So, yeah been awhile. For anyone who's been wondering, so far my only casualty of the Corona Pandemic is my hard drive. It died only a week after schools got closed in my area. (Around March) Anyway, I started working on a few new fic while waiting for the lab to look at it to try and recover the files. The idea for this fic actually spawned about 3 versions with this being the third. I intended for it to be a one shot but then it mutated to a three shot. For the record, version 1 is 10 chapters and not finished. I may post that if anyone likes this.
My basic idea was that Gabriel plays matchmaker for the sake of his future and that of his company. It just happens to be helpful.
Ch. 1 - Gabriel's Plot
Gabriel glared daggers at the latest bit of creative writing the tabloids had made about his son. They'd really been on a roll for the last several months all starting when his son broke up with Kagami Tsurugi. After they painted that as some sort of secret arranged marriage/result of bad blood between he and her mother, the next few stories revolved around his son's series of nonexistent lovers. All they needed was Adrien in a picture with any girl and smiling, then poof, new girlfriend. It was really starting to grate on his nerves!
"And when they finally leave Adrien's relationship alone, what happens!? They mock him as a terrible heir to my legacy!" Gabriel had already spent around the last decade being disappointed his son couldn't design his way out of a wet paper bag. Now he had it shoved in his face again with bold print! He certainly wished these low wage vultures would just man up and come after him directly if they had a problem, and not his son. Even if it annoyed him to no end, it wasn't Adrien's fault he didn't have the talent for designing.
"Gabriel?" Nathalie called after knocking on his door.
"Yes?" He nearly spat as he put the magazine down.
"Adrien has returned."
The designer looked at his watch and bit back a growl. "Send him in; I need to speak with him."
"Of course." A few seconds later, Adrien entered the room looking guilty and hard pressed to make eye contact.
"You're late." The father informed with a cold tone that hid his frustration. "I told you one hour."
Adrien nodded. "I-I know, but I just got a little carried away, and Marinette was really having fun since we were all playing this ga-"
"Excuse me? Marinette? You asked to spend some time with that other friend of yours… Nino, I believe? What were you doing with Marinette!?"
Adrien flinched at giving himself away. "I uh…" He'd told his father he was going to hang with Nino even though they had planned to hang at Marinette's birthday party. "It was Marinette's birthday party and Nino was there, so-"
"So, nothing! I gave you permission to spend time with one friend, and you deliberately deceived me!" Marinette? Why did that name sound familiar? "Did this Marinette girl encourage you to lie to me or was it Nino?"
"No, father, I just wanted to go to her party, and I knew you wouldn't let me, plus she was really happy I came."
Gabriel scoffed. Now he remembered. Marinette was the girl Lila Rossi warned him about. The one who was a bad influence on Adrien. "So it was Marinette, was it? She's the one who has you deliberately disobeying me, and… what's that?" Gabriel pointed to the bag Adrien held.
"Uh, just some snacks she gave me when I left…" The teen admitted knowing what was coming next.
"Not only is she having you lie to me and, not go home when requested, but she's attempting to ruin your diet!? Your meals are planned very precisely, Adrien, and you know fashion week is only a month away!" The model furrowed his brow as he nodded. "If you understand then you'll have no complaint with never speaking to her again! I will call the school and make sure you are moved out of any classes with her, and if that can't be arranged, you will be removed from school! If you cannot stay away from her from now on despite this, I will even go so far as to put in a restraining order to see to it that she does not influence you again!"
Adrien could feel only shock at what his father just said. His eyes were wide, but shock quickly moved to disgust as he narrowed his eyes. "No, father! You're being ridiculous! Marinette is my friend, and I won't stay away from her just because you told me too!"
Gabriel walked around his desk and took the treats from his son. "You obviously don't understand exactly what she's doing-"
"No, you don't understand!" Adrien pushed his father away and the designer took a back step, minorly surprised at his son's physical retaliation. "Marinette is the sweetest, kindest, most creative, and giving person I've ever met! I refuse to listen to you talk about her that way! She always wants to include me whenever the class hangs out, and I usually can't because you won't let me! She makes sure I have as much chance to help with school activities as I can because I can barely stay since you gave me a million other things to do! For my birthday, she made me this jacket you said was very well done, while you always give me a damn pen and never even wish me a happy birthday! And just so you know, my diet leaves me with low blood sugar when it's hot out so she makes sure to give me something sweet when she notices how tired I am! She treats me like a real person, not some… employee!" He spat at the end of his rant. "I'm sorry she makes you look so bad in comparison, father!" He then let loose one more glare before stomping out of the office, and off to his room.
Gabriel was just a stonewall of slight surprise on the outside, but on the inside his brain had derailed at his son's actions. Adrien was at the age being nearly 17, but he had never been so openly defiant before, especially not to pushing and yelling. "Sir?" Nathalie peeked in looking a bit out of sorts. "Is everything alright?"
Gabriel composed himself and sighed. "No, not even close. You no doubt, heard all that?" Nathalie nodded. "Of course… Why does he choose now of all times to stage his little rebellion? I already have half a dozen issues regarding his image, and now I have to worry about him being a surly teenager in public after this little bout of defiance." He then glared back at the article he'd been seething at before. "Then I'm back to the problem of how Adrien will never be a suitable heir to my brand!" He knocked the magazine off his desk in a rage. "All that over a girl, who…" He paused as he thought about it.
"Sir?" Nathalie wondered at his sudden silence.
"Hold on…" He trailed off deep in thought. "That girl who… made him a jacket. Wait… Marinette… Dupain-Cheng?"
Nathalie nodded. "Yes, sir."
He rubbed his chin as he recalled her. It had been a long while since he'd seen her, but he did remember her winning one of his contests about two years ago. Her work was excellent considering her age, and that jacket… It was no wonder he couldn't figure out where it had come from if she made it for him. "I just had a brilliant idea, Nathalie." He declared with a nearly sinister grin. "A solution that should solve all of these problems all at once!" He went back to his desk and sat down. "Go and get me everything you can on Marinette Dupain-Cheng. I want to be able to get through it before dinner."
Nathalie nodded with curiosity obvious on her face. "Of course, sir, but might I ask why?"
"I'll explain after I'm sure, just hurry with the files." He ordered looking a little too excited.
For the next few hours, Gabriel poured over everything Nathalie could find on the girl. She got above average marks in Lycee, though she did have a record for being tardy. She already sold clothes via an online shop, and had even designed for Jagged Stone on at least three separate occasions. It was something even Gabriel couldn't claim since the rocker had turned his offer down years before. Her family owned a rather famous bakery which would explain the tendency to give his son sweets. When it came to her character, the only claims against it were by Lila Rossi, who Gabriel kept around because of her ability to manipulate people, and Chloe Bourgeois, who had far too many character flaws to be judging anyone else.
For all that Gabriel could find on this Marinette, nothing would tell him she was a bad influence aside from his son's actions to defy him. His son had been especially defensive about how he treated her. Even when he'd rejected Nino as an appropriate friend for Adrien, he didn't act in such a way. That meant Marientte meant a lot to him. "This… This is perfect." He realized once it crossed his mind. His son must've had feelings for this girl and that meant his plans would be even easier to set in motion.
"Gabriel, I went ahead and brought in her family history as well as another character statement from Ms. Rossi." Nathalie walked in while shifting through files on her tablet.
"Hold the family history, and just toss out that statement from Ms. Rossi. I've seen enough that I'm sure of my next move."
"So, this solution of yours?" The secretary inquired secretly dying to know just what had Gabriel so animated.
"Yes, the solution. The solution to, not only Adrien's little rebellion from earlier, but these tabloid trash articles as well."
Gabriel nodded. "Exactly, I will have Adrien fall in love with Ms. Dupian-Cheng." Nathalie's eyes went wide. "He obviously cares for her if he was willing to go that far in her defense, and of course if he's dating someone then the tabloids will leave him alone. She's moderately attractive, and would make a decent model if she was a bit taller as well. Not to mention she's an aspiring designer, so I could have her become the heir to my brand once they've married." Nathalie was still shocked at how her boss had jumped to this plan. He'd never shown interest in Adrien's love life, or in allowing his son much control of his life at all. As she adjusted to the idea, Gabriel's last point struck her the hardest; the heir part. That's probably the biggest reason he's doing this. "You look bothered by my plan, Nathalie." He pointed out slightly irritated she could find it so strange.
"Oh, no, Gabriel, it's just… sudden. It makes perfect sense, however, the more I think on it." She quickly appeased. She didn't need him getting irritated all over again, and she had a feeling this was more good than bad for Adrien.
"Good, I'll go and speak with Adrien right now then." He headed off to his son's room without a moment's hesitation, and Nathalie snapped to in order to follow. "Adrien?" Gabriel called after knocking on his door. He could hear movement but no answer. "Adrien, open this door. I need to speak with you!" The movement stopped but still no answer. "Adrien, open this door, and listen to what I have to say this instant!" He used his most demanding voice. He wasn't about to start off by coddling the boy. He still needed to express his authority.
After a minute or so, Adrien finally opened the door looking surly and irritated. "Yes, father." He hissed while stepping aside to let him in grudgingly.
"Good, now about your behavior from earlier-"
"Father, if you're just going to keep insulting Marinette-"
"Don't interrupt me, Adrien." Gabriel shot back with an icy tone. "Listen when I speak to you, and remember who you're talking to." He saw his son flinch only slightly at that. "I will not tolerate you speaking to me with such disrespect!"
Adrien looked away. "Yes, father." He growled out lowly.
"What was that?"
"Yes, father." Adrien repeated with a more controlled tone while looking him in the eye.
"Good, and now that you understand that, I will admit that perhaps, I too, was a bit out of line." Adrien's brow shot up instantly at his father's admission. "About Ms. Dupain-Cheng that is, not your attitude. I have taken the last few hours to reevaluate her, and have come to determine she is not a bad influence. While I cannot say this for all of your friends, Ms. Dupain-Cheng at least is not someone that gives me cause to worry. As a matter of fact, she appears to be everything you told me she was." He then cleared his throat for this next part. "I retract everything I said before." That was the hardest thing to say so far for the designer. As much as it tore at his pride to admit he was wrong, this could prove more important. "As an apology, for both you and Ms. Dupain-Cheng, I will allow you to spend as much time as you'd like with her. Now this time cannot interfere with your studies or modeling business, and of course, you will need to notify me in advance, but I wouldn't be avers to having you miss a tutoring session or two if it were to spend time with her."
"F-father… are you okay?"
Gabriel took a calming breath. Adrien's disbelief wasn't helping. "Yes, Adrien, I'm fine. I'm an adult, and I can admit to making a mistake. Do you not want to spend more time with her?"
"Yes, of course, it's just… Sorry, that was rude of me." Adrien admitted with a genuinely apologetic and slight frazzled tone. Gabriel could tell his son was just trying to keep up with the information. It was rare that he approved of Adrien's friends, so that is within reason. "This is great, father."
"I know, and you just reminded me of another thing. That jacket, as you pointed out earlier, I already noted how well made it was. The design is very nice. Marinette made this by hand?"
Adrien nodded as he started to gush on the smaller details. "Yeah, she made the pockets zip, and the inner layer is light so I can even wear it on days it's not cold." He also wanted to say it reminded him of his Chat Noir suit a bit, but decided to leave that part out.
"You've certainly been wearing it often enough. She's obviously talented… I think I'll offer her an internship with my design house."
Adrien jumped to surprise yet again. "Huh? Really?"
Gabriel nodded. "Yes, she's talented, and I would be remiss to let that pass me by."
"You're… serious?" His son's skeptical tone was coming out again.
Gabriel certainly didn't want his son to get suspicious of his other motives. "She'll be a second year in Lycee come fall correct? A perfect time to pad her resume." He gestured to his wrist and turned to Nathalie.
"Good, it's not too late. Let's go right now."
"Father?" His son called out as Gabriel turned to leave.
"Yes, Adrien… did you want to come? I don't want you to think I'm just trying appease your anger. I'm quite serious."
The teen was bordering between wary and excited at the moment. His father was acting very out of character though… maybe he'd gotten through to him? He knew Marinette was a wonderful person, and his father had no business saying otherwise. Maybe his father really did reflect on it? Anyone could change… right. "I do want to come." He expressed hoping there wasn't any reason to be worried. He didn't want his father to reconsider this just because he was suspicious of him, and this would be great for Marinette.
The short car ride was tense as Adrien went over in his mind exactly what was going on. He certainly hoped he wasn't dreaming. Considering how angry he was earlier when he stormed up to his room, maybe he was sleeping? It was always a good way to calm down aside from running around Paris as Chat Noir. When they arrived at the bakery, his father didn't even wait for Nathalie before getting out. Gabriel took a good look at the note on the door. "Store is closed today except for pickup orders after 1pm." He read aloud.
Adrien, who had gotten out last, pointed out why. "That's when the party started." Gabriel tested the door to find it open, and went in without a second thought.
A young woman at the counter greeted him. "Hello, we're closed for normal business. If you have an order for pick up, I can get it."
The designer shook his head. "No, we're not here for baked goods. Do you know if Marinette Dupain-Cheng is available?"
The girl looked put out by the question. "Well, sir, I'm not sure I can…"
"Lisa? Has someone come to pick up to Blalock order?" Sabine came out from the kitchen to address the potential customers at the counter. She didn't recognize the older man or the woman, but as soon as her eyes found Adrien, she beamed. "Adrien? I didn't expect to see you again so soon."
The model nodded with a wave. "Hey, Mrs. Cheng. To be honest, it's kind of a surprise to me too." He admitted while looking up to his father.
"Ah, Mrs. Cheng? You must be Marinette's mother, correct?" She did look familiar, but he may have only seen her in passing; probably at that show during the Style Queen incident.
"Yes, and you're… Adrien's father, Gabriel Agreste?" He nodded and she smiled. "It's wonderful to meet you in person, finally." She held out a hand to shake, and the designer reluctantly took it. He wasn't one to shake hands very much. "To what do we owe the pleasure?"
"Yes, I'm actually here to speak with your daughter about something. Is she here?"
Sabine tapped her chin. "I believe she's upstairs with one of her friends. I'll just go and get her." The woman offered as she hurried to the back to enter the apartment.
Tom took his chance to come up front after hearing the conversation thus far. "Couldn't help overhearing. Tom Dupain, nice to finally meet you." The large man greeted with a warm smile. He wiped his flour covered hands off on his apron and reached out a hand. Gabriel couldn't help the obvious hesitance on his part to shaking hands. "Oh… I suppose that didn't really help?" Tom laughed at his own words. "That's fine, no insult taken." The designer looked over the large man. He could tell very quickly this man was soft hearted, but at the same time, he still wouldn't want to come to blows with him physically. He then briefly recalled akumatizing this man over his daughter some time ago, before hearing his target approach.
The teen girl stepped out from behind her large father looking out of breath and wide eyed. "Y-yes, Mr. Agreste. You wanted to talk to me?" She asked quickly noting just how important, the fact Gabriel was there in person meant, this was.
"Yes, good evening, Ms. Dupain-Cheng. I realize it is rather late, and on your birthday, no less, but after a rather… interesting conversation with my son earlier, I couldn't help taking note of your part in the production of his new favorite jacket." Gabriel pointed to the clothing Adrien was wearing while his son blushed in slight embarrassment. "He tells me you made this by hand, and designed it yourself?"
Marinette nodded, still looking nervous and wide eyed. "Y-yes, sir, for his birthday."
"I see, it is very well done."
"Th-thank you, Mr. Agreste. Having your praise on one of my works is amazing." She quickly thanked with a short bow of her head.
"Not just one, Ms. Dupian-Cheng. If my memory is correct you also won a contest of mine not too long ago."
"Yes, the hat…?" She nearly question still finding herself very overwhelmed by the sudden visit and inquiry.
"Yes, and that brings me to why I've come to see you now. I would like to offer you an internship at my design house. I imagine you plan on a designer track next year? Then perhaps a degree in design come university?" Marinette nodded while shocked at what he just offered. "You obviously have talent, and I'm always looking for that in my designers. Given just what I've seen already, you may even find yourself being offered a design position after graduating Lycee." Marinette was finding it hard to form a coherent thought let alone a sentence as her knees began to give out. Tom caught her easily with a happy grin. "So, what do you say, Ms. Dupain-Cheng? Design position or not, I can assure you an internship with me will be more than tempting to any university admissions officer." The younger designer nodded from her partly fallen position, but could only get out a slight squeak in response.
Sabine was so excited for her daughter as she looked up at the grey haired man. "Would you like to stay for dinner, Mr. Agreste? I made more than enough."
He politely held up his hand. "My apologies, but I'll need to get the paper work ready, so I can have Nathalie send it over first thing in the morning." He then turned to his son. "Though if Adrien would like to stay…" He trailed off as Arien's expression brightened.
"Can I, father?"
Gabriel nodded. "Yes, so long as it is still fine with Mrs. Cheng?"
Sabine nodded at the young man. "Of course, you're always welcome, Adrien."
"Then I will see you when you get home. Just call your bodyguard when you've finished and try not to stay too late. Also," He turned back to Marinette with a small smile. "Ms… Marinette?" He tested the more familiar addressing of the girl. "Happy Birthday." He then left with Nathalie in toe while Marinette was just trying to stand back up.
"There is no way this is just a change of heart." Alya remarked as Adrien actually joined the group for lunch. Marinette, and Nino were already waiting, and had almost given up hope he would be there.
"Hey, Adrien." Marinette greeted shyly while looking away after.
"Yo, dude! Thought you'd be in solitary after yesterday. You said your dad was steamed."
The model nodded and sat down with them. "Yeah, but he changed his mind."
Alya crossed her arms. "Your dad? He changed his mind? Seriously?" Adrien nodded. "Nino told me yesterday he was ready to pull you out of school, and then you and your dad show up out of nowhere in the bakery where he personally gives Marinette an internship in his company. Does that not sound weird or unbelievable to anyone else?" She asked aloud just remembering what happened. She was shocked when Marinette's mom came up to say Adrien and his father were there. The reporter was almost sure it was to demand Marinette stay away from his son considering what Nino had texted her.
"Yeah, but he told me that he took some time to reevaluate his opinion of Marinette." The designer blushed when Adrien smiled at her. "I can't believe it either, but at least now he knows how awesome you are, Marinette."
Alya rolled her eyes at her shy friend. "I still say something stinks about this."
Nino shrugged. "Or we could just be happy Adrien is here and not over think it. This probably means he's just being more open to us, finally. Hey, maybe you can ask about him letting you come to one of my shows on Saturday?"
Adrien's smile faded as he shook his head. "Uh… I did ask earlier after he told me I could come to lunch actually…"
Nino furrowed his brow. "But it's the early show, how could he have a problem?"
"I asked that too, and he just said I had no business there, and if I really wanted to hear the music I could just get a recording."
Nino sighed. "Not the same, dude…"
Alya took the excuse into consideration. "So, he had no problems with going to lunch with us, right?"
"No, he actually encouraged me to take my time, though I was to bring Marinette back with me." He turned to her. "He wants to talk to you about the internship since he has all the paperwork from this morning."
"Of course, I was expecting something like that… though not quite this soon." She admitted looking nervous as ever. Adrien was just enjoying the fact he was out with his friends two days in a row. He didn't have the heart to tell them his father only let him come because Marinette was here. It was just a first step though, hopefully his father would come around to his other friends as well.
As soon as Adrien returned with Marinette, Gabriel prepared his most welcoming smile. It wasn't something he used very often, and he wanted to make sure not to scare her away. The extensive portfolio she turned into Nathalie along with the paperwork was just more evidence of her talent. "Good afternoon, Ms. Marinette." Gabriel called from just outside his studio.
"Yes, good afternoon, Mr. Agreste." She returned as confidently as she could.
"As I'm sure Adrien has mentioned, I would like to take a bit of your time." He then turned to his son. "She is free to join you after I'm done."
Adrien nodded with a smile as he went towards the stairs. "Thank you, father. I'll see you in a bit, Marinette?" She nodded with a blush before following Gabriel into his studio.
"Before we begin, I want to thank you for looking after my son. It was brought to my attention recently that his diet causes him problems in hot weather." The older designer addressed as he sat behind his desk.
Marinette took the chair in front of it. "Oh, I was just trying to help. I understand how models need to diet for their jobs, and I would never want Adrien to pass out because of it."
The man nodded. "Indeed, I would not want my son to pass out either. I had a long talk with his dietitian last night, and changes are already being made to prevent this problem in the future." He picked up the bag of sweets he'd left on his desk last night. "And although it was a very kind gesture, I do hope you'll be a bit more mindful of giving him too many. You are free to voice any health concerns you notice to me directly from now on."
Marinette nodded with a sheepish expression. "Of course, sir. I never wanted to mess up his diet."
Gabriel smiled slightly. "Good, now in regards to the internship. As I was looking over your portfolio, I thought having you work with my son would be an excellent start."
The teen's eyes went wide. "Work with A-Adrien?"
"Yes, he has several shoots scheduled in the next few weeks leading up to fashion week. Our photographer mentioned recently that Adrien may benefit from having an assigned designer to work with him specifically on site. You'll be in charge of arranging the clothes he models, making sure none of them are damaged as well as making sure they fit Adrien as intended. As a classmate of his, you've no doubt noticed how much taller he has gotten recently? It's caused last minute alterations on more than one occasion as well as one accidental tear." As Gabriel explained her job he noticed something odd about Marinette's expression. He'd seen nervous interns before. They would be worried about meeting his expectations or that they'd make some silly mistake. He could see that in this girl, but something else too. "Of course, as with all of my designers, you are free to submit design ideas to me at anytime. Do keep in mind, however, that I do not like to waste time; submit only your best." He declared with one of his icy stern tones.
"I wouldn't dream of presenting anything less." Marinette agreed confidently.
"Good, his next shoot is on Thurday, so you need to come in tomorrow to speak with Stephen to get a better idea of what I expect from you. He's one of my lead designers, and has been one for longer than most. Feel free to field any questions with him. Nathalie will be able to give you his contact information before you leave."
"Yes, sir… um…"
Gabriel raised a brow. "Yes?"
"It's just… I can't help but be curious as to why you changed your mind all of a sudden. I understand you are very protective of Adrien, but you've never let him out so… Never mind." She suddenly declared with a flustered tone. "I'm sorry, I'm just grateful you changed your mind; I didn't mean to sound rude!"
Gabriel found her demeanor amusing. Despite the slight insinuation that he was overly controlling, she was speaking so candidly. It was rare for someone to speak to him that way. "Well, Ms. Marinette, just like you, I only want what is best for my son. I have just come to realize what is best for him, and his future is something that changes with time. I have also recognized you are of the same mind, and as you work with him, please continue to look out for him as you have been."
"Y-yes, of course!" Her reply was even more flustered than yesterday.
"If you don't have any more questions for me, then you are free to go." He dismissed and she nodded politely.
Gabriel couldn't stop grinning at her as she left, and Nathalie took note immediately. "Am I to assume your plan is going well?" She asked.
"Better than I previously thought, actually."
Nathalie raised a brow. "And that means what exactly?"
The designer chuckled as he turned to her. "Adrien obviously cares greatly for her, but now I know it's mutual. I suppose I could be wrong, but I believe Ms. Marinette already has strong feelings for him as well."
The curious secretary couldn't help but agree given what she has seen as well. Marinette was usually the one she saw when his classmates were organizing something, and she was usually the one who found a way to include Adrien despite his schedule. "Given this, do you think we should just let things go from here?"
Gabriel scoffed as he held his arms behind his back. "Not at all. From now on Adrien needs as many reasons to spend as much time with her as possible, preferably alone. He should still be allowed on group outings so long as Marinette is in attendance, however. I don't want him to figure out what I'm trying to do until it's too late."
"You mean until after he falls in love with her?"
The designer chuckled again. "No, that's already happened. He takes after his mother in that way, so I can tell. What I'm talking about is him becoming fully aware of just how much he cares for her. Once that happens, we can step back and watch everything fall into place."
Gabriel is cold, but he does care. It makes it hard to write him out as anything but a jerk wad, but I tried to make it work. Now everyone, cheer for Gabriel's plotting!
BTW for those curious about my hard drive problem. I already got news its corrupted beyond repair. That means any in progress fics were lost with it because I'm an idiot who hadn't backed up my personal documents in the last year. I backed up everything but my personal stuff... So since March I've been working on ones I started while waiting, as well as transcribing chapters from here back to what I already had of those stories. It's been a big pain if I'm being honest. This also means that chapters I hadn't finished and posted are lost forever. I'm working on them, I promise. Until I post for the others, please enjoy this stuff! Also, comments are appreciated.=^-^=