10| cat's out of the bag

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          « Adrien! »

The said person's familiar figure stiffened for a moment before hastily rushing away from me, causing an exasperated exhalation to leave my lips once again this distressing week. For the past several weeks, the blond model has been avoiding me like the plague. In the beginning, I decided not to disturb him and give him the necessary space to sink in this new piece of information. It is obvious he was not expecting someone to discover his identity any time soon and had no clue idea on how to react, thus running away at every chance he gets.

However, this treatment has prolonged longer than I had anticipated, and it recently began to trouble me immensely. Aside from having my crush entirely ignoring my existence, I have just lost a beloved friend, which pains me the most. 

Now being in a more miserable state, I drag my sullen body to the classroom. I knew, as soon as I stepped into the room and settled on my seat, students were giving me empathetic looks. Our sinking friendship is very explicit to everyone around us. Most appear to be concerned, while some are undoubtedly pleased about it.

Though entirely unaware of our situation, Nino has generously been urging Adrien to speak to me various times, understanding how badly it is affecting both of us. Alya and Marinette, as well, have been asking me about our situation to find a solution. I knew telling them was out of the question, so I decided to leave them in the dark by saying, « Don't worry, it is only a small disagreement between Adrien and me. Everything will go back to how it used to be soon. »

Will everything really go back to how it used to be?

So far, it does not seem like it, but I honestly do hope it does.

« J— Juliette. » a well-known apprehensive voice suddenly speaks. In utter surprise, with mouth agape and eyes swelled, I glance up to find Adrien. For the first time in a while, I am seeing him up close, and It is obvious he is not himself at all either. Under the layer of makeup, poorly covered dark circles are apparent under his dreary emerald eyes, blond hair slightly dishevelled than his usual clean cut.

« Can we please talk? » he asks timidly, a tinge of hope binding within his tone. Wordlessly, I nod at his request and follow behind him as he guides us to a secluded corner of the school building, where no cameras are present either.

After a nervous exhalation, he stares at me with a broken look, small teardrops already building at the edge of his eyes, « I'm so sorry— so sorry for everything. Ignoring you for weeks, and— and not even trying to confront you earlier on. It was a horrible thing to do. I know I can trust you with practically anything, yet I still treated you so— unfairly. And— »

Adrien suddenly looks down at his feet, hands repeatedly clenching and unclenching in a trembling manner. I stayed quiet, not wanting to pressure him to speak instantly and granting him the necessary time he needs to proceed. Deliberately, he laces his right hand with my left, giving a small squeeze before looking at me once again. However, seeming more anxious than before.

« And I like you— a lot. After you figured out my identity, I was so scared that you would begin to see me differently. I cherish the friendship we have, and I don't want you treating me differently because I am Chat Noir, » While using sing both of his palms, he gingerly cradled my left hand, a dark blush now adorning his timid features, « But— I don't want us to only stay like this forever either. Je t'aime, and I— I also want to call you mine. I didn't want you to date me only because of my alter ego. I already know you don't care about my fame or wealth, so I didn't want this to be a cause. »

I observe his expression instantly disheartened as I withdraw my hand from his clutch. Then a small grunt leaves his lips as I wrap my arms tightly around his waist, « You have no idea how happy I am, Adrien. Je t'aime aussi! I— I never thought you would ever like me. There was Ladybug— »

« She doesn't see me that way, and I don't like her like that anymore. Juliette, you have always been so kind and friendly. I was never this happy and comfortable with somebody until I met you. You don't know how important you are to me, » he declares as he encircles his arms around me. His words definitely relieve me, and my body melts into his warmth, feeling whole once more with him by my side.

Was I too quick to let myself down, believing my life held no significance compared to others? Perhaps I do play a larger role in this world. Perhaps not. Who knows? All I needed is reassurance that I am important. One thing I finally do know now is— that I am the main character of my own story.

« I'm dying here— yak! Give me my camembert cheese! »

| epilogue

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