First day as a manager, and Adrien gets to cover cashier because someone called in sick. He laments it slightly, but he supposed it was part of the manager's job description. The rain is pouring from the sky, meaning the likelihood of anyone else except regulars and stragglers caught in the weather coming in is small. So, he spends most of his time habitually cleaning the front, answering the phone, and organizing pick-up orders and potential catering events.
And that's when she walks in.
Adrien had lost track of how many gorgeous girls have stepped into the café. He's, admittedly, drooled over a couple of them. And he's tempted to put her in the same category as the other pretty girls, but she forced him to pause.
Because sure, she is pretty. A vision even in her vivid red dress covered in large black polka dots with a skirt that flared from her petite waist and matching red ribbons in her hair. But the pigtails give her a cuteness factor the others didn't have. And the way the hem of her dress was wet despite her having an umbrella that she was struggling to close only furthered it. And her smile of triumph over shutting the umbrella?
She finally makes it over to the register, and only then does he catch her blue eyes and how they're set off against the redness of her cheeks. He puts on his best grin even though he's dying on the inside. "Hello."
"Hi," she says, glancing up at the menu. "Um… I'll have a hot chocolate and croissant. And a pain au chocolate and large coffee."
He punches it in the register. "Will that be all?"
She nods and pulls her wallet from her pink purse, one with a loopy M monogrammed on it.
"For here or to go?"
"And can I get a name for the order?"
A pretty name for a pretty girl. He punches that into the register, too. He reads off the total. She pays. He gives her back her change. She puts it away while he grabs the pastries for her, putting them in a bag and handing it to her. She thanks him, taking it after she puts her red, polka-dotted wallet back into her purse. He tells her that her name will be called out when her drinks are ready and wishes her a great day despite the weather. She thanks him, responding that it's just her luck it's raining the one day she decides to get out of the house.
But that's it. She leaves. And he's still at the register, kicking himself for not furthering conversation. It wasn't like there was anyone behind her nor was there anything he desperately needed to do. He could have chatted with her for another moment until her drinks were made.
From behind the barista stand, Nino shakes his head at him. Adrien sneers. "Just make the drink," he hushedly whispers to him.
"Sure thing, boss," his friend retorts good-naturedly.
Yeah. Adrien thought to himself, hearing the unsaid words of his co-worker. I know. I'm an idiot.
Nino calls her name. She bounds to the counter, smiling brightly all the while. "Thank you," she says as she picks the drink carrier up and marches out of the café, umbrella shooting open as she walks outside and down the street.
Adrien watches her go, frowning all the while.
"Dude, do you know who that was?"
Adrien snaps form his stupor. "What?"
"That was Marinette Dupain."
"Dupain?" Adrien repeats, his eyes widening in realization. "As in Dupain records? As in the producer of Jagged Stone?" And then he pauses. "Wait. Marinette Dupain? As in the girl who designs Jagged Stone's album covers?"
Snickering like a maniac, Nino nods, and Adrien wants nothing more than to smack his head on the counter.
"Good luck, dude. You're gonna need it."
It's a week later, and Adrien is still kicking himself. Hard. Painfully hard. But she comes in again. Adrien isn't at the register this time, he's making drinks covering for Nino. He makes her hot chocolate and readies the large coffee—again, both to-go—and happily calls out her name. When she comes to the counter, he smiles brightly and wishes her a good day.
She sighs. "I'll try. Hope yours is better than mine."
He frowns when she walks out. At least this time, Nino didn't see his second failed attempt.
No manager wants to open on Saturday, so he gets the unfortunate job. But since it's the third week in a row she's come in, he counts himself lucky. "Hello," he greets with a smile, determined to make conversation since there's no one else in line right now and he wants to redeem himself from two weeks ago.
"Hi," she greets before once again ordering her usual to-go order.
Once again, he completes the transaction with efficiency, but this time while he's gathering her pasties, he asks, "how was your week? Hopefully better than you thought?"
She gives him a strange look before shoving her wallet back in her purse. "I wish. This is more like a spectacularly terrible end to an awful week."
He frowns as he hands her the bag. "Here's hoping next week is better."
She shoots him an exaggerated smile, crossing her fingers.
But then the barista calls out her name and she leaves to gather her drink and heads out once again.
"Judging by the smile on your face, your week was better?" Adrien inquires when she walks in. It's the second week in a row he's cashier, but since he's taking her order, he doesn't mind.
She nods, her pigtails bouncing with the action. "Finally, life can go on as normal. Stress, I can handle. Self-absorbed idiots that decide to bring in their lawyers because they don't like the lobby coffee, not so much."
Adrien chuckles. "I've handled more of those kinds of people than I can count."
"Which is ridiculous if you ask me," Marinette quips. "I've lived all over France and there is no better hot chocolate than here."
It gave Adrien a bit of pride to hear that. "Well, thank you. My father worked hard to create the perfect cup of hot chocolate."
"I can tell."
But then her name is called and she walks off from the register.
"Have a good week, Marinette," Adrien says before she can leave.
She shot a smile back at him, melting him more than the hottest of chocolate. "You, too."
"So your name tag says 'Manager', but you're always the cashier."
He shrugged. "I get to cover for people who call out. But this week, there was an unfortunate scheduling mishap and I get to do two jobs at once."
"I'm sorry, that sounds rough."
He nodded. "It is, but it's my job."
"One I'm guessing you don't get paid enough for?" she ventures, her tone slightly joking.
The grin was unbidden, "Sometimes."
"Sometimes," she repeats. "Sure, I'll believe that."
He hands her the bag of pastries and her name is called from the counter.
"I wish next week is better for you, Adrien," she said with a smile that nearly knocks him out.
He barely manages a thanks before she walks off again.
He's not at the cash register this time, he's on barista because this Saturday is packed full. The line is to the door with people who want their coffee and want it now.
At least they're fully staffed today. Adrien's able to help on barista and everywhere else.
He barely registers that she's here, at the back of the line, waiting with a frown. But she's all he thinks about come Saturday. He's constantly scanning the crowds for her blue pigtails and red ribbons.
What shakes him is how she looks up to the counter, searching for something.
He ducks behind the barista station to hide his stupid grin.
He's bringing another tray of pastries to the front just as she reaches the register. She lights up at the sight of him, and his heart flutters. She gives him a smile and a wave before ordering. And just before she can pull out her purse to pay the tab, he punches in his numbers, bringing the total to zero.
She looks at him in surprise, and he shoots her a wink and a smile. "On me."
A tinge of color stains her cheeks as she rewards him with the prettiest grin he's ever seen. "Thank you, Adrien."
"You're welcome," he says, plucking out her normal pastries and bagging them up to hand to her.
Her grin widens, and he rides that happy high all the way through the morning rush.
He's not scheduled to work Saturday. He's got a test at University he has to be present for.
He misses her. And he can't help but wonder if she's missing him, too.
"You were gone last week," she comments.
His heart soars. "Test at Uni."
"Ah," she says, relaxing. "What are you studying?"
Her eyes widen. "Wow. That's interesting."
"I've always loved the sciences," he says, handing off a bag of pastries to her. "It was kind of a best of all worlds, you know?"
"Well, that's really cool. I'm guessing you enjoy it?"
A customer walks through the door, which is a bummer because it means Marinette will take her leave.
"Nice seeing you," she says before walking over to the pick-up counter to wait for her drinks.
"You work for your father, right?"
"Ah, my reputation precedes me," she says with a grin.
"I'm a big fan of Jagged Stone, so… yeah."
She grins. "Yeah. Have to say he's my favorite of the artists my father produces for."
"You design the covers, right?"
She nods. "Yeah. It's a lot of fun. But, if I'm being honest, my true passion is fashion."
"Yup. I make all my own clothes."
He looks her outfit over, trying to focus on the clothes rather than the way her outfit hugs her slim curves. "Very nice."
She giggles. Her name is called, but she stays. They spend the next few minutes talking about types of skirts and cuts of dresses before Adrien is needed and has to leave her side.
She waves on her way out, and he hopes his heart isn't beating too loudly.
"Do you always cover morning shifts?" she asks. "On Saturdays, that is."
He nods. "Yup. Not that I feel like I have much of a life outside school and work, anyway."
She gives a slow nod. "Do you have school after this?"
He shook his head. "Not on Saturday. I get off at one then go home and relax. Play video games."
"The Ultimate Mecha Strike franchise is my favorite."
Her eyes lit up. "I. Love. That game."
"Three's the best, in my opinion—"
"No, four was better."
"There's a glitch in the controls for inverted users."
"You invert the controls?"
"Yeah, it's the only way to play."
And then he was needed.
She reached over to pat his hand on the counter. "Best of luck. See you later."
He felt warm all day long.
She didn't come in today. Adrien was watching the door far more intently than he'd like to admit, but she wasn't there. And it hurt more than he ever cared to acknowledge.
One 'o clock, and he punches out. He tries not to look disappointed as he walks out of the store. She probably was busy. There's nothing wrong with that. He'd see her next week.
He tosses open the door to the store, ready to walk to his apartment two blocks down.
Only to see a vision in red standing outside.
"Hey," she says.
A smile grows across his face, and all earlier tension leaves his body. "Hey. Thought you weren't coming in today."
"Well, technically I'm not," she said. "I was more hoping we could go somewhere else? Lunch?"
How could he say no to that? "Did you have somewhere in mind?"
She shook her head. "As long as I get to talk to you for more than five minutes at a time, I'm good with anywhere."
His heart kicked into overdrive at the grin she sent him. "Okay, um… I think I might have a place in mind."
She easily sided up to him, wrapping her arms around his elbow. That fire in his belly burned hotter. "Lead the way."