"Come on, open your eyes Milady," Adrien grinned, noting the grimace on Ladybug's scrunched up face. She shook her head violently and took a step backwards, tripping over a rock and stumbling. Adrien was beside her in a flash, and her eyes shot open as he caught her, widening as she took in his features once again, this time in perfect detail.
"A-Adrien...?" She whispered.
"That's my name, don't wear it out! What's the matter, cat got your tongue?" He teased, and she mouthed silently in shock for a few minutes, before shaking her head to snap out of it. Alya and Nino were running towards them, and Adrien quickly let go of her and shoved Plagg inside his shirt.
"Are you guys ok? We tried to find the police but we didn't have any luck... although it looks like you didn't need help," Alya puffed. "Where did Cat Noir go?"
"He uh, went looking for Marinette," Adrien replied. Alya nodded and fished her phone from her pocket, muttering something about ringing her.
Ladybug jumped and suddenly started running, calling "gotta go transform, see ya!" as she went. Adrien smiled at her retreating back, and Nino nudged him.
"Duuude, you got it bad," he laughed, and Adrien grinned.
"Come on, let's go wait by the bench for Marinette," Adrien suggested. Just as they all sat down, Marinette appeared from around the corner, jogging over to them.
"I couldn't find anyone," she wheezed, sitting down and grabbing a cookie. Alya and Nino shrugged and continued the conversation they'd left off when the tree had fallen, but Marinette couldn't concentrate. She replied vaguely with a few "yeah" and "mmm" comments, but her mind was racing at a hundred miles an hour. ADRIEN was Cat Noir? It couldn't possibly be true. Why did he act so different, so stupid with the mask on? She could hardly be blamed for not responding to his constant ridiculous flirting... holy guacamole, ADRIEN had been flirting with HER for all this time?! Thinking about it, his goofy pick-up lines were admittedly kind of cute... Holy. Smokes. She'd. Kissed. Adrien. She stared at him for a minute, unable to fathom the idea that she'd been resisting Cat Noir this whole time while simultaneously being so deeply, madly in love with Adrien and not even realising he was the same guy.
She suddenly realised that Adrien was looking right back at her. Blinking in surprise, she looked away, but her eye was drawn to him again and again, and each time she looked, he was watching her. Sometimes he'd look away, other times he'd smile at her... but he always seemed to have this tiny smirk on his face when she first looked. Marinette started to feel the familiar nervous butterflies in her stomach, which she hadn't felt around him for a few days. Why was he looking at her so much?
Adrien inwardly chuckled at the barely concealed shock on Marinette's face whenever he caught her looking at him. When they walked around the park, he made sure he walked next to her. When they sat down again, he squeezed into the tiny spot next to her and put his arm on the bench behind her shoulders, making her turn a bright shade of red which he pretended not to notice. When they all decided the dark, rumbling clouds overhead were a sign that it was time to leave, he offered to walk Marinette home and she choked on the cookie she was snacking on.
"We'll give you two some time alone," he winked at Nino, who gave him the thumbs up and set off in the opposite direction with Alya. They walked hand in hand, and Adrien and Marinette watched them go for a moment before beginning their walk.
"They're such a cute couple," Adrien said, and Marinette stammered an unintelligible agreement. They walked in silence for a few minutes, Marinette concentrating very hard on making sure she didn't trip.
Suddenly Adrien put his arm around her shoulders and squeezed, and all the carefully constructed composure she'd been building came crashing down. She let out a small noise like a frightened mouse, and he felt her tense up.
"I'm glad we're friends Marinette," he said earnestly, and her heart missed a beat.
"M-me too," she replied shakily, and he stopped walking, looking at her with concern in his eyes.
"Are you ok? You seem a bit frazzled," he asked her, and she shook her head.
"No no, you're perfect... I-I MEAN I'm perfectly fine," she stuttered, and he laughed. He turned to face her fully and she shrunk away from him, nervously noticing the mischievous - and incredibly attractive - half smile that was now painted on his face.
"Can I ask you something?" He said, and she nodded slowly. He took her hand and patted it. "It's alright, you don't have to answer if you don't want... but I was just wondering... if you've ever had a crush on me?"
She cringed and ducked her head, unable to look at him from embarrassment. "Am I that obvious?" She mumbled. "I mean, I know I'm super obvious, but I'd kinda hoped you never really noticed... obviously not."
He reached out and hooked a finger under her chin, lifting her head so her eyes met his. "It's ok, I don't mind," he said quietly.
He was about to say something else when he was drowned out by thunder, and the rain hit, falling thick and fast on their heads. He grabbed her hand and they ran for cover. He pulled her into the doorway of a closed bookshop, and they laughed as adrenalin coursed through them.
Marinette folded her arms as she began to shiver, completely drenched. Adrien noticed and pulled her close, putting his arms around her and using his body to protect her from the wind. She tried to say thank you, but her teeth began chattering so it came out like "th-th-th-thank y-y-y-you." He smiled kindly down at her, and his eyes flicked down to her lips for a second. He leaned in closer and she tilted her head up slightly, wildly wondering if she was shaking from cold or from nervousness as his face got closer and closer, his gaze roaming from her eyes to her lips and back again, closing slightly as he puckered up...
"What about Ladybug?" She whispered when he was close enough for her to see the faint freckles on his nose. "Won't she get upset?"
He smiled and brushed a wet strand of hair from her face, saying, "what she doesn't know can't hurt her," before pressing his lips against hers while alarm bells went off in her head.