x dualrivalshipping

She found him by the water.

It was Cheren's thinking look- one she knew well from their time in Nuvema together. She had memorized the way his eyebrows furrowed, how his glasses slipped down, perched haphazardly on the bridge of his nose. With his long legs dangling over the edge of the bridge, swinging ever so slightly, and his back to the sunset, she knew she was invisible. The careful frown and the analytical spark in that distant blue gaze only confirmed it.

"Lost again," he huffed, blowing dark bangs out of his eyes. "What a bother."

She crouched beside him cautiously, hoping to hear his thoughts for a while. She was perfectly content to stay silent, but the movement had been a mistake. The rustle of her skirts gave her away almost instantly.


She tried to interpret the shock on his face in that split second. What were the other emotions that came with it? Concern, yes, but only because he hadn't expected anyone to be listening. That wasn't meant for her specifically- and neither, she determined, was the embarrassment, which no doubt came from being heard at all. She looked for the positives. Was her appearance a pleasant surprise? But she had never been a gifted analyst; that was his department.

The only one who could truly understand Cheren was himself.

Suddenly conscious of the silence now stretching between them, she filled it slowly, softly. She would ease into this conversation the same as any other. Her, Bianca, the social butterfly of their little trio. Even Cheren's mother admitted that she was the only one who could get him talking. This was her responsibility. "You mean Touko, right?" At the startled blush on his face, she rushed to reassure him. "Relax, Cheren. I didn't hear anything except about how you lost, and I know you already got your Bolt Badge... so you lost to Touko, right?"

Looking vaguely irritated, Cheren just huffed again, adjusting his glasses without allowing his sharp gaze to stray from her face. "Yes. I read up on battle strategies for months before we went on our journey, and Touko just made it up as she went along. But here we are, and she's beaten me again... what a bother," he muttered darkly.

Bianca studied him again. He'd turned towards her, swinging his legs back onto the bridge in the process, but his hunched shoulders still indicated frustration. She waited for something comforting to come to mind: something supportive, something a friend is supposed to say in moments like this one. But instead, something entirely unhelpful popped out.

"Why do you always say that?"

His eyes snapped up towards hers again, equally surprised and defensive, the red already seeping back into his normally pale features. "Wh-what are you talking about?" he demanded.

This hadn't been how Bianca intended it to go at all, but now that it had, she had no choice but to continue. "What a bother," she prompted, then giggled. She couldn't help it. Cheren saying that was one thing, but coming from her it sounded even more ridiculous.

"I just... I just do! I don't know!" he huffed, cheeks burning now. But he could tell Bianca thought she had something to run with- and he knew from experience that when she got like this, she didn't stop until her point was made.

That said, it still took him by surprise when she snatched the glasses right off his face.

Putting them on, she strutted back and forth for the benefit of her half-blind audience. "I'm Cheren, and I know everything!" she crowed in a ridiculously affected accent, fighting back laughter. "Oh, what a bother! What a bother!"

"Bianca, it's not funny! I can't see!" he complained, standing to retrieve them and missing completely. She continued her little charade, barely able to form coherent sentences around fits of giggles, and he switched tactics, opting for what he hoped would be a scathingly sarcastic comment as he lunged forward to steal them back. "Yeah, okay Bianca, real-"

He stopped short. After misjudging the distance between them, Cheren had knocked them both to the ground. They were now inches apart, the dark-haired boy above her.

"...cute," he breathed.

Scrambling to stand, he offered her a hand up, then snagged his glasses and put them back where they belonged, readjusting them several times as he attempted to regain his composure, waiting for the blush to die down. It didn't. Finally he settled for crossing his arms awkwardly, only half-facing Bianca now. He didn't know if he could make eye contact just yet. "I'm... very sorry for what-"

"Really, Cheren, do I have to do all the work in this relationship?" she demanded, rolling her eyes. He had been under the impression that it was biologically impossible to get any redder, but that theory was proven incorrect with remarkable speed.

"I... I don't know what you're-"

Bianca's kiss left him dizzy and infatuated.