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A Lesson in Love

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The first time Valentina met the twins they came thundering into the classroom on the first day of school dressed in a supergirl and a superman shirt and a cape.

 

Valentina was by the door greeted each of her students when the small girl hit her leg, her smaller brother quickly stabilizing her.

 

“Hi,” She smiled. “I'm Miss Carvajal.”

 

“Bella,” the girl grinned crookedly, bouncing on her toes. ”You are very pretty miss.”

 

“Yeah,” the boy agreed. “I'm Mat.”

 

They both grinned up at her, the same grin and same brown eyes. Bella’s hair was long and pulled back into a braid, a streak of white on her left side, when Mat’s hair was short on the sits, fluffed up at the front with a white streak on the front right.

 

Even at a glance, you could easily tell these two were twins.

 

“Bella, Mat, what have I told you about running off?” a woman huffed, catching Valentina’s attention.

 

“Hey, I'm Valentina Carvajal, I will be teaching your… children?”

 

“Grandchildren,” the woman corrected. “Lupita Valdes, this is Isabella and Mateo.”

 

“Bella,” the young girl corrected.

 

“Mat,” the boy corrected quickly after her.

 

“It is a pleasure to meet both of you.” Valentina smiled. “Would you like to go find you name tag on your desk?”

 

The duo nodded and rushed off.

 

Valentina spotted the girl’s name tag later that day, still on her desk but with ‘Isa’ scribbled down, leaving just ‘Bella Valdes’.

 

The twins kept to themselves, they were clearly very mischievous and playful, but didn't make a lot of friends for the first week. They would show up everyday with her grandmother, dressed in a different super hero shirt every time.

 

They eventually made friends Lucas, a kid that started a week after everyone else. He sat beside Bella, and the first thing he said was how much he loved supergirl after seeing her shirt, then complimented Mateo on his batman pencil.

 

Valentina noted the pure excitement in the twin’s eyes at those words. They had been inseparable every since.

 

It was a month into the term when Valentina finally got to meet their mother.

 

She got a message from the office not long before class finished telling her that their grandmother was sick and their mother was running late, so she would be late to pick them up.

 

Valentina settled at the desk beside the twins when everyone left, listening attentively as Bella flicked through the Spider-gwen comic she had on her desk. Mateo chimed in every so often, telling her about spider verse and how Penny Parker was his favourite.

 

It was about half an hour after school finished when a woman came rushing into the room, startling Valentina.

 

“Mami!” Mateo cheered, abandoning his chair and rushing to his mother, jumping into her arms, Bella following seconds later.

 

“I'm sorry, guys, I got held up at work.” she said, holding the twins tight against her chest.

 

Valentina could only stare as the woman held her children close, her nose stuffed in Mateo’s hair.

 

Then the woman opened her eyes to look at her, and Valentina felt like she had been punched in the chest, a soft smile pulling on her lips as she slowly stood.

 

“You must be Miss Carvajal,” the woman gave her a crooked smile as she set the kids on their feet, holding her hand out to Valentina. “I'm Juliana Valdes, the twin’s mother.”

 

“Nice to meet you,” Valentina took her hand, and she knew she was staring, she knew she needed to stop. “I'm Valentina.”

 

“They talk about you all the time, said you are the best teacher.” Juliana said. “Though, they do only have experience with one teacher.”

 

Valentina laughed, ducking her head as she dropped Juliana’s hand. When she looked up, Juliana was staring at her with a little smile.

 

“They is a fantastic students, a little easily distracted and very mischievous but they is very clever. And their drawings are incredible.”

 

“They both said their dream is to become a comic book artist.”

 

“They are more than capable.” Valentina said. “How is your mother?”

 

“She thinks it is the flu, but she was well enough to insult my shirt so she is okay.” Juliana chuckled.

 

“But it is so nice,” Valentina frowned, taking the sleeve of Juliana shirt in between her fingers.

 

“Thank you,”

 

Valentina looked up from the piece of fabric to see Juliana watching her.

 

“We have to go, mami,” Mateo tugged at her sleeve.

 

“We will miss Paw ‘trol.” Bella agreed.

 

“Looks like I'm leaving,” Juliana grinned at Valentina as the twins pulled her toward the door. “Thank you for waiting with them, I really appreciate it.”

 

“It was no problem,” Valentina assured.

 

“Bye, miss Carvajal.” Mat called.

 

Juliana smiled at her as the twins pulled her out of the classroom. “Bye,” She said softly, just before she disappeared completely.

 

Valentina was swooning at that soft smile, those pretty eyes, the obvious connection she had with her children.

 

Valentina sat there for a short while, collecting herself, before grabbing the comics the twins had loaned her, and locking up her classroom.

 

She made her way through the comics that night, in between revising her class plan and eating dinner.

 

--

 

She was leaning against the front of her desk, her ankles crossed as she, reading one of the comics as she waiting for her students to show up.

 

“Captain Marvel,” a voice said, startling her. “Good taste.”

 

Valentina looked up to see Juliana standing with the twins by the clothes pegs, helping them out of their jackets. She was smiling cheekily at her.

 

“This is Mat’s, he has good taste.” Valentina said, putting the comic on her desk and strolling over to them, hands tucked into the pockets of her slacks. She didn't miss the way Juliana’s eyes flickered down the length of her body. “Is your mother still sick?”

 

“She is doing better,” Juliana said, hooking up their jacket’s, giving Bella a playful little kick to the butt as they rushed off to their seats. “But still sick, so I took the day off.”

 

“Mami is the best fashion designer in the whole planet.” Bella said, stretching her arms in a wide circle gesture.

 

“The whole planet, huh?” Valentina grinned at Juliana, who rolled her eyes.

 

“And others,” Mat added.

 

“That’s not true,”

 

“Is to!” Bella argued.

 

“Mami made a dress for the lady who is on TV or something.” Mat added.

 

Valentina’s eyebrows raised. “Really?”

 

“It is no big deal,”

 

“That sounds like a big deal,” She disagreed. “It is kind of incredible, actually you must be really talented.”

 

Juliana opened her mouth but the twins got in there first. “She is,”

 

“The talentedest.”

 

Juliana laughed softly, ducking her head and shaking it a little. Valentina watched her with a soft smile.

 

“And, apparently, you have the two biggest fans on the planet.” Valentina motioned back to the twins, who hummed, both focused on their drawings.

 

“And others,” Bella agreed.

 

“Yeah, for some reason I'm their hero,” Juliana shrugged. “They grow out of that.”

 

“Then grow back into it,” Valentina said. “Mothers are heroes, and those kids, they show just how good of a hero you are. And I'm sure the father is great, too.”

 

She was fishing, and she knew she shouldn't, it wasn't her place.

 

“The father is actually a bit of a dick,” Juliana admitted quietly.

 

“Oh,” Valentina frowned. “I'm sorry, I shouldn't have-”

 

“It’s okay,” Juliana assured.

 

“Well, a single, working mother, that makes you even more of a hero.” the way Juliana ducked her head, a little smile tugging on her lips made Valentina’s heart stutter in her chest.

 

“I should head off, let you get ready for class.”

 

“Will you be picking them up?” Valentina asked, walking Juliana to the door.

 

“On time this time,” Juliana promised. “You two behave.”

 

“Yes, Mami,” both twins chimed off.

 

Juliana rolled her eyes playfully. “Bye, Miss Carvajal.”

 

There was an odd flutter in Valentina’s stomach. “Bye, Miss Valdes.”

 

Juliana ducked her head, a little smile on her lips as she made to leave.

 

--

 

Juliana was there on time, and Valentina’s eyes found her immediately.

 

Valentina was standing in front of her desk, talking to another parent when her eyes were drawn to the door. Just as she looked over Juliana entered, her eyes finding her children, a large smile stretching across her lips as she pulled them both into her arms, the twins talking animatedly at her, and Juliana seemed to be able to keep up with both children as they talked over each other.

 

Valentina’s lips hooked up into a little smile, and she completely forgot she was talking to someone until her name was said.

 

She pulled her attention back to the man in front of her, so obviously flirting with her, smiling politely before excusing herself.

 

“On time, I see.”

 

Juliana lifted her eyes to Valentina, that sweet smile that she had directed to her children slackening slightly. “As promised.”

 

Valentina just smiled at her for a second, before shaking herself out of it. “They had a lot of fun today, they played superheroes with Lucas.”

 

“They were just telling me how they took the jungle gym back from Thanos,” Juliana smiled at her children, both looking a little sleepy. “Why don't you go get your stuff and we can head home?”

 

The twins rushed off when they were set on their feet.

 

“How was your day?”

 

“Okay, I managed to get a little work done.” Juliana hummed, motioning to the man Valentina was previously talking to. ”Admirer of yours?”

 

Valentina tutted and rolled her eyes. “You would be surprised how many men think it is appropriate to hit on their kids teacher.”

 

“He has a ring on,” Juliana tapped her left ring finger with her thumb.

 

“He does, yes.”

 

“Dick,” Juliana murmured.

 

“Okay, Mami,” Bella held onto the straps of her bag.

 

“We are ready to go,” Mat added.

 

“Batman is on soon.”

 

Juliana nodded, looking serious as the prospect of missing batman.

 

Mat nodded over exaggeratedly. “We can't miss Batman.”

 

“We can't, buddy.” Juliana agreed, lifting her eyes to Valentina. “I should get going.”

 

“Yeah, can't miss Batman.” Valentina agreed seriously.

 

“Bye, Miss Carvajal.” the twins chimed in unison, heading for the door.

 

“Bye, Miss Carvajal.” Juliana grinned cheekily at her, and Valentina felt herself swoon.

 

“Bye. Enjoy Batman, guys.”

 

Bella was already out the door, but Mat grinned back at her, some teeth missing.

 

Juliana followed, glancing back at Valentina, giving her fingers a little wiggle as a wave goodbye.

 

Valentina didn't stop thinking about the little smile on Juliana’s face all night, finding herself smiling every so often as she thought back to Juliana.

 

--

 

Juliana didn't drop the kids off the following day, and Valentina felt terrible when she was a little disappointed to see Lupita.

 

“Miss Valdes,” Valentina greeted. “It is good to see you on your feet, how are you?”

 

“Better,” She smiled. “Juliana insisted I rest some more, that she should bring the kids in but she is so backed up at work, I know she hasn't gone to bed before four for the past week. She works hard, sometimes too hard.”

 

“She is amazing, raising two small children as well as working.” Valentina said. “It is admirable.”

 

“She is incredible, being able to juggle everything she does.” Lupita hummed. “But it will get too much eventually, I'm just glad she finally accept my help. She was adamant to do it on her own in the beginning, to show she was strong, that she didn't need anyone else.” Lupita laughed softly.

 

Valentina could see that in her, that strength in her, but also that stubbornness.

 

“She could do it alone but it is still nice to have someone in your corner.”

 

“Exactly what I said.” Lupita said. “Okay, guys, behave.”

 

Mat was distracted but Bella stood to attention, giving her grandmother a little salute.

 

Valentina pressed her lips together to stop her from laughing, Lupita rolled her eyes. “It is her mother she gets her sass from.”

 

Valentina laughed. “See you later, Miss Valdes.”

 

--

 

The twins were especially talkative that day, not disruptive, but they was obviously excited about something.

 

“Here you go, guys.” Valentina smiled, setting the comics down on their desks at the end of the day.

 

“Did you like’em?” Mat asked, fighting with his jacket to get it on.

 

“Incredible,”

 

“We are going to see the Captain Marvel movie on Friday.” Bella grinned, bouncing on her toes, and Valentina understood then why they were so excited.

 

“They’ll be fun,”

 

“Miss Carvajal,” a voice called, and Valentina looked toward the door to see the school principal motioning her out.

 

“See you guys tomorrow.” she said, moving toward the door, turning sideways when someone went to enter as she went to leave, but stopped halfway through the door whenever realised it was Juliana.

 

Juliana also stopped, a little smile pulling on her lips. “Hey,”

 

“Hey,” Valentina just stared until the principal saying her name snapped her out of it. “Bye.”

 

Juliana laughed softly, and Valentina swooned. “Bye,”

 

Renata gave her a knowing look when she turned to her.

 

“What?”

 

“Behave,” She warned. “Your brother wanted to know if you were still on for tonight?”

 

“Yeah, love fifth wheeling with you guys, and Eva and Mateo.” Valentina grumbled, her eyes snapping to the door when the twins came thundering out, Mat on Bella’s back.

 

“Bye, Miss Carvajal.” they called.

 

“See you trouble makers tomorrow.” She said, her eyes turning to Juliana, who smiled, giving her a little wave and mouthing ‘bye’.

 

“Maybe you could ask her along.” Renata grinned.

 

“See you tonight, Renata.” Valentina rolled her eyes, gently pushing her before heading inside.

 

The smile on Guillermo’s face when she entered their home that night told Valentina Renata had spilled everything.

 

“A mother, huh?”

 

“It's not like that,” Valentina sighed. “She is just the mother of my two favourite students.”

 

“You can't have favourites.” Renata said.

 

“Like you don’t have favourites.” Valentina rolled her eyes.

 

“Renata said she's cute.” Guillie glanced over his shoulder at her.

 

“I mean, yes, she is beautiful, but it isn't like that. Renata just came in at the wrong time.”

 

“Mhm,” Guillie hummed, and Valentina knew she was in for a night of teasing.

 

Lupita dropped the twins off at school every morning but Juliana picked them up every afternoon, giving Valentina a big smile and come Friday, Valentina was sure she was in love. 

 

“Miss Carvajal,” the twins called, running back into her class on Friday afternoon, five minutes after they had left.

 

Valentina’s eyes snapped up from her marking. “Is everything okay, guys?”

 

“Yes, yes,” they both rushed to her desk, just as Juliana appeared at the door.

 

“For such tiny legs they can run fast.” she huffed, and Valentina smiled.

 

“Did you forget something?”

 

“No, no,” the twins shook their head quickly, getting up on their tippy toes to rest their elbows on her desk.

 

“We are going to see Captain Marvel,” Bella said.

 

“And you said you loved the comics.” Mat added.

 

“They would like you to come.” Juliana finished, and the twin’s eyes lit up as they nodded quickly.

 

“Please, Miss. Please.” they begged, and Valentina looked from the pleading brown eyes to Juliana.

 

“I said you would be busy, but they insisted, they said you absolutely have to see it.” Juliana laughed, leaning against the doorframe, and Valentina swooned a little. “It's okay if you're busy.”

 

“Are you sure it's okay?”

 

“Of course, if you want to come.” Juliana assured, and Valentina looked from her to the hopeful eyes of the twins.

 

“Okay,” Valentina agreed, laughing when the twins cheered.

 

They twins launched into a mutual ramble of how fun it was going to be, when Juliana stepped in. “Guys, let's leave miss Carvajal to her work, okay?” Juliana smiled, placing her hands on the twin’s shoulders. “The showing is at five thirty, meet you there around five fifteen?”

 

“Okay,” Valentina agreed, resting her chin on her fist, smiling up at Juliana.

 

Juliana smiled right back, and for a second they just stared at each over, until Juliana took a deep breath and ruffled the kids hair. “Okay, let's go get you guys dinner before we go.”

 

“See you soon,” Valentina said, feeling giddy when Juliana dropped her head, almost bashfully.

 

“See you soon,”

 

Valentina didn't get much more work done after that, quickly packing up her things at four thirty and heading to her car.

 

She spotted the twins first, each dressed in matching Captain Marvel hoodies. They had their 3D glasses, looking around and smiling widely when they noticed Valentina.

 

Juliana was focused on her phone, looking up when the twins hit her side and pointed to Valentina.

 

A slow smile pulled on her lips when she spotted Valentina, tucking her phone away in her pocket.

 

“Miss Carvajal, look.” Both twins unzipped their hoodies, showing her their matching SHIELD tshirts. “We are agents of SHIELD.”

 

“Agents?” Valentina gasped playfully. “They sure do recruit young.” She said, lifting her eyes to Juliana, who was smiling softly at her. “Are you an agent, too?”

 

“That's classified.” Juliana grinned.

 

“Of course,” Valentina laughed, taking the ticket and glasses Juliana held out to her. “Oh, I'll just-”

 

A hand stopped her as she routed around in her purse, and her eyes snapped to Juliana. “It’s fine, Valentina.”

 

“I will get the popcorn and drinks.” the twins cheered, and Valentina panicked a little. “They are allowed popcorn, right?”

 

“Yes,” Juliana laughed.

 

The twins ran a little in front, Valentina and Juliana strolling behind then.

 

“It's nice, I can't remember the last time I had adult company outside of work or my mother.” Juliana admitted. “I feel like it's just the kids and me a lot of the time, which I am more than okay with they are fun to hang out with but sometimes you just need-”

 

“Time with someone your own age,” Valentina finished and Juliana hummed. “I think I have the opposite problem.”

 

“Too many people?”

 

“I don't mind, usually, I like having an open door policy, but somehow that extended to everyone I know. Sometimes I just want time for me, you know?”

 

Juliana nodded. “You didn't have to come tonight, they would have understood.”

 

“I wasn't--not you guys, I wanted to be here.”

 

“Maybe you should start looking your door,” Juliana suggested. “Those kind of relationships are nice, but you need to look after yourself first, and it is obviously taking it toll on you.”

 

“Maybe you're right,”

 

“That tends to be the case.” Juliana’s little smile was playful and cheeky.

 

“Mami, they have Captain Marvel cups,” Mat called.

 

“Well, we have to get those, don't we.” Valentina insisted.

 

They settled in their seats, the twins with a large popcorn to share and a soda each, while Valentina and Juliana shared a popcorn.

 

“They are both going to be so hyper tonight, they never get soda,” Juliana whispered, leaning closer to Valentina but not taking her eyes away from the trailers playing.

 

Valentina looked down, a little overwhelmed at their proximity as her eyes flickered over Juliana’s face, first lingering on her eyes, a beautiful brown with the light from the screen, then on her lips, pouted slightly as she chewed the inside of her cheek.

 

Valentina hummed absentmindedly, just staring at Juliana for a few seconds before Renata’s voice chimed in the back to her head. “Behave, Val.”

 

She turned her eyes back to the screen, trying her best to ignore Juliana’s arm that was ghosting against her own, the sensation causing the hairs on her arm to stand on end.

 

If Juliana noticed she didn't say anything.

 

The movie was beyond anything Valentina had expected, and if the gasps from the twins were anything to go by they agreed wholeheartedly.

 

The twins talked animatedly as they walked out the theater, babbling about the end scene and the next movie.

 

“Did you like it?”

 

“It was incredible,” Valentina nodded. “I feel like I could got fight aliens now.”

 

Juliana laughed softly.

 

“But not the Skrulls, the Kree.” Valentina clarified.

 

“Of course,” Juliana hummed, with a nod.

 

They walked to the car, Juliana opened the door for the twins and leaning against the car beside the open door. “I want to invite you over but I know you're probably busy.”

 

“I want to,” Valentina said, and Juliana perked up slightly. “But I'm having dinner with my family, my sister gets pissy when I don't show.”

 

“Oh, of course.” Juliana nodded, busing herself with helping Mateo, clip his seat belt in.

 

“I want to, though.” Valentina assured, waiting for Juliana to turn to her before speaking again. “Another time? I haven't seen the first Infinity War movie, maybe we could watch that?”

 

“You don't have to,” Juliana said. “I understand, you have your own life.”

 

“I had a lot of fun tonight, with you guys. I want to do it again.” Valentina stressed, and Juliana stared down at her hands unsurely. “Hey,” Valentina whispered, placing a hand on Juliana’s arm, prompting her to look up at her. “How about Monday? If you aren't busy, I could make dinner, then the four of us could watch Infinity War.”

 

Juliana tilted her head, giving a little nod. “Okay,”

 

“I will go home and get changed after work then come to your place.” Juliana nodded. “Okay. Thank you for tonight.” Valentina smiled, ducking to look at the twins. “You two, too. I had a lot of fun.”

 

“Thank you for the popcorn, Miss Carvajal.” Mat said, and Bella nodded.

 

“And the soda.”

 

“You are welcome, I will see you on Monday.” She smiled, turning her attention to Juliana. “And I will see you on Monday.”

 

“Looking forward to it,” Juliana smiled. “Goodnight,”

 

“Goodnight, Juliana. Goodnight, you two.”

 

“Goodnight, Miss Carvajal.”

 

Valentina was giddy that night, and her family definitely noticed, but they didn't ask.

 

She smile against her pillow when she got into bed that night, thinking of Juliana and the idea of spending the day with her on Monday.