Adrien slung his bag over his shoulder and shut his locker, ready to head home. School had just ended an hour ago, but Adrien had lingered around with Nino.
The boys had been trying to wrap the gift that Nino had bought for Alya. It was a tiny but thoughtful gift: a red journal with black polka dots, like a ladybug. Nino saw it while shopping and thought it would be a wonderful place for Alya to document her findings about Ladybug before collating them and posting them on her blog.
It took them half an hour to figure out how to wrap the gift. And once they did, Nino thought it didn't look perfect enough, so they unwrapped it and tried again for another half hour.
Adrien left his friend after Nino had shyly handed Alya her gift, earning him a sweet hug. Adrien also wondered why Alya was still in school even though classes had ended long ago. His mind began drifting to Marinette. If Alya was still in school, what about Marinette?
He thought about her as he walked along the corridor. He realised that he had been thinking a lot about Marinette ever since he got to know her better. She was the kindest person he had ever met, besides Ladybug, and he just couldn't stop thinking about his blue-eyed friend.
It was then as though thinking of her summoned her presence. He was walking by the gym and was absently looking in through the windows when he saw her. There she was at the other end of the gym, by the treadmill, with her back to the windows and corridor. Her pigtails were bouncing up and down as she ran.
Adrien stopped in his tracks, transfixed. He didn't know why, but suddenly he felt himself moving hurriedly back to his locker to change into his PE clothes. He was suddenly glad he always kept an extra set in his locker.
Plagg floated out of his bag to stare at his human, who was struggling to put his shirt on. "I thought we were heading home?"
"Change of plans. I'm going to the gym," Adrien replied, distracted. Once his shirt was on, he bent down to put on proper shoes.
"But you have a gym at home."
"I suddenly like the gym in school."
"But you have a gym at home," Plagg repeated, as though Adrien didn't hear him the first time. "And, cheese."
Adrien chuckled. He knew Plagg would bring that up. Winking at his kwami, Adrien patted a box at the corner of his locker. When Plagg opened it, he almost yelled in delight. It was a box full of cheese!
Plagg wasted no time in stuffing the cheese into his tiny mouth. He closed his eyes in happiness, but opened them again just briefly to say, "Your shirt's on backwards."
Adrien stood by the gym doors for almost five minutes. He was suddenly nervous, and he had begun sweating even though he hadn't even begun his work out.
He shook his head, shaking away his anxiety. It was just Marinette. Just Marinette.
Adrien jumped. The door had suddenly opened and Marinette walked out. Her eyes were as wide as Adrien's as they stared at each other, neither saying a word. She had pushed her fringe back with a headband, and Adrien couldn't help but take in the beads of sweat on her forehead.
He was the first to recover. "Marinette," he began slowly, trying to keep his disappointment from showing. "You're done with your workout? You're leaving now?"
Marinette blinked and swallowed hard. "No, I was just getting a drink. I forgot my bottle."
She was surprised she didn't stutter. She was even more surprised when Adrien's hand suddenly shot out, a bottle in hand. He almost cringed. Get it together, he yelled to himself.
"Here," he said, as calmly and steadily as he could.
Marinette slowly reached out. She tried her best to avoid brushing her fingertips against Adrien's hand, but she couldn't. Her hands were just shaking too much.
When she touched him, her heart skipped a beat and she shuffled nervously on her feet. Adrien scratched the back of his neck, a gesture Marinette remembered when they accidentally touched hands in her room while training for the gaming tournament.
"Thank you," she said softly. Once she took a small sip, she looked into his eyes again. "You're going to the gym too?"
"Yeah, I was. Hey, Marinette, just finish up my water. You must be thirsty. I have another bottle in my bag here," Adrien said, gesturing to his gym bag.
Marinette smiled gratefully at him and took several gulps as gracefully as she could. It quenched her thirst immensely, and she shut her eyes in delight. When she opened her eyes to look at Adrien, he smiled and nodded towards the gym, and they headed in.
Marinette went to the treadmill again, and Adrien was curious, but he didn't ask. He took the machine beside hers after stretching, and then they began running.
Neither of them said anything to each other. It was a comfortable silence, with just the music playing from Marinette's phone and the thumping of their feet filling the room. They were the only ones here. Occasionally, they would look over at each other and give small, shy smiles.
They kept running, keeping good speed, until Marinette pressed the button to increase her speed. Adrien stared as she ran faster, faster than him.
He then pressed the button on his own machine, picking a speed faster than hers. Marinette looked over at Adrien, and he returned her look with a smug grin.
She frowned at him, but couldn't help a competitive smile. For some reason, she decided to increase her speed too.
Which led to Adrien increasing his.
Then Marinette increasing hers.
And it went on and on, until Adrien couldn't keep up with the speed his treadmill was going. With a yelp, he was shot back and fell to the ground with a thud. He groaned, rubbing his back.
Marinette couldn't stop the laughter from bubbling out of her mouth. Her speed was a little slower than Adrien's, but she could barely keep up, and coupled with her laughing, it sent her flying back too.
She landed on the ground beside Adrien.
Now it was his turn to laugh. They laughed until their stomachs hurt, and when they were done, they laid on the ground and stared up at the ceiling. "And that concludes our core muscle work out," he joked, pointing to his stomach.
Marinette laughed again and rolled to her side, staring at Adrien. He remained on his back, but turned his head to look at her. He smiled warmly. "This was fun."
"It was," she agreed, genuinely, even though all they did was run and compete and fall on their butts. But, it meant a lot.
Adrien took in Marinette's flushed cheeks. The fact that she was lying down next to him, looking at him in that way that makes his heart melt, made his face burn too, but he was glad he could use the work out as an excuse for the state of his red face and ears.
They stared at each other for a long time, neither wanting to move away.
Adrien broke the silence after a while. "Marinette," he whispered.
"Hmm?" she asked.
"Will you be my workout buddy?"
She blinked, her lips parting slightly. All this time, Marinette has been working out in the gym alone. It was a good way to escape and be in her own thoughts, but most of the time, it would get lonely. She had always hoped someone would walk in through the gym doors, and even if they didn't stick around her, at least she wouldn't be alone.
She never thought the person who would answer her prayers would be Adrien.
Marinette smiled widely and gave her friend a nod. He beamed too, returning his gaze to the ceiling and giving a contented sigh. He was glad. The gym in his house had been making him feel incredibly lonely too.
But now, he has Marinette.
As a workout buddy, he meant.
Two more shorter chapters are coming. One of them includes Alya and Nino because they demanded to be written about too. Thank you for reading. Do leave a review if you wish. :)