Days turned to weeks and with no longer working on busywork, Mars could almost feel the experience they were gaining from their work. They were constantly observing or working with the programs Gabriel dealt with on the norm. And even when they weren’t working, they found their days off filled with research and practice with these programs and IT work in general. The spark of passion for their work had been lit and while they wanted to be entirely happy, there was still a part of them that was hesitant.
The more they seemed to personally benefit from this situation, the more complicated they felt. For every day spent learning more of their interest, there was a night where they once again contemplated the ethics of the situation. The question of whether they were doing the right thing still hung in their head, though admittedly it seemed to dim the happier they felt doing what work they could.
Even after the incident which, admittedly reminded them to never let themself outwardly like Gabriel Agreste, they found themself understanding him the more interactions the two had.
On the other end, Gabriel himself made an effort to at least act more courteous to them. He couldn’t help but admire Mars’ work ethic, and he found himself letting bits of genuine praise drop every now and then, even when others were around. He felt almost….proud. Though their knowledge and accomplishments were because of him after all.
Whatever feeling he had about it, he wouldn’t let it cloud his judgement. The issue of trust that Nathalie had brought up still rung in his mind, and he felt he needed to test this new theory. And that would come later.
Now, like any other day the pull of the negative emotions through the Butterfly Miraculous led him down to his lair, and Mars simply watched as he disappeared with hardly a word.
Taking a moment to stretch and take a breath, they sat back in their chair.
“I think I'll take my lunch break now. I have a feeling he’ll be down for a while today.” They said. Nathalie didn’t even bother to stop typing.
Nodding back, they grabbed a few of their things and left the office. They hardly had time to think about what they’d go to eat when they happened upon a mildly distressing sight. Adrien, who’s head turned to them quickly as he had one foot out the front door, clearly leaving. Though today……..wasn’t a school day.
The boy then gave a nervous smile, pretending he hadn’t been nearly out the door.
“Heyyyy…..” he said, pointing a joking finger at them. They chuckled and walked over to him.
“Where exactly are you off to? I thought your schedule was clear.” They said.
“Well……my modeling schedule is clear, buuuut….”
“You’re sneaking out.”
Adrien seemed to falter at these words, but nodded.
“I’m trying to go meet up with some friends.” He admitted. While Mars hated seeing him like this, the realization of what’d happen if he got caught, especially since there was likely an Akuma roaming around in the near future…..
“I don’t think that’s a great idea right now.” They said. The boy’s smile fell, giving them a surprised look.
“Look it’s…….if your father finds out—”
“He won’t. You won’t tell him, will you?” The look he gave them nearly broke their heart. They……couldn’t answer.
“I’m glad you two are getting along but you’d normally be on my side with this. Please, Mars…”
Again, they were at a loss for words. Yes, they’d have encouraged him before they were in the position they were in now, but knowing the potential danger……for both of them…..
Seeing their guilty expression, Adrien gave them a disappointed look before turning away and reaching for the door again. But Mars put a hand on his shoulder and held him back.
Thankfully they wouldn’t have to come up with a false reason to keep him back, as the office door opened again and Nathalie saw the two standing in the foyer.
“What’s going on?” she asked, looking at the two of them. Adrien’s head fell and he sighed, but Mars thought fast.
“He was trying to see his father.”
Both turned their attention to them as they cleared their throat and stood up.
“I happened to catch Adrien on his way to the office, but I didn’t want him to interrupt his important meeting.” They said, keeping the hand on the boy’s shoulder, who seemed to perk up. It was with a surprised yet hopeful look that the two shared before he nodded and faked disappointment.
“Yeah. I just wanted to talk to him about something with school, but Mars stopped me.”
Thankfully, at the words ‘important meeting,’ Nathalie seemed to instantly take the excuse at face value like they’d hoped and nodded.
“Yes. Your father is very busy right now. I’ll inform him to see you later.” She said, turning away and entering the office again.
At sight of her leave both Mars and Adrien relaxed. Turning to the staircase and starting to walk up it, Adrien moved in front of them and gave them a confused look.
“Why did you lie to her?”
“Why did you lie to her? To keep you out of trouble.” They replied.
“But you were trying to stop me before.”
Mars sighed and stopped, now sure they were out of hearing range towards the top of the staircase and spoke quietly.
“I was, but I’ve been a teenager too Adrien. I won’t stop you from sneaking out if you still really want to, but please be careful.” They said, putting another hand on his shoulder.
Looking up at them he smiled and nodded.
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” He said.
“Right, but still. If anything happens, any Akuma attack, you should come back here if you can.” They warned, as he walked in front of them back to his room.
He laughed, giving a look over his shoulder.
“Which one of you was supposed to be my dad again?”
At that thought Mars laughed, shaking their head before turning back and heading back down.
After that experience they ended up losing their appetite and going back to working. However the way Adrien just went back to his room made them wonder if he really did end up sneaking out or not. If they did, would they certainly wouldn’t be able to make an excuse if he was found missing.
Their nerves only rose as Gabriel returned from his “work,” looking frustrated as usual.
“Welcome back, sir.” Nathalie said, only getting a cleared throat and sigh in response as he went back to working on his computer. But the silence was broken when she spoke up again, much to their fear.
“Adrien nearly came looking for you. Mars was quick to stop him though.”
Gabriel didn’t seemed phased by this in the slightest.
“Good. You may send for him now.”
The thought of her reaction and fear at finding an empty room made Mars stand up before she could, fumbling out words they know they shouldn’t have said.
“I’ll go get him!” they spoke up, putting a hand up.
Now both parties stopped and looked at them quizzically, Gabriel especially.
“Why so?” he asked. Mars felt the pressure of his gaze on them and tried to act natural, though clearly failing in the process.
“It, uhhhhh. Well it was me that talked to him earlier, and I’ve already finished most of my work, no need to interrupt Nathalie's.” They stumbled, getting up and trying to quickly nonchalantly get to the door. However much to their horror, the man walked over to them himself.
“In that case, I will go along too. It’s me he wanted to talk to, right?”
“Uhhh, I—You—are you sure?” they asked, but he didn’t answer, instead he walked out the office door before them, and they were left trying to follow his strides as he walked across the house and up the stairs.
“Well, that is sir, if it’s something important he might’ve wanted to—”
“What is it you’re hiding from me?” he suddenly stopped in front of Adrien’s door, turning his head to give them a disapproving look. They felt themselves tense up, but shook their head and sighed.
“I’m just saying, you should be more….well…”
“—Whatever it is, you’d better explain whatever it is I’m to find in here or else—”
The door suddenly swung open, revealing the teen who looked up at the two adults with wide eyes.
“Father?” he asked. Gabriel froze, looking over the boy’s shoulder at an immaculate room, and down at his son who was….well he was here, that was more than he and Mars were clearly expecting.
“Adrien,” he folded his arms behind his back and faked a neutral look, “I was told you wanted to see me.”
Adrien gave a confused look to Mars before remembering the excuse earlier and his eyes widened even more.
“Oh! Right. I was……having…trouble with my homework! I wanted to ask you myself, but Mars told me you were in a meeting and I ended up figuring it out myself anyways.” He explained. Gabriel looked down at him for a moment before nodding and turning to leave again.
“Right. It seems next time you’ll have to take more time on it then. If you don’t mind then, I have another meeting to discuss.”
“Right.” Adrien said. He moved to close the door, but stopped giving a glance to his father as he walked down the stairs, and then to Mars, whom shared the gaze with an unsure expression, but they smiled nervously at him and just gestured for him to go.
The feeling of dread grew with every silent step back to the office until both were inside. At this point even Nathalie was looking at them expectantly.
“Sit down.” Gabriel said. They did exactly as he told the second he did, sitting silently and trying to look away from him. They weren’t exactly scared of the man, but still, they were never a fan of confrontation.
“I’m not a fool. If you’re as good as hiding my secret as you are at hiding your guilt, it’s a wonder I haven’t been found out yet. Now, care to explain what you were so clearly trying to hide?”
His sarcasm left them feeling a bitter taste in their mouth, but at the same time they felt less nervous hearing it. It could’ve been the resentment, or the fact that they already knew they’d basically sold themselves out that made them relent with a sigh.
“Adrien tried to sneak out earlier.” They admitted. The man took on a surprised and angry look, but before he could retort they spoke up again quickly. “But I stopped him! I was just worried he might’ve tried again when I wasn’t looking.” They said. This made the other man’s anger deflate somewhat, but he still looked far from pleased.
“Why would you lie about this?”
“To keep him out of trouble! He’s a teenager, he’s going to act rashly. I just wanted to keep him from acting worse under even more pressure.” They sighed.
He gave them a questioning look, and for a moment they internally groaned at the thought of hearing his “don’t tell me how to be a parent” rant again, but he looked away in clear thought before closing his eyes and sighing.
“At least you’re honest, but don’t try to lie to me again. On the subject of honesty, there’s something else I’ve been wanting to discuss.”
They watched curiously as he swung open the painting behind his computer, carefully typing the code into the safe and opening it.
They’d been lucky enough to see the book on multiple occasions, and expected to see it again. But they were surprised when he shut the safe and painting with only a closed palm to show. He turned and walked over to them, holding up what he’d been hiding.
“This is the Peacock Miraculous. As you know it’s been recently fixed, and has the power to create Sentimonsters based on powerful negative emotions.” He said.
Mars looked on awestruck at seeing a Miraculous up close. Sure, Gabriel has one on him at all times, but he’d never really shown it off to them. Not like this.
They looked curiously at the little blue pendant in the man’s hand, standing up and taking a step closer to make out more of the detail, but sensing their boundaries and stopping themselves.
“It’s alright.” Gabriel put his other hand up. He then, to their shock, held it out. “You may inspect it if you like.”
At this point even Nathalie seemed surprised at his sudden passiveness.
Trying to weigh if this was some kind of trick he was pulling, Mars gently took the broach from his hands. They turned the item around, looking at its intricate design and the way light reflected off of it. Even though on the surface it just looked like a broach, they could tell this was like nothing they’d ever seen before.
“Wow…..But…..why are you showing me this now?” they asked.
Gabriel stepped towards them again, holding out his palm, and they placed the Miraculous back in his hand.
“I thought you may as well see it, since we’ve talked about it before. It’d do you good to try and recognize a Miraculous. Though on a wearer it will likely be disguised. Still, it’s better that you’re made aware of it.” He said, nodding.
“Right. Thank you sir.” they said.
“That’s all I wanted to show you. You may leave now.”
With another thanks and goodbye, they carefully looked over their shoulder at the mansion before they left. That was certainly not something they were expecting, it honestly put them on edge. What was it he was thinking?
Gabriel made sure they were shown out properly, as he looked over the Miraculous himself.
“Sir…..not that this isn’t a great show of progress, but why exactly did you let them see it now?” Nathalie asked. He didn’t look at her, and instead focused on placing the Miraculous back into the safe.
“You made a great deal to tell me their interference with Fashion Disaster was a show of trust, I needed to test the waters with my own show as well. Likewise, their reaction to this information as well as to the Miraculous itself is something I needed to see. They were quick to hesitation, but quick to return it when asked….they’re compliant, but certainly not obedient. Still…with time…..perhaps they could be the successor…..” he muttered the last part to himself.
Nathalie looked at him, almost and if not more surprised than earlier.
“Successor….you are truly starting to trust them.” She said.
“Perhaps….but this conversation must never leave this room. I don’t want them to get any ideas. And I have no intent of letting them use it so soon, especially not after today.”
“Of course, sir.”
“Besides…….with all that’s going on, I’d rather have my full focus on our bigger plans for the near future.”