from most of his friends and even rewriting his thoughts of he’s thinking something too dangerous. He also tricked everyone into thinking that Chat’s dead somehow, which left Marinette a wreck and ready to murder Monarch with her bare hands. After six years, Gabriel’s launching attacks again, and Adrien’s forced to help him as Cat Walker. Adrien’s situation is awful and I feel horrible for him, but there’s a lot more going on than just Adrien being psychologically wrecked. There’s a lot of complicated interweaving plotlines, with Felix being this complicated figure who isn’t as much on Gabriel’s side as he appears, Luka knowing Chat’s alive and keeping quiet, and everyone having their own agendas and viewpoints in general.
metamorphosis by @peachcitt is the lightest of the bunch, and the most traditional enemies au, with Adrien taking up the butterfly and restarting akuma attacks, albeit in a far nicer way than Hawkmoth ever did, to the point that a lot of people consider him an anti-hero, drawing attention to social issues, and bring voices to the voiceless. It’s a lot lighter than the other two, even with Marinette suspecting that the new butterfly wielder murdered Chat Noir, and Adrien isn’t going through absolute hell - he actually has a solid support network, seems to be reasonably free to do what he wants (as far as the fic has shown), and gets to have sleepovers with Marinette when he wants to. It’s about as fluffy as Enemies AU get.
All three are worth a read, and I think are best read together, with each AU scratching a different itch.
If I had a nickel for every epic, currently updating ML story about a Ladybug who’s lost Chat Noir, but secretly he’s right there next to her and she thinks he’s evil (but he’s not actually evil), I’d have at least three nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s strange it’s happening thrice.
I have things to do but all I wanna do is comment song lyrics on @wackus-bonkus-maximus fic 🥺
when i tell you i’m CLINGING to these words from chapter 2 @wackus-bonkus-maximus
With Felix, I keep wondering whether he just refuses to consciously process his guilt over causing and helping to continue the horrific situation Adrien's in. Like, he's empathic with Adrien, he KNOWS the psychological torture he's gone through on an intimate level. Makes me wonder how Felix thinks he'd cope with the same circumstances, being trapped away from everyone he cares about, and not having even his own mind or body as his, for YEARS, and forced to enslave someone he cares about as well. I don't actually know how he'd cope with that. I don't think it's something he'd deal with well, as much as he puts up a front of always having it together no matter what.
I also wonder whether Felix is purposely stopping himself from truly processing and accepting the fucked-up things that he's been an accomplice for, since he doesn't really know how to deal with that, and since the situation is so dangerous for everyone involved. Like, that he needs his wits about him, and can't afford to feel guilty, to show any sign of weakness, to such a point that he even persuades himself that he doesn't feel bad.
I'm just hoping that if Felix walks free at the end of your story (and I strongly suspect he will) that he becomes The Atoner. I'm pretty sure that Luka's gonna feel extremely guilty once he fully finds out and processes the horror that Adrien's been going through for all this time, but he didn't actively help cause Adrien's situation, nor was he fully aware of what was going on with Adrien. If he had, then he would've acted, even with as reluctant as he is to rock the boat.
Come to think of it, I could see Luka and Felix discussing their roles in this mess once Adrien's finally free and safe. Luka's problem was his inaction, while Felix's was action. Felix has tried to keep Adrien's situation from being quite as horrific as it could have been, but it's still been pretty damn bad.
Just... Felix acts like he's shrugging off the horrors he's helped put his twin through, and I really want to know that he has changed as a person, that he is horrified by what he did before, like with his blatant disregard for what turning over all those Miraculous to a supervillain could mean for the rest of Paris, and that he's not the type of person who'd do that anymore. I don't think he's fully reached that point yet, but it feels like a breaking point is coming.
we are in a felix mood today huh?? coincidentally i woke up to some fraught comments on ao3 about him that i think match your questions and concerns XD as usual i'll do my best to answer without spoiling.
my felix is quite an unreliable narrator for a very specific reason. i can't tell you why yet but YOU, flightfoot, have actually guessed this reason correctly >:))) therefore while he does empathize with and understand adrien's turmoil (the peacock miraculous makes him an adrien-baby-monitor, as he put it), his hands are tied.
"Makes me wonder how Felix thinks he'd cope with the same circumstances" <- well...who's to say he's not?
it's not that he's persuaded himself not to feel bad, or that he's victim blaming. in "second dose" we see that felix moved back to paris in order to be closer to adrien, again for a specific reason (well 2 reasons technically, if we're counting adrien's suicide attempt). and in chapter 11 we saw how felix watches adrien through their bond, & comes to comfort him when he really needs it. however, because he's an unreliable narrator and a master manipulator, he ensures each one of his actions can be construed in an ambiguous way.
is he comforting adrien or is he there to stop another Attempt?
is he covering for adrien's night out or is he spying on lila?
is he helping ladybug beat chasseur or is he trying to distract her to escape?
did he bring kagami into the mix because he's on monarque's side, or because he wanted to protect her?
felix's thoughts, as well as his actions, are duplicitous. if you feel tricked by him, well that's bc he's tricking you. you're right to think he is not going to outright admit that he's changed or horrified or that he did something wrong, but that's because that would put him out of the game. and we know felix loves games.
One Does Not Love Shadows Ch. 3 - END
Thanks to @wackus-bonkus-maximus for betaing!
Cat Walker and Monarch stayed near the angry shadowy maelstrom, unwilling to leave and risk not being able to rescue Emilie if this thing tore down into the basement. Thankfully, it appeared to be more interested in everything going on above the earth than down below it.
Unfortunately, the two of them were well within its range.
Monarch dodged shadowy grab after shadowy grab, using his cane to block any debris the shadow threw at him. The onslaught was relentless, howling winds whipped up by swirling shadows keeping him from ever getting truly stable footing.
By contrast, this force, this…being, left Cat Walker mostly untouched. Rubble carried on winds blew off course as soon as they entered his vicinity, and the shadows never even attempted to touch him.
After a couple minutes, Monarch noticed. “Cat Walker, protect me,” he grunted, deflecting a particularly large section of drywall away from his head.
Cat Walker immediately leapt into action, tackling his father out of the way of the latest hit, pulling him out of the path of the nearest shadow. His years of acting as Ladybug’s protector had honed his instincts and skills, allowing him to cover for Monarch nearly as effectively as he had for his partner.
The shadows shied away from throwing anything at the two of them, as though avoiding the risk of hitting Cat Walker. Touching and grabbing though, they didn’t seem to be as worried about.
Adrien gasped as one of the shadows snaked over his hand, touching his Miraculous. Instantly, he felt a burning deep inside, like when he attempted to defy his father’s orders.
Yet…yet it felt different now. Less dangerous, less painful. More like the pleasant burn of spicy food, rather than the searing heat of a stove.
He slowed down, not trying as hard to dodge the shadows’ grasp. His father had only ordered Cat Walker to protect him, not to keep himself out of reach of this being.
As tendril after tendril touched him, he felt the bonds tying him up fray and loosen, leaving him breathing easier than he had in a year.
“Cat Walker, be careful not to let the shadows touch you!” Monarch warned.
Instinctively he complied, moving himself out of the shadows' grasp. The bonds tightened again, yet… not quite as tight as before. Carefully, he dodged, landing just so the tip of his boot overlapped with one of the grabbing shadows. It was the most he could do. Not quite complying with his father’s order, but not flagrantly disregarding them either.
It was enough. He could feel that small, constant burning start up again, not as strong as last time, but still there.
Was it his imagination, or did the shadows appear less frantic?
A flash of red crossed his vision. His breath caught in his throat, recognizing the swinging movement. He’d seen it thousands of times before, after all.
Ladybug landed a few yards away, dodging a piece of destroyed fireplace with practiced ease. His heart fluttered at the sight of her, even as his body geared up to start fighting her.
Her eyes locked on his, and he forgot to breathe. That searching look, that hope in her eyes…did she know who he was? And…what he was?
“Kitty?” she asked quietly.
He startled, an ear flicking as his eyes widened. Immediately he felt some of his father’s commands worming around him, trying to suppress his reactions. He couldn’t let on about his identity or Chat Noir’s fate.
Yet those orders seemed less solid than before. He couldn’t defy them entirely, but they couldn’t control him as quickly or automatically as they had in the past.
She sucked in a breath. “It is you, isn’t it, Chat Noir?” her voice shook.
Monarch chose that moment to intervene, putting himself between Ladybug and Cat Walker. “I did not think you’d lose your memory so soon, Ladybug,” he said coldly. “Or did you already forget about our last encounter?”
She snarled at Monarch, attempting to punch him in the face. Cat Walker automatically moved in front of his father, wincing as he took the blow. “Why are you protecting him?” she asked, her voice colored by disbelief.
“I—” the bonds choked him again.
“We both have something we want, a Wish to restore what has been lost,” his father said.
“What did you do to him?!” Ladybug screamed, attempting to kick and punch Monarch. Cat Walker was forced to intervene, blocking the blows. The conflicting orders to both protect Monarch and to avoid the shadows’ grips rubbed up against each other, fraying both of them. The shadows curled over his body, making it easier to breathe once more.
“LET HIM GO,” she yelled, charging at Monarch. This time, Cat Walker was able to slow himself down enough to not intervene, allowing her to land a solid hit on his father. “WHATEVER YOU’RE DOING, STOP IT!”
The shadows chattered, speaking (mostly) coherently for the first time since Monarch’s failed akumatization attempt. “Let him go, let him go,” they echoed, the voice sounding less distorted than it had before, calmer.
Ladybug looked around, wide-eyed. “What—?”
Adrien’s mind churned. He hadn’t dared to hope before, but with the way it’d echoed Ladybug’s demands to free him, and how the shadows seemed to loosen the grip his Amok had on him…these shadows…they seemed to be here to help him. To free him.
The shadows swirled around, attempting to cover Cat Walker. This time, he fought his father’s orders for all they were worth, gritting his teeth as the heat surged through his veins. The shades wasted no time enveloping him, instantly cooling the burn, though not quenching it entirely.
“The ring!” he shouted, face screwed up in concentration. “Get his ring!”
“What?!” Monarch dodged Ladybug’s next attack. “You should not be able to—!”
The distraction cost him. The shadows weaved around, finally able to cling to Monarch, slowing his reaction speed just enough for Ladybug to grab hold of Monarch’s hand.
To grab hold of Adrien’s amok.
Instantly he felt a rush of relief as all of his previous orders disabled, no longer enforced by the holder’s will.
“NO!” Monarch yelled, grabbing for the ring. “Give it back, Ladybug. It belongs to me.”
“NOT. YOURS,” the shadows roared, as Ladybug brought the ring close to her chest. “NEVER YOURS.”
“It’s mine,” Adrien said. “It—it’s what he’s been using to control me.”
“Control you…?” Ladybug asked. The gears churned behind her eyes.
He looked away, not wanting to see the look in her eyes when she figured out what he was, what he’d always been.
He hadn’t expected her sudden, quick side hug as she slipped the ring onto his finger, opposite to where the Black Cat Miraculous resided.
The surge of freedom that ran through him tasted just as sweet as he’d fantasized.
The shadows stilled, debris dropping from the sky as they slowly dissolved, the sun’s light cracking through the darkness. Slowly they retreated, running down Adrien’s body, coalescing into a single spot just behind him, leaving a normal-shaped shadow—if shadows had glowing green eyes, anyway. The being let out a single exhausted groan, before closing its eyes, its presence seeming to vanish.
Monarch looked at Cat Walker. “Son, would you really abandon your mother? We could fix this. ALL of this. Every hardship our family has endured, every last moment—all of it could be undone if you would just take Ladybug’s Miraculous.”
Adrien tightened his grip on his staff. “I will not hurt my friends, Father. Not even for Mom.”
“Then I will just have to take them myself,” Monarch said, charging at them. Adrien braced himself, ready to fight alongside his partner, side-by-side, as it was always meant to be.
He tripped as a yellow spindle wove around one of his legs, sending him crashing to the ground.
Vesperia shot a satisfied smile at him. “You’re not taking anything, Monarch. If you even can call yourself that anymore, with so few Miraculous in your possession,” she said, taking the Butterfly Miraculous from around his neck. A flash of light ran over him as he detransformed, leaving just Gabriel once more.
“Guys—everyone—how…?” Ladybug asked, wide-eyed, watching as Miraculous Holder after Miraculous Holder emerged from the surrounding rooftops. Carapace, Minotarox, Polymouse, Purple Tigress– every member of the Miracuteam was accounted for, except Rena Rouge.
Viperion landed in front of her. “Just after you left, a shadow dropped the Snake Miraculous in front of me,” he said. “I restarted a few times trying to help with the fight with Monarch, but eventually I figured out that I wasn’t needed there—not at first—but that what you really needed was back-up later. And that I wasn’t the only one it’d distributed a Miraculous to.”
“Viperion filled us in on what was going on,” Vesperia said. “Most of us were already headed this way, thankfully, so it didn’t take too long.”
“Is it true?” Carapace asked hopefully. “Are—are you…?”
Cat Walker nodded. “Claws In.” With a rush, the light ran over him, leaving him as Adrien once more.
Carapace surged forward, nearly bowling him over with a hug. “I knew it was weird that your father pulled you from school like that,” he muttered, voice muffled by Adrien’s shoulder. “I knew you weren’t just giving us the cold shoulder for no reason.”
Adrien hugged back, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. “I—I wanted to be with you. To hang out with you, to go to our graduation party, but—”
Carapace’s head shot up. “Our graduation party! No way can you be allowed to miss it, nuh-uh, not happening.”
Adrien tilted his head to the side. “But it already happened?”
“So we’ll throw another one!” his best friend exclaimed. “I’m pretty good at it, I mean, I threw—” Nino choked on his word. “I threw a party in Hawkmoth’s house and got away with it?!”
Adrien stifled a laugh. “And an akuma broke up the party, so…”
“He was still in the house?!”
“You can add that to your DJ-ing resume,” he joked. “Threw a party underneath the nose of France’s most notorious supervillain.”
Carapace laughed. “As impressive as that sounds, I think I’d rather list the make-up party we’re all gonna throw for you.”
“We?” Adrien asked, blinking.
“Of course!” Polymouse said, “You think he was the only one who missed you?”
“We all worried about you,” Pigella said. “And with Viperion letting us know that you’re Chat Noir too, that you’re alive…” She closed in on him, joining Carapace’s hug.
That broke the floodgates. One by one, all the heroes joined in, embracing him tightly as they murmured thanks that he was okay, that he was alive. Ladybug’s hug was tightest of all.
He was safe.
He was free.
His friends were here.
And he was loved.
Finally he broke down crying, unable to contain himself anymore. He didn’t have to contain himself anymore.
Later, they’d have to plan how to get the Fox Miraculous back from Lila.
Later, they’d need to figure out what to do with Felix.
Later, he’d have to help gather evidence to ensure that Gabriel and Lila didn’t threaten anyone again.
But right now—in this moment—everything was all right.
044. i want a small tattoo between my shoulder blades that reads "one does not love breathing".
One Does Not Love Shadows ch.2
Thanks to @wackus-bonkus-maximus for betaing!
At first, Marinette thought she was hallucinating.
It wouldn’t be the first time she’d heard Chat Noir’s anguished shrieks or seen him out of the corner of her eye. It was especially bad those first few months when she couldn’t go through the night without waking up in a cold sweat after having a nightmare of Chat dying, transforming to give him a call—and then remembering it wasn’t just a nightmare. That it had actually happened.
Every so often she’d be walking down the street and hear a familiar pun, or catch a glimpse of some cat ears, and her heart would soar for just a moment. Only for reality to come crashing down once she got a closer look and realized the jokester was just some random kid, the cat ears merely accessories on a cat-eared hoodie and not riveted to a familiar mop of blond hair.
So when shadows stretched across the city, cat-eared figures dancing across the walls of her room, she just assumed she was having a worse episode than she’d ever had before.
She buried her face in her pillow, trying to drown out her partner’s cries. She could do nothing to save him now.
“Marinette!” Tikki called out urgently.
She looked up, trying to focus on Tikki and not on a nearby twitching shadow of a tail. “Sorry Tikki, I—I can’t—I’m seeing him everywhere again, I—”
“Marinette, I see them too!”
She looked up, dropping the pillow she’d been hugging to her chest. “This…how–?” she said numbly.
“I don’t know. It feels like Destruction, but…” Tikki looked around as the shadows knocked a few of Marinette’s lighter papers onto the ground. “I’ve never seen this before.”
The Black Cat Miraculous.
If it was active again, if Monarch was using it—
Marinette surged to her feet. She couldn’t bring Chat Noir back. She’d tried, over and over and over, throwing Lucky Charm after Lucky Charm into the air in the vain hope that this time, somehow, her partner would come back to her.
But she could avenge him. Take back Chat Noir’s Miraculous from his murderer, and make him feel the same pain her partner had as he crumbled into dust.
Opening her balcony door, she climbed up, trying to get a better view of the city.
Areas of dark and light intermixed, sending tendrils of darkness racing down the streets. The shrieks from the shadows merged with Parisians’ cries of alarm as they ran from the darkness. Any object the shadows passed rattled, some trash cans even tipping over, but so far little harm seemed to have occurred. Those who couldn’t avoid the shadows shuddered as the darkness slipped over them, but that appeared to be the only effect.
Squinting, Marinette looked towards the darkest part of the city, a roiling sphere of darkness enveloping some far-away building, occasional bits of white flying off into the distance.
Her heart dropped as she recognized the location. Before she was even consciously aware of her decision, she found herself transformed and racing over rooftops towards a familiar house, one she’d stood nervously outside of many times, trying to figure out some way to persuade the owners to let her in.
Her mind raced almost as fast as her legs. Why would Monarch target the Agreste mansion? And why so destructively, so obviously? If he just wanted the Miraculous Grimoire Gabriel kept, he didn’t need to result to those kinds of measures. It’s not like any of Gabriel’s security systems were powerful enough to stop a motivated Miraculous wielder, especially one with the Horse Miraculous.
No, this looked like he was sending a message, not simply retrieving an item. She swallowed thickly, churning over every time she’d interacted with Adrien as Ladybug. It seemed painfully obvious, looking back on it, how deeply and openly she’d cared for Adrien.
Monarch must have realized it as well, how caring for Adrien gave him another avenue through which to hurt her.
She’d already had one person she cared about stolen from her. She wasn’t about to let Monarch kill Adrien as well.
In his bedroom, Luka strummed his guitar, having returned to Paris for summer break. He’d felt on-edge these past few weeks, despite how peaceful Paris had been lately. Reuniting with his family and friends was a treat, but with Monarch still out there…
He frowned. Monarch still hadn’t attacked, and he didn’t know why. It had something to do with Chat Noir’s faked death, he was sure of that, but how those two things connected…
He shook his head. Adrien looked stressed whenever Luka saw him—in person anyway, he looked as immaculate as ever in advertisements and interviews—but otherwise unharmed. Whatever was going on between Adrien and Monarch, it was likely to be delicate, something that could be tipped in a disastrous direction with one wrong move. Without a clear idea of what to do, best to just leave it. He’d just keep checking up on Adrien as he always did to make sure he was okay.
As he was practicing a particular chord progression, a shrieking noise broke his concentration. Shrieks, yells, and screams weren’t all that unusual on the Couffaine houseboat, but these had a decidedly less melodious quality to them than normally occurred during band practice. They sounded familiar in a way he didn’t like.
Hands shaking, he pulled out his phone, typing in a search for videos of Chat Noir screaming. There were more of them than he would’ve liked. Heart in his throat, he pressed play.
The screams and shrieks sounded hauntingly close to the cacophony reverberating through his room.
The door of his room banged open. Juleka shot into the room, face bloodless. Luka let his guitar clatter to the ground, catching his twin as she landed next to him, curling up against his side. He hugged her close, gently stroking her hair. “What’s going on?” he asked gently. He wanted to just stay here, comforting his sister. But the sounds… if he was right about the culprit…
“Shadows… shrieking… Chat Noir’s ghost…” she mumbled, only a few words clear enough for him to make out.
Gently, he extricated himself from her grip, wincing as he did so. He didn’t want to leave, she needed him, it was the first time in a year since Monarch had last attacked, she didn’t want to be alone and—
Another one of Chat Noir’s anguished, distorted cries tore through the air.
He winced. Juleka needed him,but Chat Noir—Adrien—needed him more.
“I need to check on something,” he said, sending a reassuring smile at his sister that he didn’t truly feel. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back.”
She grabbed for his hand. “But—!”
“I’ll be safe. I promise. Just stay here and make sure that Mom doesn’t panic about both of us being gone. We don’t want to provide more targets for Monarch.” He winced as he said it. If Juleka was akumatized, it’d be bad. But if Luka was akumatized…
He stopped that train of thought. There was no sense making himself a more tempting target for Monarch than he was already.
Charging out onto the dock, Luka surveyed the city. Shadows flew across the skyline, cries ringing out as they raced by. Sometimes when one held still for just a moment, a swish of a cat tail or twitch of a cat ear could be seen.
His stomach churning, Luka grabbed his bike, heading for the epicenter of the shadowy apocalypse. Pedaling furiously, he cycled towards a place he’d grown familiar with, and one he wished he’d investigated further—the Agreste Mansion.
Ladybug swung through the city, avoiding any stray bit of debris that flew her way. There was surprisingly little. A few trash cans fell over as shadows passed over them, or the occasional flowerpot tipped from its perch, but otherwise not much else.
Or so she thought, until a billboard with Adrien’s face crashed to the ground in front of her, the shadows descending on it like hungry ants, ripping it to shreds.
If she’d had any doubts before on whether Monarch was targeting Adrien, they were gone now.
As she approached the mansion, a flash of yellow and blue caught her eye.
She blinked. Why would Luka head towards the screaming maelstrom of darkness and destruction? Sure he was brave and would help any way he could, but he was also sensible. He wouldn’t put himself in danger without good reason, not unless he thought he could help.
She bit her lip, conflicted. Any hesitation could cost her, but…
Luka’s grim look of concentration as he biked convinced her. She didn’t know what was going on, or whether Monarch was even at the center of all this. If Luka was this determined and willing to head into a war zone with no special powers or protection, it was probably important. He might even have information that could help her avenge her partner.
She swung down in front of him. His wheels skidded as he quickly braked, turning to the side to avoid hitting her. “Luka, what are you doing here?” she asked quickly, keeping one eye on the sky. If Monarch was here, she didn’t want to miss her chance.
“I saw the shadows and the screams and—Ladybug, do you know what’s happening?” he asked. Something in his expression seemed…off. He looked scared, of course, but there was a hint of something else as well. Not quite sorrow, but more like…shame?
Shaking her head, she grimaced. “My kwami says this feels like Destruction, but she’s never seen this before. On the way here I saw the shadows rip apart one of Adrien’s billboards, and with the centers seeming to come from the Agreste mansion—”
“The shadows are connected to Adrien,” Luka said. It sounded less like a realization he’d just come to, and more like a statement of fact.
She frowned. That wasn’t how she’d put it, but he wasn’t wrong. “They definitely seem to be after—”
A figure moved out of the corner of her eye. Whipping around, she turned to face it, squinting. For a moment she thought it was just another shadow. Then he jumped into the light.
The man (and it was a man, not a shadow) had dark green hair, a tail, and cat ears.
She knew him.
Her eyes widened. “Cat Walker?”
How could he be here? Monarch had the Black Cat Miraculous, not whoever Fu’s second choice had been!
Then Monarch leapt up next to Cat Walker, placing a hand on his shoulder.
And Marinette saw red.
As she leapt towards them, she found an unexpected weight clinging onto her arm. “Let GO!” she shouted, wrenching her arm out of Luka’s grasp. “Monarch needs to pay!” She trembled, drinking in Cat Walker’s falsely innocent-looking form, his princely attire that concealed the blackness of his heart. “And if that traitor’s helping that murderer, especially using my partner’s Miraculous, he can join him,” she hissed.
“Don’t hurt that Cat wielder!” Luka insisted. “I don’t think he’s evil.”
“HE’S HELPING A MURDERER!” she yelled, turning away from him. She couldn’t let those two sick bastards out of her sight. The scales of justice would be balanced, Monarch’s ashes providing recompense for her own failure to protect her partner. If Cat Walker got in her way, he could join his boss.
“CHAT NOIR ISN’T DEAD!”
She froze. “...What did you say?” she whispered.
Luka wouldn’t meet her eyes. “Chat Noir isn’t dead,” he repeated. “Two years ago, I—I saw both you and Chat Noir hit by Wishmaker. I know who both of you are. He’s been alive this whole time.”
“You—you said you didn’t see. I—I asked you if you’d seen!”
“I’m sorry, Marinette,” Luka said. “I lied.”
“Why? Why would you lie about that?” she asked, her voice building, a year of rage and sorrow and guilt letting loose. “And why would you keep it a secret that Chat Noir’s alive?!”
“I didn’t know what to do!” he burst out. “Adrien was alive, Chat Noir was dead, Monarch wasn’t attacking, and Adrien still had his Miraculous on his finger!”
Her mind stopped. “...Adrien?”
Luka nodded. “Adrien is Chat Noir. Always has been. And he’s had his Miraculous on him every time I’ve seen him.”
“You think this other Black Cat is still Adrien,” she said.
He nodded. “I don’t know for sure, but it seems likely.”
Why would Adrien—her kitty—be with Monarch? Why wouldn’t Chat Noir tell her he was alive? And why had the attacks stopped for so long? No matter how she turned it over in her head, it didn’t make sense.
She knew what others might think—that her partner had betrayed her, that Adrien wasn’t who she had always thought he was.
She couldn’t believe that. Even when Félix (she suppressed a rush of rage thinking of him) had pretended to be Adrien, she hadn’t fallen for it. She knew he’d never say those things, that something more had to be going on. With Adrien also being Chat Noir, the thought of him betraying her, betraying Paris, was impossible. He’d never hurt his friends if he could help it, and he’d rather die than hurt her. He’d proven that often enough.
No. Something more was going on here. And if Monarch got between her and rescuing her partner, she’d put him through the same fate she’d thought he’d inflicted on Chat Noir.
“I won’t hurt him,” she promised, her gut churning at the thought. If Luka hadn’t stopped her, hadn’t fessed up…what would she have done? She turned a hard glare on her friend. “But we’re talking about this later.”
Luka winced, but nodded.
She threw out her yo-yo, swinging towards Monarch and her partner, and hopefully some answers too.
She didn’t see the tendril of darkness deposit a small bracelet at Luka’s feet.
One Does Not Love Shadows Ch. 1
Thanks to @wackus-bonkus-maximus both for betaing, and for writing “one does not love breathing”, which this is based on.
So this is an AU for wackus-bonkus's "one does not love breathing", because dammit I NEED ADRIEN TO BE OKAY. I know he will be safe and happy and free and with his friends eventually, but the wait is killing me! And I don't think I'm the only one. So I wrote this little fic to tide me over until things are resolved in the actual fic.
Pearl484's "Shadow of the Chat" got my mental gears turning, as I thought how that fic, if crossed over with "one does not love breathing", could help fix things. Basically in that universe, the Black Cat holder has their "shadow" come to life. It's based off of Jungian psychology, with the Shadow being the repressed, unacknowledged parts of the self. If you've played the Persona games, you're familiar with the concept.
Anyway, Shadow causes a lot of trouble, being very rude and mean to Ladybug, but also saying some things that needed to be said, like pointing out how Ladybug had let other people know each other's identities and not told Chat Noir, leading to her actually talking with Chat about things. He also was very protective of Chat in general, even if he didn't know exactly how to help, making so much fuss about Chat needing some sort of medication that an exasperated Ladybug took him to a psychiatrist just to stop Shadow from breaking into places and trying to get some random medication for him in the hope it would help, only to find, to her shock, that Chat Noir had depression. After that she began to take Shadow more seriously and value him more, even if he didn't always have the best way of drawing attention to the problems Chat Noir was having. It's a great fic and at only 3700 words, I highly recommend reading it yourself.
Shadow didn’t see it coming.
He hadn’t even been fighting—while he was willing to defend Adrien however he could, he didn’t have his creator’s raw power.
But wherever Chat Noir went, he did as well. Which meant he was on the battlefield. And that when Chat Noir rushed to tackle Ladybug out of the way of a hit, well… his creator got clear of the akuma’s blast.
He, however, did not.
Shadow found himself getting pulled through some interdimensional tube to who-knows-where.
He winced, feeling his bond with Adrien strain, pull, and finally—
Placidly, he looked down as his body started to disintegrate, globs of shadow pulling apart, his form barely holding together.
He felt absolutely nothing about this. Only a raw, aching emptiness.
A ring of light opened up beneath him, abruptly depositing him onto unmoving ground. The vacuum inside him desperately reached out for its lifeline, for something to keep him intact.
It found its home.
A new bond was formed, with the same person, yet not.
And Shadow SCREAMED.
“Don’t be bemused, it’s just the news! Parisians are reporting loud screeching, power outages, and weirdly moving shadows across the city—which some say look like they have cat ears and a tail. The work of an akuma? Or Chat Noir’s restless ghost? We ask the people for their thoughts—”
The TV clicked off. “You don’t need to watch that, Adrien.”
Adrien turned to glare at his father, but nodded, getting up from the couch. Not that he had much choice. Ever since his father had found out Adrien was Chat Noir, he hadn’t been shy about using Adrien’s amok to force his obedience.
It’d been a year since Lila revealed to Adrien what he was. A year since Chat Noir had been declared dead. A year since he’d talked to his partner.
He twirled his Miraculous, eying the ring on his father’s finger. Not like he could do more than that. He’d been forbidden from even thinking about—
Wincing, he looked away. It always hurt to feel his thoughts rewrite themselves.
After long days of being forced to accompany Lila on photoshoots, plastering a smile on for the cameras, sometimes he relished that bit of pain, the knowledge he was doing something he wasn’t supposed to, that was forbidden. But today had been a less arduous day than most, and he didn’t feel like pissing Father off by thinking things he shouldn’t.
“What do you think it is though?” he asked. “I mean, if it’s not an akuma…”
His father turned to the window, expression guarded. “Most likely just Lila, practicing her illusions again. Pay it no mind..”
Father was right. Of course he was. He’d been stupid to think it meant something. But then what was up with the power outages—?
He grimaced as his thoughts stuttered and skipped. Whatever train of thought he’d had, Father didn’t like it. Not that it made much difference. Adrien couldn’t do anything to get out of this situation, even if his thoughts were free. His body was shackled to an even greater extent than his mind was.
Not for the first time, he fantasized about Ladybug finding out who he was, freeing him—he didn’t think too hard about how, he wasn’t allowed such thoughts—tearfully hugging as they revealed their identities to each other, and just… being together, free to talk and think and do whatever he wanted without needing to worry about what his father would do in retaliation, or that he wouldn’t be able to do the thing at all.
At least he hadn’t been forbidden from imagining things, from retreating into his own head. He wasn’t sure how he’d have survived this year otherwise. Not that he could have escaped that way either; Father had instructed him to not attempt any sort of escape from influence. Trying to die evidently counted.
He hadn’t gotten that desperate yet, not since the night Felix talked him down. He’d simply picked up a kitchen knife, wanting to test that theory. The instant he turned it towards himself, he dropped it, his fingers opening of their own accord. He hadn’t really meant to do it. He hadn’t. No matter what Plagg and Felix thought. He wouldn’t do that. He wanted to live, to be with his friends, with his partner.
He just… wanted to check.
The lights flickered out.
Father stiffened. “What’s going on?!”
Wait… the lights turning off by themselves…
Adrien’s eyes widened. His mind burned as he pushed through his father’s command. “Nadja said there were power outages!”
His father paled and turned on his heel, racing to his atelier. Adrien followed after him, heart pounding. The mansion had a back-up generator just for Emilie—Father wasn’t taking any chances after what happened when Nino threw an illicit party for Adrien, when Markov diverted all the power away to the speakers—but if that got compromised too…
Father hammered at the portrait’s buttons, but nothing happened. He growled, pounding the wall. “Why won’t it work?!”
“...Does the elevator power run on the same power line as the rest of the house?” Adrien asked hesitantly.
Father’s face went slack. He nodded.
One of the nearby statues clattered to the ground. Absently, Adrien catalogued it as one of the things his father had broken in order to sell his akumatization into the Collector, all those years ago.
“Who’s there?!” Father barked, swivelling his head from side-to-side, desperately looking for whatever made the sound. “You are trespassing, and I will personally ensure that the police prosecute you to the full extent—”
“Set him free.”
The hairs on the back of Adrien’s neck prickled. It was quiet, but the emotion in it�� it stirred something deep in his chest, something long repressed, kept under wraps lest indulging too much broke him.
“Adrien, what did you say?” Gabriel asked, looking at him wildly.
“I didn’t say anything!” Adrien protested.
“Don’t lie to me, I know your voice! Now, tell me the truth. Why did you say that?”
Adrien felt that order settle deep into his bones. His mouth moved of its own accord—not that he would’ve said anything different, even if he’d had control. “I honestly didn’t say that!”
His father looked away, searching for the source of the voice, evidently believing him this time. Of course he did, Adrien literally couldn’t lie to him.
“LET HIM GO!” the voice howled, much louder this time. The framed picture containing Gabriel’s collection of Adrien pictures—admiring his and Emilie’s perfect creation, Adrien thought bitterly—clattered to the ground, the pictures ripping off, shredding to a thousand pieces, shadows flitting around the pieces. “SET HIM FREE!”
This time, Adrien recognized the voice. He heard it whenever he saw interviews of himself played on TV.
It was his own voice.
His father evidently knew it too. “Adrien,” he said, turning to him with wide eyes. ”Whatever you’re doing, stop.” He twirled his wedding ring, hands trembling the slightest bit. “Remember the bargain. I cannot honor it if you don’t .” As composed as Gabriel tried to be, Adrien detected a hint of fear in his father’s voice.
Adrien’s heart rose into his throat. “I don’t know what’s going on! Don’t—don’t call off the deal. With the Rabbit Miraculous we can fix everything. We don’t have to fight her!”
At least in this situation, he knew his friends wouldn’t get hurt. And Ladybug… he’d seen her crying at his memorial statue, heard the news talk about her visiting it, leaving flowers. He knew she was devastated.
But she’d move on. She had other friends, other partners—ones she’d chosen, even. She might miss him, but she’d be okay. She’d live, and heal, and move on. He’d always known she didn’t need him—not really. She���d be fine, eventually.
And even his other friends—he’d pulled away to protect them. Not that his father left him a lot of choice. He preferred Adrien close, under his thumb. He’d seen the disappointment in Nino’s eyes when Adrien told him his father was pulling him from school just before graduation, wouldn’t let him go out anymore. The way Marinette’s voice dropped when his father had coldly informed her over the com system that he wasn’t allowed any visitors.
But he’d also seen them out his window a few times, going about their lives. And not just those two, but the rest of his classmates as well—Kim and Alix racing, Nathaniel and Marc walking by, laughing at some joke he couldn’t hear, Alya walking around, face glued to her phone as she made what he presumed to be another Ladyblog video.
They all had their own lives. They might miss him, but they didn’t need him. Even if he never got free from his father, even if they never saw him again, they would be happy and safe.
He would do whatever it took to safeguard that. It’s why he’d convinced his father not to launch any more attacks, not until the Rabbit Miraculous was repaired. With all the Miraculous they had, versus just Ladybug, without any partners at her side… they might succeed.
He couldn’t bear for Ladybug to be hurt like that; or for anyone else to be harmed in the crossfire, unhealed by her Miraculous Ladybug. His father was convinced that none of this, nothing he did, would matter after he rewrote the world with the Wish, but Adrien wasn’t so sure. And even if it was undone, it still would have happened.
No. Better to just wait for the Rabbit Miraculous to be repaired. It was a far more reliable method of undoing the past, with far less cost.
“SET HIM FREE!” Adrien’s voice screamed again, ending in a high-pitched wail. Everything that wasn’t nailed down started vibrating, shaking, before lifting up into the air.
This—this had to be some weird magic. Maybe… “Plagg, do you know what’s going on?” he asked, trying to keep the panic in his voice under control.
Plagg looked up at Adrien from his jacket pocket, eyes wide, and shook his head. “I’ve never seen this before, but…” he squinted at the moving shadows dancing around the room, disturbing everything they touched. “It feels like destruction. Like how both the unpasteurized Camembert cheese we get here and the pasteurized stuff Fu fed me in America are both a kind of Camembert, but they’re still different.”
Adrien winced at a particularly loud shriek from the shadows. “So is this the pasteurized or unpasteurized cheese?!” Wait, no, that wasn’t the important part. He shook his head, trying to clear it. “So what does that mean for us?”
Plagg just shrugged, looking as confused as he was.
“Nooroo, Dark Wings Rise!” Gabriel said, and with the next flash of light, Monarch turned to him. “Transform,” he ordered.
He had no choice. “Plagg, Claws Out,” he said dully.
Maybe his father was only ordering him to transform because things had gotten dangerous. Maybe this was to protect him. Maybe the deal was still on and his friends would be safe. Maybe after this they’d go back to the status quo, with him being one of the faces of the company, Gabriel and Felix spying into his mind to ensure Adrien didn’t try anything, as he survived day-to-day, trying to pass the time.
He didn’t believe it. Once this prohibition on transforming, on appearing in public was broken, he didn’t believe his father would go back to biding his time. The attacks would start up again… and this time, he’d be joining Monarch’s side.
He’d be forced to hurt the person he cared about most in the world.
The walls cracked, a constant shriek sounding throughout the room, as the—the spirit, for lack of a better identifier, intensified its rage.
Monarch opened his cane, releasing a charged black butterfly. “Fly away, little akuma, and evilize this—this thing.”
Adrien’s eyes widened. “Father, do you really think now is the time—”
“It needs to be contained, Adrien,” Gabriel snapped. “Stand back.”
The evilized butterfly flew around, melting into a nearby shadow.
Adrien felt something twist inside him, hesitate, then touch—
Darkness exploded across the room, the entire manor tearing apart as a tornado of darkness erupted, demolishing the room in seconds.
But it didn’t stop there.
The darkness raced across the ground, the sky, everything, covering all of Paris in dancing shadows and cries of pain.
“Shadow,” his father said, his expression both perturbed and bemused.”. “I feel your rage, your need to exact revenge. Heed my commands and I will grant you the power to carry out your desires.”
The maelstrom of darkness screamed louder.
“You need only submit,” his father called, voice trembling. His face screwed up in concentration, his fist clenching. “With my power, you and I—”
“NOT YOURS,” the voice bellowed. Distorted now, barely sounding human. Only by listening carefully could a hint of Adrien’s voice be detected in it. “NEVER YOURS. NOT YOUR PROPERTY NOT YOURS NOT YOURS DOESN’T BELONG TO YOU!”
His father shrank, naked fear present in his eyes.
Adrien’s breath hitched.
This—this thing that sounded like him, that couldn’t be controlled, had covered all of Paris.
Where all his friends were.
And Adrien could do nothing to help them.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something moving through the sky, glinting in what little light remained. By the time he turned towards them, they were gone.
wip of everyone’s favorite worst girls <3