An average Wednesday dawned bright and clear in Paris. At Collège Françoise Dupont, students rushed to their homerooms, anxious to beat the tardy bell. Those already safely inside their classrooms chatted lightly with friends or engaged in various social media activities on their smartphones—or rushed to finish up homework before the teacher arrived.

Marinette Dupain-Cheng looked at the two tickets in her hand. They hadn't been cheap tickets, and it had taken a lot of babysitting and online sales of her handcrafts to save up for them. With a smile, she clutched them tightly, then looked to the classroom door. Beside her, her best friend Alya Césaire smiled and put a hand on her shoulder. "You can do this," she said.

Marinette swallowed nervously. "I...I hope so," she said.

Adrien Agreste walked through the door, chatting lightly with his best friend Nino. As he took his seat, Marinette stood up, steeling herself, and stepped down to stand in front of their table. "A-Adrien?" she asked.

Adrien looked up at her, smiling. "Oh, hey Marinette. What's up?"

Marinette gulped. "Umm, I..." She felt herself starting to babble, but forced herself to take a deep breath. "So! Do you like the Subdigitals?"

Adrien's eyes lit up. "Do I? They're awesome! They might just be my favorite after Jagged Stone!"

"Oh! Good, me too!" Marinette laughed nasally. "Oh! I mean, umm...TICKETS!" She slapped her hand on the table, spreading the tickets out. "I've got tickets to their concert Saturday night! Umm, if you, me, I mean, go, you know—"

Something cold trickled over Marinette's hand. She watched in numb horror as a puddle of citrus smoothie spread out over her hand, the table...and her now ruined Subdigitals tickets.

Marinette slowly raised her eyes and turned her head, seeking the source of the liquid devastation.

"Ugh! Look what you made me do, Marinette!" Chloé Bourgeois spat, rolling her eyes derisively. "You made me spill my smoothie! Oh hello Adrien!" She batted her eyelashes coyly.

Adrien frowned at her, his eyes hard. "NOT cool, Chloé." He looked back at Marinette and smiled halfheartedly. "Sure, I'd love to go to the concert if I can get past Nathalie and the Gorilla. Don't worry about the tickets, I can more than cover it. How about you, me, Nino, and Alya go as a group? It'll be fun!"

"Uhh...yeah. Fun." Marinette laughed shakily, her fingers curling around the soggy mess that had been her literal ticket to a date with Adrien.

Chloé snorted. "Wasting your time with those losers," she muttered under her breath before retreating to her seat—and flashing Marinette one last catty smirk.

Mademoiselle Bustier walked in, and Marinette trudged back to her own seat, shoulders slumped and head hung low. Alya gave her a sympathetic look and patted her hand gently.

* * * * *

The sun was setting over Paris, but the sun had set over Marinette's heart hours earlier. She sat on her bed, her knees drawn up to her chest, crying into her hands. Her mother hovered uncomfortably over her, trying to console her—as she had been for the past hour.

"You're still getting to go to the concert with Adrien," Sabine said in a soothing tone.

"With a group! As friends! Not as a—!" Marinette sniffled. "Besides, that...that's not the point. I worked so hard to buy those tickets, and...and..." She threw back her head and screamed. "CHLOÉ! She doesn't care about anybody but herself! She has no respect for other people's feelings, their property, their anything! And she always gets away with it!" She hiccuped, then wiped her face with the back of her hand. "It isn't right..."

"No," Sabine agreed softly. "It isn't." She glanced over at the hatch door set into the floor, which was raised slightly. Her gaze locked onto the only part of her husband's face she could see: his eyes.

He was furious.

* * * * *

A dark place...

Shutters irised open, flooding the dark room with the fading last rays of the day. White butterflies swarmed around a masked figure standing in the light.

"The fury of a parent whose child has been hurt," Hawk Moth said, clenching a fist. "I know this pain. It is a pain unlike any other. A pain that can be twisted into something gloriously wicked."

A white butterfly landed in his gloved palm. He covered it with his other hand. Motes of darkness gathered, turning the butterfly a purple-splotched black.

"Fly away, my little Akuma, and darken his heart!" Hawk Moth watched the Akuma flutter through the central gap in the window's wrought iron floral motif.

* * * * *

Tom Dupain muttered furiously under his breath as he rolled the same piece of dough for the third time. The rolling pin cracked ominously in his enormous hands. "That self-centered little...doing this to my little girl! I don't care if she's the Mayor's daughter, I want to wring her neck for making Marinette cry this way!"

Unnoticed, a black butterfly, brimming with evil energy, sank into his rolling pin. Tom stiffened as a voice entered his mind.

Papa Pain. I am Hawk Moth. Your desire to avenge your daughter's suffering is commendable. Go forth and destroy the hateful wretch that has wronged your little girl. And once you've given the girl her just desserts, bring me the Miraculous of Ladybug and Chat Noir!

Tom grinned savagely. "Chloé Bourgeois will learn just how hot the oven of a father's love burns...when I bake her in it!"

Oily purple and black mist boiled from Tom's rolling pin, spreading across his body, transforming him...

* * * * *

When Marinette woke the following morning, she had a horrible headache and her eyes felt tight and puffy. She padded over to her vanity, looking blearily at herself in the mirror above her basin. Her eyes were red and swollen, and she had dark circles under them. "Gah," she muttered. "I look awful, I feel awful..." Grabbing a washcloth, she wet it in the basin, then gently wiped her face before wringing it out and placing it over her eyes, holding it firmly in place for a few minutes.

The hatch door opened. "Marinette? Are you up?" Sabine called.

"Yes, Mama," Marinette said.

"How are you feeling this morning?" Sabine asked. In response, Marinette turned and let the washcloth fall from her eyes. Her mother winced as she took in her appearance. "That bad, huh?"

Marinette sighed. "I just have a really bad headache," she said. "And my eyes hurt from all that crying I did." She shook her head. "I can't believe I let Chloé get me so worked up. I've been able to brush her aside for months now, so how come—"

"Because what she did to you was unforgiveable," Sabine said firmly. She sighed. "Listen, I don't want to worry you when you're already upset and not feeling well, but..." She chewed on her lip. "I haven't seen your father all morning. He didn't come to bed last night either."

"Eh? Papa's missing?" Marinette suddenly felt alert and on edge.

Sabine's shoulders slumped. "He was—last night—he overheard what happened with Chloé yesterday, and he was absolutely furious. I've only ever seen Tom angry—truly angry—once or twice in the entire time we've been together." She shook her head. "Usually when he's that angry, he rolls dough until it's a complete mess, or goes for a long walk. I found some dough he'd been rolling, so...I guess he did that for a while, then went for a walk."

"But...all night?" Marinette asked.

"That's what bothers me," Sabine said. "This isn't like him. And he left his phone here." She shrugged, then sighed again. "Without Tom, I can't open the bakery. With you in the miserable shape you're in right now, I think you need to stay home from school today."

"N-no, Mama, I—"

"I insist," Sabine said firmly. "Now, come straight down for breakfast."

"Yes, Mama."

As soon as the hatch closed, Marinette put on some old, worn-out clothes suitable for lounging around the house in. While she was dressing, Tikki floated down from the loft. "Do you think your papa's alright?"

"I'm sure Papa's fine," Marinette said. "He's as big as a bear! There isn't anything in this city that could possibly hurt him."

"I'm more worried about what he might have done if he's really that angry," Tikki said.

Marinette paused in straightening her hair, frowning. "You think he'd really—" She shook her head. "No, Papa wouldn't do something crazy, no matter how upset he is."

"Well it wouldn't be the first time he yelled at Mayor Bourgeois for something Chloé said to you."

Marinette frowned. "True." She sighed. "Well, we're bound to find out sooner or later. For now, all we can do is go down to breakfast."

Tikki slipped down the front of Marinette's shirt, and Marinette walked downstairs. She found her mother in the process of making omelettes, though at the moment her cooking lay forgotten as she stared at the television. Marinette turned to look, and gasped at the breaking news report. It depicted the hotel Mayor Bourgeois owned, which was cordoned off by a small army of police. Dozens of massive loaves of bread stuck out of the building at odd angles, having smashed through windows and walls alike.

"This just in! Le Grand Paris Hotel is being battered by big baguettes! Just moments ago, ballistic bread began battering the building—"

Marinette stared at the TV. "What the heck?"

"It's another of those awful supervillain attacks," Sabine said. The smell of burning eggs drew her attention, and she gasped. "Ah! The omelette!"

"Take your time," Marinette said. "I actually, uh...really need to go to the bathroom first anyway." She hurried back upstairs.

"Hawk Moth must have baked up another Akuma!" Tikki said as soon as they were back in Marinette's room.

Marinette groaned. "It's too early in the morning for bread puns," she muttered, dragging her hands down her face. "Oh well, time to go bag this baguette bandit!"

Tikki giggled. "Now you're sounding like Chat Noir."

Marinette glared at her. "Just for that, I'm picking all the chocolate chips off your cookies for a week." She brushed her hair away from her Miraculous. "Tikki! Spots on!"

Tikki vanished into the Miraculous, which turned from black to a bright red with black spots. Marinette's clothes were replaced by the bright red, black-spotted, indestructible skintight Ladybug costume. As soon as her transformation finished, Ladybug leapt up onto the balcony, sprinted to the edge, jumped, and threw her yo-yo, swinging across Paris to the hotel where far too many of her battles ended up taking place.

Halfway there, a black shadow danced into view on Ladybug's right. She changed course to intercept, and soon found herself running alongside Chat Noir. "So, we've got a baguette bandit to bag," he said cheerfully.

Ladybug groaned. "Like I told my Kwami, it's way too early in the morning for bread puns."

Chat Noir tilted his head. "You don't look so good, My Lady. Your eyes aren't as bright and sparkly as usual. You okay?"

"I had a rough night," Ladybug said. "Nothing you need to worry about. Let's just get this over with."

Chat Noir frowned. "Okay. Be careful." They soon drew within a block of the hotel, and they could smell the yeasty masses of bread. "Well, whoever our bad guy du jour is, they sure can bake."

"Yeah, but bread should never be used for evil," Ladybug said, her eyes hard. She propelled herself high into the air and launched her yo-yo at one of the giant baguettes.

"Hey, wait up!" Chat Noir dropped to ground level and sprinted the rest of the way, vaulting over police cars and officers as he approached the hotel. He skidded to a stop at the perimeter, eyes wide.

The lobby entrance to the hotel was blocked off by what at first glance appeared to be a large stone fence—but upon closer inspection, it was actually a hastily-erected stone oven. And the oven was lit. "Are you kidding me?!" Chat Noir cried. "The freaking building's on fire?!"

"Not on fire, exactly," Agent Roger said from his post at the cordon. "It's more like it's being, well...baked."

"Wonderful," Chat Noir said, facepalming. "Ladybug just went in there!"

"There's at least twenty people trapped inside," Roger said. "You two need to take care of this one quickly."

"On it!" Chat Noir said, snapping a salute. He detached his baton from his belt, then extended it to a vaulting pole. "Here's hoping I don't turn into a crispy kitty!" With that, he launched himself through a third-story window. Collapsing his baton, he activated its phone mode. "Ladybug! Where'd you fly off to?"

* * * * *

"The penthouse!" Ladybug replied. "And I could really use some help right about now!" She closed her yo-yo and backflipped away from several croissant shuriken which buried themselves halfway into the hallway floor outside the palatial suites inhabited by Mayor Bourgeois and his daughter. As she came to a stop, she readied her yo-yo and stared down her opponent. He stood almost eight feet tall; his massive girth blocked the hall. His skin had the color and consistency of dough. Much of his mass was squeezed into a dark blue bodysuit; he also wore enormous brown boots and a large black apron with broad pockets, from which various utensils protruded. A dark blue domino mask covered the top half of his face; much of the bottom half was taken up by a bushy golden-brown moustache shaped like a giant croissant. Atop his head, he wore a faluche as though it were a beret. An enormous wicker basket full of assorted breads and pastries hung from a bandolier at his left hip; in his right hand, he wielded a jet black rolling pin that was longer than Ladybug was tall.

The Akuma flung a boule at Ladybug; she began spinning her yo-yo, creating a shield. The boule exploded, spraying a mist of flour all over Ladybug and the surrounding hallway. She grimaced; the flour was making her already irritated eyes even worse. "Who are you and what do you want here?" she called through her shield.

The Akuma laughed heartily. "I am PAPA PAIN!" he boomed in a thunderous voice. "I'm baking a special bread called revenge, and Chloé Bourgeois is the secret ingredient!"

Ladybug groaned, letting her yo-yo fall flaccid as she brought one hand to her face. "Why am I not surprised?" she muttered. "What'd she do this time?"

"That does not concern you, Ladybug!" Papa Pain bellowed. "Now, get out of my way, or I'll roll you flat and make you into a special puff pastry!"

"Hey, I'd rather you not squish My Lady," Chat Noir's voice called from behind Papa Pain. Ladybug heard the solid thwack! of Chat Noir's baton striking the back of Papa Pain's head; a moment later, Papa Pain turned laboriously around, and Chat Noir scrambled to Ladybug's side by clinging to the ceiling and scampering over Papa Pain's head.

"Good kitty," Ladybug said as Chat Noir landed in a crouch at her side.

"Just don't forget to give me a treat later," Chat Noir quipped. "So what burned his biscuits?"

"What do you think?"

Papa Pain pulled a baguette from his basket and hurled it at them like a missile. They dived to the side; it tore up the carpet and embedded half its length into the floor underneath.

"Listen, we gotta put this belligerent baker down fast," Chat Noir said. "He's built some kind of crazy oven around the lobby and it's baking the whole building as we speak."

Ladybug's eyes widened. "You've gotta be kidding me!" She frowned thoughtfully. "So that's why it's so hot in here..."


Ladybug smacked a hand to her face and slowly pulled it down. "Greeeeeat."

Chloé Bourgeois burst out of the door to her suite and into the hall. "I'm TRYING to listen to XY in here—LADYBUG!" Chloé interposed herself between Papa Pain and the two superheroes. "What brings you here?"

"That," Chat Noir said, pointing behind Chloé.

Chloé turned around just in time for a croissant shuriken to almost take her face off, before Ladybug's yo-yo knocked it into the wall, where it shattered the glass covering a painting. Chloé shrieked and dived back behind Ladybug, clutching onto her shoulders and peering out from behind her head. "Wh-wh-wh-wh-what is THAT?" Chloé screamed.

"THERE you are!" Papa Pain boomed, smacking his rolling pin into the meaty palm of his free hand. "Come here, Chloé! I'm making a special recipe with your name all over it."

"Oh! Really? Well!" Chloé stepped out from behind Ladybug, tossing her hair and fanning herself. "That's—"

"He wants to kill you, you idiot," Ladybug hissed, shoving Chloé back behind her. "RUN!"

"I'll get her out of here," Chat Noir said. While Ladybug deflected several more croissants, Chat Noir scooped Chloé up and ran off down the hall with her, kicking open a random door and tossing her through it.


"Then clean something!" Chat Noir called over his shoulder as he rushed back to Ladybug. Papa Pain was advancing down the hall, swinging his rolling pin like a massive club; each swing was smashing huge holes in the walls. Ladybug remained on the defensive, looking for an opening.

"It's too tight in here," Ladybug muttered. "We need to lure him somewhere more open!"

"I'm on it!" Chat Noir said, raising his right hand. "CATACLYSM!" Motes of darkness gathered above his hand; he clenched it into a fist, then sprinted toward Papa Pain, his body low to the ground. Ducking under a punishing sweep of the rolling pin, he slammed his palm into the floor at Papa Pain's feet. A huge section of the hallway rapidly rotted away; with a tremendous creak and groan, the entire floor collapsed, and Papa Pain fell through. Chat Noir dropped through the opening; Ladybug followed behind him, landing in a broad semicircular atrium that fronted several executive conference rooms.

Using his baton, Chat Noir broke two doors off their hinges, then swung them at Papa Pain's ears, staggering him as he struggled to stand. "Keep him busy!" Chat Noir called to Ladybug, turning to run. "I'll recharge and come back as fast as I can!"

"Right! Hurry up!" Ladybug replied. She wrapped her yo-yo around one of the broken doors, then used it to smack Papa Pain over the head several times. With a furious bellow, Papa Pain swung his rolling pin at the door, smashing it into toothpicks. He hefted another baguette from his basket and hurled it sideways at Ladybug, its angle just high enough off the floor that she could neither duck under it nor jump over it. It caught her in the midsection and sent her flying. "Wagh!"

Now, Papa Pain! Get her Miraculous!

Ladybug pushed the deceptively heavy bread off her body and tried to stand up, but a boule that felt like a lead balloon landed on her stomach, pinning her to the ground. "I'll be taking your Miraculous," Papa Pain said. "Then I'll finish my new recipe of rage!"


Papa Pain's eyes narrowed. "On second thought, why wait?" he sneered. "It seems Chloé just trapped herself in the perfect oven!" With a hearty laugh, he lumbered off toward the elevator, dragging his rolling pin along the floor.

Ladybug struggled to heft the heavy boule off her, watching helplessly. She grabbed her yo-yo and opened it, activating its smartphone mode. "Chat Noir!" she yelled. "Are you back in action?" When she received no answer, she continued straining against the weight pressing her down. "How...can bread...ngggh! this heavy?!"

Down the hall, Papa Pain hammered his rolling pin against the elevator doors with a noise like a gong, making the entire hall vibrate. Chloé's shrieking joined the pounding sympathy, aggravating the headache Ladybug had never quite gotten over. The corners of her eyes began to sting. "Enough! Is! ENOUGH!"

With a yell of frustration and rage, Ladybug heaved the boule off, rose into a crouch, and turned to face Papa Pain. "HERE, YOU CAN HAVE YOUR LOUSY BREAD BACK!" she yelled, before pushing off the floor with the full force of her leg muscles and hurling the boule at Papa Pain like a shotput. Caught off-guard, he took the hit directly to the face; it knocked him backwards, causing a tremendous, earth-shaking thud when he hit the floor. Racing down the hall, Ladybug spun her yo-yo until it began to glow around the edges, then shielded her eyes as she cut into the elevator doors with it. Sparks flew as the metal melted; after a few seconds of cutting, the emergency releases kicked in and the doors slammed open. Ladybug stopped her yo-yo and slung it behind her back just as Chloé staggered out. Ladybug pointed down the hall. "Fire escape! Get to the roof! Go!"

Chloé put a hand on her hip and tossed her hair. "If I go up, I'll be trapped!"

"If you go down, you'll be baked alive!" Ladybug retorted. "He's turned the entire lobby into an oven!"

Chloé recoiled. "Seriously?"

Papa Pain groaned and started to stir.

"GET MOVING!" Ladybug yelled, pushing Chloé roughly down the hall. Chloé rubbed her arm, gave Ladybug a pouty glare, then ran off toward the fire escape.

A few seconds later, a random door burst open, and Chat Noir came flying out of it. "Sorry to keep you waiting, My Lady," he said cheerfully. "Hope you didn't have too much fun without me."

"You know," Ladybug said in the tired, resigned voice of someone who has simply had enough and isn't willing to take any more, "I'm getting really sick of protecting Chloé from Akumatized people she's ticked off."

Chat Noir frowned. "Now that you mention it, she does seem to bring out the worst in people. Literally."

"Well, I'm not saving her spoiled butt again!" Ladybug declared, stamping a foot.

"My Lady?"

"Why should I? She lives to make people miserable! She'll never change! Every single time this happens, she doesn't learn a thing! She just keeps being the same miserable, rotten, selfish little—"

"Calm down, Ladybug," Chat Noir said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "It's not like I don't understand where you're coming from, I do. Really, I do. But what you're talking just isn't right, you know? It isn't the way."

Ladybug sighed, slumping forward. "You're right," she said. "I just...I just wish there was some way to get through to that tarted-up blond head of hers that she needs to stop being so, Chloé!"

Chat Noir stroked his chin. "Maybe after we're done here, we can meet up later, grab a cup of coffee, talk it over?"

Ladybug groaned and rolled her eyes. "Not in the mood right now, Chat Noir."

Chat Noir laughed, rubbing the back of his head. "Yeah, I guess not."

"Still, we do need to figure something out. I mean, how many people can one stupid little rich girl make enemies of?"

"We are talking about Chloé Bourgeois."

"And if you'd let me FINISH HER OFF, she'd never make anyone cry EVER AGAIN!" Papa Pain roared, lumbering to his feet and hefting his rolling pin. "That selfish, mean-spirited, spiteful girl has no place in this world!"

"Hey, I know Chloé's a pain in the tail, but don't you think you're overreacting?" Chat Noir said.

"ENOUGH TALKING!" Papa Pain roared, charging with his rolling pin held like a samurai sword. His speed caught them both by surprise, and they were sent flying like bowling pins. Ladybug skidded across the floor on her butt; Chat Noir slid on his hands and feet. He readied his baton and extended it, spinning it in front of him as he stared down Papa Pain.

"You okay, Ladybug?"

Ladybug stood up, wincing and rubbing her butt. "He hits like a truck," she complained.

Hurry up and take their Miraculous!

"With pleasure, Hawk Moth! You'll have their Miraculous, and I'll have my pain de Bourgeois!" Papa Pain bore down on them, a triumphant sneer on his face.

"Uhh, Ladybug? Now would be a good time to figure out how to put a stop to this guy," Chat Noir said.

Ladybug gulped. "You're probably right." She slung her yo-yo skyward. "LUCKY CHARM!"

In a spray of hearts and light, a heavy object appeared, falling into Ladybug's waiting arms. She staggered under its weight, then inspected it: it was a large electric winch, patterned red with black spots. She tilted her head. "Okay, seriously? An electric winch? What the—"

She yelped and dropped the winch as Papa Pain swung his rolling pin at her torso, nearly splattering her across the hall. "Wah!" The winch landed upright. Recovering, Ladybug looked from the winch, to Chat Noir, to Papa Pain's rolling pin, to her own yo-yo...and understood. "Okay! This one's actually pretty simple after all! Chat Noir, can you take that and run past Papa Pain with it?"

"You got it!" Chat Noir grabbed the winch and took off running, sliding underneath Papa Pain's rolling pin. As he raised it to swing, Ladybug threw her yo-yo past Papa Pain, then ran after it. "Grab the other end!" she called to Chat Noir. "Wrap it around the winch!"

Chat Noir grinned slyly. "Oh, I think I get it!" He seized Ladybug's yo-yo out of the air and wedged it into the winch mechanism, wrapping it twice and tugging on it. Meanwhile, Ladybug jumped over Papa Pain's rolling pin, touched down, then tumbled backwards, headed back the way she came. The wire of her yo-yo wound around the pin. Ladybug crouched low and pulled tight. "NOW!"

With a jaunty salute, Chat Noir turned on the winch. It roared to life; the cable began spooling around the winch, growing longer and longer as Ladybug braced herself against the pull. Sparks flew from the rolling pin as the wire cut into it; after several seconds, during which Papa Pain struggled valiantly to pull it free, the rolling pin was finally sheared clean in half. As the severed end fell to the ground, the Akuma flew out, headed for the window.

Yanking her yo-yo free of the winch with a sharp tug, Ladybug opened it; the wings retracted, revealing a glowing disc of white light within. "No more evildoing for you, little Akuma!" Letting it drop to the ground, she swung it back and forth to gain momentum, then spun it in a wide arc, swinging it out. "I'm freeing you from evil!" The yo-yo scooped the Akuma out of the air, trapping it.

"Gotcha!" Ladybug reeled it back in, then opened the yo-yo again. A tiny snow-white butterfly flew out, fluttering toward the open window at the end of the hall. "Bye-bye, little butterfly!"

With a grunt of effort, Ladybug hefted the winch off the ground and hurled it toward the ceiling; it passed straight through and rose into the sky over Paris.


A swarm of glowing ladybugs swept over the hotel like a cyclone, repairing all the damage caused by the fight with Papa Pain and erasing every last piece of evil bread, as well as the hot stone oven around the lobby.

A wash of purple and black light swept over Papa Pain, transforming him back into...

Ladybug pressed her hands to her mouth, her eyes wide and trembling. "Papa," she whispered to herself.

Tom Dupain lay face-down and unconscious at the end of the hall.

Chat Noir, having fortunately not heard Ladybug's whisper, frowned at the baker, then glanced at his own Miraculous. "Listen, much as I'd love to stay and find out what caused all this, this cat's got places to be. Catch me up later?"

"Yeah, yeah, go," Ladybug said numbly, staring at her father. Just as Chat Noir was about to leave, she called out, "Wait!"

Chat Noir stopped, turning. "Yes, My Lady?"

Ladybug narrowed her eyes. "Meet me at City Hall at around three-thirty," she said. "We need to have a talk with Mayor Bourgeois."

Chat Noir frowned, but nodded. "Alright. It's a date." With that, he got into the elevator, which dinged cheerfully as the doors closed.

Ladybug sighed and, looking around to make sure the coast was clear, whispered, "Tikki, spots off." As Ladybug was replaced by Marinette, she squatted down next to her father, gently caressing his face as tears streamed silently down her cheeks.

* * * * *

Hawk Moth trembled in rage. "Enjoy the sweet taste of victory while you can, because next time, I'll be feasting on pain de Ladybug!"

The window irised shut, leaving him in darkness.

* * * * *

"I still have no idea how I wound up at Le Grand Paris," Tom said as he sipped a cup of strong coffee. He, Sabine, and Marinette sat together at home, recovering from the ordeal.

"You were Akumatized, Papa," Marinette said. "Like all those people on the news. Ladybug and Chat Noir saved you."

Tom shuddered. "This city certainly is more dangerous than it used to be." He shook his head. "The last thing I remember, I was rolling dough."

"You were so angry over what that hateful girl did to Marinette, I wasn't sure what you might do," Sabine said.

Tom frowned. "Yes, we do still need to do something about that."

"It's okay, Papa," Marinette said, laying a hand on Tom's shoulder. "Let me deal with Chloé. I appreciate that you always want to protect me and look out for me, but sometimes I have to fight my own battles." She smiled.

Tom laid his hand on Marinette's and smiled warmly at her. "You're growing into a strong young woman, just like your mother," he said. Sabine laid her hand on top of his. "But you'll always be our little girl."

Marinette joined her parents in a hug.

As they sat back, Sabine arched an eyebrow at Marinette. "That still doesn't explain how you managed to get to that hotel," she said.

Marinette looked back and forth between her parents, then rubbed the back of her head and laughed nervously...

* * * * *

Ladybug tapped her foot impatiently, checking the time on her yo-yo's smartphone.

"Sorry I'm late," a voice said from behind her. She turned to see Chat Noir walking calmly toward her along the roof of City Hall. "Had someone on my tail." He tilted his head. "So, this is an odd place for a date."

Ladybug rolled her eyes. "We're not here for a date," she said. "We're here to do something we should've done a long time ago."

Chat Noir grimaced. "I get where you're going with this, but do you really think this is a good idea? I mean, I've seen the way this guy blows up when somebody insults his little girl. It isn't pretty."

"I don't care," Ladybug said. "This has to stop. Chloé can't keep doing whatever she wants and getting away with it if it means other people have to suffer."

Chat Noir sighed. "Can't argue with that. Okay, let's go."

The presence of two superheroes calmly walking through City Hall caused a mild stir. Even being the saviors of the city, they still had to talk their way past four different people before they were ushered into the Mayor's office. Mayor Bourgeois turned his desk chair around to face them and smiled broadly, speading his arms in welcome. "Ladybug! Chat Noir! What an unexpected pleasure!" The corners of his mouth dropped. "My city isn't in danger again already, is it?"

"Not as such, Monsieur Mayor," Ladybug said. "If it was, we wouldn't be here, we'd be out there. Actually, there's something very important we need to talk to you about."

"Oh?" Mayor Bourgeois leaned forward, steepling his fingers. "Very well. I always have time for the selfless heroes who have saved Paris time and again."

"It's about Chloé," Ladybug said.

"My daughter?" The mayor's face paled. "Has something happened to her?"

"No, she'," Ladybug said. "But there is a problem with your daughter, sir." She took a deep breath, steeling herself. "Monsieur Mayor, Chloé is a selfish, self-centered bully who treats everybody around her like garbage, and she always gets away with it because she's your daughter."

Mayor Bourgeois blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"It's true sir," Chat Noir said. "Chloé is a rotten excuse for a human being, and she's making our job a lot tougher than it needs to be."

"You see, Mayor Bourgeois, Chloé, well..." Ladybug spread her hands wide. "Her selfish attitude and her bullying of others tends to cause a lot of the Akumas we've been fighting."

"Yeah, Hawk Moth seems to love going after Chloé's victims," Chat Noir said.

"Or people related to them," Ladybug added.

Mayor Bourgeois frowned, his eyes tightening. "Now, see here!" he blustered. "I'll not sit idly by and listen to such accusations! Why, I'll have you know—"

Ladybug began ticking off points on her fingers. "Lady Wifi? Chloé's fault. She demanded Principal Damocles suspend Alya for taking pictures of the inside of her locker. Chronogirl? At least partially Chloé's fault, though I understand a bunch of different kids were to blame for that one. Rogercop? Chloé's fault. She lost her bracelet, started accusing people of stealing it, then threw such a huge fit that you ended up firing Agent Roger."

"Actually, that one's more on Monsieur Mayor here than Chloé," Chat Noir put in.

"Still wouldn't have happened if not for Chloé," Ladybug interrupted. After a moment, she added, "At least, that's what I heard from Alya. You know, the girl who runs Ladyblog? She's in the same class." She shook her head. "Dark Cupid? Chloé's fault. The boy who turned into Dark Cupid tried to give her a present and confess his love to her, and she laughed in his face and posted a humiliating picture of him on the Internet."

"Ouch," Chat Noir put in.

"Horrificator? Chloé bullying a girl who got stage fright while trying to make a student film. Kung Food? Chloé again. She sabotaged Cheng-Sifu's famous soup to make him look like a fool."

Mayor Bourgeois frowned. "I do remember that being Chloé's fault," he said thoughtfully. "I had stern words with her about her behavior."

"Not stern enough," Chat Noir said.

"The Invisible One? Chloé's best friend Sabrina, Akumatized by Hawk Moth after Chloé went off on her for no reason. Evillustrator? Some poor kid Chloé teased for drawing comics in class." Ladybug's voice was rising in pitch and volume as she continued. "Reflekta? A girl who just wanted to be in one measly little school picture because for some reason she's always had bad luck on picture day, and Chloé was so desperate to stand next to the boy the photographer put Juleka next to that she had Sabrina lock the poor girl in the bathroom. And that's not even getting into all the times Chloé's self-centered shrieking has gotten in the way of us trying to do our job!" Ladybug yelled, her cheeks red and puffy.

Mayor Bourgeois blinked slowly at Ladybug. "You know, Ladybug," he said calmly, "I'm beginning to get the distinct impression that you hate my daughter."

"Have you MET your daughter?" Chat Noir asked.

Mayor Bourgeois cast his eyes toward Chat Noir. "She is my daughter."

"And this latest Akuma, Papa Pain? Also Chloé's fault!" Ladybug finished, waving her arms frantically.

"Hey yeah, what was his deal?" Chat Noir asked. "I had to scat before he came around. I think I recognized him, though, doesn't he run a bakery or something?"

"His name is Tom Dupain," Ladybug said.

Mayor Bourgeois' eyes widened in recognition at the name. "As in Marinette Dupain-Cheng?"

Ladybug's eyes narrowed. "That name sure came to mind quickly," she said in a dangerous tone.

Mayor Bourgeois averted his gaze. "It's, well...she's a girl at Chloé's school. Chloé...hates her. I'm not sure why. She complains about her all the time and, well..." He swallowed. "It was Chloé accusing that girl of stealing her bracelet that started the whole Rogercop fiasco."

Ladybug folded her arms. "Well, the whole Papa Pain fiasco was apparently started by Chloé deliberately spilling a drink on some concert tickets Marinette had been saving up for."

Mayor Bourgeois frowned. "I'm sure it was an accident—"

"And that right there is the problem!" Ladybug ranted. "You're not doing your job as a father! You're coddling her and enabling her! When was the last time you actually punished her for being a spoiled, selfish brat? When was the last time you put your foot down and told her the way she acts is completely unacceptable!"

Mayor Bourgeois went red in the face. "Now look here, young lady! I own a successful hotel that caters to the elite of Paris and the world! I run the most fabulous city the world has ever seen! I am wealthy, connected, and powerful, and I—"

"Kinda just demonstrated where Chloé gets her attitude from," Chat Noir interrupted in a calm, flat tone, his lips pressed into a thin line.

Mayor Bourgeois stopped stock-still, eyes wide. He turned slowly to stare at Chat Noir. "What did you just say?" he asked coldly.

"Monsieur Mayor," Ladybug said calmly, leaning forward, "when you get angry and flustered like you are right now, you start throwing your weight around. You start reminding people how rich and powerful you are. That's exactly how we've seen Chloé behave. Children learn by following their parents' example. I should know." She laughed lightly. "I have kind, gentle, loving, but firm parents who give me lots of love and attention, but don't hesitate to do what they have to when I screw up and need to be punished. I'm lucky, I guess. But Chloé...her role model, her template, is you. And frankly, what you're teaching her is that it's okay to scream at people and abuse your money and power so that you always get your way."

"You've created a monster," Chat Noir added, putting his hands behind his head. "And that's not the kind of monster Ladybug and I are here to protect Paris from."

"The only one who can protect Paris from the horrible, selfish bully your daughter's become is you, Mayor Bourgeois," Ladybug said. Her Miraculous began to beep, and she grimaced. "Well, I've said everything I needed to say, and I need to get going. Please, think about what we've said, alright?" With that, she stood up, walked around the desk, threw open the office window, and swung out into the city.

Chat Noir stood up lazily, patting the Mayor on the shoulder as he passed. "We're just looking out for what's right for everyone," he said. "Chloé needs a wake-up call. You're the only one who can give it to her."

Once Mayor Bourgeois was alone in his office again, he sat contemplatively at his desk for a long time, eyes clouded with worry, self-reflection, and regret.

* * * * *

"Hey Ladybug, wait up!"

Ladybug reeled in her yo-yo and landed on a roof, tapping a foot as Chat Noir landed three feet in front of her. "Make it quick," she said. "I'm down to two spots."

"I was just wondering," Chat Noir began. "I mean, I covered for you back there, but..." He narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "You seem to know an awful lot about what happened to all the Akumatized people that made them targets for Hawk Moth." He tilted his head. "I mean, more than you probably should. What's up with that?"

Ladybug stiffened, blinking. "Oh. Well." She coughed. "I always, you know...follow up on these things! I mean, I can't really call it mission complete until I have all the facts straight, you know?" Another spot disappeared from her Miraculous. She edged away nervously, her eyes darting around.

Chat Noir pondered that, rubbing his chin. "Well...I guess that makes sense," he said. "It's just...the way you got so fired up about it back there, it's almost know all these people. Like, really well."

Ladybug laughed, rubbing the back of her head. "Yeah, well...I get emotional about these things. I'm a girl, it's...what we do!" She threw her yo-yo at the nearest decent anchor, then swung away, waving.

Chat Noir watched her swing away through the streets, a contemplative frown on his face. After a minute, he shook his head. "Nah, I'm reading too much into it." He bounded off in a different direction than the one Ladybug had gone, headed for a safe place close to home to change back. "Still, if I didn't know better, I'd swear Ladybug goes to my school...

"It's the only way she could know all that..."

* * * * *

"Papa!" Chloé said as Mayor Bourgeois walked into her suite. She gave him a warm, affectionate smile, then went back to painting her nails. "You wouldn't believe the day I've had..."

Mayor Bourgeois stood directly in front of Chloé, his face stern and impassive. "Chloé, we need to talk. There are going to be some changes around here..."


Proceed to the sequel, "Overshadow"

Author's Notes

Miraculous Ladybug is the intellectual property of Zagtoon, Method Animation, Toei Animation, and Thomas ASTRUC. This intellectual property is used without permission with no intent to profit from said use. The unique content contained on this page is the property of Mythril Moth, and redistribution of this content without express permission is strongly discouraged.