5:00 am - A. Agreste and G. Agreste wake up calls
5:30 am - Breakfast served; review itineraries
The front door of the Agreste mansion still used an old-fashioned key. Nathalie let herself in, locked the door behind her, and strode swiftly to the alarm station next to the front door, muttering in her vocal authorization before her small window of time ran out.
A quiet but insistent beep silenced itself in response to her utterance of "Nathalie Sancoeur" into an invisible microphone behind a large planter and the Agreste household went back to its pre-morning state. She glanced down at her watch again. 4:58 am. Good. She started across the foyer toward Gabriel's office, but stopped when she heard a door open above her head.
"Nathalie?" Adrien poked his head out of his room on the second floor, sun-golden hair tumbled about his face and sticking up in a ridge over the right side of his head. Surprised, Nathalie looked down at her wrist. 4:59 am.
"You're early," she replied, pleased.
"It's Saint-Tropez day," he shrugged with a sleepy grin that quickly morphed into a yawn.
"Breakfast will be ready at 5:30," she reminded him.
He nodded and pushed the knuckles of one hand into another huge yawn, backing up and closing the door to his bedroom.
Nathalie entered her boss's office, feeling uncharacteristically sneaky in her silent ballet flats. Rounding the edge of her desk, she checked her watch one last time. 5:00 am on the dot. She depressed the intercom button for Gabriel's bedroom and muttered quietly into the microphone. Nodding at the clipped but polite reply, she exited the office, pulled the tall doors shut behind her, and crossed to the kitchen to check on breakfast.
Father and son were promptly seated and served at 5:30 am. Nathalie covered the day's itinerary with them as they quietly ate and drank, their eyes on the tablets to the left of their plates.
5:45 am - A. Agreste and G. Agreste personal items (bags) to front door (3 total); car to pick up M. Dupain-Cheng (1 bag); check-in call with handlers for Monica and Selina
6:00 am - Leave for airport; no delays allowed
6:20 am - Final check-in for A. Agreste, G. Agreste, N. Sancoeur, M. -, M. Dupain-Cheng, Monica, Selina, J. Thomas, J.T. assistant, M. Walsh (Monica's handler), M. Welsh (Selina's handler) (13 pieces of luggage); final check-in for wardrobe (5 trunks, pre-loaded in cargo)
"Did you ever get a name for M. Thomas' assistant?" interjected Gabriel, interrupting the litany.
"I'll make a note to ask him on the flight," Nathalie replied, jotting it in a neat hand on her tablet.
Gabriel nodded and motioned for her to continue.
6:30 am - Flight commences
7:00 am - Check-in call with crew in Saint-Tropez; check-in call with handlers for Georges, Greg, Fatima, Victor, and Bebe - they must be on set and ready at 9:30 am; double-check wardrobe sent last week (5 trunks)
9:00 am - Depart plane, drive by car to private beach
9:30 am - Arrival on set
9:50 am - Begin with ST models, once J. Thomas is ready for shoot (allow extra time cushion for J. Thomas preparation); prep Paris models
10:30 am - shoot fully underway; sent intern for coffee and snacks
12:30 pm - half hour break for lunch at Les Salins - models restricted to salad menu
1:00 pm - wardrobe changes and makeup refresh for shoot (sunscreen application for models)
1:15 pm - resume shoot
3:15 pm - 15 minute break
3:30 pm - resume shoot
5:15 pm - pack up Paris wardrobe and models that are returning
6:15 pm - board plane for return
8:45 pm - arrive in Paris
9:30 pm - Adrien bedtime - lights out by 10 pm for school sleep schedule
Gabriel nodded as he sipped his coffee. "Excellent, Nathalie. You've thought of everything."
"Thank you, Sir," she replied.
Adrien set his knife and fork quietly on his plate and cleared his throat. Nathalie caught the cue and depressed a button on her tablet. Someone from the kitchen entered immediately and cleared his place as he leaned back to afford them room.
"Uh, Father? Since I'm finished, would it be all right if I went with the car that's picking up Marinette?"
Adrien's query surprised Nathalie, but she checked her watch. It was only 5:41. The car hadn't left yet. She glanced at Adrien. He was fully dressed, not a hair out of place. He even had a jacket on. He'd been planning to ask.
Gabriel silently eyed his son over the edge of his tablet, then glanced at Nathalie. She shrugged, indicating that it was no problem.
"Alright," Gabriel agreed, a tiny lift at the corner of his mouth the only indication that he noticed his son's bright smile.
"You'd better go on out and meet the driver, Adrien," Nathalie prompted.
Adrien grinned at her and pushed back his chair, zipping up his hoodie as he left the room.
Marinette tumbled out of bed - almost literally - at 5:08 am.
Oh my gosh, I'm gonna be late, she thought as she frantically gathered her shower things and attempted not to wake Alya in the bed above.
Luckily, she and Alya had gotten her completely packed the night before and had laid out the winning clothing ensemble on her chaise lounge. Nervous energy sped her along through her morning toilette. Tikki hovered cheerfully over Marinette's shoulder as she brushed her teeth and re-tied her pigtails.
"Try to check in with Chat Noir one more time," she suggested.
Marinette nodded, locking the bathroom door and transforming. She hit the communicator button, but Chat didn't pick up. No surprise there. She released her transformation with a sigh.
"Sorry, Tikki, no luck."
Her kwami shrugged as she flew into Marinette's open purse. "It's fine, Marinette. I'm sure Chat Noir will keep a good lookout while you're gone."
Marinette grabbed her school briefcase from her room and quietly closed the trap door, Alya's soft snores following her down the stairs. She went down to the bakery. Her father was already working, whistling a tune as he pulled the first fresh bread of the day out of the enormous oven.
"Be safe, Baby," he said, kissing her soundly on the top of the head.
Marinette smiled and gave him a big hug.
"I will, Papa. See you this evening." She picked up a special box of pastries he'd put together for her and exited through the side door to wait for Adrien's driver.
The city was still dark, street lights puncturing the shadows in the pre-dawn gloom. Marinette shivered as she looked up to take in a dim view of clouds passing quickly overhead. At least the forecast for the coast was clear.
The car arrived promptly at 6:00 am. Marinette reached forward to pull open the passenger door, but it swung open from the inside to reveal Adrien's sleepy smile. Marinette almost dropped her box of pastries.
"Hey, Marinette. Ready to go?" Adrien asked, stretching forward to relieve her of her school bag.
"Hi!" she squeaked. "Yeah!"
She'd been counting on a few minutes in the car to do a final makeup check before seeing Adrien, but now she'd just have to hope everything was applied correctly. Adrien's smile didn't waver as he slid over to make room for her in the car.
"Where's your luggage?" she asked, noting the absence of personal items in the back seat.
Adrien chuckled. "We hit the jackpot, bookwise. Turns out my mom was a fan of poetry. I had to load a separate duffel for all the reference books; they're with my other stuff on the way to the airport."
"Oh, great!" Marinette replied.
They lapsed into awkward silence as the car accelerated onto a main road. It took them to a remote airfield that housed Gabriel Agreste's private jet. Several miles and one gated checkpoint later, they pulled up directly onto the tarmac. A plane bearing the Agreste company logo stood waiting, warm lights on within. Other cars disgorged sleepy-eyed passengers and mountains of luggage. Adrien led the way up the movable staircase; Marinette clung to the railing tightly and prayed her nerves wouldn't cause her to slip or make some other klutzy mistake.
She unnecessarily ducked her head at the low doorway in the side of the plane. Adrien moved forward into the cabin, still carrying Marinette's school briefcase. Marinette wasn't sure what she'd been expecting, but the spacious cabin with swiveling leather chairs grouped around lustrous, deeply stained wooden tables was nothing like Alya's airbus description. She could see at a glance that the only overhead compartments in the room were for electronics and a decent DVD collection inset around a massive flat-screen television mounted to one wall. The TV was on, early morning headlines scrolling across the bottom of the screen as station anchors took the viewers through the latest political and economic developments.
One of the two lounge chairs attached to the floor in front of the TV swiveled around and Gabriel Agreste himself pinpointed Marinette with his intense stare, legs crossed at the knee and fingers steepled under his chin.
All the air in Marinette's lungs blew out with a woosh. She felt like she'd been checked with a punch to the gut. Had Adrien mentioned his father would be along for the trip? No, but of course, why wouldn't he come? How had this possibility not occurred to her? She froze, paralyzed, until someone bumped her with their carry-on and she took a stumbling step forward, clutching her pastry box tightly.
"Ms. Dupain-Cheng. How kind of you to join us." Gabriel stood up and came forward in one smooth gesture, his trademark coif picture-perfect and his tailored jacket and slacks immaculately pressed.
He shook her hand and even bent a little at the waist, looking deep into her eyes. Marinette was beyond surprised. She'd expected him to be cold, maybe even angry or irritated with her. He was cool, but she could tell he was sincere in his welcome.
"Th-thank you," she squeaked, then cleared her throat and tried again. "Thank you for the invitation. I'm sorry it was necessary."
"Are you truly?"
She wasn't sure whether he was serious or not, but then his eyes creased at the corners in a bare hint of a smile. She decided to smile back and raised the box in her hands toward him.
"Have you had breakfast?"
Adrien, setting her briefcase down at a table, tried to peek over his shoulder without staring. Was his father actually… smiling? He gaped when Gabriel peered into the pastry box Marinette was holding up for him and grasped a croissant in a dainty pinch with long fingers. His father took a bite, and then a genuine smile did cross his lips.
"Delicious," Gabriel pronounced with a sigh. "I haven't had a croissant like that in years."
"I brought enough for everyone," Marinette smiled.
Just then, another model pushed past in the center aisle of the cabin, bumping Marinette harshly on the shoulder and knocking the pastry box out of her hands.
"Oops, sorry," she singsonged, shouldering a tiny purse and just barely glancing away from her smartphone.
"Watch where you're going, Monica," Adrien admonished.
She rolled her eyes and continued her journey to the back of the plane. A thin man with a careworn face struggled under two enormous suitcases behind her, eventually dumping everything into one of the leather seats at the table she selected.
"Be careful, Arnold, those are brand new!" Monica snapped.
Adrien sighed and knelt to help Marinette pick up pastries.
"Sorry about that. Monica's… kind of a piece of work," he muttered.
Gabriel had stepped back - not rudely, Marinette realized, but to allow them room to maneuver in the cramped space. She couldn't imagine the famous fashion designer dropping to hands and knees for the sake of errant baked goods in any case.
"I hope nothing is ruined," he murmured sympathetically as the two teens rose.
"Good as new," Marinette replied, patting the top of the box. "I'll just leave them… here," she decided, glancing around and setting the box on the nearest table.
Adrien hovered over it, unsure. The buttery smell made his stomach gurgle, even though he'd already had breakfast.
"Take one," Marinette encouraged.
A thought occurred to her as she noticed Adrien's hesitation.
"Oh! Unless you aren't allowed…" her eyes strayed guiltily to Gabriel then slammed to the floor when he caught her gaze.
Gabriel smiled thinly, "He's a teenage boy. He can't gain weight if he tries."
Adrien reached for the pastry box, but his hand stilled as his father spoke again.
"However, he can ruin his complexion. Adrien, eat carefully."
With that, Gabriel Agreste swung back to the news, leaving the two teens to exchange glances as Adrien purloined an extra pastry from the box.
"Geez," Marinette whispered to herself.
Adrien shook his head and leaned in right next to her ear. "Don't even try. He hears all."
She could feel his lips moving against her hair more than she could even hear the words. She shivered as her face went bright pink.
The pair settled into their seats and clipped in their seat belts as the pilot and single stewardess took them through the safety guidelines. Marinette's ears perked at the constant sound of Monica snapping gum through the entire spiel, while the other model, Selina, giggled at something on her smartphone. Adrien rolled his eyes and shrugged, indicating there was nothing to be done for it. The plane began its ascent, Adrien grinning at her from across the table as she clutched the buttery leather armrests in a death grip.
Once they were safely in the air, Adrien unbuckled and knelt to drag a heavy black duffel out from under their table.
"Wow, you weren't kidding!" Marinette exclaimed as he unzipped it to reveal mounds of old hardbacks. The pleasant odor of old paper and glue wafted up to her as he pulled out three volumes and set them on the table.
"Shall we?" Adrien smirked with a mock bow as he sat back down.
Marinette smiled. The motion was reminiscent of someone else she knew, but she couldn't put a finger on it. She got her notebook and tablet and the pair went to work.
A few snack and drink breaks later, Marinette heard her phone chime as she returned from the bathroom. She took out her phone to see Alya's text when the plane banked, tilting the cabin unexpectedly. Marinette fell sideways over Adrien's seat with a startled exclamation, her face smushed into the double-paned oval window and one arm of the chair digging painfully into her stomach just above her hip.
"Whoa! Are you okay?" Adrien had both hands up, unsure how to help his struggling friend extricate herself from his lap.
He swiveled his chair inward, hoping to give her more room, but her face just scraped against the interior plane wall, then bumped the table edge.
"Ow!" she protested loudly, drawing looks from the other passengers.
"Omigosh, sorry!" Adrien exclaimed.
This was just getting worse. Marinette managed to get both hands on one arm of the chair and pushed off, rolling to the floor in an awkward heap. She felt clumsy and stupid, but at least she wasn't on her crush's lap anymore.
She sat up and rubbed the side of her face, looking up through her lashes to see if anyone was still watching. Only Monica, who was so engrossed Marinette was surprised she didn't have popcorn. She felt Adrien's hand on her shoulder and looked up.
"Hey, are you okay?" he asked, not a trace of a smile on his face.
Seriously, how can he be so amazingly nice? Marinette wondered. If their roles were reversed, she wouldn't be able to help at least a giggle. He must think she really hurt herself.
"How does it look?" she asked, tilting her head and pointing to the sore spot she could feel on her left cheekbone.
He frowned, considering. Before she could say anything more, he reached out and ran a finger over her cheek. Marinette fiercely suppressed the goofy, nervous grin that threatened to stretch across her aching face.
"Pink. Doesn't look scratched, though. It'll fade." He gave a short nod, confident in his assessment.
"How about my pride?"
"Bad sprain. Better stay off of it for at least a few hours."
At this, her lips twitched and they both snickered uncontrollably. Adrien offered her a hand and she helped herself up, then threw herself into her seat across from him, covering her face with both hands and peeking through her fingers at his grinning face.
"Maybe you should buckle up," he suggested slyly.
Marinette removed one hand and threw a pencil at him.
"Hey!" Adrien protested, ducking behind one arm to fend off the projectile.
The fasten seatbelt sign lit up with a ding above them, interrupting the nascent battle.
"All passengers, please be seated. We are now approaching Saint-Tropez and will begin our descent," intoned the pilot.
The teens followed instructions, packing away their study materials and getting ready to head to the coast.