NOTE BEFORE READING:
The original fanfic is in Portuguese, this is a translation as is the Spanish version. I am not fluent in English, in fact my level is basic, I used translators as help. I apologize for the possible mistakes and to let me know so that I can correct them.
It was late afternoon and the Paris sky was painted in the most diverse orange tones. However, the studio at the Agreste mansion was still filled with a strong white light, something that could even blind those who were not used to it. The room was also immersed in the most absolute silence, which was interrupted only occasionally by the sound of a delicate and fast typing.
That peace was rudely interrupted by a telephone ring. It was a discreet touch, not as loud as the break of silence made it seem, but even so it was a completely unknown sound for Agreste.
The man stared at the assistant, making his displeasure clear. She, in turn, looked at the cell phone nervously, taking it in her hands in a hurried and awkward way. Then, Nathalie hurried steps out of the studio, completely ignoring the superior and his possible curiosity to know what it was, but making it clear that it seemed to be important to her.
It is not as if the assistant was forbidden to receive personal calls, which does not mean that it happened frequently - or that at least it had already happened. Nathalie was extremely professional, always keeping her coldness mask intact, which only made her departure in an alarmed way become a focus for Gabriel's curiosity.
It would be rude if he tried to hear behind the door, but nothing could stop him from hearing anything if he passed Nathalie to get a cup of coffee. The idea pleased him, it had been a few hours since he took a break from work... and it would be interesting to find out what made the assistant nervous.
However, when Gabriel opened the doors of his sanctuary, he found the assistant wandering from side to side in what appeared to be the end of the call:
— Yes Yes! I will go as soon as possible! Thanks for warning me. — her voice came out full of concern, while the device was removed from her face — It must take me an hour, then twenty minutes until we arrive and another hour back — She began to murmur, still walking aimlessly through the mansion's entrance while doing your calculations.
— Nathalie, — Gabriel finally made himself noticed — should I assume it's an emergency?
— Yes! I need to go to... — She sighed and nodded before continuing. Once again, his mask of coldness was put on, accompanied by a calm and listless voice — No, it is nothing really urgent. I can solve it in a few minutes by making calls.
It was as if Agreste's curiosity was being put at stake: if he allowed Nathalie to go, he probably wouldn't know what she was going to do until she returned; if she stayed and made the calls, she might be able to hear something. In any case, he let his common sense speak louder - whatever it was, it seemed to be serious.
— You can end your shift earlier today. Take advantage of tomorrow's break to resolve your private matter. — The words were said with disinterest, perfectly disguising Gabriel's latent curiosity. When he noticed the assistant trying to order something on the phone screen with shaking hands, he realized how serious the problem must be and how nervous she really was under the appearance she wanted to appear — You... — he stared at the bodyguard son, who throughout the time was standing in front of the boy's bedroom door — Go with her. — Ordered, implying that Nathalie should be accompanied wherever and for how long it was necessary.
— Thank you, Mr. Agreste — said the woman, waiting until the boss entered the studio and closed the door before letting the mask fall again.
The walk to the car was made quietly. Nathalie's concern was written on her face, but the co-worker knew perfectly well that asking something now would only make her uncomfortable. Anyway, there was one thing he needed to know and he made a point of asking while they were still buckling up:
— Where are we going?
— Turn off the GPS — she asked, clumsily holding the cell phone in her hands — I tell you the way you should take...
— And are you really in a position to do that?
All Nathalie did was an affirmative nod. He would not go against her wishes, he knew her colleague well enough to know what challenges made her angry, making her angry was all she didn't need now.
Nathalie was now in a small room that contrasted completely with the large studio of her superior: the walls were a brownish color, which only made the room take on a warm tone with the help of yellow lamps. It wasn't a clear place, it wasn't a clean or modern place, but it was cozy. She was sitting on one of the velvet-lined chairs, facing a lady with a sweet and respectful face whose name was framed by a plaque on the table that separated the two.
— The inconvenience is unfortunate, but we have no way of letting this little accident go unnoticed — the older one spoke comprehensively, placing her hands crossed on the table — What surprised me most about the young man's conduct... — and, at this moment, she made a point of facing the blond-haired boy who was standing, leaning against one of the living room windows — ... it wasn't that he fell from a tree, nor did he climb one. What surprised me was the attempt to hide what happened.
— It's really worthy of scolding — Nathalie's harsh voice only made the boy face the outside view with more focus to ignore the conversation — Hiding something like that for so long, without worrying about the consequences...
— Consequences — repeated the other, sighing — Let's now talk about the consequences: the right would be a suspension, but the recess begins practically today. We then chose to deprive him of extra classes until the end of the recess.
— But it's not fair, it wasn't even my fault and... — The boy tried to explain himself, uselessly.
— It will be the necessary time for the recovery of the ankle — Nathalie completely ignored the whining of the other, interrupting him — I apologize for the misfortune. If that was all, I think the problem has been resolved — She stood up.
— He's a great guy, I'm still surprised by the actions he decided to take — the older one stood up too — I look forward to the return, for better decisions too.
And, with a brief handshake and a wave, Nathalie and the boy left the principal's office. A small part of the problem was solved, but there were still many other points to get right, which left Gabriel's assistant completely discouraged and with mixed thoughts.
Gorilla was waiting patiently in the parking lot. He was not sure where he was, but he thought it was some kind of school due to the architecture of the buildings and some uniformed youths were walking through the huge courtyard. From the looks of it, it seemed to be the kind of place where only the elite frequented.
That sphere of educational institution made him have memories of his high school life, it was fun and funny to frighten the minors that he was, especially living up to the nickname he had earned: Gorilla. It was really unusual to have been given the same nickname, years and years later, but by a boy who would never dare to misfortune.
Distracted by his thoughts, he only noticed that his colleague was back when the back door of the car was opened and a boy entered. At first, he thought he was just a distracted boy getting in the wrong car, but looking closely, he seemed to be extremely familiar: thin, blond, with clear eyes. He would even think he was Adrien's cousin, if he wasn't sure that the Agreste family was all about Gabriel and his son.
Before he could ask the new passenger anything, Nathalie entered through the other rear door. She was no longer as nervous as before, but it was clear that she was still worried - maybe even irritated. Another thing the car driver noticed was the strange resemblance between her and the boy: they both had fair skin, a disinterested look (hers being in a much stronger and more vivid shade of blue) and behaved in much the same way, both looking out the car window and not looking satisfied.
— Where? — That was all Gorilla managed to ask, trying to notice a little more about the boy next to Nathalie.
— Hospital — the voice came out with a certain coldness that tried to hide the concern while she still stared at the window — There is a next one taking the main one, you only need to make a return, if I'm not mistaken.
— Hospital? I don't need it, I just need to go home and rest... — murmured the boy, it was remarkable that even his voice reminded Adrien by the tone, while the frigid way reminded Nathalie.
— You go to the hospital and they'll take care of your ankle. No "but" and no excuses — she continued to look out the window, even seeming to avoid eye contact with anyone in the car.
— But mom... — whined the blonde, for the first time looking directly at Nathalie. He looked distressed, but what caught the bodyguard's attention the most was the way he referred to the woman.
— What part of the “without‘ but’” you don’t understand yet, Félix? — She asked, finally facing the supposed son — Undo that face of abandoned cat, it's not so much... — after the scolding, she looked at her co-worker through the car's central mirror — Come on.
The thirteen minute drive to the hospital was plunged into absolute silence.
Silence remained until they reached the parking lot, more precisely when Nathalie was helping Félix out of the car and, as soon as the boy touched his foot to the ground, he let out a few grunts of pain.
— Want help? Asked the bodyguard promptly.
— It's not necessary, thank you... — Nathalie replied, causing the boy to lean on her before they started walking — I don't think it will be long, but it's getting late and I would understand perfectly if you want to go home... — She said, running her hand over the boy's blond hair.
— I'll wait here, don't worry.
She nodded, beginning the walk to the hospital entrance. It was a large building, as refined as the hospital that the Agrestes occasionally visited for a checkup, but it did not appear to be modern. It was beautiful, but not modern.
Thinking about the region, the man turned his thoughts towards a very simple question: where was he, after all? He got lost after so many laps, entrances, tolls and even more laps.
He wouldn't dare to disobey Nathalie's request and turn on the car's GPS, but he was really curious about the place. It was distant, distant even from his colleague's house — he had taken her home now and then when it was too late and Gabriel was in a good mood — which only made him even more curious.
Perhaps the call she answered earlier was related to going to school, that was almost certain. However, what would it take to call her, so far away from there, instead of those responsible for that boy? And how did Nathalie know him? And why did he call her "mother"?
Before the man got even deeper into his doubts, he was pulled out of his trance by the car doors being opened once more. This Felix sat in the same place as before, with a sullen and embarrassed countenance, Nathalie already seemed much more calm, without worry and willing to face the boy instead of looking out the window.
— Can you remember the way to my house without help? — she asked the driver, looking at him in the rearview mirror
— I think so — said Gorilla.
— Great. — She looked back at the boy beside her — Explanations.
— I fell... — was all he said, looking out the window.
— Felix, explanations — said Nathalie in an orderly tone, holding the boy's chin and making him look in her direction.
— It was that annoying girl's fault again! I had to climb a tree, only the branch gave way and... — He started to fire the answer, which sounded more like a lame excuse than a real explanation of what happened.
— I understand that your roommate can be annoying, but don't you think it's an exaggeration to climb a tree? — The woman's tone was calm, with a hint of reproach.
— No... I don't think, because it worked. Only then the branch gave way because I am the most unlucky creature on the planet! — He accused, dramatic.
— Not so much... — Nathalie sighed, unsuccessful on the issue of climbing trees — And why did you hide the twist for so long?
— I just didn't mean to disturb you — he replied in a low tone, looking out the window again. That little comment managed to elicit a smile from Nathalie, who stuck her fingers between the blond strands in a caress.
— You will never be “nothing”, don't worry.
And with that little observation, the woman managed to get a smile from the boy. He also managed to elicit a low-key smile from Gorila, who just overheard the conversation and tried not to let as much in his face as he was watching them both.
Once again the trip was plunged into silence. Félix ended up falling asleep with a few minutes of affection and Nathalie, without having much to do, just looked out the window and time or another indicated which direction should be taken.
Sometimes Gorilla took the opportunity to look at the boy in the back seat. He seemed to be wearing his school uniform, he seemed to be a real “spoiled”, but, above all, he seemed to enjoy being close to Nathalie, even though she was avoiding looking at him at first. Maybe it was some child who was in her care before, so the similar behavior…
Nathalie's house was a typical house in a residential neighborhood: discreet, small, just like the neighboring houses and far from the center. Gorilla often wondered why she shouldn't rent an apartment closer to work or even live in the mansion, given that she spent all day there.
— We arrived... — murmured the driver, unlocking the doors — Do you want help with him?
— I don't think he'll accept it — Nathalie sighed, defeated before she even started the fight to get Félix out of the car — But I want to talk to you — she handed the house key to her colleague, in a silent request for him to go ahead.
The bodyguard got out of the car, went through the small garden space and opened the door with some curiosity, noticing as much as he could: he had never seen what it was like inside. Knowing anything about Nathalie was a really difficult task, she was extremely reserved with her personal life.
Despite his immense desire, he did not dare to enter. She just left the door leaning and went back to the car, not sure how to help Nathalie: the boy hugged her, trying to pull her into the car while he seemed to be sleeping; she, in turn, tried unsuccessfully to pull him out. The war between the two continued until she lost her temper.
— FELIX! — She shouted, with one hand clinging to the car door in search of balance and the other holding the boy's forearm.
He woke up instantly, confused, but quickly giving in to the tugs she was giving and getting out of the car. So they both started walking slowly, to the door. Gorilla gave them a pass, entering shortly thereafter, but first making sure to lock the car if it was going to take too long.
The colleague left the boy lying on the sofa in the living room, silently allowing him to go back to sleep. The furniture appeared to be soft, completely matching the cozy sphere that the place had: wooden furniture, all with the same combination of light colors. Everything was neat, organized, which did not appear to be an abandoned place most of the time.
— Do you accept a coffee while you continue to notice my decor? — Nathalie's voice sounded amused, as she walked to the room that seemed to be the kitchen.
— Yes... No! — The man got tangled in the answer — I accept the coffee, but I'm not noticing the decoration... — he started trying to explain himself, following her — I am, but I was just curious, because I didn't expect such a place...
— A place...? — She indicated with her chin so that he could sit at a small table in the kitchen, while he started to prepare coffee.
— Cozy — he replied, sitting up and trying not to notice the kitchen, the cupboards, one or the message leaflets nailed to them, let alone a pair of bowls next to a possible back door.
— Cozy? — She repeated, letting a little laugh escape — I would say old-fashioned, but that's not what I want to talk about.
— Want to talk about you having pets?
— No, we are not going to talk about the cat that Félix did the favor of dragging home — she sighed, a little irritated just by remembering all the problems that the little mascot gave until she started to behave alone.
— Wait, does he really live with you? — This time the question was even more incredulous.
— Usually he stays away and only comes on Sundays...
— Nathalie, I'm talking about Felix, not your cat!
There was too much information, too many thoughts and questions to worry about just one cat. Nathalie trying to sound fun did not help, on the contrary, it made everything even stranger than it already seemed.
— Félix studies at a boarding school, returns home on Sundays. I'm not stupid enough to confuse my son with my cat! — Now she sounded irritated, putting a kettle of water on to warm up.
— Wait, wait! — The other asked, getting even pale — Are you saying that he is your son? Is it really yours? Isn't it like Adrien, son of a former boss or something?
— IS! Is my son! — The voice remained irritated, but a cynical laugh came shortly afterwards — You can start with the judgments, accusations of irresponsibility and everything else that must be crazy to speak. You can even give me decoration tips if you want — she sat across from her colleague, facing him in the most serious way she could — I just don't want anyone else to know about Félix, understand?
— Which part you did not urdestand? — The woman controlled herself not to roll her eyes.
— The part where we've been friends for years and you never told me you had a child! This part! — He couldn't sit still, got up and started walking through the small kitchen — You work all day, practically taking care of Adrien, while your son is in boarding school!? What else do you hide, Nathalie? Is Nathalie your name again? Are you married to an Italian mobster, why are you hiding?
— Hey! — she called, already without irritation in her voice — I'm not from Italy... — she commented, trying to calm him down. It was funny to see a person as big, as strong and as quiet as he was in shock at something as simple as that.
— I can't believe it... — he sighed, taking the kettle with boiled water and pouring it awkwardly into a cup — Nathalie, how are you going to take care of him? Speaking of taking care, you went to the hospital with him, but I bet you didn't talk about that annoying cough of yours...
— It's spring, pollen allergy.
— Don’t change the subject! — He walked back through the kitchen, trying to think about what to do — Maybe if he takes him hidden, Gabriel doesn't notice. Although he may mistake his son for Adrien... Adrien is not your son either, is he? Ah... — and, again, he went pale again — Felix is Gabriel's bastard son!?
All Nathalie managed to do was start a fit of laughter, mixed with short periods of coughing, followed by even more laughter. She never imagined such a comical reaction from her colleague.
After a few minutes, everything fell into an uncomfortable silence. Nathalie still had some tears in her eyes from laughing and her colleague was still pale, using almost all the boiled water - he probably hadn't noticed yet that the coffee was not ready.
— Tomorrow is my day off, I take care of him... Monday he will be able to manage by himself — she shrugged — There is not much I can do about it.
— Ask for a few days off, it's your son...
— He'll suspect something. All I don't want is Mr. Agreste knowing something about my life. It wasn't even for you to know, by the way...
Again, the dialogue was dropped and the kitchen fell into an irritating silence. The bodyguard was offended and worried, Nathalie was trying to think about what to do. And so they remained, for a few minutes, until Felix appeared at the door with a face that was not very happy.
— Mother... — he called low, completely ignoring the big guy right next to him — help me up the stairs?
— Don't you think it's better to stay in the room? It will end up falling if it keeps going up and down all the time — even talking like that, Nathalie was already on her feet again, going to the boy.
— Plagg likes to stay in my room...
— Plagg is the name of the cat, before you ask — the woman looked at her colleague while she was hugging her son — It is getting late, better to go back to the Agreste mansion. If he asks, make up any excuse.
Gorilla just nodded, not sure what kind of excuse he could come up with.
After leaving her son in the room and making sure that Gorilla was already gone, it was time for Nathalie to start working. She hated taking work home, mainly because she was almost never at home, but as much as she was able to do in order to be able to return home early in the next few days would be better.
Contracts, orders, storage, budgets... even investments that Gabriel made passed through her hands before, as if she were in charge of sifting what was really worthwhile or not before passing it on to the boss. Amid so many tasks, his concentration was completely ruined by a single word:
— Mom? — Felix called quietly, waiting for the door to be opened.
The woman stood up, listening to a symphony of bones cracking from sitting too long in the same position. Hurriedly, she went to the entrance of her room and found the blond boy staring at the floor.
— Is your ankle hurting? Want something? — She took the chin of his with one hand, making him look her in the eyes.
— I just lost sleep... can I stay with you?
— I'm busy now, Felix... — she sighed, but she couldn't resist the eyes of the abandoned cat that her son did when he wanted something — Promise to be quiet?
— We promise — he gave a discreet smile, leaning on her to enter the room while the little black cat took advantage of the breach to enter.
Nathalie didn't even try to resist, she knew that the only way would be to accept the invasion of her son and the pet cat beside her while she worked. She helped Felix to settle on the bed, made sure to place the cat next to him and place a good night kiss on his son's forehead.
— Hun? — She avoided making eye contact, placing his injured ankle on a pillow.
— Tell me a story?
— Felix, you are already big... — she sighed, knowing where it would end — I can't now.
— I thought it would be nice to remember when I was a little boy and you paid attention to me, but since you are busy — he whined, turning his face away and looking offended.
Nathalie went back to her desk, typing some things, fixing others and pretending to ignore the drama that Felix was doing. Even the boy thought she was back at work, but was surprised to feel his mother's arms around him minutes later.
— If I need to work later, don't complain! — she warned, touching the blond wires.
— I will not go! — quickly, he turned towards her and hugged her too — Are you really going to tell me a story?
— If you really want to... I just don't promise to be able to stay awake until I finish counting.
— Tell the story of the Heroes of Paris.
— That again? Will you never get sick of butterflies, cats and ladybugs? — Nathalie sighed, knowing she wouldn't be able to sleep without first finishing at least one of the stories.
— Plagg hasn't heard about it yet... — Felix replied amused, waiting anxiously for the beginning of the story. He missed having his mother close, he tried his best to keep her from work, even if he had to resort to childishness.
Merci pour la lecture!