She realized that she was staring at the back of his head too much and that the teacher probably noticed long ago, but had yet to say a word to her about the lack of attention she should have been paying to her note-taking. She couldn't help it whenever he arrived; she lost control of herself against part of her better judgment.
It was so hard on days that Adrien was absent from class. It was quite the large pit whenever he had something to do that took him out of school and she missed him. Oh, how she missed him...even if it cost her the ability to speak when he was around. The space he took up with his presence and his physical form was always more obvious whenever there was a lack of it in class all day. Her mood never failed to drop a few degrees, usually hid to everyone but her good friend Alya. Thankfully, her good friend only smiled that knowing smile and kept silent about the glitch to her personality.
Whenever he strode through that door or she saw him get out of his expensive car and head up the steps, the pep to her morning returned with vigor and then some. The smile that inevitably burst forth from her rendered her quite the fool at the mere sight of catching that gorgeous, perfect hair in the light. Even now, she was transfixed with that swath of gold from below her seat. She was content to stare at it as it moved whenever he looked down to his notes and then back up to the teacher. Oh how she wanted to run her fingers through it to see if it felt as soft as looked!
She gave the quietest of happy sighs that she dared let escape in the middle of a lecture. She knew the only one who would hear was Alya and the only thing Alya would do was probably take extra notes for her due to her ever-present 'condition' of being a love-struck fool. She knew this would happen sure as she knew her friend would also be as happy for her as possible.
What would she do without Alya around to help her whenever her friend felt like sticking her nose into business that was hers alone? She would be a lot shyer and totally less able to speak to Adrien many times! The strength of Alya was enough to drive her on and many times she didn't want to give in to herself for the sake of how much her friend tried to do for her.
She passed away most of the class barely paying attention to anything her teacher said. She wanted to feel bad, really she did, but it was only more amazing to her mood when class ended and Adrien shifted in his seat to talk to Nino...and her table. Her brain melted into its usual puddle of incoherent letters and syllables, face burning hotter than the sun in her shame to be unable to talk to such a great person that sat in front of her.
So many times she wanted to run away amidst this horrible, pathetic attempt to be herself around him! It was just easier to look at him from afar and see his pictures in her room. The few times she spoke to his pictures seemed less crazy than attempting conversation with the real thing mere feet away from her.
It was such a dichotomy in the beginning. She could very clearly remember how he abruptly showed up and she had absolutely no idea who he was. She wanted to laugh out loud, even now with him sitting and talking to Nino and Alya, at how she used to think he was a horrible person merely because she assumed before asking questions. She would forever cringe at that time when she accused him of being the one to put gum on her chair and always smile at his honesty in trying to tell her the truth.
She stared at his sideways profile as he spoke with Nino. She avidly drank in his smile as he talked about something she was in no way listening to. She would forever call herself a fool for almost dismissing one of the brightest and most wonderful people she could ever call friend...and someone who would always occupy her heart.
She thought back to his words on that rainy day and a chunk of her heart cried at them. This was the first time he was able to do something like this when she always had that availability. He had no friends, he had said. She wanted to cry at such words and find every way in her power to make it up to him every moment of every day. She tried, honestly she did, but Marinette Dupain-Cheng is a fool in front of the all-mighty Adrien Agreste...
She jolted and whipped to the back of her seat as if someone had waved fire in her face. "Huh?!" She blinked wide eyes, heart racing with Adrien's friendly eyes looking at her somewhat expectantly for an answer she had no idea about because she never heard the question. "I – I – what were we talking about?! I – I nothing...heard...what?"
She pinned panicked eyes to her savior who only smiled and waved the boys off nonchalantly. "Don't worry guys. Marinette is just overly worried about the last class she conveniently missed out on."
The pair looked to the very coy smile Alya adopted as she stared across the table. She mentally screamed her friend's name in her head, cringing that Alya would sell her out, even though she knew exactly what the reason was about. It was all in an attempt to help her, she knew this, but it made things no less embarrassing!
The two below looked at each other in confusion. "But she was here all of class." Nino broke in, brows furrowed.
She gave a very tense smile through gritted teeth when Adrien looked at her again. She barely heard his words and cut off any questions with a nervous giggle, hand trying to wave him off. "Ah...hahaha...yea...I was thinking about...something...um...major...I mean – I – I...no...I was -"
Alya chuckled knowingly and patted her shoulder lightly. "We all know you have a lot on your mind, Miss Space-Cadet." Alya's eyes glinted.
She pouted at Alya, looking to her desk. Her face felt as hot as the sun and all the mental ordering for it to turn back to its normal pink hue went ignored. "Excuse me." In a second, she stood and headed to the doorway. "I'll be back in a minute." She didn't wait for anyone to ask questions or try to talk her out of leaving what she felt was a tense situation.
She headed for the bathroom with the intent of making it look like she needed to use it when she really just wanted some time alone to regain her wits. The place was empty and she headed to one of the stalls and quietly clicked the lock in place. She leaned against the wall with a sigh and looked to the ceiling briefly. After a minute of silence, she reached into a pocket and grabbed her ever-present cell phone. She pressed a few buttons till she got to the picture of Adrien that she kept. She stared at it, brows furrowing upward a little, mouth tilting to a hint of a smile.
Why was it so hard to be so near to him and have him talk to her like a normal person, and why couldn't she reciprocate in kind? It was so glorious to feel so much toward him as she always did, but it was also so frustrating to be locked and chained under the overbearing emotions of her own heart!
Her gaze softened as she stared into those emerald eyes of his and the smile he gave when Alya took a picture of him for her. Would he ever know? That day in the rain...she would kick herself if she ever forgot that moment.
"I never went to school before... I never had any friends... All this is pretty new to me..."
And then he faced her and handed over his umbrella with that look. That soft, honest look that felt a little hollow in his eyes where that small smile never reached. His car was just down at the bottom of the steps and he wouldn't get as drenched as she would have, but he was still offering to take damage from the rain on his expensive clothes so she wouldn't get soaked before reaching even the short distance home. Some of the hate crumbled into tiny pieces in that moment and her hand had reached out on its own toward that peace offering. Her heart also reached out with a need as those poor meanings sunk in and she found she couldn't turn him away. She took the umbrella from him, but it only served to a testament of how horrible, or good, her luck was when it closed on her.
Oh that first laugh. She wanted to be embarrassed at herself, but hearing his beautiful voice break the tension of that dreary afternoon made her join alongside him. She wanted to let him continue, but he seemed to remember the situation and reigned in his amusement. When he spoke of reuniting in class the next day and walked away, a piece of her floated alongside him as she watched him descend the steps.
She gave a happy sigh as she remembered every minute detail. She clutched the phone to her chest and righted herself from the bathroom wall. She was grateful to be apart of his life in any way she could...a stumbling idiot or not. He found worth in her somehow, what she was still too embarrassed to ask about, and it made her smile to think that. If, somehow in the near future, she would ever be able to be as nonchalant as her friend could to him, nothing would make her more relieved and ecstatic. She only hoped that for now, he could be content with her stuttering and inability to get past her own emotions in his presence.
Did he know? Could he ever see the emotions in her eyes whenever they looked at each other? Did he ever feel as silly around her as she felt around him? Smart, handsome, charming, rich, famous, shy, awkward Adrien Agreste. She looked to the picture of him on her phone again and smiled softly.
"Marinette? Are you in here?"
She jolted at the worry which echoed off the high walls and quickly put her phone away. She opened the door to find her friend in the main exit to the girl's room. She took note of the slight quickness of breath and concern in her friend's features. She headed straight for Alya and smiled. "Ah...haha...was I too long? Sorry. I lost track of time thinking about something again."
Alya's lips scrunched up, but there was visible relief there. "The next class has already started and you would've been counted absent if I didn't tell the teacher I would check the bathroom for you!" A hand went against her hip. "Are you still thinking about something concerning Adrien?" A finger tapped against her forehead. "You need to focus on school sometime, you know!"
She gave a sheepish smile and waved her friend off. She had never told Alya of that afternoon because it was a cherished memory she never wanted anyone else to know. It was something between the two of them and she always wanted to keep it that way. "I know. I know. I'll wait till lunch to let Adrien occupy my head." She joked.
"Who is currently offering to help search for you, you know."
Her shoulders scrunched up to her ears in panic at the thought of making him look for her when she left in the first place. "I don't want him to miss any class because of me!" She quickly exited the bathroom and looked to her friend. "Where was he last?"
"He went to check the lockers and I told him I'd check here."
She headed off without letting her friend get in another syllable and found him coming around from the farthest row. Their eyes met and she could see visible relief mixed in with a tinge of worry and possible guilt as he headed her way. "There you are."
She gave a bashful laugh and looked to the floor. She could already feel her face heat up as he closed the distance. "Ah...I was...um...just..taking a moment? Sorry if I made trouble for anyone..."
"Nothing is wrong then?"
She looked to him in shock at the obvious concern in his words. She searched his eyes, his brows, the tilt of his head. What did he see in her to be so kind and considerate? It was on the tip of her tongue, as it often was, to ask why he would choose silly Marinette out of all his other classmates. Even if he was friends with the others, he didn't spend half the amount of time with them as he did with her and Nino and Alya. Nino she could see and even Alya who was outward enough to strike up a conversation...but her? It made her heart ache and the desire to hug him close excruciatingly strong. She would never be so bold as to do such a thing in real life though.
She pasted on a hasty smile and waved both hands between them as if to shake off his troubles. "No! Nothing! Not wrong! Nope...never!" She felt stupid to be unable to speak, but the smile he gave at her reassurances made the stuttering worth it. It would always be worth it if she could make him smile. "We should...should get back t – to class!"
His smile grew a little more and he nodded. He initially let her and Alya take the lead, but he found a way to wind around her friend and walk side-by-side with her down most of the hallway till they got back to the classroom. Alya's pace didn't slow down on purpose right? She wouldn't put it past her good friend to attempt such a subtle motive as getting Adrien to walk next to her.
Again, he let them go first into the classroom by holding the door for them and sat down after they did. Her heart squealed and she gave him a true smile for his consideration. Another memory to tuck away to revel in later. Even if she often felt that she caused him trouble, good things always seemed to come from it in the end and gave her something positive from the whole thing.