Marinette's mouth twisted at the scene in front of her, an unpleasant feeling making her stomach twist.
Luka was standing in front of his locker, nodding at a girl Marinette had never seen, a polite smile on his face as she got way too close. She was tilting her head, one finger twirling around a strand of platinum blonde hair as she raised her free hand to his arm. Her long fake nails danced slowly up and down his bicep.
His expression twisted in annoyance and he tried to shrug her off and put some distance between them, but yet again she leaned in and all Luka could do was roll his eyes at whatever she was saying.
Marinette grit her teeth. Didn't that girl notice how uncomfortable she was making him? Or how he wasn’t really enjoying her presence at all? Damn, Luka wasn’t even the type of person to show his annoyance like that. He was usually calm and collected. What had she done to make him act like that?
Marinette couldn’t just stand there and watch without doing anything. She had to do something before that girl, whoever she was, made Luka feel more and more uneasy. She watched him look down, his fingers twisting the spinner ring on his thumb, before deciding to take action.
“Lu!” she called, sliding her arm into his as soon as she was close and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek as a greeting. She felt Luka stiffen before he relaxed into her, his eyes wide in surprise at her unexpected display of affection. “Marinette?”
The girl in front of them finally took a step back, a startled expression forming on her face while she studied them. She blinked before speaking. “And you are..?” she asked, her eyes narrowing as she focused on Marinette.
Marinette frowned, but her mouth twisted in a sweet smile as soon as she looked back at Luka, “I'm his girlfriend,” she chirped.
Fortunately, her voice didn't betray her. She slid her hand to hold Luka's and squeezed tight, looking up at him.
His eyes were wide, and a strangled sound escaped his lips before he shut it close. Marinette giggled and gave him a confident smile in the hopes that it would reassure him. She leaned her head to his shoulder and Luka didn't flinch away, but all he managed to let out as his thumb brushed the back of her hand and tried to keep himself grounded was a choked out “Yeah…” that got him to clear his throat.
“You have a girlfriend? Since when?” the girl asked, feigning innocence in a way that sounded so familiar that made Marinette's blood boil.
Luka opened his mouth to speak, but Marinette cut him off, “That's none of your business,” she snarled. The girl huffed in annoyance, and Marinette glared at her. Luka next to her straightened up and took a deep breath, and Marinette gave a comforting squeeze to his hand.
She then turned her attention back at the girl, who had crossed her arms as her eyes went up and down to study her.
Marinette held her gaze and didn't flinch at the disgusted expression forming in front of her. If she was going to come up with a hurtful comment, Marinette was ready to snap back. It’s not like she hadn’t dealt with disrespectful brats over time, and she wasn’t letting some cheap dollar store Barbie imitation — okay no, actually, she was pretty, but that couldn’t make up for her personality — put her down or harass her best friend. She was Marinette, she was strong and—
“But aren't you a seconde ? Such a shame Luka here's into little girls… you could do so much better,” the girl said in a saccharine voice while fluttering her fake lashes at Luka.
Marinette felt Luka's hold on her hand tightening. She raised her free hand to his chest and gave him a reassuring look, trying to wordlessly tell him that she could handle it, but his jaw was still clenched when she spoke.
“Yeah, I know, a 16-year-old dating a 17-year-old. Shocking,” Marinette gritted through her teeth and pulled Luka towards her, making the girl scoff and check her nails. Good, now they could leave.
“Come on, I don't want us to be late for class,” Marinette said, holding Luka’s hand tighter and walking past the girl. She didn’t miss the chilling glare Luka sent her way.
When they were far enough from Luka’s locker, Marinette started walking faster, as Luka didn't have trouble following her nervous pace with his long legs. The closed doors of the classrooms and the colorful posters on the walls passed through her eyes in a blur even as she tried to focus on them instead of the anger that was building inside her. Marinette didn't want to let some stupid Barbie wannabe ruin her day, but all she could think about were the girl’s words. The deprecative tone in her voice when she called her a seconde and told Luka that he could do much better. She didn’t know what she was talking about.
That was stupid, Luka never failed to remind her how extraordinary she was. Even now as she led him through the school and he followed her quietly, he took the first chance he had to shake her from her thoughts.“Marinette, that's not where your class is…”
“I don't care,” she said, looking for an empty classroom she could calm down in. Luka squeezed her hand reassuringly, and his thumb slowly brushed the back of her hand. Marinette took a deep breath, but his action didn't help her forget about long nails moving on his arm and the words still ringing in her head. It actually made her think about it more.
Who the hell did she think she was?
She had no right to belittle her, to imply that she wasn't worth enough for Luka to spend time with. It didn't matter if it was only because she was trying to hit on him and Marinette was rightfully putting herself between them. She was being disrespectful towards him, invading his personal space, and Marinette couldn't just stand there and watch, right?
No, Luka was her friend and she had every right to rescue him from unwanted attention. It's not like anyone cared about who they were da—
Just as the thought crossed her mind, she realized what she had done, and how Luka had just silently rolled with it and was still holding her hand. Why would she even say something like that?
She picked a turn, opting for the art classroom that was always empty in the early hours of the morning and, when she finally found it, she slammed the door closed behind them.
“Marinette, what the fuck ?” Luka said. His bewildered expression made Marinette’s stomach twist unpleasantly.
She groaned, letting his hand go to hide her face and lean to an empty desk. “I’m so, so sorry. I know I shouldn’t have said it, but she was making you uncomfortable and I wanted to help you get rid of her.”
Luka let out a breathless laugh. “By saying that you’re my girlfriend?”
“I couldn’t come up with anything better, I’m sorry! And if you think she’ll spread the rumor, we can just say that we broke up or something. We’re not even together in the first place and I know I was stupid and I understand if you’re mad at me, but I did it because—”
“Marinette,“ Luka interrupted her, his hands reaching for her wrists to gently pull her hands down and reveal her face. As he looked her in the eyes, he held a soft expression that made her feel incredibly better. “I don’t care about the rumors. Honestly, I should thank you for stepping in. I’ve been trying to let her down gently, but it didn’t work. I’m sorry you had to deal with her, too,” he said, his voice tense.
She reached for his hand and squeezed it gently before speaking. “It’s alright, Lu. I’ve learned to deal with that,” she said.
“I know, but you shouldn’t have bothered...” he sighed.
Marinette rolled her eyes. “I’m your friend Luka, and friends help each other out,” she said. Luka nodded, but something about him seemed off. She knew Luka was the type of person to handle things by himself, but he never rejected Marinette’s help when she offered it.
“Are you sure you’re not mad at me for saying that I’m your girlfriend?” she asked hesitantly.
Luka looked up at her and gave her a small smile. “I’m not mad at you, Mari,” he reassured. “You’re fine. Just… don’t catch me off guard with stuff like that.”
Marinette nodded and leaned to wrap her arms around him. She felt his chuckle rumble through his chest as he held her, and when she pulled away, she could finally see the easygoing smile she liked so much.
“Who was she, by the way?” Marinette asked.
“Just some girl from Terminale D. We met at a party last weekend and she got a bit clingy,” Luka said sheepishly, one hand going up to rub his neck.
“That's putting it nicely,” Marinette chuckled.
“Well,” Luka sighed, “I did tell her I wasn't interested in her, so having her still trying to catch my attention was kinda frustrating.”
“Just a little bit,” Marinette teased, pinching her thumb and index together.
Luka chuckled. “Yeah, okay. Thank you for coming at the right time.”
Marinette giggled, and the uneasiness she felt from making up a lie to rescue him from someone's hold disappeared. “I'll be your fake girlfriend whenever you need.”
You could be my real one.
Luka shook the thought out of his mind. Sometimes the feelings he hid deep down in his stomach made their way back up to his heart, and all he could do was push them down again. They'd already been through this, and Luka was happy with being close with Marinette without wanting more. It was only in times like this, when she was careless and maybe made some stupid choices to help him out (like, for example, saying that she was his girlfriend) that they would resurface.
But he learned how to deal with that. A few deep breaths, thinking about the smell of the Seine, and he would be fine. No more thoughts about being more than friends with Marinette.
They had known each other for years and, now that they went to school together and grew closer, he was happy that Marinette had found he was someone to count on. It was the same for him, even if sometimes it meant that he had to control the impulse to kiss her on the spot or scold himself for staring at her for too long.
The sound of the first bell rang, making Luka wince and Marinette giggle in response. He shook his head, taking a moment to recollect himself and clear his throat before speaking. “Can I walk you to class?”
“Don’t you always do that?” Marinette teased before walking to the door.
There was only easy chatter after that, and Luka took a breath of relief as he realized he was listening to Marinette without focusing on the way her lips moved or the feeling of her shoulder brushing against his. She was complaining about some group project she had to work on in the afternoon when they reached the door of her class.
“Well, let me know if you need to be rescued again from some overly-clingy girl,” Marinette said.
Luka shook his head, letting out a small laugh. “Of course, I will.”
Marinette smiled at him but, before she could reply, the second bell rang.
Luka's hand ruffled the hair on top of her head, making Marinette wince, and his mouth moved before he could even realize what he was saying.
“See you at lunch, girlfriend.”