A Step at a Time

BY : Cat_Eyes
Category: +M through R > Miraculous LadyBug
Dragon prints: 2254
Disclaimer: I do not own Miraculous Ladybug. Miraculous Ladybug is the intellectual property of Thomas Astruc and released by Zag studios. No profit was made writing this story.

Adrien couldn’t believe it. Was that flirting? Was flirting happening right now? It was repulsive. Nauseating. His father was flirting with Ms Bustier.

Adrien and Gabriel were sitting opposite Caline at her desk in their usual classroom. It was a standard parent/teacher meeting and Adrien had been expecting an uneventful interview. He was a good student, after all. Nothing to report but how well Adrien performed in class.

‘You must be very proud of him, Mister Agreste,’ Caline said.

‘I am. He has always excelled in his studies. However, some credit must be awarded to you. You are an exemplary teacher,’ Gabriel replied.

Caline put a delicate hand to her mouth to conceal a small smile  and light blush. Adrien placed his hands on either side of his face and fanned his fingers out to block his view. 

‘Please, do call me Gabriel,’ Gabriel continued. Adrien lowered his hands and slowly glanced at his father. Did Gabriel Agreste actually tell someone to address him by his first name? This was unprecedented.

Caline smiled. ‘Well, Gabriel, you’ve raised a fine son. It can’t be easy as a single parent.’ Caline gasped at her blunder as a shadow passed across Gabriel’s and Adrien’s faces.

‘I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.’ Caline continued to babble apologies until Gabriel held up a hand.

‘It was bound to come up eventually,’ Gabriel replied. ‘My wife has been missing for over a year now, and even the authorities believe she has passed away.’

Adrien lowered his head. It was true; his mother had been gone for a long time, but the pain of loss still hurt as fresh as ever.

‘Still, I shouldn’t have said anything,’ Caline murmured. ‘Forgive me.’

‘My dear, there is nothing to forgive. Since Adele vanished, it has been difficult raising Adrien alone.’

Adrien snorted. Gabriel glanced at him out of the corner of his eye before continuing. 

‘Adrien can have a stubborn, even a rebellious streak. A trait inherited from his mother.’

Adrien snorted again, louder. Gabriel sent him a subtle glare before saying, ‘but with help from marvelous people such as yourself, life in general has become much more manageable.’

‘We here at Françoise Dupont try our hardest to make every student feel comfortable and included. But tell me, would it be too presumptuous of me to suggest sending Adrien to a counselor? Please, don’t misunderstand,’ Caline rushed to add, ‘Adrien fits in well here and has made many good friends. But perhaps, he may find some comfort in speaking to someone about his mother.’

Gabriel frowned at his lap. He didn’t bother to mention that he hadn’t spoken to Adrien about his mother, he simply let Caline think mentioning someone objective would be a better listener, maybe provide some insight and support and help Adrien understand his mother had left for good. Maybe that was right.

Gabriel placed a light hand on Caline’s wrist. ‘I think that may be a very good idea. I’ve never been one to discuss my feelings or let my emotions show.’

Adrien stared openly at Gabriel. This level of sharing was unheard of, even when his mother was around. 

‘It probably would be beneficial to Adrien’s long-term mental health if he were able to discuss this with a professional,’ Gabriel nodded.

‘I’m right here, you know. Don’t I get  a say in this?’ Adrien muttered.

‘I can organise an appointment with the school counselor next week.’ Caline spoke as if Adrien weren’t there. Adrien humphed and crossed his arms.

‘You have helped us immeasurably, Ms Bustier,’ Gabriel said.

‘Please, call me Caline.’

‘We would be lost without you. If there is ever anything  we can do to repay you, please let me know.’ Gabriel was laying on the charm, Adrien noticed. ‘Perhaps I could take you to dinner tomorrow night?’ Gabriel smiled while Caline stared at him in stunned silence. Adrien was staring, too, with his mouth open and eyes wide. 

‘I, well. I suppose. Though it’s a bit unorthodox.’ Caline was blushing again.

‘Nonsense. I’m just a grateful father showing his appreciation to the lovely young lady who so diligently teaches and encourages my only child,’ Gabriel argued.

Nathalie did all that, too, Adrien thought. You’re not asking her on a date, though, are you?

‘Shall I pick you up at seven?’ Gabriel asked.

Caline fiddled with her hair before saying, ‘that sounds perfect.’

Adrien couldn’t believe this was happening. As Gabriel and Caline finalised the details and wrapped up the meeting, Adrien wondered how all of this had gone so horribly wrong.

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