The Sailor Soldiers and their extradimensional visitors spent the remainder of the day at Mamoru's apartment, mostly sitting around killing time. Usagi had gone back to bed for a while. Slightly past noon, Makoto and Rei went shopping; when they returned, Makoto started cooking.
The smell of food roused Usagi, who returned to the living room and played cards with the others. Just as Makoto announced the food was ready, there was a knock on the glass door leading out to the balcony. Everyone looked up to see Ladybug standing there, waving sheepishly.
Usagi rolled her eyes and opened the balcony door. "You could've come in the front way," she said.
"Sorry, habit," Ladybug said. She looked slowly around the room, blinking, then focused her gaze on Usagi. "Sailor Moon?"
Usagi nodded. "That's right. All of the girls here, you've already met." She went around the room, making introductions. When she was finished, she took a deep breath. "And...we know who you are too, Marinette Dupain-Cheng. If you'd like, you can drop your transformation now and join us for lunch."
Ladybug tensed, then sighed. "Tikki, spots off." In a pink flash, her spotted bodysuit was replaced with pink jeans, ballet slippers, a patterned shirt, and a light black jacket. "How'd you—?"
"It wasn't hard," Ami said apologetically. "Airline and tourist entry records search, then narrowing it down with a little logic."
"Oh," Marinette said, blinking.
"There aren't a whole lot of French teenagers in Tokyo right now, apparently," Rei said. "Ami-chan came up with a list and we worked from there."
"We also know who Chat Noir is," Usagi said. "But since you said you don't want to know..."
"Right," Marinette said somewhat apprehensively. "It...it wouldn't be right to ask. Not like this." She took a deep breath. "And...Le Papillon?"
Ami grimaced. "That...is a bit harder," she said. "With you and Chat Noir-san, it was easy, but we don't know anything about Le Papillon. There are one hundred forty-seven French adults in Tokyo at the moment, excluding your parents and..." She bit her lip.
"And Chat Noir's," Marinette finished for her. "I sort of figured he wasn't here by himself."
"Right," Ami said, nodding. "Even assuming Le Papillon is staying in this part of the city, that's six people to investigate." She adjusted her glasses. "Again, excluding your parents and Chat Noir-san's."
"Why exclude them?" Sonata asked suddenly.
Everyone turned to her. "What?" Marinette asked.
"Well, do your parents know you're a superhero?" Sonata asked. "I'm guessing probably not."
"W-well, no," Marinette admitted.
"So if one of them or Chat Noir's dad was a supervillain, do you think you'd know?"
"My parents could never be supervillains!" Marinette protested, stamping a foot. "Papa is the kindest, most gentle man in Paris! Mama is kind, sweet, and...and I'm pretty sure Le Papillon isn't a woman!"
"Calm down, Dupain-san," Rei said gently. "Sonata-san didn't mean any offense, and she does have a valid point." She frowned. "And you don't know anything about Chat Noir's father, so we can't necessarily exclude him."
"I think Chat Noir would know if his father was a supervillain," Marinette said sourly, crossing her arms.
"Yeah, because that worked so well for Luke Skywalker," Makoto said teasingly as she began laying serving dishes on the table. "Come on, we're just about to eat, you're welcome to join us."
"Thank you," Marinette said, looking over the spread. "Wow, this all looks really good. I haven't really tried much Japanese food."
"Well, now's as good a time as any!" Makoto said with a cheerful smile.
Everyone sat down and began loading up plates. As they did so, Marinette held a contemplative expression on her face. "I guess...you do have a point," she said. "We can't rule out Chat Noir's father just because he's Chat Noir's father. At the very least, we need to clear him off the suspect list so we can go back to finding Le Papillon."
"I'm sure your friend's father is as good a man as yours," Usagi said with a kind smile.
"Hey...who's Luke Skywalker?" Sonata stage-whispered to Twilight. Twilight shrugged.
* * * * *
Adrien Agreste leaned against a balcony railing, a half-empty smoothie in one hand, utterly bored out of his mind as he watched people coming and going below.
The Yamagoto Plaza Hotel, where he and his father were staying during their business trip, occupied the upper three-fourths of the Yamagoto Plaza complex, the lower three floors of which were an expansive shopping center. As Adrien understood it, there were also two floors of offices above the shopping center before the hotel took over the rest of the building. Having nothing to do for the rest of the day, Adrien had decided to explore the Yamagoto Shopping Plaza for anything interesting, but he had quickly grown bored with it and decided to spend some time people-watching while he gathered his thoughts.
Defying all probability, Ladybug was somewhere in this city. Equally improbably, Le Papillon had followed both of them to Tokyo. It was all too convenient, too contrived; something about the whole situation made Adrien's brain itch, like there was something obvious he should be seeing...
"Adrien? Oh my goodness, it is you!"
Snapped out of his reverie, Adrien looked to his right and gaped. Sabine Cheng and Tom Dupain were walking slowly up to him; it was Mrs. Cheng who had called his name. He blinked, then smiled. "Uhh...hi!" he said. "Wow, I wasn't expecting to run into anybody I know here. Except my father, I mean." He chuckled.
Sabine smiled. "Well, we're on a little family vacation," she said. "I've always wanted to see Tokyo, we saved up enough to afford a little time away, Tom was able to get a friend of his to manage the boulangerie for a couple of weeks and house-sit for us." She clasped her hands in front of her. "So, you're here on vacation too?"
"Business actually," Adrien said. "My father's opening two new stores here in Japan later this year. I have to do photo shoots with him, his branch partners, the Japanese models..." He sighed. "I mean, yeah, I'm getting a little time to wander around, and it's Tokyo, but..."
"But you're all by yourself?" Sabine asked sadly.
Adrien nodded miserably.
"Well, maybe you can meet up with Marinette and go sightseeing," Sabine said brightly. "I'm sure she'd love to see Tokyo with you!"
Adrien brightened. "Marinette's here too?"
"Of course she is!" Tom said jovially. "Wouldn't be much of a family vacation if it was just us two." He scratched his chin thoughtfully. "No, it'd be more of a second honeymoon if that was the case..."
"Where is she?" Adrien asked eagerly. "Is she in one of the stores?"
Sabine winced. "Actually, she's off on her own today," she said apologetically. "Something about an Instagram friend from here in the city wanting to show her something, she'll meet us back at the hotel later...oh, and we're not staying here, we're staying at the Ladybird. This place is...just a bit much for us."
Adrien snorted. "Yeah, it's a bit much period," he muttered. "Don't get me wrong, it's a great hotel, it's just..." He sighed. "Reminds me way too much of Le Grand Paris. Only more over-the-top."
Tom laughed. "Well, our hotel is just right for a family on vacation." He clapped Adrien on the shoulder with a meaty hand. "You should give Marinette a call, let her know you're in the city. I'm sure she'd be happy to go sightseeing with you."
"Yeah, I should," Adrien said distractedly. He blinked. "Wait, I don't have her number..."
"Really?" Sabine asked. "Huh, that's strange." She reached into her purse and pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper, then wrote Marinette's number down and handed it to Adrien. "Here. I'm sure she won't mind at all since you're friends." She winked and offered Adrien a secretive smile. "Well, we've got a lot more to do before we go back to our hotel, and we're two transfers away and the JR is a lot worse than the Metro, so...hopefully we'll see you later, non? Have fun!"
"Yeah, have fun," Adrien said, smiling. "It was nice seeing a couple of familiar faces."
Adrien watched them head for the escalator, smiling as he looked down at Marinette's number. *So Marinette is here in Tokyo,* he mused. *I don't get to spend nearly enough time with her even though she was one of the first friends I made, it'll be nice to—*
His train of thought abruptly derailed. His eyes shot open wide.
"Plagg," he hissed into the inside pocket of his jacket. "PLAGG!"
"What is it?" came the sleepy reply of his Kwami.
"Marinette's in Tokyo," Adrien hissed.
"Yeah, I heard," Plagg grunted. "That's nice."
"You don't get it," Adrien said quietly, his mind racing. "Marinette is here in Tokyo."
"Yeah, she is," Plagg agreed. "What about it?"
Adrien rolled his eyes. "Plagg, Marinette's here in Tokyo...and so is Ladybug."
Plagg was silent for a long moment. "Huh," he said at length. "That's interesting."
"Interesting? Interesting?!" Adrien snapped, drawing curious looks from a couple of passing Japanese women. "Plagg, what if Marinette is Ladybug?!"
Plagg poked his head out from Adrien's jacket, his green eyes glowing faintly. "Well, that'd be nice, don't you think?" A sly smile graced his lips. "I mean, you have almost as big a crush on Marinette as you do on Ladybug."
"I do not!" Adrien protested.
"Right," Plagg said with a derisive snort. "And I'm lactose intolerant." He shook his head and twitched his whiskers. "I'm just saying, if Marinette is Ladybug, that's good for you, right?" With that, he ducked his head back into Adrien's jacket.
Adrien stood there for a long moment, his smoothie long forgotten, his mind whirling.
* * * * *
During the course of the meal, the group of teenagers had gotten to know each other, swapping stories and talking about their hobbies, interests, and so forth. The atmosphere in Mamoru's apartment quickly became one of relaxed comfort and comraderie.
"Ah, that was good," Marinette said, leaning back in her seat and wiping her mouth. "I think I ate too much."
Makoto laughed. "Glad you enjoyed it. And given the way you go flying around like Spider-Man all the time, I'm sure you'll burn it off."
"You're a really good cook, Mako-chan," Kim said. "I'm impressed."
"Yeah, you rock! I'd love to see what you can do with Mexican food," Ron said.
Makoto raised an eyebrow. "Mexican food, huh? I dunno..." She put a hand to her chin. "Now that I think about it, I don't think I've ever even eaten Mexican food..."
"I have!" Usagi said, thrusting her hand into the air. "It makes you fart a whole bunch!"
"It really does," Mamoru agreed, his nose wrinkling in distaste.
"There's a story there," Minako said with a sly grin.
"Yeah, and you're not hearing it," Usagi said, blushing furiously. Everybody laughed.
A fast, cheery jingle sounded out from Marinette's pocket. "Oh no, I bet that's my parents," she said, reaching into her pocket and pulling out her phone. "Or my friend Alya checking to see how the trip's—" She trailed off as she looked at her phone. Her eyes widened. Her cheeks turned red.
She very nearly dropped the phone. "UWAH!" she cried.
Everyone stared at her. "What's up?" Kim asked.
Tikki flew up and examined the phone. She blinked. "Huh. A call from Adrien." She smiled a sly smile. "Well well."
Around the room, eyes flicked sharply from one Sailor Soldier to another.
Marinette just barely managed to answer the phone and held it in nervous, shaking hands. "H-hello?" she stammered.
"A-a-a-a-adrien! I, how, I, how, I mean, I, umm...h-hi!" Marinette stammered. "How nice! To call, from you, the phone, I mean..." She coughed. "Hi!"
Minako's eyebrows went up. Her eyes sparkled. The other Senshi exchanged knowing glances and smirks. Ron blinked owlishly.
//Hey. So, uhh...sorry for the sudden call, I ran into your mom, she gave me your number. Umm...I mean, I ran into her just a little while ago. In Tokyo.//
Marinette blinked rapidly. "I-in T—" She broke off sharply. "Ah! Right, I forgot, your dad's announcement! That was this week?"
//Ah, you knew about that?//
"Yeah, it was in a magazine I read. I didn't know you were going with him, I mean..." Marinette frowned, her mind whirling. *How did I not know Adrien was going to be in Tokyo this week? Was I so excited for this trip that I just forgot to check on his plans for break?*
//Yeah, I'm doing the whole publicity thing. It's boring.//
"Aww, that...that's too bad."
//Yeah.// There was a nervous pause. //So, uhh...you're here and I'm here and we're friends, I mean...we're friends and we're both in Tokyo, so...// Adrien coughed. //You maybe wanna meet up, see some of the sights together? I've got all day free tomorrow.//
"Y-yeah!" Marinette exclaimed, nodding rapidly. "Of course! Seeing you is a sight, I mean, sightseeing you, I mean, seeing the sights with you..." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Yeah, I'll have to check with my parents, but I think they'll...yeah."
//Great! Umm...I'll text you later.//
"Right, I'm looking forward to it," Marinette said. "Well, umm...I'll see you tomorrow then, and later we'll text and...yeah..." She ducked her face, playing with her hair. "Later!"
It took her almost a minute to think to disconnect the call and put her phone away. When she finally did, she realized the entire room was staring at her, many of them with knowing smirks and smug grins. She burned scarlet. "What?"
"Some~one has a boy~friend," Sonata sang teasingly.
"I do not!" Marinette cried sharply. "I mean, I..." She smiled, playing with her hair. "I...I want to have him, I mean...as my boyfriend I mean! But..." She trailed off and sighed.
"She's got it baaaaaad," Tikki said, giggling.
"We noticed," Makoto said dryly.
"I think it's sweet," Minako said.
"Adrien," Marinette sighed happily.
Rei coughed. "So you're planning to meet him tomorrow to go sightseeing?" she asked lightly.
"Yeah, we—" Marinette broke off abruptly, blinking rapidly. "Wait a minute. Adrien's here in Tokyo?" She stood up and started pacing. "Adrien's here in Tokyo. Adrien...Adrien's here in Tokyo..." Her brow furrowed, her eyes darting back and forth, not really seeing her surroundings. The group could see her mind working furiously. She stopped pacing suddenly and gave Ami a sharp look. "You said there aren't many teenagers from Paris in Tokyo right now," she said.
"That's right," Ami said evenly.
Marinette sat down on the sofa, tucking her legs under her. "But Chat Noir is here," she said. "Chat Noir is here...Adrien is here..." Her eyes flicked to Tikki, who hovered nearby. Tikki gave a noncommittal shrug. Marinette closed her eyes and shook her head. "No, it's impossible," she decided. "Adrien being Chat Noir, that's nonsense..." And yet, her voice held a note of uncertainty.
Ron opened his mouth to say something. Kim elbowed him in the breadbasket.
Usagi cleared her throat. "If Chat Noir turned out to be the boy you liked, would that be a problem?" she asked.
Marinette chewed her lip. "I don't know," she admitted. "I don't..." She shook her head. "I can't see them being the same person, but..." She looked around the room, narrowing her eyes. "You all know who Chat Noir is," she said.
Nobody would meet her gaze.
"I see," Marinette said, her tone firm, her jaw clenched. She sighed. "I need some air. I...I have a lot to think about. Tikki, spots on."
One bright flash of magic later, Ladybug was out the window and swinging across the Tokyo cityscape.
The Senshi and their extradimensional guests looked at each other guiltily.
"Well..." Ami said hesitantly. "She was bound to find out sooner or later."
"Yeah," Makoto agreed. "I mean, it's like Mamoru and Usagi-chan here," she said. "I mean, it's almost exactly like them."
"Actually, it sounded to me like it's the other way around," Rei said. "Usagi hated Mamoru-san at first, remember?"
Mamoru chuckled, his eyes twinkling. "And I went out of my way to insult Usako at every opportunity," he said. "Good times...good times..."
"Well, as long as the Goddess of Love is on the case, those two will end up together and be happy!" Minako declared firmly, pumping a fist.
"Yyyyyeah, maybe just let it run its course without getting involved," Kim suggested. "And I hate to break up the fun, but we do need to get back to talking about that Rainbow Monkey Crystal..."