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Out of the Frying Pan

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"Catra…"

The frozen expression Catra's wearing is familiar but it's never been aimed at Adora before. Catra takes a step back, then another, as it starts to melt slightly from pain and betrayal into even more familiar anger.

Adora wants to say something, but Catra saw. She knows what Adora's become now. And even if there was any way for Adora to defend that, Catra's faster than her on a good day and she doesn't even know if she can stand up again.

Catra stops, half hidden in the smoke. Her ears flatten down and she whispers, "Shadow Weaver's going to kill me."

Bow collides with Adora's side, knocking her flat on her back. "You did it!" Bow tells her.

"I did?"

"You saved us," Glimmer says from above. "You saved everyone."

Adora laughs in relief. "I did it!" she repeats. "I turned against the Horde-" And it's her own voice that makes it finally hit her what an enormous, life-ending mistake she's just made. "I turned against the Horde!" She sits up so she can latch onto Bow's sash, he absolutely can't leave now. "Why did I do that?!" she shrieks.

"Yeah, Adora, why did you do that?" Catra growls.

Bow and Glimmer scream. Adora's dragged back upright as Bow stands and tries to get an arrow aimed. "It's okay! It's okay!" Adora shouts. Her legs seem to be supporting her weight now so she releases Bow and stumbles toward Catra, throwing her arm around the other girl. "This is Catra!"

"She just attacked us!"

Catra goes stiff instead of wiggling loose and trying to shock her again, so Adora continues more confidently, "I asked her to cover for me when I went to find the sword again. I was supposed to be back before morning and she thought I'd been captured by the rebellion."

"You were!" Glimmer says.

"But it's okay now!"

At her side, Catra mutters, "Now that you're a princess." Catra's ears are flattening down again. Adora can't tell if it's more fear or anger - the two tend to go hand in hand for Catra.

Adora lets go and holds out the sword. "No, it is, I think. There's a voice inside."

"Adora!" Glimmer shouts as Catra takes it, but it's not like it'll break if Catra drops it.

Catra waves it from side to side, touches her hand on the edge. "It's not even sharp. Just a bunch of shiny frills. This was what you were so excited about last night?"

"It knew my name, Catra! Me!"

Catra snorts and hands the sword back. "Yeah, of course."

"No, really!"

"So a magic sword said, 'Adora, forget being a force captain, blow up the cool tanks!' and now what?"

"I... I don't know." The pit falls out of her stomach. "I don't know! I - Where are we supposed to go?"

"Are you just realizing this?" Catra shouts. "Now we're both going to die!"

"Nobody's going to die!" Bow interjects. "Right, Glimmer?"

"Yeah," Glimmer says. She stares at them, takes a breath, smiles. "It doesn't matter if you were Horde soldiers before if you're with us now."

"After what happened, it's not like I have a choice," Catra mutters. "So who's us, Adora's new friends?"

"This is Glimmer," Adora explains as they start toward the woods, "and this is Bow. We met because they were also looking for the sword, and then a giant monster attacked us, and, oh, and there's weird ancient buildings in the middle of the Whispering Woods and those tried to kill us." Catra now looks dubious in addition to sulky at this, so Adora continues, "But it's not all bad. The village was really nice before it was set on fire. One of them made pictures with his hands, and they eat so many different colors and shapes and they all taste really good!"

"And there's horses!" Bow reminds her.

"Yeah, there's a horses! Catra, a horses is the most beautiful animal and it had a soft warm nose and it let me touch it." Adora looks back hopefully and spies a white nose half behind some rubble. "Look! There, I think that's the horses!"

"Horse," says Glimmer. "One is just 'horse'."

"Horsey, you're okay!" Bow cries, running over.

"Well, which is it?" Catra says.

"It's a horse," Glimmer repeats. "Horsey's just something you can call horses. You...really haven't seen a lot of animals before?"

Bow leads it back to them. Adora pats the soft nose again. Catra stares and then looks away like she doesn't care. She probably doesn't want to do anything with everyone around...but there's one more thing, one Adora knows for sure will make Catra feel better.

She points at a tree above them and shrieks, "Mouse!"

"Where!"

"That's a squir-" Bow is cut off by Catra springboarding off his back.

Catra nearly falls back off the branch but catches herself by the knees and dangles. Adora laughs and walks beneath. "See? There's mice everywhere, and they're all huge! I've seen a dozen of them already."

A drop of blood runs down the tip of Catra's nose and then splashes to the ground. "Mnot sharng nu mttrrr whut uo ay," Catra growls.

"You can have the whole thing, I'm not even hungry!"

Catra lets go of the branch and flips around to land on her feet. She eyes Bow and Glimmer. They stare back. They look really impressed. Stunned, even.

The tension melts out of Catra and she takes the mouse out of her mouth for a moment. "Okay, okay." She knocks her shoulder against Adora, hard enough Adora almost falls over. "So this place isn't all bad." And she bites into the mouse again.