This was 100% inspired by all of the "Alix is too Ace for this" posts on Tumblr after the Gigantitan episode and does contain some references to that episode (or, rather, to the cringe-worthy date planning thing they did at the start).

The six girls had gathered in Marinette's room again for another attempt at a date plan orchestrated by Project Secret Garden. It had been going on for forever now as they tried to figure out how to work around Marinette's inability to actually talk around Adrien and make proper sentences that made sense when she was trying to ask him out.

And Alix was really tired of listening to it all. She didn't know why she had been invited in the first place, or why she had been roped back into things for a second attempt- she hated romance, it was too ooey-gooey-awkward for her to deal with- and really, planning dates was pointless when Marinette apparently couldn't get the connection between her brain and her mouth working.

"It's like I freak out too much thinking about it and my mouth just can't make the right words!" Marinette was complaining as they tried to set up yet another convoluted way for her to get an opportunity to get Adrien alone so she could ask him out without an audience (well, without an audience besides the rest of the girls in 'Project Secret Garden', that was). "I don't know what to do!"

"So if you get hit with a case of the blabbermouth every time you try to ask Adrien out, why don't you stop?" Alix demanded, sitting up and finally deciding to try to inject some common sense into the conversation before it got too soppy and romantic to bear. She had thought that Marinette had finally decided that direct and to the point was the way to go after the last disaster, but apparently she had been talked out of that and back into the complex planning while Alix was busy not listening. "Just talk to him without trying to work a date invite in."

The rest of the group stared at her as though she had gone crazy. Alya broke the silence first.

"But what would she do that for? She wants to ask him on a date!"

Alix rolled her eyes. "Yeah, I know that, thanks. You've only been talking about it for the last million and a half hours. But it what's causing her nerves is worrying about being rejected or whatever, then talking without worrying about asking him on a date should go smoother. Plus, then Adrien will actually know that you can talk normally and if you did go on a date, it wouldn't consist entirely of you word-vomiting in his general direction. Why would he want to date you if you can't even talk to him?"

Marinette looked taken aback, and all of the other girls looked at Alix like she had just killed their puppies- which she would never do, because that would be awful.

"Why would you say that?" Alya hissed at Alix, clearly ticked. "You'll only make her more nervous!"

"Because it's true!" Alix was starting to wonder if the other girls were just blind to how uncomfortable Adrien could be around Marinette, especially when she was spouting random nonsense in his direction. They were so lost in the possible romance that they couldn't see the obvious- the uncomfortable, befuddled looks Marinette got from her crush, the borderline creepy knowledge of his whereabouts and photoshoot routines (and who knew what else?), the fact that starting the duo out on crazy-romantic dates instead of just casual would just put waaay too much pressure on them and there wouldn't be any second date.

(In fact, if Alix was in Adrien's place and had a sappy-gooey-ugh romantic date sprung on her by some random classmate, she would probably run away screaming before the date had properly begun.)

She was supposed to be the one that didn't care about romance, that didn't know how to do the romantic stuff. Why was she the only reasonable person here? How was she the only one getting serious secondhand embarrassment from all of this Adrien stuff?

"I think Marinette should focus on getting the date first," Rose said, frowning at Alix. "They'll have plenty of time to talk during the date!"

Alix sighed and dropped her face into her hands. This was ridiculous, honestly. She could tell right now that even if Marinette managed to pull her words together for long enough to ask Adrien out (and her record meant that the odds of that actually happening were pretty low), Adrien would probably say no, since for all he knew, Marinette was a rambling mess half of the time. But she was betting on that not happening for a while, since apparently it hadn't occurred to anyone that trying the same thing over and over and over with the whole "asking Adrien out" thing wasn't likely to actually produce any results.

Hadn't they ever heard the saying about not beating a dead horse with a stick? It was utterly pointless.

After that, Alix suffered silently through another half-hour of planning before they disbanded. This time it had been Mylène doing most of the planning for the asking-out and the date itself. Alix thought that it was rather ridiculous to put so much effort into planning a date that would probably never happen, but apparently what she thought didn't really matter.

(But if she was assigned to toss flower petals again, she was going to hurl them in someone's face with all her might.)

As expected, Marinette choked on the question once actually facing Adrien and all of their preparations went to waste- except for Alix's, because she hadn't even bothered to prepare.

The same thing happened for Rose's plan, and Juleka's, and then another plan of Alya's, but at least the asking-out part of Alya's plan was mercifully cut short by an akuma attack (Alix had never been so glad to see an akuma storming through the streets declaring war on naughty teens who didn't know that they were supposed to be seen but not heard. Even being turned into a marble statue for several hours was worth not having to listen to Marinette freak Adrien out even more with her rambling about pigeons). For all of the other attempts, Alix had had to suffer through the secondhand embarrassment that went with having to watch Marinette and Adrien interact when the former could barely string together a sentence and the latter clearly was puzzled and looked rather uncomfortable. She wished that there was some way to mute the conversation somehow, or fast forward her way through it, or just skip it altogether.

Alas, it wasn't possible. Her so-called "friends" were dragging her along with all of their convoluted schemes and that meant that she had to be there to watch (and hear) Marinette try (and fail miserably) to ask Adrien out.

And Alix had had enough.

"Okay, you've all had you turn to try your plans," Alix announced at their next "Project Secret Garden (barf) Meeting" before anyone could start tossing out ideas that they had had for the next attempt. "So are we gonna try my strategy now, or what?"

"Your so-called strategy involves Marinette not asking Adrien out at all!" Alya exclaimed in exasperation. "What is that even supposed to accomplish? She needs to keep trying!"

Rose nodded. "Yeah! We just need to keep coming up with super-romantic date ideas, and then they'll be together!"

Alix resisted the urge to start whacking her head against the wall. "No, we absolutely do not! You'll freak the kid out if you throw him into a super-romantic date, first of all, and second of all, you've tried the asking out first thing for, what? Half a year? More? And with absolutely no success. Marinette has to learn how to talk to him first as a friend, and then they can start hanging out, and then you get to the dates."

Juleka mumbled something. Alix decided to interpret it as a question as to what she thought they should do, since she couldn't actually decipher any of it.

"I think you need to forget the date thing for a while. Focus on just having normal conversations with Adrien. Maybe do group hang-outs first, so there's other people there and there's not so much pressure and they can pick up the conversation if you're starting to blabber, and just talk about normal things. Get to be friends with him, and let him get to know you so he actually has a reason to want to go out with you. Maybe you'll get to the point where he's the one asking you, and then that would solve your problem with freezing up when you're going to ask him out." Alix crossed her arms as she stared at her friends, just daring them to interrupt her. "Because right now, you're stuck in a rut. Planning elaborate dates won't do anything unless Marinette can actually ask Adrien out, and Adrien actually accepts."

"Are you saying that Adrien wouldn't accept?" Alya demanded, finally spurred to speak. She was scowling at Alix now. "Why-"

"Adrien doesn't have to accept every date invitation that goes his way," Alix pointed out before Alya could get too wound up about some perceived insult to Marinette. Seriously, why were these people so dense? It was infuriating. "And if he actually knew Marinette, then I bet he would say yes! But if she can't even speak to him- if the only time he actually hears her use proper full sentences is when she isn't speaking to him- then he doesn't know her, and a date invitation would just be completely out of left field. And so yeah, I think that Adrien would say no, and if he did say yes and got dragged into a super-romantic date, then he would probably get freaked out."

"Actually, I think she has a point," Mylène said timidly, raising her hand. "I wouldn't have said yes to dating Ivan if I hadn't known him well already, and that isn't any sort of attack on his personality. I just would have been nervous about hanging out one-on-one with someone I didn't really know well, because then there's such potential for awkward pauses and stilted conversation and that's no fun at all. And most people I know of only started dating after they became good friends."

"I like her the most now," Alix announced, pointing to Mylène. "You all can have your ridiculously soppy dates after Adrien and Marinette get to be friends and have had a few nice, low-pressure dates and Adrien isn't going to be scared off. Okay?"

Rose was definitely pouting, clearly disappointed that they wouldn't be staging a ooey-gooey-romantic date this time around. Alya didn't look thrilled either, but Marinette looked a little...relieved, perhaps? Maybe she had finally caught on that stressing out about asking Adrien out really wasn't that fun. Maybe she was embarrassed about all the times she had babbled nonsensically in front of Adrien and she was looking forward to not doing that again.

Juleka just looked thoughtful.

"That sounds like it's going to take forever, though," Alya protested after another few seconds. "Like, it sounds like you want Marinette to build things up super-gradually. We'll all have grey hair by the time they get together, then."

"Like I said earlier, how long have you spent on you plan of 'just try again and again and again to ask Adrien out until you actually succeed'?" Alix shot back. She had victory in her grasp, she could just tell, and then she would be spared months of second-hand embarrassment. She couldn't stop now. "Maybe this is baby steps, but baby steps is at least progress! Baby steps are good!"

Juleka made a sound that sounded like murmured agreement, nodding along to Alix's words. Rose was still pouting, but she looked a little more convinced.

"Okay," Alya said finally, sounding defeated. "We'll do it Alix's way, then."

Alix smirked.

Now that she wasn't trying to ask Adrien out to progressively more ridiculous dates, Marinette was much more relaxed around her crush. Alix did her best not to smirk at the slightly confused look Adrien wore as Marinette actually managed to talk normally (well, mostly normally. Alix was willing to ignore a couple small word mix-ups) to him for the first time in weeks. The confusion smoothed out quickly enough, though, and soon Adrien and Marinette were actually talking.

It was a freaking miracle.

If she was being completely honest, Alix hadn't been completely sure that it wasn't too late for her plan to work. Adrien had gotten so uncomfortable around Marinette and her babbling as of late, to the point where she started to worry if Adrien would even want to spend any time around Marinette. But it seemed like Adrien was so eager to connect with others that he didn't mind looking past Marinette's past failed attempts at talking to him.

Alix was pleased with her success. It was only day one, and already there was actual conversation! That was way more than she had hoped for. She had thought that there would maybe be stilted conversation, that Alya would have to step in and be a Marinette-translator, and that would be it.

She had figured that not trying to ask Adrien out would help with Marinette's speech abilities, but she hadn't expected it to help this much. It was like a whole new person had taken control of Marinette's body! They were even bantering!


It was ridiculous, but it also made Alix very, very happy, because who got results? She did! Whose plan was working loads better so far than all of the other girls'? Hers!

She was just a little smug. Just a little. Nothing could ruin her good mood.

Well, almost nothing.

"You're doing great!" Alix heard Alya whispering to someone in the locker room. "And now you've got to press your advantage- while you two are talking, ask him out! I bet we can pull off the carriage date thing again on short notice, or maybe a movie- hold on, let me look up the movie schedule-"

Oh no they weren't.

"Um, I hate to interrupt- actually, no I don't hate to interrupt- but you are not doing any of that," Alix snapped, stepping around the lockers and glaring at Alya. "We are doing things my way now, in case you've forgotten. And it's already producing results, so we are not going to mess it up."

Alya frowned at her. Her phone was already in hand, finger poised above the screen ready to start looking for potential movies. "But when she's doing well is when we have to ask Adrie-"

"She's only doing well because she doesn't have the pressure of trying to ask him out when she's talking to him!" Alix exclaimed, frustrated. "We agreed that we would do things my way now, and you derailing things on the first day is not helping! If she's going to ask him to something, she'll be asking as a friend, not making it romantic!"

Marinette looked relieved. Clearly she had been nervous again with the renewed shoving to try to get her to ask Adrien out.

"If she wants to ask him anything, it's gonna be 'do you want to study together later' or 'do you wanna get together and play video games' or something! There will be no invitations to movies, no romantic walks along the Seine, and especially no bike-drawn carriages showered in rose petals, got it?"

Marinette nodded. Alya didn't look happy, but she nodded as well.

"Great. Now we're going to go to class and not even consider asking Adrien out for at least a couple weeks. Focus on friends!"

She got two dutiful nods in response.

Several weeks passed under Alix's no-nonsense command, and Adrien and Marinette's friendship finally started to actually grow. Marinette was talking to him completely without stuttering now, and had even managed to invite him to a study session in the library and over to her house to play video games one afternoon. Both had gone smoothly, according to Marinette, and Alix was willing to believe her since Adrien hadn't seemed at all freaked out afterwards.

The only problem was that Alya and Rose wanted to move on to the next part of the plan already.

"You are too impatient," Alix told them through gritted teeth one day after being dragged to another so-called "planning meeting". She could be getting her homework done right now so she could have time to practice her roller skating sprints later, but nooo, she just had to do this instead. "Just let things develop organically!"

"We are!" Rose protested.

"Having planning meetings is the opposite of organic!" Alix shot back. "It's convoluted and weird. And frankly, it's painful to listen to. Can we go back to working on our homework? I have a question about question number seven from Physics."

"I second that," Mylène spoke up. Much to Alix's surprise, Mylène had been the one most on board with her plan. "What Marinette is doing now is working. Adrien clearly enjoys spending time with her. I bet that if he is interested in her, he'll be the one to ask her out as long as we continue like we have been. Seriously."

There were some grumbles from the other girls- clearly they were already tired of the waiting- but then they finally agreed and settled down to do their homework. Alix smiled to herself, happy with the victory. Still, she knew it was temporary. The girls were going to keep trying to rush her plan, just because they wanted immediate results and apparently didn't mind the endless painful stuttering.

There was only one thing she could do to bring a stop to the pestering. She would have to let Marinette try to ask Adrien out, but only under very controlled circumstances.

And that meant that she was going to have to get outside help.

"Max, I need your help," Alix announced, breezing into Max's living room, where his mother had told her that he would be. She frowned when she noticed Kim sitting there with Max, but she decided to ignore him. It was hardly worth it to wait until she could catch Max by himself.

"Oh?" Max asked. He paused the video game he and Kim were playing and turned around to look at her, adjusting his glasses as he did. "With what?"

"Yeah, Alix, with what?" Kim taunted, turning as well. He had an annoying smirk on his face, and Alix had to resist the urge to dump the glass of water sitting next to him over his head to get rid of the stupid smirk. "With learning how to go faster so you can win a race against me?"

"I need to get Adrien's voice mail message," Alix told Max, ignoring Kim. "And soon."

Max blinked, puzzled. "What?"

"I need to get Alya and Marinette off my back about when Marinette can try asking Adrien out again," Alix explained (badly) with an airy wave of her hand. She had briefly considered not going to Max for assistance since she wasn't supposed to tell anyone about Marinette's crush on Adrien, but everyone already knew anyway (despite what others tried to pretend) so it wouldn't actually make any difference. "They've been following my plan for the last few weeks but now they're pestering me about when they can start planning dates again and I need to prove that they can't without setting back the plan by ages."

More blank staring from Max. Kim snickered.

"I didn't think you were interested in romance!" he taunted, smirking. "Are you going to be painting you nails now, too? Wearing dresses and high heels?"

Alix scowled at him, balling her hands up into fists. "I'm not interested in romance, I got dragged into this whole thing against my will! I'm only trying to help them so I don't have to suffer through all of the second-hand embarrassment that comes with watching Marinette stutter her way through a conversation- oh, excuse me, a 'conversation'- with Adrien. You should be thanking me!"

"Ah, I did wonder why Marinette seemed to be making progress with talking around Adrien," Max commented after a moment's pause. "You're right, it is nice to not have to listen to the stuttering any more, and I'm sure Adrien appreciates it as well."

"Yeah, okay," Kim muttered. "But what did you do to fix that anyway? Whack her around the head with a roller skate to make her see sense?"

Alix was going to whack Kim around the head with her roller skates to get him to shut up.

"I persuaded them to drop trying to ask Adrien out for now and focus on actually being friends first," Alix said instead. "It turns out that what was causing most of the stammering was the pressure from trying to ask Adrien out and the fear of being turned down. Once she stopped trying to do that, her words magically returned."

"But now they want to go back to the stammering proposals again?" Kim asked, looking downright horrified. He had thought it was funny at first, but by now it was just old.



"Because Alya thinks that Marinette is ready to do it without the stammering," Alix explained with a sigh, flopping down on the couch and leaning across Kim to grab some chips out of the bowl they had set out. "And Rose is encouraging her, since she just wants to help plan dates. Mylène is the only reasonable one there. And maybe Juleka, but I can't understand anything she says."

"And you're going to stop them how?" Max asked. "You said something about Adrien's voicemail?"

Alix just smirked. "Yes. Yes, I did. Do you think you can get it for me by tomorrow, preferably without attracting Adrien's attention too much?"

"Of course."

"-and anyway, Marinette's been holding her own in conversations with Adrien for weeks now! She's asked him to hang out with no problem! How long are you gonna make us wait?"

Alix tried not to roll her eyes too much at the "us" comment. She had wondered before about how many of the asking-out attempts Marinette had done she had been pressured into by Alya, and now Alix was starting to suspect that Alya had probably been the major driving source behind most of them.

"Like, I'm starting to go grey from having to wait so long! She'll do fine, and even if not, Adrien thinks she's awesome!"

...because she wasn't stammering when she talked to him, but hey, details.

"Fine, then!" Alix exclaimed in (only somewhat) feigned exasperation, grabbing Marinette's phone off of the desk beside her and tapping a contact before thrusting the phone into Marinette's hands. "You think you're ready? Do it, then! Let's see how far you've come."

Marinette froze, staring at the phone and Adrien's face beaming up at her from the screen. She glanced back at Alya, who nodded eagerly, and then at Alix, who was watching the whole thing with an expression of boredom pasted firmly onto her face. Marinette bit her lip, clearly nervous, and then timidly reached out to hit Call.

The phone rang.

"Shoot, we didn't come up with a date idea!" Alya blurted suddenly. "Crud, crud, uh- ask him to the movies! We don't have time to come up with anything else. There's gonna be something playing- I'll look it up!"

Marinette nodded frantically and clutched the phone tighter to her ear. It rang again, and again, and then went to Adrien's voice mail. They could hear his voice instructing them to leave a message.

"It went to voice mail!" Marinette hissed frantically, looking somewhat panicked.

"So leave a message asking him out!" Alya hissed back.

"-so please leave a message!"

"Uh, hi, Adrien's voicemail!" Marinette started in a ridiculously high-pitched voice, and Alix facepalmed. "So, uh, I was calling- I mean, obviously I was calling-"

God, the second-hand embarrassment was excruciating. The things that she did for her friends, honestly. Alix resisted the urge to clap her hands over her ears and instead tried to focus on anything but what Marinette was saying.

"-so, uh, ah, IguessI'lltalktoyoulaterhotstuffbye!" Marinette finished after nearly a minute of nervous babbling. She cringed, then flung her phone across the room to her comforter. Alya caught it before it could bounce off the other side and onto the floor and ended the call.

Alix was pretty sure that there had actually been a few words mixed in with the babbling, but she really couldn't be positive.

"That...was not great," Alya managed, setting the phone back on Marinette's desk. She looked a bit stunned. "We should have waited more, I guess."

"We have to make sure that Adrien doesn't listen to my message!" Marinette blurted out, looking panicked. Her hands were clutching her head. "If he does, he'll think I'm crazy! Alya, we have to go steal his phone again!"

"You have to do what now?" Alix demanded, moderately horrified. "No, you are not stealing anything!"

"But we can't let Adrien listen to that message!" Marinette insisted, already halfway to the door. "We have to delete it, like we did last time!"

"You did what now?" Alix asked despite herself. She really wasn't sure that she actually wanted to know what absolutely cringeworthy thing Marinette had done in the past to try to cover her trail.

"But I don't know where he might be right now!" Marinette suddenly realized with a small wail, spinning around and dashing back for them- or, rather, for her phone. She started checking something on it, and Alix was willing to bet she was trying to see if she had anything down about Adrien's schedule for the day. "He doesn't have basketball or fencing now, and I suppose maybe he had a surprise photoshoot, but we don't know where! And maybe he was at home and he was just in the bathroom or something and he'll be coming out soon and seeing that he has a message and then he'll listen to it and think I'm weird for forever-"

"I am not helping you break into the Agreste mansion," Alya said over the continuing sound of Marinette panicking. "Mr. Agreste is just gonna catch us and I can't report on Ladybug from jail."

"There isn't gonna be any phone stealing!" Alix announced loudly over both of them before they could actually go charging off to erase a message that didn't exist. "Seriously, chill. You didn't actually call Adrien."

Unsurprisingly, both Alya and Marinette shut up immediately and turned to stare at her in unison. "What?"

Alix rolled her eyes at both of them. "I messed around with your phone earlier and changed my contact to look exactly like Adrien's because I knew you weren't ready to ask him out yet but you wouldn't stop asking about it. So you actually called me, look." She unzipped her backpack and pulled out her phone. Sure enough, she had a notification for both Missed call from Marinette and You have a new voice mail message! "Problem solved. I can just delete it whenever. There's no need for you to go out and steal Adrien's phone. Again."

"I gave it back," Marinette defended herself weakly, sinking into her chair.

"Wait, so what were you planning to do if Marinette did manage to ask Adrien out properly in the message?" Alya demanded, frowning. "Just keep it and not let Adrien know? I mean, I appreciate that we don't have to go try to erase the message from Adrien's phone, but..."

Alix rolled her eyes again at that. As if that had even been a possibility! "I would have told him that you called me by accident, since our names both start with an A, and that there was a message for him on my phone. And then I would have let him listen to it."

Alya looked suitably impressed.

"So now that we've determined that Marinette is in fact not even close to being ready to ask Adrien out, can you guys please stop trying to ignore my advice?" Alix demanded, hands on her hips. "I'm pretty sure I'll be able to tell when Marinette is actually ready. Stop trying to rush it, or you'll end up back on square one again."

Alya and Marinette looked suitably sheepish as they nodded in unison.

"How long do you think it might be, though?" Marinette asked anxiously as Alix swiped through her phone so she could delete the message. "Another month? More? I mean, I like being able to talk with Adrien and be friends and all, but I really want to go out on a date with Adrien."

"Don't diss friendship," Alix warned her, pointing her finger at Marinette. All of this focus on romance was going to make her sick by the end of the month, honestly. "It's what the best relationships are built on. And at this rate, a year."

Marinette's jaw dropped. "A whole year? But that's forever!"

"Hey, this is built on your ability to talk to Adrien while asking him out," Alix reminded her. "It doesn't depend on me at all."

"Someone else might ask him out in the meantime," Alya pointed out, though she didn't look anywhere near as combative as she had before Marinette's phone call. "And then our opportunity will be lost!"

Alix snorted. "Again, you're assuming that Adrien has to say yes to every date opportunity that comes up. He doesn't. I actually overheard someone asking him out the other day-" she had, actually, it wasn't a lie, and instead of just trotting off because she didn't really care about who Adrien was or was not dating, she had stuck around to see if she could learn anything- "and it was just some random girl he didn't know at all, and he said no. And then afterwards, he was telling Nino that he wasn't going to date someone he didn't know well. And it seems like the only girls he knows really well are the ones in our class, and with the sole exception of Chloe, none of us are interested in him like that."

"And we already know that he isn't interested in Chloe," Alya finished. "Okay, fine, fine. Maybe you have a point. We can wait. We'll stop bugging you, I promise."

Alix grinned. She was still grinning by the time she got home, but that wasn't going to last for long. Her brother was standing at the door to greet her, and he was looking rather deeply amused about something. His grin widened when he spotted Alix. She paused, suddenly wary.

"Alix!" Jalil greeted cheerily. "I've been trying to contact you, but never mind that anymore. Now I'm wondering- why is it that when I call your phone number, I get a voice mail message that claims that it's Adrien Agreste's number? Why'd you change it? Ooh, does someone have a crush?"

Alix only groaned. Oh, boy.

This was gonna be hard to explain.

A/N: As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete. Please review, it really makes my day! :)