“Why? It wasn’t even actually me!” Adrien was livid. He was pacing a few steps back and forth, but his father took his time before answering, even pursing his lips a bit in thought.
“I am aware, Adrien. I did have to help with the PR on that little fiasco.” Gabriel’s voice was condescending, and Adrien wondered for a moment if his father was blaming him somehow.
“Then why can’t I go back to school? I didn’t do anything wrong!” He couldn’t decide if he wanted to scream, cry, or both. He contemplated for a moment, throwing a tantrum in the middle of the floor like a child, and thought better of it. He still wouldn’t get his way –and he’d be making a target out of himself for Hawkmoth.
“Today reminded me of how dangerous it is for you to be out there in that school.” His father let out a sigh. “To start, the akumatized young lady went after you first. Secondly-“
“That was just bad luck! I-“
“Don’t interrupt me, Adrien.” A warning tone found it’s way through Mr. Agreste’s usual condescension, and Adrien abruptly stopped talking. “As I was saying, secondly, I realized that you could be the next one akumatized at any time. You’re quite emotional, you get that from your mother.”
“I’ll be extra careful, Father! I promise.” Adrien could hear how pathetic his pleading sounded, but he didn’t care.
Mr. Agreste pinched the bridge of his nose in annoyance. “Everyone in your class has been akumatized except for you, including your teacher. This new girl just started there, and she’s already been affected. It’s only a matter of time before the poor willpower of the students around you infects you as well.”
Adrien scrambled for an answer. It was true that his class seemed to be a target for some unfathomable reason. Almost everyone in his class had been akumatized, some twice. Suddenly, he remembered that another student in their class continued to keep a positive attitude and had never been akumatized.
“Not my friend Marinette! She’s never been akumatized either!” He wasn’t sure that this would help, but he had to say something to try and convince his father that school would be okay for him.
“Who?” His father seemed bemused, but Adrien didn’t care. He seemed to be listening at least.
“Marinette! She won your hat design competition!”
“Ah, yes. The girl with the book.” Mr. Agreste murmured to himself, an unreadable expression on his face.
“What? What book?” Adrien stared blankly at him, confused. What was his father talking about? His question seemed to pull his father out of some sort of trance, and he looked back at Adrien in mild surprise –as though he had been on the verge of figuring something out.
“It doesn’t matter. So this girl hasn’t been akumatized, how is that relevant?”
“She has a great attitude, and she’s kind, and determined. She’ll probably never get akumatized! I don’t know if she can. She encourages everyone in our class to do the same, and cheers them up when they are upset. In fact, she’s probably even stopped a few of them!”
“Hmm,” Gabriel seemed to be deep in thought, and Adrien was suddenly unsure if he was even listening, or if he was already working on a design idea in his head. “You’re saying that you don’t think that this girl would get akumatized, ever?”
“Yes! I think she’s probably the most positive person that I know, and she’s really strong, and-“
His father put a hand up to silence Adrien. He hated that it worked, and he immediately stopped talking. Gabriel turned from him, looking at the painting of Adrien’s mother on the wall. He took a few steps away from Adrien, saying nothing.
Finally, after what felt like a small eternity, he spoke. “Would you stake your school career on this?”
Adrien blanched, “what?”
“Well, you seem very sure of this girl. I was thinking of giving you one more chance anyway, especially since you seem so determined. What if we made a deal? If that girl ever gets akumatized, you will leave school and resume homeschooling? As long as she never gets akumatized, and you don’t get hurt of course, you can remain in school with your friends.
Adrien hesitated. He wasn’t sure that it was right to put all of the pressure of his freedom on Marinette’s shoulders. She was brave, and kind, and strong, and amazing…but he knew that he had been talking big. She probably wasn’t immune to being akumatized. His class did seem to be a target, and he and Marinette were the only ones to avoid akumatization so far.
He used to think that he hadn’t been akumatized because he was Chat Noir, and it made it more difficult for him to be akumatized. Excetp, after Chloe was influenced while transformed into Queen Bee, he wasn’t so sure anymore. He may have just not had intense enough emotions yet, and because he was Chat Noir he was extra careful about keeping his negative feelings in check. Marinette was great, but she didn’t have a super powered alternate identity to keep her on her toes like he did. Could she resist Hawkmoth forever?
His father had given him a choice. He wanted to go back to school. He could deal with her being akumatized if it happened, but he would get to go to school for that much longer. Plus, Marinette was his friend, he could help keep an eye on her to make sure that she always had someone to turn to if she got overwhelmed with emotions.
“Fine.” He heard himself say, “I’ll go back to school for now. If Marinette ever gets akumatized, I’ll go back to homeschooling.”
His father turned, and met his eyes finally. Something seemed off about them to Adrien. Was he smug because he thought that Adrien would lose? Why even make the deal if he was so sure that it wouldn’t work in Adrien’s favor? He’d already made it very clear that whatever he chose was what Adrien would do.
“Then we have a deal, Adrien. You’ll return to school in the morning. Please go, I have work to do.”
Adrien turned, pushing the weird feeling that he was having away. He could continue to go to school for now, possibly forever. He just needed to keep Marinette from getting akumatized by Hawkmoth. He could do this.