Chat Noir's tail lashed angrily as he raced through the halls of Yamagoto Plaza, throwing open doors to stairwells and vaulting up floors with the grace of a cat. *Impossible,* he told himself over and over again. *It's a mistake. Father isn't—*
But as furiously as he denied it, scenes from recent memory played through his mind. Father's cold, distant demeanor. His flashes of anger. His secretive nature, frequently disappearing for hours, even days at a time. The hidden safe behind her portrait...
The book. The Miraculous book.
Gritting his teeth, Chat Noir burst onto the floor below the penthouse.
The ding of an elevator chime registered on his senses. A door opened. Ladybug stepped out into the hall, calm and collected despite the turbulent worry churning in her blue eyes. "Chat Noir," she called softly. When he didn't answer, she tried again: "Adrien."
"Don't, Marinette," Chat Noir said roughly. "Just...not now."
"Adrien," Ladybug said sternly. "You need to stop and take a breath."
He growled at her. She held her ground.
"Adrien," Ladybug tried again, running backwards and keeping pace with him, "if you go into this like you are now, it's not going to go right. I know...I know you're angry—"
"You don't know what I'm feeling right now," Chat Noir hissed.
Ladybug winced. Tears welled up in her eyes. "You're right," she said softly. "I don't. But I know that it's up to us to stop Le Papillon. He's tormented us—tormented Paris—for months. He has to pay. But if we...if we go in there letting our emotions run wild..." She reached out and caught Chat Noir's shoulders, digging in her heels. "Listen to me," she said insistently.
Chat Noir strained against her, but she held firm.
"Listen to me," Ladybug repeated. "If you go in there like this, you're going to make a mistake, and he might...he might kill you." Tears welled up in her eyes. "I've watched you die once already, minou. And that was before I knew you were...you." Her voice was hoarse, rough. "I can't do that again. I can't let you go in there like this."
Chat Noir stilled. He took a deep breath, clenching his claws. "Ladybug..." His irises contracted into narrow slits. "I can't. I can't...if he's...if..." He shook his head. "How can you ask me to just..."
"You're Chat Noir," Ladybug said. "You're my partner. My friend. Look...whatever else is going on here, we can deal with that later. But right now, we have a job to do. There's an Akuma that hasn't been cleansed. Hundreds of people are counting on us. Two cities are counting on us. This is what we've been waiting for, Chaton. The final battle. The day we defeat Le Papillon once and for all." She took a deep breath. "Right now, that's all that matters. Focus, Chat Noir. Focus on the mission. Just the mission. We're the heroes, he's the villain. We can...we can worry about the rest once we win."
For a long, tense moment, Chat Noir stared into Ladybug's eyes. Then, he sighed. "Alright," he said hoarsely. "I'll...I'll try."
The elevator dinged again. The two heroes turned and looked down the hall.
Kim Possible strolled out, cracking her knuckles and rolling her shoulders. "I'm not late to the party, am I?" she asked.
"We've got this," Ladybug said. "Get someplace safe, this could get—"
"I can handle danger," Kim interrupted. "Besides, I've got a personal stake in this. Sailor Mercury tells me that jerk has the Rainbow Monkey Crystal."
The heroes stared at her, wide-eyed. "Seriously?" Ladybug asked.
Chat Noir snorted. "That figures," he growled. "Alright, but be careful. And...just so you know, this is kinda personal for us."
Kim sighed. "Yeah. I...I heard. I'm...sorry." She looked down the hall. "So...we doing this?"
Ladybug and Chat Noir looked at each other and nodded.
The three of them continued down the hall, to the door of the Lavender Suite.
* * * * *
Otaku's former victims had long since left the premises en masse. The Sailor Senshi and Twilight Sparkle remained on the scene. Twilight, for her part, was moving among the frozen Otaku copies, scanning them and taking notes.
"Is it...is it safe for her to do that?" Jupiter wondered.
"It should be," Mercury said. "Unless the original infected victim returns to his Akumatized state, the copies will remain dormant like this." She frowned. "Besides, even if they activate, this particular Akumatized wasn't...very dangerous. Mostly just...annoying."
"Very annoying," Mars said with a sour frown.
Sailor Moon sat on a bench, a worried frown on her face. "Hey...you okay?" Venus asked, laying a hand on her shoulder.
Sailor Moon sighed. "I'm just...worried," she said. "Poor Chat Noir...I can't begin to imagine what it's like for him, finding out his dad is his mortal enemy..."
"Yeah," Venus agreed, shuddering. "I feel like we should be doing more than standing watch down here, but...at the same time, I really don't want to get into the middle of that."
"Me neither," Sailor Moon said. "And then there's the Starlights. I don't know what they were doing here, but..."
"Yeah, kinda sounds like they just got on everybody's nerves today," Venus said with a grimace. "We'll have to find them later and...and clear the air..." She shook her head. "What a time for a reunion, huh?"
"Yeah," Sailor Moon agreed. "And what are they even doing here? That's got me worried too..."
"Whatever it is, we'll handle it," Venus said confidently. "We've already been through so much, what's the worst that could happen?"
* * * * *
Three women and a young girl stood on the top level of the Tokyo Skytree. One of them held an ornate hand mirror; its face showed not her reflection, but the deep blackness of space.
"A threat from beyond the stars approaches," the tallest woman said.
"This threat...it's beyond anything we've faced, isn't it?" the young girl said sadly.
"I don't know if even Princess Serenity is ready to face this," the second tallest woman said, clenching her fists at her side.
"The messengers from the distant star came with the warning, but..." the last woman frowned. "I feel turbulence in the sea..."
"The black waves carry a herald of destruction," the young girl said in a sorrowful tone.
A silver shape streaked across the blackness in the mirror.
* * * * *
Le Papillon observed the Akuma fluttering its wings idly within the crystal top of his cane. He smirked. "Hm. These interlopers...I owe them a debt of gratitude. Who would have suspected that Japanese superheroes would make it that much easier to—"
The door to the anteroom exploded. Papillon tensed, his head whipping sharply around, his grip on his cane tightening. "What in—"
"PAPILLON!" Ladybug's voice yelled. "COME OUT AND FACE US, COWARD!"
Papillon's eyes widened. "How?!"
"GET OUT HERE, GABRIEL AGRESTE!" Chat Noir snarled. "THIS! ENDS! TODAY!"
Papillon's face twisted into a furious sneer. "Merde," he spat. Squaring his shoulders, he schooled his expression into one of smug superiority and strolled out into the anteroom, where Ladybug, Chat Noir, and a red-haired American girl stood in wary stances. He made a show of clapping his hands mockingly and sketching a bow. "Ladybug. Chat Noir. And guest." He surveyed them all with cold eyes. "I congratulate you on finding me. And now, I will have your Miraculous."
"No you won't," Chat Noir said coldly, his baton extending as he charged forward.
Papillon smirked. "Now now, we mustn't disobey our fathers...Adrien."
Chat Noir skidded to a halt, his baton inches from Papillon's face.
"Really. Attacking your own father," Papillon continued in that same amused tone, closing his eyes. "I'm disappointed in you, Adrien. You were taught better."
"That's rich coming from you, you bastard," Ladybug spat.
Chat Noir's face was a study in confusion and uncertainty. "You...you know—?"
"Of course I know," Papillon said impatiently. "Oh, I didn't know for a very long time. Not until I sent Jackady after you. That day..." He rocked back on his heels. "In the mansion, you reminded me so much of her. Then later..."
Chat Noir's face went slack, stricken. "My ring," he said. "You saw my ring. That's when you knew."
"Yes." Papillon opened his eyes, which were full of mania and arrogance. "If it's any consolation, I still have no idea who Ladybug is. Not that it matters. After today, there will be no Ladybug."
"You're wrong, Gabriel," Ladybug said confidently. "After today, you're finished."
"Really?" Papillon asked, raising an eyebrow. "You'll defeat me, take my Miraculous, reveal my identity to the world, have the Parisian police waiting for me at the airport when you drag me back to France in chains?" He smirked. "It will be the end of Chat Noir's life as he knows it, non? Disgraced. The son of a supervillain. Everything he owns, everything he knows, gone. Bankrupt, orphaned, alone—"
"He'll never be alone," Ladybug said dangerously. "As long as he has me, Adrien has a family. He has a home."
Chat Noir looked at her, his eyes wide and wet. "Ladybug..."
Papillon laughed long and loud. "Touching," he said. "Foolish."
"Okay, I know you three have like, this whole big drama to hash out?" Kim interrupted. "But I'm sick of listening to this jerk." With that, she darted forward, launching a spinning kick at Papillon. He blocked with his cane, then lashed out with a punch that caught her on the shoulder and sent her spinning across the room. She crashed into a glass table and went down.
"KIM!" Ladybug yelled. "Are you—"
"I'm alright," Kim said, picking herself up and wiping blood from her lip as she brushed shards of glass off her body. "I've had worse." She clutched her shoulder. "Warn me about the super strength next time, willya? Jeez..."
"Give me your Miraculous and I won't kill this foolish girl," Papillon insisted.
"Better idea," Ladybug said, "we kick your butt and take your Miraculous."
Papillon snorted. "You have no idea what you're dealing with, child."
"NEITHER DO YOU!" Chat Noir charged forward, letting out a wild yowl as he laid into his father with a furious barrage of baton strikes and claw swipes. Papillon's superior expression changed to one of grim resolve as he was forced on the defensive; he grit his teeth as each terrible blow drove him further back. Chat Noir's fury drove him into a corner; barely holding the enraged hero back with his cane, he looked left and right, snarling as he desperately sought some distraction, some escape...
"It doesn't have to be this way, Adrien," Papillon said. "I'm doing this for you. For us."
"BULLSHIT!" Chat Noir roared. "You're a monster! All the people you've hurt! You used a little kid to do your dirty work! What possible excuse could you have for—"
"Your mother," Papillon said hoarsely.
Chat Noir tensed, relaxing his attack. "What?"
"She's trapped inside the Peacock Miraculous," Papillon said, real emotion in his eyes as he locked gazes with his son. "I've tried to find a way to save her...I searched for months..." He closed his eyes. "Combining the power of the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous is the only way..."
"I don't believe you," Chat Noir said listlessly. He took a step back, doubt on his face. His tail hung limp. "You're lying."
"Would I risk everything I've worked so hard to build without a good reason?" Papillon asked sharply. "You and your mother are everything to me. I don't care if I have to burn the world down...I'm going to save her. And to do that..." He struck out with his cane, driving Chat Noir to his knees. "I need the Miraculous!" He raised his cane to strike again...
Ladybug's yo-yo wrapped around his arm. "No," she said. "I...I understand...if you're telling the truth, then I..." She bowed her head. "But this isn't the way. If you're...if what you're saying is true, then we need to take the Peacock Miraculous to Master Fu. He'll...he'll know how to save her. And if it....if it really does take our Miraculous to do it...then we'll be the ones to set her free." She looked up sharply, her bluebell eyes blazing as they bore into Papillon. "You lost the right to try to justify your actions the first time you used your Miraculous to turn an innocent kid into a supervillain. I'm sorry, Monsieur Agreste, but we can't...we can't forgive your crimes. No matter what your motives, you've become a monster and you must answer for what you've done. All of it." Tears gathered in her eyes as she gave her yo-yo a sharp tug, dragging the resisting Papillon to the floor.
"Let...GO OF ME!" Papillon growled.
Kim rushed over, diving to the floor and wrestling with Papillon's flailing legs, struggling to keep him pinned. "Okay, how do we put a stop to this?" she asked.
Chat Noir reached out, a grim expression on his face, and removed the butterfly brooch from Papillon's suit. A bright pink light washed over him, and Papillon was replaced by a furious, snarling Gabriel Agreste.
A tiny pink Kwami erupted from the brooch, wobbling listlessly in the air before coming to a rest in Kim's hair. "Thank...you," he said. He looked sorrowfully at the group of teens, then down at his former master. "I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't have a choice...I had to do what he said..."
"Nobody blames you," Ladybug said gently. "What's your name?"
"Nooroo," Ladybug said with a smile. "I believe Master Fu is looking forward to seeing you again." She looked down at Gabriel, who had stopped struggling. She sighed. "Adrien...I'm sorry..."
Chat Noir sat down beside his father, all the fight and anger drained out of him. He looked like a broken puppet, all his strings cut. His hair hung over his eyes. "I wanna go home," he said quietly.
"We will," Ladybug promised. "And...when we get back to Paris...you're staying at my place." With a blush, she added, "I mean...if you want..."
Chat Noir looked up at her, a faint smile on his face. "I...I think I'd like that," he said. He frowned at Gabriel. "Especially since I won't have a home of my own to go back to after we hand this over to the police." He reached down and grabbed Gabriel by the ascot. "Well? Aren't you gonna say anything, Father?"
Gabriel averted his eyes. "I don't care what you do with me anymore," he said. "Just...promise me you'll save her."
"Of course we'll save her," Chat Noir said. "She's my mother. You think I'm just gonna leave it like this?"
"Monsieur Agreste," Ladybug said, "why didn't you just ask? After you got our attention with Stoneheart, you could've...you could've just called us out and explained..." She gave him a sad look. "We would've helped. There was no need for any of this."
Gabriel said nothing.
Ladybug sighed. "I think...we all need to get out of here," she said.
Chat Noir looked around at the wrecked suite and grimaced. "Yeah, probably a good idea," he agreed.
"Wait," Kim said. "There's one last thing." She pulled Gabriel into a sitting position. "The crystal. Where is it?"
Gabriel frowned. "Crystal?"
"About yea big, has a bunch of golden bananas engraved in it?"
Gabriel's brow furrowed. He reached into his jacket and withdrew a small blue crystal with five golden bananas inside it. "This?"
Chat Noir snatched it away, then handed it to Kim. "So this is the thing, huh?"
"Yep, this is it," Kim said. She stood and stretched as she put the crystal in her belt pouch. "Alright, now we're done here. Well, I am anyway. Umm...good luck with your whole...drama."
Chat Noir rolled his eyes. "Thanks. Come on, let's go. We've got...a lot of loose ends to tie up."