Summary – Adrien's relationship with his father has reached the breaking point and it's causing him to pull further and further away from everyone, hurting Marinette. One night when the pain becomes too much to bear, he takes to the night and finds a new enemy that targets him specifically. Something's gotta give and he isn't sure that when he falls he'll land on his feet.
Adrien raked a hand through his hair, averting the urge to continuously play with the strands until they fell perfectly in front of his face. It had now become a nervous habit. He used to be able to sit quietly, sit so still that he could be almost invisible until he moved. He used to be as cool and stoic as a statue. Now he had nervous habits. As he sat at the end of the long dining table, the long, empty dining table, he tried not to have his mind wander to the thoughts that would bog him down. He always hated how long the table was. Why did they need such an extravagant piece of furniture when he was the only one that used it on a daily basis? For keeping up appearances. It was drilled into his head by Nathalie Sancoeur, his father's assistant nearly every time he asked.
But who cared what everyone else thought? The residents of Paris had to know that he and his father had a lot of money as it was; he was one of the most famous fashion designers in the world. But that didn't mean they had to throw their wealth around. Bringing his hand up, Adrien started to turn the silver ring that wrapped around his finger, another subconscious movement. He couldn't help it; no matter where his father was concerned he was nervous, unsure of what the reactions to any of what Adrien had to say was going to be. It was starting to get really bad; he flinched whenever his father raised his voice, instinctively took a step back whenever his father came close to him, became more sullen and silent when his father was in his presence.
And he hated it.
He hated everything he had become. But what he hated the most, what he loathed more than anything in the world was how much he still loved his father. How much he would allow himself to sacrifice to make his father happy. How much he wanted to prove that he was worth…everything. Adrien wanted to make him nothing short of proud; to get a smile in response of his achievements, to have words of encouragement when he was feeling down, to know that his father was there for him no matter what. Instead he got a man that was so into raising him like a 'man' and to not be so 'sensitive'. Things were much easier when he as younger; when his father saw that his school endeavors needed to be attended so that he could show his face and prove that he was a good father all without him knowing. It was better rather than the few photo opportunities that Adrien was required to attend to help his father as well as to enhance his own modeling career.
A career he didn't even want.
At first he thought he was just taking pictures for fun. Then his father broke it to him that it was his job, that he was to put his foot in the fashion world with that job and it was his responsibility to keep it going. Everything had been decided for him.
Well, nearly everything. With a smile he looked down at his plate to watch his kwami, Plagg, tackle the piece of brie that sat upon crackers lining the plate. He always did have an appetite and, unfortunately his favorite pieces were that of the smelliest of cheeses.
"You think you want to slow down a bit?" Adrien asked Plagg, moving his fingers to pick up a cracker. He gave a disgruntled sigh as Plagg rocketed over to the cheese that sat atop the cracker and hissed at Adrien, marking his territory.
"Not when you're going to tempt me with such good food," Plagg replied. He turned his back on Adrien and opened his mouth wide, dropping the slice of cheese into his mouth. He smiled as he chewed and leaned back, running his paws of his face. "Ohhh, so good!"
"I'm glad someone's enjoying it."
With that, Plagg turned back towards Adrien and cast him a concerned glance. It was strange for Plagg, who was a bit selfish in his own right, but over the past few months…Plagg had started to take more interest in Adrien's demeanor. Especially in terms of the fights they were going on through the streets of Paris.
"Adrien," he started. "You—"
All of a sudden Adrien heard footsteps coming his way and he motioned for Plagg to hide, causing his kwami to immediate come off of the plate and dart into the hood of Adriens' gray hoodie. The teen boy looked up, green eyes widening when he spotted his father walking across the dining room towards him in long, serious strides. Nathalie scurried behind her, her eyes wide with apprehension, darting back and forth from Gabriel to Adrien back to Gabriel. As Adrien watched his father draw closer, his breathing became ragged, heart hammering in his throat so hard he was sure it could be seen alongside his Adam's apple. He could even feel Plagg shaking against his back.
"—Don't you dare!" Gabriel slammed his hand down onto the table next to Adrien making the teen and the dishes jump. Reaching out, Adrien picked up his glass that had fallen onto its side, spilling milk across the mahogany. Almost mechanically, Adrien reached out to mop it up with his napkin despite the maid that rushed to his side, appearing form nowhere at the sound of the falling dishes. He immediately recoiled once his father made a sweeping gesture of his arm and knocked everything to the floor. "Don't you dare try to talk your way out of this! You have some explaining to do!" He grabbed Adrien's arm and pulled him forward, forcing him to look at the document he had slapped onto the table. "Explain!"
Adrien's eyes moved down to the sheet of paper, that he thought he had hidden away so carefully, and winced when he spotted his grades staring him in the face. They weren't good; though in his defense it wasn't entirely his fault. He had missed a lot of classes due to photo shoots he couldn't miss or else he'd face his father's wrath…but then he couldn't let his grades lower of he'd face his father's grasp. That's why he had hidden his grades as soon as he received them, thinking of the best way to explain it.
He cried out in pain as his forehead was suddenly slammed against the table. Not enough so that he would get a concussion or permanent damage, but enough to hurt, enough to possibly bruise. Enough so he knew not to do it again.
"You're a disgrace," Gabriel spat. He leaned closer to Adrien and the teen could smell the alcohol on his breath, rancid and warm. "You have done nothing but continue to embarrass me at each and every turn. I gave you your modeling career and you repay me by failing all of your classes!" He pulled Adrien's head back once more, this time clamping onto his neck with a vice grip. "No son of mine is going to drop out of school. Get it together!"
Dropping Adrien's neck, Gabriel turned on his heel and walked out of the dining room once more, pausing briefly to look at the maid that was on her hands and knees, painstakingly attempting to pick up every piece of broken china. "Make sure you get it all," he spat before leaving the room.
Nathalie paused between the two of them, unsure of what to do, before she followed Gabriel out of the room. Shaking, Adrien pushed back the chair and leapt up from his seat. He raced out of the dining room, through the massive foyer, and out the gates into the streets of Paris. Running as hard and fast as he could, he tried to push away the thoughts of his father that continued to follow him. Every corner he turned the feeling of his father's eyes continued to follow him.
He continued to move until he couldn't feel his feet and he crashed to his knees, gasping for air. His lungs burned, his muscles ached, but at least he managed to get away from his father. He felt a strange struggling sensation against his back before Plagg managed to find his way out of Adrien's hood and hovered around to his front.
"Adrien, are you okay?" He asked.
With a small smile, Adrien reached out his hands and allowed Plagg to plot down into his palms, looking up at him with his bright green eyes. Even his kwami's ears dropped with anxiety.
"I'm okay," he finally said. "Don't worry."
Adrien suddenly stiffened as he sensed something drawing nearer to him. Standing up, he tilted his head to the side, directing his ear towards the sound. Rapid footsteps, the feeling of danger coming closer. He could feel a chill roll down his spine. With a frown of determination, he turned his attention to Plagg, who continued to sit in his hands.
"Plagg," he cried. "Claws out!"
Plagg lifted from Adrien's hands and circled the air before disappearing into Adrien's ring. With a surge of power, Adrien's spandex suit covered his body until he became his superhero alter ego, Cat Noir. Reaching behind him, he pulled out his staff and elongated it, turning the point in the direction of the danger.
Lifting his head, Adrien looked at the rooftop that sat across from him and spotted a figure in a white spandex suit, illuminated by the moon that rose high in the sky, the rays glinting off the scythe that rested loosely at her fingertips. "Here little kitty," the figure purred mockingly. "Do you want to come out and play?"
Cat Noir snarled his upper lip curling. He watched as the figure leapt off the roof and landed on the ground in front of him, still holding onto the scythe. She smoothed her hair out of her face and transfixed Adrien with a malicious smile.
"Not that I'm giving you a choice," she added as if an afterthought.
"I'm sorry you feel the need for a paw-se, but why don't we cut to the chase!" With that, Cat Noir launched himself towards her.
At least he now had a constructive way to release his frustration.