Chapter 1: A Strange Pattern of Behavior
The whole thing had started innocently enough.
“Hey, um, are you going to use that?” Adrien asked hesitantly, pointing to the bolt of excess midnight blue chiffon propped against Nathalie’s desk.
“Pardon?” Gabriel ask, looking up from his sketchbook to where his son stood hovering in the doorway.
“The fabric,” Adrien replied, the same nervous tremor in his voice. “I know the mock ups are finished and I saw the extra…” he trailed off the tips of his ears flushing a tell tale red as he toed at the ground.
Gabriel could feel the beginnings of a slight smile pulling at the corners of his mouth. “Be my guest,” he said, gesturing towards the left over material.
Adrien flashed a brilliant smile before bolting forward and snatching up his prize, muttering a hurried ‘Thank You’ as he dashed off again.
Gabriel stared out at the now empty doorway, wondering what exactly had just happened, and why his son was treating a few yards of scrapped cloth like it was some sort of priceless treasure.
He shook his head and turned back to his work. It was probably nothing.
By the end of the second week even Gabriel had to acknowledge that something was definitely going on. Adrien had been increasingly popping his head into the home and corporate office- even the company workroom which by the boy’s own admission he avoided like the plague, as more often than not it was filled with sobbing junior designers listening to Gabriel tear their work to pieces. Thus far Adrien had squirreled away three other fabric remnants, a small collection of leftover pearl buttons, a yard and a half of Florentine bridal lace, and an assortment of various trim excesses and half empty embroidery spools. And that was just the things Gabriel knew about personally.
He wasn’t particularly concerned, after all none of the things being carried off would ever be used. Even if that weren’t the case, Gabriel certainly wasn’t about the begrudge Adrien taking whatever he wanted, be it from the scrap heap or the supply house. If anything it was extremely gratifying to see him take any interest in the business.
The more concerning factor was the attempted secrecy. Attempted because it was difficult to hide one’s activities while consistently asking unnecessary permission. He would never talk about what he wanted or needed any of the supplies for, instead running off or locking himself in his room with his latest acquisitions before Gabriel could even begin to ask what was going on.
“Nathalie,” Gabriel asked midway through week three as he watched Adrien disappear with a half dozen sample bead strings that had been sent over for consideration for the commercial production of the latest charity evening gown, “Do you know why my son has taken a sudden liking to collecting design cast offs?”
Nathalie looked up and let out what might almost be called a slightly embarrassed cough. “Oh you noticed that?” She said in a tone that to anyone else might have seemed neutral.
Gabriel raised an eyebrow, a heavy feeling of unease settling over him. “As shocking as it may seem, I do on occasion worry about the well being of my only child,” he stated flatly.
“I didn’t mean to imply otherwise,” Natalie said the faintest hint of amusement creeping into her tone.
“Is there something I should be concerned about?” Gabriel asked, the feeling of unease growing in light of Nathalie’s uncharacteristic discomfort.
“No it’s nothing like that,” Nathalie assured him quickly and Gabriel released a breath he didn’t realize he had been holding. “It’s just-”
“Well I asked Adrien about it myself a week ago, and the most I could get out of him was that there seems to be some sort of major project for school at the end of the month, something to do with major industries and how they operate and manufacture on a global scale.”
“So all of this is for some sort of school project?” Gabriel pressed with the sinking suspicion that there was more to this particular story.
“Well,” Nathalie began her eyes fixing anywhere but on on his, “if I understand the situation correctly, these particular projects aside from having a substantial grade factor will also include a final vocal presentation, which parents are encouraged to attend.”
“Oh,” Gabriel said dumbly, the weight of what Nathalie was implying weighing down on him like a rock, “I see.” He pulled up his schedule on the computer. “When are these presentations?” he asked, hoping that he didn’t sound as desperate as he felt at his obvious inability to function as a halfway competent single parent.
“I believe next Friday evening sir.”
He pulled up the day in question and quickly scanned through the list of assorted meetings and various obligations. Sure enough, the event in question was already penciled in among the other ‘possible engagements’. Thankfully there was nothing of any dire importance on the itinerary
“Nathalie, can you arrange to clear my schedule for the evening in question?.”
“Absolutely sir,” she replied with the faintest hint of a smile.
Gabriel wondered if there was any polite way to get up and change one’s seat midway through a series of student lectures. Sandwiched as he was between Mayor Bourgeois and Chief Officer Raincomprix, both of whom seemed perfectly content to carry on poorly concealed conversations that were even more insufferably banal than the actual presentations, it would be a miracle if he managed to make it through the evening with his sanity in tact. Only the memory of Adrien’s surprised, beaming face upon his arrival had kept him from fleeing the building within the first 10 minutes of being accosted by the simpering plutocrat and his authoritarian flunky. He had hoped that common decency would at least put an end to their dimwitted prattle while the children gave their presentations, but alas.
Thankfully, they had at least had either enough common sense, or a strong enough sense of self preservation, to be silent during Adrien’s presentation.
Which brought Gabriel to the reason why he was continuing to suffer through the seemingly endless parade of reports, instead of running off as soon as his son’s contribution to the evening was finished.
Adrien’s presentation had been flawless of course- well researched, thorough, and the demonstration itself engaging and well performed. It was an exemplary summary of the current state of the global cheese industry. To say Gabriel had been surprised when Adrien had introduced his topic, along with an impressive display of all sorts of cheeses, would be an understatement. Not that anyone in the auditorium would have been able to tell by looking at him. Nothing about his general demeanor had changed, he had simply sat watching with no small amount of pride as his son more than amply showcased his clear position as one of the more accomplished members of the class.
However, after a grinning Adrien had left the stage, Gabriel had found himself unable to carry out out his original plan of fleeing from the obnoxious attentions of Andre the corrupt and Rodger the inept. Instead he stared forward unseeing as the incomprehensible goth girl mumbled on about… something, his mind spinning with a single question. What had Adrien been doing with all of those assorted textiles?
He went through dozens of possibilities, some depressingly plausible- he’s attempting to covertly learn more about the elements of design so that he can actually engage you in conversation more than ten minutes twice a week- to the outright absurd- he’s secretly building the world’s most extravagant hot air balloon in his bedroom so that he can run off on a transcontinental adventure with his idiot DJ friend.
Gabriel was interrupted from his musings when Andre nudged him in the shoulder and the mousy red headed artist who had been speaking was replaced by an excitedly preening Chloe Bourgeois.
The girl began reading from a pile of cards that Gabriel was willing to bet his entire quarterly projection budget she had never seen before in her life. He glanced around suspiciously and was just able to catch sight of Mlle Raincomprix hovering in the wings mouthing along to the speech.
“Isn’t my little princesses just astonishing,” Andre whispered.
“She certainly seems to have acquired your work ethic,” Gabriel couldn’t resist replying.
Andre’s chest puffed with pleasure at the perceived compliment and it took every ounce of restraint Gabriel had not to roll his eyes.
He let his mind wander back to the Adrien dilemma, Chloe’s presentation giving him a blessed reprieve from Andre’s insufferable prattle. At least there should only be a few more students to sit through before this entire cursed affair was over, then he could always just confront Adrien about it in person. Perhaps he should spend the rest of the time coming up with how he was going to handled the lead in to that conversation.
His worry proved to be completely unnecessary as he watched with undisguised shock as the next student came out for their presentation.
Flushed with the confidence, the girl sashayed forward, her tiered, midnight blue chiffon skirt fluttering attractively and causing the golden embroidery and beadwork to catch the light. Gabriel quickly catalogued every inch of the admittedly rather chic, if amateurish, ensemble; from the Milanese Silk Brocade patterned into the bodice, to the carnation pink satin jacket lining- a remnant from the Winter renewal line evening gown if he remembered correctly, to the dyed Venetian lace overlay on the stylish bolero jacket.
As Mlle Marinette Dupain-Cheng launched into a passionate lecture on manufacturing and global influence of the modern fashion industry, Gabriel realized with an odd mix of amusement and horror that he was going to need to have an entirely different sort of conversation with his son.
Chapter 2: A slight wrinkle
To the girl’s credit, her presentation on the current state of the global fashion industry and the complexity of textile and subsequent clothing manufacturing seemed to be on point. Sadly, Gabriel’s thoughts were a little bit too preoccupied to give anything she was saying more than a fragment of his attention.
How had he managed to completely miss the fact that Adrien had apparently falling head over heels for one of his classmates? Wasn’t that the sort of thing children couldn’t shut up about? The boy had literally been hoarding supplies for a month to give to this girl so the infatuation had to stem that far back at the barest minimum. Was Adrien really so reserved that he had kept it a secret all this time? Or worse, was communication in the Agreste household really so atrocious that Gabriel had missed something this obvious.
He tried to focus on the girl again. Not the facts that she was listing off that he could probably recite in his sleep, but the actual person on whom Adrien had apparently devoted so much attention. She was a fairly attractive girl, if a bit on the short side, with an aura of cheerful optimism that would be well matched with Adrien’s more dramatic temperament. If Gabriel was remembering correctly she was also the only one of Adrien’s classmates not to have fallen victim to an akuma as a result of some teenaged tantrum, which spoke very well of her emotional stability. He studied her outfit and was pleased to note that the talent she had displayed in the bowler hat competition did not appear to be a one time fluke.
The girl finished her presentation to a round of thunderous applause, spearheaded by a tiny asian woman and a behemoth of a man seated in the front row whom Gabriel could only assume were the girl’s parents. She flashed the audience a brilliant smile and hurried off the stage as the teacher announced the final speaker for the evening- thank god.
Gabriel saw the loudmouthed bohemian his son insisted on calling his best friend came forward, and immediately proceeded to tune out everything the boy had to say.
He felt a small smile tug at his lips as he wondered if perhaps getting a girlfriend might improve his son’s taste in companions.
Even Andre Bourgeois’ continued chatter- back to full volume now that the presentations were over- could make Gabriel regret his impromptu decision to stay for the entire event when he saw the look of unmitigated delight on Adrien’s face upon entering into the hall with his classmates.
The boy had all but sprinted over, and agitated Chloe trotting along after him.
“Father! You actually made it! I hope you enjoyed the presentations,” he said with an expression of clear apprehension as he waiting for feedback on his own performance.
“You did an outstanding job Adrien,” Gabriel said watching as his sons’ shoulders sagged slightly in relief, “not that I had any concerns in that regard. You are as always proving to be an exceptionally talented young man and you should know that I am prodigiously proud of you.”
Adrien’s mouth opened slightly in surprise and his eyes grew watery as he looked at his father in absolute awe.
Gabriel coughed uncomfortably, making a mental note to try and remember to compliment his son more regularly to his face, if a few words of simple praise warranted this much of a reaction. A small voice in the back of his mind, that sounded suspiciously like his wife, pointed out that it might not kill him to actually show up to more of these sorts of events.
“I didn’t realize you had developed such an interest in the international dairy industry,” Gabriel said grasping at the first topic he could think of before the emotionally charged silence could get any more awkward.
“Oh…” Adrien said with a nervous grin, “I, uh, have a friend who is a big fan of cheese so I already knew a lot about the topic, figured it wouldn’t hurt to put that knowledge to use.”
“I see. Well in any case you did an excellent job.”
“Thank you father.”
Gabriel watched as Mlle Bourgeois all but mauled a suddenly miserable looking Adrien, her arms clamping around his neck like a boa constrictor attacking its prey.
“Sabrina and I were thinking of organizing a small celebratory dinner at the hotel tonight, just for the important people in the class of course, you will join us won’t you Adri-chou? It just won’t be the same if you aren’t there.”
“Uh.. I don’t know Chlo…” Adrien grimaced while trying to pry her loose.
“Daddy you don’t mind if I hold a little bitty party tonight right?” Chloe simpered at her father, completely ignoring Adrien’s obvious discomfort as well as his more subtle disinclination to agree to her scheme.
“Of course my darling,” Andre cooed, “anything to reward my precious angel for all her hard work.”
“See! It will be great, now obviously we need to-”
“Excuse me Mlle Bourgeois” Gabriel interrupted using the tone he normal saved for intimidating suppliers during contract negotiations, “as delightful as that sounds I believe Adrien already made plans with one of his other classmates this evening, isn’t that right Adrien?”
It only took about half a second for Adrien’s face to morph from subtle confusion to wide eyed gratitude.
“Right!” he said a little too loudly while finally disentangling himself from the Bourgeois girls clutches, “thank you for reminding me father. I had uh, better go check with Nino and make sure that everything is set for his coming over tonight, like we had planned. Earlier. Already.”
Well damn I walked myself into that one. Gabriel thought irritatedly as Adrien hurried over to where his friend was standing with a large group of various other children and adults.
Oh well. He could deal with the irritating little brat for one night for the duel benefit of keeping Adrien happy and smiting the self-important Bourgeois clan.
“You know Gabriel,” Andre began with the simpering voice that usually preempted a request for campaign donations, “since Adrien is already engaged tonight, perhaps the two of you might consider-”
“Do excuse me Andre, as enlightening as your company always is, I’m afraid I have some other associates I must speak with this evening before we leave, and I am sure as Mayor you have your own social obligations you must attend to.”
Gabriel turned and began walking to the other side of the hall as briskly as possible without flat out running. There was no way he was going to risk getting wrangled into spending any more time than necessary in the Mayor’s tedious company.
Unfortunately, he did not in fact have any other acquaintances whatsoever in the building save Roger Raincomprix, and he would sooner gnaw off his own arm than willingly engage in conversation with him for a second time in the same evening.
Casting his eyes around desperately for someone who looked even halfway intelligent whom he could attempt to engage in conversation, Gabriel caught sight of the petite fashionista hovering on the edge of a small crowd. Perfect.
Gabriel adjusted his destination, making a bee-line for the girl who was staring listlessly out the window, clearly uninterested in whatever conversation her parents were having with the other couple they were speaking with.
“Mlle Dupain- Cheng I believe?” Gabriel said repressing a soft chuckle as the girl started at his sudden presence.
“Gabriel Agreste,” she breathed, obviously starstruck. “I MEAN Mssr Agreste, yes, I’m Marinette, I mean Dupain-Cheng, I’m Marinette Dupain-Cheng it’s an honor to meet you I love your work,” she babbled, all but dropping into a curtsey in nervousness.
Gabriel smiled softly, “I believe we have technically met before. You were the winner of the bowler hat competition I believe.”
“Yes! That was me, with the feathers. Of course I didn’t know Adrien was allergic at the time otherwise I never would have used them! I mean maybe I would but I would have found synthetic feathers, or a different bird, unless Adrien is allergic to all birds and not just pigeons, although he has never said anything about other birds…” she suddenly clamped her mouth shut, eyes widening in embarrassed horror.
“I assure you it wasn’t anything we weren’t able to work around, and for the record it is just pigeon's,” Gabriel said unable to keep the amusement from his voice.
“Oh! That’s a relief,” she smiled, “not that it’s surprising that you could work around anything! I mean, you’re Gabriel Agreste and Adrien is… is…” she trailed off, her expression taking on a entirely different sort of starry eyed glow as they fixed on something on the other side of the room.
It didn’t take a genius to suss out what, or more accurately who, she was looking at.
“You’re outfit that you constructed for this presentation is quite lovely,” Gabriel said, enjoying her slight flush at having been caught staring, “I assume you constructed it yourself?”
“Yes,” She stated proudly, clearly eager to show off her work and flaunting the skirt for his inspection, “there are a few things that I know I could do better, I think the interfacing for the jacket was too thick for this fabric, and honestly the beadwork was a little rushed, but all together I was really happy with the final result.”
Gabriel nodded with a slight smile. “I think that is a very astute critic of your work. It is always gratifying to see such promising young talent.”
The girl beamed at him, her smile seeming to light her entire face. It was easy to see why Adrien was so smitten. “Thank you! I mean coming from you... “
Gabriel waved a hand dismissively. “I must say, you have been very clever with how you utilized the various fabrics,” he said with a teasing glint, wondering if he could subtly steer the conversation in a more personal direction. Perhaps he could get a hint as to where exactly things stood between Adrien and his pretty little friend.
“It’s always so amazing to work with such high quality material,” she gushed, her fingers tracing lovingly against the delicate lace detailing on her jacket with the sort of unconscious delight only someone who loved the craft would ever really understand. “Of course I am sure you are far more used to it than I am,” she laughed nervously.
“I don’t think one ever tires of excellent material,” Gabriel replied. “The pink satin you used for the lining I remember being particularly impressed with.”
“You’ve used this?” she asked curiously, glancing back and forth between him and the material in question.
“I may have an army of junior designers at my disposal but I still often do the initial mock ups myself, at least in part. I find designers can get rather out of touch if they aren’t willing to do the leg work as well as the designs.”
She nodded, her expression attentive but still with an odd hint of confusion.
“I am glad to see these materials getting their due appreciation,” he continued with a knowing raise of his eyebrow, “after all Adrien did put in rather a lot of effort to collecting them for you.”
Gabriel watched as the girl went pale, her eyes widening in shock as her jaw fell open.
“A… Adrein…” she stammered, “You’re saying… this whole time… Adrien?”
Gabriel wondered again why he hadn’t simply fled as soon as Adrien had finished his presentation.
“Oh no…” a quiet voice muttered from behind him.
Gabriel craned his neck to see an equally blanched Adrien standing not two feet away.
“Adrien?” the girl whispered again, her hand coming to her mouth as if preparing to stifle a scream.
Gabriel watched as his son opened and closed his mouth, skin morphing from a sickly off white to a brilliant scarlet.
Gabriel cleared his throat.
“I am guessing that these gift were made anonymously?” he said, hoping against hope that by some miracle one of the children would contradict the statement.
His hopes were dashed as Adrien shot his bewildered classmate a pained, guilty look.
“Something like that,” Adrien murmured.
Chapter 3: Adjusting the Tension
Gabriel could count on one hand the number of times he had ever been truly speechless in embarrassment. Once at age 18 when he had actually gone into the wrong job interview and not realized it until he was already halfway through presenting his portfolio, once when he was ask on live television if he had actually been the secret designer of a line of particularly exotic fetish wear, and of course the first time he had attempted to hold a conversation with his future wife.
As his gaze rapidly ping ponged back and forth between the horrified faces of his son and Mlle Dupain-Cheng he thought miserably that he now had another tally to add to that list.
The poor girl let out a long unintelligible shriek, her hand now firmly clamped over her mouth in a vain attempt to keep herself from alerting the whole room.
“I can explain…” Adrien began in the most pitiably tone Gabriel had ever heard from his son. “I swear I wasn’t-” his voice suddenly cut off looking guiltily at his father like a child with his hand in the cookie jar. “I mean… um… oh god…” He reached up to run his fingers distractedly through his hair and Gabriel caught a glint of silver.
Oh no… he didn’t…
“Well I think it is time to be heading out,” Gabriel said, “It was lovely to see you again mlle Dupain-Cheng.”
The girl nodded, her eyes still wide and fixed on Adrien as if he was some sort of ghost, hand pressed against her lips.
Gabriel placed a hand on his son’s shoulder and half dragged him off towards the exit.
“We’ll talk later,” Adrien called miserably over his shoulder before glancing nervously up and his father’s glowering countenance.
“Save it for the car Adrien.”
“What about Nino? He’s supposed to be coming over.”
Gabriel paused. On the one hand an in depth conversation with his son was clearly long overdue. On the other hand, he knew that Adrien would never forgive himself if Chloe Bourgeois decided to throw a crocodile tear laden fit over having been given the deliberate brush off.
There was really only one choice. Gabriel let out a frustrated groan and stormed over to where his second least favorite teenager was laughing with a few of the other boys from the class.
The entire party fell silent as Gabriel marched up to the headphone adorned menace.
“Adrien and I have a few matters to attend to, I trust you can find your way to the manor on your own?”
Gabriel rolled his eyes at the child’s dumbfounded expression.
“Uh… Sure thing dude, I mean sir.” The boy replied looking thoroughly confused but slightly defiant, as if Gabriel was about to pull out a sword and challenge him to a duel or something equally absurd.
“Good. Nathalie will let you in when you arrive.”
“See you soon Nino,” Adrien called as one again he was dragged off to the exit.
They were silent as they made their way to the waiting town car.
“Take us home,” Gabriel barked to the driver, removing his glasses and pressing his hand to his forehead in a vain attempt to stave off the oncoming headache he could feel forming.
“I can’t believe you have been using mystical superpowers to seduce your classmate.”
“Father!” Adrien cried, with a horrified glance towards the driver.
“Oh for god sake Adrien, if that man doesn’t already know then he certainly deserves to see just how inadequately he is doing his job with the amount of sneaking off you clearly do,” Gabriel said, causing the Gorilla to let out an amused grunt of laughter. Well that answered that question.
“I… but… How did you... “ Adrien sputtered, waving his arms about wildly as he struggled to regain his composure.
“How I figured it out is beside the point,” Gabriel said, “the fact of the matter is that if you are going to insist on recklessly cavorting around Paris on some sort of delusional superhero mission, you should at least have some sense of propriety when it comes to maintaining your anonymity.”
“Well it’s not like I haven’t tried!”Adrien spluttered defiantly, “Do you have any idea how hard it is to hide a secret identity?”
“Actually…” Gabriel caught himself before he stupidly said something they both would regret, “actually you make an excellent point. I am certain I have no concept of how complicated maintaining a secret double life from one’s loved ones can be, please continue.”
Adrien slunk back into the plush seating of the town car, crossing his arms and glowering. “It’s not like I run around signing autographs and crashing raves,” he said petulantly.
“No you just show off and bring gifts to pretty girls.”
Gabriel raised an eyebrow and Adrien flushed.
“It’s not like that,” he muttered.
“Adrien, did you even stop to consider-”
"I know, I know" Adrien sighed wearily, "what would mom say."
Gabriel felt his ears turn warm. For once that was the last reprimand he would have considered. His mother would have probably given him the idea in the first place, but he wasn't about to fill Adrien in on that little detail at the moment.
“This isn’t about about anyone being disappointed in you Adrien, this is about your reckless disregard for your own safety!”
“I’m in an indestructible suit-”
“Don’t even think about trying to make light of this Adrien.”
“If you are so convinced that I am going to get myself killed I’m surprised you didn’t just steal my ring in my sleep!” Adrien said angrily,
“Believe me, if I could, I would” Gabriel growled.
Gabriel coughed, feeling his own ears going red at this emotional blunder. He straightened his cravat self-consciously and took a deep breath.
“Adrien as much as I am concerned about recent events I am not going to betray your confidence by confiscating your possessions.”
Adrien seemed to relax, his expression taking on a hopeful and slightly grateful expression that made guilt churn in Gabriel gut. He pressed on anyways.
“Now I won’t pretend that it isn’t in everyone’s best interest if you chose to give me that ring you are wearing so I can make sure it ends up in the proper hands.”
Adrien clutched his ring to his chest.
“But that is a conversation for another day,” Gabriel said mildly.
“In the meantime let’s focus back on the subject at hand, which is your nonsensical decision to pursue your crush via an alias.”
“Marinette isn’t my crush! We’re just friends!”
Gabriel ignored another snort of laughter coming from the front of the car.
“Have you or have you not been spending the last month obsessively gathering supplies for your friend ?”
“For a school project.”
“And couldn’t you just as easily have given her all of these things as yourself if you are in fact just friends ?”
“Well yes but-”
“Yet you chose to instead come swooping in as a mysterious hero, showering her with gifts that you knew would appeal to her on a personal level.”
“I mean when you put it like that-”
“Now I suppose it’s possible that you just don’t find the young lady attractive-”
“I didn’t say that!”
“Or that you that you don’t find her particularly interesting.”
“What? No, Marinette’s great!”
“There is of course the possibility that you make clandestine visits to all the young women of your acquaintance.”
“I… I…” Adrien’s eyes filled with a sudden sense of clarity. “Oh Shit.”
“Language Adrien.” Gabriel said, although he couldn’t resist a small smirk.
“I have a crush on Marinette.” Adrien breathed.
“Now that that has been cleared up,” Gabriel said, “I think it’s time that you and I had a conversation about the fairer sex.”
“Are you sure we can’t talk about the whole I’m secretly a superhero thing?”
“No. Now Adrien, perhaps you'd better just tell me everything you know right now, that way I'll know what gaps need filling."
“Please god let Hawkmoth send an akuma.” Adrien groaned burying his head in his hands, as a loud bark of laughter rang out from the front seat of the car.
Chapter 4: Taking Measure of the Situation
Hey guys! This is the first chapter that is NOT part of the tumblr thread, so we are moving into new territory.
Wanted to take a quick moment to give a shout out to Dire_M who this fic is dedicated to, and who gave me the amazing prompt for it in the first place!
I also want to say thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments and feedback I have gotten so far! I am trying to respond to everyone but there has been a LOT to go through! I love you guys and you are the best! Your encouragement is what is keeping this story going!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Adrien leaned heavily against the door to his bedroom, his face flushing so badly he wondered if it would remain in a semi-permanent state of red.
His father- his FATHER - had just tried to give him “the talk”.
As if the entire evening hadn’t turned into enough of a disaster.
And it had started off so promising too. His speech had been a breeze, thanks to his endless lectures from Plagg on the subject, his father had deigned to come to a school function for once, and Marinette had been so happy and excited about her own project.
Adrien let out a soft groan as his thoughts turned to his classmate. He couldn’t believe he had managed to get a crush on Marinette! What sort of unfaithful two-timer was he? Not that he and Ladybug were actually a couple, much to his eternal dismay, but still.
“What’s the matter Romeo?” Plagg asked, flying up to nest in Adrien hair, his voice tinged with laughter, “getting to ‘overwhelmed with emotional urges’?”
“Don’t even start Plagg, it was bad enough hearing it the first time.”
“I’ll say! I think I might have gnawed a hole in your shirt in my attempts to keep from laughing.”
“Thanks for the support. You know I have half a mind to not let you eat my presentation.”
Adrien gave a soft chuckle at Plagg’s horrified exclamation before opening the bag that had the giant collection of cheese and dumping it out on the table.
“This is going to last you the rest of the week so you can pick two to have tonight, the rest are going in the mini-fridge.”
“I should get three,” Plagg said, flying over to the desk and rolling around in the pile of wrapped cheeses, purring in delight at the aroma.
“And why exactly should I be encouraging your gluttony?” Adrien asked flopping down at his computer desk and pulling up the Ladyblog to check through the days updates.
“Because I am going to need my strength if we are going to go visit your little girlfriend tonight,” the kwami replied, placing the assorted cheeses into various piles.
Adrien said nothing, slouching back into his chair and trying to figure out just what he was going to do.
Aside from the obvious dilemma of what to do about his crush on his classmate, Marinette knew that he was Chat Noir. That was going to need to be dealt with immediately. While Adrien fully trusted Marinette as a person, the last thing he needed was for her to freak out- or worse, tell Alya.
“What are we gonna do about this Plagg?” he sighed, “I mean, Marinette’s probably freaking out.”
“I mean, it’s not like she had any idea that Chat Noir was me.”
“That’s an understatement,” Plagg snickered.
“And now she probably thinks that I’ve been like… I donnow… spying on her or something! What if she knows that I have a crush on her? How is she going to react to that?”
“My guess is lots of screaming.”
Adrien glared at the tiny cat.
“Hey! I know that Marinette and I aren’t exactly close but it’s not like she hates me!”
“I don’t think hating you is the problem kid,” Plagg muttered finally selecting his first cheese of the evening and taking a large bite.
Adrien groaned and dropped his head into his hands. “God, this is such a disaster.”
“You are worrying too much,” Plagg said around a mouthful of cheese, “besides I don’t think things can get worse than listening to your dad talk about having ‘options that won’t lead to an ill conceived pregnancy’, I am amazed you didn’t combust.”
“Never speak of that again,” Adrien growled, “or you will never see another wheel of Camembert in this house.”
“You are so cruel,” Plagg pouted, “what would your girlfriend say if she knew how terrible you are to me.”
“She isn’t my girlfriend.”
“More like never after what happened tonight! Besides I shouldn’t even WANT her to be my girlfriend, I’m in love with Ladybug!”
“Oh not this again,” Plagg groaned, grabbing a second cheese and downing half of it in one bite. “Stop worrying about the whole Ladybug thing, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not going to be a problem.”
Adrien felt his stomach sink at his kwami’s words.
“You don’t think Ladybug will ever love me back do you,” he said softly, his entire expression falling into a pitiable look of heartbreak.
“What? That’s not…ugh. I would ask how anyone can be this emotionally challenged but after tonight I think I know the answer to that.”
“You don’t have to be mean about it Plagg, I know I never really had a shot with Ladybug anyways.”
“Kid…” Plagg began before shaking his head in frustration. “I’m no good at this touchy feely stuff. That’s more Tikki’s forte.” He flew back over to Adrien and nuzzled against his leg. “There is nothing wrong with you you stupid kid. I just think you are going to have a lot better time of it if you figure stuff out with your little cookie gifting girlfriend before you worry about the whole Ladybug angle.”
“I guess you’re right,” Adrien sighed. “When did things get so complicated?”
“I would say right about the time that your perpetually absentee father was able to correctly identify your amorous attentions towards someone you have refused to admit you have feelings for.” Plagg offered with a smug grin.
Adrien couldn’t resist the small smile that came to his own lips. “I guess you have a point. Well I need to face her sooner or later.”
“Just remember,” Plagg said, his smile widening into a devilish grin, “if you feel that it is unavoidable that you need to act on these feelings of teenage lust…”
“Just transform me Plagg,” Adrien said, rolling his eyes at his kwami’s playful reenactment.
Adrien felt the transformation wash over him. No matter how many times he had done this, the sudden feeling of power and liberation that comes with Chat Noir never failed to bolster his nerves. He could do this. He could face Marinette. Marinette, who knew his secret and who he now knew he has a crush on…
Adrien shook his head vigorously trying desperately to hold onto that surge of confidence. He HAD to do this. He grabbed his baton and pushed open the window.
Adrien spun around and almost tripped at the sight of his father standing in the doorway. There was a half second of terror, even knowing that his identity has already been exposed.
It wasn’t exactly thrilling to have his father walk in to find him transformed.
“I was just-” Adrien began desperately as his father sighs heavily, leaning against the doorway with a sense of resignation.
“For heaven’s sake Adrien can you please just take the car?”
“I know that any attempt to stop you from visiting your little girlfriend is going to be a pointless waste of both of our time-”
“She isn’t my girlfriend!” Adrien pouted, “I didn’t even know I liked her like that until YOU pointed it out!”
“Regardless, the point is Adrien I cannot continue to sit back and pretend like I don’t know what is going on anymore. I am trying to convince myself not to immediately hire a contractor to permanently seal up those windows. Now, I am willing to make some allowances given the events of this evening, but the least you could do is take your bodyguard with you when you go out as instructed.”
“But, this is faster and I… she… I mean... I need to…”
“Just humor me.”
The two members of the Agreste household stared at each other until finally Adrien dropped his gaze with a huff.
“Fine.” He pulled the window shut and shot his father an exasperated glare.
“By the way we will be talking about,” Gabriel gestured at Adrien’s outfit with a somewhat sickly expression, “-this, later.”
Adrien, having had about as much quality time with his father as he could stand for the evening stalked past him in search of his traitorous bodyguard- who had been no help whatsoever in saving Adrien from the world’s most unpleasant attempt at responsible parenting, and whom Adrien was positive had intentionally taken longer than usual to drive home to draw out the torture for his employer’s benefit.
“And change out of that ridiculous costume before you leave.” He heard Gabriel call out after him.
“You’re a ridiculous costume,” Adrien muttered under his breath as he willed his transformation away, Plagg dropping down to rest lightly on his shoulder. “If you didn’t scare everyone to death someone would have pointed out to your hair looks like the back end of a duck.”
“Wow, way to show him who’s boss,” Plagg cackled, “I can’t wait to see how your passive aggressive little tantrums are going to play out.”
“Shut up Plagg.”
Next time: Chat Noir and Marinette have a chat and Adrien has no game whatsoever.
Chapter 5: Taking it in
Just a quick note- I know that you guys got used to the pretty much daily updates when I first released it, but please try to be patient now that it will take me a little longer between chapters, especially if you want them to be longer. I have every intention of keeping updates as regular as I can and hopefully at least 1 every 2 weeks if not more, but I do have other stories I need to work on as well as real life obligations, so I do ask that you be patient with me.
Thanks and enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aside from the 30 seconds of muffled screaming while she watched the duo of mortified Agrestes hurry out of the school, Marinette thought that she had done a fairly admirable job of keeping her inner turmoil under wraps from her family and friends.
She calmly thanked everyone who complimented her on her presentation. She smiled and bid goodnight to all of her friends. She even managed to keep her false sense of emotional stability through the short walk home to the bakery, where she calmly told her parents that it had been a long night and she was going to head to bed early.
She then hurried up to her room, grabbed one of her pillows from the bed, climbed up onto her balcony, and screamed into the pillow as loudly as she could.
“Marinette, please calm down,” Tikki begged, phasing out of her usual hiding place and attempting to stroke Marinette’s hair.
“Calm down? How am I supposed to calm down! Adrien is Chat Noir! Chat Noir is Adrien! They are the same person, Tikki!”
“Yes, I know.”
“How am I supposed to calm down when I know that this whole time he has been Chadrien?”
“Oh Marinette, you are over reacting.”
“I don’t think so Tikki, I think this is the exact right amount of reacting.”
“Well you had best get yourself calmed down before he inevitably comes over,” Tikki said lightly, floating over to nest in one of the potted plants as she often did when Marinette came up here.
“What do you mean come… oh no… oh no no no.”
Marinette began running nervous fingers through her hair, wondering if she had time to run downstairs and restyle it before Adrichat arrived. Because there was no way he wouldn’t come hurrying over, not after what had just happened. At least her outfit was cute. Even THE Gabriel Agreste had said it was…
Adrien had given her the supplies for this outfit.
Marinette bit back another scream.
It was one thing for Chat to magically produce high end materials for her to work with, it was quite another to find out that her long time crush was basically her sugar daddy.
"Tikki, he is going to think I am a prostitute!"
"Now I'll never be able to tell him that I am in love with him, and I will die alone with a house full of cats! Real cats! Not my perfect back up plan of the unfairly attractive cat boy, oh no, that plan is completely ruined because HE IS ADRIEN!”
“Alright Marinette, you need to calm down,” Tikki scolded, flying up and hovering a few inches from Marinette’s nose. “You are being ridiculous.”
“You’re right,” Marinette sighed, flopping down into her lawn chair with a dejected sigh. “I just… I don’t know what to do, Tikki.”
“Well, what is the real problem here?” the kwami asked, setting down on her knee.
“I guess I just… I mean, how did I not know? And what does it mean for our relationship? Shouldn’t I have known?”
“Marinette, these things are complicated, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. Plus, there is a certain amount of magic involved, you know.”
“I mean, he still hasn’t figured out that you are Ladybug, even though he has obviously been in love with you this whole time.”
“That’s true, I suppose he… wait, WHAT?”
“Oh come on Marinette, it’s not like you haven’t noticed.”
“But Chat Noir is just a flirt, I mean yeah, he might have a bit of a crush on me, but it isn’t… I mean, he isn’t…”
“Is Adrien the type who would flirt with a girl he didn’t care about?” Tikki asked knowingly, flittering back over to her favorite plant.
“Well no but…” Marinette felt the breath leave her lungs. Adrien wasn’t a flirt.
Which meant that Chat wasn’t a flirt. This whole time, everything he had said to her was completely and totally sincere. Which meant that every time he had kissed her hand and called her his ‘perfect breathtakingly stunning Lady’, he had meant it. Everytime he had talked to her as Marinette and waxed poetically about the ‘one girl who shone brighter than all others’, he was talking about her! Ladybug her. The girl he would love to his last breath but who would probably never love him back.
God, was he always so melodramatic?
“Tikki, Adrien is in love with me!”
“Yes I know.”
“But then why is he always hanging out with me as Marinette?”
“I’m sure you can figured it out if you think about it,” Tikki said in that slightly too innocent way that usually meant she was teasing.
Marinette sighed, getting up from the lawnchair to pace across the small terrace. Perhaps she really should just head to sleep. Maybe she would wake up to find this whole night had been a dream and everything would return to normal.
Yes, a nice long night of sleep was exactly what she needed.
Marinette spun around, accidently backhanding Chat across the face.
“Sorry, I am so… wait… no, what are you doing here?”
“I thought we needed to talk,” Chat admitted sheepishly, rubbing his nose where she had slapped him.
“So what, you just ran across town to have a chat?”
“Actually, I took the town car.”
“Never mind, that’s not important,” Chat said, rubbing the back of his neck. It was a habit she had gotten used to from Chat. It was the same nervous gesture that Adrien did whenever he was explaining why he had missed a class. Which of course made sense, because it wasn’t like he could just admit that he had been off fighting akumas. With her. As her partner. Making terrible puns and flirting with her while dressed in a skin tight leather…
“Oh God…” Marinette groaned, “you are Adrichat.”
“Um… I guess?” Chat said, “assuming that you mean that I am Adrien and Chat Noir.”
Marinette grabbed up her pillow from the table where she had dropped it earlier and let out another muffled scream.
He had said it. He had actually said it!
“Is that a problem?” Chat asked from behind her when she had finally run out of air and gone silent again.
Marinette let out a deep breath. She had to face him sooner or later. She closed her eyes and turned towards her crush… partner… friend… whatever the hell he was now.
“It’s not a problem exactly,” she began screwing up her courage and opening her eyes, “it’s just… GAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!”
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Marinette shrieked, her arms flailing wildly around her head.
“What are you talking about?” Adrien asked, raising an eyebrow. An eyebrow that was no longer covered in a black mask.
“Yes, that was already covered,” he said, leaning against the railing as if it was habit. Which it probably was because he always leaned against the railing when he visited. Except the lack of gently swishing tail and twitching cat ears was clearly too much for her overwrought senses.
“Well knock it off!” she cried, burying her face in her hands as she tried to process the sight of Adrien Agreste looking perfectly at home lounging on her balcony.
“I can’t exactly stop being Adrien!”
“I am trying to ease into this, transform back!” Marinette pleaded, wondering how horrible it would make things if she just passed out for a minute. Did the boy really have no clue the sort of effect he had on her?
“I don’t really see the point-”
“I said change back! This,” she gestured wildly at him, “makes everything worse!”
“So my being Adrien and Chat is a problem,” he sulked.
Marinette grit her teeth and yanked on her pigtails, whirling back around and poking him in the chest as she had a hundred times in the past.
“Ugh, you aren’t listening to me, you stupid Ca….” her voice trailed off as she met Adrien’s startled expression. The whole scene was achingly familiar- him leaning back, arms splayed for balance, eyes wide and confused, head tilted down in that endearingly guilty way that made his eyebrows seem to disappear into hairline. Except this time, the green eyes were ringed in white, and her finger was pressed against cotton, not leather. This was Adrien cowering before her, probably already coming up with some ridiculous apology where he would drop to his knees and beg for her unending forgiveness as he placed delicate kisses on her fingertips…
Marinette let out an embarrassingly high pitched squeal as she lept backwards, face flaming.
“What now?” Adrien asked, clearly completely flummoxed by her behaviour.
“Just change back,” she whined, “I will explain, I promise, but I can’t do it with you looking at me like that!”
“Fine,” Adrien said, rolling his eyes, and for the first time Marinette really saw her sassy pun loving partner lurking behind the perfect facade of Adrien’s decorum.
Marinette watched him summon his transformation, a brilliant flash of green light washing over him and leaving a very grouchy looking catboy glaring at her with his arms crossed.
“Better?” he asked.
Marinette ignored the note of sarcasm in his voice. “Yes. Thank you.”
She sat down on the small ledge next to her potted plants and took a deep breath. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. It’s sort of a lot to take in.” She stole a glance at Chat and was relieved to see that his posture had relaxed a little. She forced herself to meet his eyes, and while she could feel her cheeks burning, there was a certain amount of comfort at seeing the familiar green scalia staring questioningly back at her. “I’m not disappointed that it’s you, Adrien,” she said softly, “I could never be disappointed that it’s you.”
“Yeah,” she laughed a little. “It’s just… well,” Marinette could feel her heart pounding in her chest, “it’s just sort of complicated… in a good way! But.... well…”
Her breath caught in her throat as he took a few hesitant steps towards her, his eyes bright in the moonlight.
“Why is it complicated?” he whispered, one clawed hand coming to rest comfortingly against her shoulder in a gesture that was so unmistakably Adrien that she wasn’t sure if she wanted to cry or tackle him.
“Well, you see I…”
A loud obnoxious ringing startled them both.
“Is your baton ringing?” Marinette said, gaping at the glowing green pawprint on the weapon attached to his back, “but… how…?”
“Sorry,” Chat said, embarrassed, pulling the weapon out from behind his back, “this might be important. The only person who has this number is… wait… what the…”
“Who is it?” Marinette asked, knowing full well that the only person he usually talked to this was was definitely not calling him.
“It says it’s a blocked number. I didn’t know we could even get regular calls on these things.”
“Maybe it’s a wrong number?”
“Only one way to find out, I guess,” he replied, flipping open the screen. “Hello?”
Marinette watched as Chat’s face turned deathly pale.
“FATHER? But… how did you even get this number?”
Marinette could only hear a muffled rumbling from the other end of the call, but whatever answer he gave clearly wasn’t very satisfying if Chat’s expression was anything to go by.
“You know exactly where I am,” Chat muttered into the phone, turning his back on her to establish some sense of privacy. “Look, can I call you back, this is kind of impor- yes I know… well she was kind of freaking out- what? He what? Oh… oh God… ok I’m on my way.”
Chat ended the call and turned back towards her with a truly terrified expression on his face.
“I’m sorry, I have to go.”
But it was too late. Marinette watched as Chat disappeared, darting across the rooftops like hell itself was nipping at his heels.
“Do you have any clue what that was about?”
What was said in the mysterious phone call? And what is Gabe going to do when a visitor shows up at Chez Agreste
Chapter 6: Loose threads
Back from vacation and on the update train. I promised I wouldn't leave you hanging for too long.
Enjoy the new chapter and more notes at the end! Love to all of you!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Gabriel waited until Adrien had actually climbed into the waiting town car before he turned and headed straight for his private study.
He closed the door, made himself comfortable, and poured himself a large glass of cognac.
He took a long swig, feeling the alcohol burn it’s way down his throat and contemplated if it would be worth it to simply drink until he could no longer remember the details about what might very well be the most awkward evening he had ever experienced in his life.
Over the course of one hour he had managed to out his son as the secret admirer of his classmate, reveal his own knowledge of Adrien’s double life before having any sort of plan on how to approach that situation, quite possibly make the already strained relationship he had with his son worse if such a thing were possible, and if he wasn’t mistake the words “perfectly adequate alternatives for sexual gratification” had actually crossed his lips.
He downed the rest of the glass and poured another.
A few minutes later soft knock sounded at the door.
Nathalie walked into the room then did a double take at her employer, eyes scanning quickly from the discarded jacket and tie to the slightly mussed hair to the possessive hold on his current glass.
“I take it the evening did not go well?” she asked, closing the door behind her and plucking the jacket off the floor and carefully draping it over the back of a chair.
“You don’t say,” Gabriel seethed taking another drink and enjoying the pleasant heat beginning to warm him as the alcohol worked its way into his system.
Gabriel let out a short bark of laughter. “What didn’t happen is probably the better question.”
Nathalie raised one expertly plucked eyebrow.
“Adrien’s project, I will have you know, was on the import and export of high end cheeses.”
“But then what-”
“It seems,” Gabriel continued gulping down another swig of congac, “that he has been gifting our cast offs to one Mlle Dupain-Cheng.”
“The stuttering one?” Nathalie asked surprised.
“The girl in question, she tends to act a little… out of sorts around Adrien. Blushing, tripping, that sort of thing.”
Gabriel chuckled. “Well at least the affection isn’t unrequited.” Perhaps this whole mess he had made wouldn’t lead to Adrien having yet another reason to despise him.
“I must say I am surprised,” Nathalie said, “I hadn’t thought Adrien even knew about her infatuation much less reciprocated.”
“Oh God…” Gabriel threw back the rest of his second glass and poured a third. “It’s worse then I thought.”
“The girl has been receiving her presents from Chat Noir,” Gabriel said giving his assistant a pointed look.
“Oh he didn’t… I mean... “ Nathalie looked decidedly uncomfortable, “sir?”
“Don’t play dumb Nathlie it doesn’t suit you.”
Her eyebrows tensed in the way that he knew meant she was restraining herself from rolling her eyes.
She sat down in the chair beside him and Gabriel poured her a glass of the rapidly dwindling supply of liquor.
“How long have you known?” she asked taking a delicate sip of the proffered drink.
“Longer than I should have without saying anything. You?”
“A few months.”
“I figured as much,” Gabriel said twirling his glass in his hand. “At least we are all finally being honest about it I suppose.” He mockingly clinked his glass against Nathalie’s and they both shot back the amber liquid.
“So is that the reason for the excessive libations?” Nathalie ask as Gabriel poured out another round.
“Oh no. In my infinite wisdom I decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to attempt to bond with my child via the time honored ritual of the father son talk.”
“You don’t mean-”
“Please don’t ever speak of it again.” Gabriel groaned.
Nathalie hid her smile behind her glass.
“I am sure it was an educational experience sir.”
He glared at her, which if anything only made her smile widen.
“So,” Gabriel said hoping to change to topic to anything less unpleasant, “what can you tell me about this Dupain-Cheng girl?”
Nathalie looked thoughtful for a moment, taking another sip of her drink as she mentally tallied up all the information she had on Adrien’s classmate.
“She is part of his main circle of friends, and he talks about her often. Interested in fashion as I am sure you remember.”
“Yes she won the competition last year.”
“Her family owns a respectable bakery and she seems fairly intelligent when she isn’t debilitated by teenaged hormones. Sasha thinks she is a bit of a stalker but I am inclined to think it’s fairly harmless.”
“A stalker?” Gabriel asked sitting up a little.
“Its calmed down quite a bit to my understanding,” Nathalie continued, “but in the beginning she apparently had a tendency to chase after him a bit. Showing up at photoshoots that sort of thing. Apparently there was some sort of fuss with Adrien’s phone but I never did get that whole story. A bit obsessive perhaps but then again this family has never exactly been lacking in that department.” She gave Gabriel a pointed look and he winced. “Again it’s mostly harmless. Anonymous love letters, birthday gifts, that sort of thing.”
“What did she get him for his birthday?” Gabriel asked curiously.
“I don’t remember,” Nathalie replied, taking another long sip of her drink.
The loud buzz of the security gate startled them both.
“Who on earth is trying to bother me at this time of night,” Gabriel grumbled as Nathalie hurried out to check the security system. “I swear if Andre decided to chase after me…”
“Sir the Lahieffe boy is here. Shall I escort him to Adrien’s room?”
“Did you let him in already?”
“Yes, he said you had spoken-”
“Nathalie I need you to stall.”
“Stall! Keep him occupied, anything!”
“But won’t Adrien-”
“Adrien isn’t here,” Gabriel hissed as they heard the distant sound of the gate opening outside.
“Oh,” her eyes widened with knowing horror, “Well… shit.”
“Precisely. Now go handle the backstreet boy I need to get something from the safe.”
Gabriel was livid by the time he heard the third ring.
It was gone. The book was gone.
There were only three people who could possibly have managed to get their hands on it, and two of them had far too strong a sense of self preservation to ever touch it.
At least the brooch had still been there, thank god. The last thing he needed was Adrien running off with yet another miraculous. Of course right now he had bigger problems than his son’s newfound kleptomania.
Gabriel relaxed slightly at the sound of Adrien’s voice. At least he still remembered how to do this.
“Adrien you need to come home immediately.”
“FATHER?” the boy cried with an unbecoming level of panic “But… how did you even get this number?”
“That is not important right now.”
Gabriel tried not to growl as he heard Adrien give a soft incredulous snort. As if he had any room to talk about keeping secrets.
“Where are you?” Gabriel pressed on before an argument could break out.
“You know exactly where I am,” Adrien replied petulantly “Look, can I call you back, this is kind of impor-”
“Furthermore,” Gabriel interrupted his annoyance at the situation getting the better of him, “why am I having to reach you like this when I distinctly remember sending you out of the house untransformed?”
“Yes I know…” Adrien began guiltily.
“Do you have any idea how inconvenient it is to contact a miraculous? What possible excuse can you have for yourself?”
“She was kind of freaking out.” Adrien said sounding for all the world like a miserable kitten who had gotten tossed out into the cold.
Gabriel sighed. He really shouldn’t have had that congnac.
“Nevermind Adrien, it doesn’t matter. We have far bigger problems.”
“Your friend just arrived.”
“It seems that neither of us remembered that Mr. Lahieffe was invited to come over this evening,” Gabriel clarified.
“Oh… oh God…”
“Needless to say it is going to be a bit problematic when he figures out you are not actually here.”
“Ok I’m on my way,” Adrien replied, ending the call.
Gabriel rubbed his temple and prayed that by some miracle they would all get out of this relatively unscathed.
“Ok seriously, what is going on?” Gabriel heard the irritated teenager voice as he entered into the foyer. “I don’t need any tea, you’ve already taken my coat, my shoes and asked after my mother which by the way is not the most subtle delay tactic ever. Now if you don’t mind I am going to go see my Bud now.”
“Is there a problem Nathalie?” Gabriel called out striking a deliberately intimidating pose at the top of the stairs.
“No sir, I was just-”
“Yeah there is a problem,” the boy said crossing his arms and glaring up defiantly, “where is Adrien? And why is your henchwoman trying so hard to keep him away from me?”
Gabriel watched with no small amount of delight as Nathalie eyes narrowed, her hands clenching at her sides as if she was debating on smacking the upstart little twerp over the back of the head. He rather hoped she would.
“Adrien is in his room,” Gabriel lied cooly, descending the stairs slowly without breaking eye contact.
“Then it shouldn’t be a problem if I go see him,” the brat shot back, although Gabriel was pleased to note that for all his bravado he made no move to actually head towards the stairs.
“I apologize for the inconvenience,” Gabriel began mildly, “I am afraid Nathalie was simply hoping to give Adrien some privacy as he attempts to finish a rather personal phone conversation.”
He watched as the boys stance relaxed slightly, although his gaze remained skeptical.
“Is that so?” he asked, raising himself to his full height and attempting to appear as intimidating as one could for a scrawny 16 year old.
As much as Gabriel detested the party loving slacker, he had to admit that at least Adrien had the good sense to surround himself with people who had spines.
“Yes,” Gabriel replied rolling his shoulders back to emphasize his own 191 cm frame, “I am sure that you as his closest friend can appreciate Adrien’s sensitivity,” he said with as much condescension as possible.
“Who is he talking to?”
The boy was not easily deterred, Gabriel had to give him credit for that.
“I believe he is speaking with Mlle Dupain-Cheng. So if you wouldn’t mind waiting in the drawing room, Adrien can come and fetch you when he has finished talking to his girlfriend.”
Gabriel felt his stomach drop for the second time that evening as he saw the boy’s eyes widen in absolute shock.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Nathalie drop her head into her hands whether to try to hide her disgust or amusement he couldn’t say.
“Mari? Adrien and… his GIRLFRIEND?”
Gabriel opened his mouth hoping that some idea would magically come to him as to how he could fix this.
“Excuse me, I have business to attend to,” he stammered out before turning and fleeing back up the stairs.
Adrien was going to kill him.
And things just keep getting more complicated don't they?
Next time- Gabriel and Adrien fight. Gabe attempts some parental discipline, Nino confronts Adrien, and the entire Agreste household prepares for an interesting experiment in family bonding.
Update will be up within the next 2 weeks. Sooner if I feel particularly inspired or loved ^_~
In which the melodramatic father son duo both scream at each other.
Hey guys! Did you miss me???
Sorry I have been super busy with 2 challenges, trying to finish off one of my other fics, not to mention the actual life stuff.
However I do have good news! One of my giveaway prizes for my tumblr was a choice of update for any story and they chose THIS ONE! So on top of this update I have already been hard at work on the next chapter so you can expect a second update within the week!
Anyways- this chapter is a lot of set up for where the plot is going (YES I FINALLY CAME UP WITH A PLOT!) So I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Gabriel was about to head back in the direction of his study- probably to drown himself in the rest of that bottle of Congac- when he heard an unmistakable thud coming from Adrien’s room. He took a deep breath and headed in to face the consequences of his actions.
Adrien was just releasing his transformation as Gabriel walked in. It was a somewhat surreal experience seeing the costume melt away in a flash of green light and a small cat like creature whizzing around and diving for what looked like a exotic cheeses.
Gabriel shook his head. He could worry about that later.
“Father!” He spun around looking flushed and out of breath, “I got here as soon as I could.”
“That is appreciated. Your friend is downstairs waiting for you.”
“Ok, well I’d better go-”
“Adrien there is something we should discuss first. You see I may have… wait. Why did you come in through the window?”
“What?” Adrien asked confused. Gabriel simply crossed his arms and glared expectantly. “Well it would have been a bit suspicious if I just walked in through the front door when Nino thinks I am already here," Adrien pointed out.
“True,” Gabriel admitted relaxing his stance a little. “Well, hopefully Sasha will likewise think to use the back entrance.”
His sons eyes flashed guiltily for a second before he looked away.
“Adrien-” Gabriel drawled a sinking feeling coming over him as he watched the boys attempts to appear innocent.
“Well I had better get downstairs…”
“Where is your bodyguard?” Gabriel growled.
Adrien’s ears turned red, “You know I’m sure he’s around here-”
“Ok he’s probably still sitting in the car outside Tom and Sabine’s bakery,” he admitted sheepishly.
“Adrien-” Gabriel sighed, running his hand distractedly through his hair.
“It was an emergency! You said yourself I needed to get home right away!”
“That is not an excuse to go gallivanting around the city!”
“I was hardly gallivanting, I ran straight here from Marinette’s.”
“And I thought I made myself clear that I expect you to be properly escorted when ever you go out to visit your girlfriend.”
“I told you, she isn’t my girlfriend.”
“Well you might want to take a second to prepare because your friend may have a different perception of the situation,” Gabriel said.
“What is that supposed to mean exactly?”
“Simply, that people may be under the impression that Miss Dupain-Cheng is in fact your girlfriend.”
‘Why would he think that, he knows I… what did you do?” Adrien ask, eyes narrowing and his voice dropping to a low hiss.
Gabriel knew he had less than a second to decide if it was a better option to begin groveling for forgiveness for what might be the worst day of foot in mouth he had ever experienced, or to double down and hope that he could still somehow manage to regain the high ground. He cleared his throat and tried to keep his tone unaffected.
“I may have, through no fault of my own, said something that led young Mr. Lahieffe to reach the conclusion that you and Miss Dupain-Cheng were in fact involved with each other in a romantic capacity,” Gabriel said putting his hands behind his back and fixing his gaze upwards with as much imperious dignity as he could manage.
“What did you say,” Adrien growled.
“I merely said that the reason you were unavailable to greet him when he arrived was that you were already on the phone.” Adrien hunched his shoulders threatening. “With your girlfriend,” Gabriel admitted sheepishly.
“Are you fucking kidding me?!”
“No! No, you do not get to be upset with me! Are you trying to ruin my life? Is this your way of punishing me for refusing to stay cooped up in this house to indulge your obsessed paranoia?”
Gabriel felt his temper flair at Adrien's uncharacteristic, if not entirely unjustified, outburst.
“Well if you had stayed home instead of racing off to placate your secret paramour this never would have happened.”
“Don’t you dare make this my fault,” Adrien shouted, “I had things perfectly under control until you decided to interrogate Marinette.”
“Oh yes, you clearly had things under control. Sneaking out every night to stalk a young lady you didn’t even realize you had feelings for is a clear indication of intelligent life choices,” Gabriel retorted before he could stop himself. Looked like he was doubling down after all.
“Oh like you have the right to talk about life choices,” Adrien seethed, “oh have I just been dreaming the last two years of absentee parenting?”
Gabriel felt Adrien’s words hit him like a slap in the face. Even as he felt his expression darken into a scowl, he knew on some level that Adrien was right. He should back down and hide until he could actually deal with the mess his relationship with his son had become in a healthy and responsible manner.
Unfortunately the combination of hurt pride and alcohol did not seem to want to listen to the more rational side of his brain.
“Adrien I am your father, I am older than you, and you have no idea some of the things I have seen. I am sorry that I value your safety more than indulging your teenage delusion that the world revolves around having a social life.”
“A social life? You think this is about me wanting to have a social life?” Adrien cried, “how about any life?”
“Says the one throwing himself off buildings and almost getting killed three times a week,” Gabriel shouted back.
“I have a job to do!” Adrien said, though for the first time in the conversation he looked a little guilty in his own right. “You have no idea-”
“I have more than an idea,” Gabriel interrupted, “forgive me for not wanting our family to get dragged into another round of misguided heroics. It never ends well, and you inevitably bring nothing but heartache to the people around you. Believe me I would know.”
“What are you talking about?” Adrien asked, wide eyed and blanched.
“Nothing that you need to know.”
“When your mother returns she call tell you all about it.” Gabriel said, turning his back on Adrien and silently cursing his outburst.
“You couldn’t have used that answer when it came to the sex talk earlier?” Adrien muttered under his breath.
“Adrien this is no time for your melodramatic tantrums,” Gabriel said before he could stop himself.
The shift was instantaneous, and he could almost feel Adrien’s shock morph back into outrage.
“I think it’s a perfect time! How did you know I was Chat Noir? How do you know about any of this?”
“Adrien I have known about that Miraculous long before you even put on that ring, hell since before you were born,” Gabriel admitted.
“And why did you never tell me about any of it?”
“Because it wasn’t important for you to know at the time.”
“Oh and why is that?” Adrien said walking forward to stand in front of his father and doing his best to stare him down despite the 25 cm height difference.
Gabriel desperately searched for anything he could say to get out of this disastrous conversation.
“Because I am your father and I said so,” he blurted.
“You do realize that is the most worthless answer in the history of terrible parenting?”
“Go to your room,” Gabriel sighed.
Adrien raised his eyebrows before deliberately looking around the room.
“Right,” Gabriel coughed.
“We need to talk about this,” Adrien said, crossing his arms defiantly. “I have a right to know-”
“The only thing we need to talk about,” he interrupted, “is your complete disregard for your own well-being.”
“Please, I am in an indestructible suit and my partner can literally fix everything,” Adrien said flippantly.
“And that is exactly that sort of irresponsible attitude that needs to be curtailed immediately,” Gabriel said latching onto the tiny patch of moral high ground.
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“Adrien, from now on you will not leave the house without my permission or an escort. Under any circumstances.”
Adrien’s jaw dropped. “Are you kidding me? You are punishing me for being a superhero?”
“No I am punishing you for disobeying me, and it will end here and now.”
“How will you even know? It’s not like you are ever around to know what I am doing anyways!” Adrien shouted, his own anger clearly overriding his usual mild temper.
Gabriel glared at his son. Perhaps it was the irritation that Adrien was entirely right in his assessment or perhaps it was the 5 glasses of Congac, but before he had a chance to actually think about the wisdom of what he was doing he walked to the door and threw it open. “Nathalie,” he bellowed, “cancel all of my appointment for the next week and notify Martin that I am going to need any essential files brought to the house.”
Adrien’s eyes widened in horror. “That’s really not necessary-”
“You wanted my attention Adrien? Well you have it. As of this moment you are grounded! And you will not leave this house without my say so have I made myself clear? Now go downstairs and fetch your annoying little friend.”
“Are you making me send Nino home?” Adrien asked, sounding completely deflated in spite of his earlier outburst.
“Why would I do that? It seems extremely impractical after the effort we went through to get him here.”
“But-” Adrien cut himself off. “Nevermind.” .
Well that was quite the ride.
Next up we will be seeing a bit more of what is happening in Marinette's life ^_~
Sorry for the slow update guys! I don't know how I managed to fall so behind with my writing! Hopefully they will be faster from here on out!
Marinette starred off after Chat… Adrien… for a good ten minutes after he had suddenly bolted off of her balcony.
What had just happened? One minute they were attempting to have a conversation about… well everything, and the next he was running off without a real word of explanation.
“Marinette, maybe you should go inside and go to sleep,” Tikki suggested, fluttering nervously around, “after all a lot has happened today.”
“You’re probably right,” Marinette sighed, climbing back down into her room. She wasn’t going to get anywhere by trying to sort out this whole Adrichat issue tonight anyways.
She attempted to focus on her evening routine- change into pajamas, brush her teeth, flip through the newest edition of fashion monthly- which she then tossed over the side of the bed with a squeak when she opened it to find one of Adrien’s full page adds. So much for that attempt at distraction.
“Tikki, this… this is a good thing, right?” She said softly, flopping back against her pillows.
“Oh Marinette,” her kwami cooed, flying up and settling on her chest, “of course this is a good thing. Adrien adores you, if anything this is proof about how much he cares about spending time with you.”
“You’re right,” Marinette groaned, “Of course you are right. I mean, I love Chat, I just didn’t realize that…”
“That you love Chat?” Tikki teased.
Marinette tensed, clutching a pillow nervously against her chest. “But that’s the thing, shouldn’t I have known? I mean if I love Adrien so much-”
“Marinette you are over thinking this,” Tikki interrupted with the same sort of affectionate exasperation that she was used to hearing from her mother. “Are you disappointed that Adrien is Chat Noir?”
“Of course not! How could I be disappointed in that?”
“Then I don’t think it’s a problem. You didn’t see the possibility because you weren’t looking for it. That doesn’t make your feelings any less genuine. If anything it is a sign of how much you cared about him that you were never swayed by Chat’s advances to you as Ladybug.”
“I guess,” Marinette said.
“And think of it this way, you know Adrien that much better now.”
“I suppose it will be a lot less intimidating to talk to him now that I know what a nerd he is,” she grinned.
“That’s the spirit!” Tikki said giving her a tiny hug. “I am sure that everything will work out for the best, just you wait.”
Marinette nodded, snuggling down into her bedding and letting the stress of the evening melt away. True, things would be different now, but that was a good thing. THIS was a good thing. Tomorrow she would find a way to talk to him and they could sort it out together.
The shrill ringing of her cell phone pulled her from her thoughts. She fumbled for her phone not even bothering to check the screen before answering with a bleary ‘hello?’
“Why did you not tell me!?!? I can’t believe you!”
“How could you keep this a secret from me? ME of all people?”
“What are you talking about?” Marinette stammered, sitting up. Her heart hammered in her chest.
“You know exactly what I am talking about,” Alya’s voice shrieked through the phone, “how long have you been seeing him?”
Marinette felt her stomach drop out from under her. Initial worries about Alya having discovered her double life as Ladybug were replaced by this much worse reality. Somehow Alya had found out about Chat’s- Adrien’s- visits. As if this whole mess wasn’t already complicated enough.
“Alya, look I can explain,” she began nervously, wondering what sort of excuse she could possible give as to why she had been secretly hanging out with one of Paris’s heroes in her free time. And worse that she had done so without setting up her best friend with an interview.
“You had better have an explaination girl, how long has this been going on under my nose?” Alya fumed.
“I’m sorry. I know I didn’t say anything, and I realize that you are kind of invested in this-”
“Oh, you think?!” Alya interrupted with a huff of irritation.
“- but it’s really not that big of a deal,” Marinette finished, ignoring her friend’s outburst.
“Not that big of a deal? Are you KIDDING ME?” Alya screamed loud enough to make Marinette hold the phone away from her ear.
“Look,” Marinette replied calmly hoping to smooth over the situation, “he just show up at my house a couple of months ago-”
“Months? This has been going on for months?”
“-and we just hang out and talk, it’s nothing really!”
“You, YOU actually talk to him? With actual complete sentences?”
“Well yeah,” Marinette said confused by Alya’s sarcasm, “I mean, I know he’s like a celebrity and all but he’s actually a total nerd. Oh God, he really is a nerd isn’t he?” Marinette said, her brain still struggling to remember that her pun loving partner was in fact the love of her adolescent life. It was still easier to think of them as two separate people. Chat Noir and Adrien. Of course that was probably for the best right now since the last thing she needed to do was accidentally out her partner's identity to their most determined journalist.
“Did I wake up in bizarro world or something?” Alya shouted, “First you are secretly dating Adrien and now you are calling him a nerd?”
“Secretly what?” Marinette shouted back, her face flaming, “I wasn’t talking about dating Adrien!”
“Well then who were you talking about?”
“I was talking about Chat Noir!” Marinette screeched, and then flushed harder as she realized once again that was in fact the same thing.
“You’re cheating on Adrien with Chat Noir?”
“I’m not cheating on Adrien with Chat Noir, that isn’t even possible!” Marinette choked.
“Well he’s apparently been sneaking into your bedroom for the last 2 months so it’s not that much of a stretch,” Alya replied dryly.
“We aren’t dating, why would you even think that Adrien and I are dating?” Marinette said, taking a deep breath and trying to focus on the problem at hand instead of hyperventilating over the Chatdrien dilema.
“Well his father seems to think you are.”
“His father thinks we- ow!” Marinette cried rubbing the back of her head where it had crashed into the ceiling in her attempt to jump to her feet on her bed. She took a shaking breath and tried again. “Gabriel Agreste, the Gabriel Agreste, thinks that Adrien and I are dating? How would you even know that?”
“Were you talking to Adrien earlier?” Alya said slyly not answering the question.
Marinette felt her face turn scarlet. She had been talking to Adrien. Because Adrien was Chat. Maybe she could just crawl into a hole and die until this whole mess was over. “Why would you think that?” she asked warily, not quite sure where her friend was going with this line of questioning.
“Oh my God you were!” Alya laughed, “It’s true, it’s totally true! You ARE secretly dating Adrien. I can’t believe you didn’t tell me! I had to find out about this from Nino. He is going to lord this over me forever.”
“Alya wait, I’m not-”
“Hang on Nino’s calling me back. Don’t think you are off the hook missy, we are totally discussing this in the morning, in detail,” and without waiting for a reply Alya ended the call.
Marinette stared at her phone in complete bewilderment. She tried calling Alya again but her call was redirected to voicemail.
Everything was spiraling out of control and she wasn’t even sure what was happening anymore. Clearly it was time to take matters into her own hands before anything got any worse, and there was only one person who could tell her exactly what was going on.
“I think it’s time we payed a visit to a certain Kitty cat. Tikki, transform me.”