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the way things are

Chapter Text

I wouldn’t know what to do with another chance, if you gave it to me.
I couldn’t take the embrace of a real romance, it’d race right through me.

 

With the whispering woods destroyed, it was easy to slip into Bright Moon. It was easy to stick to the shadows, to move quietly through the border of the trees. It was easy to scale the side of the castle with her claws, to hoist herself onto the edge of the balcony and out of sight.

What wasn’t easy was staying still while Adora, just a few feet from where Catra perched, started to undress.

Catra dug her claws into the stone wall and told herself it was to keep purchase. There was Adora, tugging her shirt over her head, like she had done a thousand times before in a darker room, miles away. Back then, Catra’s eyes had landed easily where they wanted to; she hadn’t worried about where she looked, or what that might mean. She had pinned her best friend in the locker room, wearing only sports bras; she had slept beside her in nothing but a T-shirt. She hadn’t thought twice.

Now, Adora had her back to the window, and Catra could see the well defined muscles in her shoulders, the fuller tilt to her hips. She was stronger and better fed than she had been in the Fright Zone, and Catra couldn’t say that the other woman’s looks had suffered for it. She looked older, more feminine, more herself. They had healed well, but Catra caught the scars on her back, four parallel lines reaching from her shoulder blades to her lower back. I did that, she thought, I marked her. Catra hadn’t realized how deep the cuts had been, how hard it would be for Bright Moon’s doctors to make her handiwork disappear.

Adora turned, just a little, and Catra caught a glimpse of her profile, the new curves of her, just before Adora reached up and pulled the tie out of her hair. Catra sucked in a sharp breath.

It had nothing to do with Adora.

Catra had seen Adora’s blonde hair down around her shoulders before. She had seen it wet from the shower, sticky with sweat after a hard workout, laid out on a pillow at night. There was no reason for her heart to race, or her palms to slip on the rock, over so simple a thing.

But there was an intimacy to this, watching Adora when she didn’t know, in a place where Catra was not welcome, that she refused to recognize. That familiarity had disappeared the day Adora walked out on her, and never looked back.

Adora tucked her fingers under her white sports bra, and Catra fought the urge to look away. When Adora pulled it off her shoulders, letting it drop to the ground, Catra made herself watch. The muscles in her back flexed as she stretched her arms over head, her head tilting back. How would Adora feel if she knew that her enemy had watched her at her most vulnerable? That the soldier who gave her those very scars was waiting at the window?

Catra hoped she’d hate it.

Adora started to tug off her pants and Catra raised her eyebrows. At the Fright Zone, they changed clothes in sections, quickly replacing a dirty shirt with a new one, but it was clear that the life of luxury had changed some of her soldier habits. Suddenly, Adora was wearing nothing but her underwear, and Catra was wondering what exactly had possessed her to come here.

When she’d left the Fright Zone, it had been to check up on Bright Moon’s operations in the whispering woods, and sabotage any efforts that she could. When she’d reached halfway through the forest, a thought had struck her—just casually, nothing serious—and she’d wondered where Adora might be. At the edge of Bright Moon, she’d decided that there was something useful she could do after all. She could steal the stupid sword that turned her ex best friend into a twelve foot tall golden amazon with impractically long hair. No rebel would be able to catch her. She’d be in and out before Adora retired for the night; she’d never have to see her at all.

Now that her plans had gone spectacularly wrong, Catra had the suspicion that perhaps she should have planned this mission ahead of time. Adora’s long legs were pale and toned, her widened hips leading to strong thighs that spoke of running, wrestling, pinning an opponent to the ground. You should leave, a voice inside her warned, and yet Catra didn’t move. A distant part of her brain was aware that she couldn’t have left if she wanted to.

Walking to her bed, her back still to the window, Adora retrieved her sleep clothes. She slipped a thin grey t-shirt over her head that clung to her waist, and looked soft even from a distance, and a little pair of black shorts. There were no uniforms here, no standard issue clothing. Adora had options. Catra didn’t even have a say in what underwear she wore.

Suddenly, Catra had an idea. An idea that was, admittedly, terrible, but an idea nonetheless.

In one smooth motion, Catra lowered herself from the balcony and stepped into Adora’s carpeted, extravagant room. The entirety of Bright Moon was too well lit, if you asked her, but there was room for her in the dark. She slid across the wall, keeping both eyes on her prey. The carpet was too soft on her feet, the curtains she brushed past felt like silk. The sheer luxury of the place, and the fact that Adora could sleep soundly here, made her sick. Adora, with her comfortable sleep shirts and untied hair and pile of pillows, was soft. Catra could only hope that weakness had leached into the rest of her.

Catra knew the moment she misstepped, her foot finding a creak in the floor. Adora froze.

Well, thought Catra. This is happening. 

She moved out of the shadows before Adora could even turn. She stayed light on her toes, one hip cocked, her tail curling behind her. She was going for unconcerned, with a hint of ‘I really meant to come here all along.’ She crossed her arms over her chest and put on her best, cruelest smile.

“Hey, Adora,” she said.

Adora turned. Her blue eyes flashed.

Catra counted it as a victory that she hadn’t rung the alarm already.

Even without the sword, Adora transformed right before her eyes. The easy lines of her body turned rigid, her shoulders tensed, her hands formed into fists. Catra remembered a time, not so long ago, when Adora had relaxed at the sight of her, when Adora had smiled.

Bitterness was a taste in her mouth, more stringent than fear.

“Leave,” said Adora. “I’ll give you three seconds before I raise the alarm.”

Catra bit her lip in mock thought, letting one fang slip over the skin of her lip. “Hmm,” she said, nearly like a purr. “I don’t think you want to do that.”

Adora paused, her hand outstretched towards the door. Catra didn’t see the flashy sword anywhere and that, perhaps, intrigued her most of all. If this came down to a fight, if she got to Adora before she could scream, could she win? When they were friends, Catra would have known the answer. Even when Catra fought with her entire body, clawing at the other woman, willing, in that moment, to hurt Adora for everything she had, and everything Catra didn’t—Adora had won easily. She’d never even fought back. Just held Catra, let her leave marks on her arms and land a few blows, before she’d pin her down and put an end to it. Adora had always been stronger, more disciplined, one step ahead.

Not anymore.

“What do you want, Catra?” Adora said. Her voice was impatient, and she stood in her fighting stance. It wouldn’t take much for her to alert the whole castle that there was a Horde soldier was in their midst. Catra was fast, but with the rebels on high alert and, the edge of the whispering wood suddenly guarded, she would be captured. Princess Sparkle Stuff didn’t seem like she’d be half as forgiving as Adora. From one perspective, she’d just handed herself on a silver platter to the rebellion. It would be so easy now, for Adora to catch her. She needed to get out while she still could.

Clearly, Catra had a death wish. In one smooth motion, she let her gaze flicker down to Adora’s mouth.

Confusion colored Adora’s face beautifully. Eyes narrowed, lips parted. If it were possible to live inside of Adora’s expression, Catra would.

“You really want to know what I want?” Catra asked, taking her time with each word, reveling in how utterly out of her depth Adora was.

“I don’t…I mean—what?” Adora was flustered, although it was clear she wasn’t sure why.

Catra grinned. “Even you aren’t this dense.”

“If I yell, Glimmer will be here in an instant,” Adora warned, changing the subject back to territory she could at least traverse.

Catra’s back went up at the mention of the girl that Adora had so very easily left her for. It had nothing to do with jealousy. Sure, right after Adora left, Catra had wondered what it was about Shimmer that was so special, so perfect, that Adora picked this stranger first thing, no question, before Catra even had a chance. And sure, Adora had rubbed salt in the wound by choosing her brand new, shiny friends at every opportunity since, grinding Catra and their memories and every year they’d spent together into the dirt. It had bothered her, once, but it wasn’t pathological or anything. She certainly wasn’t jealous that Adora was now spending all of her most intimate moments with some pink haired Bright Moon brat. She couldn’t care less.

“If you do that, I won’t be able to come back here,” Catra said, with all of the confidence she could muster. “You won’t see me again.”

Adora narrowed her eyes. “Yes, I will.”

“Sure, across a battlefield. And I promise I’ll do my very best to kill you when the day comes,” Catra said, putting on her most winning smile. “But is that all you want?”

There was that word again: want. Adora might not understand how it factored into this conversation, into the way they stood, every conversation they’d had since she’d defected, but Catra saw it written all over their bodies, their voices, how she felt when Adora, just for a second, shifted her eyes away.

I want—, Catra thought, but she cut off the sentence sharply. Her head flooded with all of the feelings she’d tried so hard to fight. I want Adora to suffer. I want Adora to bleed. I want Adora to step closer. I want Adora to look at me like she used to. I want Adora on my side.

“You could very easily try to kill me now,” Adora pointed out.

Catra took a step forward. So far, they had kept the length of the room between them, and she itched to break down those barriers, to force Adora to make a choice. It was reckless and stupid and utterly delicious to watch the other woman’s eyes darken.

“I could,” she said softly.

She was rewarded with a clench of Adora’s jaw.

“Adora,” Catra continued, taking another step forward, her voice silky smooth. “Do you ever forget about the scratches on your back?” She slid closer, her steps silent on the carpet, her tail swishing slowly behind her. “And then suddenly remember, when you change your clothes and catch your reflection in the mirror?”

Adora’s expression clouded over with something that Catra couldn’t quite place. Catra pushed forward, fully aware that this was insanity, that this would land her in deep water. She took one look at a confused, furious Adora and decided that it was worth it.

“Maybe you can’t forget. It must have hurt for a long time. You couldn’t sleep on your back for ages,” she said, but there was no pity in her voice. Catra was smiling. “Every time it stung, you must have thought of me.”

Catra was close now, only a pace away. Adora maintained her fighting stance, her hands up and ready to strike, but she’d already allowed the soldier far closer than was wise. Catra could taste the danger on her tongue.

In an instant, she’d slipped forward, closing the distance between them and pressing her chest against Adora’s raised fists. They were only a few inches apart; Catra could count the princess’s breaths. In surprise, Adora’s hands went slack, one fist uncurling so that her palm lay flat against Catra’s skin, right above her heart.

Catra reached around Adora’s body and trailed one finger up her back, her claw dragging up the thin fabric. “I did that,” she whispered. “I marked you.”

Adora gasped. Her other hand had caught in Catra’s clothes, so that she held the bottom of her shirt in a tight fist. Her hair was loose and wild, and it would be so easy for Catra to reach up and brush her fingers through it, to pull until it hurt. She stared at Catra with unfocused blue eyes, looking like she had been thrown into the deep end, with no way back. Dimly, Catra wondered when was the last time she’d touched Adora without the intention of hurting her.

Catra fully intended to hurt her.

She leaned forward, pushing against Adora’s hands, and tilted her head, her mouth close to Adora’s ear. “I bet part of you likes that,” she murmured. “I bet part of you wishes I’d do it again.”

Adora pushed with both hands and nearly threw Catra across the room.

Catra barely kept her footing, her heels skidding across the floor, and she let out a low hiss. They were both breathing heavily, panting as if they’d just fought, torn at each other’s hair, drawn blood. The bright, dangerous glow had returned to Adora’s eyes, and Catra calculated that she had less than five seconds to get her ass out of Bright Moon, right now.

“Meet me in the woods tomorrow night,” she said.

“Fuck you,” Adora answered.

Catra grinned. She had already launched herself over the balcony, her claws sticking into the stone wall, when she finally heard Adora scream.

Chapter Text

Want me to love you in moderation,
do I look moderate to you?

 

Adora couldn’t sleep. Every time she started to drift off, a pair of mismatched eyes crowded into her thoughts, the dark, unrestrained look in them as she’d stepped closer. It had been hours since she’d raised the alarm, and the castle grounds had been searched to no result. Glimmer had been furious that Bright Moon’s defenses were so lax, and had already come up with a plan to present to her mother the next day. Bow had held her hand and asked if she was ok, but Adora didn’t know how to answer that. “She didn’t hurt me,” she kept repeating, although she wasn’t entirely sure that was true.

What had been Catra’s aim? Why had she come there in the first place? What did she want?

None of her questions had easy answers, and Adora was painfully aware of how unprepared she was for this. She had felt something, with her palm on Catra’s chest and the other woman’s face so close to hers, that was unrecognizable and wild. Adora understood that they were in a kind of fight, but Catra had neglected to share the rules of engagement. All her life, she had depended on strength and training. But if Catra could now break down her defenses and nestle herself inside of Adora’s mind, all with just the lightest touch, how could Adora even start to fight back?

She twisted in her bedsheets, pulled at her blankets, groaned loudly into the quiet room when she couldn’t find a source of relief. Catra’s voice echoed in her head, low and mocking.

I bet part of you wishes I’d do it again.

Adora knew more than most people would give her credit for. She understood what the casual touches between Mermista and Sea Hawk meant, the way that Netossa looked at Spinnerella. In the Fright Zone, she had heard whispers about older cadets who spent the night together, and where one might be able to do that without getting caught. She’d read Glimmer’s romance novels as if they were war strategies, trying to understand everything about this unfamiliar territory. She may not have any experience, but she knew what it meant to want someone.

That can not be what Catra was doing.

Catra had looked at Adora like she wanted to eat her. She’d moved with a slow purpose that made the blonde, who was used to Catra’s speed, nervous and jumpy. Her touch had been feather soft on her back, her claws just scraping up her shirt. The more Adora replayed the scene in her head, the more confused and angry and warm she became. She threw off her blankets, lying sweat soaked in the cool air.

This was Catra.

It had never been that way with Catra. In the Fright Zone, they had touched often and without thinking, as if her body belonged as much to Adora as it did to Catra. They had sparred, and hugged, and slept huddled together. If that feeling had emerged, itching and hot, Adora certainly hadn’t acknowledged it. The only time she could recall was when they were thirteen, and some older cadets had started bullying them in the locker room. One had pulled on Catra’s tail hard, dragging her back to slam against the metal locker, and Adora could remember, as vividly as if it just happened, the tears that sprung up in her best friend’s eyes. Adora had lost her mind. She tackled the much larger cadet without thinking, and the next thing she was aware of, she was on top of him, with blood all over his face and on her hand.

Once they were out of sight of the others, Catra had embraced her like she was the only person in the world. Like, if they stopped, Catra would never be able to recover. Adora hugged her back with equal earnest, and neither of them cared when she streaked blood over Catra’s training clothes, her palms spread over the other girl’s back. Catra had felt small in her arms, fragile in a way that she’d never considered before. Her nose was pressed to Adora’s neck; Adora’s face was in her hair. She smelled like salt, and her claws dug into Adora’s clothes, her hands hot on the blonde’s body. Adora had felt something then—a stirring in her stomach that she did not understand—and she made another promise, then and there, quietly and only to herself. A promise that she would someday, just as she had with the first one, be forced to break.

Adora had promised to protect Catra, no matter what.

Her head ached. She was exhausted, as if she’d just fought in a long battle or run across Etheria, and yet she couldn’t sleep. What happened with Catra did not spring organically out of their relationship, as whatever she’d felt in the Fright Zone had. It was calculated, an attack from the side that Adora wasn’t supposed to see. It was a game.

And Adora wasn’t about to lose.

 

*****


If Catra was smart, which she so clearly wasn’t, she would have specified where in the woods she wanted to meet. Instead, she was stuck wandering around the whispering woods all night, hoping to run into an overly strong blonde. She’d had plenty of time in the past twenty four hours to think about how ridiculous her choices were, and come back with almost no conclusions. It was unlikely that Adora would bring the sword with her, so Catra couldn’t even pretend that she intended to steal it.

She didn’t know what she would do with Adora once she found her. All she knew was that she had a power over the other woman, maybe for the first time in their lives, and Catra wanted to waste no time in using it.

She’d been wandering around for the better part of two hours, and had a few twigs stuck in her hair, before she heard a rustle in the trees. She froze.

“Hey, Catra.”

Shit. She’d wanted so badly to sneak up on Adora—which was usually so incredibly easy, it was amazing she hadn’t managed to kill her yet—and arrange herself against a tree, cross her legs at the ankle, look at her claws in disinterest. No such luck.

She turned around, with all of the smoothness that she could muster.

Adora wasn’t leaning on a tree, or trying to look disinterested. She stood in the clearing with her perfect soldier posture, just as she always had. Her hair was tied back in its ponytail, and she had replaced the soft sleep clothes with her everyday red jacket and pants. She looked so much like the girl who’d fought with her in the Horde, that Catra nearly had to close her eyes.

“You know, you shouldn’t meet your enemy exactly where they say to, right?” Catra mocked, as if she’d given great directions, and hadn’t been prepared to search for Adora all night. “You didn’t do a stellar job of sneaking up on me either.”

“So you asked me out here just to insult me?”

Catra stopped. Gone was the slack surprise on Adora’s face. She looked steadily at Catra, a kind of dare in her gaze. This confident version of Adora would not be so easily won.

She shrugged. “I was going to throw something at you too.”

Adora rolled her eyes. She actually managed to look like Catra was wasting her time. “Guess I’ll leave then.”

Catra’s ears flattened, her tail swishing nervously behind her. The only thing that kept Catra from gasping out a laugh was her pride.

“Hold on a minute, princess,” Catra said, gathering herself quickly. She would not allow this strange hybrid Adora to get one up on her. This was the same woman who’d been panting in her arms last night, whose eyes had begged for a kind of release that Catra wouldn’t give. She took a step forward, putting one claw to her chin in mock thought. “You’re the one who came when I called.”

Adora’s eyes sparked, and Catra felt it as a heat in her chest.

“I came because I wanted to see what you would do,” Adora said, a good deal of her composure forgotten. She had always been too quick to raw emotions; she’d left the Horde after visiting one village, after all. Catra knew all the right buttons to press to make Adora drop her act, to force her to be, for better or worse, herself.

“Oh, Adora,” Catra drew out her words, a teasing tilt to her mouth. “Did you want me to scratch you again?”

She glared at her. “I’d like to see you try.”

Catra holding one hand up in disinterest, the other hooked on her elbow, let her claws protract. She drug one lightly down her thumb and cut her eyes at Adora. She hadn’t expected this to turn into a real fight, but maybe that would get some of this restlessness out of her system. If she could knock Adora down and drag her through the dirt, maybe she’d feel better.

Adora threw up her hands, and spoke as if her own thoughts mirrored Catra’s. “I didn’t come here to fight.”

“Then why?

“I just—I wanted…I thought if I saw you again, it would make sense.”

Catra straightened up at that, retracting her claws. There was an earnest tone to Adora’s voice, stripped of anger. She sounded horribly tired.

“What would?” she asked, but Adora wouldn’t meet her eyes. She looked down, her hands fidgeting, biting her lip. Catra risked a few steps closer. “What would make sense, Adora?”

A little, frustrated laugh. “You know what.”

“How you felt last night?”

Adora worried her bottom lip between her teeth and it was such a familiar gesture that Catra had to look away. “Yeah.”

“You wanted something.” Catra had made her voice soft, tempting. She was no coward, and she forced herself to make eye contact with Adora again. The blonde looked caught, immobile with uncertainty, half of her wanting to hear Catra explain, half of her wishing she could run. Catra felt a mirrored emotion tangling in her own stomach—the feeling that, if she didn’t flee now, she might do something irreparable.

Catra was no coward.

She said quietly, so quietly that Adora would have to strain to hear. “You wanted me.”

A pain flashed over Adora’s face. She closed her eyes.

Not one to ignore an advantage, Catra moved closer while Adora was off guard, her foot falls soft on the dirt and the leaves. She was only a pace away from Adora now, and it was hard not to feel like she was sneaking up on her prey again—that this time, when they stood close, Catra would not hesitate to test how far Adora was willing to go.

But Adora rubbed one hand over her forehead, her eyes still closed. “Adora,” Catra whispered.

Suddenly, Adora tilted her head up and said, in a voice gentle enough to—if Catra had stopped long enough to consider it—break her heart.

“I’ve just missed you.”

Catra did not allow herself time to think. It was out of the question for her to answer Adora, to admit that she often lay awake nights in the Fright Zone, one hand stretched out on the palette beside her. She would never tell her how often she replayed her memories of the weeks leading up to Adora’s defection, how she’d turned over each detail in her hands, and longed to know how Adora had so easily slipped away. She’d never allow either of them that conversation, but there was one, simple thing that she could do; she could step forward, close that last distance between them, and take Adora in her arms.

Adora, always taller, even when she wasn’t She-Ra, let her head drop into the crook of Catra’s neck. Her arms encircled Catra’s waist and she pressed as close as she could. Even with their adult bodies, and all of the wasted months and tears and fury between them, it was hard for Catra to pretend that they didn’t slot together like they once had, when they had clung to each other in a darker place, as if they were each other’s only chance to survive.

It took Catra several long moments to relax. Adora’s willing openness was shocking, and Catra regarded it like a treasure she desperately wanted, but knew to mistrust. Adora’s ponytail was in her face, her blonde hair full of new, floral smells that spoke of her life of luxury in Bright Moon. Catra wanted to hate it, to hate how long the hug had gone on and Adora showing weakness to someone who could only, in the end, hurt her. But she couldn't. Catra expelled a shaky breath and let the tension go, her body yielding to Adora’s. Her ears softened, the tip of her tail curled around Adora’s ankle, her eyes started to close.

Adora pulled back just a bit, as much as Catra’s grip would allow, and looked into the other woman’s eyes. Her eyes were dark pools and, with a relief that Catra couldn’t even begin to acknowledge, she stared back, unguardedly, into them.

“Oh, kitten,” Adora said, and her voice was syrupy smooth. “I can’t believe that worked.”

Catra broke their embrace like she’d been burned. Adora was looking at her with the same expression from when they sparred back in the Fright Zone, when she’d finally decide to bring an end to the match and pinned Catra firmly against the mat. She looked like she’d won.

Kitten.

The only person who’d ever called her that was Adora. She was the only one who’d ever dared, and even she had stopped after one fighting simulation years ago, when Adora had called her kitten in front of the other cadets and Catra made sure she fell in a spectacular way to her death. She had forgotten about it entirely.

Catra was going to kill her. She had tried many times before, sure, but her heart had never really been in it. Now, it had all become so clear. It was her sole purpose on Etheria to wipe that smug look off Adora’s face.

Catra rushed at her, claws out, a growl on her lips. She knew, and so did Adora, that the first rule of fighting is to never allow your feelings to telegraph onto your body and Catra, who was too far gone to care, was an easy read. Adora dodged each blow before it came, easily ducking a high kick, that self satisfied smile still firmly in place. When Catra slashed at her chest, Adora blocked her arm; when Catra tried to knock out her stupidly long legs, Adora swerved. And, worst of all, the thing that burrowed under Catra’s skin, was that Adora wasn’t fighting back at all.

“Catra,” Adora said, her voice like a warning, as she missed another hit.

Well, fuck that, Catra thought, and tried to hit harder.

Adora got a hold of one of her wrists, her grip much stronger than Catra remembered, and while she thrashed against her, maneuvered enough to hold the other wrist too. Catra’s claws, long and sharp, lay useless between them as Adora held her fast, steady as ever while Catra pulled and snarled and bit and threatened to put her in the dirt, as soon as she got her fucking hands back. There were bite marks on her arms and a cut on Adora’s cheek, a little drop of blood sliding down to her neck, but Adora didn’t budge.

“You started this last night. What did you think I would do? Roll over for you?” Adora asked, and her voice had lost its playfulness. “Why did you even bring that game to me when you—” Adora bit down on the rest of her sentence, but Catra already knew.

Why did you even bring that game to me, when you had to know you’d lose?

“Oh Adora, the victorious golden girl. Always first, always best, never breaks a sweat. Can’t even get lost in the forest without finding a magic sword,” Catra spat. Her voice sounded a little hysterical even to her own ears, but she injected as much cruelty as she could into each word. She had stopped wasting her energy pulling against Adora, but the other woman hadn’t loosened her grip. “Forgive me for thinking the obvious. As if anyone would doubt that if I showed even a momentary interest in your little rebellion, you’d get down on your knees and beg.”

Adora always looked serious, morally righteous, powerful—never dangerous. And yet here she was, towering over Catra, with a lethal look in her eye that shot right into the other woman’s heart. Suddenly, Catra was very happy Adora had a vice grip on her wrists. With her hands occupied, Adora couldn’t hit her.

“You don’t get to pretend you’re the only one with power here. You melted into me. You nearly purred.” Adora’s nails bit into Catra’s wrist, leaving a row of half moon marks on her skin. “If I wanted you, you’d be there with your head down and your tail wrapped around my hand.”

Catra laughed, and it was a brutal, sharp sound. “You want me, Adora. We both know it. You want me so much it hurts.”

“I wouldn’t want you if you were the last person in Eth—”

But Adora never got to finish her protest. Catra had yanked her wrists to her chest, pulling Adora close and capturing her lips in a rough kiss.

All of their edges had turned sharp, and the two enemies kissed like they were trying to draw blood. Adora didn’t hesitate for a second; she kissed back with force, her mouth sliding hungrily over Catra’s. Catra, still trapped in Adora’s grip, was close enough to curl her hands in Adora’s shirt, pulling the fabric hard enough to rip. The kiss was fast and dirty and nothing like a first kiss should be, but the things in their lives never turned out the way they were meant. Catra pressed against Adora like she was her last resort, with a wild abandon that would not have been possible only an hour ago, when she had considered herself so strong.

She had to stop. She never should have started this. Catra, with one swift move, had opened the door to things she had spent nearly a year trying to fight back. They were kissing like this was the natural extension of what they’d been doing all along, like the intimacy and hatred and nights spent consumed with thoughts of each other had all been leading up to this one true thing, that no matter what choices they made, they would still end up here—in a clearing of trees, Catra and Adora, locked together in a vicious, honest kiss.

Adora let go of her wrists.

All of a sudden, both of Adora’s hands were laced into her hair, framing her head, tugging Catra into the right angle to deepen the kiss.

Occupied with Adora’s tongue, sliding slowly into her mouth, Catra’s hands moved on autopilot, returning so easily to the assumption of permission, that Adora’s body was hers to touch as she wanted. She ran her hands over the fresh cuts on Adora’s shoulders, the muscles in her arms, down to a hard grip on her hips. Adora’s tongue licked into her mouth, Adora was pulling her hair hard enough to hurt. Catra could barely keep back a purr, and had to settle for a choking sound instead.

There was a tree somewhere behind Adora, and Catra had every intention of slamming her against it. She crowded close to Adora, forcing her to step back, once, twice, until her back hit something. She leaned back, and Catra was all over her. She spread her hands over her waist and pressed their hips together, sliding one knee between Adora’s thighs. Adora broke the kiss for just a second, her head tipping back and letting out a sigh.

That. That right there was what Catra wanted. She wanted to rip every sigh and groan and shout out of Adora until she had lost her voice, and couldn’t remember her own name. She wanted to watch Adora come undone, piece by piece, and see how the release played over her face. She wanted Adora beneath her, blue eyes and slack jawed and coming apart in her arms.

Adora braced both hands on Catra’s shoulders and threw her back, hard. Catra landed on her ass in the dirt, her hands splayed out to try and find purchase, and before she could react, Adora had jumped. She straddled her, easily finding Catra’s wrists again and pinning them on either side of Catra’s head.

Catra grinned. “I didn’t know you’d like it that rough.”

But when she looked at Adora, the other woman wasn’t smiling back. The restraint on her face was hard won, but it was firm.

“I’m not going to fuck you, Catra.”

“What?” Through her haze, Catra was having trouble reconciling Adora’s calm tone with the ravenous look in her eyes.

“We’re not going to do that here.”

Catra rolled her eyes and tried to buck her hips up, letting out a frustrated sound that was too close to a mewl for her comfort. “If you start in on a speech about morality, I’ll be too turned off for this conversation to matter.”

Catra’s whine landed with Adora hard, and she had to close her eyes. But she wouldn’t budge. “This is probably the most fucked up thing we could ever do.”

“So what?” Catra couldn’t reach Adora’s mouth, pinned to the ground as she was, so she tilted her head coyly, biting her bottom lip. “Don’t you want to know? What it feels like when we’re naked, with my hand between your legs—”

“No,” Adora said, taking a shaky breath. “That’s what I mean. This is—it’s not real.”

“I’m right here, stupid.”

“No. We’re just trying to destroy each other as fast as we can.”

Catra didn’t see the problem with that either, and was going to say so, but then Adora was leaning over her, her mouth just an inch from Catra’s ear. “And when I do have you,” Adora whispered. “It isn’t going to be quick.”

Every word shriveled up and died in Catra’s throat. Vaguely, she thought she made a little sound like a yelp, but she would deny it until the day she died.

Adora pulled back just enough to press a single kiss to Catra’s forehead. Then, she had the audacity to smile.

“See me tomorrow,” Catra said, and told herself it didn’t sound like begging.

Adora nodded. “Come back to this clearing. I’ll leave you a note with where to meet me.”

A part of Catra that, if she’d been fully in control of herself, would have been destroyed immediately, made her say, “How do I know you’ll even come?”

The rest laid unsaid between them. You abandoned me before. 

Adora let go of Catra’s wrists, and stood up. She held out one hand to help her, but Catra got up herself. They stood a few feet apart, and Catra wished her hands were on Adora again, that she could claim her with kissing, but already those urges were starting to fade, to feel ridiculous against the weight of everything they had against them.

Adora looked at Catra with an earnestness that she wished she could ignore. “I promise,” she said.

Catra gave her one, hard look. “If you’re going to make me another promise,” she said. “You had better keep it.”

Adora nodded. “I promise.”

Before she could say another word, Catra turned and ran.

Chapter Text

When you move, I'm put to mind of all that I wanna be.
When you move, I could never define all that you are to me.

 

Adora left a note for Catra in the clearing, hours before she could expect the other woman to find it. She’d written it on pink note paper she’d found in Glimmer’s desk drawer, even though the paper had a slight sparkle to it and smelled like wildflowers. Picturing how Catra’s nose would wrinkle up when she found it was reward enough.

She had feigned a headache to leave dinner early, and slipped out of the castle before her friends could return to their rooms. It was nearly impossible to stop herself from shaking during dinner, her nerves so high that she could barely make eye contact with Bow or Glimmer. If they went to visit her that night and found her room empty, she could always say she’d gone for a walk to clear her head. She wanted to arrive early; there were things she needed to prepare.

All day, thoughts of Catra had swirled through her head, hot and rage tinged and so jumbled that Adora had convinced herself this was a horrible, terrible, life altering decision. She wanted Catra; she wasn’t sure she should be allowed to have her. When she closed her eyes, she could still feel the ghost of Catra’s breath on her neck, her ex best friend’s knee pushed between her thighs. The impulses that had come over her then—to tear Catra’s clothes and bite her skin and make every touch rough and fast—had frightened her. Not in battle, or raging, or even the first time she’d transformed into She-Ra, had Adora ever felt that out of control. Catra, who was always all fire and no brakes, had matched her at every step, pushing back as hard as Adora gave. If she hadn’t forced them to stop, Adora would have held Catra in the dirt and worked fast, making her moan into her mouth, letting her claw and wriggle and pant, until it was finished and, then? Catra would return to the Fright Zone. She might not come back.

 Adora was not naïve enough to think that a little gentleness would convince Catra to stay with her. That wasn’t why she was taking such careful pains in choosing a place, preparing it, thinking wildly over what she would do with the other woman when they were alone together again. Adora had once promised to protect her, to be there, to take care of Catra when no one else would.

Last night, she had promised it wouldn’t be quick.

That promise, at least, she could keep.

 

 ---

 

Catra stood at the entrance of the First One’s temple—a temple she had tried to forget, and probably never would have found again without Adora’s directions. The tall, shining building stood clustered amongst the trees, as if the forest itself were trying to protect this place from her.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said out loud, crumpling the pink note from Adora in her hand. How very Adora to smilingly select the one place in Etheria where Catra had the largest disadvantage. At least in Bright Moon, there was a window and Catra’s speed, two things that had gotten her out of many a bad situation before. But there was a very probable chance that, once in a First One’s Temple, she’d never be able to get out again without Adora’s help. It was a shiny metal trap, with an extra slap to remind Catra of just how extremely special Adora was, of all the power that had just been dropped in her lap.

Catra tried to convince herself that she was in charge of this situation. Even if she did step into the elaborate trap, and even if she had no idea what to expect from inside, there was one advantage she still had; the one up on Adora. She had resolved that whatever embarrassing things had happened the night before would not happen again. She had spent the entire day, as she moved through the Fright Zone in a half daze, telling herself that was a one time deal. Maybe she had leaned into Adora’s hands; maybe she had mewled a little under her touch. Those pathetic displays were over now.

And yet, no matter how sternly she’d lectured herself, or how quickly she’d moved through her work, Catra could close her eyes and remember the weight of Adora on her hips, her wrists pressed to the dirt, the breathy note in Adora’s voice when she’d leaned down and spoke like someone confident, experienced—a girl she didn’t know. When I do have you—

Catra cut the thought off fast, closing her eyes hard. Where had Adora learned to talk like that? She was not able to ignore the sick, darkening feeling in the pit of her stomach at the thought.

She was angry with Adora. Angry for ruining her strategic reasons for being there; angry for picking a location that she couldn’t escape. Angry that, last night, she’d forced Catra to stop, just when she’d been wild and desperate enough to try and tear Adora apart with her claws and build a new home inside her chest. It was like an itch had started under Catra’s skin two nights ago, and she’d lose her mind if it wasn’t relieved soon.

Well. She wasn’t about to be frightened off now.

Catra uncrumpled the stupid note from Adora, and snarled as the smell washed back over her. She recited the stupid word to the stupid door and watched it open. She walked through, and was entirely ready to tell Adora off for her stupid, fucked up plan, when she saw her.

Adora was waiting in the hallway with a bundle of yellow flowers in her hand. Her other hand rubbed the back of her neck nervously, and she cut her eyes up, like she fully expected Catra to laugh at her.

Catra very much wanted to laugh at her.

She moved forward, stopping only a foot or so away from Adora. The blonde blushed, and broke eye contact, clearing her throat.

“Are you going to give those to me, or are they for the giant spiders?” Catra asked. It was a little but well thought out bouquet that Adora had picked herself, being careful to keep the stems the same length. Catra wished she found it pathetic.

Behind her, the door swung shut. No going back now.

“Oh, uh, no giant spiders this time,” Adora said, and thrust the flowers into Catra’s hand. “I have a better grasp of the controls now.” She waved her hand around the multicolor hallway, as if she were showing Catra her home. 

Catra raised an eyebrow. Where was overconfident, sex goddess Adora from last night? This Adora was decidedly worse, and Catra, with her hand full of flowers, had a hard time looking at her. This was too much like the Adora she knew.

 “Come on,” Adora said, holding out her hand and without thinking, Catra took it.

Adora pulled her through the halls, further into the labyrinth of the temple. The easy, unguarded way she walked past the bright panels of light spoke to how long it had been since they’d last met here. She’d mastered this place, because she was Adora, and she could master anything. The very simplicity of it made Catra sick.

Adora snuck looks behind her, squeezing her hand tight to make sure Catra couldn’t let go. It took all of her restraint to not claw Adora’s arm to shreds. “Adora,” she said, tugging a little at Adora’s grip. “Did you bring me here to have more heartfelt flashbacks? Cause I really don’t think that’ll get me in the mood. 

“I could show you one of the two times you beat me in training,” Adora said, and when she snuck another look, a smirk played across her face. “That ought to turn you on.” 

Catra’s words caught in her throat, and she coughed, trying to pass it off as a hairball. “I’d rather remember leaving those scratches on your back a few months ago.”

Ahead of her, she could only see the edge of Adora’s profile, but Catra would have sworn she smiled.

“We’re here,” she said.

Before Catra could protest, a metal door slid open and Adora pushed her inside.

Laid out before her was a huge, fluffy bed, the kind she would have expected to find in Bright Moon, complete with white sheets, and a stack of purple pillows, and a huge handful of rose petals scattered over the duvet. The pink and blue lighting of the temple was dimmer here, and cast an almost romantic glow over the scene. It was cheesy, and overdone, and made Catra’s chest ache.

“Did you carry that bed here?” 

“Well,” Adora’s cheeks turned red. “She-Ra did.”

Catra took a tentative step towards the bed. She didn’t have the words to talk about something like this. In the Fright Zone, sex was something quick, rough, forbidden—and to Catra, although she wouldn’t admit it, foreign. Any tenderness was hidden deep, in the way that she’d once ran her fingers through Adora’s hair under the covers at night. Romance was simply an unknown. 

“What are you supposed to do with this?” she asked, picking up a handful of the rose petals. They were soft, and bruised in her hand.

Adora blushed even darker. She wouldn’t look directly at Catra. “They’re um…well, nothing really.”

Catra raised an eyebrow. “Then, why—?”

“It’s something they do in romance novels. When two people are together. It’s supposed to be nice,” Adora waved her hand at the bed. There was a hopeful little tone to her voice that alternately cut to Catra’s heart, and made her want to stomp it out. “It’s for you,” she added.

“Why would I want this?” Catra asked, letting the petals slip from her fingers. “We’re not together, Adora." 

Adora flinched like she’d been slapped. 

“But we’re going to—” 

“Do you think that means something?” Catra asked. She made her voice cold, hiding the little tremor behind each word. She hadn’t wanted to fight with her, especially not first thing, but the tender kindness of this place made Catra want to run. “What do you think will happen if we fuck? Are you naïve enough to think it’ll change anything?”

Adora closed her eyes, like she couldn’t bear to look at Catra anymore. “No, I—”

“It won’t matter at all. Any chance we had for rose petals and romance went away a long time ago,” Catra spat out the words like they were poison. “You made sure of that.”

When Adora opened her eyes, they were glossy with tears, and Catra sucked in a breath. She wanted that. She wanted Adora to cry, and apologize, and plead for her to come back, and she wanted to leave the other woman sobbing at her feet. The power surged through her like a drug. Even leaving She-Ra on her knees wasn’t as delicious as this.

But Adora blinked back the tears, her eyes hardening. “I know that. Don’t you think I know that?”

"This is pathetic."

"It was meant to be nice.

“You wanted me to moon over you. You thought you’d show me a little kindness and poor touch starved Catra would melt. Have you forgotten me so much?” Danger was pulsing at the edge of Catra’s consciousness, and she realized that her own vision was starting to fog. She had allowed this to go to far already. She came here because she couldn’t stop herself, but she had always known what it would be; quick, simple, get it out of her system so that she could go back to trying to kill Adora tomorrow. Catra had told herself that she could easily take control of the situation from Adora, easily determine how this meeting would go. And yet, here she was with tears in her eyes, and that control slipping fast. Catra felt her heart pounding in her chest, her eyes stung. She would die before she let herself cry.

Adora rushed forward, stretching out a hand that Catra viciously pushed away. Adora grabbed her wrist and moved her other hand to her chest, over Catra’s heart.

“No,” she said. Adora’s hand was hot on Catra’s skin. “I knew you would be hard and cruel and that you’d try to run away. Catra, I know you.” Adora was nearly whispering, but she could hear the sadness that rung through her voice like a bell. Catra’s eyes were wet and she struggled against Adora’s grip in vain. She closed her eyes so Adora wouldn’t see.

Adora leaned in so close that when she spoke, Catra heard it with her whole body, a hum sent through to her toes.

“I know you better than anyone.”

Involuntarily, Catra let out a low, choked sob. Her cheeks were wet with tears.

Adora, who had been her best friend. Adora, who had been her protector. Adora, who had been the only light in Catra’s entire world, all of the goodness that she’d ever known condensed into one frustrating, competitive, beautiful girl. They had grown up as each other’s only lifeline, and without her, Catra had been wandering through the dark. Robbed of that light, she had convinced herself she never needed to see again.

Catra opened her eyes.

Adora’s hands cupped her face, and with one thumb, she wiped away her tears. She’d let go of Catra’s wrist, and Catra’s arms lay uselessly at her sides. She looked up at Adora with fear, and exhaustion, and relief. Could she, just for tonight, let Adora back in? 

More importantly, could she survive it?

Before Catra allowed herself to answer that question, she leaned forward and kissed her.

It was like she’d been holding her breath since last night, and finally she could let go. Adora answered like this was the sign she’d been waiting for. She wrapped her arms around Catra, pulling her as close as she could, their lips sliding together. Catra suddenly remembered she could move, and she brought her hands up to Adora’s hair, tangling in her fingers and pulling hard enough to hurt. 

The kiss was slow and salty with tears, and no matter how insistently Catra tugged or pushed, Adora wouldn’t deepen it. Even with her arms locked behind Catra, their bodies pressed close together, Adora was creating a distance between them, taking her time with it, and Catra felt the impatience start to build like a wave inside of her. She wanted to forget about the sob that was caught in her throat, the pain aching in her chest, and how she was pretty sure that if she stayed here, if she really let herself do this with Adora, it would ruin her. Catra let her claws scratch lightly against Adora’s temples; she bit Adora’s lip. The blonde let out a little gasp, but she reigned the kiss back into something slow, even tender.

“Adora,” Catra said into the other woman’s mouth, her words muffled by their lips sliding together. “You can do better.”

Adora pulled back. Her blue eyes were shining bright in the dim room, the blue light casting shadows over her face. For a moment, Catra was almost afraid. “I’m going to take care of you,” she said. She wasn’t asking for permission. Her voice was flat and honest, as if she were simply presenting Catra with her fate. As if she was already in control.

Catra flattened her ears. She’d had enough of Adora deciding what was best.

Catra wrapped one hand into Adora’s hair, all the way to the scalp, and pulled. Adora hissed and tilted her head back, exposing her neck. “You forget,” Catra smirked. “I don’t need your help.”

She leaned down and bit into Adora’s collarbone, hard enough to draw blood. Adora let out a short breath, but she didn’t flinch. “Catra,” she said, her voice a warning. Catra sucked over the bite, leaving a red mark on the pale skin, and moved down further, leaving a trail. She drug her front teeth down her shoulder, leaving a patch of red in its wake. Catra wanted to brand her. She wanted to mark every inch of Adora so that when she went to sleep at night, she couldn’t get away from all the places that Catra had touched her. Every taste she had of Adora and the salt on her skin and the little movements of her body under Catra’s tongue was electric, and made her wild. She dropped her hand down and slid it between their bodies, stopping to unhook Adora’s belt. 

“Catra,” Adora said, and there was no hesitancy this time. Suddenly, two strong hands were on Catra’s waist and she was being lifted easily into the air. Catra yelped, her hands slipping out of the other woman’s hair and bracing on her shoulders. Adora held her an inch off the ground and away, so that their bodies were no longer touching. Catra looked down at her tensed arms, much more toned than they had been in the Fright Zone, and tried to look unimpressed. Without her knowledge, her tail had betrayed her, and was happily curled around Adora’s left bicep.

“Hey!” she shouted in protest, but then Adora hoisted her up, and promptly slung her over her shoulder.

It was a good thing Adora couldn’t see her face, because Catra was flushed scarlet. “If you don’t let me go,” Catra growled, her claws scrambling for purchase as Adora started towards the bed. If there had ever been a chance for her to maintain her dignity, that had flown right out the window.

With one quick movement, Adora tossed her on the bed. A cloud of rose petals rose around her. Catra tried to sit up but the mattress was by far the softest thing she’d ever lain on, and there were petals all over her, and already she was sinking back into the pillows. Adora followed, getting onto the bed on her knees and straddling Catra’s waist, pushing her hips down to keep her in place.

“I told you,” Adora said, leaning over her. She looked confident and in control and Catra wanted to spit in her face. She brought her mouth close to Catra’s ear and she flattened them obstinately. Adora nuzzled the fur at the edges of it with her nose. “I’m going to take care of you,” she whispered. “Don’t you want that?”

Catra shivered. When she thought about it, she couldn’t remember the last time she had been touched. The Fright Zone was a cold, sterile place, and while some cadets found comfort in each other, there had been no one Catra even wanted to speak to since Adora left. The loneliness that she’d become so accustomed to itched under her skin.

“We’ve never had the time before,” Adora said, and her voice was full of a wonder that broke Catra’s heart. “I want to savor you.” 

A part of Catra, buried deep, knew that she had wanted this for years. She knew that a version of herself had always loved Adora, had waited all those nights at the foot of her bed, just a breath away. That girl had never thought she’d have the luxury of time.

Catra relaxed. She let go of her grip on Adora’s shoulder, leaned back against the pillows, retracted her claws. She looked up at Adora with a mix of uncertainty and fear. “Don’t think this means I trust you,” she said, her eyes sliding away.

Even with her gaze averted, she could tell that the smile on Adora’s face was blinding. Adora ran her fingers through Catra’s hair, stopping for a moment to rub under her ears, and Catra’s back arched a little into the touch before she could stop herself. “For one night, let’s stop trying to hurt each other,” she whispered, pressing a soft kiss to Catra’s temple. “Just for tonight.”

Catra couldn’t speak. She was just managing to keep back a purr. Adora ran her short nails over the space behind Catra’s ears, hitting a spot that made her eyes drop closed, her tongue darting out to wet her lips. In all the time they had spent together, they had never touched like this; so simple, but so intimate, Adora just scratching behind her ears, and Catra was quickly wild for it. It felt like something she’d needed her whole life, but never knew to ask for. Without her consent, a low hum started through her and she purred, leaning into Adora’s hands, wanting more.

With her eyes still closed and Adora’s hands still rubbing, Catra felt a kiss pressed to her cheek, her nose, the edge of her ear. Adora kissed down her chin and to her neck, each kiss wetter and harder than the one before. She ran her tongue over Catra’s collarbone and down into the dip of her chest. The purring was, embarrassingly, getting louder by the second, but now that it had started, Catra didn’t think she could make it stop. Her tail swished back and forth on the bed, her hands clenching in the duvet beneath her until the fabric ripped. Adora’s mouth was hot on her skin, moving lower, just above her breasts and Catra gasped.

Adora had bit her.

She sunk her teeth into Catra’s skin, just below her collarbone, and just as quickly ran her tongue back over it. Catra let out a low growl, her back arching off the bed, and before she could say anything, Adora did it again.

“You wanted to mark me?” Adora said against her skin, and when she bit again it was hard enough to draw blood. “I’m going to leave bites all over you, so even when you’re alone you can’t deny that I had you.” 

Catra was too far gone to keep back a low groan. Adora was mimicking the licks and bites she’d placed on her skin only minutes earlier and yet, though she would never admit it, Catra liked this much better. The thought of finding the marks on her skins, reminders of Adora and what they had done, sent a thrill through her. 

“Where did you—ah, where did you learn to do this?” Catra asked. Adora’s hands had slipped past her ears and were wandering down her body, leaving a hot trail down her arms. If she’d been in full control of herself, Catra never would have asked it.

Adora paused and looked up at her, all swollen lips and glazed blue eyes. “What?” 

“I mean did you….you must have done this with someone before,” Catra said, and the thought lodged itself like a knife in her heart.

Adora must have seen something flash across Catra’s face. She smirked, leaning down to lick over the growing red mark on her chest. “Why do you ask?”

“You just seem to know what you’re doing.”

“Are you saying I’m good at this?” 

Adora’s head was down, but Catra could feel the smirk against her skin. She blushed bright red, and was thankful Adora wasn’t looking at her. “No. Of course not,” she said, the lie sounding flustered and forced even to her own ears. “I just—I guess I wanted to know.”

Adora pulled away and moved up Catra’s body, so they were face to face. “Would you be jealous if I had?”

“No.”

“Liar.”

“Adora, I couldn’t care less what you do with your cutesy rebel crew.”

“You’d hate it if I’d been with someone else,” Adora said. Her smirk faded and she captured Catra’s lips in a short, hard kiss. “I’d hate it too.”

Adora leaned down to kiss her again, but Catra darted up and took her bottom lip into her mouth, sucking and biting down before she let it go with a pop. “How do you know I haven’t?”

“Have you?" 

The day before, in the woods, had been Catra’s first real kiss. Replaying it in her head once she reached the Fright Zone, she could see that it had been messy and wet, that she had been nearly feral with how much she’d wanted it. Adora had a control that Catra couldn’t understand but then again, she always had; winning fights because she could be patient, and Catra’s wildness was too easy to read. Or, was it because she knew something that Catra didn’t?

“Yesterday was my first kiss,” she said, a hot blush flooding her face. Her strange, horrible impulse to be vulnerable with Adora was clearly going to be her downfall.

Adora smiled brightly. “Me too.”

Catra couldn’t take her smile, or the sunshine brightness of her blonde hair, or the look of absolute adoration in her eyes. Every tender moment she shared with Adora now was given like a gift, which Adora should know better than to accept so openly. I’ll ruin you with it, Catra told herself, looking up into those too blue, too kind eyes. I’ll tear you open myself.

Catra tangled her hands back in Adora’s hair, leaving her claws retracted, as the other woman started to make her way down her body again. Her mouth left a hot trail of kisses down her chest, over her stomach, on her hip, avoiding all of the places where Catra needed her the most. Catra made a mental list of all the spots where she’d be able to see Adora’s work tomorrow, when she looked at herself in the training room mirror: a bite on her pelvis, a bruise under her arm, nail marks like crescent moons on her thighs. Catra managed to bite back any moans, but the purring had started again and every time Adora’s fingers wandered close to her breasts or over her hips her body would tilt up, asking for more. They were still fully clothed, Adora hadn’t touched a single sensitive part of her yet, and Catra’s entire body was already on fire. 

Finally, blessedly, Adora’s fingers snuck under the straps of her top and Catra was all too ready to help her remove it. She pulled it off her shoulders, tugging it down her torso and off before Adora could say a word. Adora left a line of kisses under the edge of her sports bra, her hand moving to snap the elastic of Catra’s leggings.

“If you don’t speed up, I’m going to bite you,” Catra said, lifting her hips to pull the leggings off her hips. “And not in a sexy way.” 

Adora raised her eyebrows at her, but let Catra tear her leggings off and throw them across the room. “Don’t think it’s up to you,” she said and leaned forward to pull at the strap of Catra’s bra with her teeth.

Catra sucked in a desperate breath. Adora drug the strap down her shoulder, then did the same on the other side. Her tongue slipped down the line of her cleavage, into the dip between her breasts  and Catra wriggled beneath her, her eyes dropping closed. She felt the cold air hit her skin as Adora pulled the bra down to her middle, her mouth following the path down. She licked at one nipple and sucked suddenly, drawing out a gasp. At the same time, she reached down and wrapped one hand around the base of Catra’s tail. 

Catra moaned. Adora’s fingers played over the skin above her tail, her hand slipping down to hold it and pull. The sharp tug sent an unexpected jolt through Catra and her purring was so loud, she could almost pretend that she wasn’t making other noises, low mewls and sighs and Adora’s name, stuck on her lips like sugar. 

This was killing her. If Adora’s plan all along had been to vanquish her enemy, she was doing an incredible job. Catra didn’t have any of the skills to fight back against this. Adora nipped at her, sliding her tongue over her clavicle, sucking on the skin above her right breast hard enough to bruise.

Without warning, Catra thrust her hips up hard, upsetting Adora’s balance and the other woman yelped. Before she could regain her purchase, Adora landed on her back in the pile of rose petals and Catra was climbing up her body. “There’s savoring, and then there’s plain torture,” she said, pulling at Adora’s jacket until a button ripped. “Haven’t we waited long enough?”

“You never had any patience,” Adora said, capturing one of Catra’s wrists in her hand. She sat up against the pillows, pushing Catra to sit back on her thighs, but didn’t try to flip their positions. Her other hand returned to Catra’s tail, twirling the end of it over her own wrist. “What do you want then, Catra?”

Straddling her enemies lap in just her underwear, one hand caught in a grip she couldn’t shake, Catra tried to think. 

“Be honest,” Adora added.

“I want—,” Catra stopped, looking away.

“Come on.” Adora kissed the side of her mouth, and let her tongue slip down her chin, over the line of her jawbone. “I’ll do whatever you want.”

“I want…the way you were before. That was good. Just, too slow.” Catra could feel the blush spreading up her neck.

“How was I before?”

For fucks sake.

If Adora was smirking, she had her head hidden in Catra’s hair, and it was impossible to tell. But Catra could hear the edge of amusement in her voice, brimming into a laugh.

Catra shifted uncomfortably on Adora’s lap, and inadvertently rubbed herself against Adora’s thigh. Suddenly, her pride was no where in sight.

“Like you were doting on me. Worshipping. Like you weren’t going to be done until you’d touched every inch of me.” Even to her own ears, Catra’s words sounded strangled and desperate. Adora drug her teeth over the side of her neck and Catra’s head tipped back. On a sigh, the words slipped out, too true and terrible for Catra to have even considered them before she heard it said in her own voice.

 “Like I was yours.”

Adora pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were dark and unreadable, her mouth red and swollen from all of the lavishing she’d done over Catra’s body. When she spoke, her voice was rough in a way that Catra had never heard before. “When I’m done with you, there won’t be a part of you I haven’t touched. I’m going to make you so crazy you’ll beg for it.”

Catra forced herself not to look away. All the breath had left her body, and she was pretty sure that if Adora didn’t touch her soon, she was going to pass out. They both breathed heavily, looking into each other’s eyes, Adora holding Catra’s wrist, Catra holding Adora’s with her tail. They were linked, and tangled, and would never be rid of each other. Whatever happened tonight would make sure of that.

Adora turned her head and brought forward Catra’s wrist, pressing a lingering kiss to her pulse. She locked eyes with Catra and moved up her hand with little kisses, to her palm, her fingers, and then the tip of each, where her claws were retracted. Catra caught her breath, forgetting she still had one free hand, completely mesmerized. Adora brought her index finger into her mouth and sucked.

It sent a jolt of heat through Catra and she had to struggle to keep her eyes open so she could watch. Adora drug the flat of her tongue over the bottom of her finger, and then sucked again. She was looking right at her, without shame or doubt or fear. She was looking at Catra like she was a challenge.

With a pop, Adora slid the finger out of her mouth and started to kiss down her arm, the markings on her bicep, the crook of her elbow. Catra was still sitting on top of her, but there wasn’t a bit of her that felt in control. Adora tugged a little on her tail, bringing it over to wrap around Adora’s waist. Catra shifted closer on her lap, pressing herself down onto Adora’s clothed thighs. Adora moved up and pressed kisses behind her ear, touching each delicate spot, making Catra shiver.

“Take your clothes off,” Catra said, although it came out more as a plead. Adora flicked her tongue over the crux of her ear and Catra moaned. Her hand had started to snake down Catra’s stomach, playing lightly over the hem of her underwear.

“You sure we have time for that?" 

Catra tore at her jacket, pulling it off Adora’s shoulders. Adora leaned back and held her hands up, letting Catra do it for her. She tugged on the hem of Adora’s tight shirt, cursing the elasticity of the fabric and the long sleeves. Finally, she’d pulled it off Adora’s head and she sat beneath Catra in her bra. Her pants were still on, but Catra was already losing focus and had leaned forward to kiss her again, bringing up both hands to cradle Adora’s face.

Adora let Catra take control of the kiss, opening her mouth when prompted, her hands rubbing over the edge of her underwear. Catra broke the kiss to pull at the straps of Adora’s bra and, working on an instinct level she hadn’t really thought through, leaned down to nuzzle against her chest, trying to press her ear close enough to hear Adora’s heart.

She smelled just like she always had, underneath the fancy Bright Moon soap, and Catra pressed closer, feeling wild just with the scent of her. She smelled like hard afternoons in the training arena, and winter nights where they huddled together for warmth. Catra pressed her nose to Adora’s skin and breathed in, letting her hair fall around her and cover the other woman’s torso. This felt safe in a way that frightened her, in a way that should have made her run.

Then Adora’s hands slipped under the elastic of her underwear and she held Catra’s ass in two splayed palms. She squeezed and Catra glanced up, her tongue half out of her mouth and unconsciously swiping against Adora’s skin.

“I can’t believe I get to touch you like this,” Adora whispered. She lifted Catra’s ass to pull her closer, and Catra had to spread her legs further to accommodate. Her underwear was soaked and with Adora’s hands supporting her, she rocked down on Adora’s clothed thighs, leaving wet marks on her pants and purring at the friction.

 Catra kept her nose in Adora’s chest and wrapped her arms around the other woman to brace herself there, her mouth latching onto the side of her breast. Adora, who had always been hard muscle and lean limbs, was so soft here, and Catra hummed as she licked in between her breasts, leaving little nips on her skin.

Adora’s hands squeezed and moved and encouraged while Catra rocked against her, wet and hot and faster. Adora let out a little groan, and the sound was so lovely that Catra wished she could bottle it up and take it home with her, for all of the lonely nights to come. “You’re doing great,” Adora muttered on a sigh. “So great, baby.” The little pet name sent something like an electric shock through her. Catra lapped at Adora’s skin like she wanted to consume her. She tightened her tail around Adora’s waist, her arms mimicking the action around her chest, and she let her nails scratch lightly against Adora’s sides as she rocked faster, her breath coming in shorter spurts. A high pitched sound that was nearly a meow came out of her, and Catra didn’t care. She was quickly becoming addicted to this feeling, intimate and hot and the sweetest thing she’d ever had.

 Adora’s hands slid to her hips and she held Catra still, just when something was starting to build in her that felt like it could burst. Catra released her hold around her chest, looking up at Adora with annoyance. “Did I say stop?” 

Holding her hips firm, Adora leant forward and bit Catra’s ear. It wasn’t hard, but it was enough for Catra to yip and sit up. “Adora,” she said, trying to sound serious, and not sex crazed. “When are you going to fuck me—” Catra tried to speak, but Adora’s hand had moved to the front of her underwear and in one easy movement, one finger slipped inside of her.

Catra fell forward against Adora’s shoulder, one hand bracing herself on the wall. She shifted her hips up to give Adora better access and a little shudder ran through her as Adora’s hand started to move, gentle and experimental at first, taking her time. Adora was looking up at her with wonder, like she couldn’t believe Catra was real. “I’m inside you,” she whispered, like it was the most amazing thing in the universe. 

“You always were—ah, slow,” Catra tried to say sarcastically, but it was taking all of her willpower not to rock down on Adora’s hand and urge her to go faster. Her other hand was on Catra’s hip, rubbing slow soothing circles over her skin.

“You’re so wet,” Adora said, eyes raking down her body. 

“Any other facts you want to restate?” If she could be biting about this, it would be easier to come to terms with how good it felt to have her ex best friend’s body under hers, her finger inside of her. Catra could feel her own slickness, and the intrusion didn’t hurt like she’d thought it would.

“I did this. I made you feel this way.”

She sounded proud. Adora crooked her finger in a way that made Catra clench at her shoulders and bite her lip hard enough to bleed. Adora had always been a quick study. She moved her finger in the same way again, her other hand supporting Catra as she melted forward against her. 

“I’m making you come apart.”

Catra couldn’t have responded if she wanted too. She pressed her face into the crook of Adora’s neck and let her tongue play over her skin again, an instinct she hadn’t known she’d had. Adora moved her finger faster, hitting that spot again, and Catra made a sound similar to Adora’s name.

It wasn’t enough. Adora’s finger was moving lazily in her, hitting the right spots but not adding the pressure or friction that Catra so desperately needed. Catra pushed back to look at her, letting all of the need show in her eyes. “Adora,” she said, and hoped that it would be enough.

You’ll beg for it. That was what Adora had said, and apparently she hadn’t forgotten her promise. 

She raised one eyebrow at Catra, like she didn’t understand her question. Her finger still moved in and out, grazing over that spot with every thrust.

“Please,” Catra said, and she didn’t even blush. She ground her hips down on Adora’s hand, trying to get more friction. “Please, Adora. Fuck me harder.”

A little smile crossed over Adora’s face and she slipped in another finger. Her pace didn’t change, but the added stretch made Catra gasp.

“Aren’t you happy we didn’t do this fast and rough in the woods?” Adora asked, and she curved her fingers perfectly. “I’m wet too, you know. Everything you do turns me on.”

“Fuck,” Catra murmured, pushing her hips down. The thought of Adora below her with the same itching urges, holding herself back so she could work over Catra, was so hot she had to close her eyes. Adora’s pace picked up a little, her other hand coming up to curl in a lock of Catra’s hair. She pulled her face close and kissed Catra, hard and messy and full of an emotion that Catra wasn’t ready to name.

This was all too much. Adora’s fingers inside of her, moving faster and faster, hitting that spot every time like she’d practiced. Adora rubbing the heel of her palm against her clit every time she pushed in further. Adora’s mouth sucking on her neck, Adora’s blue eyes flashing, Adora’s body half naked under her. The tender way Adora held her chin and looked in her eyes, asked, “Another?” and how quickly she’d responded when Catra said yes. Three fingers, moving in sync, stretching and curling, hot and slick, and Adora’s hand on the back of her neck, dominant and pulling her forward for another kiss. It was something Catra had never felt before—overwhelming and incredible and so, so dangerous.

Adora under her, Adora inside her, Adora the girl that she had loved so much that Catra had nearly believed they shared the same heart. She caught Adora’s eye, and the panic must have read on her face.

“It’s ok,” she whispered. “I have you. You can let go.”

Of course Catra couldn’t let go. Around Adora, Catra couldn’t even turn her back. But the heat was building in her like a wave, flooding her senses and tingling her fingers and shutting down the part of her brain that protected her against Adora and everything that she meant.

“Come on,” Adora said, and it was more like an offering than a demand.

Catra tried to shake her head, but she was still moving against Adora’s hand. She couldn’t have stopped for anything in the world. “I can’t,” she choked out.

Adora pressed her forehead against Catra’s, both of them panting, their eyes locked. “I’m going to take care of you, Catra. I promise.”

Something snapped.

Catra braced both hands on Adora’s shoulders, angled her head back, and let herself go.

Part of her registered that she was grinding her hips down hard, that Adora was saying supportive things like, “just like that,” and “you’re doing wonderful, kitten” and “god, you’re so sexy,” but the world had narrowed down to Adora’s fingers inside of her and the pressure on her clit and the fire she felt everywhere, like any moment she would burst into flames. Adora’s fingers swirled and dipped and bent inside her, her other hand tangling in her hair and pulling hard, and all the time Adora’s blue eyes were on her face, taking in every gasp and shudder and moan. “Adora, I’m—” Catra started, though she quickly lost track of what she’d meant, overwhelmed by the feeling spreading through her. 

“I have you,” Adora repeated and curved her fingers just right, and Catra came undone in her arms.

She moaned and shuddered and kept pushing down on Adora’s hand as she rode it out, but Catra didn’t care how wanton and wild she looked. Her back arched, her jaw slack, and Adora didn’t stop, kept hitting that spot perfectly, letting the fire run all the way through her, the blood rushing so loud in her ears that for a second, Catra lost all sense. She’d never come like that before. She’d never felt anything even close.

Catra collapsed into Adora, spent. Adora’s hand slowed and slipped out of her with a wet sound that Catra didn’t have the energy to feel self conscious about. Catra was nuzzled into Adora’s neck again, and it was too easy to imagine a world where this could be her favorite place, where she could fall asleep and wake up in the morning to Adora’s smell and the soft curve of her shoulder. Adora lifted her hand, and Catra could see how wet it was. Adora took her index finger into her own mouth and sucked off the wetness like it was entirely normal, like she’d never considered doing anything else.

When she went for the next finger, Catra leaned up and closed her mouth over it first. Adora looked at her in surprise as Catra sucked hard on her finger, her own taste flooding her mouth. Catra could not, and would not, try to explain herself. All she knew was that she felt better and safer and happier than she ever had in her life, and all she wanted in the world was to curl up inside of Adora’s chest and stay there forever. 

It wouldn’t last. 

But, right now, Catra didn’t have the energy to care. She licked over Adora’s hand with her rough tongue, washing it clean.

Adora gathered her close and held her tight, Catra’s head resting over her chest so she could hear the fast beat of her heart. She held Catra like she was afraid that she was going to run, right then and there. Probably smart, Catra thought, and snuggled closer into Adora’s chest, closing her eyes.

She wasn’t going to acknowledge the feeling beating in her chest, honest and longing for things that she couldn’t have. A chill came over her. After spending so much time creating a world that functioned without Adora in it, Catra was going to have to leave this place and return to the Fright Zone and start to remember what it felt like. She would have to relearn how to let Adora go.

Chapter Text

I'm off the deep end, watch as I dive in,
I'll never meet the ground.
Crash through the surface, where they can't hurt us,
We're far from the shallow now.

 

Catra had only ever woken up in the Fright Zone. She’d never slept into mid morning, or blinked the sun out of her eyes as she drifted into consciousness. She’d never stretched against the pillows, or taken another five minutes, or snuggled closer into someone’s chest, her tail wrapped tight around their ankle. So she didn’t know how to react to the too soft bed, or the mound of pillows, or the body beneath her, warm and muscled and so familiar that Catra had to force herself to open her eyes.

Adora was beneath her, her arms wrapped so tight around Catra’s waist that she could barely scoot back enough to see her face. She had slept with her head buried into Adora’s neck, and she could see the places where she’d left a wet trail of licks on her skin, the red spots where she’d nuzzled closer. Catra remembered falling asleep curled against Adora on the bed, but at some point during the few hours they’d slept, a sleeping Adora must have scooped her up because she was lying entirely on top of the blonde, their legs tangled together. It was sweet and intimate and the kind of moment two people who had been in love for a long time would have shared without second thought or question. 

Catra panicked.

 This was not the plan. Things had gone so spectacularly off kilter, and she had allowed herself something that never should have been an option. She had spent so many months telling herself that the Fright Zone was what she wanted, that letting go of Adora was the only option. When Adora left, it opened up a path for Catra that had previously been locked. It let her breathe. Adora had never been anything but a nuisance to her, another anchor holding her back from what she could become. She pushed on Adora’s shoulders, trying to wriggle her way out of the hold the other woman had her in, but Adora only sighed happily in her sleep and tugged her closer.

When she’d told Adora that she didn’t want her to come back, the last time that they’d been in this temple together, she’d meant it. If she could cut Adora entirely out of her life and live without this feeling burning hot and horrible in her stomach, she would do it. If she could forget the years of memories of this frustrating, strong, willful girl, she would never open her eyes again.

If there was a way for Catra to let go of Adora, she wouldn’t think twice.

In her sleep, Adora had none of the stubbornness that she was known for. She looked soft and peaceful, her blonde hair splayed out on the pillow, her lips parted and still red from kissing. Catra knew that if she left the temple now, they would never have this chance again.

If there was a way for Catra to let go of Adora, she would have already done it.

Catra let her body relax against Adora’s. The other woman’s arms were strong and solid in a way that Catra would not admit she liked, and one of her thighs was pressed between Catra’s, her ankle hooked over her knee. Couldn’t leave if I wanted to, Catra reasoned with herself, allowing her tongue to return to Adora’s neck, pressing wet against her skin. 

As trapped as she was, her arms were free enough to move down Adora’s sides as she kissed up the other woman’s jawline, leaving a wet trail over to her ear. Adora, always a hard sleeper, shifted a little under the attention, letting out a soft, vulnerable whine. Nothing had ever tasted better than Adora did under Catra’s sensitive tongue, and she lapped hungrily at her skin. If this is all they would ever have, Catra was going to make it worthwhile.

 Adora stirred, her eyes blinking sleepily in the dim blue and pink light, and Catra licked up the shell of her ear, nipping at the edge. It was so easy to lose her control around Adora, to slip into something primal and needy in her nature that couldn’t get enough of the other woman. She wanted to touch every part of Adora’s body and even then, she was sure, that wouldn’t be enough. Adora’s eyes focused on her, her grip relaxing a little, and a smile bright as sunshine passed over her face. Catra wanted her so much she could have screamed.

 “You’re still here,” Adora said, and there was so much relief in her voice that it ached in Catra’s chest.

 “Yes,” Catra whispered, pressing another line of kisses next to Adora’s mouth. She moved her hands up to where their bodies were pressed hard together, her fingers playing over the edge of Adora’s breasts.

 “I’m not going to ask why,” Adora said. “I’m too happy to care.”

 Another version of Catra would have made fun of her for that, would have held it over her until Adora was blushing and flustered, but this Catra was trying to memorize the exact curve of Adora’s lips, the way that her hair fell softly over her face. “Good morning,” she said, although she wasn’t at all sure what time it was.

 “Morning,” Adora’s smile spread. “Are you sore?”

Catra shifted her hips, and accidentally pressed down on Adora’s thigh. She managed not to groan but Adora noted the widening of her eyes and, smirking, bent her knee a little. It created a new angle and more pressure that Catra longed to grind down on. “Just a little,” she said, shifting again and hoping it wasn’t obvious that she was chasing a bit of that delicious friction. It did hurt some, but it was the kind of pain that she was familiar with, the kind she had after working a hard day in the training arena, or waking up to battle bruises on your arms. It felt good.

Adora looked like she was on the verge of apologizing. As a kind of reassurance, Catra pressed her hips down a little harder, her own knees digging into the mattress. “I’m not fragile, you know. I can take it.”

“I know,” Adora said quickly. “We just haven’t…this is new territory. I don’t want to hurt you.”

Only months before, Catra had tried to kill this very girl with her bare hands. Now, she passed her hand over Adora’s forehead, brushing her hair back. These were the claws that had left scars on her back, that had made her bleed.

A vicious part of her knew what she would say, if she were angry, if she hadn’t allowed Adora to open a door back into her heart. I was never as weak as you thought I was. No, that wasn’t right. Catra always knew how to cut deeper. I was never as weak as you wanted me to be.

Catra could say it, and she could watch the peaceful smile on Adora’s face crumple and change. She knew that, if she did, it would be easy to make Adora cry.

She let her fingers linger on Adora’s temple, rubbing small circles there. “I’m fine,” she said, looking away. She had been dangerously close to using the word happy.

Adora unhooked her hands from Catra’s back and slid them down, over her hips, onto her ass. Catra ground her hips down instinctually, biting her lip to keep back a moan. Adora was looking at her with awe, like she couldn’t believe her luck, like any moment Catra would change her mind. Images from the night before flashed through her memory, and Catra’s breath caught in her throat. They had never managed to fully undress; Catra was in her underwear, Adora in her sports bra and pants. Suddenly, the need to see the other woman naked and writhing and losing the ability to remember her own name was overwhelming.

Catra stilled her hips. “I want it different this time,” she said.

Adora looked up at her, pausing with both hands cupping Catra’s ass. “How?”

“I want to,” Catra pushed herself up with one hand and gestured to Adora generally. “To you.”

A slow smile spread over Adora’s face. “To do what to me, Catra?”

Catra rolled her eyes and pushed up, adjusting so she was on all fours over Adora, straddling her hips, one hand on either side of the other woman’s head. Adora dropped her grip and laid still, watching her.

In the few times they’d had together, Catra had never really been in control. She’d pushed and pulled and bit in moments of wild abandon, but the reins had always quickly switched hands again. It felt strange to see Adora waiting, passive, her blue eyes staring up at Catra with something a little too close to adoration. Catra barely knew what to do.

Adora must have seen the hesitation in her expression. “You can do anything you want,” she whispered. “I’ll like it all.”

Catra swallowed. She tugged at the edge of Adora’s sports bra and watched as the other woman sat up a little and pulled it off. She laid back in the pillows, looking up at Catra expectantly and without any embarrassment, her breasts pale and exposed to the cool air. Following instinct, Catra dropped her head down to Adora’s collarbone and left a light trail of kisses down it, to her shoulder, over her bicep. She kept the kisses chaste and feather light, and she could feel Adora shifting impatiently below her. Catra nestled closer and kissed and started to let her tongue slip out to drag over the other woman’s skin, the kisses becoming a little messier and wetter each time. It was a taste that had gotten underneath her skin, and now Catra didn’t think she could have enough of it. She moved down Adora’s chest, letting one hand rest just under her breast, her mouth moving over the curve of it. It was slower than Catra could have imagined and, even in her edginess, Adora tried to stay still and silent, letting Catra do what she wanted.

That feeling, of having Adora laid out beneath her, of having this opportunity to consume her, was heady and Catra let herself go to it. She stopped thinking all together. Her mouth slid open and wet over Adora’s skin; her fingers teased and pulled. She mapped out Adora’s chest, kissing over her breasts, nuzzling under each of them. Her tail, she realized, was still wrapped around Adora’s ankle, tight. Catra drug her nails lightly down Adora’s belly and followed the red lines with her tongue. She pressed kisses down her stomach and into her belly button and over the ridge of her pelvis until all she could feel was Adora, hot and flushed and trying hard not to wriggle under her mouth. 

Adora had her hands clenched in the duvet, her entire body tensing under Catra’s touch, but she couldn’t keep her lips from moving. “God, you’re so good at this, kitten. You—ah, you’re, oh my god, you’re perfect,” she rambled, letting out a happy hum. The words spurred Catra on, sending a jolt of heat through her body, and she lapped it up, making sure to pay special attention to each spot that made Adora gasp. The other woman arched her back off the bed, unable to stay still, and Catra moved with her, shifting her hips back a little to give her better access to Adora’s hips. She ran her tongue over the edge of Adora’s pants, dipping beneath the waistband a few times and making the other woman whine.

Catra looked up at Adora laid out on the pillows, tense and breathing heavily, her chest flushed red and her eyes clamped closed. Sitting between the other woman’s spread legs, her fingers playing at the button of her pants, she locked eyes with Adora and said, in a voice that sounded husky to her own ears: “Tell me what to do.”

Adora’s blue eyes darkened. When she spoke, her voice matched the roughness of Catra’s. “You’d like that?”

Catra spoke without hesitation. “Yes.” 

“Take off your underwear.”

Catra didn’t take her eyes off Adora’s. Shifting onto her knees, she pulled the waistband slowly down her thighs. Adora sat up on her elbows watching, all of the humor and sweetness drained from her face and replaced with something so hot it almost hurt to look at her. Catra’s hair fell forward as she moved, tugging the underwear under each knee and finally slipping it off, letting it drop to the floor. She turned back to Adora, her hands resting in her lap as she waited for the next instruction.

There was nothing soft about Adora’s voice. “You’re beautiful.”

No one had ever said that to Catra, but she didn’t flinch. She had never been self conscious about her body; in the communal showers and locker rooms of the Fright Zone, there wasn’t time. But she had always looked at her body as a tool, something that allowed her to run quickly and jump further than the other recruits. When she looked in the mirror, she saw muscles and sharp lines and all the potential harm she could inflict on an enemy. It had never occurred to her to wonder if she was beautiful.

Catra didn’t break eye contact, but a hot flush started up her neck. “Are you ever going to take those pants off?”

Adora smiled. “Take them off me." 

Catra unbuttoned them fast, grateful to finally have permission to get Adora naked. The other woman lifted her hips, but made no other movements to help, watching carefully while Catra moved. They had seen each other naked before, of course, but Catra had never been the opportunity to linger. Adora had already seen her stretched out and naked underneath her; Catra was almost dizzy with how much she wanted the same. When she finally dropped Adora’s pants on the floor and turned back to the other woman, laid out bare before her, she didn’t have to avert her eyes, or make a joke, or pretend that she didn’t want to keep looking. She could stare at her with all of the open desire that she felt, allowing the heat to pool inside her, delicious and just on the edge of pain.

Adora tilted her head back on the pillows and let out a shaky sigh. Keeping eye contact with Catra, she said, her voice breathy and so sexy Catra nearly moaned. “Touch me." 

She didn’t have to be told twice. Catra slid her hands up Adora’s strong thighs, retracting her claws so her touch was soft. Adora shifted a little on the bed, letting her legs spread wider, making an effort to relax her tense grip on the sheets. Catra could hear her breathing, fast and uneven, and now that she was naked, she could smell Adora too, sweet and intoxicating. She settled back on her knees and leaned closer, her hands rubbing small circles over Adora’s pelvis, firmer each time, swiping closer to her center. “Touch me,” Adora repeated, and this time there was no ambiguity in her voice. Instantly, Catra slipped one hand down to press against her.

Adora gasped. She arched her back, her hips slipping down the bed and pushing against Catra’s hand. Catra focused on her body, on the tense flex of her thighs and the way she bit down on her bottom lip, the curve of her fist in the blanket and red flush crawling down her neck. She shifted her touch, circling Adora’s clit and adding more pressure, just to see how the woman beneath her sighed and shuddered. Catra couldn’t get enough of it. She knew how hard Adora was trying to keep herself contained, and how quickly she was starting to fail.

“In the Fright Zone, there were so many times I wanted to do this,” Catra whispered. “So many times I almost reached for you while we were lying next to each other. So many nights I went to sleep thinking of you.”  

Adora let out a low hiss and Catra rubbed harder, her fingers slick and rough. “Tell me.”

“I’d find reasons to touch you all day. Knock you to the ground in training and play fight with you in the lockers after. I couldn’t stop myself,” Catra admitted. The part of her brain that filtered her thoughts seemed to have shut down, and the words poured out of her like a wave. If Adora asked her to cut her own arm open with her claws right now, Catra wasn’t sure she’d be able to say no. “I couldn’t leave you alone. I’d sit too close in the cafeteria, pretend to fall asleep on your arm. Act like I was cold so I could climb into your bed.”

The building heat in her abdomen had combined with something else, an ache in her chest that hurt so much Catra had to close her eyes. Her hand was sore, but she kept moving, adding pressure, rubbing faster. She could remember a similar ache in her chest years before when things had been simpler, and she hadn’t yet known how complicated life could become—when she had lain next to Adora and tried to find the words to explain a feeling she’d never been taught to understand. She remembered the smell of Adora’s washed hair, the little sighs in her sleep, how many hours she’d spent imagining closing that narrow gap between them, and with her eyes closed, it was like she could still be there, small and vulnerable and unsure, lying within reach of her only source of joy in the world.

Adora gasped.

Catra opened her eyes. Stretched out beside the bed that Adora had stolen from Bright Moon, where the blue and pink metal of the temple should have been, lay the sleeping quarters of the Fright Zone. Catra blinked and shook her head, but nothing changed—there it was, Adora’s cot, the way it had looked for the first twenty years of their lives. Two pillows, two sets of boots lined up at the foot of the bed, two bodies pressed close under one blanket. Catra could even catch the dim, mechanical hum of the Fright Zone, a sound she hadn’t known to notice before.

“It’s us,” Adora whispered.

Us. The word landed in Catra’s stomach like a stone. She wasn’t breathing, wasn’t sure she’d ever be able to breathe again. It had only been a few years since this particular night had happened and yet the two of them seemed impossibly young to Catra’s eyes. They slept facing each other, as close as they could be without touching. Adora’s hair lay loose on the pillow, and her younger self had twirled a lock of the blonde hair around her index finger, pulling the other girl closer. Catra had curled herself up and it would have been so easy to lean forward in her sleep, to let her knees fit against Adora’s thighs, to slip her arm over the other woman and pull her close.

Why hadn’t she done it? Why hadn’t she tried when they were still together, when she would have happily bet her life that they would be together for the rest of their lives? Why had she taken for granted that they belonged to each other, and they always would?  

Catra looked back at the current Adora laying beneath her, the one that was no longer hers, a woman who now existed on another side of a chasm that Catra could never cross. She was breathing heavily, sitting up on her elbows, naked and flushed, with an expression of complete awe on her face.

Catra let out a little sound, half way in between a laugh and a groan. “I’ve spent so much time trying to forget this.”

Adora’s eyes snapped to hers. Without warning and against her will, Catra wanted to cry.

Beside them, a younger Catra shifted in her sleep. Catra made herself tear her eyes away from Adora so she could watch her sixteen-year-old self slowly open one yellow eye. Catra knew that she’d never gone to sleep that night. She’d laid next to Adora with a lock of her hair wrapped around her finger, the only part of the other girl that she was brave enough to touch, and listened to her breathing. With her best friend asleep, young Catra let her eyes roam, down to Adora’s lips, the rise and fall of her chest, the dip of her waist, and she had never wanted anything so badly in her life. Watching now, Catra remembered how much courage it had taken for her younger self to lift her hand, to brush a strand of blonde hair off Adora’s forehead. Adora made a sound like a purr that then, and now, broke her heart.

“I never saw you look at me like that,” the adult Adora said, and there was wonder in her voice.

Catra looked down on instinct, trying to hide an embarrassed flush, and realized where her hand had paused, just on the inside of Adora’s thigh, one thumb pressed down on the other woman’s clit. 

All of a sudden, the room around them shifted and changed. It was the Fright Zone again, this time the locker room a few months later, and Adora was pulling off her shirt. Catra stood a few paces behind her, babbling about the training exercises, her hands frozen on the hem of her shirt, with hooded eyes trained on her best friend. The muscles of Adora’s back rippled as she tugged the shirt over her head, leaving the thin line of her sports bra, the hint of her bare stomach as she turned to laugh at something Catra had said.

Then the world tilted, and it was Adora holding Catra in her arms while she cried, Adora sitting on the floor and leaning back against the wall, pulling Catra closer in between her out stretched legs so the other girl was curled up in her lap. Catra pushed her palms against her eyes to try to stop the tears, her claws instinctually scratching at her hair, and Adora wrapped herself around her like a parachute, ready to deliver Catra safely to the ground.

The adult Catra, as she sat over Adora, blinked back tears, and again the memory changed. Years later, at the Sea Gate, when Catra had wrapped her hand around She-Ra’s chin and whispered in her ear. Adora had not been able to see the look on her face then, the pain that had contorted Catra’s expression when she’d called her best friend weak. 

The temple was betraying her, just as Catra knew it would. It was laying bare all of the things that she wouldn’t even let herself think about, the memories that the most secret part of her still treasured like jewels. Catra forced herself to look up at the adult version of this girl that she’d put so much time and energy and love into, the girl who’d left her at the first opportunity she had, and saw something unrecognizable in Adora’s eyes. Adora’s gaze flicked down to Catra’s hand on her, and then back up to her face.

“Don’t stop,” she said, and Catra bit her lip.

She knew when she’d been challenged.

Catra let herself work on instinct. She moved her thumb in rhythmic circles, letting her touch stay light and teasing. When Adora’s breath started to hitch a little, she slipped one finger into her pussy, and thought she could live just on the sounds that Adora was starting to make, breathy and wild. The memories had left her vulnerable, and the control she’d worked so hard for was starting to break down. Beside the bed, the world was shifting again but Catra just pressed harder on her clit, her other finger searching inside of Adora for the spot that would make her scream.

She glanced up and saw Adora’s head turned to the side, her glassy eyes trying to focus on the new memory Catra had unknowingly conjured. But before Catra could even look, the sound from the other side of the room—a low, choked moan—gave it away. 

Catra forced herself to turn her head and take in what Adora was seeing. There she was, only a few feet away, laying in Adora’s old cot, with one hand down her underwear. She lay under a blanket but, in the hot, dark room, she’d hooked one leg over it and it was easy to see the quick, frantic circles that her hand made, the roll of her hips, the way she held her other hand to her mouth to keep from moaning. Her hips bucked up off the bed, her fingers rubbing fast over her clit, spreading her legs a little wider on the sheets, and then a noise, so low that Catra could just count on Adora hearing it.

“Adora.”

“Holy shit,” Adora said, staring wide eyed and with her mouth open at the scene before her. Catra, trying not to die of embarrassment and already thinking of various ways that she could set the temple on fire, moved her index finger onto just the right spot inside of the other woman and watched as Adora’s eyes fluttered shut, letting out a moan.

The memory Catra was still going at it, but the present Catra was not willing to let herself be out done. She shifted down on the bed and leaned forward, bracing herself on her elbows between Adora’s legs, and brought her mouth down onto her clit.

That got Adora’s attention.

“Fuck!” Adora shouted, her hips bucking up hard. Catra followed, one finger still inside of her, her mouth latched onto the other woman’s clit and sucking. There was nothing teasing about this; she wanted Adora’s full attention. Catra licked down her pussy and then returned to her clit, flicking her tongue back and forth.

 Catra wanted to make a memory that would outshine all the rest.

She pulled back for a moment to press another finger inside of Adora, and she felt the woman shake below her. Adora’s gaze shifted between the memory of her, who was getting closer by the second, and the real Catra, who moved her two fingers in a constant rhythm, hitting that same perfect spot over and over again.

“That was the night we met in the forest,” Catra confessed. Her lips were wet and swollen, and when she licked over them she could taste Adora. “I imagined you bending me over in that clearing and eating my pussy until I screamed.”

Adora looked at her with an intensity that Catra had never seen before, so blindingly wild that she had trouble catching her breath. “I wanted to,” she said. 

Catra leaned back down, licking a long stripe from the top of Adora’s cunt to the bottom, her tongue circling the place where her fingers pumped in and out of the other woman. She knew her tongue was rougher than a humans and wondered how it felt against this most vulnerable part of her. Adora was so wet and giving off a smell that made Catra lightheaded, one that she was pretty sure she’d never get enough of. She’d always loved the smell of Adora, taking any chance she had to snuggle into her neck or touch her hair, but this was another level—so sweet and intimate that Catra found herself nuzzling against Adora’s clit, her tongue lapping at the wetness she found there because she wanted the taste. 

“Your mouth,” Adora was repeating, over and over like it was a mantra that would set her free. “God, wow, your mouth, your mouth.”

At some point, Catra’s tail had detached itself from Adora’s ankle and was now swishing back and forth in the air, like a cat who was closing in on its prey. In the memory beside her, she heard the muffled moan and relaxed bed springs of her finding her orgasm. The room started to shift, already searching Catra’s mind for another memory, but she tried to focus all of herself into this, Adora’s smell, the tight stretch of her against Catra’s fingers, the strangled sound she made when Catra swirled her tongue around her clit and then sucked hard.

Adora reached one hand down to thread her fingers through Catra’s hair, pushing her a little closer, and before she knew what was happening, Catra’s tail had wrapped around her wrist. “Your mouth—oh! It was always so pretty. You look so cute when you frown,” Adora was babbling now, something that Catra had not expected but would admit to herself that she loved. “The amount of times I should have kissed you. Cou—could have put that pretty mouth to use.” 

Catra hummed against her clit and Adora gasped. Quickly, she slid her fingers out and held up a third one so that Adora could see. The hand on her head tugged a little on her hair but before Adora could speak, Catra brought all three fingers into her mouth. Adora moaned.

Her mouth flooded with Adora’s wetness, and Catra tried not to think about how good it tasted. When her fingers were wet enough, she let Adora’s hand guide her back down so she could latch her mouth back onto the other woman’s clit, three fingers slipping inside.

Dimly, she realized that the ballroom from the princess prom had laid itself out beside them, and another Catra was asking another Adora to dance. She remembered the way her breath had stopped as Adora had looked at her with so much suspicion in her eyes. It was the first and only time Catra had ever dressed up in her life, and she hadn’t been willing to admit how nice it felt to do something different, to let herself stand out.  

“That suit. I’ve had dreams about that suit,” Adora said breathily, her eyes focused on Catra working her with her mouth. “I want to really dance with you. Not trying to get one over on each other, just to dance.”

Catra tilted her head just a little between Adora’s thighs so she could see a slightly younger version of herself dip Adora, their faces close. Part of her thought it would have been so easy to make a different choice, to dance with Adora because she’d wanted to, to have let one dance turn into two until she never wanted to return to the Fright Zone again. 

Part of her knew better.

“What am I doing in the dreams?” Catra lifted her head just enough to ask, letting her cheek rest against the inside of Adora’s thigh. She didn’t break the pace with her fingers, grazing over that spot each time.

“You let me rip it off you." 

Catra licked her lips. They tasted of salt and Adora.

Keeping eye contact, she leaned down and licked her tongue over Adora’s opening, her fingers buried deep inside and pressed hard on that perfect spot. Adora shuttered under her, her thighs clenching and her fingers pulling at Catra’s hair until it burned. The tug sent a white hot thrill through her, and Catra shifted her hips a little impatiently, just managing to keep herself from touching herself. She was so wet and longing for friction there, and she clenched her thighs together tight.

Catra watched as the heat built inside of Adora, her hips moving more erratically with each thrust up into Catra’s mouth, her grip tight and unyielding, and wondered how she could be so unafraid of this feeling. Beside the bed, the ballroom started to fade away and just out of the side of her vision she could see an exact duplicate of this very bed, last night, when Catra had sat on top of a half clothed Adora and come undone. She could hear her own groans and gasps but Catra didn’t care. All she could see was the woman below her, openly wild and on the edge, glistening with sweat, muscles rippling with tension. Catra sucked hard on her clit, moving her fingers faster, and ignored the aching in her jaw and her wrist. Adora’s eyes fluttered closed and she let out a moan that was unlike anything Catra had ever heard, so long and low that it went right to her core.

The mighty She-Ra comes undone, she thought, but the moment she did, it felt forced. There was nothing grand or foreign about this; it was all Adora beneath her, strong and blindingly beautiful in her own right.

Instead, Catra said out loud, before she could stop herself, “I want to see you come, Adora.”

She could see the moment that it hit her. Every muscle in Adora’s body clenched, her hips lifted off the bed and then she was falling apart, her breath coming out shaky and full of whimpers, her eyes fluttering closed, her face full of unguarded joy. Catra watched her hungrily, cataloguing every expression and movement and moan to take home with her because this was, by far, the sexiest thing she’d ever seen.

 And just as quickly as it happened, like a flash of sunlight so bright that it hurt to open your eyes, Adora was melting back into the pillows with a contended sigh. She looked happy and relaxed and completely fucked, from her mussed hair to her swollen lips. Catra couldn’t get enough of it.

No matter what happened now, she would always have this.

Before she could start to panic about the next steps, Adora used the last of her energy to reach up and pull Catra down on top of her. Catra rolled into her arms, her full body weight on the other woman again, but Adora didn’t seem to care. She wrapped her arms tight around Catra, her nose snuggling into the crook of the other woman’s neck. “Thank you,” she whispered. 

“Don’t thank me,” Catra said, a little warily. “I was just paying you back.” 

Adora hummed against Catra’s neck. Post orgasm Adora was even cuddlier and needier than normal, her hands splayed on Catra’s lower back and moving down towards her ass. She pressed a cluster of kisses to Catra’s neck, nuzzling her with her nose. “Hmm,” she murmured happily. “I can’t wait to put my tongue inside you.”

Catra’s eyes opened wide, but a blissful Adora didn’t notice. She let one hand wander to the base of Catra’s tail and she scratched the fur there, sending a purr going through the woman on top of her. Catra pushed back instinctually into the touch and Adora scritched a little harder. She would have been embarrassed by her quick reaction, if Adora hadn’t been too sex saturated to act smug.

Adora was talking like there was going to be a next time. It sent a confused, panicky thrill through Catra, but she didn’t say a word. She didn’t want to risk deflating Adora’s high. Let her enjoy it a little longer, she thought. I can let her have that. 

“Your tongue is a miracle, kitty,” Adora whispered in her ear, running her own tongue over the edge of it. “So rough and quick.”

“Don’t call me kitty,” Catra said instantly. That, at least, was going too far.

“My kitten,” Adora repeated happily, one hand squeezing her ass.

Yours, Catra thought, and felt the word melt through her stomach like poison. In a few hours, she would have to find her way out of this temple and back to the Fright Zone before her absence was noticed. She would have to wash Adora off of her skin, and hide the marks on her body with a new set of clothes. There were no more stolen mornings to be had. She’d never allow herself this weakness again.