Adrien Agreste is desperate. He’s tried asking Nino, but his friend sort of tripped his way into his relationship with Alya by mistake, and he’s not too proud to admit it. Plagg is no help. He’s asked Natalie, only to get a blank look. Plagg is NO help. Adrien’s even asked Gorilla. The man stared at him through the rearview mirror for a full minute before he burst out laughing and didn’t stop even after he dropped Adrien off at school. It was hard not to pout all day.
So now, Adrien is doing what he should have done in the first place - it’s SO obvious, after all. I mean, obviously HE’D be an expert.
Adrien walks into his father’s study with shoulders pushed back in his dad’s preferred posture.
‘What did you need?’ his father asked without looking up from his designs, seven different sketched clothes articles being shuffled around to create various combinations.
‘Yeah,’ Adrien said, trying to channel as much of Chat Noir as he could, ‘so dad, you and mum, huh?’
Gabriel’s hand paused delicately where it was poised over a pair of tan women’s trousers.
'I mean, you two…. Got together and everything, you know?’
Adrien watched in fascination as his father’s eyebrows rose very slowly. He wasn’t sure if it was a good sign so he went on.
'And mum was pretty. I mean, REAL pretty. Well of course she was pretty she was a model. But she was. Nice, I mean. And you TALKED to her. And it WORKED. Of course it worked, she married you and you had ME.’
Gabriel Agreste looked like he was almost afraid to talk, but he put the sketches down, steepled his fingers and finally looked up at his son.
'What are you asking exactly, Adrien? I thought Natalie had adequately covered the topic of human sexual reproduction even before you joined College?’
'Not that, dad!’ Adrien replied, throwing his hands up in the air in exasperation. 'I know all about that. Natalie tested me and everything and I got top marks. I’m asking about all the rest! That’s more important!’
Gabriel Agreste’s eyebrows joined his hairline. He managed to look vaguely nauseous, which was the face he made when he was in any way flustered or uncomfortable.
'All… The rest.’
'Yes!’ Adrien replied, the word exploding out of him when he couldn’t contain it anymore. A river of more words followed it once it had split the dam. 'The flowers and the complements, and the manners and kissing her hand, and being a gentleman! All of that! But I’ve tried it all and it hasn’t worked, so I MUST be doing something wrong! But you landed MUM, so you must have done something really right, so please dad, please teach me?’
Gabriel Agreste may as well be speechless for the first time in his life. He managed, 'What?’
'How to ask out a pretty girl!’ Adrien said in moan. 'The right way! So she says yes!’
Gabriel took off his spectacles to give himself time to think, polishing them off a silk hanky he always carried in his pocket, to give himself time to think. He didn’t think he’d be thinking about this already. But that was the problem with thinking. Once he put them back on, he’d formulated a reasonable response.
'I would like to know who the young lady in question is, before we go any further.’
Adrien’s brain went into panic mode. Darn, darn darn darn, he hadn’t thought of this! What was he going to say? He couldn’t say Ladybug obviously, his dad would never buy it. Quick, think of girls he knew! Girls he knew, girls he knew- ah! Girls from his class! Let’s see; Chloe- ah ah, hard nope, no way. Alya- nope, no way again, bro code. Mylene, yeah, super taken. Alix….. Just no. Darn it all, all he could think of were black hair and blue eyes and - hang on!
'Marinette Dupain-Cheng,’ Adrien squeaked. He hoped his cheeks feeling hot meant he would convince his father. Gabriel stared at him for a moment before he buzzed Natalie from the intercom on his desk.
'Natalie, send me the file of Dupain-Cheng Marinette from the College research folder.’
'Yes sir,’ Natalie chirped back. A few moments of heavy sweating later - for Adrien - his father’s phone pinged, and Gabriel picked it up, thumbing through whatever Natalie had sent. One eyebrow rose higher than the other in the expression his father often made when he was pleasantly surprised. Somehow, Adrien was irrationally pleased his father approved of Marinette, even though he realised he was now totally screwed.
'Designed an album for Jagged Stone,’ his father said, sounding reluctantly impressed. 'You will invite her to dinner next week.’
Gabriel put his phone down, seemingly done with the decision. Adrien tried desperately one more time.
'But, the advice!’
Gabriel looked him straight in the eyes.
'What I’m about to tell you does not leave this room,’ he said solemnly.
'Yes father!’ Adrien replied eagerly.
'The secret,’ Gabriel went on solemnly, 'is puns.’
'I knew it!’ Adrien hissed under his breath.
'Ah, but not just any puns,’ Gabriel admonished. 'That is why you have been unsuccessful. You need to find her interests, formulate humourous sentence arrangements. Drop them with the correct TIMING. Timing is crucial, especially in one particular way.’
Adrien fairly vibrated in his seat as he leaned forward, waiting for his dad to finally tell him the secret.
'You must take her hand, gently. Look her in the eyes, and tell her, without fanfare, how you feel about her. And how that makes you feel: in that order, son. Then, and only then, must you drop a very smart pun, about something she loves, and beg her to consider giving you a chance. Then walk away, let her think about it, and maybe drop another pun on your way out. Make her laugh, so that when she remembers you, she will smile. She’ll call you back within the week.’
Gabriel was smiling for the first time in a whole year, that Adrien remembered. He looked misty eyed and far away before he snapped out of it.
'Natalie,’ he said into the buzzer again, 'contact mlle Dupain-Cheng, invite her to dinner Friday week.’
'Yes sir. I will inform cook and the household.’
'Good.’ Gabriel looked at his son with a determined look on his face. 'I will allow you to see how it is done during this first dinner. I will then expect you to try and learn, with practice, during following invitations. Do not let me down.’
'No sir!’ Adrien replied excitedly. He raced to his room, almost bouncing giddily with joy at how helpful his dad had been. Real advice! With practice!
Then he froze when he realised he was going to be practicing on his sweet, shy classmate, who was likely going to get the entirely wrong idea, and who he had absolutely not the courage to come clean with; not on this.
'Darn’, he hissed into his room. Plagg ignored him and continued to eat his cheese noisily.