It has been 17 days, 2 hours and 14 minutes since Chat Noir flirted with Ladybug for the last time.
It has been exactly 17 days, 2 hours and 13 minutes since Adrien realized his very good friend and his best friend were, in fact, one and the same.
Consecutively, it has been exactly 17 days, 2 hours and 12 minutes since he constantly fought the insurmountable desire to kiss the said friend.
He felt triumphant, never giving in to the sweet temptation so far — not when she looked up at him from under her lashes after their masks fall off; not when she leaned so close to him in the library, explaining the fine details of a new cat-themed collection she was designing; and definitely not now, when he was lying next to her, their faces being only centimetres apart — but only God knew for how long he could still hold back.
Because quite frankly, Adrien wanted to kiss Marinette senseless long before it turned out she was Ladybug. (Obviously, he couldn’t do it then because that would have meant a choice between the two ladies of his heart. Oh boy, did he feel stupid for that now.) He wanted to pepper kisses on every freckle on her face l ong before she so adorably squeaked his name after their kwamis appeared in the air between them. Long before she blushed and started to stammer yet again — a nervous habit of hers in Adrien’s presence that he thought she had successfully got rid of a while ago.
And that was exactly the reason why Adrien couldn’t touch her. Why he couldn’t even think of holding her hand, couldn’t dream of hugging her close as anything more than just friends, couldn’t imagine the sensation of her soft, warm lips pressing against his own as he would pull her closer and hear his name sweetly rolling off her tongue-
Okay, so he definitely did think about all of that. But he really shouldn’t have. He mustn’t have, because Marinette has told him, fair and square, one time too many that she wasn’t interested. She was the opposite of interested, actually, uneasy in his presence. And If there was one thing Adrien didn’t want, that was making Marinette uncomfortable. So he acted as politely as he could, keeping the physical distance between them to the maximum.
Which was honestly easier said than done, one of many reasons being that he just wasn’t capable of not being close to her. She was pulling him in like a magnet brushing along aimlessly scattered nails, like the kitchen floor attracting the buttered side of a slice of bread.
The other reason was Marinette’s odd regulation of proximity which Adrien just wasn’t able to comprehend.
One second she was leaning into his personal space in class with confidence while the two of them discussed a group project; then she blushed and shied away as soon as Nino interjected an idea.
Another time, she was sitting right next to him after patrol, leaning her head against his leather-clad shoulder; then immediately got scared and bugged out when a few friendly waving pedestrians disturbed the well-known familiarity of their patrol routine.
And then there was today of all days. Today, when one second she was yawning in tandem with Adrien all day after an especially rough akuma-fighting all-nighter; before inviting him over and upon arriving home, promptly tugging him with herself under the covers.
Adrien didn’t really understand the whole situation but he was too tired and too pleased holding her hand lightly in his own to complain. The exhaustion was wearing him down, so by any means, closing his eyes and trying to catch a few minutes of sleep would have been the wisest course of action, but he just couldn’t take his eyes off of Marinette, slumbering peacefully next to him.
The beams of the setting sun painted her features golden, making her even more beautiful if that was even possible. Really, closing his eyes and depriving himself of the sight of her lightly shut long lashes, adorably ruffled pigtails and perfectly kissable peach lips that formed a cute little ‘o’ — it really would have been the mistake of the century.
So, even if Adrien couldn’t sleep like this for the aforementioned reasons, he was perfectly content with the situation. He would gladly sacrifice a little sleeping time if it meant he could quietly indulge in the simple act of admiring Marinette for a little while. He had spent countless sleepless nights fantasizing of holding her close like this, dreaming about their shared future — even if it would be only as friends —, imagining all the ways he could make sure she was safe and happy, so skipping a few more minutes of sleep really wasn’t an issue here.
Adrien had to admit, being this close to the love of his life, while simultaneously being so far away was simply maddening, but he knew very well that he wouldn’t have traded it for anything else in the world.
He only closed his eyes for a second as a new yawn escaped his mouth but when he opened it, the scene changed. Marinette was looking at him from under her lashes, wide awake.
“You know, I can’t sleep if you keep staring at me,” she whispered with a conspiratory smile.
Adrien’s pulse sped up immediately, his cheeks overtaken by a rosy blush as he cleared his throat to give a coherent answer to the imploring bluebell eyes. “I wasn’t even- I thought you were sleeping already.”
“I would be if you weren’t staring,” Marinette giggled, scooting just a few centimetres closer to him. “I can’t believe you aren’t tired after that akuma attack at three in the morning. You were on the verge of collapsing all day too, so sleep then!”
“I can’t sleep like this!” Adrien blurted, a little more exasperated than he intended.
Marinette’s eyebrows lifted in a questioning manner as she tentatively asked, “And why is that?”
“It’s because- because-” Adrien fumbled for the words uselessly. What was he even supposed to say? “ It’s because I’m so desperately and irrevocably in love with you that if you’re so close I can’t think about anything else than kissing you breathless, but I know I can’t, because even though we spend every waking moment together, for some reason you’re still uncomfortable with me.”
Yeah, definitely not that.
Not that , what judging by Marinette’s beet-red face and stricken expression, in his sleep-deprived state he apparently just said out loud.
“I’m not uncomfortable with you!” she blurted before Adrien had any time to explain himself. She licked her lower lip, evidently fighting to get out the right words before she offered with a shy smile. “I’m just… How did you put it? Desperately and irrevocably in love with you.”
“You’re what ?!” Adrien uttered out, shooting up in the bed as his brain effectively short-circuited from the words he yearned after for so long but never seriously thought he’d be able to hear.
“I love you, Adrien! I always have,” Marinette admitted with a blush, sitting up herself.
“But you mean... romantically?”
“The most romantically anyone has ever loved someone,” she giggled as an appearing love-sick smile erased all confusion from his face.
“I love you too, Marinette!”
“You hide that from me for 17 days and say it twice in the span of a single minute? Serves you right, Agreste,” she rolled her eyes playfully.
“17 days and 2 hours,” Adrien corrected instinctively. “Although, I’d say I was blatantly obvious about my intentions previously. You on the other hand... You never said anything. Why, when you knew how I felt about you?”
“I knew how you felt about Ladybug but when it turned out it was just me, you just stopped.” She shrugged. “No flirty jokes, no ‘Bugaboo’, how was I supposed to know your feelings didn’t change because I was just – ”
“The most extraordinary girl I have ever met?” Adrien offered with a loop-sided smile.
“Dork!” Marinette laughed, linking her hands behind his neck with a sweet smile.
“We really need to work on our communication, don’t we?” he mumbled the revelation he planned to share with her before she touched him and all thoughts went out in the window in an instant.
“We really do,” Marinette breathed, leaning in. “But I have a feeling that that can wait a little longer, because there is something that I just know can’t.”
Adrien felt his pulse quickening as he pulled her closer with one hand while the other found its way to her cheek. His lashes shuttered close as Marinette’s lips finally met his and he was lost in her touch forever.
The world was nothing but warmth and fireworks in the burning trail of her lips, and Adrien knew, if there was something in his life that was worth waiting 17 days, 2 hours and 20 minutes for, this kiss was definitely it.