"Sir," Nathalie said in the most long-suffering voice she could manage as she watched her boss and his wife brainstorm ideas for the hidden elevator they wanted built to carry them up into their secret attic-cum-lair. "I see some potential issues with this plan."
"Nonsense," Mr. Agreste said briskly, consulting the house blueprints again and pointing to a particular section. "There's plenty of space in the wall right here from where the dumbwaiter used to run for the elevator we have planned. It would just be for one person at a time, after all. It doesn't need a whole lot of space."
"We might have to move a wall in the library upstairs in slightly, but that's not a huge issue," Mrs. Agreste chimed in. "We've consulted a 3-D model on the computer, too, to make certain that we were looking at the 2-D prints right. Our elevator will fit."
"That's not-" Nathalie started in exasperation, wondering if it was too late to look into a career change. She suspected the answer would be yes.
"And we're hiring in a contractor from the US," Mr. Agreste added, cutting Nathalie off. "They're the best at the secret doors and elevators business, and they have enough nonsense going on over there in the States that they won't be paying any attention to anything going on in Paris. They won't get suspicious of us."
Nathalie sighed. "Yes, I'm aware of where the contractor is from, considering that I was the one to find them. I was more concerned about what you're going to tell Adrien when he wants to know what's going on in your office. You know he'll be curious."
Both Mr. and Mrs. Agreste looked startled as they exchanged a look. Clearly they hadn't considered their son when making their plans. Nathalie tried not to sigh.
She didn't have any kids of her own, but sometimes it felt like she was the only one that took Adrien fully into consideration when making plans.
"Well, maybe we could do some other renovations at the same time," Mrs. Agreste suggested. "New curtains, replacing the lights in the atrium, maybe, uh..."
"Isn't Adrien into spy...stuff?" Mr. Agreste asked. At Nathalie's nod, he nodded. "Perhaps we could get him a hidden door of his own to distract him. We could make the doors to his walk-in closet blend in with his climbing wall, and he would be too thrilled about that to be concerned about anything else."
He was right, Nathalie had to admit. Adrien would be thrilled to have a secret entrance to his walk-in closet. Still, he was likely to notice the construction in other parts of the house as well, or wonder why his parents had suddenly decided to allow him to have a hidden door, and she said so.
"It can be his Christmas present," Mrs. Agreste suggested. "We can say that we wanted some security upgrades in the office to explain away the construction there. Perhaps we can have some smaller, non-custom secret doors elsewhere in the mansion as well. It would go with our heightened security."
"I am not turning the mansion into some sort of spy movie set," Mr. Agreste said peevishly. Apparently he didn't realize that his planned secret elevator to be the absolute biggest 'spy movie set' element of the planned renovations. "I don't want to have to press certain piano keys or pick up a certain book or whatever whenever I want to go to the bathroom."
Mrs. Agreste gave him one of her famous Looks. "We can discuss possible locations that wouldn't interfere with our lives too much. I think it would be a good diversion to have at least one other secret entrance that Adrien knows about. Maybe we could develop that safe room we've been talking about." She turned back to Nathalie. "And we could also take Adrien on a trip with us while the construction is going on, so he doesn't necessarily know that there's something going on in the office."
"Do you think that there would be too many construction people around if we tried to upgrade the security for the house at the same time?" Mr. Agreste asked his wife as Nathalie turned and started gathering up papers so she could get Adrien's next lesson in order. "I was thinking of metal shutters that could go over the windows-"
"No," Mrs. Agreste said shortly. "The fewer people who see the elevator go in, the better. We can have the other stuff put in later."
"Of course, dear."
Nathalie just shook her head as she left the room to go find Adrien. At least one member of the family was still sane.
"Don't you think you're jumping the gun a little bit?" Nathalie asked as she watched the Agrestes examining the plans that the secret door company had sent. "You haven't even gotten the- what did you call them? The gems- yet. They've been missing for forever, so how are you so sure you'll find them?"
"Failure is not an option," Mr. Agreste said immediately. He leveled a glare in Nathalie's direction, presumably for doubting them. "We have legends to work off, and guides lined up for some preliminary trips. It's not something you need to concern yourself about."
Nathalie shrunk back. "Understood, sir."
Mr. and Mrs. Agreste went back to reviewing their plans for the elevator as Nathalie retreated to her desk to organize their schedules for the next week. She listened somewhat incredulously as she worked as they discussed the different configurations that the company had proposed.
"I don't like this one as much," Mrs. Agreste said, pointing to one. "We would have to move in the office wall, and I think Adrien would notice that. I like this one, with the elevator that goes straight down first, then over and up. The passage would just go through the laundry room, right? It wouldn't be that in the way. It wouldn't be in the middle of the room or anything."
"There's more drama to it, too, going straight down through the floor," Mr. Agreste agreed, and Nathalie made sure that she was safely behind her computer before rolling her eyes. She had though when Mr. Agreste first brought up the idea of a secret way up to the "lair" that it would simply be a staircase hidden behind a bookshelf or a painting in one of the upper rooms. It would be simple and straightforward (well, as straightforward as a secret passage to an evil villain lair could get).
This was going to be neither simple nor straightforward. There was going to be a lot of construction going into it, and the whole family was going to have to be out of the city for a couple weeks while Nathalie kept an eye on things in the house.
It was also going to be very, very expensive. The two small "secret doors" that Mrs. Agreste had managed to talk her husband into would be the least expensive, followed by Adrien's custom climbing wall door, but they would all be pricey.
The secret elevator's cost was in a class all of its own. Still, Mr. and Mrs. Agreste didn't seem fazed. Apparently being able to be whisked to their lair directly from their office was worth the price of the hidden elevator.
Rich people, really.
The reasoning Nathalie had gotten when she inquired about other options (read: a nice simple hidden staircase upstairs) was that they didn't want to risk Adrien accidentally finding the lair, and they thought they would be risking him stumbling across it or spotting them coming down if the sole entrance was anywhere besides in their office. Nathalie thought that a very simple solution to that would be to put the entrance in a room Adrien didn't go into a lot (the stuffy upstairs lounge came to mind), to require a key or fingerprint sensor or remote of some sort to open the hidden door, and to have a security camera feed in the room so they could see if there was anyone there before exiting.
Apparently her solutions weren't dramatic enough. Nathalie despaired, she really did. But she supposed that saving would-be supervillains money wasn't exactly in her job description, so she dropped it.
(Still, it was almost physically painful to see such large expenses in the Agrestes' personal finances.)
"We'll have to be gone for what- four weeks? Five?- if we don't want Adrien seeing the construction there," Mrs. Agreste was saying as Nathalie answered emails and set up their schedules for the next week. Mr. Agreste had to have a meeting with a fabric supplier this week, and both of them were being stubborn asses about when they were willing to be free for the meeting. "That's a long time to be away. I don't suppose Adrien could just stay with his friend at the Grand Paris for part of that time?"
"I don't want Adrien around that girl for that long," Mr. Agreste said immediately. "She's a brat, and I don't want her to influence Adrien. Nathalie? Any suggestions?"
Nathalie glanced up and gave it a few seconds' thought before answering. "Well, you could have the workers install the other two doors and get the building in the basement done before you leave. You could ask the contractors about a timeline and what could be put in ahead of time that wouldn't attract a lot of attention from Adrien. And they could do work in the office while Adrien is gone at fencing or basketball or photoshoots, and he could have Chinese lessons in the library or something instead of in the house."
Mr. Agreste considered that, nodded, and turned back to Mrs. Agreste. Sensing the dismissal, Nathalie turned back to her computer.
Honestly, all they had to do would be to send Adrien to school- either public or private, it didn't matter- and then he would be gone for the full day, but Mrs. Agreste would never hear of it. She wanted her son home-schooled, and if they let Adrien go to school for even a short time, it would be near-impossible to get Adrien to drop the topic ever again. He wouldn't want to leave, and Nathalie wasn't certain if even his mother would be able to stand up against the puppy eyes he was sure to produce in that scenario.
"Perhaps we could have a number of field trips and lessons around the city," Mrs. Agreste suggested. "That would keep Adrien out of the house during the day. And then we would only travel when there's work being done in his bedroom. That should keep it down to a manageable amount of time."
"That sounds like a good idea," Mr. Agreste agreed. "Now all we have to do is select the final designs and work out a contract. Nathalie, can you...?"
Smothering her sigh, Nathalie nodded and pulled up her email to contact the company. For some reason, she was getting the distinct feeling that she would be doing a lot of combing through contract paperwork in the next few days.
Adrien's excited shriek when he opened the note explaining his Christmas present was enough to make Nathalie crack a small smile. He hugged both of his parents, grinning widely as he did. Even Nathalie and the Gorilla got a hug as he spun happily around the room.
Nathalie only wished that he was getting his super-secret-spy-door for another reason, instead of just as a diversion technique while his supervillain-wannabe parents got their own secret elevator to an evil lair.
"That's so cool!" Adrien enthused as he inspected the plans. "It's just like a spy movie! Nathalie, did you see-?"
Nathalie had seen the plans- she had been the one to work with the contractors to design the style of door she had thought Adrien would most like, and several versions of those plans had passed over her desk before they settled on the final version- but instead of telling Adrien that, she allowed him to show her the copies of the plans he had gotten in his present. He was so excited, and there weren't that many people he could show off his present to.
"-and it opens if I push these buttons over the screws in the handholds in a specific order, and then twist a specific handhold!" Adrien explained, and Nathalie nodded and ahhed as though she hadn't been the one to come up with that plan along with one of the builders from the secret door company. "But all of the handhold will be strong enough that I'll be able to use it just like a normal climbing wall the rest of the time!"
...Nathalie had been the one to insist on that, too. She didn't want to risk Adrien forgetting which handholds were real and which weren't and then having one of the fake ones give out under him.
"And then the wall will go backwards and then split and slide to the sides," Adrien continued, still grinning. "And then I can go into my closet! It's gonna be awesome!"
The process of getting the doors installed was going to be much less awesome- Nathalie was going to be in charge of getting everything covered so sawdust didn't get into all of Adrien's things, and then coordinating the clean-up once the workers were done- but there was no way she was going to rain on Adrien's parade.
It took a few more months of negotiations before the contractors showed up on their doorstep. Nathalie escorted them in and showed them where the first two doors were to be installed, one on the wine cabinet and the other on a safe room-slash-study. Adrien blazed through his assignments and then perched on a stool on the end of a hallway, watching with interest as the workers installed the doors. Nathalie found herself sent to check on him to make sure that he wasn't getting in anyone's way but true to form, Adrien was being perfectly behaved and was staying well back as he watched the workers.
Unsurprisingly, he wasn't thrilled when Nathalie started keeping him out of the house more once the workers started work on the elevator in earnest. He buckled down and worked even harder in an effort to get back to the house faster so he could watch whatever work was going on, and Nathalie was forced to step up the amount of material they were covering so that they wouldn't get back too soon.
"There's a lot of noise and fuss right now," Nathalie told him briskly when he complained. "And you know you'll be going on a trip with your parents soon, and you might be too busy to keep up with your schoolwork. If you get ahead of schedule now, you'll be able to let yourself enjoy yourself."
Adrien didn't look convinced. Still, he stopped complaining.
After a week and a half of lessons in various libraries and museums across Paris, all three of the Agrestes took off to attend Fashion Week in London. Nathalie spent an entire day covering and packing things in the office away so that the workers could start proper work in there, and then as soon as she was done she headed straight to Adrien's bedroom to pack all of the clothes in his closet away and tape a plastic sheeting divider up so that sawdust and other junk wouldn't get into the rest of Adrien's room.
That was very, very difficult. There had been a whole lot of swearing while she tried to attach the sheet to the ceiling, and Nathalie was very, very glad that neither Mr. nor Mrs. Agreste (or Adrien) were home, because she would have gotten in a lot of trouble. Still, once one of the workers stopped by to help her out, she managed to get a tight seal that would hopefully keep Adrien's room mostly clean.
And then started the two weeks from hell.
Walls and floors were cut. Hammers banged. Power tools screeched. Nathalie escaped outside to the courtyard to work, and then went to the park across the street to escape the pounding that she could still hear.
She couldn't go too far, though. After all, she had to be nearby in case any of the workers needed to ask her any questions. It meant headaches nearly every day, and yet she still had to be on top of scheduling meetings and getting Adrien's lessons in order and balancing Mr. Agreste's checkbook and keeping Gabriel on track with Mr. Agreste gone and- and-
Well, it was a lot to keep track of when she couldn't work from her desk with her normal computer and tablet setup.
Slowly, everything was coming together. Every time Nathalie went inside now, Adrien's wall looked closer to finished and the elevator was in fewer parts. She snapped a few photos of the in-progress wall for Adrien, but mostly stayed away, except for the few days when it rained and she was forced to either try to find the quietest room in the house or to find the car keys and sit in the back seat and work.
She could work in the back seat of the car. She did it quite often, when she had to join Adrien when he was being shuttled to his various activities. But spending the entire day working in the car was. not. fun.
Like she often found herself doing these days- and by these days, she meant ever since she discovered that her employers wanted to become supervillains- Nathalie wondered if it would be possible to change jobs.
Probably not. Nathalie suspected that once one knew about one's boss' plans to become supervillains, one wouldn't just be allowed to quit and go elsewhere. It would probably be safer if she just kept her head down and kept working.
Nathalie made certain that she was in the house when the Agrestes returned. She didn't particularly care what Mr. and Mrs. Agreste thought of their elevator, but she wanted to see what Adrien thought of his closet.
He didn't disappoint.
"I can't even tell that it's there!" Adrien exclaimed in utter delight as he inspected the wall. His smile lit up the entire room. "It's so seamless! Like, they must have lined the split up with the panels for the climbing wall!"
"Do you remember the button combination?" Nathalie asked as Adrien continued to peer at the wall. "So you can get to your clothes?"
Nathalie was expecting Adrien to go pull out the blueprints from his desk to consult before he tried to punch in the combination. She was not expecting Adrien to nod eagerly and start punching in the buttons covering certain handhold screws in precisely the right order, no hesitations, and finishing up with twisting the correct handhold. She was pretty certain that her jaw had hit the floor, and she hastily snapped it shut before Adrien saw.
Well. Apparently her worries about Adrien not being able to remember the "password" and getting frustrated with his new door were all for naught. He already had it down pat.
...how he had managed to memorize the pattern just from concept art alone she had no clue, and she wasn't going to waste too much time trying to figure it out. Adrien was a smart boy and a focused one, and clearly he had channeled some of that focus into learning his closet door's password.
"Oh, this is so cool!" Adrien enthused as he bounded into his closet. Nathalie had spent forever earlier in the day putting all of his clothes back in after the cleaning crew came through. "I mean, I know it's the same closet on the inside, but it's just so much cooler with the secret door!"
"You might have to put all of your own clothes away now," Nathalie warned him. "I don't know if the maid will be interested in learning the password."
Adrien was too excited to care. "I can put my stuff away! And it's even cooler if no one else knows the password to get in, because then it's even more secret and mysterious!"
Nathalie just smiled.
Mr. and Mrs. Agreste were having a much more difficult time remembering the combination for their elevator than Adrien had had with his closet. There were a number of incidents where they spent a while trying to find all of the buttons to push (it was a good thing that everything had to be pushed at once, Nathalie reflected as she watched silently from her corner of the room, because if they had to punch the hidden buttons in a pattern then they would never get up to their lair), and a good deal of accidents where they wouldn't get both of their feet fully on the elevator circle and ended up falling over when they got unbalanced by the floor lowering under one foot but not the other. Mr. Agreste had even once gotten stuck up in the lair and spent several hours banging around trying to figure out how to trigger the elevator back down before anyone realized that he was missing.
(It was truly a miracle that she hadn't burst out laughing at their misfortunes and gotten herself fired yet.)
Three days after Mr. Agreste got himself stuck in the lair, Adrien somehow got himself trapped in the closet. Nathalie only found him when she went to fetch him for his lesson and instead found a closed closet with funny noises coming from it. Sighing, she went over and freed him (admittedly after several failed password attempts, because she hadn't bothered to try particularly hard to memorize the password).
"Thanks," Adrien said sheepishly once he was freed. "There isn't any way to open the closet from the inside."
"How did you even get closed in, then?" Nathalie demanded as she twisted the handhold back into position to close the secret door. "Did you turn the handhold and then immediately dash back inside?"
"I forgot something inside and thought I could grab it and get back out before the doors shut," Adrien admitted. "...but I couldn't."
"I'll email the company and see if we can't get some sort of switch inside," Nathalie decided, pulling out her tablet. "So you can open and close it from there, too, in case you decide to do that again in the future."
Adrien lit up. "Thanks, Nathalie!"
Several years later, Nathalie couldn't help but smirk a little bit whenever she saw the painting that housed the hidden buttons for the elevator. The elder Agrestes were going to Tibet several times a year, yet the jewels- the Miraculous- that they were aiming to find remained stubbornly out of their grasp. The secret lair and the elevator leading up to it remained unused.
Several months after that, Mr. Agreste returned with two Miraculous and other artifacts and without his wife. For the first time in two years, the gears of the hidden elevator ground into action.
Ten minutes into their study session, Nino was obviously distracted. After watching him staring around the room for several minutes, Alya finally spoke up.
"Are you looking for something, Nino?" she wanted to know. "Or are you bored with studying already?"
Nino shook his head. "No, I was just looking- okay, this is gonna sound weird- I was just trying to figure out where Adrien keeps all of his clothes. Like, I don't see a closet or anything and dude, you're a model."
Adrien laughed. "Oh, I have a closet," he assured Nino. "A walk-in closet, in fact. It's quite large. What do you mean you can't see it?"
Nino gaped at him for a moment, then recovered. "No- no, dude, you're lying," he announced. "There's no way I somehow missed seeing a walk-in closet. Is it not in your room or something?"
"It's in my room."
"Is it in your bathroom?" Alya demanded as she looked around as well. "That's the only door I see that doesn't just lead to the hallway."
Adrien just shook his head, smiling.
"Is there a door up on your second level?" Marinette guessed, craning her neck to look up to the next level. "All I see is bookshelves."
Adrien's grin got larger as he shook his head again.
"You're killing me, Agreste," Nino groaned, flopping back in his chair. "Now I'm not gonna be able to concentrate until I know the answer."
Adrien laughed and popped out of his chair, heading over to his climbing wall. His friends watched with equal parts bemusement and interest as he started poking at certain holds. He finished with a twist, and suddenly a large square of wall clicked backwards, then separated and slid apart. Adrien stepped inside, then flipped a switch to illuminate the closet.
His friends stared.
"Isn't it cool?" Adrien asked, grinning. "It was my Christmas present when I was ten."
"How did you persuade your parents to get you something like that?" Alya demanded, popping out of her chair to go inspect the doors. Nino and Marinette weren't far behind. "That's absolutely insane!"
"It was their idea," Adrien said, grinning widely. At Nino's dubious look, he corrected himself. "Well, okay, it was probably my mom's idea, but my father agreed. They were doing some other stuff with the company elsewhere in the house and they know I loved the spy stuff, so they added in my closet door."
"What else did they put in?" Nino asked curiously. "I just can't picture your father wanting to put, like, spy stuff in the house. He just doesn't seem the type."
"He's the paranoid security type, which has overlapping technology," Adrien said with a laugh. "So there was, like, a safe room in the basement, and the wine cellar, and then I think some safes behind paintings, that kind of thing."
Nino laughed. "Your pops wanted to secure the wine cellar back when you were ten? What kind of a ten-year-old were you?"
"It wasn't like that!" Adrien protested, elbowing his friend. "I think they just wanted to be ready or something, or maybe one of the household staff was stealing the good wine or something. I don't know. I've even forgotten where that door is, it's so well hidden."
"Never mind that," Alya said, standing in the closet's entrance and surveying the bedroom from her position. "Just think of the possibilities with this! Like, if you had people over for a party in your room or something, then you could hide in the closet with these backlights on- and why do you have such freakishly good lighting in a closet, Agreste?- and then once everyone is in your room, wondering where you are, then- boom! Music blares, the wall opens, and you're standing there, backlit by the lights, and with, like, a cape billowing behind you. That would be so. cool."
Adrien was laughing. "Okay, I can see a couple logistical problems with this," he managed. "One- what makes you think that my father would let me have a party, let alone a party with more people than just you guys? And two- I don't have a wind machine. If I was wearing a cape, it would just kind of just sit there." There was a pause. "And I need good lights in here so I can see what I'm doing when I get dressed so I don't clash. I have a mirror, too."
Alya trotted in to inspect the full-length mirror. "Does this move, too?" she wanted to know. "I've heard of safes hidden behind mirror so many times."
"It does open, but it's just a simple tug-and-open, I'm afraid," Adrien said. He reached over and tugged, making the mirror swing out. There were shelves hidden behind the mirror, filled with pocket squares and cuff links and other knickknacks. "It's stuff for fancy events, mostly."
"Do you wanna see the safe room?" Adrien offered. "It's a pretty cool door."
All three of his friends nodded eagerly. Adrien led the way out of his closet, flicking the lights off as he stepped out. Once all of them were out, he twisted the handhold back into place and the doors slid back into place, leaving a full wall behind by the time they reached the door.
Adrien led them out of his room and down the main stairs, then through another door to a hallway filled with bookshelves and a couple small side tables. Adrien paused near one of the bookshelves. He paused, running his fingers over several book covers, then pulled one out. There was a quiet click, and then Adrien pushed the shelf open like a door, revealing a room beyond.
"Your house is insane, dude," Nino said, stepping inside the room. There weren't any windows, and the only decoration on the wall were a few somber portraits. The furniture was similarly subdued. "...okay, tell the truth- are there safes behind those paintings?"
"No clue," Adrien replied. "I don't come down here much, and that's not the kind of thing Nathalie or my parents just tells me. We do have, like, emergency supplies here, though. I'm not sure why." Adrien led them into the room, flipping a lever to close the door behind them. Marinette glanced back, and saw that it was an incredibly thick door, and on the inside there were several chains and locks to secure the door further from the inside.
That was weird.
"There's a bathroom in here," Adrien explained, pointing to a black door. "And then over here through this door, it's kind of a kitchen. There's a toaster oven, and a portable stovetop burner thing, and a bunch of canned food."
"Dude, that's really weird," Nino commented, peering through the door to the 'kitchen'. "There's a sink in here, too- like, when did your parents think that they were going to use this room? You could stay in here for, like, a week, easy."
Adrien just shrugged. "It's just in case, I guess," he offered. "I don't know. My dad is paranoid, I guess. We've never had to use it."
"I should hope not," Alya said, sounding absolutely shocked. "I don't even- I just- wow. Okay. Okay, this has suddenly changed from cool spy-house to slightly worrying vibe. Can we go back to studying now?"
Bonus Bonus Scene
When Marinette got home, she couldn't wipe the slight frown off of her face. The secret room had bothered her a lot, even if Adrien had treated it as just some paranoid quirk of his father's.
"That was a really prepared safe room," Marinette told Tikki as she unpacked her backpack and put her books on her desk. "Like, that door was hidden, which was cool, but then that was an armored door on the inside, and then the locks, and all of that cooking stuff... it was just weird. Like, I was expecting Adrien to say that there were beds hidden in there somewhere. Why would Mr. Agreste need a safe room like that? Who would go after a fashion designer?"
"There is something weird about Mr. Agreste," Tikki agreed. "Between the security measures on the whole house, and the Miraculous book, and those secret doors and the safe room, there's something really weird there. I can't help but wonder what other things he's hiding."
"Do you think whatever he's hiding has to do with the Miraculous and Hawkmoth?" Marinette asked anxiously. "Like maybe he's hiding Hawkmoth in the house somewhere or something?"
"I don't know," Tikki replied, looking troubled. "It could be just normal corrupt businessman dealings, but who knows. It wouldn't hurt to take a closer look at Mr. Agreste again, just to make sure that that house isn't hiding any more secrets."
A/N: As with most of my stories, this is a one-shot and is therefore complete.
Please review, it really makes my day! :)