The sky was blue and filled with clouds that floated across the celestial sphere like ships passing in the night, with the wind pushing them ever onward. They came in all shapes and sizes, some large, some small, all of them fluffy and white and unique in form. Sometimes, when she was feeling fanciful, Adora wanted nothing more than to lie atop one of those clouds and let herself fall asleep amongst the sky as she sank into the soft white fluff.
“I think that one looks like Rogelio,” Adora suddenly announced, pointing up at a singular cloud as it passed overhead. Her companion followed her gaze.
“Sure, if Rogelio was a turkey with a limp,” Catra responded with a laugh as she lay beside Adora. “I’m starting to think you need glasses, Adora.”
Adora scoffed. “Maybe you just need some imagination.”
The two were lying atop a small hill amongst a seemingly endless field of grass, one that extended farther than the eye could see, human or otherwise. The sky was blue, the sun was at its peak, and the tall grass swayed back and forth gently in the wind. Lying on their backs next to each other, Adora and Catra had elected to spend the day simply enjoying the presence of the other as they watched the clouds go by.
It was, for all intents and purposes, a perfect day. Perhaps too perfect. Too good to be true.
“I miss this,” Adora said softly after a few moments of silence.
“Miss what?” Catra asked as she turned to look at her friend.
“This,” Adora repeated, as though that clarified things. “Hanging out. Joking around. Just…spending time with you. It feels like the only time I ever see you anymore is when we’re fighting. I hate it.”
Catra frowned before turning away so she could look back up at the clouds passing overhead. “We’re at war, Adora. That’s just how it is. I chose my side. And you chose yours.”
“But I never wanted my side to be the one without you, Catra,” Adora said as she took her turn to look over at Catra, revealing the sorrow gleaming in her clear blue eyes. “No matter what side I was on…I always imagined you’d be there with me.”
Catra shrugged sadly. “We don’t always get what we want, Adora.”
They fell into silence again after that, both looking back up at the sky as the clouds continued to come and go. The topic of their conversation was dropped, not as if it never happened, but with both realizing there would be no satisfying resolution to it regardless. And so they once again simply lay beside one another, eyes elsewhere, attention drifting. If time passed, neither seemed to notice in the slightest.
“The Horde insignia,” Adora suddenly said, breaking the silence.
“Hm?” Catra asked.
“Over there.” Adora pointed. “Those clouds over there. They look like the Horde insignia.”
“You don’t see it? With the little dot in the middle – ”
“And the wings on either side?”
“I guess it kinda looks like the insignia,” Catra admitted after another moment of study. “I dunno, you’re better at this than I am. They all just look like clouds to me.”
Adora smiled, but didn’t speak, and they once again fell into an easy silence. There was peace between them, at least for now, a quiet serenity neither had experienced in many months. Indeed, it was so peaceful that Adora was just about to doze off when she felt Catra take her by the hand. She looked over at her friend questioningly as their fingers intertwined, only to find Catra already looking at her with a small smile of her own.
“Hey, Adora?” Catra asked softly.
“Yeah?” answered Adora, smiling gently as she felt Catra squeeze her hand affectionately.
Catra smiled back. “I miss this, too.”
As if in response, Adora scooted closer to Catra, literally closing the distance between them until they were practically rubbing shoulders. With a content sigh, she closed her eyes and rested her head on Catra’s shoulders. A moment later, Catra tilted her head ever so slightly until she was resting hers atop Adora’s.
“You think we can ever make this work?” Adora asked after another few moments of comfortable silence, and when she asked it wasn’t with a sad or defeated tone, but rather one of hopeful curiosity. “You and me, I mean?”
“I don’t know,” Catra answered her after a moment before smirking and looking down at her friend. “What do you think, princess?”
Adora woke with a start, her eyes snapping open as she sat up in her bed. She wasn’t out of breath, nor was she scared, but something about the dream she had just experienced felt so real that she couldn’t help but feel as though she had just stepped out of one moment in time only to find herself in a completely different one.
She wasn’t in a field, she realized, as she took in her surroundings; she was in her bedroom in Bright Moon, exactly where she was supposed to be, with quite a few hours left before the coming of the dawn. She was alone, too; no Catra lying there beside her.
It was a dream, she finally realized, not without a tinge of regret. She looked down at her hand, the one Catra – dream Catra – had been holding, and frowned. But it felt so real. Not real life, but…not a dream, either, not really. Something in between. Something more.
After another moment of thought, however, Adora shook her head and determined it was time to go back to bed. No matter how real the dream had felt, that was all it had been: a dream. There was no field, there were no clouds, and there was most certainly no Catra. Catra hated her now, anyway, she reminded herself. Catra was the enemy. Catra was her enemy.
“Just a weird dream,” Adora told herself as she laid down again and went back to sleep.
What Adora didn’t know – what Adora could not have known – was that she wasn’t the only person questioning the reality of the dream.
Through the Whispering Woods, across the sandy dunes of the Etherian desert, deep within the confines of the Horde fortress known as the Fright Zone, someone else had woken with a start as the dream came to an end. This person, too, had been confused for some time before ultimately deciding the dream had, after all, been simply a dream.
“Just a dream,” Catra said to herself as she shook her head and prepared to go back to sleep. “Just a weird dream…”
But then, why did it feel so real?, she wondered as she drifted off to sleep.
Neither Adora nor Catra saw the other the following day, but that didn’t mean Adora didn’t spend all day thinking about Catra or that Catra didn’t spend all day thinking about Adora. No matter how hard they tried, neither of them could get the thought of the other out of their heads, and neither could forget the strange dream they had shared.
Maybe that was why it happened again that very night.
They were on a skiff this time, identical to the one they had “borrowed” from the Fright Zone the night Adora first discovered the Sword of Protection, and they were flying over the dunes and canyons of the vast desert that separated the Fright Zone from the Whispering Woods. It was night in the dream just as it was night in real life, and the sky above was a deep, dark purple in color, illuminated only by the many moons of Etheria.
“Don’t go too fast!” Adora warned over the howling of the wind as they flew through the air, already regretting letting Catra handle the skiff in the first place.
“Don’t be such a wimp, Adora!” Catra shouted back, a smile plastered across her face as she zigged and zagged around buttes and other rock formations jutting out of the sandy dunes of the desert. “You have to learn to live a little!”
“I’m not afraid of living! It’s dying I’m worried about!” Adora responded, which only caused Catra to laugh harder than before.
“Then you better hang on!” Catra told her. “We’re taking this baby for a loop!”
Adora paled. “Wait, what did you just saaaaaAAAIIEEE!!”
Adora was unable to finish her question as Catra chose that exact moment to pull the steering rod up as high as she possibly could, causing the skiff to suddenly fly upwards at close to a ninety degree angle. Thankfully, Catra continued to expertly pull on the steering rod as hard as she could, meaning the skiff continued to arc upwards before gravity could take hold and send both girls tumbling to the desert sands a hundred feet below. As Adora held on for dear life (and screamed bloody murder), the skiff continued to curve and curve until it had completed the loop and then came back down until it was once again parallel with the ground.
“Catra, are you out of your mind?!” Adora shrieked as the skiff continued to zoom off into the distance, now with a little extra speed from its successful loop-de-loop. “You could have killed us both!”
“Stop being such a worry-wart, Adora!” Catra retorted, still laughing from the adrenaline high.
“I’m not being a worry-wart!” Adora responded, stomping over to where Catra was and wrestling the steering rod from her. “I just want to make it back home in one piece, thank you very much!”
“Fine!” Catra said with a groan, sitting back against the edge of the skiff now that she was no longer in control. “Have it your way!”
There was silence for a time as Adora adjusted the direction of the skiff so they were flying through a much less dangerous section of the desert, one with fewer canyons and rock formations that they could possibly run into. With that accomplished, Adora settled in next to the steering rod with a single hand gripping it tightly and her eyes on the desert before her, just in case she needed to make any last-minute adjustments.
“You know I wouldn’t have let anything bad happen to you,” Catra said resentfully after a few moments, still looking away from Adora with her arms folded across her chest. “I know what I’m doing. You don’t have to worry so much.”
Adora sighed; Catra was right. “I know. I’m sorry I overreacted.”
Taking one last look out over the desert and thankfully seeing no approaching obstacles for at least another few kilometers, Adora locked the steering mechanism into place and then went to sit down next to Catra on the edge of the skiff. It was just the two of them and the desert zipping by below them, with no one and nothing to interfere with their time together.
“You know,” she finally spoke up, “I’d never let anything bad happen to you, either.”
Catra shrugged. “I guess.”
“I’m serious!” Adora insisted, placing a hand on Catra’s shoulder so she could turn her friend until they were once again facing each other. “You mean everything to me, Catra. I’d die for you if I had to.”
At that, Catra finally smirked. “You might have to, eventually. All things considered.”
Adora blinked. Then she started laughing, which made Catra start laughing, and soon they were laughing together, just the two of them and the desert and the night sky above them. It felt so normal, so natural for them to be doing this, just spending time with one another, laughing and joking around like they used to before the war, before She-Ra.
“Hey…Catra?” Adora asked hesitantly, watching as her friend turned away from the desert in order to look at her yet again. “Can I tell you something? Something important?”
Catra raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Of course, Adora. What’s up?”
Even though she knew exactly what she was going to say, Adora suddenly had trouble mustering up the courage to actually say it out loud now that Catra was sitting right in front of her and waiting for her to speak. For a few seconds, Adora couldn’t even look Catra in the eye, and instead felt her cheeks burn red. If Catra noticed, she said nothing, and simply sat there patiently and waited until Adora finally spat it out.
“I need you.”
Catra blinked. “Sorry, what did you say?”
“I said…I need you,” Adora repeated, looking back up at her friend to reveal tears in her eyes. “I’ve wanted to say it for so long, ever since I left, since we started fighting. I need you, Catra.”
“You…need me?” Catra asked slowly, as though she was having trouble understanding the concept, or at least believing what Adora said was true. “Adora, you’re better than I’ve ever been. At everything. You don’t need me. You never have.”
“But I do!” Adora argued, reaching over to take Catra’s hands in hers, causing the latter to blush a little as her tail suddenly went stiff. “I’ve always needed you, Catra. My whole life, you’ve always been there for me. And now that you’re not…I don’t know what I’m doing. I barely know who I am anymore. I have this whole other life now, and it’s great, but…it’s not what I want. Because…”
“Because…?” Catra repeated.
“Because you’re not in it,” Adora said at last, looking into Catra’s heterochromatic eyes with her clear blue ones. “I love you, Catra. I always have. Whatever this is – dream or not – I don’t want it to end. Because I don’t want to go back to a life without you in it.”
And with that, Adora leaned over and kissed her.
Catra gasped as she suddenly sat straight up in bed, having woken up yet again. She took a few moments to catch her breath and look around, reminding herself she was still in her private quarters in the Fright Zone and that everything that had taken place until just now had simply been a part of her dream.
“What the hell?” she said to no one in particular as she ran a hand through her messy hair.
This is the second night in a row I’ve dreamt about Adora, Catra thought to herself with a frown. First she’s holding my hand, now she’s kissing me? What the hell is going on?
“And why did it feel so real?” she pondered aloud.
Slowly, almost hesitantly, she placed a hand on her lips, as if searching for a sign that the dream had been real. But though the feel of Adora’s lips on hers lingered in her mind, there was nothing to indicate she had actually kissed Adora at all.
Of course not, she reminded herself. Because it was just a dream! A weird dream, sure, but just a dream! Nothing more!
Shaking her head, as if disappointed in her own fanciful thinking, Catra settled back down into bed and prepared to go back to sleep. She had trouble at first, as she kept imagining the feel of Adora’s lips on hers every time she closed her eyes, but eventually she was able to banish the thought far enough away to doze off.
When next Adora and Catra met, it was in the midst of battle.