The halls are filled with chattering students, eager to talk to their friends before class starts. Kim and Alix are in the corner, frantically copying Max’s homework and Rose is across the way, trying to catch Marinette’s attention. But Marinette only has eyes for the boy standing in front of her.
“So,” she says, shifting on her feet. The paper bag in her hands is a lifeline as she squeezes her grip on it.
Adrien is leaning against the lockers looking as cool and calm as ever. Marinette can only tell he’s nervous because she knows Chat, knows his tells, and right now, his hand is anxiously grabbing the back of his neck.
“So,” he echoes.
“Here.” She pushes the bag into his chest, making him stumble while he regains his balance. The moment he has a solid hold on it she pulls back in on herself.
Adrien opens the bag and his eyes light up when he realizes it’s a croissant.
“Thanks Marinette! Can I eat it?”
“What else do you do with croissants?”
“Thank you,” he repeats before breaking off a large piece. “What’s the occasion?”
“I know they’re your favorite so I thought I’d bring you one.”
He freezes with his mouth full of pastry, his cheeks puffed and bits of crumb on his lips. Then, to her absolute amazement, a blush creeps its way onto his face and he slowly swallows his food.
“Do you want some?” He holds out the small remains of his croissant and it’s so endearing Marinette wants to scream.
“No thanks. I brought it for you.”
“But I didn’t get you anything.”
“I wasn’t expecting you to.” She managed to hold it together for so long but she can feel herself growing hot. It shouldn’t be a big deal but he’s making it one and now she’s second guessing every decision she’s ever made.
“I’ll bring you something tomorrow.” He says it like a promise, his eyes far too intense for a conversation about croissants.
“You don’t have to.”
“I want to,” he says, placing his hands on hers. She can’t tell if it’s his hands or hers that are so clammy.
“I like macarons,” she offers weakly.
His smile grows warm. “I know.”
They stay holding hands for a few more seconds before Marinette realizes what is happening and takes a step back, yanking her hands from his like they’re on fire.
“So, um,” she says, rubbing her arm. “Now that we know…”
“Yeah,” he asks, leaning in a bit.
“I just, um. I was excited when Fu told us to tell each other because you’re my best friend and I wanted to be able to hang out with you. You know, for fun.”
“You want to hang out with me?”
Marinette can’t even find it in herself to be self-conscious at his question. Not when his grin threatens to take over his whole face and his eyes are sparkling with unencumbered joy.
“Of course. Like I said, you’re--”
“Guess what someone recorded last night,” Alya says, putting her arms around both Marinette and Adrien. She’s usually better at leaving Marinette alone when she’s making progress with Adrien so Alya’s interruption can mean only one thing.
“Something Ladybug related I assume?”
“They were caught talking on the Eiffel Tower for hours,” she says.
Marinette glances at Adrien quickly before returning her attention to Alya. “No offense but that doesn’t sound very exciting. Not compared to other things you recorded.”
“Hours, Marinette. Hours. There’s no way you can say they’re not dating.”
“What,” Adrien squeaks, still trapped by Alya’s arm.
Marinette chooses to ignore him, far too mortified to think of what to say to Adrien. “We spend hours talking all the time. Last time I checked, we aren’t dating.”
“That’s different,” Alya says.
“I have a boyfriend.”
“And how do you know they don’t have boyfriends or girlfriends?”
Alya pauses for a second before triumphantly declaring, “They can’t. We’ve seen them kiss twice now.”
“And both times Ladybug has said there were extenuating circumstances. Besides, that was ages ago, a lot could change.”
“Exactly! A lot like their feelings for each other! Adrien, back me up. I know you’re a ladynoir shipper.”
Marinette’s eyes bulge as her face threatens to match the temperature of the earth’s core. She glances around, praying for a way out of this conversation.
“Um. Th-they’re real people,” Adrien says. Marinette refuses to look over at him. “I doubt they want people speculating whether they’re dating or not.”
“Thank you,” Marinette says, chancing a superior smirk at Alya before looking away again. “Anyway, I need to check on something before class starts. I’ll see you guys later bye!”
Marinette slips out from Alya’s arm and books it in the opposite direction. There’s a good chance she’s going to be late now but it’s worth it if she doesn’t have to hear how Adrien is no longer interested in her. She already knows Chat Noir started flirting less and less with her over the years until it completely switched to friendly banter. She already knows Adrien was dating Kagami at some point.
She already knows just a few weeks ago, Chat spent days gushing to her about some girl he was apparently in love with. Some girl that was not Ladybug.
So, yeah, she takes the long way to class. Her heart can’t handle any more pain this early in the morning.